On a sunny Wednesday morning, I found myself with an hour or so to paddle before reporting to work at noon. I decided to launch into the Sudbury River at a spot that is about half way to my work. That spot was River Road in Sudbury near where it intersects with Route 27. There was no need to look for trash, as someone had decided to clean out their car's trunk and left the contents in a pile at the launch site.
After dealing with this little mess, my boat was soon gliding under the Rt. 27 bridge and heading downstream. Immediately after passing under the bridge, I headed to the right, along an old river channel, which brought me to the old stone arch bridge. The bridge spans the old river channel and is unused today, except by fishermen who use it to gain access to the old causeway. On the northeast side of this bridge there stands a monument to a group of men from Concord that were buried near this spot on April 22, 1676. These men died while trying to get across the river to a Garrison House located on the river's west side. The location of the Haynes Garrison House is several hundred yards from this old bridge and is near where Route 27 and Water Row intersect. Paddling under this stone arch soon brought me to where the old river channel rejoins the present day channel and with my binoculars I could see the row of cedar trees that stand in front of the Garrison House cellar hole.
The day before, April 21, 1676, was the complete opposite to the peaceful and serene riverine setting that I was enjoying. That morning had dawned with an alarm that hostile Indians had entered the area in large numbers. The area residents left their homes and went to the Haynes Garrison House where they were soon surrounded by Indians. From 6am to about 1pm they were besieged and at one point, the Indians loaded a wagon with hay and rolled it up to the house in an attempt to burn them out. During this battle, a group of volunteers from the adjacent town of Concord arrived and attempted to help. Accounts vary as to their number. There were either 8, 10, or 12 Concord men. They soon found themselves ambushed and all but one man was slain before they could reach the safety of the Garrison House. Around noon, a group of 40 men from Watertown (what is now the town of Weston) arrived and they were successful in driving approximately 200 Indians to the west, where another larger battle was occurring.
One of my ancestors was in that group from present day Weston and the following is his and a fellow soldier's account of the events:
"To inform the Honored Counsel of the Service don at Sudbury by severall of the inhabatance of Watertown as our honored Captain Mason hath already informed a part there of in the petion: but we wear thear can moer largely inform this honored Councel: that it is said in the petion that we drove two hundred Indians over the river: we followed the enimie over the river and joyned with som others and went to see if wee could relieve Captain Wadsworth upon the hill and thear we had a fight with the Indians but they beinge soe many of them and we stayed soe long that we were almost incompassed by them which caused us to retreat to Captain Goodanous Garrison and their we stayed it being ner night till it was dark and then we went to Mr. Moices Mill to see if we could find any that were escaped to that place all though they wear now persons dwelling there; and thear we found 13; or 14; of Captain Wadsworths men who wear escaped some of them wounded and brought them to Sudbury towne.
On the next day in the morning soe soon as it was light we went to looke for the Concord men who wear slain in the river middow an thear we went in the colld water up to the knees where we found five and we brought them in Conus to the Bridge fut and buried them thear;and then we joyned ourselves to Captain Hunton with as many others as we could procuer and went over the River to look for Captain Wadsworth and Captain Brattlebank and the soldiers that wear slain; and we gathered them up and Buried them; and then it was agreed that we should goe to Nobscot to bring the Carts from thence into Sudbury-Towne and so returned Hom againe; to what is above written we whos names are subscribed can testifi: dated the 6: of March: 78/79 Daniel Warren Josep Peirce."
They wrote this account in a later attempt to be paid for their services. Obviously, they did not have spellcheck back then. The Captain Goodanous Garrison was another Garrison House located a few miles south of this area.
The men from Concord that died that day were James Hosmer, Samuel Potter, John Barnes, Joseph Buttrick, Josiah Wheeler, and David Comy. The monument stone is on the property of the Wayland Country Club. If you are ever paddling in this area and the water is high enough to allow access to the old bridge, try to imagine the plight of those men from Concord and their desperate attempt to get across the river and marsh 332 years ago.
Though the Indians did not succeed in taking the Haynes Garrison House that day, they did prevail in the larger battle to the west. Of course, while they won that battle, they ultimately lost what is known as King Philip's War. It is believed that the Pokanoket leader Metacom, aka King Philip and the great Nipmuc warrior Muttawmp were both in Sudbury during these events.
The town of Sudbury's website has an excellent account of what is called the "Sudbury Fight".
My trash haul for the day was 20 empty containers. YTD = 1123
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