KING PHILIP'S WAR
Chapter 9, Part I
CAPT. ISAAC JOHNSON AND HIS MEN
ISAAC JOHNSON was the son of John, of Roxbury. He was born in England and came to Massachusetts with his father's family, probably in the company with Gov. Winthrop. He was admitted freeman March 4, 1635.
He was of the Artillery Company in 1645, and was its captain in 1667. He was ensign of the "Rocksberry" military company previous to 1653, and on June 13th of that year was elected captain. He was representative 1671.
He married Elizabeth Porter, of Roxbury, January 20, 1637, and had Elizabeth, born Dec. 24, 1637; John, born Nov. 3, 1639, died 1661; Mary, born 24 April, 1642; Isaac, baptized 7 Jan'y, 1644; Joseph, baptized 9 Nov., 1645, died soon; Nathaniel, born 1 May, 1647. The daughter Elizabeth married Henry Bowen, who became lieutenant of his company and was in the Swamp Fight. The Bowens, with many other Roxbury people, removed sometime after 1686 to the township of New Roxbury, granted them by Massachusetts Colony, but was afterwards found to be within the Connecticut bounds and was renamed Woodstock. The eldest son Isaac married Mary Harris and removed to Middletown, Conn. Isaac's son Joseph inherited his grandfather's Narraganset claim, being then of Woodstock. The captain's daughter Mary married, in 1663, William Bartholomew, and removed to Branford, Conn. The youngest son, Nathl. Johnson, married Mary Smith in 1667, and sometime after 1683 removed, probably to Marlborough. Through these four surviving children Capt. Johnson's descendants were quite numerous. His widow died 13 Aug., 1683.
On the 6th of July, 1675, while the forces under Major Savage were at Mount Hope, Capt. Johnson was sent with a small escort to conduct the fifty-two friendly Indians, raised by Major Gookin, to the army. From the fragment of a letter from Capt. Johnson to the Court, dated at Boston, July 10, 1675, we learn that a company of these Indians was sent back from Mount Hope with him, and that some trouble occurred with one of the oldest, called Tom, at Woodcock's Garrison, where they were resting on the march. This is the letter as it remains. I am not sure that this is not the whole of the letter or statement:
Upon the 4th day of this week being at Woodcockes house and the Inglish and the Indians geting some refreshment and fixing their arms there was one from the oldest of them indians that was sent backe with us from the Army and withdrew himselfe from our Company under the pretence of geting a helve for his hachet but staying long we sent out 6 men to see if they could find him in their search they found his hachet and a new knife: of his and returned without him we being desirous if it might be to find what had becom of him sent againe 6 men they could not yet find him, we went to super (that is we seaven Inglish) before it was quite darke and while we were at super the said Tom did make aproach towards the other indians and was deserned by them and som of them called to him (sum say it was one or more of the indian Sentinells called to him) and bid him stand but he would not but fled away upon the which there being sum stire or commosion amongst the indians we rose from super and went out they telling us what was the caus of the tumult amongst them; there was an indian seen as before and now was run away telling of us which way he went I bad them follow and see if they could cach him and Woodcock sent out his doggs also they did soone take him and one of the Indians laying hold of him this indian did strike him on the side of the necke with a hatchet which he had borrowed to get a helve for his owne; but the indian that was strooke by sum indians preventing the force of the blow the hurt was small which otherwise might have beene mortal for any thing we know; we Inglish making all the hast to them we could did rescue the man that is that tom out of the rest of the indians hands as wee did apprehend caus lest he should have beene pulled in peeces or killed by them; we had him in to Woodcocks hous;
I asked him the reson of his doing after that maner as he did doing as though he intended mischeefe where as he had promised the govenor of the bay he would doe faithful service against phillip and his men; he answered he was counseled to doe as he did by Samson and another long Island indian they two indians were called and I asking of them if they did give Tom counsell to doe us hurt or to make trouble amongst us Samson first spake dening to have given Tom any such counsell; then the long Island indian spook denieing any such thing: upon which said Tom laid two peeces of mony in my hand and told me they each of them gave him one of them peeces to hire hime to do what he did: they bothe denied the giving of him any mony; woodcoke being by desired he might se the mony I gave it him; he says Tom had that mony of him he having soe much lickors of him as cam to 3d he changed a shilling for the said Tom & gave him a 6d & a 3d and that was the 6d & 3d which Tom did not denie. I told Tom he pretending soe as he had done to the governor as before and marching with us now part of two dayes and serve us thus he did acknowledg he had rebelld & deserved to dye only desired he might die a quick . . . death by which I doe supose his meaning was that he might not be delivered into the hands of the Indians
Boston 18th July 1675
Here we see the prejudice against the Indian blinding thecaptain to the real culprit, Woodcock, whose "lickors" had made the poor savage "crazy drunk."
On July 15th, on the news of the attack upon Mendon, Capt. Johnson was sent out with a company to relieve that town, and was joined there by Capt. Prentice and his troop about July 21st. The two captains address letters to the Court July 23d, explaining the situation of affairs at Mendon; these letters are lost, but notice of them occurs (Mass. Arch. vol. 67, p. 226) in a Court Order of July 26th, commanding the return of both companies, except a guard to be left at Mendon by Capt. Johnson.
Upon the mustering of forces for the Narraganset campaign, Capt. Johnson was placed in command of a company made up of men from Roxbury, Dorchester, Milton, Braintree, Weymouth, Hingham and Hull, seventy-five all told. Eight more were impressed, but did not appear. The company took part in the memorable march and attack on the fort, as before related, and the brave captain was among the first to fall while gallantly leading his men across the fallen tree-trunks at the entrance to the fort.
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