Franklin County, Massachusetts
Genealogy and History

Volunteers Dedicated to Free Genealogy

Massachusetts logo

The Battle at Bloody Brook



The first corn mill and dam on this mill river was built about 1670. Owned by Hopkins School and operated by Robert Boltwood. In 1673 out of 84 Deerfield men coming to Hadley with supplies, 76 were killed in Bloody Brook Massacre of that town. Some were coming to this mill with grain. The mill was burned by Indians in 1677 and rebuilt by the owner, Samuel, son of Robert Boltwood, the mills and dam have been destroyed several times by fire and flood, and ownership has alternated between Hopkins and individuals. The last corn mill on this site was burned in 1925.  Building of the present concrete dam was started in 1918 by the own, Arthur C. Howe and resumed at intervals until 1947 when the town, desiring ample water for fire protection, joined with the owner in it completion. The mill and a house for the miller were the first buildings at this end of the town, then called Hadley Upper Mills.

(monument erected by Arthur C. Howe in 1952)


During September, 1675, bands of warriors roamed the Connecticut River valley, attacking villagers as they worked in the fields or traveled between villages on business. Unlike the English who were accustomed to fighting fixed battles on open plains, Amerindians fought from concealed spots and attacked small groups. This "American" way of fighting would be a problem for the British during the next century also. The colonists used these same guerilla tactics, which they learned fighting the Amerindians, to fight against the British troops in the American Revolutionary War.

The military garrison at Hadley grew as more troops were sent there to aid the English settlers. Provisions had to be sent from the individual villages to feed these troops. On September 19, 1675, Captain Lathrop and 80 men were riding convoy for a wagon train loaded with threshed wheat on its way to the mill just north of the Hadley garrison.


The group of carts started from Deerfield on this fateful morning. Even though the trail led through dense forest, no vanguard or flankers were sent out. The force was so large, surely no warriors would attack them. As the convoy emerged from the dense forest into a narrow, swampy thicket, it slowed down to cross a brook. Realizing the crossing would take a long time as each heavily-laden cart lumbered across, the soldiers tossed their rifles on top of the wheat and prepared to relax. Some soldiers began to gather the grapes growing alongside the brook.


At a given signal, hundreds of warriors, who were lying concealed all around the spot, opened fire on the convoy. Chaos followed, bullets and arrows flew from every direction. Captain Lathrop immediately fell. Of the 80 soldiers, only 7 or 8 escaped; none of the Deerfield men who were driving the carts survived.

Captain Moseley and a troop of 60 soldiers who were in the area heard the sounds of the ambush and hurried to the scene. For approximately 6 hours, a battle was fought with neither side gaining the upper hand. Each soldier fought in the Amerindian style: conceal yourself, select a target and shoot. Finally a troop of 100 Connecticut soldiers with a band of Mohegans arrived. Realizing they could not win now, the warriors disappeared into the forest. The surviving soldiers straggled back to Deerfield for the night. According to D. E. Leach in his book,Flintlock and Tomahawk, p. 88, "Moseley retired to Deerfield that night, and there he and his grim-faced men were taunted from a safe distance by a group of the enemy warriors who gleefully displayed articles of clothing taken from the English dead." The surviving soldiers returned the next day to bury the dead in a mass grave. The sluggish little brook was re-named Bloody Brook. Deerfield was abandoned shortly afterward and later the village was destroyed by King Philip's warriors.

Today, in the town of South Deerfield, Massachusetts, there is a stone shaft marking the edge of the swampy area where the ambush occurred.


This page contributed by Libby Klekowski 


MassachusettsGenealogy Trails
All data on this website is Copyright by Genealogy Trails with full rights reserved for original submitters.