KING PHILIP'S WAR
Chapter 8, Part II
On assuming command on October 12th, Capt. Appleton writes a long letter, expressing his sense of the honor conferred and the great responsibility imposed by the appointment, and declaring that he is led to accept by the urgency of the occasion and his regard for the earnest wishes of Major Pynchon; and while deprecating his own incapacity, promises to do his best until they may find some abler officer for the position. He agrees with Major Pynchon in regard to present methods, and asks that the commissioners revise that part of their instructions which strictly prohibits fixing soldiers in garrisons. He adds his account of the condition of Springfield, and asks the Council to support him in the step he has taken in stationing Capt. Sill and his company there for the town's security. He complains of the prolonged absence of Major Treat and his company at Hartford. He says that "There being now come in sixty men under Capt. Poole and Lieft. Upham, and we needing commanders, especially part of our men being now at Springfield, & we not daring to send all thither, we have retained Capt. Poole to comand these sixty men untill further orders be given."
October 17th he writes an account of their movements up to that date:
On Tuesday Octo: 12. we left Springfield & came yt night to Hadley neer 30 mile. On ye 13th & 14th we used all diligence to make discovery of ye enemy by Scouts, but by reason of ye distance of the way from hence to Squakeage & ye timorousnesse of ye Scouts it turned to little account; thereupon I found it very difficult to know what to doe. Major Treat was gone from us, and when like to return we knew not. Our orders were to leave no men in garrison, but keepe all for a field armye, wch was to expose the Towns to manefest hazzard. To sitt still and do nothinge is to tire ors [ourselves] and spoyle or souldiers, and to ruin ye country by ye insupportable burden and charge. All things layed together, I thought it best to goe forth after the enemy wth or prsent forces. This once resolved, I sent forth warrants, on ye 14th instant, early in the morning to Capt. Mosely & Capt. (as he is called) Seely at Hatfeild and Northampton, to repair fourthwth to ye headquarters, yt we might be ready for service, etc.
Capt. Mosely came promptly, but Seely tardily and then without his company, pleading his want of commission from Connecticut authorities, but finally agreeing to return and bring his men. Before he started from Northampton, however, he received orders from Major Treat not to leave that town, and sends that word to Capt. Appleton. The Captain much exercised by this seeming insubordination, posts away letters of complaint to the Connecticut Council, and urges the return of Major Treat, whom he highly commends as "a worthy Gentleman and discreete and incouraging Comander." After this he drew out his own men and marched towards Northfield, but before proceeding two miles intelligence came that the Indians were discovered in great numbers on the west side of the river. Thereupon he crossed to Hatfield with the purpose of marching to Deerfield. Night came on as they left Hatfield, and after marching some miles his officers urged the exposed condition of the towns left without garrisons and the uncertainty of the enemy's movements, and the night promising to be tempestuous, he yielded his purpose and returned, against his inclination, to headquarters. On the evening of the 16th an urgent request for reinforcement comes from Northampton, which is threatened, and later, word from Capt. Mosely that the Indians are discovered within a mile of Hatfield; and so at midnight he crosses the river to Hatfield, leaving only about twenty men to guard Hadley and their wounded men. In a postscript to this letter, added on the afternoon of the 17th, he says that after "a tedious night and morning's march" they had not succeeded in finding the enemy.
It is supposed that Philip had an active part in the planning of the various operations of this time, though there is no evidence that he was personally present at any of the attacks.
Several letters in this time passed between Capt. Appleton and the Council of Connecticut, which are full of interest as showing the varying aspects of affairs at the time. Connecticut urges that their own towns are threatened, and further that Plymouth Colony has not sent its quota, and that there is no certain movement on foot that demands the presence of their troops at Hadley, etc. These letters are preserved in the Mass. Archives, vols. 67 and 68. and have been published in the "Appleton Memorial." and certain of them elsewhere.
It is unfortunate that no letters of Capt. Appleton relating to the attack upon Hatfield on October 19th are preserved. There can be no doubt that he wrote an official account of it; but the Massachusetts Council had not received the news on October 23d, for on that day they wrote Capt. Appleton in answer to his of the 17th, and make no reference to any attack. The next letter to him from the Council, so far as known, is dated November 1st, and refers to one from him of the 29th October, which would seem to have been mainly taken up with a relation of the insubordination of the Connecticut officers. Doubtless several letters passed that are lost. The letters from a merchant of Boston to his friend in London, published in Drake's "Old Indian Chronicle," give information of the beginning of the attack. The Indians built large fires north of Hatfield, and then lay in ambush by the way leading thither. Ten horsemen were sent out as scouts about noon, of whom nine were shot down or captured by the Indians in ambush, and one escaped back to Hatfield, and immediately the enemy came with fury about the town. But, says Mr. Hubbard.
According to the Good Providence of Almighty God, Major Treat was newly returned to North-Hampton, Capt. Mosely and Capt. Poole were then garrisoning the said Hatfield, and Capt. Appleton for the like end quartering at Hadley, when on a sudden 7 or 800 of the enemy came upon the town in all quarters, having first taken or killed two or three of the scouts belonging to the town and seven more belonging to Capt. Mosely's company, but they were so well entertained on all hands where they attempted to break in upon the town that they found it too hot for them, Major Appleton with great courage defending one end of the town, and Capt. Mosely as stoutly maintaining the middle, and Capt. Poole the other end; that they were by the resolution of the English instantly beaten off without doing much harm. Capt. Appleton's serjeant was mortally wounded just by his side, another bullet passing through his own hair, by that whisper telling him that death was very near but doing him no other harm.
Night came on, and in the darkness it was impossible to tell the losses of the enemy; numbers were seen to fall, some ran through a small river, others cast away their guns, and as usual they carried away their dead. Of the English slain at Hatfield, Mr. Russell's list has the names of ten, viz.: Freegrace Norton (Appleton's sergeant), of Ipswich, mortally wounded, and died at Hadley soon after; and of the scouts, Thomas Meekins, Jr., of Hatfield; Nathaniel Collins, his servant, Richard Stone, Samuel Clarke of Mosely's company, John Pocock of Captain Poole's, Thomas Warner, Abram Quiddington, perhaps of Boston, William Olverton (possibly Overton), John Petts. Three of these are said to have been taken alive, of whom two were redeemed by some gentlemen at Albany, and arrived at New York the next February; one of these belonged in Boston. The third man was barbarously killed by the Indians. The Indians evinced a stubborn determination to destroy these river towns, and a few days after the attack upon Hatfield prepared to asault Northampton; Major Treat's opportune arrival foiled them again. They waylaid every road between the towns. On the 27th a party with Major Pynchon were thus ambushed, and John Dumbleton and John and William Brooks were killed. About this time also a Mr. Granger was wounded.
In their letter of November 1st the Massachusetts Council assure Capt. Appleton of speedy action in regard to his affairs at the seat of war. They sustain him in his authority and position towards Connecticut troops, and advise him that in case Major Treat again withdraws, to improve his own troops as best he may, and await their further advice. They rebuke him for assuming to appoint Cornet Poole captain without their authority, and instruct him that it is his place to recommend any officer for promotion to the Council to receive his commission at their behest.
On November 10th Capt. Appleton had not received any further advices from the Council and writes them for orders, and gives explanation of his action in regard to appointing Poole, that he acted from necessity, and as is evident very wisely. He then details his motions since October 29th, when two men and a boy at Northampton were attacked. (These were Joseph Baker, Joseph Baker, Jr., and Thomas Salmon, and Mr. Russell puts with them John Roberts, a wounded soldier, who died there soon after.) On the 30th, at night, upon an alarm from Hatfield, Capt. Appleton was called out of his bed and pushed his troops across the river, where he remained over the next day, Sunday. On Monday he marched ten or twelve miles out through the "Chestnutt Mountains," scouting, without avail. Tuesday he consulted with Major Treat, and agreed to march on Wednesday night with their whole force towards Deerfield, which they did without finding the enemy, and returned late at night. On the 5th an alarm at Northampton, and another fruitless search. Upon a request of Major Treat on the 6th for permission to withdraw his soldiers from Westfield to seek the enemy down the river, a council-of-war was appointed for Monday the 8th, at which meeting Capt. Appleton took the ground that he had no authority from the commissioners to grant them leave to withdraw. Major Treat took a very frank and manly position, by no means hostile to Capt. Appleton. The trouble seems to have been the unwillingness of the Connecticut soldiers to remain in garrison at Westfield.
The report of the council-of-war is submitted to the Massachusetts Council for the orders of the commissioners. He says they are at loss to find out the present location or intention of the enemy, but fear they may be upon them in force at any moment. He suggests that if the army be drawn off for the winter and the towns garrisoned, Connecticut troops might more conveniently be placed and supplied at Westfield and Northampton, and the other three towns garrisoned with Massachusetts men. He reports a council-at-war, at which David Bennet, chirurgion, was expelled from the army for "quarrelsome and rebellious Carriage," and submits the action for ratification to the Council. He sends down as posts, Serg. James Johnson, Serg. John Throp, and Nathaniel Warner of Hadley, and with them Capt. Poole, to whom he refers them for a more detailed account of matters.
While awaiting the long delayed instructions of the Council, Capt. Appleton stood in a very difficult position, the Connecticut officers and soldiers in great impatience and almost open mutiny at being kept in garrison; and the people, crowded into the garrison-houses in fear that Philip's whole force might at any hour fall upon them, were threatening to abandon their towns. The Council of Connecticut, too, were apparently interfering with his command of their troops. On the other hand were the authority and orders of the United Commissioners, to which he adhered with inflexible energy. On November 12th he issued a proclamation (Archives, vol. 68, p. 54) to the inhabitants and soldiers of all those towns under his charge, forbidding any one to withdraw from his appointed place without special permission "given under his hand;" giving his reasons for the step, and asserting the authority of the commissioners. The Connecticut people were very loud in their complaints against this measure, but he rigidly held to it, daily expecting the further directions promised by the Council of Massachusetts, till finally despairing of such relief he reluctantly yielded to the importunities of Connecticut, and on November 19th dismissed Major Treat and his forces at Westfield to march downward to the Connecticut towns, accompanying the order of permission with an urgent request to the panying the order of permission with an urgent request to the Council there that Westfield and Springfield may be regarrisoned by their forces.
On the same day he writes to Governor Leverett, complaining of the long neglect of the Council at home, and saying that it has kept him in constant and tedious expectation until obliged to yield to Connecticut's demands, and now necessity forces him to dispose of his forces as best he may. He complains of the condition of the horses; many will soon be unfit for service, and if put upon "dry meate" (i.e. hay), the cattle of the people must perish during the winter, as hay is very scarce. They have no certain intelligence of the enemy, but have received word from Owenequo, son of Uncas, that Philip boasts himself to be a thousand strong. He speaks of his proclamation and its results, and encloses a copy of the same and his correspondence with Connecticut Council also, and urges the Governor to send him further directions speedily. He then proceeds to garrison the several towns with the forces at his disposal, the details of which will be given in a special chapter. The following orders of disposal are dated November 19 and 20, and are preserved in full in the Mass. Archives, vol. 58, pp. 65 and 66.Twenty-nine soldiers taken out of the companies of Capts. Mosely and Poole and Lieut. Upham are left at Westfield in charge of Sergt. Lamb, and all under the command of Capt. Aaron Cooke. John Roote is appointed commissary of this garrison, and orders are drawn upon James Richards, of Hartford, or Mr. Blackleach, for whatever of clothing is necessary. Thirty-nine men from Capt. Sill's company are left at Springfield with Lieut. Niles, all to be under command of Major Pynchon. Twenty-six men are left with Sergt. (???) at Northampton, to be under command of Lieut. Clark; and thirty men under command of Capt. Poole are stationed at Hadley. Thirty-six are left at Hatfield with Sergt. Graves, under command of Lieut. Allice.
Capt. Appleton appointed a council-of-war for the ordering of military matters in the towns, consisting of the commissioned officers of the various garrisons, together with Dea. Peter Tilton, of Hadley, and Sergt. Isaac Graves, of Hatfield, and Capt. Poole was made president. These arrangements seem to have been made in anticipation of the order of withdrawal of the army, which was authorized by the Council on November 16th. -- Mass. Archives, vol. 68, p. 58. Their letter had not reached him on November 19th. This letter gives a long account of the operations of Capts. Henchman and Syll now in the Nipmuck country.
Then "touching the disposal of the Army," the direction is left at his discretion, and as to the wounded men, those fit for garrison duty are to be left as part of the garrison soldiery and the rest to be comfortably provided for. The special instructions seem to have been in accordance with the Major's own suggestions in his last letter to the Council. On the march home it is suggested that he come by way of "Wabquisit" (now in Woodstock, Conn.), and, if convenient, to form a junction with Henchman and Syll and "distress the enemy" gathered near there. This little plan, so easy to conceive in the Council Chamber, for excellent reasons was never realized. Capt. Appleton, with his forces, marched homeward probably about November 24th. Very little is known of the march homeward. This campaign cost the colony very dearly in men and means, but had saved from destruction five of the seven western towns. For the first time since the war began, a competent commander is at the head of the Massachusetts troops.
Upon the organization of the army for the expedition against the Narraganset Fort, Major Appleton was appointed to the command of the Massachusetts forces. A partial account of that expedition and its results has been given in a previous chapter relating to Capt. Mosely. On December 9th the Massachusetts force, consisting of six companies of foot under Capts. Mosely, Gardiner, Davenport, Oliver and Johnson, and a troop of horse under Capt. Prentice, mustered on Dedham Plain under command of Major Appleton, who himself led the first company. They were joined by the Plymouth forces, two companies under Major William Bradford and Capt. John Gorham. The quota of Plymouth Colony was one hundred and fifty-eight men. That of Massachusetts five hundred and twenty-seven.
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