Samuel Gardner Drake.

The aboriginal races of North America; comprising biographical sketches of eminent individuals, and an historical account of the different tribes, from the first discovery of the continent to the present period ... and a copious analytical index online

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Online LibrarySamuel Gardner DrakeThe aboriginal races of North America; comprising biographical sketches of eminent individuals, and an historical account of the different tribes, from the first discovery of the continent to the present period ... and a copious analytical index → online text (page 57 of 131)
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both encounters, 18 men were wounded, three Indians and five Frenchmen
killed. In the ambush fell Hertel of Chambly, and Vercheres, both officers of
experience ; and the renowned Jlssacambuit, as though, elsewhere, like Achil-
les, invulnerable, was wounded by a shot in the foot. This last attack had
the happy effect of immediately restoring many of the prisoners.

From 1708 to 1727, we hear nothing of Jlssacamtwit. In June of the latter
year, his death is recorded, accompanied with a short account of him, in a
newspaper of that time. Mention is made, among other things, that, like
Hercules, he had a "famous club "which he always carried with him, on
which were 98 notches, denoting the number of " English " he had killed ;
that he was knighted while in France, the insignia of which, on his return
home, he wore upon his breast in large letters. In this newspaper commu-
nication he is styled " Old Escambuit" "formerly the principal sagamore of
(the now dispersed) tribe of the Saco or Pigwacket Indians." He probably
went to reside among the St. Francis tribe about 1700. He was restless when
there was no war, and our account says, " when there was something of a
prospect of settled peace, about 30 years ago, [1700,] he marched off the

* Anspach, 124. t Hist. Gen. de la Nouv. France, ii. 326.

\ Penkallow, 40. This must be, we think, a great misrepresentation of his real speech,
as subsequent details will lead one to suppose. Perhaps he might have said forty.

" Us prirent alors le parti de marcher contre un village appelte HAWRKUIL, compose de
rintcinq a t rente maisons bien butis, arec un fort, oil logeoit le gouverneur. Ce fort avoit une
oarrison de trente soldats, et il y en aroit au moins dix dans chaque maison"

|| Charlevoix says, " Toutes les maisons se defendirent aussi tres-bien, et eureut le mrne
sort. IVy eut enriron cent Anglois de tues dans ces dijferentes attaques ; plusieurs autres, qui
attendirent trop tard a sortir Tin fort et des maisons,"y furent brules." None of the English
accounts mention this, and it was doubtless supposition, without foundation in fact,


ground as a disbanded officer, left his brethren and travelled towards the Mis-
sissippi, where he was constantly engaged in wars, and never heard of till
the last fall he returned to those [eastern] parts." This was probably the
report among the English of New England ; but in truth he was with the
French in Canada, as we have seen. Had PEXHALLOW published his L\DIA>
WARS one year later, he would not, probably, have closed his account as he
did concerning him. He says that, at his return from France, he was so
exalted that he treated his countrymen in the most haughty and arrogant
manner, " murdering one and stabbing another, which so exasperated those
of their relations, that they sought revenge, and would have instantly exe-
cuted it, but that he fled his country, and never returned alter."


Destruction of Dccrficld, and captivity of Reverend John Williams and family,

in 1704.

SOMETIMES in a volume, and sometimes in a pamphlet, the narrative of
this affair had often been given to the world previous to 1774, by one of the
principal actors in it, whose name is at the beginning of this chapter, and
which is doubtless familiar to every reader of New England legends. The
edition of Mr. Williams' s work, out of which 1 take this, was prepared by the
renowned New England annalist, the Reverend Thomas Prince, and was the
oth, printed at Boston "by John Boyle, next door to the Three, Doves in Marl-
borough Street, 1774." It was a closely printed 8vo. pamphlet of 70 paires.

It will be necessary to relate some important facts of historical value
before proceeding with the narrative. As at several other times, the plan
was laid early in 1703, in Canada, for laying waste the wiiole English iron-
tier, but like former and later plans, laid in that region, this but partially
succeeded. Though the eastern settlements from Casco to Wells were
destroyed, and 130 people killed and captivated, the summer before, yet the
towns on the Connecticut had neglected their precautionary duty. And
although Governor Dudley of Massachusetts had but little while before been
notified of the design of the French, yet it was impossible to guard the
eastern coast against the attack. Deerfield had been palisaded and 20
soldiers placed in it, but had been quartered about hi different houses, and.
entirely forgetting their duty as soldiers, were surprised with the rest of the
town. The snow was deep, which gave the enemy an easy entrance over
the pickets. The French were commanded by Hertel de Rouville, but the
commanders of the Indians remain unknown.

Mr. Williams thus begins his narrative : " On Tuesday the 29th of Feb-
ruary, 1703-4, not long before break of day, the enemy came in like a flood
upon us ; our watch being unfaithful : an evil, whose awful effects, in a sur-
prizal of our fort, should bespeak all watchmen to avoid, as they would not
bring the charge of blood upon themselves. They came to my house in the
beginning of the onset, and by their violent endeavors to break open doors
and windows, with axes and hatchets, awakened me out of sleep; on which
I leaped out of bed, and running towards the door, perceived the enemy
making their entrance into the house. I called to awaken two soldiers in
the chamber ; and returning toward my bedside for my arms, the enemy
immediately brake into my room, I judge to the number of 20, with painted
faces, and hideous acclamations. I reached up my hands to the bed-tester,
for my pistol, uttering a short petition to God, expecting a present passage
through the valley of the shadow of death." " Taking clown my pistol, 1
cocked it, and put it to the breast of the first Indian who came up ; but my
pistol missing fire, I was seized by 3 Indians who disarmed me, and bound
me naked, as I was, in my shirt, and so I stood for near the space of an
Lour." Meanwhile the work of destruction and pillage was carried on with
ii'reat fury. One of the three who captured Mr. Jl'illiams was a captain


against \\ i-Miin. -:\ s our captive, ' the judgment of God did not \< ni_ r slumber
lor h\ >iin-ri>iiii: he received a mortal shot Irom my next nci^hl.or's I, OHM .'
This, though i!ot a garrison, and containing hutsexeii men, withstood tbi;
efforts of the 300 French and Indians \\hich no\v beset Ihein. That h<. ii.-
rema'uis to tliis day, bearing upon its 1'ront door the marks ol' the h;:l;-het.

Alter about two hours tlio enemy took up their m;.rch Irom the lowi .
having plundered and burnt it, and put J? persons to death, including tho
Killed in making defence. Mrs. Williams having Ian ly lain in, \\as feeble,
which, without the scene now acting belbre her, rendered her case hopeless;
but to this was added the most shocking murders in her proence two
ol' her children were taken to the door and killed, also a black woman Ix
longing to the family.

" About sun an hour high," continues the redeemed captive, "we were till
carried out of the house for a march, and saw many of the houses of my
neighbors in flames, perceiving the whole fort, one house excepted, to be
taken!" "We were carried over the river, to the foot of the mountain, abort
a mile from my house, where we found a great number of our Christian
neighbors, men, women, and children, to the number of 100; nineteen of
whom were afterward murdered by the way, and two starved to death near
Coos, in a time of great scarcity, or famine, the savages underwent there.
When we came to the foot of our mountain, they took away our shoes, and
gave us Indian shoes, to prepare us for our journey." The army had leit
their packs at this place, and while they were getting ready to decamp, the
few English that had escaped at the town, and a few from ilatfield, who had
been notified of the fate of Deerfield by one or two, who had escaped there,
pursued, and in a meadow between the town and the main body, met a party
of the enemy, and a sharp fight ensued. The small band of Englishmen
did not retreat until the main body under Rouville were about to encircle
them, and then they left nine of their number slain. Such was the success
of the English in the beginning of the fight, that, fearing a defeat, RouviHf
had ordered the captives to be put to death ; but, fortunately, the bearer of
the fatal message was killed by the way.

Three hundred miles of a trackless wilderness was now to be traversed,
and that too at a season of all others the most to be dreaded ; boughs of
trees formed the beds of enceinte women and little children for 40 days,
which was the time taken for the journey. The first day's journey was but
about four miles, and although one child was killed, in general the children
were treated well ; probably, the historians say, that by delivering them at
Canada, the Indians would receive a valuable ransom for them. Mr. Williams
proceeds: "God made the heathen so to pit} 7 our children, that though they
had several wounded persons of their own to carry upon their shoulders,
for 30 miles before they came to the river, [the Connecticut 30 miles above
Deerfield,] yet they carried our children, uncapable of traveling, in thcil
arms, and upon their shouldiers."

At the first encampment some of the Indians got drunk with liquor they
found at Deerfield, and in their rage killed Mr. Williams' s negro man, ai.d
caused the escape of & Mr. Alexander. In the morning Mr. Williams w; s
ordered before the commander-in-chief, (he considering him the principal of
the captives,) and ordered to inform the other captives, that if any more ; t-
tempted to escape, the rest should be put to death. In the second day's march
oiviiMvd the death of Mrs. Williams, the affecting account of which we will irh
nearly in the language of her husband. At the upper part of Deerfield
meadow it became necessary to cross Green River. The Indian that cap-
tured Mr. Williams was unwilling that he should speak to the other captivts :
but on the morning of the second day, that Indian captain being appointed
to command in the rear, he had another master put over him, who not only
allowed him to speak to others, but to walk with his wife, and assist her along
This was their last meeting, and she very calmly told him that her strength
was failing fast, and that he would soon lose her. She spoke no discoura-

* See Col. HoiiCs Ant. Kesear. which, we are glad to observe, is the best volume of New
England Indian wars that has yet appeared.


giug words, or complained of the hardness of her fortune. The company
soon came to a halt, and Mr. Williams' s old master resumed his former
station, and ordered him into the van, and his wife was obliged to travel
unaided. They had now arrived at Green River, as we have related. This
they passed by wading, although the current was very rapid, (which was the
cause, no doubt, of its not being frozen over,) and about two feet in depth.
After passing this river, they had to ascend a steep mountain. " No sooner,"'
says Mr. Williams, "had I overcome the difficulty of that ascent, but I Wat -
permitted to sit down, and be unburthened of my pack. I sat pitying those
who were behind, and intreated my master to let me go down and help my
wife ; but he refused. I asked each of the prisoners, as they passed by me.
niter her, and heard, that passing through the above said river, she fell down
and was plunged all over in the water ; after which she travelled not far.
for at the foot of that mountain, the cruel and bloodthirsty savage who took
her slew her with his hatchet at one stroke." The historians have left us no
record of the character of this lady, but from the account left us by her
husband, she was a most amiable companion. She was the only daughter of
Reverend Eleazer Mather, minister of Northampton, by his wife Esther,
daughter of Reverend John Warham, who came from England in 1G30.

The second night was spent at an encampment in the northerly part oi'
what is now Bemardstown, and in the course of the preceding day a youn<;
woman and child were killed and scalped. At this camp a council was held
upon the propriety of putting Mr. Williams to death, but his master prevailed
on the rest to save his life : lor the reason, no doubt, that he should receive
a high price for his ransom. The fourth day brought them to Connecticut
River, about 30 miles above Deerfield. Here the wounded, children and bag-
gage were put into a kind of sleigh, and passed with facility upon the river.
Every day ended the suffering and captivity of one or more of the prisoners.
The case of a young woman named Mary Brooks, was one to excite excess-
ive pity, and it is believed, that had the Indians been the sole directors of the
captives, such cases could hardly have occurred. This young woman, being
enceinte, and walking upon the ice in the river, often fell down upon it,
probably with a burthen upon her; which caused premature labor the fol-
lowing night. Being now unfitted for the journey, her master deliberately
told her she must be put to death. With great composure she got liberty of
him to go and take leave of her minister. She told him she was not afraid of
death, and after some consoling conversation, she returned and was executed !
This was March d.

At the mouth of a river since known as Williams^s River, upon a Sunday, the
captives were permitted to assemble around their minister, and he preached a
sermon to them from Lam. i. Id. At the mouth of White River Rouville divided
his force into several parties, and they took different routes to the St. Lawrence.

In a few instances the captives were purchased of the Indians, by the
French, aud the others were at the different lodges of the Indians.

During his captivity, Mr. Williams visited various places on the St. Law-
rence. At Montreal he was humanely treated by Governor Vaudreuil. In
his interviews with the French Jesuits he uniformly found them using every
endeavor to convert him and others to their religion. However, most of the
captives remained steady in the Protestant faith. And in 1706, fifty-seven
of them were by a flag-ship conveyed to Boston. A considerable number
remained in Canada, and never returned, among whom was Eunice Williams.
daughter of the minister. She became a firm catholic, married an Indian,
by whom she had several children, and spent her days in a wigwam. Shi j
visited Deerfield with her Indian husband, dressed in Indian style, and w;:s
kindly received by her friends. All attempts .to regain her were ineffectual.
Reverend Eleazer Williams, late a missionary to the Greenbay Indians, is a
descendant. He was educated by the friends of missions in New England.

In the History of Canada by Charlevoix, the incursions undertaken by the
French and Indians are generally minutely recorded ; but this against Deer-
field he has unaccountably summed up in a dozen lines of his work. The
following is the whole passage :

In the end of autumn, 1/03, the Ei.glish, despairing of securing the 111-

1328 .. OF TIII-: I.NDIA v- [BOOK in

dians, made several excursions into their country, and massacred all such as
they could >urprise. I'pon lin>. the chirls demanded aid ol'M. dt I audituil,
and he sent tlu'in during the winter '^50 men under the command of the
r-Meur //(//(/ dc Houville, a reformed lieutenant, who took the plaee of his
already renowned lather, whose ai;e and infii milies prevented his under-
t ikini: such great expeditions. Four others of his children accompanied
it'i/nri!!'-. who in their tour surprised the English, killed many of them, and
made 1 10 of them prisoners. The French lost but three soldiers, and some
savages, but Ronville was himself wounded.*


Various incidents in the history of the New England Indians, embracing screral
important events, icitk a sequel to xuine previous memoirs.

He Ml hi* life's hlool freezing f.:st ;

Ho grasped his how, his I. nice, arid steel ;
Hu was of Wampanoag's last.

To die were easy not to yield.
His eyes were fixed upon the sky ;

He gasped as on the ground he fell j
None but his foes to see him die

None hut his foes his death to tell.

THE performances of one Cornelius) "the Dutchman," in Philip's war, are
very obscurely noticed in the histories of the times, none of them giving us
even his surname ; and we have, in a former chapter, given the amount of
what lias before been published. I am now able to add concerning him, that
his name was Cornelius Consert ; that the last time he went out against the
Indians, he served about six weeks ; was captain of the forlorn hope in the
Quabaog expedition, in the autumn of the first year of Philip's war; marched
also to Groton and Chelmsford, and was discharged from service, "being
ready to depart the country," October 13, 1675. It w'as probably in his
Quabaog expedition that he committed the barbarous exploit upon "an old
Indian," the account of which has been given ; it was doubtless during the
same expedition, which appears to have terminated in September, that " he
brought round five Indians to Boston," who, being cast into prison, were
afterwards "delivered to Mr. Samuel Shrimpton, to be under his employ on
Noddle's Island," subject "to the order of the council." I shall here pass to
: Dine further account of the money of the Indians.

We have quoted the comical account of the money of the Indians of New
England, by John Josselyn, and will now quote the graphic and sensible one
given by the unfortunate John Lawson, in his account of Carolina, of the
money in use among the southern Indians. "Their money," he says, "is of
different sorts, but all made of shells, which are found on the coast of Caro-
lina, being very large and hard, and difficult to cut. Some English smiths
have tried to drill this sort of shell money, and thereby thought to get an
advantage, but it proved so hard that nothing could be gained;" and l\Iorl<>:i
in his New English Canaan, says that, although some of the English in New-
England have tried " by example to make the like, yet none hath ever attained
to any perfection in the composure of them, so but that the salvages have
found a great difference to be in the one and the other; and have known the
counterfeit beads from those of their own making; and have, and doe slight
them" Hence the conclusion of Josselyn, before extracted, namely, that
" neither Jew nor devil could counterfeit the money of the Indians." Mr.
Laivson continues: "The Indians often make, of the same kind of shells as
those of which their money is made, a sort of gorget, which they wear about

* Histoire Generate de !a Xcuv. Franco, ii. 2 ( JO.


their necks in a string; so it hangs on their collar, whereon sometimes is
engraven a cross, or some odd sort of figure which conies next in their fancy
There are other sorts valued at a doeskin, yet the gorgets will sometimes sell
for three or four buckskins ready dressed. There be others, that eight of
them go readily for a doeskin ; but the general and current species of all the
Indians in Carolina, and I believe, all over the continent, as far as the bay of
Mexico, is that which we call Peak, and Ronoak, but Peak more especially.
This is that which at New York they call Wampum, and have used it as
current money amongst the inhabitants for a great many years. Five cubits
of this purchase a dressed doeskin, and seven or eight buy a dressed buck-
skin. To make this Peak it cost the English five or ten times as much as
they could get for it, whereas it cost the Indians nothing, because they set
no value upon their time, and therefore have no competition to fear, or that
others will take its manufacture out of their hands. It is made by grinding
the pieces of shell upon stone, and is smaller than the small end of a tobacco-
pi|>i-, or large wheat-straw. Four or five of these make an inch,' and every
one is to be drilled through and made as smooth as glass, and so strung, as
beads are. A cubit, of the Indian measure, contains as inu<-h in length as
will reach from the elbow to the end of the little finger. They never stand
to question, whether it be a tall man or a short one that measures it. If this
wampum-peak be black or purple, as some part of that shell is, then it is
twice the value. The drilling is the most difficult and tedious part of the
manufacture. It is done by sticking a nail in a cane or reed, which they roll
upon their thighs with their right hand, while with their left they apply the
bit of shell to the iron point. But especially in making their ronoak, four of
which will scarce make one length of wampum. Such is the money of the
Indians, with which you may buy all they have. ]t is their mammon, (as our
money is to us,) that entices and persuades them to do any thing, part with
their capi><3s or slaves, and, sometimes, even their wives' and daughters'
chastity. \\ ' rJi it they buy off murderers; and whatever a m;.n can do that
is ill, this wampum will quit him of, and make him, in their opinion, good
and virtuous, though r^ver so black before." To return to the chiefs.

Of the Narraganset InJian Corman very little had been found when he was
noticed before, and it is b;\t little that we can now add concerning the
u cheiffe counceller" of the "old crafty sachem" of Niantik. It appears that
in the month of September, 1675, Corman was in Boston, whither he had
been sent as an ambassador by the Narraganset sachems, and especially by
Ninigret; and although Ninigret was a peace-maker, and had not been any
how implicated in the war then going on, yet, such w T as the rage of the popu-
lace against all Indians, that it. was not deemed safe for even a friend from
among them to walk alone in the streets of the town. On the evejiing of the
28th of September, as Corman, now an old man, was walking through one
of the streets, guarded by persons on each side of him, a certain miscreant,
named William Smith, ran furiously against him, and thus separating him
1'n >m those about him, did, by another motion, strike his feet from under him
in such a manner that his head and shoulders came in violent contact with
the ground, very seriously injuring him. Complaint having been made to
the governor and council, they had both Smith and Conn in brought before
them the next day, and the charge against the former being established by
the evidence of Mrs. Sarah Pickering, who saw the fact committed, "the
court, in hearing of the case, judged it meet to b; ar due testimony against
such abuse, and sender. "5 the said Smith to pay, as a fine to the country, the
sum of forty shillings, or be whipt with ten stripes; also to pay the ta;J
Corman for his damage the sum of ten shillings in money." It is very diili-
cult to understand the grounds of the decision of the honorable court, unless
they seriously thought that the ground on which poor old Corman fell was
hurt four times as much as he was! If this was not its reason, why shoulc
forty shillings be paid to the country and only ten to CORMAN?

As new local and other histories appear, and the decaying manuscripts arc
put in a situation and condition to be conveniently consulted, new lights are
daily reflected on the dark passage? of our history. The presence of JVanun
tenoo at the battle of Pawtucket, or, as it is more commonly called, Peirst's


330 COLONEL cm ;:;;!. INDIAN L::rn:us. [TOOK in

lijhl, has been questioned by a very excellent local hislorian, Mr. Bliss, in
lii.- hismry of Rehohoth, but, as 1 apprehend, from a miM-onslruction ot some
pa.-sages in Hubbard's Narrative, especially from that passage \\lnre it is
t-aid that .\aiiunteiico, when surprised by Deni son's men, "was divcrtising
liimself with the recital of Captain Peirse's slaughter, surprised by liis men a
lew days before." It is true tJiat this sentence \\ill admit of two construc-
tions, either that the chief was diverting himself by recounting to liis men
his particular acts in that tragedy, or by a general account of its progress, or
i'i ;t they were diverting him; the former would be by no means improbable,
especially if some of those about him had not been in the action, which
would not be at all strange, as numbers of them were, doubtless, strolling
upon hunting and other expeditions when the battle was fought. That
Nanuntenoo did not leave the Connecticut River until the "first week in
April" cannot be true, nor by that loosely stated date does Hubbard refer to

Online LibrarySamuel Gardner DrakeThe aboriginal races of North America; comprising biographical sketches of eminent individuals, and an historical account of the different tribes, from the first discovery of the continent to the present period ... and a copious analytical index → online text (page 57 of 131)