Bidwell Lore – Captain William Goodrich, Part IV

For this segment of the William Goodrich story, we are going to take a look at his experience during the Revolutionary War leading a company of Stockbridge Mohicans.

Goodrich was a captain in the Lexington Alarm of April 1775 and joined Col. John Paterson’s Massachusetts regiment at the same rank that May. Captured at Quebec on 31 December, Goodrich was exchanged shortly after Christmas 1776 and then raised a volunteer company. He served without a commission as brigade major in Paterson’s brigade from March to June 1777 and during that year apparently returned to Stockbridge to work as a recruiting officer. Goodrich served as a major in the Massachusetts militia during 1780 and was active in Vermont affairs during 1781.

The Massachusetts Provincial Congress sent a message on April 1, 1775, to Jehoiakim Mtohksin, “It affords us great pleasure and satisfaction to hear…that our brothers the natives of Stockbridge are ready and willing to take up the hatchet in the cause of Liberty, and their country: we find you have not been inattentive to the unhappy controversy we are engaged in with our mother country…” [1]

In addition, they allocated funds to purchase a blanket and a yard of ribbon apiece for those that enlisted. After two days of council Solomon Uhhaunauwaunmut (who you may remember from last week had sold land to Goodrich in 1772), the new head Mohican sachem, responded to John Hancock and the provincial congress:

Brothers: You remember when you first came over the great waters, I was great and you was little – very small. I took you in for a friend, and kept you under my arms, so that no one might injury you; since that time we have been true friend; there has never been any quarrel between us. But now our conditions are changed; you are become great and tall; you reach up to the clouds; you ae seen all around the world; and I am become small, very little; I am not so high as your heel. Now you take care of me, and I look forward to your protection.
Brothers: I am sorry to hear of this great quarrel between you and Old England. It appears that blood must soon be shed to end this quarrel. We never till this day understand the foundation of this quarrel between you and the country you came from.
Brothers: Whenever I see your blood running, you will soon find me about you to revenge my brother’s blood. Although I am low and very small, I will grip hold of your enemy’s heel, that he cannot run so fast and light, as if he had nothing at his heels.
Brothers: You know I am not so wise as you are, therefore I ask you advice in what I am now going to say. I am thinking before you come to action, to take a run to the westward and feel the minds of my Indian brothers, the Six Nations, and know how they stand, whether they are on your side, or for your enemies. If I find they are against you, I will try and turn their minds. I think they will listen to me; for they have always looked this way for advice concerning important news that comes from the rising of the sun. If they hearken to me you will not be afraid of any danger from behind you. However their minds are affected, you shall soon know by me. Now I think I can do you more service in this way, than by marching off immediately to Boston, and stay there (it may be) a great while before blood runs. Now, as I said you are wiser that I, I leave this to your consideration, whether I come down immediately, or wait till I hear some blood is spilled.
Brothers: I would not have you think by this that we are falling back from our engagements; we are ready to do anything for your relief, and shall be guided by your counsel.
Brothers: One thing I ask of you if you send for me to fight, that you will let me fight in my own Indian way. I am not used to fight English fashion, therefore you must not expect I can train like your men. Only point out to me where you enemies keep, and that is all I shall want to know.” [2]

Painting of the Battle of Bunker Hill by Howard Pyle from 1897. Three lines of revolutionary War soldiers in red uniforms with muskets and bayonets are marching to the right. Drummers dressed similarly follow behind on the left. Their are fallen soldiers all around and smoke is visible in the background.
Howard Pyle (1853-1911), The Battle of Bunker Hill. Oil on canvas, 1897, later published in Scribner’s Magazine, February 1898.  
Public Domain.
Original previously in the collection of the Delaware Museum of Art, presumed stolen.

In 1774 Goodrich was captain of the Stockbridge Militia Company, with David Pixley as first lieutenant. Stockbridge Indians became minutemen of the company and Jehoiakim Mtohksin (mentioned above), son of Johannis Mtohksin, was second lieutenant. Captain Goodrich would lead a company of the Stockbridge Mohicans to the siege of Boston. On April 11, 1775, Goodrich delivered Solomon Uhhaunauwaunmut’s above speech to the Massachusetts Provincial Congress. [3] On April 22, Captain Goodrich’s company of Stockbridge Indians marched to Cambridge. In Cambridge on August 1, Abraham Naunauphtaunk and William Notonksion, Sr., both of Stockbridge, were wounded, later dying, and became the first Native American Patriots to die in the Revolutionary War. [4]

Both William Goodrich and Solomon Uhhaunauwaunmut, along with sixteen other Stockbridge Mohicans were reportedly at the Battle of Bunker Hill. Other Stockbridge Mohicans known to be present for the siege of Boston included Jacob Naunauphtaunk with his sons Abraham and Jehoiakim, Daniel Nimham, and William Ntonksion, Sr., and Jr.

From Soldiers and Sailors of the Revolutionary War: Aupaumut, Hendrick. Capt. William Goodrich’s Co. Col John Paterson’s regt.; Order of a Bounty Coat or its equivalent in money, dated Stockbridge, Feb. 27, 1776. [5] The bounty coat or equivalent in money was a recognition by the Patriots of Aupaumut’s importance in the tribe and his ability to gather more Mohicans to the cause.

George Washington to Major William Goodrich, 19 June 1779
To Major William Goodrich

[West Point, 19 June 1779]
You are hereby authorized & required to engage as many of the Stockbridge & Scatacoke tribes of Indians as you can; and with a few good woodsmen if to be had join the Army under the command of Majr General Sullivan.
These men are to have not more than private Soldiers pay unless you should find it necessary to distinguish the chief of each tribe by some little pecuniary, or other encouragement.
You will be allowed Captains pay & Rations, and may, if you shd obtain & march forty Men, or upwds appoint a lieutenant (who will be allowed pay and Rations as such) to aid and assist you in this command.
These instructions will authorise you to draw public provisions where they are to be had, & to pass certificates where there are no Commissary’s stores for such as you obtain from the Inhabitants.
I cannot give you a precise rout because I do not know the time you will be ready to move with this party from Stockbridge nor the Situation Genl Sullivan may be in when you commence your March but at Esopus you will be able to learn where the Army is and can shape your course accordingly. Given at West point this 19th of June 1779. GW

Williams Academy [Stockbridge] Principal W.E.B. Canning recalled: “When I became a citizen of the town in 1850, there were a few persons still living who remembered the memorable occasion of the alarm that pervaded Berkshire at the time of the descent of the British on Bennington; and I desire more particularly to refer to it here in order to correct a version of the story by some who have wrongly connected it with the battle of Lexington.”

“Early one Sunday morning In August, ’77, our village was startled by the sound of three musket shots fired in succession. On looking out, there were seen Esq. Woodbridge, then living in the present residence of Mr. Samuel Lawrence-Deacon Nash, his next neighbor, and Deacon Edwards, on the street corner near the latter’s house- now Mrs. Owens’s- each with a musket in his hand. So strictly was the day kept at that time, that the sight of these men so situated provoked as much astonishment as would now the discovery of a quartette of our revered clergy prefacing divine service by a game of euchre over the pulpit cushion. Something unusual and very important must be in the wind, or these fathers of the town and church had gone daft. Matters were soon explained to the fast gathering citizens, for a courier had just brought news that the British were marching on Bennington, and that every able-bodied man was needed to repel the invasion. Anon, forth came the yeoman soldiery equipped as well as haste and alarm permitted, and took their way northward to the scene of danger With this body went Dr. Oliver Partridge, whom many of us remember, and who told me he dressed the mortal wound of Col. Baum, who commanded the enemy in that battle.” [6]

A company of Stockbridge Mohicans gathered up and traveled to Bennington, arriving just as the battle had ended. In 1782, they were rewarded for their willingness and presence at the Battle of Bennington and were granted lands in Vermont in recognition of their services.

 “Requesting a tract of land near the Great River and the ponds of Dunmore, Joseph Shauquethquot, sachem of the Moheakunnocks, or Mohicans, of Stockbridge, reminded his Patriot Brothers of the Great Green Mountains that Vermont was once Indian country:
 ‘We and our fathers were once the rightful possessor of all your country, it was a gift of the Great God to us & them; but when the belt of friendship was interchanged with our American brethren, we became one people with them, and possessed and enjoyed freely our Lands, since which we have grown smaller & smaller until we are become very small, but we would have you call to mind brothers, how big we were once, and not hear us altogether as though we was Small.‘”

However, instead of the lands that Shauquethquot requested, the Stockbridge Mohicans received land several miles east of Montpelier, which was less desirable.    

 As you may remember from the second article in this series, Goodrich lost his Inn in Stockbridge while prisoner in Quebec. The new owner of Goodrich’s Stockbridge tavern, Captain Isaac Marsh, provided credit to the Stockbridge Mohicans for sundry supplies. In a relatively short period of time, in order to pay off their debt, they were forced to deed the land in Vermont to Marsh that they were given by the State of Vermont for their service at the Battle of Bennington. Somewhat ironically, that land is now the town of Marshfield, Vermont. [7]

Next week we look further into Goodrich’s service in the Revolutionary War and his captivity in Quebec.

1. Frazier, Patrick. The Mohicans of Stockbridge (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1992), page 195.
2.  Frazier, Patrick. The Mohicans of Stockbridge (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1992), pp 195-198.
3. Taylor, Charles James. History of Great Barrington (Springfield: C. W. Bryan and Company, 1882), page 311.
4. Stockbridge Town Clerk’s office has a transcribed list of Stockbridge Mohicans who served in the Revolutionary War containing 59 names. I think a number of Stockbridge Mohican veterans might be missing from the list.
5. Secretary of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Mass Soldiers and Sailors of the Revolutionary War: A Compilation from the Archives prepared and published by the Secretary of the Commonwealth in accordance with chapter 100, Resolves of 1891 (Boston: Wright & Potter Printing Co., 1903), page 351.
6. Canning does not cite his source.
7. Calloway, Colin G. Western Abenakis of Vermont, 1600-1800: War, Migration, and the Survival of an Indian People (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1990), pp 221-222.