Thomas Wheeler (soldier)

Last updated

Thomas Wheeler (c.1620, England - December 16, 1686, Concord, Massachusetts [1] ) was a colonial soldier of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. In 1675 he took part in King Philip's War; later he wrote a narrative based on his experiences. [2]

England Country in north-west Europe, part of the United Kingdom

England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Wales to the west and Scotland to the north-northwest. The Irish Sea lies west of England and the Celtic Sea lies to the southwest. England is separated from continental Europe by the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south. The country covers five-eighths of the island of Great Britain, which lies in the North Atlantic, and includes over 100 smaller islands, such as the Isles of Scilly and the Isle of Wight.

Concord, Massachusetts Town in Massachusetts, United States

Concord is a town in Middlesex County, Massachusetts, in the United States. At the 2010 census, the town population was 17,668. The United States Census Bureau considers Concord part of Greater Boston. The town center is near where the confluence of the Sudbury and Assabet rivers forms the Concord River.

Massachusetts Bay Colony English possession in North America between 1628 and 1684

The Massachusetts Bay Colony (1628–1691) was an English settlement on the east coast of North America in the 17th century around the Massachusetts Bay, the northernmost of the several colonies later reorganized as the Province of Massachusetts Bay. The lands of the settlement were located in southern New England in Massachusetts, with initial settlements situated on two natural harbors and surrounding land, about 15.4 miles (24.8 km) apart—the areas around Salem and Boston.



He emigrated from England to the North American colonies in 1642. In 1644 he was living in Fairfield, Connecticut. [3] In the 1650s Wheeler was a trader; in 1657 he purchased the right to trade with the Native American tribes for twenty five pounds. Around 1661 he was one of the first people to purchase land in the Ockocangansett plantation, which later became the town of Middleborough, Massachusetts. He was made a lieutenant on October 12, 1669 and a captain in 1671. [4]

Fairfield, Connecticut Town in Connecticut, United States

Fairfield is a town in Fairfield County, Connecticut, United States. It borders the city of Bridgeport and towns of Trumbull, Easton, Weston, and Westport along the Gold Coast of Connecticut. As of the 2010 census, the town had a population of 59,404. In September 2014, Money magazine ranked Fairfield the 44th best place to live in the United States, and the best place to live in Connecticut.

Middleborough, Massachusetts Town in Massachusetts, United States

Middleborough is a town in Plymouth County, Massachusetts, United States. The population was 23,116 at the 2010 census.

A lieutenant is a junior most commissioned officer in the armed forces, fire services, police and other organizations of many nations.

In 1675 he took part in King Philip's War against the Wampanoag and Nipmuck tribes. At the beginning of the hostilities he was assigned as military escort to Cpt. Edward Hutchinson and together with him, led his men into an ambush, carried out by the Nipmucks under Muttawmp and Matoonas, at Brookfield, Massachusetts, that has become known as Wheeler's Surprise. His horse was shot out from under him and he was seriously wounded, [5] but eventually survived the battle. His son, also named Thomas Wheeler was also wounded, in the loins and arm, but also managed to survive. [6] Thomas Wheeler (senior) eventually wrote an account of the engagement which was first published in 1676 by Samuel Green, under the title "A Thankfulle Remembrence of Gods Mercy. To several Persons at Quabaug or BROOKFIELD". [7] Wheeler's work exemplifies the Puritan conception of heroism, in which a person's piety is their virtue while the credit for the victory in battle is ascribed to God. [8]

King Philips War conflict between Native American inhabitants of present-day New England and English colonists

King Philip's War was an armed conflict in 1675–78 between Indian inhabitants of New England and New England colonists and their Indian allies. The war is named for Metacomet, the Wampanoag chief who adopted the name Philip because of the friendly relations between his father Massasoit and the Mayflower Pilgrims. The war continued in the most northern reaches of New England until the signing of the Treaty of Casco Bay in April 1678.

Edward Hutchinson (1613–1675) was the oldest child of Massachusetts and Rhode Island magistrate William Hutchinson and his wife, the dissident minister Anne Hutchinson. He is noted for making peace with the authorities following his mother's banishment from Massachusetts during the Antinomian Controversy, returning to Boston, and ultimately dying in the service of the colony that had treated his family so harshly.

Muttawmp was a sachem of the Nipmuc Indians in the mid-17th century, originally based in Quaboag. He participated in King Philip's War, taking part in most of the major engagements as one of the most important chiefs who fought for Metacomet.

He died in 1686 due to complications from the wounds received at the battle of Brookfield. [4]


  1. Appletons' Cyclopædia of American Biography.
  2. Trent, pg. 99.
  3. New England Historic Genealogical Society, pg. 34
  4. 1 2 Albert Gallatin Wheeler, pg. 1
  5. Bonfanti, pg. 29
  6. Gallatin Wheeler, pg. 12
  7. Sltokin and Folsom, pg. 237
  8. Sltokin and Folsom, pg. 42

Related Research Articles

Brookfield, Massachusetts Town in Massachusetts, United States

Brookfield is a town in Worcester County, Massachusetts, United States. Brookfield was first settled in 1660. The population was 3,390 at the 2010 census.

Metacomet Sachem of the Wampanoag Indians

Metacom (1638–1676), also known as Metacomet and by his adopted English name King Philip, was chief to the Wampanoag people and the second son of the sachem Massasoit. He became a chief in 1662 when his brother Wamsutta died shortly after their father Massasoit. Wamsutta's widow Weetamoo, sunksqua of the Pocasset, was Metacomet's ally and friend for the rest of her life. Metacomet married Weetamoo's younger sister Wootonekanuske. No one knows how many children they had or what happened to them all. Wootonekanuske and one of their sons were sold to slavery in the West Indies following the defeat of the Native Americans in what became known as King Philip's War.

Thomas Danforth was a politician, magistrate, and landowner in the Massachusetts Bay Colony. A conservative Puritan, he served for many years as one of the colony's councilors and magistrates, generally leading opposition to attempts by the English kings to assert control over the colony. He accumulated land in the central part of the colony that eventually became a portion of Framingham, Massachusetts. His government roles included administration of territory in present-day Maine that was purchased by the colony.

Monoco was a 17th-century Nashaway sachem (chief), known among the New England Puritans as "One-eyed John".

Benjamin Church (ranger) American carpenter, military officer, and Ranger during Americas Colonial era

Benjamin Church was an English colonist in North America. He was a military leader of the historic predecessor of the United States Army Rangers, captain of the first Ranger force in America (1676). Church was commissioned by Josiah Winslow, the Governor of the Plymouth Colony, to form the first ranger company for King Philip's War. He later commanded the company to raid Acadia during King William's and Queen Anne's wars in the early 1700s, as French and English hostilities played out in North America. The two powers were competing for control in colonial territories. He was promoted to major and ended his service at the rank of colonel, as noted on his gravestone.

Nipmuc ethnic group

The Nipmuc or Nipmuck people are descendants of the indigenous Algonquian peoples of Nippenet, 'the freshwater pond place', which corresponds to central Massachusetts and immediately adjacent portions of Connecticut and Rhode Island. The tribe were first encountered by Europeans in 1630, when John Acquittamaug arrived with maize to sell to the starving colonists of Boston, Massachusetts.

John Sassamon (1600-1675) also known as Wussausmon, was born c.1620. He became a Christian convert, a praying Indian who helped served as an interpreter to the colonists,.

Angel of Hadley

The Angel of Hadley is the central character in a possibly apocryphal tale combining the execution of Charles I in England, King Philip's War and Hadley, Massachusetts. According to the tale General William Goffe, who was wanted for his role in the regicide, was hiding in Hadley when it was attacked by Indians in 1675 or 1676. Goffe, by then an aging figure, is said to have come out of his hiding to lead the local residents in the successful defense of their community against the attack.

Samuel Appleton (merchant) American merchant/philanthropist

Samuel Appleton was an American merchant and philanthropist, active in New Hampshire, Massachusetts, and Great Britain. The city of Appleton, Wisconsin was named in his honor by Amos Lawrence.

Great Swamp Fight

The Great Swamp Fight or the Great Swamp Massacre was a crucial battle fought during King Philip's War between colonial militia of New England and the Narragansett tribe in December 1675. It was fought near the villages of Kingston and West Kingston in the Colony of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations. The combined force of the New England militia included 150 Pequots, and they inflicted a huge number of Narragansett casualties, including many hundred women and children. The battle has been described as "one of the most brutal and lopsided military encounters in all of New England's history." Since the 1930s, Narragansett and Wampanoag people commemorate the battle annually in a ceremony initiated by Narragansett-Wampanoag scholar Princess Red Wing.

Simon Willard was born in Horsmonden, Kent, England, in 1605; he was baptized in this same town on 7 April 1605. He moved from England to Cambridge, Massachusetts, in 1634 with his (first) wife Mary [Sharpey] Willard and their two daughters, Mary and Elizabeth. At the time he was a major in the English army. Simon Willard is considered a key Massachusetts Historical figure, as well as in the history of Concord, Massachusetts: He was a founder of the town, and served it as clerk from 1635 to 1653. He represented it in the Massachusetts General Court from 1636 to 1654, and was assistant and councillor from 1654 to 1676.

Joseph Sherman, January 20, 1731 was born at Watertown, Massachusetts Bay Colony. He married on November 16, 1673, at Watertown, Elizabeth Winship, daughter of Lt. Edward Winship and Elizabeth Parke. She was born April 25, 1652 in Cambridge, Massachusetts Bay Colony. He was said to have been a blacksmith.

Wheelers Surprise

Wheeler's Surprise, and the ensuing Siege of Brookfield, was a battle between Nipmuc Indians under Muttawmp, and the English of the Massachusetts Bay Colony under the command of Thomas Wheeler and Captain Edward Hutchinson, in August 1675 during King Philip's War. The battle consisted of an initial ambush by the Nipmucs on Wheeler's unsuspecting party, followed by an attack on Brookfield, Massachusetts, and the consequent besieging of the remains of the colonial force. While the place where the siege part of the battle took place has always been known, the location of the initial ambush was a subject of extensive controversy among historians in the late nineteenth century.

Matoonas was a sachem of the Nipmuc Indians in the middle of 17th century. He played a significant role in the Native American uprising known as King Philip's War.

Attack on Springfield

The Attack on Springfield was an Indian attack on the settlement of Springfield, Massachusetts during King Philip's War. Springfield was the second and final New England settlement burned to the ground during the war; the first was Providence Plantations. King Philip's War decimated 82% of the Indian warriors and 23% of the colonists. The attack on Springfield was one of the Indians' greatest depredations during the war.

Samuel Appleton was a military and government leader in the Massachusetts Bay Colony and Province of Massachusetts Bay. He was a commander of the Massachusetts militia during King Philip's War who led troops during the Attack on Hatfield, Massachusetts and the Great Swamp Fight. He also held numerous positions in government and was an opponent of Governor Sir Edmund Andros.

Ephraim Curtis was an American colonial military figure from Sudbury, Massachusetts, during King Philip's War.


William Peterfield Trent, LL.D., D.C.L. was an American academic and the author/editor of many books. He was a professor of English literature at Sewanee: The University of the South and Columbia University. While at Sewanee, he founded the Sewanee Review in 1892, a literary journal that continues to operate.

New England Historic Genealogical Society oldest and largest genealogical society in the United States, founded in 1845

The New England Historic Genealogical Society (NEHGS) is the oldest and largest genealogical society in the United States, founded in 1845.

<i>Appletons Cyclopædia of American Biography</i> collection of biographies of notable people involved in the history of the New World

Appletons' Cyclopædia of American Biography is a six-volume collection of biographies of notable people involved in the history of the New World. Published between 1887 and 1889, its unsigned articles were widely accepted as authoritative for several decades. Later the encyclopedia became notorious for including dozens of biographies of people who had never existed. The apostrophe in the title is correctly placed and indicates that more than one person, i.e. a company, authored the work.