Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Pratt/Woodruff History-King Philip's War VII

One of my father's favorite expressions was that when someplace was really remote that it was "out where Christ lost his shoes".
That certainly could be said of the Quaboag Plantation settlement in the 1600's. It was in south-central Massachusetts where Brookfield is today.
Quaboag was far removed from the other settlements, being planted among the Indian villages. Prior to 1675 the settlers were confident of its security because of decades of peaceful coexistence with its native neighbors. Although breakdowns in Indian relations were taking place in other parts of southern New England, the settlement at Quaboag seemed not to have been aware of it. They placed much reliance on the previous good relationships with the local Quaboag Indians, reassuring themselves that they were secure from aggression. Little did they realize that Muttaump, cosigner of the deed of purchase at Quoboag and pretended friend of the settlers, had achieved a position of eminence in the war cabinet of the Nipmucs. He would become the leader of the forces planning the destruction of the settlement.
When King Philip's War broke out it was natural that Brookfield (as Quoboag had been renamed) should be selected for early assault, since it was the most isolated of all English settlements in the colony. To determine the temper of the surrounding tribes Massachusetts emissaries had been sent to meet with the Nipmucs and Quaboags. One of them, Captain Edward Hutchinson, was assigned an escort consisting of Captain Thomas Wheeler and his mounted troop of about 20 men; Ephraim Curtis, a noted scout; and three friendly Indians to serve as interpreters. My Gx7 grandfather Samuel Smedley was one of the mounted troopers. The escort was accompanied by a small detachment of three sergeants from Brookfield
In spite of warnings by the Indian scouts, the troop moved along the Bay Path * toward a rendezvous at Mensmeset.(I can't figure out where that was). This was  August 1, 1675.
 * The Bay Path was an Indian trail between Boston and the Connecticut River at present -day Springfield that was enlarged by colonist traffic and livestock.
As the small procession approached a swamp it became necessary to travel single file, there being a very rocky hill on the right hand, and a thick swamp on the left. In the swamp Indians lay in wait to ambush the unsuspecting troop. When the men advanced about 60-70 rods the Indians attacked. With no alternative but to retreat, the men fled. Capt. Wheeler was wounded and his horse was shot out from under him. His son dropped back to help him and was wounded. Eight men were slain.
 One of those eight was our ancestor Samuel Smedley. He left a widow and a two year old son back in Concord.
 The Indians laid siege to Brookfield. Several were killed on both sides and most of the settlement was burned before relief arrived and the Indians left at dawn on August 5. Quaboag/Brookfield was abandoned. It would be 10 years before a new settlment was started on the ashes of the old.
Much of this was adapted from a Hovey Family History.
NEXT: Maj. Robert Treat (Woodruff ancestor) and Maj./Lt. Col. John Talcott (Pratt ancestor). Who's in command ??

Emailed Dec. 10

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