Deerfield — Lothrop's Massacre

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

      Early in the morning, on the 18th of September, 1675,—a day memorable in our annals,—Capt. Lothrop with his "choice company of young men, the very flower of the county of Essex," followed by a slow train of ox-carts, moved out of the south end of the town street, two miles across South Meadows, through the bars and up Long Hill, to the wooded plain stretching away to Hatfield meadows. The carts were loaded with bags of wheat, and upon some were feather-beds and other light household stuff. These may have been taken by Joshua Carter for his widowed sister, Sarah Field, planning an asylum for herself and helpless children in her father's house in Northampton. Onward across the plain marched the proud escort, confident that their numbers saved them from all danger of attack. Capt. Lothrop took no precaution against a surprise, not even throwing out vanguard or flankers. Not a movement of the English troops for the last three days had escaped the observation of the enemy, and this very company had been marked for a prize. Philip with his Wampanoags, and the Nipmuck bands under Sagamore Sam, Mantaup, One-Eyed John, Matoonas, Panquahow, and other minor sachems, had crossed the Connecticut to cut it off on the return to Hadley. Keen eyes had seen the preparations for the march at Pocomptuck; swift feet had carried the news to the chieftains below, who at this moment were issuing their last orders to their warriors lying in the fatal ambuscade at Bloody Brook, into which Lothrop was marching in hapless security. From the top of Long Hill the track lay through a dense forest for a mile and a half, when it approached a narrow, swampy thicket on the left flank, trending southward, through which, sluggishly crept a nameless brook. Skirting this swamp another mile, a point was reached where it narrowed and turned to the right. Here the road crossed it diagonally, leaving the marsh on the right. The soldiers had passed the brook, and halted while the teams should drag their heavy loads through the mire. Meanwhile, the silent morass on either flank was covered with the bodies of grim warriors, lying prone upon the ground, their scarlet plumes and crimson paint undistinguishable from the Frost-king's tints on leaf and vine. Breathless and still, they waited the signal. The critical moment arrived. The wild war-whoop rang in the ears of the astonished English; every bush and every tuft of grass in the peaceful-looking morass became a living flame. The flower of Essex withered before it, and the nameless stream was baptized with blood.
      Mosely, who had remained with the inhabitants, had heard the firing, and, hastening to the rescue, found the savages stripping the slain and plundering the carts. Exulting in their success, confiding in their numbers, the Indians dared him to the combat, shouting "Come on, Mosely, come on! You seek Indians, you want Indians; here's Indians enough for you!" Although eight or ten to one, the gallant captain at once rushed on. Keeping his men in a compact body, he charged back and forth through the swarming legions, cutting down all within range of his fire, and fought them in this manner four or five hours, defying all attempts to surround him, but without being able to drive the enemy from the ground. Exhausted by his efforts and encumbered by his wounded, Capt. Mosely was about to retire from the field, when, "just in the nick of time," Maj. Treat, with 100 Connecticut men and 50 Mohicans, under their young chief Attawamhood, arrived on the ground, and the combat was soon ended. Mosely lost three killed and several wounded. The united force marched to Pocomptuck for the night, carrying their wounded and leaving the dead as they fell. Mather says, "This was a black and fatal day, wherein there was eight persons made widows and six-and-twenty children made orphans, all in one little plantation." This was the heavy news which these worn soldiers brought to the stricken inhabitants. The next day, Sunday, Treat and Mosely returned and buried the dead, "about 60," says Mather, "in one dreadful grave;" "64 in all," says a letter from the Massachusetts council, three days after the event. Rev. John Russell, of Hadley, fixes the number of killed at 71. The following list, copied from Mr. Russell's MS. letter in the State archives, contains the names of all that are known to have fallen. I have arranged the list alphabetically, and added the residence whenever able to ascertain it:

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