Colrain — Revolutionary Reminiscences
Extracted from "History of the Connecticut Valley in Massachusetts, Volume II," by Louis H. Everts, 1879.
In 1773 the first committee of correspondence was chosen, and consisted of William Stewart, James Stewart, Hezekiah Smith, John Woods, John Morrison, Daniel Donelson, and Thomas Bell. In answer to a communication from Boston, this committee transmitted the following:
"Although we are an infant settlement, we look upon our liberties as dear to us as if we were the oldest in the province, and do, with the most sincere regard, acknowledge the vigilance and care discovered by the town of Boston respecting publick rights and liberties, and would inform you that this town do and will heartily concur with you in all salutary, constitutional, proper measures for the redress of those intolerable grievances which threaten us with total destruction. We would ever esteem ourselves obliged to the town of Boston, the capital of this province; may she rejoice in perpetual prosperity, may wisdom direct her in all her consultations, may her spirited prudence render her a terror to the enemies of our Constitution, and may every town and every colony in America be awakened to a sense of danger, and unite in the glorious cause of liberty; may this land be purged from evil and designing men, that want to bring slavery on a loyal and dutiful people to his Majesty, and may righteousness be exalted, that. God Almighty may be our God, as he was the God of our forefathers;—and may we be possessed with virtue, religion, and publick spirit, which warmed and animated our ancestors. We conclude with expressing our gratitude to all that have been instrumental in bringing to light things that have been hid, and hope by uniting we may stand."
Jan. 31, 1774, the town passed resolves as follows:
"After receiving the letters sent by the committee of correspondence of Boston to the committee of correspondence of Colrain, and the proceedings of the town of Boston also, the proceedings of a body of the good people of the province were read; a motion was made whether this town will conform to the firm resolutions of our respectable brethren at Boston; the question, being put, unanimously passed in the affirmative.
"Upon a serious consideration and due sense of our just rights, liberties, and properties, look upon ourselves by the laws of natural reason and common sense to cast in our mite when our eyes behold the daring insults of extravagant men, not only those the other side the water; but men born and brought up as brethren with us, whose famous abilities gave us just expectations that they would die with us rather than deny us (but, alas! our hopes are gone; designing men had rather sacrifice their whole country, that was bought by their and our glorious ancestry at the price of their blood, than give up so small a profit), since they could not obtain their former desires, as they should get by a little detestable tea sent out by the East India Company upon conditions unknown. We are sorry to see or hear of any of Adam's posterity so blinded (if the light that is in men be darkness, how great is that darkness). Now, in the present posture of our political affairs, it plainly appears to us that it is the design of this present ministry to serve us as they have our brethren in Ireland,--first to raise a revenue from us sufficient to support a standing army, as well as placemen and pensioners, and then laugh at our calamities and glut themselves on our spoil, many of us in this town being eye-witnesses of those cruel and remorseless enemies.
"From just apprehension of the horrors and terror of slavery we are induced to make the following resolves:
"First.—Resolved, That as freemen and Englishmen we have a right to the disposal of what is our own, are certain there is no property in that which another can of right take from us without our consent, and that the measures of late pursued by the Ministry of Great Britain, in their attempts to subject the colonies to taxation by the sole authority of British Parliament, is unjust, arbitrary, inconsistent, and unconstitutional.
"Secondly.—Resolved, That by landing teas in America, imposing a duty by an act of Parliament (as is said), made for the support of government, etc., has a direct tendency to subvert our Constitution and to render our General Assembly useless and government arbitrary, as well as bondage and slavery which never was designed by Heaven or earth.
"Thirdly.—Resolved, That raising a revenue in America to support placemen and pensioners, who, no doubt, when their scheme is once established, will be as merciless as those task-masters in Egypt, and will silence the murmurs of the people by laying on them greater burdens.
"Fourthly.—Resolved, That we do discountenance mobs, unlawful and riotous. assemblies; but when our valuable liberties and privileges are trod under foot, and all petitions and remonstrances are rejected and treated with. infamy and scorn, it is the duty of every true-hearted American (if possible) to free them-selves from impending ruin.
"Fifthly.—Resolved, That the late proceedings of the town of Boston, assembled at Boston, to consult measures against the East India Company, have gained the approbation and applause of every true-hearted, honest man, and as their struggle is for the rights purchased by our renowned ancestors, which we esteem as dear as life itself, do fully express our satisfaction.
"Sixthly.—Resolved, That we will not, by ourselves or any under us, directly or indirectly, purchase any tea, neither will we use any on any occasion, until that unrighteous act be repealed, and will use our utmost endeavors with every person in our town as we have opportunity, that they shall do the same, and those that buy and sell teas contrary to our true intent and meaning, shall be viewed as enemies to their country, and shall be treated as such."
A committee was chosen "to post such persons as shall sell or consume that unnecessary article tea," a committee of correspondence selected, to consist of James Stewart, Hezekiah Smith, George Clark, Joseph Caldwell, and John Harroun, and Thomas Bell sent as a delegate to the Provincial Congress.
In February, 1775, it was agreed to grant 20s. per week to Minute-Men, provided 18 men enlisted previous to the annual meeting; but in case that number could not be secured, none of them was to have any pay. The excited state of public feeling in the autumn of 1774 is shown in a record which tells of the selection of a committee "to prevent mobs and riotous assemblies in this town."
Upon the sounding of the Lexington alarm in 1775, Capt. Hugh McLellan. raised in Coleraine and Shelburne a company of Minute-Men, who were mustered into Col. Samuel Williams' regiment. and marched for Boston, April 20th.* The names of the ,men in the company were as below: Hugh McLellan, Captain; Jacob Pool, Lieutenant; Abraham Pennell, Second Lieutenant; John Stewart, Samuel Boyd, David Morris, and Amasa Kemp, Sergeants; John Patterson, Archibald Pennell, and Elisha Ransom, Corporals; with the following privates: William Anderson, Thomas Barber, Matthew Clark, Robert Fulton, William Fulton, John Henderson, John Kateley, Isaac Pennell, James Pennell, Samuel Stewart, James White, James Wilde, Daniel Morrison, Joseph Caldwell, John Fulton, William Clark, Robert Miller, James Walles, William Stewart, John Harroun, Lawrence Kemp, John Burdoch, Job Coleman, John Herton, David Hunter, John Long, John Taylor, Jabez Ransom, Benjamin Nash, Benjamin Allen, Stephen Kellogg, Noah Wells, Jonathan Fisk, William Hitten.
In the summer of 1775 the town passed a resolution "that any constable or collector who refuses to take assessments shall be viewed as an enemy to his country, and their estates shall be declared forfeited."
About this time the General Court ordered men to be raised "for Canada," but Coleraine refused to offer any bounty for the men required as its quota, although it is presumed that the men were obtained.
In Capt. Lawrence Kemp's company of 66 men, which served at Ticonderoga forty-seven days, beginning February 23 and ending April 10, 1777, were the following Coleraine men: John Stewart, First Lieutenant; Samuel Stewart, Sergeant; Isaac Pennell and Archibald Pennell, Corporals; and Privates David Harroun, Gawn Riddle, Rominer Smith, James Stewart, David Morrison, David McGee, John Caldwell, John Call, Moses Ruinger, Wm. Wilson, Robert Patterson, Peter Wilson, John Walles.
It is said that when the battle of Bennington was fought, Aug. 16, 1777, the roar of the conflict was heard at Coleraine, whereupon Capt. Hugh McLellan's company, in Col. David Field's regiment, set-out for Bennington, August 17th. In that company were the following Coleraine men: Hugh McLellan, Captain; Mathew Clark and Hugh Morrison, Sergeants; and. Privates David Morrison, James Walles, Thomas Fox, Gawn Riddle, Elisha Fobes, James Pennell, Archibald Pennell, David Morris, Andrew Henry, John Fulton, Wm. Fulton, Wm. McIlwaine, Hugh Henry, Abner Carswell, David Smith, Joseph Caldwell, Jas. Stewart, Hugh Stewart, David McGee, John Newman, James White, Joseph Henry, John Call, Moses Fulton, Moses Ruiner, John Bolton, John Mathews, Andrew Neilson, Robert Riddle.
Capt. Hugh McLellan's company, which served in Col. David Wells' regiment from Sept. 20 to Oct. 18, 1777, included the following: Hugh McLellan, Captain; John Stewart, Lieutenant; John Patterson, Hugh Morrison, David Harroun, and James Pennell, Sergeants; Thos. Fox, William Fulton, and Thos. McGee, Corporals; and Privates Jas. McCullough, Wm. Shearer, Seth Clark, Wm. McElwaine, John Walles, Seth Denio, Walter Bell, David Smith, Henry Walles, John Call, Josiah Kennedy, John Love, Hugh Stewart, Jas. Harkness, Hugh Henry, John Harroun, John Neilson, Abner Carswell, Wm. McCrelles, Joseph Henry, Matthew Donelson, Daniel Clark, Nathaniel Smith, Wm. Pierce, Moses Johnson, Gawn Riddle, Jonathan McGee, James Stewart, Wm. Clark, Nathaniel Turner, Joseph Thompson, Moses Fulton, Silas Kellogg, Robert Pennell, John McDonald, Hugh Morrison, Jas. Mathews.
There were Tories in the town, but they were so completely overawed that they contented themselves with observing a peaceful neutrality. Suspected persons were prosecuted by a town committee chosen for that especial business.
Coleraine was ardently patriotic during the Revolution, and gave wellnigh all her able-bodied men to the service. Besides those heretofore enumerated, many Coleraine men enlisted in commands recruited in distant towns.
In 1777, John Wood raised and commanded a company of Coleraine artificers, and, with John Bolton as his second in command, entered the service in September of that year. The company was assigned to West Point, and remained there until the close of the war, in 1783. Captain Wood, retiring from the service a few months after reaching West Point, gave place to Lieut. Bolton, who remained thereafter in chief command. He was enlisted heart and soul in the cause of liberty, and, the general government failing to pay his men, he mortgaged his property in Coleraine, and himself, to his own impoverishment, maintained them. He was the direct-big spirit in the construction of the works of defense at West Point, and in the building of the Croton River bridge. He was, however, illy rewarded for his devotion, his patriotism; and his sacrifices. Not only were his men denied payment for their closing services, but they were left by the government to reach their homes as best they could, without money, and frequently without food, while Bolton, having sacrificed all his property to his country's cause, found himself a pauper and homeless at the close of the struggle. His last days were spent with his children in New York, where he died in 1807.
Capt. Hugh McLellan took a conspicuous part in the stirring scenes of the Revolution, and from first to last was the foremost man in Coleraine in the business of raising troops for the service, himself commanding at least three companies sent from that town on as many occasions. Dr. Holland relates the following of him:
"He was at the battle of Stillwater, and was on several occasions chosen to perform perilous duty. After the battle Gen. Burgoyne sent forward a company of artificers, protected by a strong guard, to prepare a way of retreat. It became necessary for the American commander to have those works, so far as they had been completed, destroyed. Capt. McLellan and his company were chosen to perform this duty. Under cover of night, they went and destroyed a bridge which the enemy had erected. On their return to the American camp, they passed a house in which Capt. M. conjectured a part of the guard sent forward by Gen. Burgoyne might be stationed. He placed his men around the house, so that no one could escape, and then ordered two of them to fire at the door; upon which a company of 31 men came out. A battle ensued, in which all of the enemy were killed save two, who were taken prisoners. These two afterward joined the American army, and Capt. McLellan's company, and when he returned to Coleraine, they came with him. The name of one was Harris the other Bond,--father of James Bond, recently of Heath. Capt. McLellan, for many years, was one of the principal men of the town. He was a man of sterling integrity, kind and affable manners, and was beloved by all who knew him."
In 1779 the town resolved that
"No person belonging to any other town shall purchase cattle or any other provisions in this town unless such person shall produce a certificate from the town to which he belongs that he is not a monopolizer or forestaller, and that he is a friend to the United States."
At the close of the war, in 1783, it was voted that the people called refugees that have gone to the British shall not return to live among us."
* There is some mistake in this date. The battle of Lexington was fought on the 19th of April; the settlement was nearly one hundred miles from Boston; and if the company was recruited after the news arrived,—which would have taken some time,—it could not have started for Boston on the day succeeding the battle.