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[p. 91]

A Bloodless battle in Medford.

In the days of the old militia musters some were held in Medford, and on one occasion (about 1830) occurred an action of which we find mention in the account written by W. R. Cutter. The Washington Light Infantry of Woburn was chartered July 5, 1823. Their uniform of the time was very showy—blue coat with narrow skirts trimmed with gold lace, white pants, and leather bell-topped hats surmounted with black plumes twenty-two inches long. This latter would seem to outdo the present style affected by the ladies of today, and afforded an easy mark. But we will let Historian Cutter of Woburn tell the story:—
At one of the musters which the company attended, almost a fight occurred, but no blood was shed, however. The muster was at Medford, near the residence of George Adams. For the better accomplishment of the rather difficult feat of forming a straight line, a furrow was plowed, and this furrow marked the place where each regiment was to stand. One of the evolutions was to march on to field, firing and take up their position. The regiment was at that time commanded by Col. William Winn. Twice as the infantry came up they found it occupied by another company. The captain complained to the colonel, who told him to order his company to load with blank cartridges and when they came upon the line if they found the company there to shoot the plumes off their caps, and then charge them. The company marched around, and their rival was in their place. “Aim high, shoot nothing but the plume,” said the colonel, and they did aim high, and at the word of command blazed away with such effect that only three plumes remained; they then charged on the enemy and carried the position at the point of the bayonet. That company did not trouble the Washingtons afterward.

The scene of this muster was the Adams farm on Main street, in later years the site of Mystic park, and also for a time, at the beginning of the Civil War, an encampment or rendezvous of early Massachusetts volunteers. Doubtless on the occasion referred to there was a large gathering from all the countryside, but it could not have equalled the number that attended in the early ‘70s the New England Fair or the horse races there held. [p. 92]

Today the locality from Tufts square to Sayso road (whatever the latter may mean) is occupied by stores and a Medford population of ever-increasing density. The modern pavement has taken the place of the plowed furrow.

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