235 years ago, on the night of February 3 – 4, 1787, General Benjamin Lincoln led his militia of 3,000 men on a forced march through a snowstorm from Pelham to Petersham, to surprise the rebel encampment of Shays’ Rebellion. The rebels had fled after their failed attack on the federal armory in Springfield on January 25, in which four rebels were killed and 20 wounded.
It was not the last battle of the rebellion. Many of the rebels escaped to New Hampshire and Vermont (Vermont was an independent republic at the time), and on February 27 a rebel force marched on Stockbridge, Massachusetts. They were met in Sheffield, Mass, by the forces of Brigadier John Ashley; thirty rebels were wounded in the battle.
Shays’ Rebellion led to the Constitutional Convention of 1787; for many at the time, it highlighted the need for a stronger federal government. The Amherst Historical Society is fortunate to have a presentation by Dr Barbara Mathews on the political context of the rebellion.