May 9 This day during the Father Rale’s War (1722–1725)

May 9, 1725 – The Battle of Pequawket occurred on May 9, 1725 (O.S.), during Father Rale’s War in northern New England. Ranger Captain John Lovewell led the New England troops, and Chief Paugus led the Abenaki at Pequawket, the site of present-day Fryeburg, Maine. The battle was related to the expansion of New England settlements along the Kennebec River (in present-day Maine). The battle marked the end of hostilities between the English and the western Wabanakis of Maine. So important was it to western Maine, New Hampshire and even Massachusetts colonists that the Fight was celebrated in song and story, and its importance was not eclipsed until the American Revolution. Lovewell’s third expedition consisted of only 47 men, many of whom were unfamiliar with ranging. With men who were more inexperienced and far fewer in number than in the earlier expeditions, they left from Dunstable (present day Nashua, New Hampshire) on April 16, 1725. The Indian guide and another were unable to continue and returned to Dunstable along with a relative of the injured colonial. When another fell ill they built a fort at Ossipee and left 10 men, including the ill man, the doctor and John Goffe, to garrison the fort while the rest left to raid the Abenaki village of Pequawket, located near the Saco River. On May 9, as the 34 militiamen were being led in morning prayer by chaplain Jonathan Frye, a lone Abenaki warrior was spotted hunting at the lakeshore. Suspecting that that this man was a decoy and that there was an Indian force in front of them, nonetheless the rangers decided to hide their packs and proceed cautiously. Lovewell’s men waited until the warrior was close and, although accounts differ in who fired first, the Abenaki did have a chance to fire his fowling piece loaded with beavershot at close range, wounding Lovewell and another. Further fire from the rangers killed the Indian. Chaplain Frye is reported to have scalped the dead Indian. Meanwhile, the rangers’ packs had been discovered by an Abenaki war party (some accounts say two) who, seeing that they out-numbered the rangers, hid in ambush. When the rangers returned to their packs (in single file) the Abenakis fired at the front and rear and charged. Lovewell was killed in the first volley along with eight others. Lovewell’s lieutenants, Josiah Farwell and Jonathan Robbins, were among the wounded at this point (they critically). Ensign Seth Wyman organized the defence and was in command of the rangers during the rest of the fight. After the initial volleys the battle turned into a firefight with individuals on both sides hiding behind trees in the pine plain. Being outnumbered the rangers had to take care not to be surrounded. Since a tree did not provide any cover from the sides and rear the colonials slowly pulled back to the lake to protect their rear. They then withdrew eastward to a location passed twice earlier that day where, in addition to the lake protecting them from the south, they had a swollen stream on the east (now named Fight Brook,) flooded land to the north and fallen trees to the west. Although surrounded they were able to keep the more numerous enemy further away from accurate fire. During the battle the Indian war chief Paugus was shot dead. There is debate over who shot him. Some posit that he was shot by John Chamberlaine (see “John Chamberlain, the Indian fighter at Pigwacket”), while others report that it was Ensign Seth Wyman, who killed the warrior with the next shot. With the death of Paugus the rest of the Indians soon vanished into the forest.


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