To the First and Fifth Connecticut Companies were attached Indian Scouting Companies, numbering seventy-five to each.
The following officers were sent out from Massachusetts, with recruits, to reorganize their Regiment, and fill the vacancies caused bythe losses at the "Fort Fight." I do not attempt to assign the special commands.
Dr. Jacob Willard, of Newton.
Samuel Wadsworth. Joseph Sill.
Lieutenants: Stephen Greenleaf (promoted).
Several of the above officers were in the "Fort Fight" as subordinate officers, and afterwards promoted.
Of the forces of Massachusetts, the quota was 527; the number actually impressed was 540, including troopers, 75. The returns made at Dedham Plain give 465 foot, troopers, 73. The Connecticut quota was 315, and there were also two companies of Indians, 150. Plymouth's quota was 158.
The scene of the battle is well identified. It is situated in West Kingston, R.I., and belongs to the estate of the late Hon. J. G. Clark, whose residence was about one mile north-easterly from the old battlefield. Many relics of the battle are in possession of Mr. Clarke's family. Saving the changes incident upon the clearing and cultivation of contiguous land, the place could be easily identified as the battlefield, even if its location were not put beyond question by traditions and also by relics found from time to time upon the place. It is now, as then, an "island of four or five acres," surrounded by swampy land, overflowed except in the dryest part of the year. The island was cleared and plowed about 1775, and at that time many bullets were found deeply bedded in the large trees; quantities of charred corn were plowed up in different places, and it is said that Dutch spoons and Indian arrow-heads, etc., have been found here at different times.
The accompanying map is a section -- slightly reduced -- of the large map of Rhode Island, made from surveys under the direction of H. F. Walling, Esq., and published by him in 1862. It takes in the line of march from Pettisquamscot (Tower-Hill) to the Fort. There is no "scale of miles" upon the large map, but by a careful comparison of known distances it appears that it is about seven miles in a bee line, nearly west, from Tower-Hill to the battlefield; by way of McSparran Hill in direct courses, about ten miles. The army, following the higher land, with frequent halts and probably much uncertain wandering and careful scouting, consumed the time from five o'clock in the morning to about one o'clock P.M.; and it is likely that in this roundabout march they made about fifteen or sixteen miles, the distance reported.
In the retreat, the army probably followed back upon their morning track as far as McSparran Hill, and thence to Wickford to their quarters at Mr. Richard Smith's garrison-house, arriving there about two o'clock in the morning, after a march of about eighteen miles, as was reported at the time. Mr. Smith, called Captain and Major by contemporary writers, was a person of wide influence in this part of the country, and held in high esteem in all the colonies. He was the son of Richard Smith, Senior, who came from "Gloster Shire," in England, and in 1641 bought a large tract of land, including the present town of Wickford, and there built the first English house in Narraganset, and set up a trading station and offered free entertainment to all travellers.
About one o'clock, P.M., the army came upon the enemy at the edge of the swamp, in the midst of which the Indian fortress was built, the Massachusetts regiment leading in the march, Plymouth next, and Connecticut bringing up the rear. Of the Massachusetts troops Capts. Mosely and Davenport led the van and came first upon the Indians, and immediately opened fire upon them, -- thus at the beginning gaining the important advantage of the first fire, which the Indians had almost always gained and made so deadly by deliberate volleys from ambush, as they doubtless purposed now. The Indians returned the fire with an ineffectual volley, and then fled into the swamp closely pursued by the foremost companies, who did not wait for the word of command, or stand much upon the "order of their going," until they reached the fortifications within which the Indians hastily betook themselves. This fort was situated upon an island of some five or six acres in the midst of a cedar swamp, which was impassable except to the Indians by their accustomed paths, and now made passable only by the severe cold of the previous day and night. It is probable that the Indiansdepended chiefly upon the swamp to protect them, though their defences are described as having been of considerable strength.
A portion of the high ground had been enclosed, and from a careful comparison of the most reliable accounts, it seems that the fortifications were well planned, probably by the Englishman Joshua Teffe, or Tift, as Mr. Dudley calls him. Mr. Hubbard says: "The Fort was raised upon a Kind of Island of five or six acres of rising Land in the midst of a swamp; the sides of it were made of Palisadoes set upright, the which was compassed about with a Hedg of almost a rod Thickness." A contemporary writer (whose account was published at the time in London, and is reprinted in Mr. Drake's publication called the "Old Indian Chronicle") says: "In the midst of the Swamp was a Piece of firm Land, of about three or four Acres, whereon the Indians had built a kind of Fort, being palisadoed round, and within that a clay Wall, as also felled down abundance of Trees to lay quite round the said Fort, but they had not quite finished the said Work." It is evident from these, the only detailed accounts, and from some casual references, that the works were rude and incomplete, but would have been almost impregnable to our troops had not the swamp been frozen.
At the corners and exposed portions, rude block-houses and flankers had been built, from which a raking fire could be poured upon any attacking force. Either by chance, or the skill of Peter, their Indian guide, the English seem to have come upon a point of the fort where the Indians did not expect them. Mr. Church, in relating the circumstances of Capt. Gardiner's death, says that he was shot from that side "next the upland where the English entered the swamp." The place where he fell was at the "east end of the fort." The tradition that the English approached the swamp by the rising land in front of the "Judge Marchant" house, thus seems confirmed. This "upland" lies about north of the battlefield.
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