Annals of Camden, part III
For the past two weeks, my articles included interesting information that Nathan Fletcher wrote about in 1883-84 in The Rockland Opinion, and were taken from his column, “Annals of Camden.” The articles also included my “two-cents worth.” I not only found the history of Camden informative, while researching these columns, but also his style of writing is so different from today.
England was giving our vicinity a very hard time, because we wanted our independence. Fletcher writes about an interesting story: “Leonard Metcalf and Andrews Wells observed an English schooner approaching Camden Harbor, and, suspecting they were intending some mischief conceived the following stratagem, in order to deter the enemy from landing. Wells took his drums and proceeded to the shore and commenced the ‘roll-call,' while Metcalf armed with his musket gave, in a stentorian voice, as if he was in command of a large company of men, an order to fall in line and prepare for action. It seemed the English vessel intended to send but one barge ashore, but hearing Metcalf’s orders to his men, and supposedly from the sound of the spirited drum that a large number of men were ready to meet them, they dispatched a larger force, consisting of three barges with a large number of men. They landed near where Adam’s Wharf now is, [P. G. Willey’s Wharf] and arrayed in their scarlet uniforms, ascended the bank, and, seeing Metcalf and Wells, fired at them. Metcalf quickly returned the fire and fled, reloading his gun as he ran. In his haste, he stumbled and fell, when one of the assailants exultantly exclaimed.’ There is one of the d----d Yankees dead.’ Turning around, and rising from behind the log over which he had fallen, Metcalf fired again, and retorted with much spirit, ‘That’s a d---d lie,’ and immediately disappeared in a dense thicket. Both men were soon out of reach of the enemy’s guns and on their way ‘double quick’ for Goose River [Rockport] to give the alarm to their friends at that place.”
There were many a resident called a Tory. He might be your neighbor, but helped the British. One was caught one night and they claimed, ”He was a Tory, but not generally known to be such. But one night all his Toryism was all knocked out of him by vigilantes.”
There are many more stories, then Fletcher goes on to say,” It will be perceived by the reader that Clam Cove [Glen Cove] in the early settlement of Camden, was quite a noted place, and was the objective point, and the scene of many a thrilling transaction. I have listened with pleasure to many a laughable stories from the lips of John Gregory, who died a few years since at the ripe age of nearly 100 years.”
We have all seen the sign on Route 1 in GLen Cove the reads “Revolutionary Lookout — Pine Hill.” Many years ago it was erected there by the Rockland Sons of the American Revolution. It was replaced in 1976 by the Glen Cove Garden Club. A new sign, just a few years ago, was placed there by the Lady Knox Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution. The whole area, including Pen Bay Medical Center and inland beyond Old County Road, was called Pine Hill.
Nathan Fletcher, with information he obtained from John Gregory writes:“ A short time previous to the expedition to Castine, Gen. George Ulmer of Lincolnville erected a breastwork at Clam Cove, and mounted an 18 pound gun; the logs of this breastwork remained 'till about the year 1837. Grape and chain shots have been found near the site of this old fort, but not a vestige is now left of this fortification. The locality was called “Pine Hill.” The surrounding scenery was said to be beautiful, and the prospect from this eminence the most commanding that could be obtained for miles around.”
The location today we believe to be in the center of the hill, when you go through the drive to Pen Bay Medical Center, instead of turning left into its parking lot it would be straight ahead and up the hill. This is now all private property with several houses there with a wonderful waterview, and on a good day the owners can see Castine.
After the British took Castine, all the villages along the coast were in danger. A barracks was built at Clam Cove to be used for protection of those people. John Gregory told Fletcher about it, as he was a boy at the time. Fletcher writes: ”The barracks, as they were called were merely a temporary structure about a half-mile from the fort on Pine Hill near Mr. John Gregory’s house, and near the residence of his son, Mr. Hanson Gregory, and one-half of Mr. Gregory’s log house was appropriated for the officers’ quarters. The force stationed here were 200 men, under the command of Gen. George Ulmer. John Marsh of Orono was the Indian interpreter, as a company of Penobscot Indians was connected with our force there, and rendered this officer a necessity. William Gregory acted as commissary at the time the encampment was established.”
There were many more instances here during the Revolution, before that war came to an end. The Treaty was signed in Paris the third day of September 1783. The welcoming news was well received by settlers of Camden and celebrated. Fletcher wrote: “From every humble dwelling, peal after peal went forth and the load buzza [sic] quivered and trembled in the morning air, and away with their faint echoes in the deep recesses of the native forests or leaped from crag to crag along the rugged mountains which outlook the Megunticook valley.” Apparently this continued for a very long day and night.
According to Nathan Fletcher: “In the meantime preparations had been made in as extensive a manner as the means of the patriots would allow, at the home of Robert Thorndike in Rockport for a general celebration of the settlements, and early in the evening every male citizen old enough to know and appreciate the occasion, had assembled on the banks of the rippling waters of Goose River, and near the residence of the hospitable and pure patriot Robert Thorndike. There was not room enough for all under one roof, but plenty of free soil beneath their feet for them to partake. All the most prominent settlers and officers who were present from the barracks were first served, and all were requested to fill their glasses to the brim and drink to the health of all those who had been active in the great struggle for independence”. They also roasted pigs and had plenty of rum, cheese, fish and bread.
Two weeks ago, we celebrated the anniversary of the adoption of the Declaration of Independence.
Barbara Dyer is Camden's official town historian.