Writings by Susan Dickinson

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S.H.D. Commonplace Book (16:35:1),
Martha Dickinson Bianchi Collection,
John Hay Library, Brown University Libraries


Recalled on the Anniversary of Gen Lincoln's Visit to Amherst.

To the Editor of The Republican:

One hundred and fourteen years ago to-day (January 28, 1787) the people of Amherst looked upon the greatest display of real fighting soldiers after an enemy that has ever been seen within the town's borders. At about noon of that day, or possibly a little past that hour, Maj Gen Benjamin Lincoln, in command of four regiments of Massachusetts infantry, three companies of artillery, and one company of cavalry, mostly raised in the eastern part of the state, marched into the village of Amherst in pursuit of Capt Daniel Shays and 1100 insurgent followers of the rebel captain, who at an earlier hour had marched through the town on his way to Pelham. Shays and his forces had made an unsuccessful attack upon the militia under Gen Shepard at Springfield on the 25th, the purpose being to take the United States arsenal. Notwithstanding the fact that the insurgents under Capt Shays were old continental soldiers, one discharge of a cannon, directed at the center of the rebel column, killing three men and wounding a fourth, was enough for Capt Shays, and his forces retreated without a musket being fired.

Gen Lincoln, marching from Boston and Worcester, arrived in Springfield with his men on the 27th, and on the 28th, at 2 o'clock in the morning, began the march toward Amherst in pursuit of Capt Shays and his rebels, slow progress being made because of the deep snow, and on reaching this town, Shays and his men were far away, among the Pelham hills.

Gen Lincoln halted his troops at Amherst Center, and, making an examination of the houses, found very few men, mostly women and children. Giving orders to the people not to furnish aid and comfort to the insurgents, he marched his men to Hadley, where there was better opportunity for maintaining his forces in camp. On the 3d of February, at 8 o'clock at night, Gen Lincoln marched his men from Hadley through the northern part of this town, through Shutesbury and New Salem to Petersham, making a most phenomenal march in the face of a fierce northeast snow-storm and the bitter cold of an old-fashioned winter, which prevented any halt for rest or refreshment along the march over the rough, hilly country between Hadley and Petersham. The van of Gen Lincoln's troops reached Petersham at 9 a.m. February 4, 1787, with the rear five miles away. Capt Shays was greatly surprised, and he and his insurgent followers fled in all directions.

C. O. F. [?]

Amherst, January 23, 1901.

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Last updated on January 25, 2008

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