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NEW-HAVEN, March 15.

Copy of a letter from a gentleman in Great-Barrington, to the Rev. Ezra Stiles, D. D. dated Great-Barrington, March 3. 1787.

Rev. Sir,
I write you at the request of Mr. Burghardt, and his son, your pupil- tho' he needs no apology for not having sooner returned to his studies, yet he wishes me to acquaint you with the reasons of his long delay- He was near four weeks indefatigably employed in endeavourings to subdue the Rebels in this county; he discharged his duty with honor; and obtained a dismission, a few days before the troop of horse in which he served was discharged; with a view immediately to repair to New-Haven- He made the necessary preparations; and began his journey on Tuesday last- He had not gotten out of town, before an express arrived with intelligence, that a large body of Rebels were on their march from Stockbridge to this town- Anxious to defend his country from the brutal savages of a lawless banditti, he again had recourse to arms, and determined to wait the event- A battle ensued- After the Rebels were put to flight, Burghardt was shot from his horse by one of the fugitives: He was at first supposed to be mortally wounded, but is at present (blessed be God) in a fair way to recover. He was about 20 feet distant from the man who shot him. - He received a musket ball in his right arm, which came out behind his shoulder;- a Swan-shot entered the upper part of his right Breast, and is supposed to be lodged under his shoulder; another entered his arm about an inch from the orifice made by the entry of the ball, which is lodged in the flesh; a third entered his side by the ribs, and was cut out by the Surgeon, about five inches back of the place where it entered- His present circumstances being such, you will not expect him for a considerable time.

You will doubtless hear very differing accounts of what has happened; having obtained particular information, I shall trouble you with a short narrative of the matter.

After the Rebels had been routed, in this and Hampshire County, they fled in great numbers to New-York State- On Monday last they collected about 80 men at New-Canaan which borders on this state, and marched between the hours of 8 and 9 o'clock in the evening- Their first object was to carry off a field piece from Lenox; but on their march they received information that it was that evening removed to Pittsfield- They then turned their course to Stockbridge, where they arrived about break of day; they made prisoners of the 25 of the inhabitants; plundered the town, and began their march, with their prisoners, immediately for Great-Barrington - They arrived within about 2 miles of the Court-House before any intelligence of their motion was obtained by the inhabitants- The people along the main street immediately collected to the amount of 40 men; and as the Rebels had increased their numbers to about 130, it was judged not prudent to attack them till the people of Great-Barrington should be joined by the people of Sheffield; they accordingly repaired thither in sleighs- As soon as a junction was formed, (which made up now about 100 men) they set off in quest of the Rebels. The two little armies met between Great-Barrington and Sheffield- A very vigorous, tho' very short battle immediately ensued; for within 3 or 4 minutes after the action became general, the Rebel party was put to a total rout, and fled in every direction. They were pursued several miles, and about 60 of them taken prisoners. there were 3 men left dead of the field of battle, and a much greater number wounded- Among the slain, was one of the government people; one of the Rebel party, and one of the prisoners whom they brought along from Stockbridge- This last account of one of the prisoners being slain, perhaps will surprise you, but your surprise will be turned to indignation, when I inform you, that the Rebels had the more than Savage barbarity, to force their prisoners, by the point of the Bayonet, into the front of the battle, and there kept them for a breast-work- Capt. Hamlin, their leader, was badly wounded, and taken on the spot. On the side of government, there was not one man wounded, excepting Burghardt as above related- This you may depend on as a true relation of the matter.

Mr. Burghardt and son join me in respectful compliments. I am Sir, with the highest esteem,
Yours &c.

(c) Pocumtuck Valley Memorial Association, Deerfield MA. All rights reserved.
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Reverend Ezra Stiles was the President of Yale College in New Haven, Connecticut. He had followed the events in Western Massachusetts during late 1786 and early 1787 with great interest. This letter to the Gazette describes the last encounter between the Regulators and the government militia which occurred in Sheffield. The Regulators had attacked and looted the town of Stockbridge, taking prisoners of some of the townspeople. The writer of this letter accuses the Regulators of using their prisoners as a front line of defense. He relates the extent of the injuries of Mr. Burghardt, who was hit with a musket ball as well as three pieces of swan-shot, and who was the only man wounded fighting with the government militia. Swan-shot is made by melting lead and pouring it through a mesh or screen into a bucket of water. It is very irregular in shape and would cause more injury.

 

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Letter to Rev. Erza Stiles on Shays' Rebellion reprinted in "The New-Haven Gazette and The Connecticut Magazine"

publisher   New-Haven Gazette and Connecticut Magazine
date   Mar 3, 1878
location   New Haven, Connecticut
width   2.5"
width   2.5"
width   2.5"
height   3.5"
height   8.5"
height   3.0"
process/materials   printed paper, ink
item type   Periodicals/Newspaper
accession #   #L07.056


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See Also...

Multiple articles from The New-Haven Gazette and The Connecticut Magazine newspaper regarding Shays' Rebellion

Poem on Shays' Rebellion from The New-Haven Gazette and The Connecticut Magazine newspaper

Excerpt of Willard letter to E. B. Wilson on Shays' Insurrection of 1786


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