With his brothers William and Josiah, 26-year-old Micah Hildreth joined Capt. Peter Coburn’s Dracut minutemen when they engaged British troops at Lexington and later fought at Bunker Hill and in the siege of Boston in late 1775. He marched with dozens of Dracut men to Fort Ticonderoga in northern New York at Lake Champlain in the summer of 1776, a journey on foot of about two months. He stayed until late November. A lieutenant, he was one of 439 men from Dracut who served in the war, which amounted to 36 percent of the population—a figure that local historians considered to be among the highest percentages of service in any community in the new nation. After the War of Independence, Micah served on the town’s Committee of Safety, Correspondence and Inspection and as a “fish ward” keeping a watch on the Locks & Canals Company water projects that were threatening the supply of alewives, sturgeon, shad, and bass important to the local farmers. He was also town treasurer from 1792 to 1795. This week, my family traveled to central New York, tracing in our car part of the route that Hildreth walked on the way and on return to the Merrimack Valley. I composed the following poem in the 1970s from accounts in Silas Coburn’s History of Dracut, which includes passages from Hildreth’s rare war diary.—PM
The Book of Micah
Late July 1776, “Marched for Cannada” from Dracut
“to Chelmsford to Westford
to Groton to Pepperal
to Ashby to Ashbinham
to New Ypswich to Ringe
to Jaffrey to New molbury
to Swansey to Keen to Surry
to Westmoreland to Walpole to Charlestown N.H.
to Springfield to Wethirsfield
to Cavendish to Saltish
to Ludlow to Sasbury to Clarodin
to Rutland to Caselton
to mount independence
October ye 5 1776”
Isaac, Asa, Elijah, Zachariah,
all carried down to the lake
“sick with the small pox.”
I worked in camp.
News of fighting in New York. 2,000 dead.
One night a rumor of spies,
so we kept to our tents and watched.
Guard duty. We cleaned our pieces,
expecting the King’s troops.
The last Sunday, enemy boats landed—
“We fired 2 Cannon from ye Sandy Redout
and heard we killed some men.”
Hunting with 2 sergeants, I killed a buck.
One night we had a very hot fire.
The 26th. A red-letter day. Left for Dracut.
Through Saratoga, Still Water, Half Moon,
meals of “Cyder, Bisket & Chees.”
At Albany, “Crost the River to Green Bush,”
then east across Massachusetts.
Bought a horse. Headed home.
—Paul Marion (c) 2013