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Colonel Francis had three brothers, who became officers in the Revolutionary army, and did their native Medford credit. Ebenezer was commissioned as Captain by the Continental Congress, July 1, 1775; next year rose to the rank of Colonel, and commanded a regiment on Dorchester Heights from August to December, 1776. Authorized by Congress, he raised the eleventh Massachusetts regiment, and, in January, 1777, marched at the head of it to Ticonderoga. Monday, July 7, 1777, a skirmish took place between the eleventh Massachusetts regiment and the British, at Hubbardton, near Whitehall, N.Y., in which Colonel Francis fell. A private journal of Captain Greenleaf, now in the library of the Massachusetts Historical Society, says:
“ Colonel Francis first received a ball through his right arm; but still continued at the head of his troops till he received the fatal wound through his body, entering his right breast. He dropped on his face.”
His chaplain says :
“No officer so noticed for his military accomplishments and regular life as he. His conduct in the field is spoken of in the highest terms of applause."
A British officer, who was in the battle of Hubbardton, happened to be quartered as a prisoner in Medford. He wrote a history of that battle ; and we make the following extracts, which relate to a Medford mother then living in her house at the West End. The officer says:
“ A few days since, walking out with some officers, we stopped at a house to purchase vegetables. While the other officers were bargaining with the woman of the house, I observed an elderly woman sitting by the fire, who was continually eying us, and every now and then shedding a tear. Just as we were quitting the house, she got up, and, bursting into tears, said, 'Gentlemen, will you let a poor distracted woman speak a word to you before you go?' We, as you must naturally imagine, were all astonished; and, upon inquiring what she wanted, with the most poignant grief, and sobbing as if her heart was on the point of breaking, asked if any of us knew her son, who'was killed at the battle of Hubbardton, a Colonel Francis. Several of us informed her that we had seen him after he was dead. She then inquired about his pocket-book, and if any of his papers were safe, as some related to his estates, and if any of the soldiers had got his watch; if she could but obtain that, in remembrance of her dear, dear son, she should be happy. Captain Fergurson, of our regiment, who was of the party, told her, as to the
Colonel's papers and pocket-book, he was fearful lest they were lost or destroyed; but, pulling a watch from his fob, said, “There, good woman; if that can make you happy, take it, and God bless you.' We were all much surprised, and unacquainted that he had made a purchase of it from a drum-boy. On seeing her son's watch, it is impossible to describe the joy and grief that were depicted in her countenance. I never, in all my life, beheld such a strength of passion. She kissed it; looked unutterable gratitude at Captain Fergurson; then kissed it again. Her feelings were inexpressible; she knew not how to utter or show them. She would repay his kindness by kindness, but could only sob her thanks. Our feelings were lifted to an inexpressible height; we promised to send after the papers; and I believe, at that moment, could have hazarded life itself to procure them.”
This watch is now in the possession of Colonel Francis's son, in Boston.
John FRANCIS, a brother of the Colonel, born in Medford Sept. 28, 1753, was Adjutant in the regiment commanded by his brother, and fought bravely at Hubbardton. He was in several battles during the six years of his service, and, at the capture of Burgoyne, was wounded. He died, July 30, 1822, in the sixty-ninth year of his age, in Beverly, the place of his residence. He was esteemed for his hospitality and cheerfulness.
Another gallant action by a Medford Sergeant, in the heat of the battle at White Plain, deserves a special record. FRANCIS TUFTS saw the standard-bearer fall : he flew to the spot, seized the standard, lifted it in the air, and rushed to the front rank of the line, and there marched forward, calling upon the men to follow. This was seen by General Washington. As soon as victory was won, the General asked Colonel Brooks the name of the young man, in his regiment, who achieved that noble act. He was told ; and there, on the stump of a tree, the General immediately wrote his commission of Adjutant.
Medford furnished its full quota of soldiers for the war of 1812, and shed its blood in sustaining the national cause. The following are the names of those who volunteered enlistment: John Gates, Zachariah Shed, Edmund Gates, Amos Hadley, Thomas Cutter, Jacob Waite, Samuel F. Jordan, Jonathan Tufts, jun., Randolph Richardson, Rehoboam Richardson, Miles Wilson, Joseph Peirce, John Lee, John Weatherspoon, John McClough, Stephen D. Bugsby, Robert Hall, Benjamin Symmes.
The first on the list still lives; the others are dead. Edmund Gates was killed in the battle of Chippewa; and Abiel R., Shed was killed in the sortie of Fort Erie, 1813.
One of the most signal sacrifices made by Medford to the cause of the country, in that war, was the death of Lieutenant John Brooks, son of General Brooks, who graduated at Harvard College in 1805, studied medicine with his father, and afterwards joined the army as an officer of marines. The personal beauty of young Brooks was a matter of remark in every company where he appeared. His courage was great ; and, by exposing himself in the hottest struggle of the fight, he was instantly killed by a cannon-ball, which struck him near the hip, and mangled him shockingly. This occurred in the famed battle on Lake Erie, Sept. 13, 1813, when Commodore Perry gained his brilliant victory over the English fleet.
The remains of Lieutenant Brooks were buried on an island in Lake Erie, and there remained until November, 1817, when they were removed to Fort Shelby, in the city of Detroit, Michigan. The “Detroit Gazette,” of Nov. 7, 1817, has the following notice of the removal :
“ Funeral of Lieutenant John Brooks. On Friday last, the remains of Lieutenant John Brooks, who fell in the battle on Lake Erie, were interred in the new burial-ground, upon the glacis of Fort Shelby, within the Military Reserve of this city. The ceremony was attended with military honors suited to the rank of the deceased.
“ The body was escorted by a military corps, and preceded by the Rev. Messrs. Monteith and Larned. The pall was supported by six Lieutenants, with scarfs. Lieutenant-Colonel Smith, and the officers of the Fifth United States Regiment, followed as mourners, flanked by marshals. Then succeeded Major-General Macomb, Governor Cass, and the civil, judicial, and municipal officers of the territory and city, citizens and strangers, and the non-commissioned officers and soldiers of the army.
The funeral service was performed by the Rev. Mr. Larned. The procession was solemn and sublime."
These services show the high esteem in which the brave and beautiful young officer was held by his comrades and commanders.
The following elegiac lines, composed for the occasion, were written by Captain Whiting, of the Fifth Regiment :
Too long on lonely isles neglected,
Marked by no stone, thy dust has slept,
O'er which rude time each year has swept.
Decking thy grave with wild flowers fair,
Had left no index vestige there.
Scene of thy fate the story told,
In seeming fondness ceaseless rolled.
Thou shalt repose on martial ground,
Her castle and her camps around.
And beauty there in tears may melt;
So many tender hearts have felt.
Then rest, lamented youth ; in honor,
Erie shall still preserve thy name;
Must still survive in PERRY's fame.
Dec. 17, 1836, Medford was called to part with another officer high in command in the army of the United States. Among the brave, there were none braver than Colonel Alexander Scammel Brooks, eldest son of General John Brooks. He was born in Medford, 1777, on the day of Burgoyne's surrender at Saratoga. He entered Harvard College in 1798, and left it in 1801. He preferred a sailor's life; but, when the embargo of 1808 was laid, he obtained a commission in the army, and held it till that restriction on commerce was removed. He then resumed marine life, and continued in it till the war of 1812, when he again received a commission as Captain in the United States army, and served through the war. So gallant was his conduct at the battle of Plattsburg, that he received a brevet as Major. He was retained in the army on the peace establishment, and commanded posts on the seaboard. In May, 1817, he married Miss Sarah Turner. In 1820, he was ordered to the command of Portland Harbor, where he remained seven years; thence to Bellona Arsenal, on James River, Virginia, where he remained four years ; thence to Fort Independence, in Boston Harbor. He next came to Medford, and resided in the
house of his late father till ordered to the command of the New York Harbor. In May, 1836, he was ordered, with his command, into the Cherokee country, to move the Indians. That duty performed, he went to Fort Moultrie, Charleston Harbor, South Carolina. Here he soon received orders to proceed immediately to Florida, and take command of the regiment of which he was Lieutenant-Colonel, and prosecute the war against the Indians, - a war abhorrent both to his principles and his feelings. He had a singular and unconquerable dislikė of travelling by steam-power ; but here was a necessity; and, almost for the first time in his life, he ventured on board a steamboat, the “ Dolphin,” bound for the Black Creek. The following account, published at the time in the “ Jacksonville Courier,” gives the sad sequel with touching particularity :
“ The United States steamer . Dolphin,' from Charleston for St. Augustine, via Savannah and St. Mary's, was lost off the bar of St. John's River, on Saturday afternoon, Dec. 17, 1836, at half-past four in the afternoon. When within two miles of St. John's Bar, and she had taken two pilots on board, as the boat began to move, her boilers exploded, and, in an instant, she was a complete wreck. The bows and stern were separated, and the engine, &c., sank to the bottom. Mr. Donnelson was blown into the bows of the boat, much stunned. After the steam had cleared away, as soon as he could stand, he noticed Colonel Brooks just beside him, who laid lifeless, except one slight spasm; after which, in an instant, the face turned purple. Mr. Donnelson thinks he was killed by the shock. Soon after this, Mr. Donnelson gained the stern, which was the largest part. Immediately afterwards, the bows sank, but soon rose again to the surface; but Colonel Brooks was seen no more. Out of thirty-four persons, nineteen were saved, and fifteen were lost. The disaster was owing to the highly culpable negligence of the two engineers, who were both lost.”
December 30, the body was recovered. His watch, filled with sand, was taken from his pocket, and sent to his family. A newspaper of St. Augustine gives the following particulars :
“ The body of the late lamented Colonel Brooks was found upon the beach, about thirty miles from this city, and brought here for interment on Thursday last. On Friday, the body was escorted to the grave by the St. Augustine Veterans and a company of volunteers, and followed by the United States officers at this post as principal mourners, the volunteer officers in the service of the United States, the United States troops, the Judge and officers of