Colonial

The Story of Mount Ward

The Sudbury Fight Part Four

Marlborough’s Mount Ward conservation land, near the Easterly Wastewater Treatment Plant in Marlborough, is named after Eleazar Ward, youngest son of William Ward. In Charles Martyn’s short biography of William Ward he wrote, “Eleazer … was shot down as he rode over a hill between Marlborough and Sudbury.”

This is the consistent family story, confirmed by the naming of the hill. In the official reports about the Sudbury Fight, one cannot find any other record of his death or involvement in any activities in any document. Or is there?

One might first ask what was someone doing by himself on Mount Ward? If you use Google Earth and go to the top of Mount Ward, you can imagine why. It shows a perfect view of Sudbury. Any signs of battle might easily be discerned. There is evidence that the high places were kept devoid of trees by Indians to aid in signaling over long distances. Mount Ward was on Indian Plantation land, being on the south east boundary. Eleazer Ward may very well have been on a scouting mission.

Google rendering from atop Mount Ward toward Sudbury

But why would he be there alone? It is said that Eleazer was living in Sudbury at the time, so he would surely have known about the dangers associated with enemy Indians in the area. Under the circumstance, we can assume no colonial would take the chance of wandering out alone. Is there anything in the official documents that might give a clue to his activities? Turns out there is!

Captain Cowell had come with a troop of horse from Brookfield on the fateful morning of the Sudbury Fight. His report is contained in George Madison Bodge’s Soldiers of King Philip’s War. In the report it is clear that he left Marlborough shortly after Wadsworth’s Garrison troops.

Being from Boston, Cowell would be unfamiliar with Sudbury and would have considerable need for a scout familiar with the lay of the land. If Eleazer Ward were at his father’s Marlborough garrison (a distinct possibility), then he could easily have picked him up along the way, since William Ward’s home was on the main road nearby to present day Ward Park.

It makes perfect sense for Eleazer Ward to have brought the troop to the top of Mount Ward for a view of the action in Sudbury. He would have been in the lead, guiding the rest of the troop to the top of the hill.

Cowell’s report lists four men who were killed in the ambush of his horse troop. For three of these, he lists the full name and home town, but the fourth name is partly torn from the document. It is listed as the son of a ‘Goodman’ and with no town listed. Bodge believes it to be a soldier from Roxbury but gives no good reason why.

In reality, ‘Goodman’ is merely a term that identifies a prominent person, and William Ward would have been identified as such. That no town is listed would certainly suggest that it was not a member of the troop but a local man. Cowell’s report goes on to say that after being rescued by Wadsworth, he returned to the scene of the ambush and buried the fallen.

If my theory is correct, then there are four horsemen buried on or near Mount Ward, and that an important skirmish of the Sudbury Fight was fought in Marlborough.

The events in Marlborough at the dawn of the colonial experience would be celebrated far and wide had they occurred during the age of photography. There were few monuments in America before the Civil War, but that war caused monuments to be raised in almost every town. Every war that followed caused a monument to be erected somewhere along Main Street in Marlborough.

The Revolutionary War is celebrated in Marlborough by the Henry Knox monument at the small park on Main Street at the intersection of Prospect Street. All the other wars are somehow memorialized. The only war not memorialized in Marlborough is King Philip’s War. It is the only war that was actually fought within the boundaries of Marlborough and for which its citizens paid with their property and some with their lives. I propose that this be rectified.

I would go even further. I propose that there be a King Philip’s War Museum in Marlborough. We don’t have a first class museum here and no other city or town is more deserving of such an honor.

The events of King Phillips War are quite fascinating and Marlborough was in the middle of the action. A museum could certainly be quite appealing as an historical draw. Downtown needs a good museum and this is the perfect subject.

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