EARLIEST MILITARY AFFAIRS
Two soldiers came to America, in the company with Winthrop, who were employed to instruct the men of the new colony in military tactics, and direct any warlike operations which might become necessary in defence of their settlement. The first was John Underhill, who had been an officer in the army in the Netherlands, and had seen service in Ireland and at Cadiz. We have had some notice of him in the account of the Pequod war, in which he bore an honorable part. He joined the church in Boston soon after his arrival, and, until after the Pequod war, was in authority and good standing in the colony. Was chosen deputy in 1634. He was evidently impatient of civil and ecclesiastical authority, and did not easily endure command.
He became an adherent of Mrs. Hutchinson, and for taking sides with Mr. Wheelwright, was disfranchised, with many other notables. Governor Winthrop devotes much space to the details of Captain Underhill's trial by both court and church. He is shown to have been not only unsound in doctrine and disobedient to the authority of the magistrates, but dissolute in character. He evidently was a handsome and somewhat dashing officer, making much of his soldierly appearance and abilities. He was popular, too, and of winning address, for when he was banished from Massachusetts and went to join Wheelwright at Exeter he was chosen governor by the people at Dover in place of Burdet. After a turbulent rule of some two years he was removed from his office, and returned to Boston, and having made humble confession in church and court, obtained pardon for past offence, and soon after removed to the Dutch settlements on Hudson River, where the governor gave him command of a company against their Indian enemies.
After the decisive battle at Stricklands Plain, which settled the Dutch supremacy over the Indians, Captain Underhill settled at Flushing, L.I. He was afterwards in public service, and received a large grant of land from the Indians, which has remained down to a late day in the possession of his descendants. Through his sons John and Nathaniel (perhaps others), he has had many and honorable descendants of his name, and through his daughters, of other names, equally respectable. In his will, of Sept. 16, 1671, he calls himself of Killingworth, Oyster Bay. His story of the Pequod war is valuable. Of the other soldier, Daniel Patrick, who came over with the Winthrop fleet, Governor Winthrop writes: "He was entertained by us out of Holland, where he was a common soldier of the Prince's guard, to exercise our men. We made him a captain and maintained him.
Afterwards he was admitted to the church at Watertown and made a freeman. But he grew very proud and vicious, for though he had a wife of his own, a good Dutch woman, and comely, yet he despised her and followed after other women." It seems that he was haughty and insolent in manner, dissolute in character, and when threatened with the process of law fled to the Dutch at Manhattan. He served in the Pequod war, though with small credit, and seems to have been mixed up with some conflict between the Dutch and Indians in 1643, in which he had dealt treacherously with a company of the Dutch and had to flee. He came, it is said, to the house of his old comrade, Underhill, then living near Stamford, Conn. The Dutch pursued him there, and when their leader, in a personal interview, was grossly insulted by Patrick, he shot him through the head.
Some intimation of the warlike preparations made by the Massachusetts company, before embarking, may be seen by the following item, preserved in the records:
26: February, 1628
Necessaries conceaved meete for our intended voiadge for Newe England to bee prepared forewith.
For our 5 peeces of ordnance, long sence bowght and paid ffor, John Humphry is intreated & doth promise forewith to cause to bee delyvered to Samuel Sharpe, who is to take care -- having fytt cariadges made for them.
Armes for 100 men: --
For the first years after the settlement of the towns of the Massachusetts Colony, the military operations were confined to keeping "guards and watches," and the organization of the militia was incomplete. Casual mention, here and there in the Colonial Records, show that many of the towns had officers with the titles of Captain, etc., but of whose election no record is found.
For instance we find, July 26, 1631: Mr. Francis Aleworth is chosen Lieftenant with Capt. Southcoate. We find no record of his choice to that office. It was Richard Southcoate of Dorchester. At the first Captains Underhill and Patrick were in command of the military in all the towns, with weekly training-days in charge of sergeants under their direction. Sept. 28, 1630, a tax of ś50 was levied upon the towns, from Watertown to Weymouth, to support these officers. In 1631, Capt. Underhill held, each month, two general trainings of his company at Boston and Roxbury, and of those at "Charlton, Misticke and the newe-towne" at another date. A better organization of the militia was effected in 1636, and a better idea may be given by arranging names according to that appointment, though some of the officers were chosen earlier. Three regiments were organized, one for each County, Suffolk, Middlesex and Essex.
In 1638 "The Military Company of the Massachusetts" was organized, and granted special encouragement by the Court. Robert Keayne was chosen Captain. This was the first independent military company in Boston, and became an element of great influence. From the first it has been made up of picked men. It was a training school and authority in military art; and membership in its ranks became a badge of honorable military service. This company became the celebrated "Ancient and Honorable Artillery Company," the oldest and most notable military organization now existing in America. A complete history of this company has been lately prepared with great care by Rev. Oliver A. Roberts.
In the year 1644 the title "Colonel" was dropped, and "Major" became the title of the chief regimental officers. Serjeant Major General was the title of the chief military officer in the colony. Thomas Dudley, Esq., was the first chosen to that office, May 29, 1644. The officer was chosen from the assistants, and was a member of the General Court. In June, 1645, the choice of Majors of Regiments was left to the popular votes of each Regiment. The title Major General soon took the place of the former, Serjeant being dropped.MAJOR GENERALS OF MASSACHUSETTS
Thomas Dudley, 1644-'45.
The Colonial records are somewhat meagre and uncertain in relation to the organization of the local military companies through many years.
About the time of the opening of Philip's War, there were regiments, or parts of regiments, in each of the six counties.
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