THE last chapter closed the account of affairs at the garrison at Marlborough during and immediately after the fight at Sudbury, with the letters of Lieut. Richard Jacob, upon whom the command of the garrison devolved after Captain Brocklebank's death. And it is well to bear in mind that, between the time of the requests of Gen. Denison and Capt. Brocklebank, that the garrison might be relieved to go home, etc., and these letters of Lieut. Jacob, the new army under Major Savage had marched out from Marlborough to the Connecticut River, driving the main body of the hostile Indians beyond that river, as was supposed, but, as was found afterwards, leaving a great number gathered near Mount Wachuset. After operating till about March 28th in defence of the western towns, he was ordered to leave one hundred and fifty men under command of Capt. Turner, and return home as far as Marlborough, and await further orders. By an order of the Council, passed April 10, 1676, Major-Gen. Denison was to meet and dispose the returning troops at Marlborough.
In the meantime the Indians, closely watching the movements of our forces, and alert to strike at every exposed point, on Sunday, March 26th, attacked Marlborough, as we see by Capt. Brocklebank's letter, and burned a large part of the town. The garrisons were unable, or feared, to attack them in force; but that night, Lieut. Jacob of Captain Brocklebank's company, with twenty of his men and twenty volunteers, coming up from Sudbury, followed and surprised the Indians sleeping by their fires, and killed some of them, though it is not known how many. Mr. Hubbard says they wounded thirty, fourteen of whom died the same day or soon after, and popular rumor, as usual, exaggerated the number, and in this case made it seventy. It is necessary now to go back and bring the personal account of Capt. Wadsworth up even with the general matters related above.
Capt. Samuel Wadsworth was the son of Christopher, who came from England in the ship Lion, it is said; was settled in Duxbury in 1632 with wife Grace (Cole), and had four children, who, in their mother's will, 1688, are named in order, viz., Joseph, Samuel, Mary and John, and the last was born 1638.
Capt. Samuel moved to Milton about 1656 and selected a large tract of land in the centre of that town, and settled there with his wife Abigail, daughter of James Lindall, of Duxbury. Their children, born between 1659 and 1674, were Ebenezer, Christopher, Timothy, Joseph, Benjamin, Abigail, and John, whose descendants have honored the name in their generations.
Of these, Ebenezer and Christopher settled in Milton, where the latter died in 1687, aged about 24 years. Benjamin, born 1670, graduated, Harvard College, 1690; ordained minister of First Church in Boston, September 8, 1696; elected president of Harvard College in 1725, and died 1737.
John Wadsworth, youngest son of Capt. Samuel, was born in 1674; became a prominent citizen of Milton; had a family of twelve children, of whom his second son, Benjamin, built a house now standing in Milton. Capt. E. D. Wadsworth, a lineal descendant, now lives on a part of the original estate of Capt. Samuel.
Agreeably to the order of the Commissioners of the United Colonies to raise one thousand men to continue the war against the Indians, passed at Boston, December 25th, Massachusetts, on the 28th, issued orders for impressing three hundred men forthwith; Essex 105, Middlesex 83, Suffolk 112; the time and place of rendezvous being January 5th, at Dedham.
Of the recruits that were sent out at this time, Capt. Samuel Wadsworth, the subject of the present chapter, commanded one company. There is no published reference to such service, and only the casual mention in Gen. Gookin's account of the "Praying Indians," and by the writer of the pamphlet "News from New England," to the effect that, when the army returned to Marlborough, and the rest of the forces were dismissed, "Capt. Wadsworth with his company was left at Marlborough." The garrisons from all the frontier towns, save such as the inhabitants furnished, had been withdrawn by an order of the Council, January 14th. There is no mention of Capt. Wadsworth until the return to Marlborough, and therefore our account of him and his company must begin there; they, having taken part in the "Hungry March" from Narraganset, were now left to bear the brunt of any attack the Indians might make upon the frontiers.
On February 6th the Council issued an order to Major Appleton, then at Marlborough with the returned army, to dismiss the soldiers to their several homes, "as soone as the Sabbath is past." But it will be remembered that Gen. Winslow, now in command of the army, and under the pressure of the lack of provisions, would scarcely wait for this order, and probably marched to Boston on February 5th, with at least a large proportion of his army.Rev. Increase Mather, living in Boston at the time, and deeply interested in all these affairs, writes in his history: "Feb. 5th, the Army returned to Boston not having obtained the end of their going forth;" while the anonymous contemporary writer of the pamphlet above mentioned, states that "Major Gen. Winslow only with his Troops (marched) to Boston, leaving the Foot at Malbury and South-bury, who came home on Munday following and were all dismist to their several Habitations except Capt. Wadsworth, who was left at Malbury in pursuit of the Enemy of whom he destroyed about 70 Old Men Women and Children, who wanted strength to follow the fugitive Army."1 Hull's treasury accounts agree with this date of the disbanding of the army, so that Capt. Wadsworth's operations on the frontiers, with his headquarters at Marlborough, began doubtless on the same day.
On February 10th a large body of Indians fell upon Lancaster and burned near half the town, consisting of about fifty families, but succeeded in capturing only one of the garrison houses, of which there were several. The one captured was that of Rev. Joseph Rowlandson, who was himself absent at the time in Boston, seeking assistance from the Council for the threatened town. The house was sufficiently garrisoned, but the enemy succeeded in setting fire to the rear portion, and forced all within to surrender or die, as the house was quickly burned to the ground. Forty-two persons were thus made prisoners, most of whom were women and children. As soon as the news of this attack upon Lancaster reached Marlborough, Capt. Wadsworth mustered a company of about forty men of his garrison and hastened to the rescue of the remaining part of the town. On one side the Indians had cut off the approach of assistance, as they supposed, by tearing off the planks from the bridge; but the English readily repaired this and passed over, and by a secret way were led into the town, where they succeeded in driving off the enemy.
During the rest of this month Capt. Wadsworth and his men were employed
scouting along the frontier, with headquarters chiefly at Marlborough, I
think, where Capt. Brocklebank was in command, whose company, dismissed on
February 5th, had been called again into service upon the news of the
assault upon Lancaster. An order of the Council, dated February 11th,
appoints Capt. Samuel Wadsworth; Robert Badcocke, Sergeant; and
"those that are at present selectmen" a council of militia for (1
This writer is unreliable in his account of the war, and in attributing
this last exploit to Capt. Wadsworth undoubtedly confuses things in mixing
the rescue of Lancaster by him with the midnight surprise of Indians March
27th, by Lieut. Jacob. But while his direct statements are to be
When, on the first of March, the newly levied army was being organized at Marlborough for operations in the west, Capt. Wadsworth was there with his company, and was sent out by the General to recall Job Kattenanit upon the occasion detailed in the last chapter.
In making up the army the General made a selection of the best soldiers out of all at his disposal, and among other changes, transferred a part of Capt. Wadsworth's company to Capt. William Turner, who led out a company in this expedition to the west.
A letter from William Torrey to the Council, dated March 7th, expresses gratitude for the assistance rendered by the Council in defence of the towns of Milton, Braintree, Weymouth and Hingham, and says that the Major General has "ordered the remaynder of Capt. Wadsworth and Capt. Jacobs forces to be a guard to our townes," etc.; and that Capt. Wadsworth and his men shall be a guard to Milton, Braintree, etc.
The credits in Hull's account indicate the discharge of the remainder of the company about the 7th or 8th of March, and thereafter they were employed as home-guards, and supported by their respective towns, and there is no further mention of service by Capt. Wadsworth during the next month, the operations in the western towns engrossing all the energies of the colonies and all the attention of the people. The soldiers are credited with service up to this time, and thus properly the names and credits are given in this place.
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