Thursday, May 21, 2009

JEREMIAH SWAIN PART 7: "...ffight take Kill"

Towards the end of 1689 relations with the Indians inhabiting the area which is
now the present day state of Maine were worsening. Several factors contributed
to this, including the presence of French agents and of Indians who had fought
the colonists with King Philip now seeking refuge with the northern tribes. An
expedition led by Governor Edmund Andros in the spring of 1688 had destroyed
a French settlement on the Maine coast and led to open hostilities with the Indians
allied with the French. A series of attacks on English settlements followed.

By now many of the commanders from King Philip's War had died or were too old
to take command in the field. There were however a few prominent officers left
from that campaign, among them Jeremiah Swain and Benjamin Church . So in
August of 1689 it was decided that a more forceful strategy was necessary and
troops were to be sent to Maine. Accordingly, Jeremiah Swain received the following
letter from the Governor and his Council:

"Aug- 29th 1689. The Convention of the Governr and Council and Representatives
of the Massachusets Colony in New England—

To Jeremiah Sweyne Comander in Cheife :
Whereas the Kennebeck, and East Indians, with their Confederates have Openly
made Warr, upon their Majesties Subjects in the Province of Main, New Hampshire
and of this Colony, barbarously Murdering, and Captivating of many, Burning their
Houses, and Spoyling them of their Estates and whereas You Jeremiah Swayne are
Appointed Commander in Chief of all the forces now raised, and detached out of the
Several Regiments within this Colony for their Majesties Service for an Expedition
agst the Comon Enemy, Indians their Aiders and Abetters—

These are therefore in their Majties Names to Authorise and Require you to take
into your care, and Conduct all the Said Forces, and diligently to intend that Service
by Leading and Exeercising Yor lnferiour Officers, and Soldiers Commanding them
to Obey you as their Commander in chief, and to ffight take Kill, and destroy the
Said Enemies by all the waies and Means you can as you shall have Opportunity, And
you to Observe, and Obey: all such Orders and Directions as from time to time you
shall Receive from the Governr and Council of this Colony; In Testimony whereof
the Publick Seal of the Above said Colony is hereunto Affixed.

Dated in Boston the 29th day of Augt- 1689.
Anno qs RR et Regina Willielmi et Maria Anglia & p m—
Sealed with the Publick, Seal, and Signed by the Governr and ye Secretary."

-Court Records, Vol. 6, pp. 74-5

- William Chester Swain, Swain and allied families (Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Press
of Swain and Tate Company, 1896)

Of course this was Puritan New England and there were certain expectations from
the government in the conduct of military commanders as the new Governor
Bradstreet and his Council made clear in the instructions they issued on 4 Sep

"Sept. I4th. 1689.
Instructions for Major Jeremiah Swayne
Comander in chiefe /
In Pursuance of the Comission given you to be Comander in chiefe of the Forces
raysed within this Colony for their Majesties Service in the present Expedition
against the comon Indian Enemy, Reposing confidence in yor wisdom prudence
and fidelity in the trust comitted unto you for the Honour of God the good of his
people and the Security of the Interest of Christ in his Churches: Expecting and
praying that in your dependance upon him you may be helped and assisted with
that grace and wisdom which is requisite for the carrying of you on with
Success in
this difficult Service And though much must be left unto yor own
prudence and
direction as providence and oppertunity may present from time to
time in places of
Action yet the following Instructions are comended unto yor
Observation and to be
attended so far as the State of matters with you in such a
transaction will admit./

You are with all care and diligence to Improve the Severall Companys of Souldiers
under yor comand now quartered at Groton, Havarill & Newichewannick, together
with the Company of now sent out under the conduct of Captain Noah Wiswall and
such others as may be added unto you, in prosecution of yor Comission for the
pursuing, discovery, subduing & destruction of the said comon Enemy as you shall
have oppertunity, Intending likewise the safe guard and defence of those out Towns
that lye most open and in danger of incursions by the Enemy, Especially at such time
as they are now employed about their harvest, takeing care that they be sufficiently

You are to take Effectual Order that the worship of God be maintained and kept up in
the Army. And that both Morning and Evening prayer to God be duely attended, and
far as the Emergency of yor Service will admit, that the holy Sabbath be duely

You are to see that yor Souldiers Armes be alwaies fix't and that they be furnished
Amunition provisions and other necessarys that so they may be in a readiness
to repel or
Attacque the Enemy.

And in yor pursuit take especial care to avoid danger by Ambushment or being
under any disadvantage by the Enemy, In your marches keeping out
Scouts and a forlorn
before your main body as shalbe requisite.

You are to Suppress all mutinies and disorders among yor Souldiers as much as
in you
lyeth and to punish those who shall disobey the comand of their Officers,
desert their
Company or neglect their duty And to prevent what may be and
punish such as shalbe
found guilty, of prophane swearing curseing drunkenness
or such other sins as do provoke
the Anger of God:

you may Encourage your Souldiers to be industrious & vigorous in their service
to search
out and destroy the Enemy promiseing them the benefit of all captives
and plunder that
shalbe taken unto their own use, and the reward of Eight pounds
for every ffighting Indian
man that shalbe by them slain over & above their stated

You are from time to time to give intelligence and advice to the Governor and
Councill of
yor proceedings and occurrences that may happen; And how it shall
please the Lord to
deale with you in this present Expedition.—You are to maintain
a correspondence by
intelligence as you can have oppertunity with Major Church
Comander in chiefe of the
Forces gone farther Eastward, and to yield mutual
Assistance Each to other as you can
conveniently come to joyne any part more or
less of yor severall fforces./ And if yor
fforces or any part should hapen to come
neer to Each other you must agree upon some
Signal whereby yor Indian may be discriminated from the Enemy.

You are to take notice that Cap Willard and Cap Hall with their Companye are put
the comand of Major Church to joyne the Plymouth fforce.

You are to assigne to Cap Noah Wiswall Ten or more able hardy Englishmen to be
of his
Company as he shall desire to mix with his Indians.

You are not to draw off the Forces now Quartered at Groton untill farther

Signed S: Bradstreet Govr
Boston 14 Septr 1689.
Past by the Governor & Councill
Isc Addington Secry "

-Maine Historical Society, Documentary History of the State of Maine (Portland,
Me. , Lefavor-Tower Company, 1907) pp 54-56

So having received his orders and instructions from Boston, Major Jeremiah
Swain and his troops set off for the territory of Maine to conduct an Autumn

Unfortunately, it was not to be as easy a task as the Council back in Boston expected.


BeNotForgot said...

During this time period . . . actually on the 21st September 1689 . . . my 9th great-grand-uncle, Anthony Brackett, was killed by Indians at Falmouth in Cumberland County, Maine . . . he had been captured in August of 1676 but later escaped . . .

Bill West said...

Jeremiah 's report in Part 9 probably refers to the events around your ancestor's death since he wrote it a few days later on 4 Oct.