Northfield — Revolutionary Reminiscences

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

      Northfield bore a noble part in the war of the Revolution, and in the early town records the frequent narration of how the town pursued vigorous measures on behalf of the country's common cause testifies eloquently to the patriotic spirit that animated its inhabitants. When the revenue act was passed, imposing onerous duties upon necessaries and luxuries, the Northfield people promptly resolved to forego the use of many of the articles upon which taxes were laid.
      In 1774, Phinehas Wright was chosen to represept the town at the General Court, convened by Gov. Gage, to meet at Salem, October 5th, and the following year Ebenezer Janes was chosen a delegate to the Provincial Congress to be held at Cambridge. Samuel Smith, Phinehas Wright, Samuel Root, Thomas Alexander, and Seth Field were that year chosen a committee of inspection, and it was also voted "that the selectmen give orders that such of the Minute-Men belonging to this town that are not able to supply themselves with ammunition for any expedition that they may be called to, be supplied out of the town's stock whenever they shall be called forth."
      In the fall of 1774 a company of 51 Minute-Men—26 belonging to Northfield, and 25 from Warwick—were organized, and entered at once upon a course of training exercise, under Joseph Allen and Gad Corse. The company was commanded by Capt. Eldad Wright, and upon the alarm from Lexington, in April, 1775, the long roll was beaten by Elihu Lyman. Capt. Wright assembled his command, and on the evening of the day after the battle of Lexington, Capt. Wright and his company were en route from Northfield to Cambridge, in Col. Samuel Williams' regiment. The names of the Northfield men were: Captain, Eldad Wright; Sergeants, Eliphaz Wright, Hophni King; Corporals, John Holton, Oliver Smith; Fifer, Cotton Dickinson; Drummer, Elihu Lyman; and the following privates: Eldad Alexander, Cyrus Stebbins, Moses Root, Joseph Allen, Augustus Belding, Ebenezer Petty, Rufus Carver, Elisha Alexander, Luther Fairbanks, Thomas Stebbins, George Robbins, Joseph Fuller, Barzillai Wood, Elisha Stebbins, Benjamin Miller, Elisha Risley, Nathan Fisk, William Clemmens, David Goodenough.
      In March, 1776, a company of 63 men, recruited at Northfield, Warwick, Bernardston, and vicinity, chose Thomas Alexander as captain, and marched, under orders, to join the expedition against Canada. The company proceeded to Ticonderoga, and subsequently to Morristown, N. J., where, in December, 1776, they joined Washington's army. Of the 63 originally included in the command, but 18 were left when Morristown was reached.
      Among the Northfield men who enlisted for the campaign of 1776 were also Capt. Samuel Merriman, Moses Belding, Cephas Alexander, Eldad Alexander, John Farrar, Solomon Holton, Augustus Belding, Thomas Stebbins, Moses Smith, James Hunt, Cyrus Stebbins, Thomas Elgar, Dennis Stebbins, Alpheus Morgan, Second Lieut. Miles Alexander, Nathan Holton, Samuel Frizzel, Elihu Root, Reuben Field, Nathan Field, Nathaniel Billings, Stephen Billings, Asa Stratton, Jonathan Janes, Edward L. Tiffany, Elijah Stratton, Noah Morgan, Jona. Loveland, Levi Field, Ithamar Goodenough, Nathan Prindle, Titus Dickinson, David Smith, Joseph Rose, Moses Smith, Samuel Slarrow, ______ Baldwin, Samuel Temple, Ishmael Turner, John Stearns, ______ Sikes, William King, Ezra King, Simeon King.
      Among those who enlisted in 1777 were Thomas Elgar, Jas. Lyman, Samuel Field, Thaddeus Brooks, Benjamin Dike, Nathaniel Billings, Benoni Dickinson, Moses Burt, Archibald Clandanel, Ebenezer Field, Asahel Stebbins, John Mun, J. Church, and Joseph Smead.
      Col. Phinehas Wright, of Northfield, was in command of a regiment in 1777, and Moses Dickinson Field, who was a lieutenant at the battle of Bennington, afterward maintained that it was a shot from his gun which laid low Col. Baum, the German commander. Capt. Samuel Merriman, of Northfield, commanded a company of men in Col. Phinehas Wright's regiment, which went out in response to Gen. Gates' call in September, 1777.
      The Northfield men in Capt. Merriman's command were: Captain, Samuel Merriman; Lieutenant, Eldad Wright; Sergeants, Seth Lyman, Oliver Watriss, and George Field; Corporals. Nathaniel Billings, Jas. Lyman. John Holton, and Eldad Alexander; and privates, Elias Bascom, Alpheus Brooks, Ebenezer Petty, Thaddeus Brooks, Simeon Alexander, Jonathan Janes, Elijah Taylor, John Evans, Nathan Fisk, Elisha Holton, Asa Stratton, Henry Allen, Noah Morgan, Elijah Stratton, and Eliphaz Wright.
      Capt. Merriman's company took part in the battles of Saratoga, and was present at the surrender of Burgoyne, Oct. 17, 1777. After Burgoyne's surrender several of his men settled in Northfield, among them John Woodard, Robert Timson, Dennis McCarty, and William Dorrel. The latter became subsequently a settler at Leyden, Mass., and the founder of a religious sect called the "Dorrelites."
      John Wotton, an Englishman, who settled in Northfield about the close of the war, embarked from England with Burgoyne's army, but, the ship in which he sailed being captured by an American cruiser, he enlisted, upon his arrival, in the American army, and was present at Burgoyne's surrender.
      In May, 1778, the town raised £120 lawful money to pay for four men to serve eight months. £100 apiece were paid to George Robbins, Solomon Alexander, Matthew Ransom, John Dennis, and Ebenezer Petty as a bounty for enlisting.
      In June the bounty was raised to £120 per man for the term of the war, and in July and October nine men were raised for six months' service at £30 per man as a bounty. Among those who entered the service this year (1778) were Eldad Wright, Jona. Belding, Darius Stebbins, Oliver Garey, Elihu Lyman, Moses Root, Joseph Smead, Joshua Lyman, Eliphalet Stratton, Sylvanus Watriss, Daniel Ransom, J. Church, Phinehas Field, Obadiah Janes, Levi Merriman, Alpheus Brooks, Samuel Merriman, Eliphaz Alexander, Thos. Alexander, Francis Burk, Levi Field, Asa Field, Elijah Field, Jonas Holton, Ebenezer Petty, John Dickinson, Francis Akeley.
      In 1780 the £120 granted by the General Court were paid Jona. Belding's son for enlisting as a nine months' man, and £360, also granted by the General Court, were paid to three other nine months' men.
      Other men who entered the service this year (1780) were Moses Robbins, Alpheus Brooks, Thaddeus Brooks, Daniel Warren, John Watriss, John Moffatt, Joseph Myrick, Seth Mun, Gideon Putnam, Alpheus Morgan, William Norce, Archibald Clandanel, James Lyman, Jona. Belding, Eldad Wright, Tertius Lyman, Joshua Lyman, Eliphalet Stratton, Phinehas Field, Seth Field, Eliphas Alexander, Barzillai Woods, Benjamin Doolittle, James Scott, Moses Dickinson.
      For ten men required in January, 1781, 1000 Spanish dollars were borrowed to pay the bounties, and after that, in the same year (July), Tertius Lyman, Donaldus Wright, Moses Robbins, Nathaniel Coller, Reuben Whitcomb, William Larkin, Abraham Parker, Jona. Parker, Richard Kingsbury, Alexander Best, and William Brown, enlisted, and received—the eight first named—a bounty of £12 each.
      When the war of 1812 broke out Northfield was the head-quarters of the 15th Division Massachusetts Militia, commanded by Maj.-Gen. John Nevers, of Northfield. Shortly after the beginning of hostilities, Capt. Elisha Field opened a recruiting-office in Northfield and organized a company known as the "Sea Fencibles," afterward stationed at Fort Independence, in Boston Harbor.
      In September, 1814, Capt. Elijah Mattoon, Jr., set out from Northfield for Boston in command of an artillery company, composed of the following men: Captain, Elijah Mattoon, Jr.; Lieutenants, Charles Bowen and Isaac Gregory; Sergeants, Calvin Stearns, King Harris, Samuel Alexander, Jas. Horsely, John Whiting; Corporals, Sharon Field, Elmer Wait, Nathan Simonds, Ansel Graves; and rank and file as follows: Micajah Heminway, Elias Holton, John Holton, Jr., Henry Wright, Erastus Field, Chapin Holden, Wm. Norton, Elijah Shepardson, Arunah Shepardson, John Packard. Aaron Dike, Jr., Edward Nettleton, Reuben Lee, Adam Torrey, Miner Butler, Cyrus Butler, Ellsworth Hunt, Alanson Hunt, Apollos Morgan, Abner E. Whiting, Lucius Holton, Wm. Hancock, Thomas Lyman, Jabez F. Bissell, Calvin Stratton, Clark Fowler, Obadiah Morgan, Richard Colton, Wm. Hall, John Fowler, Thomas Rockwood.
      Others who served in the war from Northfield were Otis French, Adolphus Lyman, Ezekiel Woods, Thomas Kendall, Charles Reed, Moses Ellis, Jas. Mattoon, Artemas Moody, Apollos Beach, Oliver Kendrick, George Nettleton, Jos. Perry, Jolla. Robbins, Ebenezer Childs, Solomon Miller, Ebenezer Dodge, Eber Church, Isaac Reed, Aaron Davis, Jos. Bridge, Jos. Cook, Simeon Mallory, Isaac Kendall, Zadock Turner, Isaac Johnson, John Fairman, Samuel Presson, Jacob Miller.
      Northfield took no public action in opposition to the war of 1812, but Rufus Stratton went as an irregular delegate to the anti-war convention held at Northampton, on the 14th of July, in that year.

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