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By John N. McClintock, A.M.
On the morning of September 4, 1724, Thomas Blanchard and Nathan Cross, of Dunstable, started from the Harbor and crossed the Nashua River, to do a day’s work in the pine forest to the northward. The day was wet and drizzly. Arriving at their destination they placed their arms and ammunition, as well as their lunch and accompanying jug, in a hollow log, to keep them dry. During the day they were surrounded by a party of Mohawks from Canada, who hurried them into captivity.
Their continued absence aroused the anxiety of their friends and neighbors and a relief party of ten was at once organized to make a search for the absentees. This party, under the command of Lieutenant French, soon arrived at the place where the men had been at work, and found several barrels of turpentine spilled on the ground, and, to the keen eyes of those hardy pioneers, unmistakable evidence of the presence of unfriendly Indians. Other signs indicated that the prisoners had been carried away alive. The party at once determined upon pursuit, and following the trail up the banks of the Merrimack came to the outlet of Horse-Shoe Pond in the present town of Merrimac, where they were surprised and overwhelmed by a large force of the enemy. Josiah Farwell alone of that little band escaped to report the fate of his companions.
Blanchard and Cross were taken to Canada. After nearly a year’s confinement they succeeded in effecting their own ransom and returned to their homes. The gun, jug, and lunch-basket were found in the hollow log where they had been left the year before.
Enraged by these and similar depredations, the whole frontier was aroused to aggressive measures. John Lovewell, Josiah Farwell, and Jonathan Robbins at once petitioned for, and were granted, the right to raise a scouting party to carry the war into the enemy’s country.
At this time the settlements of New Hampshire were near the coast outside of a line from Dover to Dunstable, except the lately planted colony of Scotch-Irish at Londonderry. Hinsdale, or Dummer’s Fort, was the outpost on the Connecticut. To the north extended a wild, unbroken wilderness to the French frontier in Canada. Through this vast region, now overflowing with happy homes, wandered small bands of Indians intent on the chase, or the surprise of their rivals, the white trappers and hunters.
A large section of this country, fifty miles in width, was opened for peaceful settlement by the bravery of Captain John Lovewell and the company under his command. In this view their acts become more important than those of a mere scouting party, and demand, and have received, an acknowledged place in New-England history.
The company, which was raised by voluntary enlistments, was placed under the command of John Lovewell. This redoubtable captain came of fighting stock—his immediate ancestor serving as an ensign in the army of Oliver Cromwell. Bravery and executive ability are evidently transmissible qualities; for in one line of his direct descendants it is known that the family have served their country in four wars, as commissioned officers; in three wars holding the rank of general.