Thomas Wheeler (soldier)

Last updated

Thomas Wheeler (c.1620, England - December 16, 1676, 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]



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]

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]

He died in 1676 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

1675 Calendar year

1675 (MDCLXXV) was a common year starting on Tuesday of the Gregorian calendar and a common year starting on Friday of the Julian calendar, the 1675th year of the Common Era (CE) and Anno Domini (AD) designations, the 675th year of the 2nd millennium, the 75th year of the 17th century, and the 6th year of the 1670s decade. As of the start of 1675, the Gregorian calendar was 10 days ahead of the Julian calendar, which remained in localized use until 1923.

John Eliot (missionary) Puritan missionary to the American Indians

John Eliot was a Puritan missionary to the American Indians who some called "the apostle to the Indians" and the founder of Roxbury Latin School in the Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1645.

Metacomet Elected chief of the Wampanoag Indians

Metacomet, also known as Pometacom, Metacom, and by his adopted English name King Philip, was sachem to the Wampanoag people and the second son of the sachem Massasoit. Metacom became sachem in 1662 when his brother Wamsutta died shortly after the death of their father. Wamsutta's widow Weetamoo, squa sachem of the Pocasset, was Metacom's ally and friend for the rest of his life. Metacom married Weetamoo's younger sister Wootonekanuske. It is unclear how many children they had or what happened to them. 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.

King Philips War 1675–1678 conflict between Native Americans and New England colonists

King Philip's War was an armed conflict in 1675–1678 between indigenous inhabitants of New England and New England colonists and their indigenous allies. The war is named for Metacom, 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 on April 12, 1678.

Canonicus Narragansett Chief (c. 1565 – 1647)

Canonicus was a chief of the Narragansett Indian tribe. He was wary of the colonial settlers, but he ultimately befriended Roger Williams and other settlers.

Benjamin Church (ranger) American 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 (1675). 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.


The Nipmuc or Nipmuck people are an Indigenous people of the Northeastern Woodlands, who historically spoke an Eastern Algonquian language. Their historic territory Nippenet, "the freshwater pond place," is in central Massachusetts and nearby parts of Connecticut and Rhode Island.

John Sassamon, also known as Wussausmon (c. 1620–1675, was a Massachusett man who lived in New England during the colonial era. He converted to Christianity and became a praying Indian, helping to serve as an interpreter to New England colonists. In January 1675, Sassamon was ambushed and assassinated. A mixed jury of colonists and Indian elders convicted and executed three Wampanoag men for his murder. These events helped spark the conflict known as King Philip's War, in which the New England Colonies defeated the Wampanoag and ended armed resistance by the Native Americans of southeastern New England.

Samuel Willard

Samuel Willard was an American Puritan clergyman. He was born in Concord, Massachusetts, graduated from Harvard College in 1659, and was minister at Groton from 1663 to 1676, before being driven out by the Indians during King Philip's War. Willard was pastor of the Third Church, Boston, from 1678 until his death. He opposed the Salem witch trials and was acting president of Harvard University from 1701. He published many sermons; the folio volume, A Compleat Body of Divinity, was published posthumously in 1726.

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 and philanthropist (1766–1853)

Samuel Appleton was an American merchant and philanthropist, active in New Hampshire, Massachusetts, and Great Britain.

Great Swamp Fight 1675 battle of King Philips War

The Great Swamp Fight or the Great Swamp Massacre was a crucial battle fought during King Philip's War between the colonial militia of New England and the Narragansett people 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 (Massachusetts colonist) Massachusetts colonist

Simon Willard (1605–1676) was an early Massachusetts fur trader, colonial militia leader, legislator, and judge.

Wheelers Surprise 1675 battle in King Philips War

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.

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.

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.

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.

Peter Jethro was an early Native American (Nipmuc) scribe, translator, minister, land proprietor, and Praying Indian affiliated for a period with John Eliot in the praying town of Natick, Massachusetts.