Sunday, August 26, 2018

The Legend of the Long Gun

The following incident is said to have occurred in 1746.

It was the daily custom of an old Indian to come upon a ledge of rocks (by the side of Massachusetts Avenue, now referred to as Indian Ledge), in full sight of the garrison, and provoke the soldiers with insulting gestures and taunting exclamations. The old fellow had cautiously calculated the intervening distance, and safe beyond the reach of shot from the fort, would calmly await any attempt to approach him, when he would retire to the adjoining woods, where, on account of the numbers and strength of the enemy scouting in the vicinity, it was highly imprudent to follow.

This scene was daily repeated for some time, and what measures to take the garrison were for a time at a loss to know. To submit to these repeated outrages was not to be thought of by the stern old settlers for an instant.

Among the various topics that formed the subject of conversation at that time, the merits of a famous long gun, celebrated along the borders for its power to send a ball to a great distance, held a prominent place. This gun was owned in Springfield, and without delay a messenger was despatched on the long and perilous journey of seventy-five miles, through a trackless wilderness, to obtain it. In five days, the man, fortunately escaping the enemy's outposts, returned, having effected his object, and when the unsuspecting Indian again made his appearance, a sure and fatal shot prevented him from ever repeating the performance.

So the story runs, as narrated by Israel Jones, one of the early Trustees*. That the shot was a long one, anyone who will take the trouble to examine the distance will not for a moment doubt.

* Israel Jones became the proprietor, in 1766, of the site of Fort Massachusetts, where he remained until his death in 1829. 

Source: "A History of Williams College," by Reverend Calvin Durfee. University Press, Cambridge 1860

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