Gateway to the Classics: Indian History for Young Folks by Francis S. Drake
Indian History for Young Folks by  Francis S. Drake

King Philip's War

A little more than two centuries ago, New England was the scene of one of the bloodiest of Indian wars. It contained at that time some thirty thousand red men; of these less than eight thousand were in Massachusetts. The domain of the Pokanoket tribe, which began the war, extended over nearly all of south-eastern Massachusetts, from Cape Cod to Narraganset Bay. Under Philip, the son and successor of Massasoit, this tribe had been gradually crowded into the two small necks of land now known as Tiverton and Bristol.

Philip's residence was at Mount Hope; from it he could look on the south over the beautiful expanse of Narraganset Bay. The charming view from this eminence now includes also the city of Providence and the towns of Bristol and Warren. On the west was the country of the powerful Narraganset tribe.

One by one the fields and hunting-grounds of the Pokanokets had been sold to the white man. Though the lands were of little value to them, and though they were fully satisfied with the small price paid for them, yet, when the beads and trinkets for which they had been bartered were gone, the thriving farms of the settlers around them remained, and were in their eyes only so many evidences that they had been overreached and defrauded.

Efforts to Christianize them had wholly failed, but the white man's laws had been extended over them, and they were frequently obliged to appear before the magistrates of Boston or Plymouth, to answer groundless accusations, and to explain their acts and purposes. To an independent nation—for as such they regarded themselves—this was very humiliating.

Besides this, the white settlers despised the Indians, looking upon them as inferiors, and were haughty and overbearing in their demeanor towards them. Collisions and mutual injuries were the inevitable result.

They said that "if twenty of their honest Indians proved that an Englishman had wronged them, 'it was nothing,' while if one of their worst Indians testified against any of them, it was sufficient;" that the English made the Indians drunk and then cheated them; that the English cattle and horses had so increased that they could not keep their corn from injury, never being used to make fences. Such were some of the grievances of the Indians, and they were but too well founded.


Mount Hope.

On the other hand, the Plymouth settlers said that not a foot of land had been taken from the Indians except by fair purchase. More than this. In order to protect the natives from covetous white men, a law was made "that none should purchase or receive gifts of any lands of the Indians without the knowledge and allowance of the court," under heavy penalty. Besides prohibiting the sale of intoxicating drinks to them, a law was made in 1673 that no person should take anything in pawn of an Indian for liquor.

At one of the first courts held in Boston, on complaint of the Sachem Chickataubut and his men that Mr. Josias Plaistowe had stolen four baskets of corn from them, he was ordered to return them eight baskets, pay a fine of £5, and hereafter to be called Josias, and not Mr. Josias, as formerly, and thus to be degraded from the title of a gentleman. Two of his servants who were accessary were ordered to be whipped.

After all, it is not strange that trouble arose. No two races, the one barbarous and the other civilized, can live harmoniously side by side for any length of time. That they did so for so many years, here and in Pennsylvania, is a fact highly creditable to both.

The Pokanoket chief, from his ambitious and haughty spirit, was called King Philip. His Indian name was Pometacom. His pride was shown in his dress, which was rich and gaudy. One who saw him in Boston says that "his coat and buskins were thickset with beads in pleasant wild works, and a broad belt of the same. His accoutrements were valued at twenty pounds." His belts and other ornaments are correctly shown in the picture here given.


King Philip.

The following letter, preserved among the Dorchester records, shows that at that date Philip dressed after the English fashion:

"Philip, Sachem of Mount Hope,
     "To Captain Hopestill Foster, of Dorchester,
"Sendeth greeting:

Sir ,—You may please to remember that when I last saw you, at Wading River, you promised me six pounds in goods. Now my request is that you would send by this Indian five yards of white or light-colored serge to make me a coat, and a good Holland shirt, ready made, and a pair of good Indian Breeches, all which I have present need of. Therefore I pray, Sir, fail not to send them, and the several prices of them, and silk and buttons, and seven yards of galloon for trimming. Not else at present to trouble you with, only the subscription of
King Philip, his majesty, P.P.

"Mount Hope, the 15th of May, 1672."

Only a little while before the war of 1675 began, the Massachusetts authorities sent to Philip to know why he would make war upon the English, and at the same time requested him to enter into a treaty. This was his haughty reply:

"You governor is but a subject of King Charles of England. I shall not treat with a subject. I shall treat of peace only with the King, my brother. When he comes, I am ready."

General Daniel Gookin, who knew Philip well, spoke of him as "a person of good understanding and knowledge in the best things." He was humane, and was known to exercise his authority on several occasions to prevent harm being done to English families who had been friendly to him or to his father.

He was nevertheless looked upon with suspicion by the English, and some warlike demonstrations made by him in 1671 caused him to be summoned by them to a conference to be held on Taunton Green. Owing to the threats of the Plymouth people, Philip and his men came armed. Perceiving that the English party was large, and also armed, they paused on the ridge of a hill outside the town. A parley was held, and it was agreed that the conference should take place in the meeting-house, the English to occupy one side of the house and the Indians the other.

What a singular and impressive spectacle the interior of that plain old meeting-house must have presented that morning! Upon its rude benches sat representatives of two races, each distrusting the other; the weaker smarting under its injuries, sullen and angry; the stronger looking down on his dusky neighbor as a heathen, and at the same time feeling the necessity for pursuing a politic course towards him, and determined to prevent an outbreak. Under such circumstances this was a scene in our early history not to be forgotten.

Both parties were in fighting trim. The Indians had their faces and bodies painted as for battle, with their long-bows and quivers of arrows at their backs. Here and there a gun was seen among them, in the hands of those best skilled in its use. The English were in the dress of that day, protected by cuirasses, wearing slouched hats with broad brims, and equipped with bandoleers, long swords, and unwieldy guns.

Philip soon saw that he was in the power of the English, and had to yield to their terms. He was compelled to give up his guns, and to agree to pay £100 and five wolves' heads yearly, or as many as he could procure. This humiliation greatly increased his hatred of the whites.

Tradition says that Philip was averse to the war, and that, on hearing that blood had been shed, he wept at the news. However this may be, there can be no doubt of his desire to rid his country of the white intruders, and at the close of the year 1674 he began his preparations in good earnest. Notwithstanding the severity of the laws against the sale of fire-arms to the Indians, they had generally supplied themselves with them, and had become skilful in their use.

This is the way the war began. In January, 1675, John Wussaussamon, a Christian Indian, who had informed the English that Philip was plotting against them, was murdered. This man could read and write. He had been a missionary among his countrymen, and at one time was Philip's scribe or secretary.

The Indians who committed this act were seized, tried by a jury, half of whom were their own countrymen, found guilty, and hanged. In their justification they said they had a right to execute justice in accordance with their own customs on a traitor, and that the English had nothing to do with it.

No sooner were they executed than hostilities began, the Indians having killed or wounded several Englishmen at Swansey. The Indian priests or medicine-men having prophesied defeat to the party that should shed the first blood, they had for some days previously confined their hostile acts to burning the houses and killing the cattle of the white men, one of whom in retaliation shot and wounded an Indian.

At once Philip and his warriors spread themselves over the country, devastating, burning, and plundering. For a whole year they kept New England in a state of constant alarm and excitement. They roved from place to place with secrecy and celerity, retiring, when pursued, into swamps and thickets, never meeting the English in the open field. They were skilful marksmen, were familiar with the forest, and any small parties of the English were sure to be tracked and waylaid by these crafty and vigilant foemen. The burning of Swansey was soon followed by that of portions of Taunton, Middleboro', Dartmouth, and other neighboring towns and villages.

Troops from Boston and Plymouth were hurried to the scene of action, which was at first in Plymouth Colony only, and in less than a month Philip and his warriors had fled and taken refuge among the Indians in the interior. But though the scene was shifted, the terrible conflict had only just begun.

Of the white population of New England about eight thousand were capable of bearing arms. Massachusetts had ready for service twelve troops of horse, each composed of sixty men, besides officers. They were well mounted, and armed with swords, carbines, and pistols, each troop being distinguished by its coat. The men wore buff coats, and were protected by back, breast, and head pieces.

The trainbands, numbering from sixty-four to two hundred men, included all the males capable of bearing arms between the ages of sixteen and sixty, and who were required to provide themselves with arms and ammunition. Their arms were muskets, pikes, and swords. There were two musketeers to each pikeman, the latter being selected for their superior stature. The muskets had matchlocks or firelocks, and to each one there was a pair of bandoleers or pouches for powder and ball, and a stick called a rest, for use in taking aim. The pikes were ten feet in length, besides the spear at the end. Corslets and coats quilted with cotton were a sufficient protection against arrows. The captain, lieutenant, and ensign carried swords, partisans, or leading-staves, and sometimes pistols. The sergeants bore halberds. Their only field-music was the drum. The trainings were always begun and ended with prayer.


Captain Benjamin Church.

Captain Benjamin Church was the most skilful and successful Indian fighter of that day. He was as sagacious and resolute as he was physically powerful and active, and he was greatly feared and respected by the Indians. His residence was in the vicinity of the Pokanokets. Captain Samuel Moseley was another energetic and successful officer.

On one occasion Church was at Pocasset, now Tiverton, Rhode Island, with thirty-six men, when he was unexpectedly attacked by three hundred Indians. He retreated to the water-side, piled a quantity of flat stones one upon another as a barricade, and fought until Captain Goulding came to his relief in a sloop. The water was shallow, and the canoe that plied between the vessel and the shore could take but two persons at a time. Church was the last to go. A bullet grazed his hair, and another struck a stake in front of him, but he got off without losing a man.


Fight at Tiverton.

The courageous act of a young woman is deserving of notice. One Sunday morning "in sermon time," an Indian straggler from one of Philip's bands came to John Minot's horse, in Dorchester, in which, at the time, there were only a servant-maid and two young children. Secreting the children under two brass kettles, and perceiving that the Indian was trying to get in at the window, the door being fast, the brave girl ran upstairs and charged a musket with which she shot the Indian in the shoulder. Before this he had fired at and missed her.

Dropping his gun, the Indian was just in the act of coining in at the window which he had forced open, when the girl seized a shovel, and filling it with live coals from the fireplace, thrust it in his face and sent him yelling to the woods, where he was found dead soon afterwards. The Minot house, where this affair happened, is still standing on Chickataubut Street.

After Philip's flight the first blood was shed at Mendon. Brookfield was next attacked, and a party under Captains Hutchinson and Wheeler waylaid, and thirteen men killed or mortally wounded. All the houses were burned but one—that in which the inhabitants had taken refuge. This was saved by the timely arrival of a force under Major Simon Willard, after withstanding for two days and nights incessant and furious attacks. The roof and walls of their place of refuge were pierced with arrows, around which were wound burning rags filled with sulphur. Finally, a cart filled with combustibles was fired and pushed towards it, but the exertions of the garrison, aided by a sudden shower of rain, speedily extinguished the flames. So successful had been the defence that eighty of the Indians had been killed or wounded.

Philip now made a distribution of wampum, as a present to the principal chiefs, and congratulated them upon their success. His emissaries worked upon the Indians of Connecticut, and he even succeeded in bringing the baptized Indians to his aid. On the other hand, Uncas, the Mohegan sachem, sent to the aid of the English his three sons and about sixty warriors, who were distributed among the different commands and who rendered efficient service. During the whole war the Mohegans were the faithful allies of the English.

Lancaster, Northampton, Deerfield, and Northfield suffered during the summer, and near the latter place Captain Beers was surprised and slain with most of his company. A fortnight later Captain Lathrop, with about ninety men, "the flower of Essex County," was waylaid while marching to Deerfield, and he and nearly all his men were killed. The place where this sad affair occurred is now known as the village of Bloody Brook.

Captain Moseley, who with seventy men was scouting in the neighborhood, hearing the guns, hastened to the scene of action. On his approach the Indians dared him to begin the fight, saying: "Come, Moseley, come! you want Indians, here are Indians enough for you."

Moseley charged them repeatedly with great resolution, but their superiority of numbers was such that he was obliged to withdraw. Soon, however, a party under Major Treat arrived, and the Indians were in turn driven back. When the English reached the battle-ground they were amazed at seeing an Englishman coming towards them. This man proved to be Robert Dutch, of Ipswich, who had been shot and scalped and left for dead. Strange to say, he recovered, and lived many years after.

At Springfield thirty houses were burned and several people killed. An attack on Hatfield by a large body of Indians was bravely repulsed. This success, occurring on the same day that a vote for reformation of evils and abuses was passed at Boston, was attributed by many devout persons to that cause. To the Puritan every victory was a providential interference on his behalf, while every defeat was an equally direct manifestation of God's displeasure at his sins and shortcomings. Of one of the actions of this war Rev. Increase Mather wrote thus: "This Providence is observable, that the nine men which were killed at that time belonged to nine several towns; as if the Lord should say that he hath a controversy with every plantation, and therefore that all had need to repent and reform their way."

When Philip's warriors dispersed, some of them fled to their friends the Narragansets. The English demanded that they should be given up. The Narragansets refused, and the English, fearing that they would join with Philip against them, determined to prevent it.

The Narraganset fort was situated on an island in an extensive swamp in the present town of South Kingstown, Rhode Island. It was strongly defended with palisades (sharp-pointed upright stakes), and around it was a ditch. Felled trees, their branches pointing outward, made a chevaux-de-frise a rod in thickness—another formidable obstacle to an attacking force.

Here Philip and his warriors intended to pass the winter, and here all their women and children were gathered. Five hundred wigwams contained a population of about three thousand persons, besides their grain and provision for the winter. Baskets and tubs of corn, piled one upon another, rendered the wigwams bullet-proof.

The blow must be struck while the warriors were gathered here, and before the return of spring should enable them to renew their depredations. The colonies of Massachusetts Bay, Plymouth, and Connecticut sent fifteen hundred men, under General Josiah Winslow, for the reduction of this stronghold. During the march the troops suffered severely from the cold. They were without tents, and camped at night in the open air with no covering but their blankets.

Snow was falling, and a piercing wind assailed them, when, on a cold December day, they reached their destination. They had the good-fortune to capture an Indian, who treacherously pointed out to them the concealed entrance to the fort, which was defended by a block-house. It could be approached by only one person at a time, over the felled tree which bridged the ditch.

Along this narrow causeway the English rushed to the attack. They were swept of by the fire of the Indians, but as fast as they fell their places were supplied by others equally intrepid, until six captains and many soldiers had fallen. But in the mean time a handful of men, under Captains Moseley and Church, forcing their way over the breastwork of fallen timber, had gained an entrance at another point. Fighting hand to hand against fearful odds, these men raised the cry, "They run! they run!" This inspiring shout brought a number of their fellow-soldiers to their assistance.


The great swamp fight in Rhode Island.

The attention of the defenders of the block-house was distracted by this diversion, which enabled the English to cross the fatal ditch where so many brave men had fallen, and to enter time fort. Philip and Canonchet, the Narraganset leader, were everywhere seen encouraging their warriors by their presence and example, but the superior weapons and fighting qualities of the English were too much for them. Then began a terrible slaughter, which included women and children as well as men. No mercy was shown, no quarter asked. The warriors fought with the energy of despair. Here again, as at the destruction of the Pequot fort, fire was applied to the combustible cabins, and all who could not escape perished in the flames.

This barbarous and ill-advised act was contrary to the urgent entreaties of Captain Church. "We can live on their corn and make our wounded comfortable," said he; but the fury of the soldiers could not be controlled.

Terrible were the sufferings of the troops during that night-march homeward, and many of their wounded died in consequence of it.

Philip, with many of his followers, escaped from the fort and rejoined the Nipmucks, as the Indians of the interior were called. The Narragansets were almost exterminated. In this terrible struggle seven hundred of then had fallen. Of the English, over eighty were killed and a large number wounded.

Early in the following year (February 10, 1616) Lancaster was laid in ashes, and fifty persons killed or carried into captivity.


Lancaster attacked.

The wife of the village minister, Rev. Joseph Rowlandson, one of these unfortunate captives, has left a thrilling narrative of this calamity. She tells us that "about sunrising, hearing the noise of guns, we looked out; several houses were burning, and the smoke ascending to heaven. . . . The murderous wretches (the Indians) were burning and destroying all before them. . . . At length they came and beset our house, and quickly it was the dolefullest day that ever mine eyes beheld. The bullets seemed to fly like hail, and quickly they wounded three men among us. The Indians then set fire to the house. Now the dreadful hour came that I have often heard of in time of war as the ease of others, but now mine eyes see it. Some in our house were fighting for their lives, others wallowing in blood, the house on fire over our heads, and the bloody heathen ready to knock us on the head if we stirred out. Now might we hear mothers and children crying out for themselves and one another, 'Lord! what shall we do?'

"Then I took my children, and one of my sisters hers, to go forth and leave the house; but as soon as we appeared at the door the Indians shot so thick that the bullets rattled against the house as if a handful of stones had been thrown against it, so that we were forced to give back.

"We had six stout dogs belonging to our garrison, but none of them would stir, though at another time, if an Indian had come to the door, they were ready to fly upon him and tear him. . . . But out we must go—the fire increasing and coming along behind us, roaring, and the Indians gaping before us with their guns, spears, and hatchets to devour us. . . .The bullets flying thick, one went through my side and through the poor child in my arms. The Indians laid hold of us, pulling us one way and the children another, and said, 'Come, go along with us.' I told them they would kill me. They answered, if I were willing to go along with them they would not hurt me.

"Oh, the doleful sight that was now to behold at this house! Of thirty-seven persons who were in it, none escaped either present death or a bitter captivity, save only one. There were twelve killed, some shot, some stabbed with their spears, and some knocked down with their hatchets; yet the Lord, by his almighty power, preserved a number of us from death, for there were twenty-four of us taken alive and carried captive."

After a detention of nearly three months, during which her wounded child died, and she herself experienced all the miseries and privations incident to a life among a band of savages who were being hunted and pursued from place to place, Mrs. Rowlandson was ransomed, and joined her husband, who had been absent at the time of the attack. A son and daughter survived, who were also restored to her. Of her immediate family, seventeen suffered death or captivity in this war.

Immediately following the destruction of Lancaster, fifty houses were burned at Medfield, and twenty of its inhabitants slain. Groton, Northampton, Springfield, Marlborough, Sudbury, Warwick, Rehoboth, and Providence were, in succession, partially destroyed, and many persons killed.

At Pawtucket, Captain Michael Peirce, of Scituate, was ambushed, and with almost all his party of seventy was slain. These repeated disasters were in part owing to the carelessness of the whites, and their contempt for the Indians. After this they were more cautious.

A single ludicrous incident relieves this dark and tragic story. Captain Moseley, an active and successful officer, having on one occasion encountered a large body of Indians, "all being ready on both sides to fight," says the old Indian chronicle, "Captain Moseley plucked off his periwig and put it into his breeches, because it should not hinder him in fighting. As soon as the Indians saw that they fell a howling and yelling most hideous; and wholly ignorant of its meaning, but suspecting sorcery, the astonished natives, unwilling to contend with a magician who, when one head was taken off, could so easily replace it with another, all fled in terror; and could not be overtaken nor seen ally more afterwards."

Numerous parties of English were now in the field, but Philip eluded them, and concentrating some four hundred warriors near Sudbury, waylaid Captains Wadsworth and Brocklebauk, who, with seventy men, were marching to the relief of Marlborough. A desperate fight ensued. Both captains fell, and above half their men. The Indians gained this victory by superior strategy. Setting the dry grass and woods on fire to the windward of the English, they drove them from an advantageous position, and then overpowered them by their overwhelming numbers.

Flushed with success, the Indians now boastingly said, "We will fight you twenty years if you will. There are many Indians yet. You must consider the Indians lose nothing but their lives; you must lose your fine houses and your cattle."

But the end was near. The last important conflict of the war was the "Fall Fight," so called from its having taken place near the great falls of the Connecticut at Deerfield, now known as Turner's Falls. Here the Indians had collected in large numbers, making the most of the fishing season. From this place they also sent out their war parties.

Captain Turner, with one hundred and eighty men, by a night ride across the country, surprised and routed them at this place with great loss, but was in turn taken at a disadvantage, and he, with thirty of his men, was slain. This haunt of the enemy was, however, completely broken up, and all their ammunition and provisions destroyed. This serious reverse caused Philip's allies to fall off from him and to scatter in every direction, and Philip himself, having lost many of his best warriors, with his remaining followers returned to Pokanoket.

Here, hunted from place to place like a wild beast, hiding in swamps, his numbers steadily diminishing, Philip still prolonged the hopeless contest. Twice within a few weeks he had barely escaped capture or death. At length his able and energetic antagonist, Church, surprised his camp, and made prisoners of his wife and child, Philip, having cut off his hair to disguise himself, narrowly escaping capture. "Now I am ready to die!" exclaimed the heart-broken chief. His son, a boy of nine—the last of the race of Massasoit—was sold into slavery.


Death of King Philip.

A few days later his last place of refuge at Mount hope was surrounded by Church's men, and King Philip, the great and dreaded foe of the white man, was shot by an Indian of Church's party, whose brother Philip had killed for counselling submission to the English. In accordance with the barbarous usage of that day, the dead sachem was beheaded and quartered. His head was set upon a gibbet at Plymouth, where it was to be seen for twenty years. Such was the joy caused by the news of his death that it was the occasion of a public thanksgiving.

Meanwhile Nanuntenoo, known to the English as Canonchet, son and successor of Miantonomo, the great sachem of the Narragansets, after leading his men in the bloody raids on Lancaster and Medfield, and at the defeat of Captain Peirce, had been captured by the Connecticut troops under Colonel George Denison. While seeking safety in flight he was recognized and hotly pursued. To expedite his movements he threw off his laced coat and wampum belt, and would have escaped had he not made a misstep and fallen into the water, wetting his gun. A swift-footed Pequot, who was in the English army, seized and held him until some soldiers came up.

"The said Nanuntenoo's carriage," says the old chronicle, "was strangely proud and lofty. He refused the offer of his life if he would procure a treaty of peace. Being examined why he would foment that war, he would make no other reply to any question but this—'that he was born a prince, and if princes came to speak with him he would answer, but none present being such he thought himself obliged in honor to hold his tongue, and not hold discourse with persons below his birth and quality.' "A young man asked the chief some questions.

"Child," replied he, "you no understand matters of war. Let your brother or chief come, him I will answer." He was executed by Colonel Denison's Indian allies near Stonington, Connecticut. When told that he must die, and that his last hour had arrived, the proud warrior, with the spirit of an ancient Roman, replied,

"I like it well. I shall die before my heart is soft, or I have said anything unworthy of myself."

After the death of Nanuntenoo the remnant of his tribe united with the Nianties under Ninigret, a famous warrior who, at the head of his tribe, had preserved neutrality with the English during the war. It was this sachem who, on being asked to allow the preaching of Christianity among his people, replied that "it would be better to preach it among the English till they became good" Roger Williams calls him "a proud and fierce sachem." His portrait, painted at Boston in 1617, is owned by the Winthrop family.

The cost of this Indian war was as great in proportion as was that of the Revolutionary War a century later. Twelve or thirteen towns were destroyed, one in twenty of the able-bodied men had fallen, and one family in twenty had been burned out. In addition to this the colonies had incurred a debt of half a million dollars—an enormous sum for those days. But the power of the Indians in southern New England was broken forever. Many of the Indians fled westward, and those captured were sold into slavery.



As soon as the news of the rising of the Pokanokets reached the Indians at the eastward, they too began hostilities, the French on the Penobscot supplying them with arms. One of the causes of this outbreak was said to be the cruel conduct of some English seamen, who overset a canoe containing the wife and child of Squando, a chief of the Saco tribe, in order to see if young Indians could swim naturally, like animals of the brute creation, for so they had heard. The child was saved from drowning by the mother, who dived down and brought it up from the bottom; but it died soon afterwards, and Squando became the fierce foe of the English. Many of the eastern Indians had been kidnapped and sold into slavery. These wrongs and injuries called for vengeance.

No general rising took place, but a relentless border warfare, extending over a space of three hundred miles, was carried on. In the two years of its duration nearly half the English settlements were destroyed, and their inhabitants either driven off, killed, or carried into captivity. Peace was finally established in 1678.

Saco was burned by the Indians, led by Squando, who besieged the garrison-house of Major Philips. Early in the following morning a cart, filled with combustibles and protected by a sort of plank breastwork in front, was pushed towards the house. Some of the garrison were dismayed on the sight of this seemingly formidable engine of destruction, but were encouraged by their officers. Orders were given not to fire until it came within pistol-shot. When it had about reached that point one of the wheels stuck fast, which those who were pushing did not observe. The other wheels moving forward brought them into a position to be effectually raked by the garrison. This accident was quickly improved by them—a sudden volley killed six and wounded fifteen more. The Indians immediately retreated, and abandoned the attack.


Defence of the Garrison-house.

The escape of Anne Brackett, whose family had been taken captives at the sack of Falmouth (now Portland, Maine), was remarkable. Loitering behind her captors, she spied the wreck of a birch canoe. She patched and repaired it with a needle and thread found in a deserted house. Embarking with her husband, a negro servant, and her infant in this frail vessel, she crossed Casco Bay with infinite peril. Arriving at Black Point, where she feared to find Indians, and could only expect to find a solitude, to her great joy she found a vessel from Piscataqua that had just entered the harbor.

The pioneer women of America were in no respect inferior in heroism and devotion to their husbands, their fathers, or their brothers. In what is now the town of Berwick, Maine, the house of a settler was attacked by Hopehood, a Kennebec chief, notorious for his savage prowess. This same chief was afterwards engaged in the massacre at Salmon Falls, New Hampshire. He, with a companion, attempted to surprise the family of the settler, but was discovered by one of the inmates of the house—a young woman—in season to prevent his effecting his purpose. Quickly fastening the door, she held it while all the other persons in the house escaped by a rear window. The Indians finally effected an entrance, and having wreaked their fury on the brave girl who had frustrated their plan, left her for dead. Though severely wounded, she recovered, and lived many years afterwards.

 Table of Contents  |  Index  |  Home  | Previous: The Iroquois  |  Next: The Southern Indians
Copyright (c) 2005 - 2023   Yesterday's Classics, LLC. All Rights Reserved.