Service in Early Wars



Individual Military Service in Indian Wars and the Revolution —
Roster of Officers and Privates — Effort to Erect a Memorial.


1675, King Philip’s War: Job Lane.

1688 to 1698, King William’s War: Lieut. John Wilson, Lieut. John Lane.

1703 to 1713, Queen Anne’s War: Capt. John Lane, Nathaniel Bacon, Samuel Fitch, Josiah Bacon, Trumpeter, Nathaniel Page, Nathaniel Bacon, John Colburn, Josiah Fassett, Benjamin Bacon, Jonathan Bacon, Joseph Bacon, Job Lane.

1723 and 1724, Indian outbreak: Josiah Davis, killed; Eleazer Davis, wounded; Hugh Maxwell.

1745 to 1748, King George’s War: Lieut. John Lane, Hugh Maxwell, Thompson Maxwell. Lieut. Lane was with Sir William Pepperell, who sailed from Boston, March 24, 1745, for the capture of Louisburg.

1754 to 1763, last French and Indian War: Ebenezer Page, in the expedition to the eastward; Ensign Josiah Fassett, at the relief of Fort Williams; [*1] Sergeant Page; Nathaniel Merriam, died at Lake George, Sept. 15, 1758; John Abbott, died at Lake George, Nov. 2, 1756.

Thompson Maxwell was one of Rogers’ Rangers.

Rev. Nicholas Bowes was chaplain; Hugh Maxwell, credited to Lexington (the home of his wife).

The following is the list of those who received abatements of their “town and highway rates,” in 1763, in recognition of services rendered in the troubles with the French: Hugh Maxwell, Jeremiah Fitch, Jr., Jonas Wheeler, John Danforth, Stephen Mead, Abraham Taylor, Samuel Kidder, Widow Brown (for her husband), James Wheeler, Aaron Wood, Zachariah Fitch, Eben Taylor, Benjamin Kidder. [^1]

Benjamin Kidder is supposed to have been the same person who was with Lovewell, in 1725, at Pigwacket, “the most fierce and obstinate battle of Indian warfare.” [*2] He was in David Melvin’s company, as Sergeant, and one of twenty-six who went for the reduction of Louisburg, and through the woods to Crown Point. [*3]

If more has been written of those who belonged to the Billerica side, it is because there were more from that part of the town who had military titles; hence they secured a more complete record. There was no lack of patriotism and courage on the Concord side. Five-sixths of those whose rates were abated for service in the year 1762 were from that side of the town; and the Davises, who were full of military zeal in the early wars, belonged upon that side. Eleazer 3rd was commissioned a lieutenant in the opening of the Revolution.

In the Concord records it is seen that men of this location, Bedford, were active in shaking off the oppression of Sir Edmund Andros, in 1689. Lieut. Joseph French was a selectman of that year, and when at the age of eighty years led in forming this town. His name stands at the head of the founders of the church, in 1730.*

Revolution.— The men who turned out in response to the alarm of April 19, 1775, are known as the “Lexington Alarm List.”

Certain traditions in regard to the commanding officers of both minute men and militia have been accepted as facts and recorded by local historians, but are not substantiated by official returns; hence the documents filed in the archives of the State are copied more fully than would otherwise be done in this connection.

We have not a complete record of the military organization of the town at the opening of the Revolution, but have reason to believe that the companies credited with service on April 19, 1775, were very nearly full, and that the following lists represent the militia roll of that time:

The account of the time that each man who belonged to the Minute Men of the Town of Bedford spent at Cambridge in defence of the Country together with the nineteenth of April last, and also of their travel reckoned from the middle of the town according to the minds of the Company.

1st. Lieut.Moses Abbott.DrummerOliver Bacon.
2nd Lieut.Timothy Jones.FiferJonas Welch.
Sargt.Christopher Page.Privates,Jabez Russell.
Seth Saultmash. [*4]Jonas Gleason.
Ebenezer Fitch. [^2]Nathan Bacon.
Asa Fassett.Nathaniel Page, Jr.
Privates,Joseph Meads, Jr.Moses Fitch.
Reuben Bacon.David Bacon.

 * The Commonwealth of Massachusetts managed its own affairs in its own way from its start, in 1629 to 1684. Their charter was annulled by Charles II, in 1684, and Sir Edmund Andros was sent over, who ruled with despotic power. [^3] He was seized and thrust into jail, in 1689. In 1693, under William and Mary, Massachusetts had a new charter, by which the Legislature was in the control of the people, but the Governor was appointed by the King.

[ p 66 ]

Elijah Bacon.David Reed.
Timothy Johnson.Nathan Bowman.
Ephraim Smith.Asa Duren.
Obediah Johnson.Benjamin Winship.
William Merriam.

This is a true attested account from Each one before me.

Moses Abbott.

Bedford, March 13, 1776.

Colony of the Massachusetts Bay,

March 14, 1776.

Moses Abbott made solemn oath that this Roll, by him subscribed, is just and true in all its parts. [*5]

Before Moses Gill, Justice Peace.

Throu. the Colony.

In Council, March 14, 1776.

Read and allowed and ordered that a warrant be drawn on Ye Treasury for 21l. 4s. 7d. in full for this roll.

To the above list of “Minute Men” thirty-six miles of travel are credited, and their time of service ranges from four to thirteen days. This roll was made up by Moses Abbott, the next in command to Captain Jonathan Willson, who was killed in the attack upon the retreating British near Merriam’s Corner, April 19, 1775. [^4] He had bravely led his men through the memorable scenes of the early hours of the day, been foremost in the chase across the Great Fields to intercept the enemy, and fell dead in the severe battle of the afternoon. It is to be regretted that no mention is made on this roll of his service and sacrifice. This unfortunate omission can be accounted for in two ways. First, it was some months before this roll was filed and allowed; and, second, because Capt. Jonathan Willson, like all the officers of the Minute Men, had not been commissioned. [^4] The report of the town treasurer for 1775 allows Moses Abbott, for six days’ training with twenty-five Minute Men, eight pounds two shillings. The above list numbers twenty-five without the fallen captain, proving the truth of a tradition,

“that undrilled citizens joined the ranks.” [*6]

The company of militia belonging to the seventh regiment was reported by the commanding officer as follows:—

The account of Capt. John Moore, commander of the Militia Company of Bedford, giving the miles of travel and time spent in the Service and Defence of the Colony, on and directly after the alarm on the nineteenth day of April last. Exhibiting in Distinct Columns against each man’s name the number of miles he travelled. The allowance thereof, The number of Days he was in that Service and the wages thereof, with the sum total of the whole, agreeable to the Resolve of the Honl. Council published in the news-paper, and a vacant column for Deduction if any shall be to be made.

CaptainJohn Moore4010PrivateZiba Lane339
1st. Lieut.John Merriam408Sampson Hardy339
2d. Lieut.Eleazer Davis409Lemuel Blanchard3710
SargeantJoseph Convers244Edward Stearns2614
James Wright333Josiah Davis364
Jeremiah Fitch Jr.334Simeon Parker †14
FiferDavid Lane3311Joseph Ross †9
PrivateJames Lane Jr. 3d.3312Jabez Carter119
Oliver Reed Jr.337John Lane266
Samuel Lane339Joseph Hartwell269
Israel Putnam Jr.3010Thomas Bacon356
Samuel Bacon264John Fitch334
Samuel Davis263Samuel Lane Jr.333
Ebenezer Page332John Lane Jr.101
Thaddeus Davis309Solomon Lane3312
Edward Stearns403Matthew Pollard336
Solomon Stearns *4018Stephen Lane337
William Page285Job Lane Jr. ‡101
William Maxwell386Oliver Pollard Jr.339
Samuel Meeds3215Jeremiah Willard302
Josiah Upton388John Reed264
Samuel Merriam3010Ebenezer Johnson †18
Abel Bowman373Machias Allen † [*7]18
David Fitch262Abraham Merriam3
Abijah Bacon3613Timothy Page202
* Died May 18, 1775.† Joined the Continental army.
‡ Wounded at Concord, April 19, 1775.

Colony of Massachusetts Bay April 3, 1776 Captain John Moore, above mentioned, made solemn oath to the truth of the above roll.

The fragmentary rolls in the archives of the state, and the imperfect records of the time, make it impossible to give a complete list of the Bedford men who served in the Continental army during the Revolution. The best list that we have been able to obtain is the following, reported May 15, 1775. It includes the members of the companies given above, with the exception of the killed and wounded and those who have died of disease, together with the following:—

(1) Jeremiah Blood,(5) Samuel Crosby,
(2) Solomon Bacon,(6) David Dutton,
(3) John Burgess,(7) Reuben Durant,
(4) Ebenezer Bowman,Matthew Fitch,
Samuel Fletcher,Benjamin Hutchinson,
John Hartwell,Timothy Johnson,
Samuel Hartwell,Timothy Lane,
Job Lane,Stephen Mead,
Israel Putnam,David Page,
Thomas Page,Oliver Reed,
Daniel Jones,Benjamin Ross,
James Simons,Nathan Smith.

The committee report that all are then enlisted (May 15, 1775), with the exception of seven indicated by figures, and consequently participated in the siege of Boston.

Hugh Maxwell and Thompson Maxwell were in the battle of Bunker Hill (credited to other towns). [*8] While it is evident that other Bedford men were engaged in that bloody struggle, it is impossible to give the names. [^5]

[ p 67 ]

1775: In the second campaign of twelve months we find Abraham Merriam, and in Capt. Benjamin Walker’s company of the twenty-seventh regiment:—

2d. Lieut.Ebenezer Fitch,PrivateJabez Carter,
SargeantAsa Fassett,Asa Duren,
PrivateAmos Goodell,Simon Parker,
Malachi Allen,Benjamin Winship.

Fourth campaign, July, 1775, to Ticonderoga:

Solomon Kemp.

Fifth campaign, to Ticonderoga:—

William Murry,John Halley,Ezekiel Kilpatrick.

Sixth campaign, to Dorchester, July, 1776 (one from Bedford, two hired):—

Samuel Parkhurst,Moses Esterbrooks,Benjamin Farmer.

Seventh campaign, to White Plains, N.Y., 1776 (in Captain Samuel Fay’s company, Lieut.-Col. Webb’s regiment, three months twenty-two days in service):—

Joseph Merriam,Israel Blood,
Nathaniel Wyman,Thomas Cleverly,
Moses Abbott,Moses Fitch, wounded,
Sargeant Timothy Page, killed.

1777, May, two months’ campaign: Five men to Rhode Island:—

William Dexter,Cambridge Moore,
John Abbott,Amos Whitmore,
Nehemiah Wyman.

August 21, three and one-half months: Eight men to Bennington.

Jonas Eaton killed, July 6, 1777. He was in Capt. John Russell’s company.

September, thirty days’ campaign: Eight men

“to take and guard the troops.”

1778, February, three months’ campaign: Five men with Captain Farmer.

April 20, nine months’ campaign: Eight men with Captain Moore at Cambridge:— [*9]

Waldron Stone,Ralph Emery,
Gideon Sanderson,William Marry,
John Stevens.

John Reed to Rhode Island.

1779: Two men to Rhode Island; second campaign, two men to Rhode Island.

Three men to North River:—

Abraham Merriam,William Jones,William Freeman.

Two men to Boston.

One and one-third months: Six men to Claverick.

1780, June, six months’ campaign, seven men to North River:—

John Johnson,Cambridge Moore,
Rufus Johnson,Jonas Duren,
Nathan Merrill,Caesar Prescott,
Jonas Bacon.

Three months’ campaign, to Rhode Island, eight men:—

Joshua Holt,Jonathan Wilson, Jr.,
John Webber,Andrew Hall,
Ebenezer Hardy,Isaac Simonds,
Amos Bemis,Israel Mead Blood.


Cambridge Moore,Caesar Prescott,Joseph Ross.

June, six men, to join General Washington, at West Point:—

Nehemiah Wyman,Timothy Crosby,
Moses Abbott,Joseph Merriam,
Stephen Syms,Israel Mead Blood.

1782, August 29, six months to Cambridge:—

John Johnson,Jonas During, [*10]
Rufus Johnson,Jonas Bacon,
Nathan Morrill,Cambridge Moore,
Charles Walker.

Men from Bedford who served for three years of the war.

Called in 1777:—

PrivateJoseph Davidson,PrivateDangle McClary,
John Binger,Samuel Penny,
Derby Arnalls,Timothy Richardson,
Jonathan Evens,Timothy Sullivan,
Joseph Fassett,William Tufts,
Alexander Lucom,Israel Williams,
Private Moses Craige(hired from Hopkinton).

Called in 1779:—

William Jones,William Freeman.

Called in 1780:—

Joseph Davidson,James Ingles,
Henry Kneeland,John Williams.

Called in 1782:—

William Grant,Zephaniah Williams, [^6]Caesar Jones.

First regiment, Continental army:—

Daniel Brodbury,served48months.
John Pickett,48
James Uran,48
Jonathan Dutton,27
Heith Pleasant,12

Summary of the killed, wounded, and those who died from disease, as far as known:—

Jonathan Willson, captain of Minute Men,

[ p 68 ]

killed April 19, 1775, at Concord. [^4]

“A brave and meritorious officer” (Shattuck). [*11]

Job Lane, Jr., wounded at Concord. April 19, 1775 (in service but one day).

Solomon Stearns, with his father, Edward Stearns, in Concord fight; joined the army at Cambridge on the following day, and there contracted a disease, which terminated his young life, May 18, 1775, in the nineteenth year of his age. He was as truly a sacrifice in the cause of liberty as though he had fallen at Lexington or Concord.

Nathaniel Merriam, killed at White Plains, N.Y., Oct. 28, 1776.

Sergt. Timothy Page, killed at White Plains, N.Y., Oct. 28, 1776.

Moses Fitch, wounded at White Plains, N.Y., Oct. 28, 1776.

James Eaton, killed July 6, 1777. He was in Capt. John Russell’s company, commanded by Col. Bradford, Esq.

Reuben Bacon was at Concord, April 19, 1775; went into camp at Cambridge, and joined the regular army. He contracted a disease there, and died, May 15, 1775, at the age of seventeen years three months eleven days. His death occurred on the day that the first enrollment was made, proving that he died away from home.

Middlesex is denominated the monumental county, and memorial shafts are seen in many towns; but the brave deeds of the people of Bedford in the early wars are commemorated only through the gratitude of posterity.

In 1857, Reuben Bacon, Esq., presented an order, which was adopted by the town, to petition the Legislature for aid to erect a monument to Capt. Jonathan Willson, killed at Concord, April 19, 1775. [^4] No favorable results followed. Francis Coggswell, representative to the General Court for that year, was one of the committee. The others were Reuben Bacon, Jonathan Bacon, and Cyrus Page.

“It is never too late to repair an injury or pay a debt of gratitude.” [*12]



  1. Aaron ∨ Adron
  2. Ebenezer ∨ Ebennzer
  3. Charles II, ∨ Charles II.,
  4. Willson, ∨ Wilson,
  5. [[ pagination tweak ]]
  6. Williams, ∨ Williams.


  1. “Fort Williams”: [ (seemingly) an error for ] Fort William Henry
  2. cf. Shattuck’s History of the town of Concord (1835) p 67
    NB: Brown has exaggerated Shattuck’s actual claim that this was “one of the most fierce and obstinate battles in the annals of Indian warfare”. (emphasis added)
  3. “reduction”: capture
  4. “Saultmash”: Saltmarsh
  5. “subscribed”: undersigned
  6. cf. (in this volume) p 24
  7. “Machias”: [ (seemingly) an error for ] Malachi
  8. cf. “The narrative of Major Thompson Maxwell” (1865)
    in Historical collections of the Essex Institute: Vol VII (pp 97-115)
  9. “eight men”: [ (conceivably) an error for ] five men
  10. “During”: Duren
  11. cf. Shattuck’s History of the town of Concord (1835) p 258
  12. This saying seems to have been coined by Brown himself.
    NB: Brown later used this saying as a title-page epigraph.
    cf. John Hancock, his book (1898)
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