In November of 1743, in anticipation of a war, Gov. Shirley of Massachusetts ordered the organization of three 50-men Snow-Shoe Companies in Massachusetts, which included Maine. These local soldiers were to hold themselves ready “at the shortest warning” against the enemy – the enemy being the French and Indians who fought with them.

Shirley and his advisers expected the enemy to come “swooping” down from Canada. The Snow-Shoe men were to scout through the woods along the border and somehow hold back the “hordes of Indians.” One historian in later years said it would have been like holding back the ocean.

Each of the 50 “able bodied and effective” men in a company was to provide himself with a good pair of Snow-Shoes, one pair of Moggisons and one Hatchet.”

A Snow-Shoe Company was organized in York County, which included what we know today as Cumberland County. The Snow-Shoe men were from New Marblehead, Gorham and Scarborough and included locals Thomas Millett, Joseph Sawyer, William Knights, Zerrubell Hunnewell, John Stevens, Zacharia Brackett, Abraham Anderson, Samuel Larrabee and others. Gorham sent William Reed, John Irish and Joseph Peake. The captain was Domini Jordan. By April 1744, Jordan reported that the men had acquired the snowshoes, hatchet and “moggisons” and were ready.

In the fall of 1744, bounties for Indian scalps were authorized – 100 English pounds for an adult over 12 and 50 pounds for women and children under 12. Scalping “parties” were formed by some.

Most of the residents of New Marblehead were by now living in the province fort waiting for the first attack. In August 1745, war was declared against the Indians. The “Snow-Shoe Company” was the only active force in the area.

The first attacks of the Indians were mid-Maine coast near Newcastle in the summer of 1745. Raiding parties on both sides continued their attacks, with kidnappings, deaths and destruction. Several families in Gorham were attacked and killed. During this period, the leader of the local natives (Chief Polin) walked to Boston to Gov. Shirley’s headquarters to discuss possible changes in water access so his people could continue fishing. This was never to happen.

The local destruction ended, and with it the need of the “Snow-Shoe Company”, on May 14, 1756, when Polin was shot and killed by Stephen Manchester.

The Snow-Shoe men became part of history; some of them in later years would become militiamen or patriot soldiers.


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