RJO’s Ancestors in American Colonial Wars, 1637–1763
On the obscure strife where men died by tens or by scores hung questions of as deep import for posterity as on those mighty contests of national adolescence where carnage is reckoned by thousands.
This is one of a series of genealogical pages on my ancestors who served in early American wars, including the Pequot War (1637–1638), King Philip’s War (1675–1676), King William’s War (1689–1698), Queen Anne’s War (1702–1713), Dummer’s War (1723–1726) and King George’s War (1744–1745), the French and Indian War (1754–1763), the American Revolution (1775–1781), and Shays’ Rebellion (1786–1787). Ancestors who belonged to the Ancient and Honorable Artillery Company of Massachusetts (1637– ) are also noted, and an additonal page presents a special essay on Lexington and Concord and the Nineteenth of April.
King Philip’s War (1675–1676)
King Philip’s War was a major New England war, touched off by the continuing expansion of colonists into Indian lands and by the execution of three Indians for killing one of the Plymouth colony’s Indian informants. The Wampanoag sachem, Metacom (given the name Philip by the English at his own request), along with allies from the Nipmuc and Narragansett tribes, attacked 52 of the 90 towns in New England in what was to be the Indians’ last full-scale attempt to reclaim their ancestral territories. Many English towns, including Groton, were so completely destroyed that they were abandoned and not reoccupied for several years. Although Philip’s forces made many initial gains, the war turned against them and finally came to an end on 12 August 1676 in Rhode Island when Philip was killed by the brother of an Indian he had executed for disloyalty. Schultz and Tougias have written an excellent modern history of the conflict, King Philip’s War: The History and Legacy of America’s Forgotten Conflict, filled with details and maps of many of the engagements.
JOHN HARTWELL (23 Dec 1640–12 Jan 1702/3) — 8G Grandfather
“He served in King Philip’s War, reported by Capt. Thomas Wheeler as a member of his company which marched to the defence of Quaboag, now Brookfield” [Hartwell 1: 2]. Wheeler and Capt. Edward Hutchinson left from Cambridge and Sudbury and arrived at Brookfield on 1 August 1675, and arranged to parley with the Nipmuc leaders the next day on a plain several miles to the north. When they arrived at the meeting place no Indians were to be found, so the English party marched further north to where they knew a Nipmuc camp was located, an area that is today within the town of New Braintree. Wheeler’s men walked straight into a well-planned ambush which has gone down in history as “Wheeler’s Surprise.” Eight English were killed in the first assault, and the survivors retreated to Brookfield where their garrison came under seige for several days until rescued by troops under Major Simon Willard (see James Parker, next). Wheeler himself wrote a narrative of the ambush and the seige. Schultz and Tougias [147–155] provide a comprehensive history of the incident as does Bodge [102–115], who also records John Hartwell’s service.
JAMES PARKER (about 1617–1700) — 9G Grandfather
Capt. James Parker “owned a fifty acre right in Groton, and resided there from its first settlement until his death in 1701. He was a distinguished and extraordinary man, and a leader in municipal, military, ecclesiastical, and other affairs of the town” [Shattuck 375]. Parker served under Major Simon Willard, commander of the Middlesex County forces. On 4 August 1675 Willard “marched out from Lancaster with Capt. Parker and his company of forty-six men, ‘to look after some Indians to the westward of Lancaster and Groton,’ having five friendly Indians along as scouts, and, receiving the message of the distressed garrison at Brookfield, promptly hastened thither to their relief…” [Bodge 120]. Bodge provides a list of men credited with service between 7 August 1675 and 25 January 1675/6, which he believes is the list of Parker’s company “who marched with Major Willard to the relief of Brookfield on August 4th. I judge that Capt. Parker, with some sixteen or more of these men, returned to Groton before August 16th, as on that date Capt. Mosely had sent twelve men to Groton to help secure the town; and Capt. Parker writes the Council on August 25th about their affairs, asking for arms and ammunition, as they are expecting an attack upon the town. Those that went back with him were very likely Groton men, and it is probable are represented by the smaller credits. Capt. Parker acknowledges the receipt of twenty men from Capt. Mosely and Major Willard, and these were, doubtless, in addition to the number of his own men that returned with him. The rest of his company remained with Major Willard, as may be shown by their larger credits” [Bodge 121–122].
JOHN HEALD (26 Mar 1637–17 Jun 1689) — 8G Grandfather
A John Heale was credited on 5 October 1675 with service in Capt. James Parker’s company that marched from Lancaster on 4 August 1675 [Bodge 122]. See under Parker for details of this company.
RICHARD BEERS (1616–4 Sep 1675) — 9G Grandfather
Capt. Richard Beers of Watertown commanded a company of soldiers that marched from Hadley on 3 September 1675 to evacuate the settlement at Northfield which had been attacked two days earlier. On 4 September 1675, as they approached the settlement, Beers’ company was ambushed and Beers and more than half his men were killed [Bodge 127–133; Schultz and Tougias 163–169]. Sgt. John Shattuck, below, was a survivor of the ambush and was dispatched to carry news of it to Boston.
JOHN SHATTUCK (11 Feb 1647–14 Sep 1675) — 8G Grandfather
Among the towns that were attacked in the early weeks of King Philip’s War “were the remote settlements on the Connecticut River. As a means of protection a military company was organized under Capt. Richard Beers, a distinguished citizen of Watertown, of which young John Shattuck was appointed sergeant, and proceeded to Hadley. Hearing that Squawkeague, now Northfield, had been attacked, they marched, on the 4th of September, 1675, to its relief; and while on their route a large force of Indians who lay concealed, suddenly rose and fell upon them with overpowering fury. Of thirty-six men of whom the company was composed, sixteen only escaped death. Capt. Richard Beers was killed. Sergeant Shattuck, one of the sixteen whose lives were preserved, was immediately despatched as a messenger to the Governor of the Colony to announce the result of the expedition. On the 14th of September, ten days after the battle, as he was crossing the ferry between Charlestown and Boston, he was drowned. Gookin, (Trans. Am. Antiquarian Society, Vol. II., p. 466,) describes this event as follows:—
About this time a person named Shattuck, of Watertown, that was a sergeant under Capt. Beers, when the said Beers was slain near Squakeage, had escaped very narrowly but a few days before; and being newly returned home, this man being at Charlestown, in Mr. Long’s porch, at the sign of the Three Cranes, divers persons of quality being present, particularly Capt. Lawrence Hammond, the Captain of the town, and others, this Shattuck was heard to say to this effect: “I hear the Marlborough Indians, in Boston in prison, and upon trial for their lives, are likely to be cleared by the court; for my part,” said he, “I have been lately abroad in the country’s service, and have ventured my life for them, and escaped very narrowly; but if they clear these Indians, they shall hang me up by the neck before I ever serve them again.” Within a quarter of an hour after these words were spoken, this man was passing the ferry between Charlestown and Boston; the ferry boat being loaded with horses and the wind high, the boat sunk; and though there were several other men in the boat and several horses, yet all escaped with life, but this man only. I might mention several other things of remark here that happened to other persons, that were filled with displeasure and animosity against the poor Christian Indians, but shall forbear, lest any be offended.
“It is proper to remark, in explanation of this narrative, that a painful suspicion was entertained at the time that some of the half christianized Indians in the settlements were privy to and partners in the conspiracy of Philip. Gookin did not share this suspicion, and he therefore opposed the war and those engaged in it. He had acted as counsel for the Indians then on trial; and he considered it criminal in any one to speak against them, notwithstanding some of them were convicted and were afterwards executed for murder. Whether Mr. Shattuck made the remarks, in ‘effect,’ as here given, or whether they were a mere heresay report, is uncertain; but Gookin seems to have considered his accidental drowning a special Providence, executed upon him as a punishment for his honest but fearless expression of opinions on subjects which he had just discussed with ‘divers persons of quality’! This judgement, however, if indeed it was one, did not occur alone; others happened to other persons for similar acts. Mr. Shattuck, as an honest, independent young man, having opinions of his own, and not afraid to express them on a proper occasion, would not be very likely to speak in the most mild and friendly terms of an enemy that had, only ten days before, betrayed and killed twenty out of thirty-six of his companions in arms; and he is to be commended for his conduct, and for this exhibition of a characteristic trait of the family” [Shattuck 68–70].
John Shattuck was 28 years old when he drowned in 1675, and he had three sons and a daughter. RJO is descended from all three of his sons.
WILLIAM DODGE (bapt. 19 Sep 1640–24 Mar 1720) — 7G Grandfather
“In 1675 [William Dodge] was engaged against the Narragansetts, and acquired distinction for courage and skill. Hubbard, in his narrative, gives a particular account of his bravery and success. In this expedition, Josiah Dodge, perhaps brother of Capt. William, Peter Woodberry and John Balch, were killed at Muddy Brook, under Capt. Lathrop” [Dodge 18]. The massacre at what came to be called Bloody Brook in Deerfield took place on 12 September 1675. The term “Narragansetts” is used loosely by Dodge to refer to all the Indians allied with Philip. [I do not find Dodge mentioned in Bodge; Hubbard should be checked for details.]
RICHARD SAWTELL (bapt. 11 Apr 1611–21 Aug 1694) — 7G Grandfather
His house was one of the five garrison houses in Groton when the town was attacked by a large Indian force under Monoco on 13 March 1675/6. After the destruction of the town Richard Sawtell returned to Watertown where he had first settled (as did many other Groton inhabitants). Richard did not settle again in Groton but some of his children did two years later.
JOSEPH PARKER ( –1690) — 7G Grandfather
JOSEPH PARKER (30 Mar 1653–abt 1725) — 6G Grandfather
“In 1675 he and his son were attacked by the Indians. (N.H. Hist. Col., Vol. III., p. 91.) He was constable of Dunstable from 1675 to 1682. In the latter year the town voted ‘Yt Joseph Parker have 20 shillings allowed him for his seven years’ service as constable’” [Shattuck 375]. Joseph Parker Sr. and Joseph Parker Jr. were credited with service in the Chelmsford garrison, 24 March 1675/6 [Bodge 358].
HUGH MASON (about 1605–10 Oct 1678) — 8G Grandfather
During King Philip’s War the town of Sudbury was attacked early in the morning of 21 April 1676, and shortly after noon reinforcements “under Captain Hugh Mason of Watertown drove the natives from the central settlement [of Sudbury] and crossed the Town Bridge to the western bank of the Sudbury River. By now, the heaviest action was occurring on Green Hill, which Mason and his troops tried repeatedly and unsuccessfully to reach” [Schultz and Tougias 213]. Mason was over seventy years of age at the time of this engagement, which has come to be known as “the Sudbury Fight.” Additional reinforcements arrived in the course of the afternoon and at the end of the day the English held Sudbury, but more than 25 of their soldiers had been killed [Bodge 222–231; Schultz and Tougias 210–220].
OBADIAH SAWTELL (about 1649–20 Mar 1740) — 6G Grandfather
Son of Richard Sawtell, above. “At the outbreak of King Philip’s War he and his parents returned [from Groton] to Watertown, where he was credited with service” on 24 February 1676/7 [Sawtell 8, citing Bodge 451].
THOMAS DUTTON (1648– ) — 7G Grandfather
This Thomas Dutton, if he is correctly identified, was “wound. and had a remark. escape in 1677, when Capt. Swett and many of his men were k. in the Ind. war at the E.” [Savage 2: 85]. This took place on 23 June 1677 in what is now the Prouts Neck Wildlife Preserve and Bird Sanctuary in Scarborough, Maine [Bodge 342–347; Schultz and Tougias 314–315]. I do not find the name Dutton in Bodge’s index, but Bodge lists a Thomas Durston credited with service in Swett’s company in 1676 [Bodge 346].
SAMUEL GARFIELD ( –20 Nov 1684) — 8G Grandfather
According to Bond , court papers in Watertown report that Samuel Garfield was for a time an inhabitant of Salem and when living there he was “impressed into the Indian War.”
JOB LANE (1620–1697) — 7G Grandfather
SAMUEL SCRIPTURE (about 1649– ) — 7G Grandfather
To be checked: Bodge [273, 374].
- Bodge, George Madison. 1906. Soldiers in King Philip’s War (third edition). Boston. [Facsimile edition published 1997 by the Clearfield Company, Baltimore.]
- Bond, Henry. 1860. Genealogies of the Families and Descendants of the Early Settlers of Watertown, Massachusetts (second edition). Boston: New England Historic Genealogical Society.
- Dodge, Joseph Thompson. [n.d.] Genealogy of the Dodge Family of Essex County, Mass., 1629–1894. Madison, Wisconsin: Democrat Publishing Company. [Facsimile edition published by the Dodge Family Association with new pagination.]
- Hubbard, William. 1677. The History of the Indian Wars in New England from the First Settlement to the Termination of the War with King Philip in 1677. [Not seen.]
- Savage, James. 1860–1862. A Genealogical Dictionary of the First Settlers of New England. Boston. [Reprinted by Genealogical Publishing Company, 1998.]
- Kellogg, Dale C., and John B. Threlfall. 1972. Richard Sawtell of Watertown, Mass., and some of his descendants. New England Historical and Genealogical Register 126: 3–17, 129–140.
- Schultz and Tougias
- Schultz, Eric B., and Michael J. Tougias. 1999. King Philip’s War: The History and Legacy of America’s Forgotten Conflict. Woodstock, Vermont: The Countryman Press.
- Shattuck, Lemuel. 1855. Memorials of the Descendants of William Shattuck. Boston: Dutton and Wentworth.
© RJO 1995–2014