An “obstinate and deadly bush-fight” in Western Maine
By Pat Higgins
On May 9, 1725, a small band of English colonists engaged an undetermined number of Pequawket braves in a remarkable battle on the banks of Saco Pond in what is now Fryeburg, Maine. What, if anything, made this now nearly forgotten battle so remarkable? In part and very unrealistically, 19th century historians claim it was the duration of the fight and the number of casualties on both sides. Realistically, neither side had the ammunition to support extended fire in a battle that began in the morning and ended late that night. Opportunities for hand to hand combat were over fairly quickly as both sides sought cover. The battle must have been largely a waiting game. Hardly Hollywood!
Nineteen colonists plus their leader John Lovewell and an unknown number of Wabanaks including the war leader Paugus lost their lives. There are certainly enough accounts of ambuscades and attacks where considerably more people were killed and wounded.What we have here is not a Battle at the Pond, as it is known locally, or further a field, the Battle of Lovewell''s Pond. No armies. No generals. No grand strategy. What we do have is a fight, small scale, a lot of posturing, anger, fuzzy thinking and missed opportunities. "Lovewell's Fight", a term that rose from the old ballads, seems the best descriptive term.
Two Towns: Background
Pequawket Town: Pequawket is the generally adopted polite rendition of "Pigwacket" or "Pegwacket",, the older English versions of the Wabanaki word. The true name was probably closer to Pekwoket, a compilation of two words: "pik" or "pek" meaning "thrust up through" and "woket" indicating a "lone round hill" and might refer to Jockey Cap, a large rounded rock formation which is a local landmark visible for miles around. The hill served as a guide to mark the carry from the Saco River to what was then Saco Pond, saving travelers a 30 mile loop through the Great Bend of the Saco.
The Indian town itself was situated on a lesser bend of the river near the end of the portage.The village was surrounded by a log palisade On a map by Pere Aubery dated 1715, Pequawket, which he called "Pegouakki", is marked with a mission symbol indicating that there was a chapel and missionary there. The size and extent of the village is unknown, however there are a few accounts that shed some light. In 1642, Darby Field, the first white man to climb Mount Washington, described the population of Pequawket as about 200. In 1715, Pere Aubery informed French leaders that Athurnando (Adeawando) had returned with his people to Pequawket despite attempts to persuade them to remain in Canada. The tribe, described as numbering 60 warriors, spent eight years in St. Francis during Queen Anne's War at the invitation of Governor Vaudreuil. So perhaps there were between 150 and 200 Pequawket men, women and children. It is important to understand that the Pequawket tribe, like other Wabanaki tribes, swelled and declined seasonally or during times of plague or unrest.
Pequawket Town was a well-known point of origin of many Indian raids into southern Maine and New Hampshire and was likely used by many warriors from various tribes. It was a base of operations just close enough to, and just far enough away from, the coastal English settlements. Raiding parties often brought captives through the village on the way to Canada. Lovewell's men believed that there were captives living in Pequawket Town at the time of their expedition.
Lovewell's expedition was not the first mounted against Pequawket Town. An expedition was planned but not carried out in 1675, and actual attempts to attack Pequawket and its neighbor Ossipee were made in 1703, 1708, 1710, 1711 and 1724. Undoubtedly, the colonists recognized the dangers of having their enemies poised for attack not only via the Saco but also within an easy march of Winnipesaukee, Ossipee and the Connecticut and Merrimack rivers.
Old Dunstable: In 1652, the captains Simon Willard and Edward Johnson led the first recorded expedition up the Merrimack to its source. They are considered the first white men to visit the town of Old Dunstable on the New Hampshire and Massachusetts border which included the present day towns of Nashua, Nashville, Hollis, Hudson, Litchfield and Merrimack in New Hampshire and Dunstable and Tyngsborough, Massachusetts. The old town was not divided into it's present day configuration until the Massachusetts/New Hampshire boundary was settled in 1741.
It was an area rich in possibilities and well situated on the Merrimack River highway and it's tributaries. The first Lovewells arrived in the 1680's. By the time Capt. John Lovewell reached adulthood the family owned land and a mill on the banks of Salmon Creek in what is now Nashua. By the year of his death, Capt. John also owned a 200 acre farm were he lived with his wife and two children. Lovewell was a man of the frontier and loved to hunt and range throughout the woodlands exploring or watching out for Indians. He was a man in his prime and "burning with a zeal to perform some valiant exploit against the Indian enemies".
Troubles with the natives began almost immediately after the first settlers arrived in 1668. The town was all but abandoned during King Philip's War. 1691, the year in which John Lovewell was born in Dunstable, was particularly bloody as was 1703 and 1706. So vicious and frequent were attacks on the settlers that the town sent out "Snow Shoe Men" to roam the woods in search of Indian war parties. Between 1701 and 1711 the population declined from 180 to just 86; thirteen families, including the Lovewell's crammed into seven wide spread garrison houses. Dunstable was a frontier town and remained a target for Indian attacks over a fifty year period. Jeremiah Belknap, New Hampshire's earliest historian, wrote of this period that "every man of forty years old had seen twenty years of war".
The 1724 Attack at Old Dunstable
By the beginning of the 1720's expeditions and attacks between Pequawket Town and the coast were again in full swing again, if, in deed, they had ever slowed. Although hardly the beginning of hostilities, the flash point that brought Lovewell and his men into the forefront occurred at Old Dunstable on September 5, 1724. On this day, two men, Nathan Cross and Thomas Blanchard, went to a pine grove near the Nashua River to make turpentine. For safety's sake, they were expected to spend the night at Lovewel''s mill and then return the next day to their task.
At the end of the first day, the men did not arrive at Lovewell's as planned. Nine men set out to discover why. These included the local men: Lieut. Ebenezer French and Josiah and Oliver Farwell as well as six others. Upon arrival at the turpentine production site, they found signs that indicated Cross and Blanchard had been carried off alive by an Indian war party. Local accounts have it that Farwell pointed out that the turpentine was still spreading away from the broken barrels. He felt that this indicated the Indian party had left only a short time before. The settlers were anxious to pursue and rescue their friends, but Farwell counseled caution and an indirect route to avoid ambush. However, he and French were at odds over a previous issue. French wanted to retain command of the party and shouted, "I am going to take the direct path. If any of you are not afraid let him follow me." Off they charged into the woods.It would appear that blood lust got the better of common sense. The ambush came near a place later called Thornton's Ferry. With the exception of Josiah Farwell, who was bringing up the rear, all were killed. Farwell escaped on a dead run and managed to shake his pursuers in a thicket.
Farwell went on to become Lovewel''s lieutenant. Cross and Blanchard were carried off to Canada but were later redeemed. The eight dead were buried in a common grave (albeit with separate coffins) in the old Burying Ground. Thomas Lund's family erected a stone at the grave site with a famous inscription that reads in part, "This man and seven more that lies in this grave were slew all in a day by The Indians".
Lovewell's Early Expeditions
In September of 1724, the hue and outcry in Dunstable over this latest treachery by the enemy Indian must have been tremendous. One can imagine the mourning families, the frightened townspeople and the posturing bucks. John Lovewell together with Josiah Farwell and Jonathan Robbins soon submitted a petition to the General Court in Boston "to range and to keep out in the woods for several months together, in order to kill and destroy their enemy Indians, provided they can meet the Incouragement suitable". On November 17, 1724, the General court voted and approved the petition for not more than fifty men at a per diem of 2 shillings and 6 pence for each day in the field or in fitting out the expeditions. A 100 pound bounty was to be paid for each male Indian scalp.
The work of raising a company began but fell short of the desired fifty. Only about thirty men enlisted. One supposes that with winter coming on and time allowing some distance from September's harrowing events, people had become more complaisant and less worked up. At any rate, Lovewell was elected captain with Farwell his lieutenant and Robbins the ensign.
The First and Second Expeditions: The troop ranged throughout the area and commandeered supplies but found no sign of the Indian enemy. Finally, on the 19th of December, the troop came upon a wigwam about 40 miles above Winnipesaukee where they killed and scalped an Indian man and made captive an Indian boy. The Boston News Letter of January 7, 1725 reported that "for which good services, and for their further encouragement the Honorable the Lieut. Governor and Council were pleased to give them fifty Pounds over & above the one hundred & fifty pounds allowed them by law."
This certainly was encouraging for, within the month, the force had risen to 87 members. The second expedition left Dunstable on January 29, 1724 and traveled almost continuously through the winter forests for a month without encountering either enemy Indians or friendly settlement or comforts of any kind. Some of the troops were sent home. The remainder made a wide loop up towards the White Mountains, followed the Bear Camp River in Ossipee and headed back in an easterly direction on the Maine New Hampshire border.
On February 20th they came across a recently inhabited wigwam and followed tracks for some five miles. On the banks of a pond at the head of the Salmon Falls River in the present town of Wakefield they came upon more wigwams with smoke rising from them. A description of their attack can be found in the expedition's diary and in a "Report of Committee, 1728" probably prepared for the establishment of a land grant at Pennacook. Lovewell kept his men in hiding until 2 am. During the night,the report says Lovewell arranged his men about the encampment ordering part of the troop to fire in volleys of five on his signal. The other troops were to hold their fire as a reserve. Supposedly, Lovewel''s signal shot killed two Indians! The volleys killed five more. Two more were killed and one wounded by the reserve. The wounded Indian was chased down by a dog and killed.
What were the Indian enemy up to at the time? They had numerous extra blankets, snowshoes and mocassins which seems to indicate that they were on their way to attack frontier settlements. These supplies would be used by captives carried off into Canada. Preventing such a possible attack is probably the true success of this expedition.
The early March arrival of Lovewell's troop in Boston was a cause for celebration. They paraded their scalps through the streets, and Lovewell himself "wore a wig made of Indian scalps". The scalps may have been treated quite cavalierly but were, in fact, a brutal proof positive of the expedition's success. The fame was certainly heady, but the financial rewards were also considerable. Plunder included twenty odd blankets, a large number of mocassins and snowshoes, a few skins and rifles that Penhallow described as "so new and good that most of them sold for seven pounds apiece". Then, of course, there was the bounty of one hundred pounds per scalp. One thousand pounds! The success of Lovewell's second expedition was cause for both admiration and emulation.
The Trip to Pequawket Town
Riding on his success, Lovewell organized a third expedition. This time, instead of wandering through the wilderness in search of the Indian enemy, he planned a direct attack on Pequawket Town. As a newly celebrated hero, he meant to see the job finished. He had the experience and the savvy to defeat the Indian enemy on their own homefront. However, with the exception of Lieutenant Josiah Farwell and Ensign Jonathan Robbins, none of his men reenlisted for this new venture. Perhaps the previous expedition was too exhausting, or maybe it was due to the arrival of planting season. With the onset of spring, most men had more work than they could do in a short growing season.
Robbins was promoted to lieutenant; Seth Wyman of Woburn signed on as the new ensign and Dr. William Ayer of Haverhill as physician. The young Jonathan Frye of Andover, recently graduated from Harvard College, became the troop's chaplain. He had a special impedous; he needed money to marry his 13 year old sweetheart against his family's wishes. The largest contingent was still from Dunstable, but there were also eight men from Groton including the Indian fighter John Chamberlain.
This group was small compared to previous troops that marched on Pequawket. Only 46 men set out from Dunstable about the 16th of April 1725. Near Contoocook, William Cummings became disabled by an old wound from an encounter with the Indians. He and a kinsman were released from service to return home. The force now numbered 44.
The rangers stopped at Ossipee, the wilderness crossroads. They built a small fort on the west shore of Ossipee Lake and just south of a river now known, of course, as Lovewell's River. Ten men including the doctor and a sick man, Benjamin Kidder ( a relative of the nineteenth century writer/historian Frederic Kidder), were left behind when the force set out again on the last leg of the journey to Pequawket. The rangers also left behind a good quantity of supplies for the return trip. They planned to travel light, accomplish their mission and return to Ossipee. Only 34 men, a dangerously imprudent number, made up the attack force.
The Fight at The Pond
It is a good 30 miles from Ossipee to Pequawket. The men followed the old Indian trail north from Ossipee for about eight miles and then went along several chains of small ponds and bogs to the present Conway Village. From there it was another 10 miles along the Saco to Fryeburg.
It was a rough trip, and the troop was probably not very certain of their way. They were deep in the territory of their Indian enemy with little hope of safety. Caution must have slowed them down. Fear must have been palpable. Two days before reaching the Saco, the rangers thought they had been discovered and were being followed.
The night before the battle they thought they heard the Indians all around them during the dark of night. It is hard to say now whether this was the product of overactive imaginations or if they were actually on the verge of being discovered. It does seem completely unlikely that the Indians knew of their presence in the area at this point. Otherwise, things would certainly have played out differently.
During the day before the battle the troop reached the shores of Saco Pond (now Lovewell's Pond) having traveled across the area between the Saco River and Lovewell's Brook and about a mile to the east of Pequawket Town. They probably did not know where exactly they were or that the town was so close. It seems quite apparent now that they spent that last fearful night on the edge of a much traveled waterway and at the junction of woodland trails.
Map from Bouton's Original Account shows the area of the fight along with late 18th century Fryeburg Village.
The Indian Decoy: Early on the morning of Sunday May 9th, while the men were being led in prayer by Chaplain Frye, they heard a shot. A lone Indian was spotted on a point of land across the pond and further to the east. Their Sunday service forgotten, the men fell immediately into a discussion of how to proceed. Was this Indian alone or a decoy? Should they take an easy scalp or would they be lured into an ambush? The presence of the lone Indian seemed to indicate to the men that the Indian enemy surely knew the troops whereabouts now. This is just the sort of egocentric thinking one might expect. It would never have occurred to them that the Indian might be out about ordinary business in his own neighborhood.
Lovewell asked his men whether they should proceed or retreat. According to Parson Symmes, the Fight's first "historian", they replied, "We came to see the enemy; we have all along prayed God we might find them; and we had rather trust Providence with our lives, yea, die for our country, than try to return without seeing them, if we might, and be called cowards for our pains." This "God is on our side" interchange is typical of the way in which Symmes embellished his account.
With this, the men set out in the direction of the Indian. Imagining that the enemy was in front of them, Lovewell had the men lay down their packs so that they might travel more quietly and quickly. They proceeded about a mile or mile and a half around the pond until the Indian was spotted approaching them. The troops knelt down and waited. On a signal from Ensign Wyman, the troops rose to fire upon the lone Indian as he approached. The Indian returned fire (with beaver shot). Captain Lovewell was mortally wounded in the abdomen and Samuel Whiting was also hit. Wyman fired almost immediately and killed the Indian. Despite the fact that it was Sunday, the good chaplain jumped right in and scalped the man.
With his scalp knife, Jonathan Frye put into motion the most controversial event of the Fight. In his recording of the event Parson Symmes changed the date from Sunday May 9th to Saturday May 8th. This was ever so much more proper. After all, one couldn't have young ministers of God running wild in the countryside scalping people on Sunday. Saturday was ok. Parson Symmes didn't seem to have a problem with lying; what's a day this way or that out in a trackless wilderness. From his sermon on into the nineteenth century the wrong date is used, defended, argued and reviled.
The Fight Begins in Earnest
While the rangers were involved with the duck hunter their packs were discovered by one or perhaps two returning war parties. The men had actually left their packs on or near a major trail crossing. One war party led by Paugus was returning from Black Point to the Indian village. They were joined at the crossing by (or had previously met up with) a second party led by Nat (or Wawha). It was a simple matter for them to count the packs and gauge the size of the attacking troop. There was time to plot an ambush.
When Lovewell's men returned to their packs they were ambushed by at least 40 (some say 80) Indians who leaped from the bushes attacking from both the front and the rear. Lovewell and eight others were killed immediately. Robbins, Farwell and probably others were wounded. According to Symmes, the Indians howled like wolves and barked like dogs while the more civilized whites huzzahed.
The situation was immediately desperate, but the rangers rallied and fought hard pushing their enemy back to cover. Losses were heavy on both sides. Seth Wyman took command and pulled the survivors back to the edge of the pond where they found some protection between two fallen trees and a rocky outcrop.
The historian Francis Parkman calls the ten hour battle that followed "one of the most obstinate and deadly bush-fights in the annals of New England" However without their packs and only the ammo and weapons they carried in pursuit of the lone Indian, the rangers could not have had much with which to fight. It most certainly was a waiting game, ammunition could not be wasted by random firing. As Parkman describes it, "each man crouched with eyes and mind intent, firing whenever he saw, or thought he saw, the head, limbs or body of the enemy exposed to sight for an instant".
The rangers, with the pond at their back, could not be surrounded but neither could they escape. At one point, according to Symmes, "SOME of the Indians held up Ropes, ask'd the English if they'd take Quarter, but were Answer'd Briskly, they'd have none but at the Muzzle of their Guns". As desperate as conditions must have seemed to the rangers, being bound and led off into captivity was not an option.
Visiting Fryeburg less than fifty years after the fight, Rev. Coffin was astounded at the Indians' lack of success in winning the day. He examined the lay of the land at the battle site, noting the size of the trees and the bullets cut from them. The rangers' position seemed so futile to him that he wondered that they did not charge the Indians in some "forlorn hope" that they might drive their enemy back, break through and escape or , at least, die quickly. In Coffin's mind, the Indians trapped the rangers in a cross fire from a line that formed a half moon around the troops. The ranger who moved a little to the right or left of his shelter would expose himself to fire from Indians in the rocks to the west or others to the north. "'Tis strange," he said, "that the enemy let a man of them escape, for they stood fair marks to them all day". Coffin's only explanation was that the Indians did not wish to come too close and shot from a great distance. If Coffin's interpretation is correct and if they had pressed their advantage perhaps the outcome would have been different.
A number of events, all somewhat mythical, filled the time between late morning and late evening.
The Coward: In all of the accounts of Lovewell's fight starting at the very beginning with Symmes and Penhallow there is mention of "the coward", the man who was so "awfully terrified" that he ran away at the first volley and left his fellow rangers behind. Both refused to record the man's name as it was (in Symmes' words) "unworthy of being transmitted to posterity". This man was Benjamin Hassell, Lovewell's cousin on his mother's side. Think about this: the anxiety and fatigue of the trip, the surprise of the ambush, the close proximity of the attackers, the noise, the blood. Many men fell in those first few minutes; certainly the battle appeared to be lost. Who wouldn't have "gone for help" at the first opportunity. Unfortunately, help was very far away. In fact, it is amazing that Hassell made good his escape at all.
Even more unfortunately, Hassell did make the fort at Ossipee early the next morning. He traveled nearly forty miles in less than twenty four hours. His story so excited and dismayed the rear guard that they packed up and left for home post haste. The frightened rear guard also made about forty miles a day and was in Dunstable within three days.
When the fight's survivors reached the fort, they found only a bag of bread and pork. The men, who had lost their packs, were starving and in need of medical attention. Everything they had left behind for such an eventuality was gone. Certainly if it weren't for Hassell, the rangers would not have suffered so much or, in some cases, died on the return trip.
Solomon Keyes and the Providential Canoe: Solomon Keyes (or Kies), from Billerica, was wounded three times during the battle and lost a good deal of blood. He felt that he would surely die but did not want to be scalped by the Indians. Keyes begged Wyman's permission to crawl off into "some obscure hole (according to Penhallow) rather than be insulted by these bloody Indians". He crawled away towards the pond where a strange miracle occurred. He found an abandoned canoe into which he was able to roll. In his weakened state, Keyes passed out, but his canoe drifted down the pond, through the outlet and onto the Saco. And so, Solomon Keyes made good his escape and with transportation to boot!
Its about fifty miles and all down stream to the town of Saco. All Keyes needed to do was go with the flow. However, somehow he knew enough to go up the Ossipee River to Ossipee Lake and across to the little fort. Paddling up stream, even up the slow and muddy Ossipee, must have been hard work for a self-descibed "dead man". Yet Keyes made it to the fort at about the same time that the Fight's survivors arrived and continued on with them to Dunstable.
Chamberlain and Paugus: Showdown on Fight Brook: Many of the whites and the Indians knew each other personally, either from trade or other circumstance. During the battle they recognized each other and called back and forth across the lines. We can assume that, no matter what the previous relationships might have been, these conversations were not friendly. After all, one side was being invaded on their homefront, and the other was trapped with little hope of escape. Perhaps the most famous example of prior knowledge is the alleged gunfight between John Chamberlain and the Indian leader Paugus. In fact, it may be the most famous event or perhaps myth of Lovewell's Fight.
As the story goes, Chamberlain's gun became fouled in the course of the fight. He crept down to a small brook to wash it out. As he stepped out onto the bank, a warrior on a similar mission approached from the opposite bank. The two men recognized each other and began furiously to prepare their guns. Reputedly, Paugus said to the ranger, "I shall now very quick kill you." "Perhaps not," answered Chamberlain. He had an ace in the hole; his gun primed itself with just a thump on the ground Chamberlain had time to take careful aim while Paugus was still priming his gun from his horn. In a flash the white man fired and Paugus lay shot through the heart.
Quite interestingly, this tale was not told until after the last ranger died in 1798. With no one to refute the story, it spread like wildfire and was hotly argued by the 19th century historians. A more likely story follows.
Seth Wyman at the Pow-wow: By evening ammunition was low, and there was a lull in the fighting. Seth Wyman and another ranger crept through the woods to scout out the situation. At a little distance, they came across the Indians in a powwow. Wyman shot the man who appeared to be the leader. In all likelihood, the man he shot was Paugus. This demoralized the Indians who withdrew from the field soon after.
This is the account that is supported by references from the time of the Fight. Wyman's heroism is supported in popular song from the period. No mention is made of the Chamberlain / Paugus story until Elijah Russell of Fryeburg reprinted the Symmes' pamphlet in 1799. Russell and, later, Nathaniel Bouton freely appended notes, ballads and poems, and corrected 'inaccuracies', which did little but cloud the issue. Soon further tales arose in which Chamberlain slew Paugus' son who had traveled to Groton seeking revenge. By the end of the 19th century, several guns were in existence that were reported to be Chamberlain's famous self-priming musket.
Robbins and the Charged Gun: After midnight the raiders took advantage of the apparent withdrawal of the warriors and began a hasty retreat. They fully expected their Indian enemy to regroup and attack again in the morning. Twenty men, including eleven walking wounded, left the field. Too badly wounded to walk, three others were left behind. One of the three was Lt.Jonathan Robbins who was so badly wounded that he could not move. He asked his friends to charge his rifle and leave it by his side. According to Symmes, he said, "As the Indians will come in the morning to scalp me, I will kill one more of them if I can." The twenty beat a hasty retreat.
After a short distance, it became evident that four of the more badly wounded including Frye and Farwell would not be able to keep up. The larger group went on ahead hoping to send help back from the little fort at Ossippee. There was, of course, no help waiting at the fort.The retreating troop never saw any sign of pursuing Indians. Even so, several days into the retreat they split into three groups so that they would not leave an obvious trail. One of the smaller groups was pursued by Indians. Elias Barron was separated from this group and never seen again. The largest party, led by Seth Wyman, arrived at the fort and found to their surprise that it was abandoned. The troop became increasingly fragmented; clearly conditions were deteriorating to every man for himself. Small groups of raiders, dirty and starved, began arriving back in Dunstable a week after the battle.
The four wounded men who had been left behind waited several days for help and then began walking. They had been without food since the day of the battle, their wounds were putrefied. Josiah Jones followed the river for fourteen days all by himself down to Saco. He was one of the last rangers to reach safety although he was nearly dead from famine, blood loss and putrification of his wounds. He said he had survived on cranberries and other vegetation which came out again at a wound in his body. The other three men headed towards the fort at Ossippee. Frye soon laid down in the woods and begged the others to go on without him. Lt. Farwell struggled to within a few miles of the fort before succumbing. The fourth man, Eleazer Davis, continued on finally reaching safety in Berwick eleven days after the battle.
Later that month Colonel Ebeneazer Tyng and a large party traveled to the battle site to bury the dead. They found the bodies untouched by the Indians . The initials of the dead men were carved in a nearby tree and could be seen for many years afterward. Tyng also found the grave of three Indians, one of whom was Paugus. This may not be a real indicator of Indian casualties. Indians were known to remove their dead and wounded from the scene in order to leave no sign or record of their numbers. Also, they did not often bury their dead in an organized manner like whites. When investigated, nearby Pequawket Town was found to be deserted.
Lovewell's War or Dummer's War actually consisted of three battles: Norridgewock (1724), Old Town (1725) and Lovewell's Fight. The success of these three raids effectively ended the Indian Wars in southern Maine by destroying three major Indian towns and their control over three different river highways.
Dummer's War was a disaster for the Wabanaki. The French offered only limited aide. Aggressive English militia patrolled forests and launched repeated military expeditions to Wabanaki villages forcing the Indians into the interior in dispersed groups. As a result, the native population shifted north and eastward. Many Indians removed to Quebec. Large villages no longer existed; Indians lived in smaller family groups instead. In the fifty years preceding Dummer's War, the Saco and Kennebec tribes played leading roles in warfare; afterwards, the Penobscots did. The Western Maine Wabanaki ceased to be a diplomatic force.
Governor Dummer of Massachusetts for whom this war was named, began negotiations that capitalized on the English successes even before Lovewell's Fight. He sent two native hostages off to negotiate peace with the eastern tribes. The emissaries arranged a meeting at St. George. At first the chiefs were hesitant to enter the fort; they felt that they would be tricked and captured. Eventually, both sides agreed to send two chiefs to Boston to help draw up a treaty. Both sides were ready for peace.
In Governor Dummer's Treaty, the Abenaki confirmed the colonists prewar land titles and promised not to attack them. The Indians retained title to all other lands. The colonists agreed to regulate trade and not to disturb or settle in Indian hunting grounds. They promised to maintain trading posts on principal rivers.The original treaty was signed in Boston on December 15, 1725 by four sachems and the governors of Massachusetts and New Hampshire plus a representative acting for the governor of Nova Scotia. Dummer was not satisfied with the number of signatures, He arranged to meet forty more sachems at Casco Neck in 1726 to explain the terms of the treaty. On June 30th, twenty six agreed add their signatures to the treaty. The peace that this treaty brought about was the longest period of peace since the beginning of the Indian wars.
Although the outcome can best be described as a draw, the significance of Lovewell's Fight is that it effectively marked the end of hostilities between the English and the western Wabanakis of Maine. This was a turning point. So important was it to western Maine, New Hampshire and even Massachusetts colonists that the Fight was celebrated in song and story, and its importance was not eclipsed until the American Revolution. More than one hundred years later Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Henry David Thoreau and Nathaniel Hawthorne all wrote about Lovewell's Fight. Today, the Fight is a forgotten if somewhat mythical event unknown outside of western Maine. A single granite marker, erected in 1904 by the Society of Colonial Wars in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, can be found in the woods just off Battleground Road near Lovewell's Pond in Fryeburg, ME.
Photos: Lovewell's Monument, Dave Higgins
Partial List of Sources: Barrows, John Stuart. Fryeburg, Maine: An Historical Sketch. Fryeburg, Pequawket Press, 1938. Belknap, Jeremy. The History of New Hampshire. Dover: S.C. Stevens & Ela & Wadleigh, 1831. Chamberlain, George W. "John Chamberlain, the Indian Fighter at Pigwacket" Collections of the Maine Historical Society, Second Series, Volume IX. Portland: Maine Historical Society, 1898, pp. 1-14. Fox, Charles J. The History of the Old Township of Dunstable: Including Nashua, Nashville, Hollis, Hudson, Litchfield, and Merrimac, N.H.: Dunstable and Tyngsborough, Mass. Nashua: Charles T. Gill, Publisher, 1846. Green, Samuel A. Groton during the Indian Wars. Groton, MA, 18813. The Nashua History Committee. Kidder, Frederic. The Expeditions of John Lovewell and his Encounters with the Indians. Boston: Bartlett and Halliday, 1865. The Nashua Experience. Nashua, NH: Nashua Public Library and Phoenix Publishing, 1978. "Memoir and Journals of Rev. Paul Coffin, D.D., of Buxton, Me.: Journal of a Tour from Buxton to Piggwacket, 1768". Collections of the Maine Historical Society, Series 1, Vol. 4. Portland: Maine Historical Society, 1856, pp. 275-292. Parkman, Francis. "So Thick and Fast They Fell," Williams, Ben Ames, ed. Amateurs at War: The American Soldier in Action, Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1943. Smith, Marion Jaques. A history of Maine. Portland, ME: Falmouth Publishing House, 1949. Symmes, Thomas. The Original Account of Capt. John Lovewell's "Great Fight" with the Indians at Pequawket, A new edition with notes by Nathaniel Bouton. Concord: P.B. Cogswell, Printer, 1861.
c.2002 Pat Higgins