Shay’s Rebellion and the Constitution by Mary Hull, 2000, Excerpts
The Regulators had to improve the quality of their weapons in order to resist capture. They had never been well armed. In fact, some of the Regulators had only wooden clubs for protection. The Regulators were also short of supplies, and they did not always have enough to eat when they marched to distant courthouses. These problems had to be resolved.
The Regulators wanted to launch an attack on the federal arsenal at Springfield. There they could seize the weapons and ammunition they needed. At the end of January, the Regulators acted on the first half of their plan. They began to approach Springfield from all directions.
Meanwhile, General William Shepard and the remains of the Hampshire militia, numbering about one thousand men, were camped inside the Springfield arsenal, preparing to defend it against attack.
When Shay’s regiment got within one hundred fifty yards of the arsenal, Shepard had his men fire the cannon twice over the rebels’ heads. When they continued to march forward, they fired a third shot into their center as the column approached, killing four and wounding one. Shay’s men scattered and some even deserted in the confusion that followed the cannon fire.