Shays's Rebellion - Battle at the Springfield Armory - Springfield, MA
Posted by: Groundspeak Premium Member NorStar
N 42° 06.510 W 072° 34.567
18T E 700404 N 4664666
Quick Description: A plaque in a boulder marks the most dramatic conflict of a short-lived but important rebellion led by Daniel Shays against the Springfield Arsenal that set in motion the replacement of the Articles of Confederation with the U.S. Constitution.
Location: Massachusetts, United States
Date Posted: 7/27/2011 8:41:46 PM
Waymark Code: WMC5EK
Published By: Groundspeak Charter Member BruceS
Views: 1

Long Description:
In, Springfield, along State Street by the old Springfield Armory and on one of two boulders flanking a bus stop on the north side, is a plaque that states the following:

"This Tablet Marks the Battle Place
of Shays' Rebellion
January 25, 1787
— • —
Erected By The
George Washington Chapter
Sons Of The American Revolution
A.D.1900"

Shays's Rebellion as it's known, was a roughly year long resistance from August 1786 to February 1787 in central and western Massachusetts, led by a former Continental Army soldier, Daniel Shays. Daniel Shays was a farmhand who was injured during his service and eventually had to drop out in 1780, unpaid. He came back home to central Massachusetts only to be brought into court for non-payment of debts. He found that others were in the same predicament, and he then started to organize people. The conditions that led to this situation are more complex and are not included here. Shays and his fellow protesters, at first tried civil methods such as petitions to the Massachusetts General Court (legislative body). After getting little attention, in August, 1786, about 1000 farmers appeared at the courthouse in Northampton to disrupt debtor court sessions. This was the first of several such actions.

State leaders in the capitol, Boston, in eastern Massachusetts, started to panic, fearing a full uprise. At the time, the Articles of Confederation ruled the land, which, among many things, severely limited the national government's scope of abilities and had little way to raise revenue. Thus, there was no real army. Massachusetts legislators sponsored a paid army, led by former Continental Army General, Benjamin Lincoln, to squelch this resistance.

The Shaysites, as they were known, started to falter by the start of winter, and they had few arms or supplies. They marched to the Springfield Armory on January 25, 1787 (Wikipedia has the date as February 2, while a history book I have confirms the plaque date) in hopes that they would break in and gain the stock of guns and ammunition there. Instead, they met a line of armed men led by General William Shepherd, who had his own militia of about 900 men. Shepherd's men were not armed, initially, but decided to break into the arsenal, himself, disobeying Sec. of War, General Henry Knox. Not expecting to be fired on, Shays men advanced toward the arsenal. Sheffield had cannons fired at well-placed locations which caused 4 deaths and 20 more casualties. The band quickly dispersed. One note was that not a musket was fired - only the cannons by Sheffield's men.

Later, Lincoln's army would encounter Shays's band in Petersham and soon the conflict was over. A couple were hanged for their involvement, but most, including Daniel Shays, were pardoned. Minor changes to the ways that debt could be collected were passed.

Shays's Rebellion showed severe weaknesses in the Articles of Confederation, then the ruling constitution of the United States. Eventually, the Articles of Confederation would be abandoned and a new document, the current U.S. Constitution, would be crafted and replace it.

Today, the area around this marker would be unrecognizable to those who participated in the event. None of the brick buildings on the other side of the fence by the marker or on the other side of Federal Street existed at the time of the battle. State Street now is a major artery for cars. There is another marker close to the intersection of State Street with Federal Street. It contains Masonic symbols and was placed by Joseph Wait in 1763 to mark the proper road to Boston. The marker currently at this location is actually a plastic exact replica of the stone marker now kept elsewhere by the city of Springfield. The marker contains gouges that were likely created from the cannon fire.

Parking is available from parking lots in either part of the old Springfield Armory, now used as a technical college, a National Park museum, and a hi-tech development center. The museum is located on the western campus, behind the main building for the Springfield Technical Community College and is well worth the trip to see the collection of small arms as well as about the manufacturing done at the Armory. If you get the right staff ranger, one question could result in a long conversation about the whole rebellion.

Sources:

Wikipedia (Shays' Rebellion):
(visit link)

Martin, James Kirby; Roberts, Randy and others. America and Its Peoples: A Mosaic in the Making - Volume 1 to 1877. Boston: Pearson-Longman, p. 162.
Name of Battle:
Shays's Rebellion Battle at the Springfield Armory.


Name of War: Shays's Rebellion

Entrance Fee: 0.00 (listed in local currency)

Date(s) of Battle (Beginning): 1/25/1787

Parking: Not Listed

Date of Battle (End): Not listed

Visit Instructions:
Post a photo of you in front of a sign or marker posted at the site of the battle (or some other way to indicate you have personally visited the site.

In addition it is encouraged to take a few photos of the surrounding area and interesting features at the site.
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