A brief sketch is given of the life of Solomon Mack, father of Lucy Mack, from his own writings. His early military service. His marriage to Lydia Gates and service in the Revolutionary War. His final devotion to God and family.
September 15, 1732 to fall 1788
My father, Solomon Mack, was born in the town of Lyme, New London County, state of Connecticut, September 26, 1735. His father, Ebenezer Mack, was a man of considerable property and lived in good style, commanding all the attention and respect which are ever shown to those who live in fine circumstances and strict habits of morality. For some length of time, my grandparents lived in peace and plenty, fully enjoying the fruits of their industry, but at length a series of misfortunes visited them, occasioned in most instances by the perfidy of their fellowmen, which reduced them by degrees till at last they came to penury and want. A once happy and flourishing family was compelled to disperse, and throw themselves upon the charity of a cold, unfeeling world.
My father was taken into the family of a neighboring farmer, where he remained until he was nearly twenty-one years of age. I have here a sketch of my father’s life, written by himself, from which I extract the following:
“I was bound out to a farmer in the neighborhood. As is too commonly the case, I was considered rather a slave than a member of the family, and instead of allowing me the privilege of common hospitality, that kind of protection due to helpless and indigent children, I was treated by my master as his property and not as his fellow mortal.
“At the age of twenty-one years, I left my master. Shortly after which I enlisted in the services of my country under the command of Captain Harris, and was annexed to the regiment commanded by Colonel Whiting.
“From Connecticut, we marched to Fort Edward, in the state of New York. We were in a severe battle, fought at Halfway Brook in 1755. During this expedition I caught a heavy cold which rendered me unfit for business until the return of warm weather. I was carried the ensuing spring to Albany.
“In the year 1757, I had two teams in the King’s service, which were employed in carrying the general’s baggage. While thus engaged, I went one morning to yoke my team, but three of my oxen were missing. When this knowledge came to the officer, he was very angry, and drawing his sword, threatened to run it through me. He then ordered me to get three other oxen, which I accordingly did, and proceeded with the baggage to Fort Edward, and the next day I returned in order to find my missing oxen.
“While I was performing this trip, the following circumstance occurred. About halfway from Stillwater to Fort Edward, I espied four Indians nearly thirty rods distant, coming out of the woods. They were armed with scalping knives, tomahawks, and guns. I was alone, but about twenty rods behind me was a man by the name of Webster. I saw my danger, and that there was no way to escape unless I could do it by stratagem; so I rushed upon them, calling in the meantime at the top of my voice, ‘Rush on! rush on, my boys! We’ll have the devils.’ The only weapon I had was a walking staff, yet I ran toward them, and as the other man appeared just at that instant, it gave them a terrible fright, and I saw no more of them.
“I hastened to Stillwater the next day, as aforementioned, and finding my oxen soon after I arrived there, I returned the same night to Fort Edward, a distance of seven miles, the whole of which was a dense forest.
“In 1758, I enlisted under Major Spencer and went immediately over Lake George with a company who crossed in boats to the western side, where we had a bloody and hot engagement with the enemy in which Lord Howe fell at the onset of the battle. His bowels were taken out and buried, but his body was embalmed and carried to England.
“The next day we marched to the breastworks, but were unsuccessful, being compelled to retreat with a loss of five hundred men killed and as many more wounded.
“In this contest I narrowly escaped-a musket ball passed under my chin within half an inch of my neck. The army then returned to Lake George, and, on its way thither, a large scouting party of the enemy came round by Skenesborough and, at Halfway Brook, destroyed a large number of both men and teams. Upon this, one thousand of our men were detached to repair immediately to Skenesborough in pursuit of them; but when we arrived at South Bay, the enemy was entirely out of our reach.
“The enemy then marched to Ticonderoga, New York, in order to procure supplies, after which they immediately pursued us, but we eluded them by hastening to Wood Creek, and thence to Fort Anne, where we arrived on the 13th day of the month. We had just reached this place, when the sentry gave information that the enemy was all around us, in consequence of which we were suddenly called to arms. Major Putnam led the company, and Major Rogers brought up the rear. We marched but three-quarters of a mile, when we came suddenly upon a company of Indians that were lying in ambush. Major Putnam marched his men through their ranks, whereupon the Indians fired, which threw our men into some confusion. Major Putnam was captured by them, and would have been killed by an Indian had he not been rescued by a French lieutenant.
“The enemy rose like a cloud and fired a whole volley upon us, and as I was in the foremost rank, the retreat of my company brought me in the rear, and the tomahawks and bullets flew around me like hailstones. As I was running, I saw not far before me a windfall which was so high that it appeared to me insurmountable; however, by making great exertion, I succeeded in getting over it. Running a little farther, I observed a man who had in this last conflict been badly wounded, and the Indians were close upon him; nevertheless I turned aside for the purpose of assisting him, and succeeded in getting him into the midst of our army in safety.
“In this encounter, a man named Gersham Rowley had nine bullets shot through his clothes but received no personal injury. Ensign Worcester received nine wounds, was scalped and tomahawked, notwithstanding which he lived and finally recovered.
“The above engagement commenced early in the morning and continued until about three o’clock p.m., in which half of our men were either killed, wounded, or taken prisoners. In consequence of this tremendous slaughter, we were compelled to send to Fort Edward for men in order to assist in carrying our wounded, which were about eighty in number.
“The distance we had to carry them was nearly fourteen miles. To carry so many thus far was truly very fatiguing, insomuch that when we arrived at the place of destination, my strength was about exhausted.
“I proceeded immediately to Albany for the purpose of getting supplies, and returned again to the army as soon as circumstances would admit.
“Autumn having now arrived, I went home, where I tarried the ensuing winter.
“In the spring of 1759, the army marched to Crown Point, where I received my discharge. About this time I became acquainted with an amiable and accomplished young woman, a schoolteacher by the name of Lydia Gates, the daughter of Daniel Gates, a man living in ease and affluence in the town of East Haddam, state of Connecticut. To this young woman I was shortly united in the bands of matrimony; and a most worthy and invaluable companion did she prove to be, for I soon discovered that she was not only pleasant and agreeable by reason of the polish of education, but also possessed that inestimable jewel which in a wife and mother of a family is truly a pearl of great price, namely, a pious and devotional character.
“Having received a large amount of money for my services in the army, and deeming it prudent to make an investment of the same in real estate, I contracted for the whole town of Granville in the state of New York. On the execution of the deed, I paid all the money that was required in the stipulation, which also called for the building of a number of log houses. I accordingly went to work to fulfill this part of the contract, but after laboring a short time, I had the misfortune to cut my leg, which subjected me, during that season, to the care of the physician. I hired a man to do the work and paid him in advance, in order to fulfill my part of the contract; but he ran away with the money without performing the labor, and the consequence was, I lost the land altogether.
“In 1761, we moved into the town of Marlow, where we remained until we had four children. At that time Marlow was a desolate wilderness. There were but four families in forty miles. Then it was I learned to prize the talents and virtues of my wife. As our children were wholly deprived of the privilege of schools, she took the charge of their education, which task she performed as none but a mother can do. Debarred in their earliest years and in their first experience in some measure from intercourse with the world, the mother’s precepts and example took deeper root in their infant minds and had a more lasting influence upon their future character than all the flowery eloquence of the pulpit surrounded with its ordinary disadvantages.
“Thus, my older children became confirmed in habits of gentleness, piety, and reflection, which were under these circumstances more easily impressed upon the minds of those who came after them. And I often thought it would have been more difficult to have brought them into the channel they were reared in had they not inherited much of the disposition of their excellent mother, whose prayers and alms came up daily before that all-seeing eye that rests upon all his works.
“She, besides instructing them in the various branches of an ordinary education, was in the habit of calling them together both morning and evening and teaching them to pray, meanwhile urging upon them the necessity of love toward each other, as well as devotional feelings towards Him who made them.
“In 1776 I enlisted in the service of my country and was for a considerable length of time in the land forces, after which I went with my two sons, Jason and Stephen, on a privateering expedition commanded by Captain Havens. Soon after we set sail, we were driven upon Horseneck. We succeeded, however, in getting some of our guns on shore and bringing them to bear upon the enemy so as to exchange many shots with them; yet they cut away our rigging and left our vessel much shattered.
“We then hauled off and cast anchor, but in a short time we espied two row-galleys, two sloops, and two schooners. We quickly weighed anchor and hauled to shore again, and had barely time to post four cannon in a position in which they could be used before a sanguinary contest commenced. The balls from the enemy’s guns tore up the ground, cutting asunder the saplings in every direction. One of the row-galleys went round a point of land with the view of hemming us in, but we killed forty of their men with our small arms, which caused the enemy to abandon their purpose.
“My son Stephen, in company with the cabin boys, was sent to a house, not far from the shore, with a wounded man. Just as they entered the house, an eighteen-pounder followed them. A woman was engaged in frying cakes at the time, and being somewhat alarmed, she concluded to retire into the cellar, saying, as she left, that the boys might have the cakes, as she was going below.
“The boys were highly delighted at this, and they went to work cooking and feasting upon the lady’s sweet cakes, while the artillery of the contending armies was thundering in their ears, dealing out death and destruction on every hand. At the head of this party of boys was Stephen Mack, my second son, a bold and fearless stripling of fourteen.
“In this contest, the enemy was far superior to us in point of numbers, yet we maintained our ground with such valor that they thought it better to leave us and accordingly did so. Soon after this, we hoisted sail and made for New London.
“When hostilities ceased and peace and tranquility were again restored, we freighted a vessel for Liverpool. Selling both ship and cargo in this place, we embarked on Captain Foster’s vessel, which I afterwards purchased; but, in consequence of storms and wrecks, I was compelled to sell her, and was left completely destitute.
“I struggled a little longer to obtain property in making adventures, then returned to my family after an absence of four years about penniless. After this I determined to follow phantoms no longer, but devote the rest of my life to the service of God and my family.”
I shall now lay aside my father’s journal, as I have made such extracts as are adapted to my purpose, and take up the history of his children.