Upon the disbanding of the army under Gen. Winslow, as noted in the first of this chapter, the Indians began to gather in towards the frontier towns in large numbers, evidently elated at the apparent inability and supposed discouragement of the English. Upon April 18th they came upon Marlborough again, and burned the houses they had left in the former attack. They hovered about the town for two days, evidently seeking to draw out the soldiers from the garrisons and away into an ambush, according to their usual mode of warfare. They did not dare to engage the garrisons, however, or to come within range of the guns, but having invested the town with small parties set in ambush to guard the roads and prevent messengers or relief passing to and fro, they began to creep slowly in about Sudbury upon Thursday, April 20th. In the meantime, according to the best evidence of the best accounts from contemporary sources, Capt. Wadsworth, with a company of some fifty or more men, marched out of Boston towards Marlborough upon the same day, expecting to make up the company to one hundred with the quotas of the Middlesex towns, but did not have over seventy probably on his arrival at Marlborough, which it was the design that he should relieve with the company of one hundred men impressed1 for the purpose, of whom not more than seventy appeared, and these, many of them, mere boys. They marched through Sudbury in the evening of the 20th, and without any sign of attack from the great body of Indians lying about the town and its approaches, arrived in Marlborough (1 All kinds of pretexts were used to avoid the drafts at this time. For instance, an impressment of men in the militia company of Capt. Clarke of Boston, on the 18th and 19th, for this service, resulted as follows: Aaron Stephens, Philip Cain, James Burges, Thomas Wats, John Pittam and Robert Miller, hid away and could not be found except the two last, who declared they would rather "be hanged, drawne and quartered than goe;" and only one, Thomas Smith, obeyed. Attest the Officers, Francis Hudson, Jacob Ferniside.) near midnight, where, learning that the enemy had gone towards Sudbury, Capt. Wadsworth, after a brief stop and slight reorganization of his company, leaving some of the boys that were unable to march, at the garrison, and doubtless taking some fitter men in their places, and being joined by Capt. Brocklebank, who apparently started for Boston, being relieved of his charge at the garrison by the coming of Capt. Wadsworth, with this company he marched hastily back towards Sudbury.
While this company were thus marching to and from Marlborough, the enemy were gathering more closely about Sudbury, as the following account, contained in the petition of the inhabitants who suffered loss in the attack, shows. The paper has been buried in the old court files for more than two hundred years, and was discovered by the writer opportunely for insertion in this chapter. This paper gives much new material in regard to the fight, and incontrovertible contemporary testimony that the fight occurred on the 21st of April.
The humble Petition of ye poore distressed Inhabitants of Sudbury Humbly Sheweth. That Whereas yor impoverished Petitionrs of Sudbury have received intelligence of a large contribution sent out of Ireland by some pious & well affected p'sons for ye releife of their brethren in New England distressed by ye hostile intrusion of ye Indian Enemy, and that upon this divers distressed townes have presented a list of theire losses sustained by fireing and plundering of their Estates. Let it not seeme presumption in yor poore petitioners to prsent a list of what damages we sustained by ye Enemyes attempts hopeing that or lott will be to be considered among our brethren of the tribe of Joseph being encouraged by an act of our Honble Genll Court that those who have sustained considerable damage should make address to this prsent Session. And is there not a reason for our releife? Not only by reason of Our great losses but alsoe for Our Service prformed in repelling ye Enemy! Let ye Most High have ye high praise due unto him; but let not ye unworthy Instruments be forgotten. Was there with us any towne so beset since ye warre began, with twelve or fourteen hundred fighting men various Sagamores from all Parts with their men of Armes & they resolved by our ruin to revenge ye releife which Our Sudbury volunteers afforded to distressed Marlborough in slaying many of ye Enemy and repelling ye rest. The strength of our towne upon ye Enemy's Approaching it consisted of Eighty fighting men. True many houses were fortified & Garrison'd, & tymously after ye Enemy's invasion, and fireing some Volunteers from Watertowne, & Concord & deserving Capt: Wadsworth with his force came to Our releife, which speedy & noble service is not to be forgotten. The Enemy well knowing our Grounds, passes, avenues, and Scituations had neare surrounded Our towne in ye Morning early (wee not knowing of it) till discovered by fireing severall disserted houses: the Enemy with greate force & fury assaulted Deacon Haines House well fortified yet badly scituated, as advantageous to ye Enemys approach & dangerous to ye Repellant, yet (by ye help of God) ye garrison not onely defended ye place from betweene five or six of ye clock in ye Morning till about One in ye Afternoon but forced ye Enemy with Considerable slaughter to draw-off.
Many Observables worthy of Record hapned in this assault, Vizt That noe man or woman seemed to be possessed with feare; Our Garrison men kept not within their garrisons, but issued forth to fight ye Enemy in theire sculking approaches: Wee had but two of our townesmen slaine, & yt by indiscretion, none wounded; The Enemy was by few beaten out of houses which they had entered and were plundering; And by a few hands were forced to a running flight which way they would; The spoyle taken by them on ye East side of ye river was in greate pte recovered.
Furthermore p'mitte yor humble Petitionrs to present a second Motion, And let it be acceptable in ye eyes of this our Grand Court Vizt.
That whereas by an Act of Our late Genll Court Tax rates are leavied upon Our towne amounting to ś200 (as appeareth pr Warrant from Our Treasurer, which said sum was leavied by Our Invoice taken in ye yeare before Our greate damage susteyned. It is ye humble & earnest request of yor Petitionrs to commiserate Our Condition in granting to us some abatement of ye said sum, for ye ensueing considerations, Vizt ffirst Our towne to pay full for their Rates then taken, which in greate pte they have now lost by the Enemys invasion may seeme not to savour of pitty no not of equity. Secondly if ye Service p'formed at Sudbury (by ye help of ye Almighty) whereby ye Enemy lost some say 100, some 105, some 120, and by that service much damage prevented from hap'ning to other places whereby ye Country in generall was advantaged, reason requires some favorable consideration to yor Servants of Sudbury. For if it be considered what it hath cost Our Country in sending out some forces some of which pties have not returned with ye certaine newes of such a number slaine as with us, is it not reasonable that this service soe beneficiall should not be considered with some reward which may most easily be effected by issueing forth an Act of your grace in a sutable abatemt of ye said Sum leavied, with ye conferring of a Barril of Powder & sutable shott in regaurd that yor Petitioners have spent not onely theire owne stock of either, but much of ye Towne stock. To which humble and Equitable Motions if Our honble Court shall benignely condescend, You will deeply oblidge yor humble petitioners not onely to pray for ye prsence of ye Lord to be with you in all yor arduous affaires with the blessing of The Almighty upon all yor Undertakings but shall for Ever remaine
Yor humble servants
The deputyes approve of the ret. of this Committee in answer to this pte Or Honord Magistts Consenting thereto WILLIAM TORREY, Cleric 25 October 1676 Consented to by ye Magists EDWd RAWSON, Sect'y.
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