SOLDIERS

IN

KING PHILIP'S WAR

Chapter 8, Part I 

VIII.

MAJOR SAMUEL APPLETON AND THE FORCES

UNDER HIM

A full account of the Appleton family has been published in the "Appleton Memorial" and various other works, and renders a brief sketch sufficient for our purpose here. Samuel Appleton, the ancestor of nearly all of the name in this country, and the first to appear here, was descended from the ancient family of Appulton of Waldingfield, Suffolk, England. He was the son of Thomas, and was born at Little Waldingfield in 1586; married Judith Everard, by whom he had six children born in England. John, born 1622; Samuel, born 1624; Sarah, born 1629; Mary, Judith and Martha. With his family he came to New England in 1635 and settled at Ipswich, where he was admitted freeman, May 25, 1636. He was chosen deputy to the General Court, May 17th, 1637, and was prominent in the affairs of his town thereafter, and died at Rowley in June, 1670. The eldest son John became an influential man in the colony. Was successively lieutenant, captain and major, and deputy to the General Court for fifteen years between 1656 and 1678, and was honorably prominent in opposition to the Andros government. He married Priscilla Glover, by whom he had a large family, and died in 1699. Of the daughters above mentioned, Sarah married Rev. Samuel Phillips, of Rowley, 1651. Judith married Samuel Rogers, son of Rev. Nathaniel, of Ipswich. Martha married Richard Jacob, of Ipswich.

Major Samuel Appleton, second son of Samuel first, and the subject of this article, was born as noted above, at Waldingfield, and came with his father to Ipswich at the age of eleven years. His first wife was Hannah Paine, of Ipswich, by whom he had Hannah, Judith and Samuel. By his second wife, Mary Oliver (at marriage, Dec. 8, 1656, aged sixteen), he had John, Major Isaac, Oliver and Joanna. He was chosen deputy to the General Court in 1668, under the title Lieut.; also in 1669 to 1671, in company with his brother Capt. John, and again by himself in 1673 and 1675.

I have not been able to find the exact date on which Capt. Appleton marched from the Bay up towards Hadley, but infer that it was about the first of September, and Mr. Hubbard relates that when Major Treat (on Sept. 6th) marched down from the rescue of Northfield, bringing the garrison, he met Capt. Appleton going up, who strongly urged him to turn back and pursue the Indians; but the Major overruled his wishes, and all marched back to the headquarters at Hadley. The course of events from this time to September 18th has been previously related. In the assignment of troops for the defence of the various towns, Capt. Appleton seems to have remained at Hadley, and to have been in close relation with Major Pynchon in the conduct of affairs. His Lieutenant, John Pickering, and doubtless a part of his company, were with Capt. Mosely in the fight succeeding Lathrop's defeat, and when a few days after it was decided to abandon Deerfield, and the garrison and inhabitants were removed to Hatfield, Capt. Mosely was stationed there with his force, Major Treat and his men quartered at Northampton and Northfield, and Capt. Appleton remained at Hadley busily employed in reorganizing the Massachusetts forces, caring for the wounded, and preparing for the next attack of the enemy.

Although Capt. Appleton had been in this service several weeks, his commission as "Capt. of a company of 100 men" was not issued by the Council until September 24th. (He already held the rank of Captain of the local company in Ipswich; this was a special commission for active service.) By the heavy losses under Capts. Lathrop and Beers, the Massachusetts forces were greatly reduced, and the survivors of their companies were much demoralized by the loss of the captains, and gloom and discouragement prevailed throughout the colony. It was therefore with great difficulty that the Council filled the quota of three hundred assigned by the commissioners. Secretary Rawson wrote to Major Pynchon, September 30th, "The slaughter in your parts has much damped many spirits for the war. Some men escape away from the press, and others hide away after they are impressed."

It will be seen by the following orders that the Council was using every endeavor to push forward troops to repair their losses. Mass. Archives, vol. 67, p. 265.

The Council do order & appoint Capt. John Wayte to conduct the 120 men appointed to rendevooze at Marlborough the 28th day of this instant September & to deliver them unto the order of Maior John Pincheon Commander in Cheefe in the County of Hampshire & it is further ordered yt in case Capt. Samuel Appleton should be com away from those parts then the said Capt. Wait is ordered to take the conduct and chardge of a Company of 100 men under Maior John Pincheon but in case Capt Apleton do abide there then Capt. Wait is forthwith to returne Backe unles Maior Pincheon see cause to detyne him upon ye service of the country past. E. R. S. 24 Sept. 1675,

On the same paper is the following:

It is ordered that there be a comission issued forth to Capt. Samuel Appleton to Command a foot Company of 100 men In the service of ye country. But in case hee should be com away from those parts then that Capt. Waite is to have (a) like comission. past 24 Sept. 1675

By ye Council E R S
Ordered yt ye Commissary Jno Morse deliver Mr Thomas Welden snaphant musket.

The Indians were gathered in great numbers on the west side of the river. Small parties were constantly lurking near the frontier towns, Hatfield, Northampton, and as far as Springfield, where, on September 26th, they burned the farm-house and barns of Major Pynchon on the west side of the river. Major Pynchon says, in a letter to the Council, Sept. 30th:

We are endeavouring to discover the enemy and daily send out scouts, but little is effected. Our English are somewhat awk and fearful in scouting and spying, though we do the best we can. We have no Indian friends here to help us. We find the Indians have their scouts out. Two days ago two Englishmen at Northampton being gone out in the morning to cut wood, and but a short distance from the house, were both shot down dead, having two bullets apiece shot into each of their breasts. The Indians cut off their scalps, took their arms and were off in a trice.

According to Russell's list of killed, these men were Praisever Turner and Uzacaby Shakspeer. Up to this time the Springfield Indians had been friendly and remained quietly in their large fort on the east side of the river towards Longmeadow. Some uneasiness had been felt of late in regard to them, and Major Pynchon had consulted the commissioners about disarming them. The Connecticut Council advised against the measure, and recommended rather to receive hostages from them, to be sent to Hartford for security. This plan was adopted and the hostages sent; but the Indians, excited by the successes of the hostiles, and probably urged by secret agents of Philip, resolved to join the war against the English. 

They managed the escape of their hostages, and waited the opportunity to strike their blow. On Monday, Oct. 4th, a large body of the enemy had been reported some five or six miles from Hadley, and immediately all the soldiers were withdrawn from Springfield to Hadley, and were preparing to go out against the Indians the next morning; but during the night a messenger arrived from Hartford or Windsor, reporting that Toto, a friendly Windsor Indian, had disclosed a plot of the Springfield Indians to destroy that town next day, and that five hundred of Philip's Indians were in the Springfield fort, ready to fall upon the town. Thereupon, early on the morning of Tuesday, October 5th, Major Pynchon, with Capts. Appleton and Sill, and a force of one hundred and ninety men, marched for Springfield, arriving there to find the town in flames and the Indians just fled. Major Treat had also received news of the intended attack, and hastened from Westfield with his company, arriving on the west side of the river some hours before the Massachusetts forces came, but was unable to cross, though five Springfield men escaped through the enemy's lines, hotly pursued, and carried over a boat in which a party attempted to cross, but the Indians gathered upon the east shore and fired upon them so fiercely that the attempt was abandoned until Major Pynchon came. 

The Indians burned some thirty dwelling-houses and twenty-five barns with their contents, Major Pynchon's mills, and several of his houses and barns, occupied by tenants. Fifteen houses in the "town-plat," and some sixty more in the outskirts and on the west side were left unharmed. The people had taken refuge in the garrison-houses, which were not attacked. Two men and women were killed, viz., Lieut. Thomas Cooper, who before the assault rode out towards the fort to treat with the Indians, having two or three men with him, and was shot by an enemy concealed in the bushes a short distance from the town, but managed to ride to the nearest garrison-house, where he died. His companion, Thomas Miller, was killed on the spot. During the assault, Pentecost, wife of John Matthews, was killed, and Nathaniel Browne and Edmund Pringridays were mortally wounded.

The above account is the substance of letters written by Major Pynchon and Rev. John Russell, October 5th and 6th. The number of Indians engaged has probably been much over-estimated. The Springfield squaw captured at the time reported the whole number at two hundred and seventy. Mr. Russell said the Springfield people thought there were not "above 100 Indians, of whom their own were the chief." Rev. Pelatiah Glover, the minister of Springfield, lost his house, goods and provisions, together with a valuable library which he had lately removed to his house from the garrison-house where it had been stored for some time.

On October 8th Major Pynchon writes to the Council an official account of the situation, telling of the great discouragement of the people and their sad state; the loss of their mills makes a scarcity of bread, and the many houseless families throng the houses that remain. The Major advises to garrison all the towns, and abandon the useless and hazardous method of hunting the Indians in their swamps and thickets. 

The commissioners were opposed to this course, especially those of Connecticut, who insisted that the purpose of the army in the field was to pursue and destroy the enemy instead of simply protecting the towns. In this letter of the 8th, Major Pynchon says they are scouting to find which way the Indians have gone, and also that on that day Major Treat is summoned away to Connecticut by the news of a large body of the enemy near Wethersfield. He then earnestly reiterates his unfitness for the chief command, and declares that he must devolve the authority upon Capt. Appleton, with the permission of the Council, unless Major Treat return, when he will await their orders. The Council had, however, already granted his former request, and on Oct. 4th had appointed Capt. Appleton to the chief command in his place. His commission, together with letters and orders to Major Pynchon, were sent up by Lieut. Phinehas Upham and his company of recruits, and did not reach them until October 12th, when he immediately took command. The commission is as follows:

Capt. Appleton

The Councill have seriously considered the earnest desires of major Pynchon & the great affliction upon him & his family, & have at last consented to his request to dismiss him from the cheefe command over the Army in those parts, and have thought meet upon mature thoughts to comitt the cheefe comand unto yourselfe, being perswaded that God hath endeowed you with a spirit and ability to mannage that affayre; and for the Better inabling you to yor imploy, we have sent the Councills order Inclosed to major Pynchon to bee given you; and wee reffer you to the Instructions given him for yor direction, ordering you from time to time to give us advise of all occurences, & if you need any further orders & instructions, they shall be given you as ye matter shall require. So comitting you to the Lord, desireing his presence with you and blessing upon you, wee remaine:

Your friends and Servants
Boston 4th of October
Capt. Samuel Appleton,
Commander in cheefe at the head quarters at Hadley.

The letter of October 4th, from the Massachusetts Council to Major Pynchon, in which the orders above referred to were inclosed, is in the Massachusetts Archives, vol. 67, p. 280, as follows:

Mass. Council to Major Pynchon

Honoured Sr
Your letter dat Sept. 29. wee received and although wee could have desired your continuance in that trust committed to you as comander over or forces in yr pts, yet considering your great importunity ye reasons alledged wee cann but greatly simpathize with you in ye present dispensation of Divine Providence towards your family in your absence and have ordered Capt. Apelton to take the charge as Comander in Cheife over the united forces whiles in or Colony, and uppon a removall of the seat of Warr the Comanders to take place according to (the) appoyntment of ye Commissioners. We have considered (that) you will not be wanting to afford the best advice & assistance you may, although dismist from ye perticular charge. It is the Lord's holy will yet to keep his poore people at a pradventure and yt in this case wherein our all is concerned and there is none to tell us how long, yet is it or duty to wayte on him who hideth his face from the house of Israel, and to say wth ye Ch: I will brave ye indignation of God untill he ple(ad)e our case, &c. Commending you & yours, & y ....... low estate of his people to ye shepardly Care of him who hath made it one pt of his great name, Mighty to Save; wee take leave and remayne,

Yor assured freinds, E R S
Past ye Council.
Boston 4th of Sept. (should be Oct.) 1675
Sr

We have ordered Lt Upham to lead up to you 30 men and do further order that Lt Scill be dismissed home to his family, and his souldjers to make up some of ye companies as ye chiefe Comander shall order & ye above named Lt Upham to be Lt under Capt Wayte. These for Major John Pynchon.

Sr It is desired when the companies with you are filled up, such as are fitted to be dismist be sent back with Left Sill & Corporal Poole & to send downe what horses you cann, and as may be conveniently spayred.

HTML by Debbie

Special thanks to Fred for his wonderful graphics.

You are the 3543rd Visitor to this USGenNet Safe-Site™ Since April, 2001.

3419 Visitors before this counter was installed

[King Philip's War Index Index][NY][VT]