The recent dedication of the Bennett Delta recalls the memory of another distinguished soldier who lived at this spot: Ebenezer Francis was born here on December 22, 1743, and baptized on Christmas Day, the following Sunday, and here he lived to manhood, in a house then standing on the northerly side of High street, opposite the easterly end of the delta. This house was afterwards moved to Woburn street and is now standing back from the road on the property of the Oak Grove Cemetery. Brooks says of his early years that ‘he was studious to gain knowledge, and succeeded beyond most others.’ He moved to Beverly and, in 1766, married Miss Judith Wood, by whom he had four daughters and one son. That son he named Ebenezer, and he became a prominent merchant of Boston. Colonel Francis had three brothers who became officers in the Revolutionary army and their records reflected credit to their native town. Ebenezer was commissioned Captain by the Continental Congress July 1, 1775; next year he rose to the rank of Colonel, and commanded a regiment on Dorchester Heights from August to December, 1776. Authorized by Congress, he raised the Eleventh Massachusetts (Continental) regiment, and in January, 1777, marched at its head to Ticonderoga. Burgoyne had started on his campaign from Canada and arrived at Ticonderoga, which was commanded by General St. Clair, with about three thousand men. The American forces were not sufficient to hold the fort and an adjacent hill (Sugar Loaf) which commanded the position. The British succeeded in dragging guns to the top of this eminence, and on the morning of July 5, 1777, the garrison awoke to the realization that they lay at the mercy of the enemy. As the result of a council of war, an evacuation of the position was decided upon, as soon as possible. [p. 35] The retreat began at three o'clock on the morning of July 6, via a bridge of boats across the lake, which is very narrow at this point. The retreat was conducted with great skill. The entire garrison had safely crossed the bridge, when a house was accidentally fired and the whole scene illuminated. An active pursuit was at once begun and the British forces under General Fraser overtook the rear guard near Hubbardton, Vermont. The American forces consisted of the regiments under Colonel Seth Warner, Colonel Hale and Colonel Francis. Hale's regiment abandoned the field precipitately, so that the whole burden of the fight devolved on Colonels Francis and Warner, who were left with a force of not more than nine hundred men. The British force was officially reported at 858. The result was in doubt for some time, with the advantage slightly in favor of the Continental forces when reinforcements arrived for the enemy and the Americans were forced to retire with the loss of 360, including wounded and prisoners. Forty officers and men were killed, including the gallant Colonel Francis. An account of his death from the journal of Captain Greenleaf says:—
Colonel Francis first received a ball through his right arm, but still continued at the head of his troops till he received the fatal wound through his body, entering his right breast. He dropped on his face.His chaplain says:—
No officer so noticed for his military accomplishments and regular life as he. His conduct in the field is spoken of in the highest terms of applause.John Francis, a brother of Ebenezer, born in Medford, September 28, 1753, was adjutant in the regiment commanded by his brother, and fought bravely at Hubbardton. He was in several battles during the six years of his service and was wounded at the battle of Saratoga.