In 1676, at the height of King Philip's War, the war leader of the Wampanoag used a ruse to lure away the bulk of the colonial troops to the north. Without the protection of professional soldiers, the natives then prepared to attack the lightly defended town of Hadley, Massachusetts. However the settlers discovered the plot and despaired for their lives knowing they lacked any military expertise.
But with all hope seemingly lost, a white-bearded man with a powerful bearing and wielding an old sword suddenly appeared. He raised and organized a town militia before leading them to victory against the superior numbers of Wampanoag. He then disappeared.
Restoration authorities suspected the man to be the Puritan General William Goffe, still wanted for his role in the regicide of Charles I in 1649. Many of the co-signers of Charles I's death warrant had been executed or given life imprisonment upon the Restoration in 1660.
In absentia Goffe had been sentenced to be hanged, drawn and quartered but he had escaped and fled to New England. Puritans made up a large section of the population in the New England colonies, there were many sympathisers who were prepared to protect Goffe.
Some of his surviving letters give vague clues about the locations and the general areas where he was hiding. Goffe is believed to have stayed in the house of Hadley’s minister, John Russell.
According to the legend, when Royalist agents for The Crown eventually came to investigate the battle, Puritan citizens told the investigators several stories:
1. The battle never took place
2. If the battle took place, there was no white-bearded leader
3. If there was a white-bearded leader, he wasn’t William Goffe
4. If the leader was William Goffe, he was no longer in Hadley.
Among the disputed facts in this legend:
* What was the date of the event. The town of Hadley’s website gives the date as June 12 (while describing the event as a legend); others say September 1;