We now turn one of the darkest pages in the history of our town. 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, two miles across South Meadows, up Bars Long Hill, to the heavily wooded plain stretching away to Hatfield meadows. The carts were loaded with bags of wheat, upon which were a few feather beds and some light household stuff.... Southward along the narrow Pocumtuck Path, through the primeval 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.

Meanwhile the whole hostile force was lying like serpents in the way; but unlike the more chivalric 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 Sangumachu of the remnant of the Pocumtucks.

Keen eyes had seen the preparation for Lothrop's march; swift feet had carried the news to the chieftains below, who at this moment were giving their last orders to their warriors lying in the ambush at Bloody Brook, in which Lothrop was marching in fatal security.... The soldiers crossed the brook and halted, while the teams should slowly drag their heavy loads through the mire; "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 on either flank was covered with grim warriors prone upon the ground, their tawny bodies indistinguishable from the slime in which they crawled.... 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."

Of seventeen men of Pocumtuck who went out in the morning as teamsters, not one returned to tell the tale.

Excerpt abridged from "Bloody Brook Massacre," in The History of Deerfield, George Sheldon, 1895, pp. 100-103.