Stephen Olney's description of Springfield

"On the 23d of January*," says Captain Olney, "the army advanced in a large party to a place called the Connecticut Farms, (a place about midway between Springfield and Elizabethtown,) our regiment was ordered to defend the bridge at Springfield; in all the various situations I had been placed in, before an expected engagement, I never had so much difficulty to reconcile my mind to the fate contemplated."

"There was a road some twenty or thirty rods parallel in our rear, where I expected the enemy would advance a party as soon as they should think proper to attack in front. Agreeably to their common mode of fighting, I expected soon to have an enemy in the rear, as well as a powerful one in front. The affliction of my mind was such, though reconciled to my destiny, and able to act the part of a good soldier, that I felt inclined to sleep, even under the fire of our field-pieces, which had began to play with alacrity. The effect of fear, as a sedaitve, has been often mentioned; we recollect some years since, of being much afraid on the water, during a thunder-storm, and the great difficulty of keeping awake while the excitement was on."

"At length, through hope and confidence in the Supreme Ruler of the Universe and Disposer of events, I felt resigned to whatever might fall to my lot; and when the enemy's flank guard of riflemen (yagons,) advanced on our left, I asked Col. Jeremiah Olney to let me take my platoon and engage them. This met his earnest approbation; I marched a few rods into an orchard of large trees, and thought it prudent to place several men behind each tree, believing they would fire more accurate and be less exposed; at the same time moving about from one to the other myself, directing them to take good aim, particularly at the commanding officer of the British, who was considerably advanced in front, on their right. It seemed no ball would stop his speed; he came on firing regularly, and the wind of their balls would at times shake the hair of my head. Perhaps my hair was rather erect and sensitive. I had not fired more than five or six times before I observed the right of the regiment on the retreat, and the enemy's flank boldly advancing to within twenty yards, notwithstanding my fire. I ordered my men to take possession of a small hill covered with wood. The enemy's sharp shooters now advanced rapidly, and one of their rifle balls passed through my left arm. I bound up the wound with my handkerchief, and then thought best to retreat. We had not passed the road more than five or six rods when I discovered a fresh column of the enemy advancing to attack us in the rear. As I had contemplated, I let them go by without any compliments, and joined the regiment which had been paraded some little time since its retreat.

Thus much of the battle of Springfield. I believe no troops were engaged but the Rhode-Island regiment, which did not muster on that day more than 160 rank and file, 40 of whom were killed and wounded. As to the enemy, they were sorely satisfied, and burning a few houses, returned to winter** quarters. After my wound was dressed by Dr. Tenny, I left the regiment in quest of some place of repose. At the first house, about three quarters of a mile, I was overcome with faintness and obliged to tarry a little while. Being recovered, I proceeded to houses where they appeared to be wealthy, and entreated quarters (for pay) a few days without effect. At last I came to a poor looking house. The owner was a weaver by trade, who cheerfully took me in and treated me with kindness. Those people, thought I, who feel adversity, have the most sympathy for others in distress. In a few days I went to the hospital at Bearskin ridge, where I staid eight or ten weeks. The ball took its course so near the bone, that it was a long time before my arm proved well."

* should be June.

** probably added due to the confusion in the time of year


Williams, Catherine R. Biography of Revolutionary Heroes; Containing the Life of Brigadier Gen. William Barton, and Also, of Captain Stephen Olney. New York: Wiley & Putnam, 1839. pg 252-254

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