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NOR many months before Burgoyne invaded the
shire Grants had realized the danger of their exposed condition. During the summer of 1776, the Committee of Safety of Cumberland county petitioned the Massachusetts Assembly for a supply of ammunition, and the Commissary General was ordered to deliver to Maj. Abijah Lovering sixty pounds of powder, one hundred and twenty pounds of lead, and one hundred flints, "he paying for the same at the stated price." A petition of a similar nature from the town of Cavendish was granted by Massachusetts.
The danger was greater, however, on the northern frontier. Lieut. Col. Joseph Wait certified on September 1, 1776, that "the most advantageous post on Onion River for the posting of six companies of men, raised for the defence of the frontier, is at Jericho, at Baker's blockhouse (at Winooski Falls) and at Colchester Point." On the same day the commander of a company raised by Capt. Jonathan Fassett was directed to maintain a post at Jericho. A party of Indians came within one mile of Deacon Rood's home at Jericho on September 25, and captured a man and his two sons. About the same time that day another band of Indians was discovered seven or eight miles distant.
When the presence of the enemy became known to the members of Captain Fassett's command, who were working on the defences at Jericho, at Deacon Rood's home, they paraded and determined to leave, only five or six men being willing to stay. An attempt was made to persuade them to remain at their post until word
could be sent to General Gates, but to no avail. It was argued that General Gates did not know the situation, and they declared "they had as good die one way as another." That night they withdrew across the river one mile and a half to Williston, where they remained several days. While at Williston the mutinous troops made proposals to their officers, and a council of war was held on September 28, at the home of Col. Thomas Chittenden, attended by Capt. Jonathan Fassett, president, Capt. John Fassett, Lieut. Rufus Perry, Lieut. Jonathan Wright, and Lieut Matthew Lyon, clerk.
The proposals made were as follows:
"Firstly. That the officers take their command in their proper stations in the following towns, viz.: That they will immediately march the men off Onion River to the southward to some place on Otter Creek, in order to defend the frontiers on the New Hampshire Grants, which was, as they supposed, the extent of their being raised, and the General's being requested to encourage the raising them.
"Secondly. That they will resign the command on no other terms.
"Thirdly. That the officers may have half an hour to consider of those proposals.
"Fourthly. That in case the officers shall refuse those proposals, that each soldier will immediately march to his respective house."
The officers agreed to accept the terms on condition that the leaders of the mutiny should be surrendered for purposes of justice, and they sent Capt. John Fassett to treat with the mutineers, who rejected the terms, say
ing that at the risk of their lives they would not deliver their leaders, the action of the men having been unani
The officers then acceded to the terms proposed, "having taken into consideration the poor, weak situation we are in-officers without soldiers, and soldiers without officers, in an enemy's land-savages all round us," to quote from the account of the episode sent to General Gates by Lieut. Matthew Lyon. From Williston the detachment marched to Monkton.
When Lyon reported to General Gates that officer "damned him for a coward" and ordered him under arrest. A court martial was held, on October 16, at which General St. Clair presided, and rendered the following decision: "The court having duly considered the evidence for and against the prisoners, are of opinion that Capt. Jonathan Fassett, Capt. John Fassett, Lieut. Jonathan Wright and Matthew Lyon, are guilty of deserting their post without orders, or without being attacked or forced by the enemy; and that they are also with Lieut. Rufus Perry, guilty of a breach of the sixth article of war, and so adjudge that the said Jonathan Fassett and John Fassett, Lieutenant Wright and Lieutenant Rufus Perry and Lieut. Matthew Lyon, be cashiered, forfeit all their pay (to be appropriated towards making good the damages sustained by the inhabitants on Onion River on account of their unsoldierlike retreat) and that they be, and that each of them are hereby declared to be incapable of ever hereafter holding any military commissions or employment in the service of the United States