Deerfield — Old French War

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

      March 15, 1744, France declared war against England, and the colonies in America became once more the theatre of a bloody struggle. Deerfield had increased in size and importance, and became the centre of military operations on the north and west frontiers, and was comparatively safe from hostile incursions. Besides Fort Dummer at the north were Forts Hinsdale, in Hinsdale; Pelham, at Rowe; Shirley, in Heath; with the stockaded houses of Sheldon, in Bernardston, Morrissey's and South Fort, in Coleraine. These defenses, constantly connected by scouting-parties, formed a barrier difficult to penetrate undiscovered. At first Fort Dummer was deserted. Being cut off from Massachusetts by the new line in 1741, Gov. Belcher could not well hold military possession of New Hampshire territory, and the latter State refused to furnish a garrison. A statement by Gov. Shirley was laid before the king and council, Sept. 6, 1744. At this meeting New Hampshire was ordered to protect the settlements on Connecticut River, or hand the territory over to Massachusetts. Before this question was settled there was much alarm here, and active measures were taken to repel assault.
      May 15, 1744, the town voted to build "mounts" at four houses;—Mr. Ashley's, Capt. Thomas Wells', Capt. Elijah Williams', and one at the south end; John Arms' was finally selected. Also one at Green River, and two at Wapping. Samuel Allen and the other inhabitants at the Bars were allowed a rebate of their proportion of the cost of these works if "they would build mounts and fortify themselves." This they did not do, but sought the defenses in the town for safety. In June of this year Indians were discovered lurking about the town, but no damage was done. November 23d the town petitions the General Court for a guard "to defend us from the enemy, who may reasonably be expected before spring, we being so near Crown Point." It also asked reimbursement for expenses in fortifying.
      Feb. 5, 1745, the military committee were directed to inclose the houses where mounts had been built, with boards; and in March, not to "line the forts" until further orders. Green River was considered more exposed, and March 18th the committee for building the mounts there were instructed "to line the fort on the east side, and so far on the north side of it as til the house will defend it, and so at each side of the south gate, and also at each side of the well." April 10th, "voted to give Mr. Ashley liberty to use what timber can be found among his wood that will answer the end for fortifying, &c., and pickiting his fort!"

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