Letter to Major General Shepard about Shays' Rebellion




Letter to Major General Shepard about Shays' Rebellion


Shays' Rebellion, 1786-1787
Stockbridge (Mass.)


Dr. Erastus Sargeant writes to Major General William Shepard describing being captured by Shays' Regulators as they attack and loot the town of Stockbridge. They are defeated during a final bloody encounter with government militia at Sheffield, MA on February 27, 1787.

Shepard was chosen major general of the Fourth Division of the Massachusetts militia in 1786 and defended the Springfield Arsenal in January and February 1787 during Shays' Rebellion. Dr. Sargeant mentions being marched to Shays' headquarters in Stockbridge at Mr. Bingham's. This location would be the Red Lion Inn in Stockbridge, MA, which was founded by Silas Bingham and his wife Anna.

A similar account is mentioned in several published letters in Multiple articles from The New-Haven Gazette and The Connecticut Magazine newspaper regarding Shays' Rebellion.


Sargeant, Erastus


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Folder: Shays' Rebellion - Documents

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Stockbridge March 5 1787

Dear Sir,

When you was here, I had the most sanguine prospects of making you a payment before this time, but we have had nothing but a scene of war and distress since the beginning of Feby. which has prevented my collecting any money worth your receiving, you may depend on my exercions in your favor as soon as there is the least propect of success -- On Tuesday morning the 27 ulto. about daybreak I had my house surrounded by twelve armed men, with a demand of enterance and surrender to Shays with the most horrid imprecations and diabolical visages that is possible to possess the human appearance before we could have time to determine whether it would be best to grant them enterance, they drove their bayonets thru the window of my lodging room and by repeated thrusts broke the sash and 6 or 8 lights of glass, in the room I, my wife and small children lodged, then with the same degree of vailance burst an outside door and an entery door which led into the same room, pointed the bayonet to my wives breast, with a demand of arms and arminition at the same time they had found enterance into almost every room of my house, after getting what arms and arminition they could find, and what plunder they pleased, which consited of cloathing, silver buckles some cash hats etc etc they ordered us to prepare to march immediately to head quarters, which was then at Mr. Bingham, where I found almost all my neighbours in the same unhappy situation. The commanding officer, Capt. Hamblin, informed me I must go with him and gave me permission to return home and take an horse or sleigh and what other comforts I pleased, which I considered as a very great indulgence, they plundered 6 horses and mounted them as videts [?] and marched out of town sun almost two hours high in the morning with 32 prisioners, we went to Barrington where they were joined by a number more, our Friends at Barrington got information timely to make their escape to Sheffield, where with an uncommon ardor and spirit they collected a force sufficient to attack them, which they did on the road from Barrington to Sheffield, tho; they decoyed them out of the common road, there strength was nearly equal the prisioners were pressed on at the point of the bayonet ot the scene of action a cruelty unknown in the most barbarous Nation, but kind providence so ordered it that but one of the poor prisioners fell, whether by the fire of our people or the rebels is uncertain, the attack was vailant and resolute on both sides, Hamblin received a mortal wound, which disconcerted his men, and they fled with precipitation into every direction, leaving one dead and two mortally wounded, by the seasonable reinforcement under Genl. Patterson in their rear, about fifty of there number were made prisioners, we lost two killed and one wounded, but I hope not mortal, Thus ended this rash incursion of the rebels, which they plumed themselves much on - I have spun out this to a much greater length then I intended, am

Your Friend

& Servt.

Erastus Sargeant.

Maj. Sheppard


Sargeant, Erastus, “Letter to Major General Shepard about Shays' Rebellion,” Digital Amherst, accessed June 13, 2024, https://digitalamherst.org/items/show/777.