BRIEF ACCOUNT OF THE DESTRUCTION OF LANCASTER,AND NAMES CREDITED WITH MILITARY SERVICE AT THE VARIOUS OTHER GARRISONS
OF the many garrisons occupied by the English during the war, the importance varied according to the movements of the army. Marlborough, for instance, was, during the most of the war, a rendezvous and general headquarters, and thus it was necessary to devote an entire chapter to that, and the operations thereabout. Mendon, Brookfield, Hadley, Northampton and several others later, like Scarborough and Wells, became prominent by their position as frontiers, or as supply and recruiting stations. It will be understood that these items of credit occur in the Treasurer's book mixed with other credits under the various officers, etc., and not consecutively, as presented here. These garrisons are arranged alphabetically by names of places, for the convenience of the reader; and for the same reason, two lists already given in previous chapters are reprinted here. The Lancaster garrison is an exception to the above rule, as it seems to demand a fuller notice.
The Nashaway Indians were the native inhabitants of the country bordering upon the Nashua river. The name of the sachem of this tribe, at the first settlement by the English, was Nashacowam, alias Nashoonan, alias Sholan. The bounds of his dominion are not exactly defined. His death is recorded in 1654. The first settlement by the English was begun with the establishment of a trucking-house, in 1643, by Henry Symonds and Thomas King. In 1675 it was one of the most prosperous of the inland plantations. Up to the opening of Philip's war, there had never been any serious trouble with the Nashaway Indians. In common with other tribes they were stirred up by the agents of Philip, and during the fall and winter of 1675 and '76 were doubtless actively engaged with the hostiles. Shoshanim, whom the English called "Sam Sachem," was sagamore of the tribe at this time. The story of the attacks upon Lancaster has been told elsewhere, except the first, which occurred on Sunday, August 20, 1675.
This was five days after Capt. Mosely had marched his company into the town. This attack was a sudden raid of a large party of Indians, led by a Nipmuck chief named Monoco, or "One-eyed John." The point of attack was the house of a Scotch settler, Mordecai Macloud, at the North end of the town, near what is now the North Cemetery. Seven persons were killed at this time, viz., Mordecai Macloud and his wife Lydia, a daughter Hannah, aged four years, and an infant child; also George Bennet, who left a widow and five small children; Jacob Farrar, Jr., who left a widow and four children; and two men, Joseph Wheeler and William Flagg, probably detailed as guards to the house. After this bloody affair, the people were gathered into garrison-houses, and strong guards placed about for a time. Several friendly Indians, in the employ of the Council at Boston, went among the hostile Indians about Brookfield and Wachuset as spies, and one of these, James Quanapohit, January 24, 1675-6, brought home to the Council a full and detailed report of the plan of the hostiles for the destruction of Lancaster, and even the day appointed. But the authorities paid little heed to his story.
The Lancaster people, however, became alarmed, and appealed to the Council for assistance, which was being tardily attended to when the blow fell, just as predicted by James, and told by Job Kattenanit, another Christian Indian spy, who succeeded in escaping from the hostiles at Meminimisset, and, travelling upon snow-shoes eighty miles, came to Major Gookin's house, on January 9th, in a nearly famished condition, and reported that a party of four hundred Indians were already on the way to destroy Lancaster. Major Gookin immediately arose upon this alarm, and consulting with Mr. Danforth, a member of the council, messengers were at once despatched to Marlborough, Concord and Lancaster, to fortify the town with all speed. The messenger reached Marlborough at daybreak, and Capt. Wadsworth marched away with a company of forty men.
Before they arrived at Lancaster, the enemy had burned the bridge, by the regular road; but the guides conducted them by another way so that they were able to escape the ambush laid for them by the enemy, and hastily repairing a partially burned bridge, they succeeded in driving off a party already attacking the garrison-house of Mr. Cyprian Stevens, and in saving that, and a part of the town from destruction, as heretofore mentioned. Another garrison-house, that of Rev. Joseph Rowlandson, the minister, was assaulted and burned, and of all the thirty-seven persons within it, only one escaped death or captivity; some authorities at the time gave the number as forty-two, but the most reliable says thirty-seven. Rev. Mr. Rowlandson was at Boston, trying to secure a force sufficient to protect the town from the threatened attack.
From Mr. H. S. Nourse's "Early Records of Lancaster" I take the following list, which is probably the most complete and correct now obtainable:
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