Deerfield — Philip's War

Extracted from "History of the Connecticut Valley in Massachusetts, Volume II," by Louis H. Everts, 1879.

      These precautions were taken none too soon. Nothing had been heard of the Indians after the Wequamps fight, until September 1st, when they made an attack on Pocomptuck. A surprise was intended, but the lurking foe was discovered by James Eggleston, a Connecticut soldier, who was looking after his horse in the woods. He was shot down and the alarm given. The inhabitants rushed to the nearest forts, and, although with some narrow escapes, all reached their shelter. Here they were safe, the assailants, after two of their men were struck, being careful to keep out of gunshot. The garrisons not being strong enough to sally out and drive them away, the settlers had the mortification of seeing the enemy burn and destroy all they could with safety. This was the first attack by the red man on any English town in the Connecticut Valley, and it caused great consternation. News of the affair reached Hadley while the inhabitants were assembled in the meeting-house observing a fast. Mather says they were driven from the sanctuary "by a sudden and violent alarm, which routed them the whole day after." This brief remark of the historian is the slender foundation on which was built the famous story of the attack on Hadley, September 1st, when Gen. Goffe appeared as the guardian angel of the town.
      The Indians who made this attack were Pocomptucks, with possibly a few emissaries from the hostile tribes east of the Connecticut. September 2d, Northfield was attacked; on the 4th, Capt. Beers ambushed and slain; and on the 6th the remaining inhabitants were brought off by Maj. Treat, of Connecticut.
      Pocomptuck was now the frontier, and Capt. Appleton was sent to reinforce the garrison. From its peculiar location it was much exposed to depredation. The keen eyes of Indian spies could see, from the hills to the east and west, every movement in the valley. Not a messenger could come or go, not a party enter the meadow to secure the crops, not a movement between the forts, but the lurking enemy were fully apprised of.
      Observing on the morning of Sunday, September 12th, that the soldiers collected in the Stockwell fort for public worship, a plan was laid to take advantage of the afternoon service, and a party was posted in a swamp just north of Stockwell's to waylay the north garrison. Accordingly, as twenty-two men from the north fort were passing, they were fired upon from the swamp. All reached the fort, however, in safety, except Samuel Harrington, who was shot in the neck. Turning toward the north fort, the enemy captured Nathaniel Cornbury, who had been left as a sentinel, and was trying to reach his companions. He was never heard from afterward. As soon as Capt. Appleton could rally his forces he drove off the assailants, but not until the north fort had been plundered and set on fire, and much stock killed or stolen. Still hanging round the village, they burned two more houses, and carried horse-loads of meat to their rendezvous at Pine Hill. Capt. Appleton was not strong enough to guard the village at all points and march also into the meadows. On Monday volunteer citizens and soldiers from Northampton and Hadley came up to relieve the beleaguered settlement. This reinforcement was doubtless reported by the spies; for when the united force marched to Pine Hill, Tuesday morning, the 14th, the Indians had fled.
      Capt. Mosely, with a company of Bay forces, arrived at Hadley the same day, and marched to Pocomptuck the 15th or 16th. As yet we find no signs of an intention to desert the plantation. Maj. Treat, with a considerable Connecticut force, coming at this time to the headquarters at Hadley, the stock of provisions there was found inadequate to the demand. At Pocomptuck a large quantity of wheat—Hubbard says 3000 bushels—was standing in stack, which had so far escaped destruction, and Capt. Lothrop determined to secure a part of it for supplying the troops at Hadley, and ordered it to be threshed out, and on the 16th or 17th marched with his own company to escort the train to headquarters, Pocomptuck teams being employed for transportation.

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