It will be noticed that the above credits are given a year before this final service, for which I have not as yet found any credit anywhere recorded.
CAPT. MICHAEL PEIRSE AND HIS COMPANY, OF PLYMOUTH
Michael Peirse, or Peirce, was of Hingham from 1646 to 1663, but removed to Scituate soon after. His children, named in his will of 1675, just before going to the war, were Persis, Benjamin, John, Ephraim, Elizabeth, Deborah, Ann, Abia and Ruth. His first wife died in 1662, and he married a second wife, Ann, at Scituate. Hon. Henry B. Peirce, late Secretary of State of Massachusetts, is a lineal descendant of Capt. Michael Peirse. Michael Peirse was appointed ensign of a company raised in Plymouth Colony to go against the Dutch, in December, 1673, and captain of the company raised in the spring of 1675-6 as hereinafter told. It may be said here that as this was a Plymouth Colony Company, the lists of credits of the Treasurer, which are nearly complete for Massachusetts Colony, are not found as yet in Plymouth or Connecticut, so that we have to depend upon chance lists found here and there, and the lists of "Narraganset Grantees," published in full for the first time in this volume-We have learned above of the general situation of affairs in Massachusetts Colony, in March, 1676.
The intention of the Indians was evidently to distract the attention of the English by striking heavy blows in distant parts of the colonies. Connecticut was protected by the presence of the Mohegins and Pequods, whom the hostile Indians dreaded far more than the English, as they were their equals in woodcraft and Indian tactics. After the attack upon Medfield, the attacking party advanced into Plymouth Colony, and probably formed a junction with another body, doubtless with the purpose of concentrating a great force upon some of the larger towns, while smaller bodies kept making demonstrations here and there upon some smaller places. On February 25th, they assaulted Weymouth, and burned seven or eight houses and barns. On March 12th they pushed even into Plymouth town, and destroyed Clark's Garrison House, about two miles from Plymouth village, with eleven persons within it, plundered the provisions, a quantity of ammunition, and quite a sum of money, without a single man lost or wounded. Another party suddenly assaulted Warwick on March 16th or 17th, and destroyed nearly all the houses, though the people escaped. Nearly all the detached houses in the Narraganset country were attacked and destroyed within a few weeks, and many of the large towns were threatened.
Plymouth Colony, on February 8, 1675-6, had ordered a company of men to be impressed from the southern towns of the colony, and on the 29th the Council ordered "that the Souldiers now under Presse, from the Southern Towns, be at Plymouth on Wednesday the 8th of this Instant (March) in order unto a further March, and with them 20 or 30 of the Southern Indians, whoe together with the other whoe are under Presse to goe forth under the Command of Captain Michael Peirse and Lieftenant Samuell Fuller." The force probably got ready sometime in the middle of March. "Capt. Amos," a Wampanoag Indian who refused to follow with Philip and joined the friendly Indians, was in command of the Cape Indians in Capt. Peirse's company, and also acted as guide to the whole force. The command marched to Seekonk, where they arrived March 25th, and that day had a skirmish with a party of Indians in the vicinity, whom they pursued until night and supposed they had seriously damaged.
Retiring to the Garrison House at Seekonk that night, early on the next day, Sunday, March 26th, the forces, increased by several from Seekonk as guides, started again in pursuit of the enemy; and soon came across a few Indians who showed themselves in the distance and seemed to be trying to get away, but to be impeded by lameness. The English as usual were lured to rush forward, and in spite of former experiences and the warnings of the Indian allies, they soon found themselves in an ambuscade. Though not taken entirely by surprise by the old trick, which he believed his company was strong enough to fight through, Capt. Peirse was entirely deceived by the numbers of the Indians. He was a brave officer, and supposing he had a large body, perhaps twice his own number, at bay, he fearlessly attacked them even at great disadvantage.
The Indians did not discover their full numbers until they had drawn the English across a small river, to some distance, when the attempt was evidently made to surround him. This forced him back upon the bank of the river, where he found himself attacked in the rear by a large party sent to cut him off. There is no doubt that Capt. Peirse was out-generalled, as well as vastly out-numbered, and, like the brave man that he was, he fought it out till he fell, with his brave men around him. Before leaving the garrison in the morning Capt. Peirse had sent a messenger to Capt. Edmunds of Providence, asking him to co”perate in an attack upon a large body of Indians then at Pawtucket Falls; the messenger, however, did not deliver his message until after the morning service (it being Sunday), when Capt. Edmunds indignantly berated him, declaring that it was then too late, as it proved. It is doubtful if a company from Providence could have saved Capt. Peirse and his men after they crossed the river, as with their great numbers the Indians were able to beset every approach to the battle-field, and choose their ground.
It is doubtful if during the war the English had come face to face in the open field with so large and so well-organized a force of the Indians. Canonchet doubtless directed the operations in this campaign in person, and was assisted by the ablest chiefs and the best warriors, picked from all the tribes. It was a signal victory for the Indians, and it confirmed Canonchet as the military leader before all others. Great stores of corn had been opened up and sent northward, with the plunder from the assaulted towns; heavy blows had been struck against the towns; the non-combatants, the infirm and helpless were safe in the vast forests stretching from beyond Quabaog to Canada, and were guarded by a strong reserve. He with his stout chiefs and their bands of loyal warriors were therefore free to carry the war into all parts of the colonies; the great expedition under Major Savage against Menameset, etc., had been completely frustrated, and now this brilliant victory, as they counted it, had carried terror and dismay to the southern towns.
Canonchet may well have dreamed of reconquering his native dominions, and doubtless believed that he could now re‰stablish his people there. Fearless by nature, and feeling secure from invasion, he was waiting, at his headquarters not far from Pawtucket, with but few guards, having out large scouting parties scouring the country; and a very large part of his force had doubtless gone to the northward, with forage, plunder, and the dead and wounded from the battle with Capt. Peirse, of whom the number was probably more than one hundred. The loss on the part of the English was fifty-two of the English and eleven of the friendly Indians. From the letter of Rev. Noah Newman, of Rehoboth, written the day after the battle, we get the names of those killed of Capt. Peirse's company.
[King Philip's War Index Index][NY][VT]
[King Philip's War Index Index][NY][VT]