The Battle of Bloody Brook

At the time of the Europeans' arrival, Deerfield was inhabited by the Pocumtuck nation, with a village by the same name.

First settled by European colonists in 1673, Deerfield was incorporated in 1677. Settlement was the result of a court case in which the government in Boston agreed to return some of the land of the town of Dedham to native control, and allowed some of Dedham's residents to acquire land in the new township of Pocumtuck. To obtain this land their agent John Plympton signed a treaty with some Pocumtucks, including one named Chaulk—who had no authority to deed over the land, and only a rough idea of what he was signing.

The settlers then expelled by force the Pocumtuck tribe, who sought French protection. At the Battle of Bloody Brook on September, 18, 1675, the dispossessed Indians destroyed a small force under the command of Captain Thomas Lathrop before being driven off by reinforcements. Colonial casualties numbered about sixty. In retaliation, at dawn on May 19, 1676, Captain William Turner led an army of settlers in a surprise attack on Peskeompskut, in present day Montague, then a traditional native gathering place. They killed 200 natives, mostly women and children. When the men of the tribe returned, Turner was routed, and died of a mortal wound at Green River.

A bloody battle today has claimed the lives of between sixty and seventy men, leaving widows and fatherless children throughout the county of Essex. Captain Thomas Lathrop, leader of the company of young men was also killed. He had long been active in Salem affairs.

Originally intended to be a uneventful delivery of wheat by oxcarts to Hadley, the men apparently took few precautions and were confident that their numbers belied attack. It would have disastrous consequences.

It has become apparent that Phillip with his Wampanoags and the Nipmuck bands under Sagamore Same, Mantaup, One-eyed John, Matoonas, Panquahow, and other minor sanchems had crossed Connecticut to lay in wait for the Hadley delivery.

Halting by a nameless stream, Lathrop and his men were suddenly attacked and a virtual slaughter ensued. It is said the water turned red with blood, hence, "Bloody Brook."