John Lovewell (Junior)

John Lovewell (October 14, 1691-May 8, 1725) was a British explorer and soldier who lived in Dunstable, now Nashua, New Hampshire. He fought in Dummer's War as a militia captain, leading three expeditions against the Abenaki Indians.

1st and 2nd expeditions

Lovewell and his militia company (often called "snowshoe men") of 30 men left Dunstable on their first expedition in December of 1724, trekking to the north of Lake Winnipesaukee into the White Mountains of New Hampshire. On December 19, 40 miles north of Winnipesaukee, the troop came upon a wigwam, where they killed and scalped an Abenaki man and took an Abenaki boy captive in response to the abduction of two men from Dunstable and the ambush and killing of eight others by Abenaki warriors. The company was paid 200 pounds for the scalp (150 pounds plus 50 pounds over and above).

On January 29, 1725, Lovewell and 87 men made a second expedition to the White Mountains. For more than a month they marched through the winter forest, encountering neither friend nor foe. Some troops were sent back home. The remainder made a wide loop up towards the White Mountains, followed the Bearcamp River into the Ossipee area, then headed back in an easterly direction along the Maine and New Hampshire border.

On February 20 they came across a recently inhabited wigwam and followed tracks for some five miles. On the banks of a pond at the head of the Salmon Falls River in the present town of Wakefield they came upon more wigwams with smoke rising from them. Some time after 2:00 AM Lovewell gave the order to fire. A short time later ten Indians lay dead. The Indians were said to have had numerous extra blankets, snowshoes, moccasins, a few furs and new French muskets which would seem to indicate that they were on their way to attack frontier settlements. Preventing such an attack is probably the true success of this expedition.

Early in March Lovewell's troops arrived in Boston. They paraded their Indian scalps through the streets, Lovewell himself wearing a wig made of Indian scalps. The bounty paid was 1000 pounds (100 per scalp).

Lovewell's fight

The third expedition consisted of only 46 men and left from Dunstable on April 16, 1725. They built a fort at Ossipee and left 10 men, including the doctor and John Goffe, to garrison the fort while the rest left to raid the Abenaki town of Pequawket, now Fryeburg, Maine. On May 9, as the militiamen were being led in prayer by chaplain Jonathan Frye, a lone Abenaki warrior was spotted. Lovewell's men waited until the warrior was close and fired at him but missed. The Abenaki returned fire, killing Lovewell. Ensign Seth Wyman, Lovewell's second in command, killed the warrior with the next shot. Chaplain Frye then scalped the dead Indian. The militia had left their packs a ways back so as to be unencumbered by them in battle. Two returning war parties of Abenaki led by Paugus and Nat found them and waited in ambush for the returning militia. Eight men were killed in the first volley by the Indian warriors. The battle continued for more than 10 hours until Ensign Wyman killed the Indian war chief Paugus. With the death of Paugus the rest of the Indians soon vanished into the forest. Only 20 of the militiamen survived the battle; three died on the retreat home. The Abenaki losses except for Paugus are unknown. The Abenaki deserted the town of Pequawket after the battle and fled to Canada.

Aftermath of the fight

Later that month Colonel Ebeneazer Tyng arrived with a large force of militia to bury the dead and take revenge on the Abenaki who had already fled. Without support from the French the western Abenaki were forced to make peace with Massachusetts and New Hampshire. John Lovewell's widow and children along with the other widows and children of those slain in the battle were given large tracts of land in what is now Pembroke, New Hampshire. "Lovewell Mountain" in Washington, New Hampshire, which he climbed to do surveillance, is named for him, as is Lovewell Pond in Fryeburg.

Ballad of Lovewell's Fight

This ballad was written in New England soon after the action on May 8, 1725. Anonymous Of worthy Captain LOVEWELL, I purpose now to sing, How valiantly he served his country and his King; He and his valiant soldiers did range the woods full wide, And hardships they endured to quell the Indian's pride. 'Twas nigh unto Pigwacket, on the eighth day of May, They spied a rebel Indian soon after break of day; He on a bank was walking, upon a neck of land, Which leads into a pond as we're made to understand. Our men resolved to have him, and travelled two miles round, Until they met the Indian, who boldly stood his ground; Then up speaks Captain LOVEWELL, "Take you good heed," says he, "This rogue is to decoy us, I very plainly see. "The Indians lie in ambush, in some place nigh at hand, In order to surround us upon this neck of land; Therefore we'll march in order, and each man leave his pack; That we may briskly fight them when they make their attack." They came unto this Indian, who did them thus defy, As soon as they came nigh him, two guns he did let fly, Which wounded Captain LOVEWELL, and likewise one man more, But when this rogue was running, they laid him in his gore. Then having scalped the Indian, they went back to the spot, Where they had laid their packs down, but there they found them not, For the Indians having spied them, when they them down did lay, Did seize them for their plunder, and carry them away. These rebels lay in ambush, this very place hard by, So that an English soldier did one 0f them espy, And cried out, "Here's an Indian”; with that they started out, As fiercely as old lions, and hideously did shout. With that our valiant English all gave a loud huzza, To show the rebel Indians they feared them not a straw: So now the fight began, and as fiercely as could be, The Indians ran up to them, but soon were forced to flee. Then spake up Captain LOVEWELL, when first the fight began, "Fight on my valiant heroes! you see they fall like rain." For as we are informed, the Indians were so thick, A man could scarcely fire a gun and not some of them hit. Then did the rebels try their best our soldiers to surround, But they could not accomplish it, because there was a pond, To which our men retreated and covered all the rear, The rogues were forced to flee them, although they skulked for fear. Two logs there were behind them that close together lay, Without being discovered, they could not get away; Therefore our valiant English they travelled in a row, And at a handsome distance as they were wont to go. 'Twas ten o'clock in the morning when first the fight begun, And fiercely did continue until the setting sun; Excepting that the Indians some hours before 'twas night, Drew off into the bushes and ceased a while to fight. But soon again returned, in fierce and furious mood, Shouting as in the morning, but yet not half so loud; For as we are informed, so thick and fast they fell, Scarce twenty 0£ their number at night did get home well. And that our valiant English till midnight there did stay, To see whether the rebels would have another fray; But they no more returning, they made off towards their home, And brought away their wounded as far as they could come. 0f all our valiant English there were but thirty-four, And of the rebel Indians there were about fourscore. And sixteen 0f our English did safely home return, The rest were killed and wounded, for which we all must mourn. Our worthy Captain LOVEWELL among them there did die, They killed Lieut. ROBBINS, and wounded good young FRYE, Who was our English Chaplain; he many Indians slew, And some of them he scalped when bullets round him flew. Young FULLAM too I’ll mention, because he fought so well, Endeavoring to save a man, a sacrifice he fell: But yet our valiant Englishmen in fight were ne'er dismayed, But still they kept their motion, and WYMAN'S Captain made, Who shot the old chief PAUGUS, which did the foe defeat, Then set his men in order, and brought off the retreat; And braving many dangers and hardships in the way, They safe arrived at Dunstable, the thirteenth day of May.


* The first published poem of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, 1807–1882, was "The Battle of Lovells Pond". The poem, written when Longfellow was 13, and published in the Portland [Maine] Gazette of November 21, 1820, retold the story of John Lovewell's death. []

* Nathaniel Hawthorne's 1832 story, "Roger Malvin's Burial", concerns two colonial survivors returning home after what he calls "Lovell's Fight."

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