The Manchester Historia Vol. I
By Susan Waterflower Bell
A Historia to the Somerset Adventures
The city we now know as Somerset can trace its origins in the humble collection of cottages built by the first Anglo-Saxon settlers to brave the three week voyage from 'Mother England' to this, then remote outpost of the new world. The readers must remember this was before the puritans had braved there crossing to settle in the rugged coastline in the land that is now called the 'United States of America'.
The dwelling of these first peoples was nothing grand. Nothing but simple wooden box house's made from locally produced lumber and hammered in with nails that where brought from home. Records from this period are scarce and hard to find. Indeed what little we do know comes from private dairies and letters.
The letters and dairies paint us a picture of a collection of houses that seemed to center at a large wooden building. This building is often referred to as the 'Meeting House'. Here the first charter naming collection of houses and the few shops the village of 'The Village of Somerset'.
At the time of the Charting the village could boost a population of around five hundred people. Most of whom where Anglo-Saxon. Once the settlement had been reward the statues of a village. A mission from the 'Church of England' arrived. The group of four monks, two laymen was lead by a young Priest by the name of Fr. Burns.
Fr. Burns played a critical in not only building up the newly created Parish of 'Somerset' but also devoted his time and effort into schooling the young men of the village in the classics. One might even say the foundation of proud school system was birthed in the cold, one room cabin that was donated to the church by a unknown benefactor.
Doctors, layers, and skilled workers followed the mission. After all building a church required a number of skills, stonemasons where needed to lay the foundation and build the walls, silver and blacksmiths where needed to forge the tools, and above all men where needed to handle the other task that are to many to list here. These men where all paid in ready cash. And many of those workmen spent there hard earned money at local shops, thus keeping the money in city if will.
Though vices follow people, and once such vice is the love of drinking and women. Now some miles from the booming settlement was a low laying area. Here the first taverns where built, these first taverns where nothing more than shacks, some where a little better than others but for the most part they where shacks.
The area was given the name 'Hemlock Lane' due to the vast amounts of Hemlock leafs that could found growing in the area. Its also a play on words. Becomes Hemlock is a poisons plant, and the area was so filled with vice and sin, the name hemlock seemed to suit, because in words of one Fr. Burns, 'The place is nothing but a collection of sin and vice, a open wound that will one day poison the youth of this city and become a stain that will not be cleansed from its moral fabric'.
Now a article on the history of Somerset would not be completed dear readers without a look at the origins of the small, but noticeable Scot-Irish population that has added so much Celtic charm to are little community over the years.
Following the defeat of Charles Edward Stuart at the battle of Culloden in the year Seventeen forty three by the British government who was then ruled by the House of Hanover caused a number of rebel Scotsmen called Jacobites to fall under there care. Fearing another uprising the Hanover Government ordered a large number of them to be transported to the new world. There far away from there native land they hoped to 'Reform' them and make them into half decanted members of the budding British Empire.
The first boatload of these transplanted Scotsmen landed in the spring, they where marched off the boat and right out of town. They where not thrown to the dogs as one popular poetic had put it, in fact if I might be so bold I think they where treated quite well. Records from the time show that small tracks of land was given to them, course they had to clear and built there own homesteads, but that is after all the natural order of things.
As the seasons passed, the new settlers tried to built a new life for themselves. Crops where sewn and harvest, small dirt roads where laid, and the few tradesmen among them returned to there calling. Soon a little hamlet was charted, the hamlet was christened 'Scotia' In honor of there native land.
Even now the little hamlet is a thriving little point of commerce in the rural lands north of Somerset. The town at present can boost a population of seven hundred people living within the two square miles that make up Scotia popular. The main business section can boost a Methodist Chapel, a tavern called 'Bucks' and small Laundromat and two little shops and at last a little café called 'The Dove Café'. The Great Western Railway even has a small halt in the village. The local farmers use the branch line to ship crops to local a local farmers market.
The market I'm referring to is of course the semiweekly farmers market that's hosted in the open lot beside the post office in the 'Historical Triangle' Area of Somerset. Here the produce grown by local families in the countryside was sold to those who to buy them. But locally grown produce was now the only thing traded, seeds, salted fish caught from the head waters of the mystic, homemade candles and soaps, these are just a few things that where swapped for a few piece or maybe a golden coin on those busy Saturday mornings.
But returning to the history of are little community, now the influx of refuses from the defeated highland clans did indeed add some Celtic charm to the mostly Anglo-Saxton population. A mission lead by Fr. Patrice O' Danny of the Jesuits followed and with the pulling of the tiny communities resources a wooden frame was built, just across from the local Anglican church. St. George. The same one built by Fr. Burns, who had this point in time had gone to meet his maker.
Despite tension between the broader Church of Rome and Church of England, the two faiths quickly formed bonds of friendship. Both shared a common ancestry through there liturgy and rite of communion and the sanity of the mass. It was those three hallmarks that paved the way for friendship to be formed. It was this common bond that kept Jacobite activity to minimal at the height of the most bloody phase of the 'War of Southern Succession'. A series of skirmishes and ambushes between Republican Armed Traded Unions. Most noticeable the Catholic Peoples Army (CPA) and Socialist Workers Defense Core (SWDC) on the Republican side. And the Orange Volunteers (OV) on the Federation side.
It was elements of the SWDC who had gathered in strength in the hollows of Mutton Mountain. Reports from the time place there strength at seven hundred men strong. With more arriving each day, there objective was simply, they where to sweep down from the mountain and take the city of Somerset by force. Once Somerset was safety in there hands, the heart of the Great Western Railroad in there hands.
From the outset of the operation, it seemed there success would be assured, there scouts reported that town was only lightly garrisoned, the only professional military force that stood in there way was the Somerset Militia, who had a on paper strength of three hundred, but at any given time could only muster and field a effective force of one hundred and fifty men on the best of days.
Supporting the Somerset Militia was the Police Force of Manchester Parish, a motley collection of men, who where poorly clothed, poorly trained, poorly armed and poorly lead. And worst of all, the men of the police force where lacking three months salary. It was this collection of men that formed the whole of the defense of Somerset. Oddly enough, the towns people remained blissfully unaware of the storm brewing just beyond there line of sight.
But then at the eleventh hour, just hours before the SWDC where due to leave Mutton Mountain, a man of the Masonic order came, his name has been lost to the flow of time, but the fact remains that he delivered a message that warned the town of the pending attack.
In a matter of hours, the Somerset Millita had been mustered, and there ranks expanded by waves of men, flocking to there banner. They where armed with there own personal weapons. Boosting there number, was the all Roman Catholic Shooting club, the 'Saint Paul's Huntsmen' or the 'Huntsmen' for short. Indeed the scene that started to unfolded in the streets of Somerset, was one of excitement.
Men, by the dozens turned out. Mothers bid good bye to there sons, sweethearts kissed there lovers. The local high school brass band struck up heroic melodies, and the brass bells of St. Maries and St. George, chimed across the cityscape. Summing the faithful to prayer and the men to arms.
At the noon hour, the whole of the towns defense gathered in the nave St. George, there Fr. Williams of St. George, and Fr. Lyn of St. Maries preached two sermons, calling for unity of the body of Christ who was now coming under attack from 'unchristian' forces. Both priest, urged the gathered men to fight to there last ounce of strength.
And so with the afternoon sun shining high above there heads, the men gathered and formed themselves into columns and squadrons. With eyes of cold steel they shouldered there rifles and to the beat of 'Rule Britannia' they set off in the defense of there town. Floating high above there heads was the royal banner of the British Empire.
Going on popular reports, the banner caught a sudden gust of wind as they pushed out of Somerset Town, And to highlight the scene the high school band that was following behind the marching troops stuck up a popular march. Soon the tune of 'British Grenadiers' filled the air and from the rear a voice started to sing.
Some talk of Alexander,
And some of Hercules
Of Hector and Lysander,
And such great names as these.
And soon the other joined, lending there own voices to the swelling chores. One farm, tending his fields that lined the route the men where marching along, was struck, quickly he looked from his work. And in a manner of respect he reached up and removed his old worn cap and offered a steadied salute. Encouraged by old mans the marching men raised there voices. And soon, the lyrics written below filled the air.
Now allow me if you will, to draw your attention to the leader of Column A of the Somerset Millita. One Richard Allen Beauvilliers. A young commissioned officer who held the rank of First Lieutenant, This young officer was going on rumor in possession of two white feathers, the sign of a coward. How this young man came into possession of these articles, has been lost to the flow of time.
Column A was the first of four columns to reach a small ford in the River Mystic. The Mystic was at a all time low, and large gray boulders could be seen, forming small islands in swift flowing currents. As per orders Column A formed a firing line, ten men wide and two men deep on the bluff overlooking the ford.
Soon the other columns joined the line, a picket was formed and camp was struck. Vespers where said, and camp was struck as more and more men came filing into camp. Around Ten' clock in the evening a vedette arrived bearing news that the main body of SWDC riflemen had been spotted around fifteen miles from ford.
It was then the overall commander came to decision to raised the troops who had fallen asleep, and gather all who where present in the camp. The scene was one of utter confusion as officers some on horseback, others on foot shouted at the top of there lungs orders. The air was thick with the loading of rifles, the whispering of prayers, and the shouting of commanders.
The hour of truth came in the early hours of the morning, no formal line of battle had been formed. And so small sections of men fired at each other, some used the trees and the low laying area as over. Others stood up in rank and file formations. There company banners flying over there head as the withstood a withering fire from SWDC many of whom where armed with the Gewehr 98.
At first, the flow of battle seemed to favor the SWDC, there marksmen where well seasoned, well armed, and well feed. Using the brush and tall grass as cover, they inflicted heavy loses on the defenders, who choose to stand and fight in open ground. A tactic that harkens back to the boar war and the early days of the western front.
By late morning, the ground had been covered with the dead and dying. Each grassy knoll, became hollow ground, as men knelt down formed circles, firing in any direction they expected enemy fire to be coming from. It was around this time, that the 'Huntsmen' had been forced to withdraw from the field of battle. Many of there fellow lay dead or dying along a old sunken lane they had taken charge of, the lane commonly called Berry's Turnpike, would later be renamed. 'Huntsmen Lane' to the honor of there memory.
By early afternoon, Lt. Beauvilliers, found himself in dire straights, for all around him the line was giving away, his strength had been cut in half and his men where down to there last fifty rounds, the platoons supporting there right and left flank had been forced to withdrawn, and fight a bloody retreat. It was at this time, when all seemed lost, that something awoke deep inside the young man. Quickly he took the colors, once the colors where in his hand, he raised them high above the fog of war. The sight of the kings banner, seemed to shake the air of defeat from the fleeing boys mind.
Quickly, others flocked to the banner, and there they stood, they stood till the last round was spent, then they used the butt of the rifles, they stood there despite the ground becoming slick with there blood. They stood because they cared for there person freedom. Roman Catholic, Anglican, Methodist, freeman, sharecropper. It did not matter, for the blood of both intermingled on that field. And in the heat of battle, another Somerset was born.
One free of the old ways, one free of the old divides. The blood shed upon that field was the blood that watered the seedling that bloomed into the flower that is the town we are today. Of course one heroic action can not win a battle, and one never really does win a last stand, but this last act of courage did buy enough time, for all through the afternoon and way into the leaving that little line held.
Buying time reserves to be brought up via rail from Sataria and Sharbroughs Landing. These along with those who had escaped the battle, formed a second of line of defense. It would be this line that finally brought the battle to a close in the late afternoon hours of the coming morn. And thus we bring this volume to a close.