On the morning of September 2, 1675, the inhabitants of Northfield, Massachusetts went about their daily tasks. Only this year they were accompanied by soldiers. The long summer had been filled with tales of attacks on villages throughout the colony by King Philip and his warriors. Northfield had sent an appeal for more soldiers to the military garrison in Hadley; so far no soldiers had been sent. Would Hadley respond to their appeal or were they on their own?
Suddenly shots rang out! Women and children ran for the safety of the fort. In the meadows, where the men were harvesting grain, accompanied by the few soldiers assigned to the settlement, men lay dead. In total 8 settlers were killed, cattle slaughtered, grain destroyed and a few houses outside the stockade burned. The surviving villagers crowded together, listening to the noises outside -- the crackle of fire, the yells of the attackers and the moans of the cattle.
What should the settlers do? If they stayed inside the stockade, it ws probably only a matter of time before they were slain. If they left the fort, death was a certainty. Why hadn't Hadley responded to their earlier request? Now, even if Hadley heard about the attack, it would take 24 hours to get troops to Northfield.
Unbeknownst to the terrified villagers, Hadley had responded to their August pleas. A troop of 38 soldiers under the command of Captain Beers was on its way. They chose a route on the east side of the Connecticut River, through almost continuous forest via Sunderland, Montague and Erving, hoping to stay out of the sight of the Amerindians they assumed were on the west side of the river.
When the relief troop came to within 4 miles of Northfield, the decision was made to stop for the night. Early the next morning the troops continued on foot, leaving a guard behind with the horses. Suddenly shots were fired - ambush! In the course of the melee, 22 soldiers, including Captain Beers, lost their lives. The survivors made it back to Hadley to spread the alarm.
On September 5, 1675, a relief troop of 100 soldiers rushed to Northfield with orders to bring all the settlers back to Hadley. Despite protests from some of the settlers, it was decided to abandon Northfield for the time being, leaving the cattle behind and the crops unharvested.
After the settlers left, the warriors burned the village of Northfield. King Philip used the site during the next several months as a rendezvous with various River tribes.