Joseph Balch - Casualty at Bloody Brook (1675)

Joseph Balch (1658-September 18, 1675) was born in Beverly, Massachusetts to Benjamin and Sarah (Gardner) Balch. Little is known of Joseph's life prior to his involvement in the conflict between Metacom (aka "King Philip") and the English. It was in "King Philip's War" that Joseph would lose his life.

The war between the English and the Wampanoag tribe came as a result of the constant expansion of English colonies in New England and the increasing encroachment of these same colonies on Indian hunting grounds. The Wampanoag leader of this war was named Metacomet (or "King Philip" as the English referred to him) and he allied numerous New England tribes together to wage a war against the colonists in late June of 1675. These same tribes went on a rampage conducting unrestricted war striking at civilian and military targets. Many English settlements were burned and many men, women and children killed.

In the midst of this same war the people of Deerfield, Massachusetts retreated to a nearby fort for safety but it soon became apparent that they would be in for a long hungry winter if someone did not return to Deerfield to gain the necessary food from their crops. Under the leadership of Captain Thomas Lathrop some sixty to seventy men (one source says 90), including Joseph Balch (son of Benjamin Balch), marched on Deerfield. Apparently feeling confident that they would not be attacked because of their numbers they proceeded back to base after gathering wheat in oxcarts. Coming to a bridge at what is now known as "Bloody Brook" it became clear that it would take a while for all of the oxcarts to proceed over the bridge. A good number of soldiers are said to have actually laid down their weapons in order to gather grapes growing along the stream. It was at this point, from concealed positions, that approximately seven hundred Indians (according to one source) made their presence known with a barrage of musket shots. Slaughter ensued and Joseph Balch and all but approximately seven or eight soldiers were slaughtered.

Reinforcements arrived far to late to save the majority of the soldiers who fell victim to this ambush on September 18, 1675. The reinforcements fought the natives for approximately four or five hours but were forced to retreat and leave their dead and wounded. The next day the English returned to bury the dead in one mass grave. Joseph is likely buried at the sight of this mass grave.

Genealogy of Joseph:

Father: Benjamin Balch
Mother: Sarah Gardner

Wife1: Never Married
Married: Never Married


1. None

Primary Sources/Links:

Genealogy of the Balch Families in America - By: Galusha B. Balch

King Philip's War - Wikipedia

The Battle of Bloody Brook - History

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