Deerfield — Father Rasle's War
Extracted from "History of the Connecticut Valley in Massachusetts, Volume II," by Louis H. Everts, 1879.
After a respite of nine years, during which the town had in a considerable degree revived from its low estate, war was declared between France and England in 1722. Our situation, however, was much improved, and we were a less isolated people. Northfield and Sunderland had been settled. In the winter of 1723-24 a stockaded fort was built on the Connecticut River, about thirty miles northward, called Fort Dummer. With all this added security, the town suffered great hard-ship and much loss. Our people took an active and prominent part in the war. In 1722, Capt. Samuel Barnard took the field, with Joseph Kellogg as lieutenant, and Joseph Clesson as sergeant. The names of 92 men are on his rolls for 1722 and 1723. During the time of their service no enemy was seen in this region. In the winter of 1723-24 the garrison was reduced to 10 men. These were constantly on duty, watching and warding. February 18th, 10 more men were added. April 6th, news came that Grey-Lock had left his fort and was tampering with the Skagkooks. These Indians were intimately acquainted with this part of the country and the situation of the inhabitants. Considerable alarm was felt, and the garrison increased. It was expected the establishment of Fort Dummer, from which ranging-parties scoured the woods to the north and west, would give security to the settlements below. These expectations were not realized. June 27, 1724, Ebenezer Sheldon, Thomas Colton, and Jeremiah English were killed near Rocky Mountain, in Greenfield. Soon after, Col. Stoddard writes, "several houses were rifled in Deerfield village." July 10th, Lieut. Timothy Childs and Samuel Allen were wounded by the lurking foe near Pine Hill. After this it was not considered safe for men to go on the meadows to work in less numbers than 30 or 40 together, and well armed.
In July, Capt. Goodrich, with 75 men, and Capt. Walter Butler, with 30 English and 42 Indians, came up from Connecticut to the rescue. With this force the woods were soon clear of the enemy. The Indians were Mohegans and Pequots. The latter, the people thought, "could not compare" with the former in activity and woodcraft. The Mohegans were well pleased in turn, and promised to come up again. Maj. Ben Uncas was now sachem of this tribe, and cherished the friendship which his illustrious father had formed with the whites eighty years before.
Lieut. Kellogg became a captain in 1724, with headquarters at Northfield. When the Connecticut troops went home, his lieutenant, Timothy Childs, was stationed at Greenfield with part of his company, and with the garrison of Sunderland also under his charge.
The last week of March, 1725, Capt. Thomas Wells, with a party of 20 men, left here for a scout up the river toward the Canada frontiers. He was gone about a month, but no journal of his march has been found. On the return, a canoe with 6 men was overset on the river at the "French King," and Simeon Pomroy, Thomas Alexander, and Noah Allen were drowned. "There are 8 men at Deerfield, several of whom are men of estate, and have been prisoner with the Indians, and know their ways," writes Col. Stoddard, February 3d, "who are ready to go out." They were doubtless of Wells' party. About September 9th, "Capt. Wells, being in his great pasture, beard a crackling of sticks, and saw the bushes move within eight rods of him, and, being apprehensive of the enemy, he ran home and took sundry men to the place, where they found the tracks of two Indians, which they followed across two fields of corn." These were supposed by Justice Wells to be "spying out our circumstances." The garrison not being strong enough to send out a large scout, Capt. Benjamin Wright, of Northfield, the noted ranger, came down with his company to search the woods. None of the enemy were found.
August 25th, as Samuel Field, Samuel Childs, Joseph Severance, Joshua Wells, and Thomas Bardwell were going up to Green River farms, they were fired upon from an ambuscade while on the spot where the Greenfield depot stands; no one was hurt except Childs, who was slightly wounded. This was the last irruption of the enemy during the war. Peace was proclaimed Sept. 17, 1725.
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