The Rebuilding of Fort Massachusetts

The Rebuilding of Fort Massachusetts

Fort Massachusetts had been rebuilt in the spring of 1747. The General Court had resolved to garrison 100 men in Fort Massachusetts so soon as it should be completed. Israel Williams was experienced enough to know that a very considerable base of supplies would be needed to maintain such a garrison in such a place, nothing short of Albany; accordingly, Captain Ephraim Williams was sent from the fort to Albany with an escort of 100 soldiers to guard provisions purchased there on their way thence to the fort, as he himself expressed it in a memorial dated November, 1747: "That in the month of May last I went from Fort Massachusetts to Albany to bring out stores for the use of the Government at that Fort," etc., etc.

Before the return of this escort from Albany, and while the workmen were still employed on the construction of the fort, a body of the French and Indian enemy approached the fort with the double intent of interrupting the work upon it and cutting off the escort of the provisions, and lay concealed for some time in the circum adjacent woods. On the 25th of May, the vanguard of the escort arrived near the fort, and was suddenly attacked by the enemy that had been in ambush. The workmen on the fort, who always had their arms close by, immediately advanced on the enemy, putting him between two fires in the sharp skirmish that ensued, which resulted in driving him into the woods for good, so that the escort came up with the loss of one Stockbridge Indian and with only two men wounded.

Just a week later than this skirmish, the fort being now completed and provisioned, the command over it was transferred by the following written order, Colonel William Williams: —

Fort Massachusetts, June 2, 1747.

Major Ephraim Williams

Sir, — Intending by the leave of Providence to depart this fort to-morrow,

which, through the goodness of God towards us is now finished, I must desire

you to take the charge of it; and shall, for the present, leave with you eighty

men, which I would have you detain here till the barracks are erected, which I

would have you build in the following manner, viz., seventy feet in length,

thirty in breadth, seven-feet post, with a low roof. Let it be placed within five

feet of the north side of the fort, and at equal distances from the east and west


Let it be divided in the middle with a tier of timber; place a chimney in the

centre of the east part, with two fire-places to accommodate those rooms. In

the west part, place the chimney so as to accommodate the two rooms on that

part, as if the house was but twenty feet wide from the south; making a parti-

tion of plank, ten feet distance from the north side of the barrack, for a store-

room for the provisions, &c.

The timber, stone, clay, lath, and all materials, being under the command of

your guns, I can't but look upon you safe in your business, and desire you to

see everything finished workmanlike; and when you have so done, you'll be

pleased to dismiss Capt. Ephraim Williams, with his men, and what of my com-

pany I leave. You'll not forget to keep a scout east and west, which the men

of your company are so well adapted for, and can be of very little service to you

in the works.

Sir, I shall not give you any particular directions about maintaining the

strong fortress or governing your men, but, in general, advise you always to be

on your guard, nor suffer any idle fellows to stroll about. Sir, I heartily wish

you health, the protection and smiles of Heaven on all accounts, and am, with

esteem and regard, sir

Your most humble servant,

W''. Williams.

The barracks were to be placed "within five feet of the north side of the fort, and at equal distances from the east and west ends." As the barracks were to be seventy feet long, if the fort were 100 feet, there would have been fifteen feet free at both ends of the north side, and if 120 feet, twenty-five feet free. There was to be, some years later, a mount for observation over the northwest corner of the fort, as there was to the old one; and we may be sure that the cannon were mostly ranged to the west or north, because the enemy would surely approach and probably attack on those sides. The sole entrance to the fort (always on the north side) was flanked at five feet distance by the barracks. The alley-way between the two was convenient for the ingress and egress of officers and soldiers without going through the barracks. The officers' quarters were undoubtedly within the main enclosure, as was also the well, and there must have been at least one chimney within for the accommodation of those quarters, which would still leave an ample parade. And so William Williams doubtless left the fort June 3d in the hands of the two Ephraim's, father and son, expecting that the father, so soon as the barracks were finished, would dismiss the son to the care and control of his mountain forts to the eastward.

The war was carried on in a desultory way through that summer and autumn, in various parts of New England; Peter Bovee, one of the soldiers of Fort Massachusetts, was captured near the fort on October 1st. It was from August to August two years between the first general attack upon and the consequent surrender of the first Fort Massachusetts in 1746, and the second and only other general assault upon the fort after its rebuilding. The second fort was much the stronger, as we have already seen; but the cannon were undoubtedly mounted so as to sweep the north and west, on which sides the French and Indians would naturally appear, both from the point of their general approach and especially from the lay of the land there, and on which sides in the main the attack of 1746 was made; while the attack of 1748 was very shrewdly planned on the part of the French, was made from the east and south sides—on which the fort was less formidable—and came very near being successful on account of what one cannot help regarding as rashness on the part of Captain Williams. We shall let him tell his own story in a moment, but an outline of the main facts will prepare us the better to judge of that and of him.

The Attack of 1748

In the late afternoon of the 1st of August, the garrison (then full) had good reason to believe that an ambush of French and Indians had been laid in the woods that skirted the river on the side next the fort. The ford where the Indian trail—Trail of the Five Nations—crossed the Hoosac, was due east of the fort about fifty rods. Just a little below the fording-place, the stream, which here falls southerly, turns westerly, and keeps that course at about the same distance to the south of the fort as to the east of it. Dense woods skirted the stream on those sides of the fort. At six o'clock on the morning of the 2nd, Captain Williams went out at the gate to observe the motions of the fort dogs, and satisfied himself that the ambush was about forty rods to the east of the fort, between it and the fording-place; and going back into the fort, where all was commotion, a few men were eager to go out and reconnoitre. He refused to let them go because they were too few, and, getting ready fifty men for a sally, he found that four men had gone out without his permission, and were standing their ground against twelve or fifteen who had come out into the open; whereupon, Williams hastily sallied with thirty men, and drove these back into the woods near the fording-place, when fifty Indians in ambuscade on his right (southeast of the fort) rose and gave him a general discharge of their guns and then tried to get in between him and the fort, that is, to cut off his communications; but by a quick movement in retreat, the Captain and his party regained the gate just in time to have it shut in the face of the enemy. Lieutenant Hawley and Ezekiel Wells were wounded (the last mortally) in the sally. A large body of the enemy, probably their whole force, estimated as between two and three hundred Indians and thirty Frenchmen, then came out from their cover and opened fire on the fort, which they continued nearly two hours under a spirited response from the fort. One of the garrison, Samuel Abbott, was killed. The enemy then drew off down the Hoosac by the trail, carrying their killed and wounded.

The Captain's own letter addressed to Colonel Israel Williams, his immediate military superior, written on the day of the fight, is crowded with interest in every line, makes the best explanation of his conduct possible to be had, unfolds his own personal traits in several lines, and gives precious glimpses of the conditions and circumstances of the time.

Fort Massachusetts, Aug't 2, 1748.

Sir, — You may remember in my last I informed you that our scout to Scatticook was discovered July 23 by the enemy and followed in, and that they had observed the motion of the garrison night and day ever since — and that the guards I had sent to Deerfield to bring stores I feared would be ambusht by an army in your return. But to my great joy yesterday at 2 o'clock post m. ye 2 Lieutenants Severance and Hawley with 40 of the guard arrived safe at the fort. Had not made any discovery of an enemy in their march from Deerfield here. But in less than two hours after their arrival the dogs began to bark, run back on their track some distance — were exceeding fierce. We all then determined the enemy had followed them in. Kept a good look out, last night. This morning at 6 o'clock being out at ye gate and observing the motion of the dogs I determined their was an ambush laid about 40 rods from ye fort, between the fort and where we crossed the river to go to Deerfield. Some of the men were desirous to go see if it were so. I told them they should not go out so few. But we would send out 50 men, (supposing we could have given them a welcome reception) (by taking ye advantage of the ground, with the assistance of our cannon). I went into the fort to consult my Lieutenants; ordered them to git ready. Had no sooner got into the fort but one of the enemy fir'd at our dogs, which I suppose would have seized him immediately had he not. Upon that there went of a volley of 12 or 15 guns at several men which had got out unbeknownst to me, who returned their fire & stood their ground. Finding our scheme was at an end, we made a sally with about 35 men (in order to save those that were out, & must in a few minutes have fallen into their hands). Engaged the enemy about 10 minutes & drove them off the ground. Upon which, an ambush of 50 men about 10 rod off arose on our right wing, & partly between us and ye fort, & discharged a volley upon us, at which we were obliged to retreat. Fought upon a retreat until we got into the fort, which they attacked immediately upon our shutting the gate. Upon this I ordered the men to their posts, (it being our turn now) & play'd away with our cannon and small arms, for the space of an hour and 3 quarters by the glass. They then retreated by degrees at a considerable distance, & so drew off. We had some fair shots in the fort. As to what number we killed & wounded of the enemy is uncertain. We saw them carry off but two, that was just as the fight was over. But this is certain a great many of the men fired 4, 5, or 0 round apiece in fair sight, & at no greater distance than 15 rods — a great many shots not above 7. On our side we had not one killed on the spot & but 3 wounded, though I fear 2 are mortally so. The men which are wounded are Lieut. Hawley, Samuel Abbott, Eze Wells. Lt. Hawley is shot through the calf of his leg with a large buck shot. Not hurt the bone. Abbott is shot in below his navel. The bullet cut out at his buttock. Wells is shot in at his hip. The bullet is lodged in his groin. (The reason I write so particular is on account of their friends. ) One thing is very remarkable (never to be forgot by us) that we should receive 200 shot at least in the open field, not anything to git behind, and make a retreat of 40 rods, and but 2 men wounded (for Abbott was not out with us).

We have been out some distance [west] in order to judge better of their number. Ye army consisted of at least between two and 300 men, which was chiefly of Indians, though I believe there was 30 French with a Commander in Chief. Some of them talked good English, whether Indians or French I know not.

I conclude by adding one thing more (viz.) ye officers and men behaved like good soldiers. Not one man flincht in the wetting that was perceiv'd. Thus Sr. I have given you an account of the whole affair as near as I can.

Blessed be God we have cause to sing of mercy as well as judgment.

I am Sr. Your Most Obedient

Humble Servant,

Eph. Williams, Junr.

Maj. Israel Williams, Esqr.

P.S. We have received one gun 2 hatchet & divers other small things. E.W.

What this skirmish demonstrated was that Fort Massachusetts, whatever its tactical failings from the viewpoint of military design, served an important strategic role in attracting the attention of the French and their Indian allies, and keeping them away from the settled areas to the south and east. [12]

The End of the War of the Austrian Succession/

King George's War in British America

At the time when the preceding letter was written from Fort Massachusetts, public affairs in Europe were converging towards the Peace of Aix la Chapelle, which was duly signed on the 18th of October, 1748, and which terminated for a time the war between England and France; but international news travelled but slowly in those days, and colonial hostilities were kept up, more or less until the outbreak of the next war, partly on account of ignorance of the Peace, and partly in consequence of colonial dissatisfaction with the retrocession of Louisburg to France.

"The peace concluded between England and France in 1748 was, as regards Europe, nothing but a truce, it was not even a truce in other quarters of the globe." — Lord Baron Macaulay [10]

Although Captain Ephraim Williams lived but little at Fort Massachusetts

in the years 1749, 1750, and 1751, that was all the while his headquarters. He controlled as Commander the ongoing of things; he sent in from time to time the muster-rolls of the men at this post to the provincial government at Boston, and took oath to their general correctness; he ordered supplies for the sick soldiers under his care directly, and indicated to Elijah Williams at Deerfield, the Commissary, the present and prospective needs of common supplies; and while his chief residence during these years was on the Connecticut River, he was often in Boston on military

and other business, and often at the forts, not only on his way back and forth but also as the agent of the Government in subsisting enlisted men, and certain French Protestants also, who had become a charge to the authorities at Boston.

By his own direct agency, and through his kinsman and confidant, Israel Williams, of Hatfield, his superior in military rank and in political position, he became the factotum of the government at Boston, in matters both, military and civil. Many cares were constantly coming upon that government. Exiles from the Old World for conscience' sake were crowding into Boston in these decades of the old French War, poor and persecuted, and had to be provided for by the public authorities; Palatines from both

banks of the Rhine, French Protestants from the home-land as well as the Catholic exiles from Acadia, tested about this time the hospitalities of Massachusetts; and the line of forts to the westward were opening up fresh lands and new townships, that might serve as homes for the new-comers.

Peace was thinning out the ranks of the garrisons. Forts Shirley and Pelham soon fell into relative insignificance even as compared with the more western fort; and on July 15, 1749, Lieutenant-Governor Spencer Phips (Governor Shirley being then, and for a long time, in England) sent orders to Colonel Israel Williams, "that the forces within ye County of Hampshire be doomed to the number of fifteen men only, including officers, and them to be posted at the Fort called Massachusetts Fort, and to be continued in pay till the first of May next, the rest of the men to be forthwith discharged."

But there were numbers of men in Western Massachusetts and elsewhere, and Israel Williams was among them, who already clearly perceived that the "Peace" was to be only a "Truce," and that preparations were only in order for what was felt would be a decisive struggle between England and France for the possession of North America. It was planned during the winter of 1749 to build a "mount" upon one of the corners of the Fort Massachusetts, which should be forty feet high, and also to strengthen the fort on the outside by a strong line of high pickets, similar to those that constituted the fort called "Pelham" to the eastward; both of which plans were accomplished in the sequel by the agency of Ephraim Williams. [Editor's Note: Also listed on the bill for sundries necessary for the fort at this time were a flag and halyard. The fort apparently hadn't had one since it was built.] Israel Williams was already studying on that detailed plan of offense and defense for the next war, which he communicated in form, not very long afterwards, to his superiors at Boston, parts of which were ultimately adopted by Governor Shirley and the officers summoned into council with him. Forts Shirley and Pelham, upon their distant hilltops, had proven themselves to be nearly useless in the late war, and Colonel Williams advised their abandonment, and the fortifying of Fort Massachusetts, and the using of the Hoosac Route as the way of offense against the French.

The Establishment of the Townships

In April of 1749, the General Court ordered a new survey and plan of the two townships, then first distinctly designated as "East Hoosac" and "West Hoosac."

The official report of the committee for the new survey makes interesting reading. It was made on the 10th of November following the appointment of the committee in April, 1749, by Oliver Partridge, of Hatfield, their chairman : —

The com. appt'd by the Great & Gen Court in April last to repair to the

Province lands near Hoosuck to lay out two Townships of the contents of six

miles square &c Report —

That on the 26 day of October the com. went from Hatfield, and the next day

came to Fort Mass — (having obtained Mr. Nathaniel Dwight a skilful Surveyor

to survey the Townships) The next day we went out to view the lands, ordered

the surveyor to measure the distance from the fort to the line that is run between this Government & New Hampshire (which was run some years since by Mr. Hazen) and on Monday & Tuesday following we proceeded to view the lands. In the meantime directed the Survr to take the courses & distances of ye adjacent mountains, and when we had sufficiently satisfied ourselves in what form the Townships be laid out, we directed the Survr to lay them out agreeable to the plan herewith presented (Having caused the Surv & chainmen to be


As to the quantity of intervale contained in the townships, we made no particular measure thereof by the survey, but carefully viewed the townships and would inform that the land on the river, running through the centre of the East Township for more than 4 miles northerly and southerly about half a mile East & West appears rich & good, a considerable part thereof is intervale.

In the West Township there is no so great quantity of Intervale, but a very valuable and rich tract of land in the middle of the Township, insomuch that the com. do deem the West Township the most valuable.

Great part of the land in both townships is considerably loaded with timber.

As to the quality of lands adjoining sd townships the Com. would inform that on the East of sd Townships lie the Great Hoosuck Mountain (so-called) which is about 7 miles from side, on which mountain there is a sufficient quantity of land for a township or two—a great part of it is valuable—On the West side of the West town lays a range of mountains, and between the two townships lays another range of mountains over which the dividing line runs—Between the North line of the East town and the Province line the land is mountainous and broken—and the land on the south of sd town is—some very poor and some of it good and accommodable for settlement.

All which is humbly submitted in the name and by the order of the Committee.

Ov. Partridge.

Nov. 10. 1749.

The purpose of the Province in the civil establishment of the two towns, as well as

in the erection and maintenance of the fort, was predominantly military. In the lull of active arms between the Peace of Aix la Chapelle and the renewal of the war, some twenty of these proprietors [of West Hoosac] had made the legally required beginnings upon their little homesteads. The committee had laid out the house-lots along both sides of a broad street fifteen rods in width, and stretching from Green River on the east to Buxton Brook on the west, a distance of about one mile and a half. On account of a relative facility in getting at water, the earliest houses, corresponding in size and height to the conditions prescribed by the General Court in selling the lots, were built on both sides of the Hemlock Brook and on both sides of the main street toward its western end. [11]

The great water power of the Hoosac River—the river was much deeper and swifter than now—attracted settlers to East Hoosac. In the year 1750, the General Court granted Ephraim Williams Jr., 200 acres of land in East Hoosac on the condition that he would reserve ten acres of the meadow around Fort Massachusetts for the use of that fort, and also to build a grist and saw mill within two years on the Hoosac River. The dam for these mills was just above the Main Street bridge. The grist mill was to the west and the saw mill upon the east side of the river. An old-fashioned trestle bridge, uncovered, with no railing except a huge log on each side, but supported by strong abutments, spanned the river just below the mills. The dam and mills were erected by a Mr. Jedediah Hurd, undoubtedly according to some arrangement made by Captain Williams with him. Although no data can be ascertained as of the time of its erection, it is reasonable to suppose that it was as early as 1752, in order to conform to the requirements of the grant. [12]

Admitting Settlers in the New Township of West Hoosac

As an inducement to buyers and settlers, the committee was able to urge the fact, that, in 1750, a grant of 200 acres of land had been made to Captain Ephraim Williams, Junior, in East Hoosac, by the General Court [as stated above] on condition that he should reserve ten acres of the meadow around Fort Massachusetts for the use of that fort, and also build a grist-mill and a saw-mill on one of the branches of Hoosac River near their junction, and keep the same in repair for twenty years for the use of the settlers in the two townships.The mills were built accordingly on the south branch (Ashuwillticook) at a natural fall a couple of rods above the bridge, by which one enters the present village of North Adams from the west. The mills were the first resource of the first settlers of both townships.

The committee were required, by law, to reserve three house lots in West Hoosac, "one for the first-settled minister, one for the ministry, and one for the school, as near the centre of the township as may be with convenience."

Chance, determined by the number drawn, determined the location of each man's purchase. One could buy just as well in Concord or Litchfield as in West Hoosac itself; the process could go on without confusion till the last number was drawn from the box. The name of the man and the number of the lot went together; there was no opportunity of choice as between the lots themselves.

Thus the house lots were all disposed of in the first instance—about one quarter of them to officers and men at Fort Massachusetts; some to land speculators of the time; some to men whose motives appear to have been patriotic merely, to help on the settlement as a good mode of defence against Canada; and some to men whose residence and character cannot be ascertained at this late day. There were forty-six buyers in all.

The first actual settlers upon any of these lots, who were also original proprietors of the same, seem all to have been soldiers at Fort Massachusetts.

Changing of the Guard

Captain Elisha Chapin succeeded Captain Ephraim Williams in the command of Fort Massachusetts from June 1752 - September 1754. And with that came a new set of problems. While Chapin stood high in the estimation of Governor Shirley, he stood correspondingly low in that of the Williamses. Chapin's rule was difficult, and at times the men were near mutiny and often intolerably drunk. [13]

Chapin was brave, courteous, and obedient to his military superiors, and loyal to the service as he conceived of its objects and interests; but he sadly lacked caution and moral control over men, and all the indirect evidence points to a free personal use of liquors and a too free distribution of them among the men under his command.

The two following letters from Captain Chapin to Colonel Israel Williams from Fort Massachusetts, dated respectively Aug. 3 and Aug. 25, 1754, furnish some idea of him as a man and a commander: —

Sir Last Sunday morning I sent a scout to Sencoick [St. Croix] and returned this minit. They find where the Indians marched off and burnt all afore them.

They think there was about 400 of the enemy. They see a man come out of Albany yesterday. The Gent, of Albany was very desirous that he should come to the fort and acquaint me that there is 44 Indian cannoes come out 9 days sence and desine for our scatereing frontteers in New England.

From Sir


to com:

Elisha Chapin.

Sir, This day there came a man from the Dutch and informs me that 4 days past there came 5 Indians from Crownpint and informs them that there is eight hundred Indians desine to destroy Hosuck and oare new town and this fort and desine to be upon us this night. I sent a man right down to Hosuck to here farther about the iffair, but the people was all moved of but 2 or 3 that was a coming to the fort and they tell him the same account. The Indians that brought the account was sent in order to have some parsons move from Sencoick that they bad a regard for, but if they come I hope we are well fixt for them.

In hast from


Your's &c

Command Elisha Chapin.

Ephraim Williams, Jr., resumed the command of Fort Massachusetts in September 1754, thereby causing the demotion of Captain Elisha Chapin, a turn of events that would embitter Chapin and inevitably lead to discord among the east and the future west forts.

Although Ephraim Williams was appointed to command at Fort Massachusetts, and took his station there about the 1st of September, 1754, under the expectation that a large body of French and Indians were about to repeat the operations of 1746, and under the current impression that Elisha Chapin was unequal to the emergency impending, it is plain, that, as the autumn wore

on and no such army appeared, all expectancy of its coming that year disappeared, and the fort, as a place to be defended against an assault, lost its interest for the present; and, in the meantime, as important councils were being taken at Boston and elsewhere in relation to three great offensive expeditions [One against Fort Duquesne, at the junction of the Allegheny and Monongahela Rivers, to be conducted by General Braddock; the second, an attempt on the fort at Niagara, to be conducted by Governor Shirley; and the third, an attempt to capture Fort St. Frédéric at Crown Point, to be executed by the militia of the northern colonies.] against the French so soon as the next spring opened, that Major Williams found himself more useful and influential in connection with these councils at Boston, in which even George Washington participated in person, than at his own fort, and left consequently the direction of affairs there to his second in command, Lieutenant Wyman.

On November 21, 1754, Ephraim Williams Jr., wrote to his cousin Israel Williams that the governor had promised to restore Chapin to his command if and when a new fort (presumably West Hoosac) would be built to the west, which Shirley would offer to Ephraim. But on the following December 16th, Israel replied that he was "determined never to restore Capt. C[hapin] to his butlership. He has almost ruined the garrison as I am sufficiently informed—the soldiers were debauched &c." Israel said that Wyman "behaves well—has restored good order & government." [14]

The French and Indian War Commences

The Seven Years' War began on this side the water in the valley of the upper Ohio in May, 1754, when [Lieutenant Colonel George] Washington, bearing a commission from the governor of Virginia, captured a French detachment under Jumonville and killed the commander; while indeed the war was not openly declared in Europe between the two great powers till 1756. Now it is curious to notice that the chief campaigns in this war, beginning in 1755, were fought out on the old neutral battle-ground of the Iroquois and Algonquins. The upper Hudson and Lake George were a war-path for the English and Mohawks to Lake Champlain and Canada, and the Richelieu and upper St. Lawrence were routes for French and Indians to Lake George and Oswego. It is these immemorial routes and battle-grounds of the Indians, and later of their civilized confederates on the one side and the other, that connects the valleys of the Hoosac and the Deerfield and the line of forts flanking the two with the vast events and issues of the last two French wars.

From late winter into the spring of 1755, Ephraim Williams Jr. proceeded to carry out the desires of the governor in respect to the enlistment of men for what was called "Shirley's own Regiment," [Formally called the 50th Regiment of Foot] for the Crown Point expedition [One of the three great offensive expeditions previously mentioned]. Major Ephraim was appointed the Colonel. He resigned his command at Fort Massachusetts on the 28th of March, 1755, and Isaac Wyman was at once appointed to succeed him, being promoted for the purpose from Lieutenant to Captain.

On May 31st, Shirley ordered Williams to proceed with his regiment to the "General Rendezvous at Albany, and on their arrival there to follow such orders and directions as they shall receive from Major General William Johnson, Commander in Chief of the Forces raised within the several Provinces and Colonies, for the intended expedition to erect a Fort or Forts on his Majesty's lands near Crown point, and for the removal of such encroachments as have already been made there by the French."

The following letter from Captain Isaac Wyman, now commanding at Fort Massachusetts, to Colonel Ephraim Williams, illustrates at once the eagerness to get men to enlist for Crown Point, and the looseness of military discipline on the western frontiers at that time.

Fort Massachusetts, June 28, 1755.

Hono'd Sir, I have one man deserted from the Fort, Joseph Bigelow, and Capt. Joseph Whitcome hath inlisted and taken him to Albany, and I was acquainted of it before they got verry far from the Fort and sent Serj't Taylor with 5 men with orders to bring him back to the Fort. The Serj't overtook them and got the man, and bringin him of Capt. Whitcome ordered two Serj'ts with two files of men to take him from them, which they did and are gone of with him. I weight your Honours pleasure to know what to doe in the afair. My scouts are constant east or west, and have not maid any late descovery of an enemy.

From Sr Your Most Humble Serv.t,

Isaac Wyman

Sir there is a famoley of the Duch that have maid there escape to the Fort

when the Indians fell upon them at Hoosuck. Serj't Taylor and Silas Pratt will

moove there wives out of the Fort as soon as the Duch can git away with safty.

I. W.

The aforementioned deserter, Joseph Bigelow, joined Captain Joseph Whitcomb's company on June 25, 1755, for the Crown Point campaign. His name is listed on the muster roll as Joseph Bigilo. [16]

Regarding the Dutch family seeking refugeit was not an uncommon occurrence. And this would be used as added leverage to petition for the building of a blockhouse in West Hoosac.

The Bloody Morning Scout

In order to best illustrate this next section, I must first briefly go over what occurred in one of the earlier military expeditions before expanding on the Crown Point expedition.

In July of 1755, one of the three great offensive expeditions planned, to capture Fort Duquesne, turned out to be a disastrous mission commanded by General Edward Braddock. Not only was he killed in the effort, but it was a major setback for the British in the early stages of the French and Indian War. Braddock's Defeat–as it is commonly called–additionally provided the French with the plans for Johnson's invasion and information that the English were mustering men at Albany for an expedition against Crown Point and Canada.

As a result of the confiscation of these plans, the attempt to capture Fort St. Frédéric at Crown Point––the other of the three great offensive expeditions planned––was in jeopardy. This effort was led by Sir William Johnson with 1,500 men and 200 Mohawks in August 1755. On his journey north, Johnson received word from his scouts that the French were operating in his rear. Halting his advance, Johnson began fortifying his camp and dispatched a militia south to reinforce Fort Lyman.

The series of skirmishes and engagements that took place in this expedition is known collectively as The Battle of Lake George––the Bloody Morning Scout, the Battle of LakeGeorge, and the Battle of Bloody Pond. We are going to briefly go over the engagement that directly involved Colonel Ephraim Williams Jr.––the Bloody Morning Scout.

"Bloody Morning Scout"

by Frederick Coffay Yohn (1875-1933)

On September 8, 1755, William Johnson sent Colonel Ephraim Williams south to reinforce Fort Lyman (re-named Fort Edward in 1756) with 200 Mohawk allies under Hendrick Theyanoguin, and 1,000 troops from Williams' Massachusetts Regiment, and Colonel Nathan Whiting's Connecticut Regiment.

Colonel Williams led out his regiment a short distance from the camp, on the road towards Fort Lyman, and then waited a little while for the rest of the detachment, under Leutenant-Colonel Whiting, to come up. Whiting was a Connecticut officer and led Connecticut men, and both did excellent service on this memorable day. Going on about two miles further, there was another wait to allow Hendrik's Indians, who had fallen into the rear, to come up and take the head of the column again; and the march was resumed without any apprehension that the enemy was near, and without the precaution of throwing out flankers, or even a vanguard, in Hendrik's front. Possibly Colonel Williams entrusted this service to the Mohawks.

I believe Perry's claim that Colonel Williams' advance guard was not preceded by scouts is not entirely true. M. de Vaudreuil, the Governor of Canada, in his official report under date of September 25th, said, in speaking of Baron de Dieskau's advance, wrote, "When he was about a league from the enemy s camp, his scouts brought him in two Englishmen, who told him that a large body of English and Indians were following them."[17c]

Also, Dieskau wrote in a separate correspondence, "After a march of some hours a prisoner was brought in to me, from whom I learned that General Johnson, having been advised of my march against Fort Edouart, had detached 1000 men from his camp to reinforce that place; that he, the prisoner, not supposing us so near, had started ahead, and that the detachment might be about half a league off." [17b]

The Baron de Dieskau, warned of Williams' approach, blocked the portage road with his French grenadiers and sent his Canadians and Indians to ambush the British from both sides of the road. They lay in wait in a ravine three miles south of the present-day village of Lake George.

Continuing their march till about half-past ten without suspicions, the advanced Mohawks had gotten wholly within this ambush, and Williams's regiment partially so...

At this point of the story, the details vary. Continuing on with Arthur Perry's narration, where he used E. Hoyt's book as a reference, he wrote:

... when Hendrik, jogging along by Colonel Williams's side, between the two columns, said to him: "I smell Indians!" and, pressing on a short distance further, he was suddenly hailed by one of Dieskau's Indians,—"Whence come you?"—"From the Mohawks!"—"Whence came you?" rejoined Hendrik, who was dressed after the English manner. "Montreal!" was the answer. [17a] Just then a gun was fired from the bushes, whether by accident or design will never be known. It has been said that some of Dieskau's "Six Nations," who were kinsmen of the Mohawks, wished to give them warning before it was too late.

The Baron de Dieskau insisted that his Indians treacherously showed themselves before the proper time, to warn their relatives among the English. He wrote:

But, unfortunately for me, some Indians, more curious than others, rose up, and, perceiving that the English had a party of Mohawks with them, notified the rest of the circumstance, whereupon all the Iroquois rose and fired in the air as a warning that there was an ambuscade. [17b]

And yet, another perspective. John Burk, the captain-lieutenant in Colonial Ephraim Williams regiment, wrote to his wife a few days after the battle.

The French lay on one side of the road on rising ground; the Indians on the other side in a swamp. Part of the French were regular troops: these lay south. Their scheme was to let our men march quite to the south end of the ambush, the regular troops to give the first fire, then all to fire and rush out; which if they had done they would have cut our men all to pieces. But the general says that a beady Indian, who was very eager, fired as soon as they entered the ambush. [17c]

Continuing now with Perry's narrative.

At any rate, it was too late. After a momentary pause, the terrible Indian yell rose on both sides of the road, followed by heavy firing, especially from the ravine on the left, which cut down the Mohawks in front in large numbers, and the head of the English column on that side. King Hendrik's horse was shot down, and the brave chief bayoneted as he tried to rise. He was both old and corpulent. Colonel Williams, seeing rising ground upon his right, ordered his men, then extended in files along the road, to mount it, and gain a more defensible position. They obeyed, but had made only a short advance when they came within range of the main ambush on that (western) side, and a deadly fire showered down upon them, which killed the commander, threw the whole line into confusion, and strewed the ground with dead and wounded.

Williams' column marched straight into the trap and was engulfed in a blaze of enemy musketry. In an engagement known as "The Bloody Morning Scout", Colonel Williams and Hendrick Theyanoguin were killed along with many of their troops. At this point, the French regulars, brought forward by Dieskau, poured volleys into the beleaguered colonial troops. Most of the New Englanders fled toward Johnson's camp, while about 100 of their comrades under Whiting and Lt. Col. Seth Pomeroy and most of the surviving Mohawks covered their withdrawal with a fighting retreat. The British rearguard was able to inflict substantial casualties on their overconfident pursuers.

"Death of Colonel Ephraim Williams"

by Frederick Coffay Yohn (1875-1933)

The death of Colonel Ephraim Williams was universally regretted by his country. By his long and faithful services in the defense of the western frontiers of Massachusetts, he had endeared himself to the people of that exposed part of e province; and by them particularly his loss wag considered as a great calamity. One of his intimate acquaintances, Col. John Worthington, bears testimony to his worth with the following. "Humanity made a most striking trait in his character, and universal benevolence was his ruling passion: his memory will always be dear.''

I will now close this section with the following about Colonel Ephraim Williams' character.

In his person, he was large and fleshy. He had a taste for books; and often lamented his want of a liberal education. His address was easy, and his manners pleasing and conciliating. Affable and facetious, he could make himself agreeable in all companies; and was very generally esteemed, respected, and beloved. His kind and obliging deportment, his generosity and condescension, greatly endeared him to his soldiers. By them, he was uncommonly beloved while he lived, and lamented when dead.

When Captain at Fort-Massachusetts, he frequently entered into the pastimes of his soldiers, upon an equal footing with them, and permitted every decent freedom; and again, when the diversions were over, he, with ease and dignity, resumed the Captain.

His politeness and address procured him a greater influence fit the General Court than any other person at that day possessed. He was attentive and polite to all descriptions tions and classes of men, but especially to gentlemen of dignified characters; and sought the company and conversation of men of letters. [18]

Col. Ephraim Williams Monument. Near Lake George N.Y, (1911) -- New York State Archives

A Blockhouse for West Hoosac

In January of 1756, a proposal was sent to the General Court of Massachusetts for aid to erect a blockhouse in West Hoosac.

The conviction was deepening on the part of all the actual settlers, and doubtless as well on the part of all the military bands passing through the place, back and forth, that Fort Massachusetts had been misplaced, and that the third eminence in West Hoosac could be more easily defended, and could much more easily defend the settlers. Especially would this be the view of the Connecticut men, having found out by experience that the Green River made an easy path for the Indians to the Housatonic. Very interesting and significant, accordingly, is the following petition of William Chidester, a Connecticut man, to the General Court of Massachusetts, for aid to erect a blockhouse in West Hoosac. The petition was sent and answered in the depth of winter: —

Province of the

Massachusetts Bay :

To his Honour Spencer Phipps Esq Commander in Chief

in and over His Majesty's province of the Massachusetts

Bay in New England, To the Honourable His Majesty's

Council, and House of Representatives in General Court

assembled the 18 Day of Jany 1756

The Petition of William Chidester of the Place called Hoosuck in the County

of Hampshire in said Province Humbly Shews:

That your petitioner purchased several lotts of land in the Westerly Township called Hoosuck Townships, which lays about four miles to the westward of fort Massachusetts, and had Removed his family on to said lots In order to Perform the Duties In joined the several Purchasers of lotts in the said Township, with an expectation that the other purchasers would have followed him to fulfill their obligations on their Respective lotts, and so strengthen the Town, that they might not only Defend ourselves against the common Enimy, but be a Barrier to Province, But so it is that Your Petitioner and Some Others, TO THE AMOUNT OF FIVE FAMILYS are left alone in the said Westerly Township as he apprehends in Emmenant Danger of being Murthered, and their substance destroyed by the Common Enimy, as there is but about five familys between his habitation, and the place Coled Scotohook (Schaghticoke) in the Dutch County which the Indians and French burnt and distroyed the last fall, Notwithstanding our forces were at lake George at the same time. Your Petitioner therefore humbly Prays your Honour and Honours would be Graciously pleased to take his Distrest Condition into your wise Consideration and grant such Releife as in Your great Wisdom you shall see meet. And as in Duty bound shall ever pray.

William Chidester

This petition was acted upon in the Popular Assembly in ten days, and by the Council and governor in five days more. Governor Shirley issued an executive order on the 6th of February, in accordance with Chidester's request, authorizing him to build a blockhouse on the "Square," — that is, in the Main Street on the third eminence, — if he could induce a sufficient number of the proprietors to join him so as to complete the work by the 10th of March; otherwise to build the blockhouse on his own lot, house lot No. 6, and afterwards to picket the front part of that lot and of the lot next west, house lot No. 8. Chidester only found encouragement to do the lesser thing. Benjamin Simonds, Seth Hudson, and Jabez Warren, three of the oldest homesteaders whose lots were near Chidester's, chipped in to aid him in his work. His own lot was the third west of North Street, or twenty-eight rods west of the east line. These four men commenced at once to erect the blockhouse on the eastern line of No. 6, where it touched the Main Street; and several others, who had left on the alarm in 1754 [The "alarm in 1754" refers to an Indian assault on "Dutch Hoosac" (Hoosac Falls) in May of 1754. All the settlers at West Hoosac immediately abandoned the place on news of the approaching ravages below them; those who had families betook themselves to Fort Massachusetts, and others returned to their homes over the mountain or into Connecticut. The second Indian party shrewdly avoided Fort Massachusetts.], and among them Nehemiah Smedley and Josiah Hosford and William Hosford, from Connecticut, returned and aided in the work. Ten men from Fort Massachusetts served as a guard from February 29th to March 29th, when the blockhouse was finished. We cannot tell exactly when it was done, but we know that pickets were set after the manner of Fort Pelham around the fronts of both of those lots, enclosing the two houses (built before), each on its own front lot next the street. A good well was also within the enclosure.

This rude work, not very well placed, and not meeting the views of a considerable number of the resident proprietors, was called "West Hoosac Fort."

It was accidental, but it is interesting nevertheless, that this local fort occupied the front of one of the two original lots drawn by Ephraim Williams, the founder.

Friction between Fort Massachusetts and the West Hoosac Fort began not long afterward. And there was also conflict between the Bay Colony settlers and the newer arrivals from Connecticut who had bought out some of the original Proprietors. [15]

A portion of the settlers were not satisfied with the proceedings of Chidester, his sons, and his followers. Thomas Train, who was originally from Weston (a part of Watertown), presented a petition on the 27th of May, 1756, for public aid to build

another fort.

Early in June, Chidester went to Boston again, and took with him the two petitions whose contents and signatures, though they have a decided Connecticut flavor as over against Massachusetts, have also in both respects a spirit of compromise.

Chidester returned from Boston, without much, if any, encouragement from high quarters, to his blockhouse and few faithful companions at West Hoosac.

Scouting Party Ambushes

It had long been the custom to keep small scouting parties in motion from fort to fort, from the Connecticut to the Hoosac, and down that river to the Hudson, and then back again. To the scattered garrisons, this was the main source of news from the eastward as well as from Canada. Sometimes only two soldiers would make these reconnoissances, tramping and watching after the Indian fashion. Benjamin King and William Meacham had been sent by Captain Wyman down the Hoosac on such an errand, and, returning, fell into an ambuscade only about three-quarters of a mile from the fort, and both were killed. This was June 11, 1756. King was from Palmer; and his body lies in the old burying-ground there, with a still legible inscription on the slate-stone monument at his grave. Meacham was from New Salem. Captain Wyman immediately detached ensign Barnard (Salah Barnard) with a party to the spot, but the lndians had fled.

Eight days after, a detachment of one hundred and sixty men, under Major Thaxter, from General Winslow's army on their march to Fort Massachusetts, attacked a party of the enemy, who fled after a short skirmish. [19]

On the 26th of June, a detachment of thirteen soldiers under Lieutenant Grant, from the main army of General Winslow, then encamped at Half Moon on the North River, were on their way to Fort Massacliusetts, when they were surprised by the enemy in the present town of Hoosac, about thirteen miles below the fort; eight of their number were killed outright, and the remaining five captured. The next day. Ensign Barnard was sent from the fort by Captain Wyman, with a small party, to reconnoitre the ground, and, if possible, to bury the dead, when he found, on approaching the place where the dead bodies lay in the road, a large body of Indians in ambuscade ready to pounce upon the party. Barnard warily withdrew his men, and made good his retreat to the fort. Hearing of the circumstances, General Winslow detached Captain Butterfield with a strong body from Half Moon, who took possession of the ground and buried the slain.

On the eleventh of July, Captain Elisha Chapin, Sergeant Chidester, and his son James, being out a small distance from the block house at West Hoosac, in search of Cows, were suddenly fired upon by a party of Indians, and the two latter killed on the spot. The captain was seized, carried off about sixty rods, and barbarously murdered. The Indians then pressed on and opened their fire upon the block house. Killed the cattle in the vicinity, and soon after, retreated into the woods.

No other attacks; are noted in this quarter during the year; but the Indians still infested the woods, and scouts were continually out, and the inhabitants were kept in a state of alarm, and performed their labor in the field, with hazard. [19]

Strifes and Jealousies Persevere

The strife continued between the east and west forts, and between the scattered settlers on the house lots of the west town and the Williams family influence, both military and civil. The details are not worth preserving. Chapin was the champion of the Chidesters and of the so-called West Hoosac Fort. He was countenanced more or less by Governor Shirley, and made more than one journey to Boston to obtain and maintain that favor. But his star was going down. Under date of May 17, 1756, Isaac Wyman, his second successor in the command of Fort Massachusetts, wrote to his superior, Colonel Israel Williams: "I understand by Serg't Taylor that Chidester hath taken Capt. Chapin into the service at the west town. He is to do the duty for the billeting. He hath taken one of the Horsford's place, and John Vanarnum the other Horsford's place, and they are both gon home." In less than two months thereafter, the Colonel sends out this news from Hatfield: "This morning by an express from Fort Massachusetts, I am informed that on the 11th instant, near sunsetting, Serg't Chidester, his son James Chiester, and Capt. Elisha Chapin, went from ye block-house at West Hoosack to seek their cows, were soon fir'd upon and all killed or captivated." Three days later, Wyman sent to the Colonel the following detailed account: —

Fort Massachusetts, July 16, 1756.

Hono'd Sir, The three men that ware shot upon by the enemy are all found. Two of them were kill'd upon the spot where the enemy first fired upon them. They took Capt. Chapin about eighty rods, where they kill'd him. I sent out Ensn Barnard with nineteen men from the fort to bury these men. They found where the Enemy had laid an ambush between this Fort and the Town. They judge to be not less than one hundred of them. Hudson saith that the bigest part that he saw ware French. I believe it will not be longue before the enemy will be upon us again. I am persuaded that there is a large body of them lieth watchin our army find that they doant move, and so drive down upon us.

The two swivels guns that Serjt Chidester petitioned for are placed in the best maner upon Carageses for the defence of the House where all our stoars of provision are keept. One of them is placed at the South West corner of the Fort which clears of the South side of the House—the other placed at the north east corner of the Fort clears the east side of the House. These guns are as grait defence to us as any of the artillery we have at the fort.

I find that the Colo. was afraid we ware short on't for amonition. I have not less than three hundred weight of powder and lead anserable. About three weeks ago I sent thirty weight of powder and lead anserable to the Town and one month's provision. The people of the town have a grait desire to git of with their famaleys, if they could have a strong guard, provided they can't have any more men allowed them.

If they can't have a better fort built and more men I believe it is the best thing they can do is to pull their fort down, and come of, provided that the war continues. The Monday before last came in Capt. Buterfield from the camps with one hundred and forty men. Found eight of there men killl upon Hoosuck—the other five I suppose are taken. I enclose Chidester's patition also a Journal of our Scouting.

This from, Sir,

Your verry Humble Serv't

Isaac Wyman.

"As the old birds have sung so the little birds will twitter." These very early jealousies and misunderstandings between the East Hoosac and the West, beginning in the forts and their administration, continuing more or less in all matters military and later civil, intensified by disputes over that clause of Colonel Williams's will, in which he seemed to make conditional provision for a school in the east town also, hinging in part, too, on the fact that nearly all of the first-rate land lay in the west town, which consequently drew nearly all of the soldiers of Fort Massachusetts thitherward as settlers, while a very different class of people, and many of them Quakers, came to be the inhabitants of the east town, have brought it about generation after generation that the neighborhood harmony, as between the two places, has never been striking; that the spirit and development of the two have been along quite different lines; that farming has always been the main industry of the one, and manufacturing of the other; and while both have proved in these latter days to be attractive to capitalists from other sections of the country, the beauty and variety and healthfulness of the hills and valleys of the one have proved inviting to retired and retiring capital, and the market opportunities of the other in banks and factories and all other kinds of trade have brought in rather the quick and still augmenting stores of capital.

Capt. Isaac Wyman's Journal of Operations at

Fort Massachusetts, in 1756.

In the meantime, Isaac Wyman was faithfully performing in a small way the functions falling to him at Fort Massachusetts. He kept a journal, as required, of his scouts sent out, and of all there notewortliy events at his fort, from which some quotations ...

There was found among the papers of Captain John Williams, of Conway, son of Colonel Israel Williams, by General E. Hoyt, the antiquarian, Aug. 31, 1820, a document entitled "Capt. Isaac Wyman's Journal of operations at Fort Massachusetts, in 1756." The first entry on the journal is under the date of May 17, the date of the letter but just now quoted. The "accompt of the scouts I have sent out this Spring," which was obviously sent at the same time with the letter, has not come to light ; furthermore, it is not of much consequence, for the scouts ''have maid no discovery of Indians all this spring." But the supplemental journal, recovered by General Hoyt sixty-four years after it was written, covering the time from May 17 till July 10, is invaluable. We quote a few of the more significant entries: —

May 19th. Sent a scout — 4 men guarding men aplowing.

20th. Sent 2 men to guard plowmen.

23d. Sent a scout up the North Branch [of the Hoosac-towards Stamford]. 2 sermons preach'd by Mr. Strong — one man in from Town [West Hoosac].

24th. Sent a scout west — the scout return'd. Discov'r'd the signs of 2 or 3 Indians about four miles distance from the Fort. Brought the nuse that Vanarnum's boys [first "boys" on record here!] saw 2 Indians running up the River to head them.

25th. Sent 2 scouts one East one West — the west scout found the yesterday's nuse to be nothing but some of the Town's people out a fishing.

27th. This day stormy and wet — no scout.

28th. Sent 2 scouts one East one West. Dismiss'd John Herult from the service.

30th. Sent a scout west — Sunday — 2 [religious] Exercises.

31st. Sent 2 scouts one east one up the South Branch to Rush Medow [between North Adams and Adams].

June 1st. Sent 2 scouts — one west one to the Dutch Setlments [Dutch Hoosac]. Muster' d the men to punish one man being found unfaithful on his duty.

6th. Sent a scout East — 2 Exercises by Mr. Strong.

7th. Sent a scout west — Benjs King William Meacham — the scout

ret'd about 3 a clock. Within 3/4 of a mile from the fort [east end of

Blackinton near where John Perry "fenced" and built in 1746] ware

shot upon by a scout of Indians and boarth killed and scalp' d. I

sent Ensign Barnard with Eight men to pursue them — they followed

them — found they could not overtake them — ret'd to the fort — I

sent of a scout to the Town — brought home the dead men — sent of a post to Deerfield in the night — came in the scout from Town

[West Hoosac] with some men that came from Albany Aron Denio

— they saw fore Indians about 6 miles from the fort — likely to be

the same Indians that killed our men.

8th. Sent Ensign Barnard with 7 men with Aron Denio and Cors in serch after the [word illegible] and lading that they left yesterday in there surprise — found them bag and bageg — ret'd to the fort — sent 4 men to garde Denio and company to Charlemont — buried the 2 men kill'd by the Indians £King and Meacham].

9th. The four men that went to guard Denioh and others ret'd from


11th. This day our scout ret'd from Deerfield — sent over some stoars to the Town.

13th. Sent a scout west — 2 Exercises by Mr. Strong.

16th. Sent a scout up the North Branch [Mayunsook] — I with 5 men went to the top of Sadel Mountain [first record of an ascent of Mt. Williams] — at night came in Maj'r Thaxter from the camp at the Half Moon with 100 men — brouglit in 2 men on bears, one wounded by a shot of a pistol from one of there own men, the other sick of the fever — they saw 3 Frenchmen one Indian at Melomscot [Walloomsac] and tired at them.

10th. This morning the wounded man died was buried — sent a scout west — at seven a clock Maj't Thaxter marched of for the camp at Half Moon with all his men but six three of tliem not well.

17th. Our scout east heard guns supposed to be tired by the Indians — one Frenchman or Indian was seen within tifty rods of the Fort, running to git around one of our men — I emediately went out with twenty men in pursuit of them — found where a small scout of them ran acros't the River — I ret'd to the fort — took twenty one men with me and 2 days provision — set out for the loare End of Hoosuek — found where the Indians had cros'd the River stearing towards Melomscook.

20th. Sent no scout — 2 Exercises this Sunday by Mr. Strong.

22d. Sent no scout it being stormy weather.

23d. Sent 2 scouts one east one west — the east scout saw signs of a scout of Indians stearing towards the Fort — Sent a scout to pilot three men to the army at the Half Moon.

24th. The men ret'd that I sent out to go to the army — saw the signs of twenty or more Indians about ten mils distance from the Fort.

25th. Sent out Ensign Barnard with Eighteen men to range the woods all round the Fort — ret'd — maid no discovery of Indians. Sent a post to Colo. Williams of Hatfield.

26th. At night came in an Indian fellow from the Camps — brought the nuse that there ware 14 of them in company together within about thirteen miles of this fort ware fired upon by a large body of Indians — he maid his escape to the top of a large mountain where he saw the enemy march alonge thrue a large field — he thought there ware better than two hundred of them. Lieut. Grout was head of our scout coming from the Army.

27th. Sent Ensn Barnard with 2 men to see what he could discover of the enemy and to find whether they ware gone of or coming up this way — sent a scout west — the scout upon there return come so near a scout of Indians that they heard them run down a hill — they fol-

lowed them — found they steared towards the Fort — 2 meatins as

usual being Sunday.

28th. EnsD Barnard ret'd — he discovered the signs of a small scout of Indians stearing towards the Fort — he and the two men with him

went down within ten rods of the place where the Indians fired upon

our men — coming from the camps saw three lie dead in the path —

they heard the cracking of sticks like men walking alongue a little

beyond where the dead men lay — they thought it not prudence to

go any farther for fear the enemy ware lying in ambush to catch

them — so maid of and ret'd to the fort.

29th. Sent a post of 2 men to Colo. "Williams of Hatfield — Serj't Elisha [illegible] with 2 men belongin to the army to acquaint the General of the Indians falling upon a scout of his men that ware coming up to our fort — at three of the clock come in the post that was sent last Fryday morning Serj' Chidester with them.

30th. Sent a scout west — discover'd signs of Indians up Green River

[earliest record of that name] — 2 scouts of them six in each scout

— saw the signs of them west of pine hill [Dea. Foot's hill] just gon

alongue — saw other signs of them in another place where they had

just crossed the River towards the Town.

July 1st. Sent a scout east — the scout ret'd — discovered new signs of Indians — cleared the well in the paraid.

2d. Sent a scout west — saw the signs of ten or twelve Indians stearing towards the fort.

4th. Sunday — sent no scout — 2 sermons by Mr. Strong.

5th. Sent Enss Barnard with Eighteen to guard provision to the West

Town — at night came in Capt. Buterfield from the Camps at the

Half Moon with one hundred and forty men — found eight of there

men killed by the Indians the 26 day of June — coming to the Fort

they buried them.

6th. Sent a guard of 12 men to guard eight men howing corn about three quarters of a mile from the Fort [probably the patch John Perry

"fenced" in 1746].

10th. Sent a scout East.

The next day after this last entry in Wyman's jonrnal, Captain Chapin and the two Chidesters were killed and scalped on Hemlock Brook in the West Town, as already related. There is a letter from Colonel Williams to the Governor at Boston, enclosing an "Express" from Captain Wyman in relation to the killing of King and Meacham the month before. The enclosure is as follows: —

Fort Massachusetts, June 7, 1756.

Sir, Our scout I sent west this day upon their return was shot upon by the Indians, about half a mile distance from the Fort, and are booth killed and scalp'd. Benjn King Wm Meacham was the scout. I sent Ens. Barnard with a number of men after them. They returned in a short time. Thought they could not overtake them. The Ens thinks there was about Seven or Eight of the Indians.

I Wyman.

The End of the Line of Forts

After a final end was put to the French War by Major General Wolfe's great victory on the Heights of Abraham in 1759, Captain Wyman kept up the show of authority, and of garrison life at the eastern fort, for some time longer. He was known to have lived in the house within the pickets, and to have cultivated the land reserved for the use of the fort.

There had been no proprietors' meeting called or held at West Hoosac for six years and six months, when Wyman was requested to call one Sept. 17, 1760, as still being nominally proprietors' clerk there. It is noticeable that he dated this call "East Hoosuck," and not any longer "Fort Massachusetts"; and the proprietors were summoned to meet "at West Hoosuck Fort." He kept the record as clerk for the last time at this meeting of the proprietors in the fall of

1760, "at West Hoosuck Fort."

Shortly after this, Isaac Wyman, who had played a large part here, disappears from the Hoosac records altogether. He comes into sight again for a little as a settler, in what is now Keene, New Hampshire, and, at the outbreak of the Revolution, he was appointed Lieutenant-Colonel of the First New Hampshire Regiment, commanded by John Stark, — a position which he did not hold long, and from which he passes out of our sight utterly.

By this time, the other forts were already infested with second-growth forest. Fort Pelham

(1744-1754) was ordered abandoned in 1754. And Fort Shirley (1744-1754) was also abandoned at the beginning of the war, in 1754, as indefensible.

The Legacy of Fort Massachusetts

“The fearless hardships there endured, the cool courage manifested, and the glowing patriotism which animated the bosoms of the early pioneers, merits as hearty an acknowledgment from us, who are enjoying the fruits of their toils and sacrifices, as any of the exploits of our revolutionary fathers. But for the frontier fighting of the French and Indian Wars, indeed, there would have been no officers and soldiers trained for the Revolutionary struggle. Fort Massachusetts and other early defenses were primary schools for the troops at Bunker Hill and Bennington.” [20]

Although nothing remains of Fort Massachusetts, besides some artifacts and, I imagine, the remains of those buried where God's Acre once stood––with the exception of Elisha Nims––this is where it all began. This is the origin of our community.

The first British Settlers in this area were the soldiers and their families from the fort, and they helped to clear the way for further European settlement into this region. Despite the sickness, skirmishes, and the siege, capture and, ultimately, destruction of the first fort, they did not give up. They rebuilt. And they settled the land. People were encouraged to settle in this area. The plan for the first townships was developed during this time period, in 1750.

In Colonel Ephraim Williams Jr's. will, he included a bequest to support and maintain a free school to be established in the town of West Hoosac, provided the town change its name to Williamstown. Not long after its founding, the school's trustees petitioned the Massachusetts legislature to convert the free school to a tuition-based college. The legislature agreed, and on June 22, 1793, Williams College was chartered. It was the second college to be founded in Massachusetts. And Williams College is regarded as a leading institution of higher education in the United States. [21]

Gone But Not Forgotten

Before we take our final farewell of the first Fort Massachusetts, and of the body of men who served within it and were carried into captivity from it, some of us may be pleased to look over a list of soldiers recruited for the fort during that summer of 1746, even up to August 20, the day the fort surrendered to the French, especially as nearly all of these enlisted men, although there was no fort for them to serve in upon the Hoosac Meadow for more than nine months, are nevertheless found as soldiers in the second fort, and several of them continued in the service till they were discharged by reason of death, and still others of them continued in it until the close of the war.

Ephraim Williams, Jr., Capt. -- Stockbridge.

Elisha Hawley, Lieut. -- Northampton.

Daniel Severance, Lieut. -- Fall Town.

Caleb Chapin, Sergt. -- Fall Town.

Elisha Chapin, Sergt. -- Springfield.

Nathaniel Eustis, Sergt. -- Goare.

Adonijah Atherton, Sergt. -- Deerfield.

Salah Barnard, Ensign -- Roxbury.

Charles Parmeter, Sergt. -- Sudbury.

Jonathan Stone, Sergt. -- Leicester.

Abraham Bass, Sergt. -- Worcester.

John Hooker, Gunner -- Hatfield.

Richard Treat, Chaplain -- Sheffield.

Phineas Nevers, Surg. -- Deerfield.

Isaac Wyman, Clark -- Woburn.

Ebenezer Gould -- Chelmsford.

Ebenezer Reed, Cent. -- Simsbury.

Barnard Wilds, Cent. -- Rodetown.

Edmond Town, Cent. -- Framingham.

John Harriss, Cent. -- London.

Thomas Waubun, Cent. -- Sherburn.

Micah Harrington, Cent. -- Western.

Benj" Gould, Cent. -- Woburn.

Esack Johnson, Cent. -- Rehoboth.

William Williston, Cent. -- Rehoboth.

Charles Wintor, Cent. -- Oxbridge.

James Hathon, Cent. -- Ireland.

Richard Staudley, Cent. -- Loudon.

Abner Robarts, Cent. -- Sutton.

Jonathan Barren, Cent. -- Westfield.

Timothy Hollen, Cent. -- Sutton.

Moses Attucks, Cent. -- Leicester.

John Crofford, Cent. -- Western.

Daniel Ward, Cent. -- Upton.

William Sabin, Cent. -- Brookfield.

Fortu(s) Taylor, Cent. -- Leicester.

Silas Pratt, Cent. -- Shrewsbury.

Charles Coats, Cent. -- Deerfield.

Seth Hudson, Cent. -- Marlborough.

Samuel Abbot, Cent. -- Hardwick.

Ithamar Healey, Cent. -- Rehoboth.

John Barnard, Cent. -- Waltham.

John Morison, Cent. -- Colrain.

John Henry, Cent. -- Colrain.

John Martin, Cent. -- Sudbury.

Ezekiel Wells, Cent. -- Rodetown.

Samuel Wells, Cent. -- Rodetown.

George Quaquagid, Cent. -- New London.

Thomas George, Cent. -- New London

Ebenezer Graves, Cent. -- Deerfield.

John Bush, Cent. -- Summers.

John Taylor, Cent. -- Long Island.

Conawoca Delow, Cent. -- Deerfield.

John Harmon, Cent. -- Deerfield.

Nath. Brooks, Cent. -- Deerfield.

Stephen Collier, Cent. -- Oxford.

Jonathan Ennis, Cent. -- Summers.

John Perkins, Cent. -- Summers.

Aaron Denio, Cent. -- Deerfield.

Benj'n Hastings, Cent.

Benj'n Fassett, Cent. -- Westford.

Benj'n Robbarts, Cent.


Continue to

"Life After Captivity"

"A Brief History of Fort Massachusetts with an Emphasis on the Siege of 1746"

was compiled, edited, and with an introduction by C.A. Chicoine. June 2017


  1. "Origins in Williamstown," by Arthur Latham Perry -- Published 1894

  2. "Mansion People: Kinship, Class, and Architecture in Western Massachusetts in the Mid-Eighteenth Century," by Kevin M. Sweeney. Winterthur Portfolio Vol. 19, No. 4 (Winter, 1984), pp. 231-255. Published by: The University of Chicago Press on behalf of the Henry Francis du Pont Winterthur Museum, Inc.

  3. "The Genealogy and History of the Taintor Family," by Taintor, Charles M. Published 1847 Publisher Greenfield [Mass.]: Merriam and Mirick.

  4. "Antiquarian Researches: A History of The Indian Wars," by E. Hoyt, Esq -- Greenfield, MA, Printed by Ansel Phelps, Published December 1824

    1. "English settler's remains buried 250 years after his death," November 12, 2000, North Adams, Massachusetts (AP)

    2. "Capt. Isaac Wyman's Journal of Operations at Fort Massachusetts, in 1756."

    3. "Journal of the Capitulation of Fort Massachusetts, Aug. 1745," by John Hawks [Manuscript transcript included in the body of a letter from Stephen W. Williams to Colonel William L. Stone of New York. Deerfield, MA, 22 September 1842]

  5. "A History of Deerfield, Massachusetts: The Times when the People by Whom it was Settled, Unsettled and Resettled, Volume 2," by George Sheldon -- Press of E.A. Hall & Company, 1896 - Deerfield (Mass.)

  6. "The History and Genealogy of the Knowltons of England and America," by Charles Henry Wright Stocking, Published 1897

  7. "France," Vol. V, by M. Guizot and Madame Guizot de Witt, pg. 95. Published 1900.

    1. "Williamstown and Williams College," by Arthur Latham Perry -- Published 1899

  8. "History of North Adams, Mass., 1749-1885," by W. F. Spear -- Published 1885

  9. "The Line of Forts: Historical Archaeology on the Colonial Frontier of Massachusetts," by Michael Coe -- University Press of New England, 2006

  10. "Colonel Ephraim Williams, a documentary life," by Wyllis E. Wright --1970

  11. "Williamstown: The First 250 Years 1753-2003," The First Fifty Years, by Robert R. R. Brooks -- 2005

    1. "Society of Colonial Wars in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts"|Pub. No. 8 -- 1906

  12. The "Bloody Morning Scout" references:

18. "Historical Sketch of the Life and Character of Colonel Ephraim Williams, and of Williams College, Founded in 1793, In Consequence of His Liberal Bequest," from "Collections of the Massachusetts Historical Society Volume VIII" -- Published 1802

19. "Antiquarian Researches Comprising A History of The Indian Wars", by E. Hoyt -- published 1824

20. "Interesting Facts in the Early History of North Adams," by A. H. Morris. The North Adams Transcript, North Adams, Massachusetts · October 17, 1896, page 2

21. U.S. News & World Report National Liberal Arts Colleges Rankings

All maps from Google Maps.