In the Classroom > Unit Overview > Lesson 4
Lesson 4 - Readings for
Studying the Bloody Brook Massacre
Early in the morning of Sept. 18, 1675-.."that most fatal day, the saddest that ever befell New England," Capt. Lothrop, "with his choice company of young men, the very flower of the County of Essex," followed by a slowly moving train of carts, marched proudly down the old Town Street,...to the heavily wooded plain stretching away to Hatfield meadows. The carts were loaded with bags of wheat,...
Southward along the narrow Pocumtuck Path, through the primeval [primitive] woods, moved Lothrop and his men- brave, fearless, foolish. Confident in their numbers, scorning danger, not even a van-guard or flanker was thrown out [no guard was put in front or back].
Meanwhile the whole hostile force was lying like serpents in the way; but unlike the more chivalric [dignified] of these reptiles, their fangs will be felt before a warning is given. The probable leaders were Mattamuck, Sagamore Sam, Matoonas and One Eyed John, of the Nipmucks; Anawan, Penchason, and Tatason, of the Wampanoags, and Sangmachu of the remnant [remainder] of the Pocumtucks. There is no evidence that Philip was present,...
The soldiers crossed the brook and halted, while the teams should slowly drag their heavy loads through the mire [deep mud]; "many of them," says Mather, "having been so foolish and secure as to put their arms in the carts and step aside to gather grapes, which proved dear and deadly grapes to them." Meanwhile the silent morass [marsh] on either flank was covered with grim warriors prone [lying flat] upon the ground, their tawny [tanned] bodies indistinguishable from the slime in which they crawled, or their scarlet plumes [feathers] and crimson paint from the glowing tints of the dying year on leaf and vine. Eagerly but breathless and still, they waited the signal. The critical moment had come. The fierce war-whoop rang in the ears of the astonished English...
The men of Pocumtuck sank, the Flower of Essex withered before it, and the nameless stream was baptized in blood.
Mather says, "This was a black and fatal day, wherein there was eight persons made widows, and six and twenty children made orphans, all in one little Plantation." That little plantation was Pocumtuck [Deerfield]; and these were the heavy tidings [news] which the sad, worn out soldiers brought to our stricken inhabitants.
Of seventeen men of Pocumtuck who went out in the morning as teamsters, not one returned to tell the tale. The torturing anxiety and sickening fear, crowding the hearts of the distracted women the live-long day, now only gave place to the awful certainty of the worst. Their husbands, fathers, brothers, were slain...Their mangled bodies now lay uncared for in the dark morass at Bloody Brook.
George Sheldon--descendant of John Sheldon, who was living in Deerfield at the time of the 1704 attack. John Sheldon's wife and one child were killed during the attack and three children were taken captive, to be later redeemed. George Sheldon was one of the founders of the Pocumtuck Valley Memorial Association, dedicated to preserving the memory of Deerfield's earliest settlers, both Native American and White. He also served as the organization's first president. He was a historian, genealogist and author.