Deerfield — Lothrop's Massacre
Extracted from "History of the Connecticut Valley in Massachusetts, Volume II," by Louis H. Everts, 1879.
This force, about 150 mounted men and a few footmen, with Benjamin Wait and Experience Hinsdale as guides, on the 17th of May, at dusk, began a memorable march. Up the Pocomptuck path to Wequamps; through the woods to Bloody Brook, passing in pitchy darkness, with bated breath and clinched musket, the grave of Capt. Lothrop and his men; guided by Hinsdale through the mire which the blood of his father and their brothers had softened eight months before; up the narrow road down which Lathrop had marched to the fatal snare; through the desolate street of Pocomptuck, with ranks closed, that the horses might not stumble into the dark cellars of the burned houses, seen fitfully by the lightning's flash; across the North Meadows, where the heroic life of the other guide was soon to be fitly rounded out; fording the Pocomptuck just below the mouth of Sheldon's Brook; up the steep hill to Petty's Plain; along the Indian path tinder Shelburne Mountain for two miles; thence easterly across Green River, at the mouth of Ash Swamp Brook; skirting the great swamp,—the company reached the vicinity of the falls before the break of day. Dismounting his wet and tired men, Capt. Turner led them across Fall River, over an abrupt ridge, and just at dawn was ready to fall upon the sleeping camp at the head of the falls.
It had been a night of festivity with the Indians. They had "made themselves merry with new milk and roast beef," the product of a late raid on Hatfield. A party had been engaged on a fishing frolic, spearing salmon in the river by torchlight. Driven in by a heavy shower, they, with the others, were now in a profound slumber, with no watch set. From this stupid security they were aroused by the roar of Capt. Turner's muskets, many of which were fired into the very wigwams. The survivors rushed out crying, "Mohawks! Mohawks!" thinking their old enemy was upon them, and fled in a panic toward the river. Many were cut down upon the bank. Many, jumping into their canoes, pushed off into the swift water without paddles; in other canoes the paddlers were shot, so that nearly the whole fleet was swept over the cataract to sure destruction. A few of the most stalwart escaped by swimming to the opposite bank. Wenaquahin, a Narragansett chief, was of this number. A slight defense only was made, and but one of the assailants wounded; another, being mistaken for an Indian as he was coming out of a wigwam in a dim light, was shot by his friends. The end, however, was not yet. After burning the wigwams, destroying two forges, and throwing "pigs of lead" into the river, Capt. Turner began to collect his command for a return.
Meanwhile, the alarm had spread among the Indians, and from over the river, from an island below the falls, from camps up the stream, the infuriated hordes swarmed in a dark fringe on flanks and rear. A report spread that Philip, with 1000 warriors, was coming from Squakheag, and a panic ensued among the exhausted men. The officers lost the command, and the retreat became a rout. Small parties separating from the main body were cut off; Holyoke, bravely defending the rear, narrowly escaped the clutches of the pursuers, his horse being shot under him. Turner was less fortunate: in crossing Green River he was shot, and fell alive into the bands of the Indians. The flying troops were followed across the Pocomptuck and as far as the Bars. The loss on reaching Hatfield was found to be 2 men mortally wounded and 45 missing; 6 stragglers subsequently came in. The total loss was the commander and 40 men. The interesting experiences of the chaplain and the boy-hero, Jonathan Wells, two of those who came in alone, must be looked for in a more extended work.
The following is the list of killed as far as ascertained:
Capt. William Turner, Boston; William Allis, Jr., Hatfield; James Bennet, Northampton; George Buckley, James Burton, John Church, Hatfield; Jabez Dunkin, Worcester; John Foster, Joseph Fowler, Peter Gerring, Samuel Gillet, Hatfield; Isaac Harrison, Hadley; Experience Hinsdale, Deerfield; William Howard, John Langbury, Northampton; Thomas Lyon, Fairfield, Conn.; John Miller, Northampton; Samuel Rainsford, Thomas Roberts, Northampton; Nathaniel Sutlieff, Deerfield; John Walker, John Whitteridge. Capt. Holyoke and John Munn each died "of a surfeit got at the Falls fight," some time after.
No intelligent estimate can be made of the number of Indians in this affair, and no certainty exists as to the loss; perhaps 300, including women and children, is a near estimate. Here Philip lost many of his best warriors, Wampanoags and Narragansetts, and here the power of the Pocomptucks was broken. As a tribe they never again appear in history. The remnant found refuge with the Mohicans or in Canada.
The plans of Philip and the Nipmuck sachems, of holding this as a place of refuge for non-combatants and depot of supplies, having failed, after an abortive attack on Hadley, May 30th, open dissensions arose among the confederates, and the discordant mass made its way in detached parties aimlessly to the eastward,—the Nipmucks to their strongholds about Wachuset, and Philip, with Quinapin and Weetemo, who continued faithful, moving toward Plymouth County. Hostilities in the valley were at an end. With the death of Philip, August 12, 1676, and the capture soon after of Anawan, his great chief, "Philip's war" ended.
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03 Aug 2005