Page images

engaged in his mind for government against our liberties and many other things that might be proved against him."

Upon a petition, the legislature paid the expenses of his being kept in jail. Soon after the battle of Lexington, the town took decisive action in its endeavor to suppress any influence which the loyalists might seek to exert in favor of the Crown.

At a town meeting held July 3, 1775, " Com. of Inspection reported that Silas Wood, William Strowbridge 2nd., Simeon Doggett, Josiah Vaughan, Thomas Paddock, Zebulon Leonard, Lemuel Ransom, Joseph Bates Jr., Jacob Bennett and Peter Vaughan, have not given satisfaction to them that they are friends to the Country.

"A Committee of five men were appointed to see what measures should be taken relative to these persons; Adjourned for an hour and reported that said persons be confined to their own homes from the date hereof until such time as they shall make satisfaction to the town or Committee of Inspection excepting that on the Lord's Day they shall be allowed to attend public worship."

At a town meeting held July 17, 1775, the following vote was passed: "Voted that the Committee of Inspection go and inquire into the conduct of William Canedy and John Montgomery Jr. and if they don't give satisfaction to the said Committee of Inspection, that the town have ordered that the captains of each of the military companies are ordered to keep on the homestead farm and not go off until such time as they give the said committee satisfaction, unless it be to attend public worship at the society to which they belong, on the penalty of being carried to the camps at Roxbury and delivered up to some military officer."

At a town meeting held June 17, 1777, "the Selectmen reported the following persons as being enimically disposed toward the United States, Zebulon Leonard, William Strobridge, Lemuel Ransom, Simeon Doggett and Stephen Richmond.

"Each person being called on, the vote put whether they were enimically disposed passed in the affirmative at said meeting. Moved by Isaac Perkins and seconded by Joseph Leonard. Voted and seconded that Stephen Richmond is enimically disposed towards the United American States, the vote being called passed in the affirmative and his name was entered upon the selectmen list."

At a town meeting held July 28, 1777, " the following warned persons were reported as being enimically disposed toward the United States — Capt. William Canady, John Howland, John Montgomery Jr., Josiah Vaughan, James Keith, Thomas Paddock and., and John Clark. Town examined and acquitted by vote John Howland, Josiah Vaughan, James Keith, Thomas Paddock 2nd, and Capt. William Canady and that the others be brought to trial by a court for that purpose."

At a town meeting held December 29, 1777, "Article in the Warrant, To see if the Town will approve or disapprove of measures taken in carrying Simeon Doggett & Lemuel Ransom out of Town.

"Voted not to act anything relative to this article."



HE War of 1812 was pot generally popular with the people of Massachusetts. They believed the causes which led to it might have been adjusted by diplomacy, and the declaration of war was too hasty, the long extended coast of the state not being sufficiently prepared for defence.1 The non-intercourse law came to an end in 1810 without having produced any effect. France's attitude was such under Napoleon's deception that this law was revived against Great Britain. Her vessels watched the whole eastern coast of the United States, and captured many American merchantmen. A conflict seemed unavoidable. With the new Congress, "submission men," who wished to avoid a struggle, were defeated, and "war men" elected, so that on June 18, 1812, war was declared. The British navy numbered one thousand vessels, the American twelve, inferior in tonnage and armament; the army was poorly equipped and disciplined; money was scarce, most of it being in New England. The government endeavored to raise money by loans, but with such poor success that at the end of the war there was hardly enough to arm, feed, and clothe the soldiers.

The principal theatre of the war was in the wilderness near Canada. In 1812 Detroit surrendered, and Canada was invaded with great loss. In the mean time the navy, which had not been expected to take a prominent part, won important victories, causing intense excitement. For twenty years Great Britain had been at war with almost every nation of Europe, and out of hundreds of battles between ships of equal force had lost but five. In six months the little American navy had

1 Bradford, History of Massachusetts, vol. ii, p. 174.


captured five vessels, and had not lost a battle.1 The warfare was carried on on the lakes, where both sides bought and built, to add to the power of their respective navies there. The Americans held their own on Lake Ontario, and won complete success on Lake Champlain, and in Perry's famous victory on Lake Erie, when he sent the official despatch, "We have met the enemy and they are ours, two ships, two tugs, one schooner and one sloop." The blockade of the Atlantic coast was enforced by British vessels from the beginning of 1813. Early that year they took possession of the mouth of Chesapeake Bay as a naval station, and the government then ordered all lights to be extinguished in neighboring lighthouses. At first they were inclined to spare New England, which was supposed to be friendly to Great Britain, but it too suffered with the other places on the shore. The entire coast was kept in a state of alarm, as British boats landed at exposed points to burn and plunder the towns, and private property was seized everywhere in the general pillage. The coast of Massachusetts was especially exposed to the ravages of the ships of the enemy, and the people justly complained to the general government that it was left without protection. This war destroyed the fishing industries of the state. Its extensive commerce was paralyzed, and all business was at a standstill.

While Middleboro had no shipping interests, the entire business of the town suffered. When war was declared, the people acquiesced in the action of the administration, and responded to the call for troops to defend the commonwealth. A general order2 was issued by the governor on the 3d of July, 1812, requiring that all officers and soldiers enrolled in the militia of the commonwealth should hold themselves in readiness to march at the shortest notice, wherever their services might be needed; but few of the militia were called into active service at that time. The town early made suitable provision for her soldiers.

1 Johnston's History of United States, p. 182.

2 History of Plymouth County, p. 1006.

At the town meeting held July 27,1812, it was voted that "the detached soldiers of the town of Middleboro be allowed by said town in addition to their pay allowed by the government an amount sufficient to amount to the whole $13. a month whenever they are called by government into active service of the country."

Also voted that "the non-commissioned officers have an additional sum in addition to their army pay allowed by said town which shall be in proportion to the soldier."

Also voted that " the select men be directed to furnish a set of equipments for one soldier and if Rodolphus Harden, one of the detached soldiers be called into service of the country that the town turn out to him said equipments."

Many of the ship-owners of New England, upon the declaration of war, manned their ships and fitted them out as privateers. These were active and troublesome to the enemy; numerous battles were fought on both sides. Middleboro's part in the war was in the coast defence of neighboring towns. In the summer of 1814 the English ships, Superb and Nimrod, were hovering about the eastern shores of Massachusetts. They had sent detachments of soldiers, who had inflicted great damage at Scituate and Wareham1 and were threatening an attack at Plymouth. A fort had been erected upon the Gurnet for the defence of Plymouth, Kingston, and Duxbury. Men from Middleboro were in Wareham at the time of the attack by the British soldiers in June, 1814, but only the name of Joseph Le Baron has come down to us.

During this war the militia of Plymouth County were under one brigade, which was composed of four regiments of infantry, a battalion of artillery, and a battalion of cavalry, which were under the command of Major-General Goodwin. On the 27th day of May, 1814, General Nathaniel Goodwin issued the following order: —

"It is absolutely and indespensably necessary at this time when our shores are daily invaded by the enemy that every man should do his duty and all concerned will be responsible for any neglect. Upon any alarm being made at the approach of the enemy on or near our shore Towns or Villages within the limits of the 5th Division, the officers and soldiers of the militia of said Towns and Villages will immediately repair to their respective alarm posts completely equipt for actual ser

1 Lossing, Pictorial Field-Book of War of 1812, p. 889.

vice, and there wait for their orders from their superior officers, if timely to be obtained, but should the necessity of the case be such that it would not admit of delay in the opinion of the commanding officer present, he will march immediately with the troops to the place or places in danger; and afford all the aid and assistance in his power and repel by force and arms all such hostile invaders. When so marched the commanding officer will give information thereof to the nearest superior officer."

There is no record that any of the troops from Middleboro were in any engagement with the enemy during the war, but in response to this order from General Goodwin the companies were held in readiness. Three companies were sent to New Bedford under Major Levi Peirce.

At this time (June, 1814) New Bedford was blockaded by the Nimrod and La Hogue,1 which continually threatened to land troops for the devastation of the city and the surrounding country. There was gathered in compliance with this order for the defence of New Bedford and Fair Haven about one thousand men. The people of New Bedford were strong federalists and opposed the war2 from the beginning, while those of Fair Haven were democrats and heartily endorsed the administration in its declaration of war and preparation for a vigorous assault on the enemy. They were glad to shelter the privateers and all other enemies of the British, and had built a fort on a strip of land at the entrance to their harbor. It was well fortified and guarded by Lieutenant Selleck Osborne. The enemy had planned an attack on the fort and the destruction of the village; everything was ready for the

1 Lossing, Pictorial Field-Book of War of 18r2, p. 889.

s "On July 21, 1814, the town of New Bedford voted unanimously as the expressions of the feelings of the inhabitants of the town that we have considered it our duty to abstain and have scrupulously abstained from all interest and concern in sending out private armed vessels to harass the enemy and which have appeared to us an encouragement to prosecute and increase the ravages of the unprofitable contest; that we have seen with disapprobation several private armed vessels belonging to other ports taking shelter in our peaceful waters and regret that we have not the authority of law wholly to exclude them from our harbor where they serve to increase our danger, where they incite disorder and confusion." Nov Bedford Records.

« PreviousContinue »