The day was Sunday, September 1, 1675 and King Philip's War was raging. The Wampanoag tribe was advancing upon Hadley, Massachusetts after creating a diversion, luring colonial troops away from the town. Hadley residents were in church (because they were Puritans and that's what Puritans did all day on Sunday) when an old man whom no one had ever seen burst in. The man had long white beard, white hair, and was wearing outdated English clothing. He warned the townspeople of the attack and then organized and led a successful defense against the Wampanoags. After the battle, the man disappeared and was never seen in Hadley again. The townspeople believed that God had sent an angel to rescue their town.
John Russell, the pastor in Hadley at the time, told the truth about the Angel on his deathbed. The Angel of Hadley was actually Willam Goffe, one of the judges whosentenced King Charles I to death in 1648. When the monarchy was restored in 1660, Goffe fled to America and one of his hiding places was a secret room in the home of John Russell in Hadley.
The truth behind the Angel of Hadley legend is actually very surprising. It never happened. The legend was started by Ezra Stiles, former President of Yale University, in his book "A History of Three Judges of King Charles I". Several authors have since used the legend in one way or another, including Nathaniel Hawthorne.