There is no incident recorded in the annals of war which testifies to more reckless fearlessness than that which our ancestors displayed on this occasion. The approaches to the Malakoff and the Redan were not attended with greater peril. Without waiting a moment to reconnoitre or for those in the rear to come up, the Massachusetts troops, who were in the van, made a rush to cross the tree. They were instantly swept off by Philip's sharp-shooters. Again and again the English soldiers, led by their captains, rushed upon the fatal bridge to supply the places of the slain, but they only presented a fair target for the foe, and they fell as grass before the scythe. In a few moments six captains and a large number of common soldiers were dead or dying in the ditch. The assaulting party, in dismay, were beginning to recoil before certain death, when, by some unexplained means, a bold party succeeded in wading through the ditch at another place, and, clambering through the hedge of trees and over the palisades, with great shoutings they assailed the defenders of the one narrow pass in the rear.
The Indians, in consternation, were for a moment bewildered, and knew not which way to turn. The English, instantly availing themselves of the panic, made another rush, and succeeded in forcing an entrance. A hand to hand fight ensued of almost unparalleled ferocity; but the English, with their long swords, hewed down the foe with immense slaughter, and soon got possession of the breastwork which commanded the entrance. A passage was immediately cut through the palisades, and the whole army poured in.
The interior was a large Indian village, containing five hundred houses, stored with a great abundance of corn, and crowded with women and children. An awful scene of carnage now ensued. Though the savages fought with the utmost fury, they could oppose no successful resistance to the disciplined courage of the English. Flying from wigwam to wigwam, men, women, and children were struck down without mercy. The exasperated colonists regarded the children but as young serpents of a venomous brood, and they were pitilessly knocked in the head. The women they shot as readily as they would the dam of the wolf or the bear. It was a day of vengeance, and awfully did retribution fall. The shrieks of women and children blended fearfully with the rattle of musketry and the cry of onset. For four hours the terrible battle raged. The snow which covered the ground was now crimsoned with blood, and strewed with the bodies of the slain.
The battle was so fierce, and the defense so determined and prolonged, the Indians flying from wigwam to wigwam, and taking deadly aim at the English from innumerable places of concealment, that at length the assailants were driven to the necessity of setting fire to the houses. They resorted to this measure with great reluctance, since they needed the shelter of the houses after the battle for their own refreshment in their utterly exhausted state, and since there were large quantities of corn stored in the houses in hollow trees, cut off about the length of a barrel, which would be entirely consumed by the conflagration. But there was no alternative; the torch was applied, and in a few moments five hundred buildings were in flames.
No language can describe the scene which now ensued. The awful tragedy of the Pequot fort was here renewed upon a scale of still more terrific grandeur. Old men, women, and children, no one can tell how many, perished miserably in the wasting conflagration. The surviving warriors, utterly discomfited, leaped the flaming palisades and fled into the swamp. But even here they kept up an incessant and deadly fire upon the victors, many of whom were shot after they had gained entire possession of the fort. The terrible conflict had now lasted four hours. Eighty of the colonists had been killed outright, and one hundred and fifty wounded, many of whom subsequently died. Seven hundred Indian warriors were slain, and many hundred wounded, of whom three hundred soon died.
The English were now complete masters of the fort, but it was a fort no longer. The whole island of four acres, houses, palisades, and hedge, was but a glowing furnace of roaring, crackling flame. The houses were so exceedingly combustible that in an hour they were consumed to ashes. The English, unprotected upon the island, were thus exposed to every shot from the vanquished foe, who were skulking behind the trees in the swamp.
Night was now darkening over this dismal scene, a cold, stormy winter's night. The flames of the blazing palisades and hedge enabled the savages, who were filling the forest with their howlings of rage, to take a surer aim, while they themselves were concealed in impenetrable darkness. It was greatly feared that the Indians, still much more numerous than their exhausted assailants, might, in the night, make another onset to regain their lost ground. Indeed, the bullets were still falling thickly around them as the Indians, prowling from hummock to hummock, kept up a deadly fire, and it was necessary, at all hazards, to escape from so perilous a position. It was another conquest of Moscow. In the hour of the most exultant victory, the conquerors saw before them but a vista of terrible disaster. After a few moments' consultation, a precipitate retreat from the swamp was decided to be absolutely necessary.
The colonists had marched in the morning, breakfastless, eighteen miles, over the frozen, snow-covered ground. Without any dinner, they had entered upon one of the most toilsome and deadly of conflicts, and had continued to struggle against intrenched and outnumbering foes for four hours. And now, cold, exhausted, and starving, in the darkness of a stormy night, they were to retreat through an almost pathless swamp, bearing in their arms one hundred and fifty of their bleeding and dying companions. There was no place of safety for them until they should arrive at their head-quarters of the preceding night, upon the shores of Narraganset Bay, eighteen miles distant.
The horrors of that midnight retreat can never be told; they are hardly surpassed by the tragedy at Borodino. The wind blew fiercely through the tree-tops, and swept the bleak and drifted plains as the troops toiled painfully along, breasting the storm, and stumbling in exhaustion over the concealed inequalities of the ground. Most fortunately for them, the savages made no pursuit. Many of the wounded died by the way. Others, tortured by the freezing of their unbandaged wounds, and by the grating of their splintered bones as they were hurried along, shrieked aloud in their agony. It was long after midnight before they reached their encampment. But even here they had not a single biscuit. Vessels had been dispatched from Boston with provisions, which should have arrived long before at this point, which was their designated rendezvous. But these vessels had been driven into Cape Cod harbor by a storm. The same storm had driven in immense masses of ice, and for many days they were hopelessly blocked up. Suffering excessively from this disappointment, the soldiers marched to the assault, hoping, in the capture of the fort, to find food stored up amply sufficient to supply the whole army until the spring of the year, and also to find good warm houses where they all might be lodged. The conflagration, to which they were compelled to resort, had blighted all these hopes, and now, though victorious, they were perishing in the wilderness of cold and hunger.
The storm, during the night, increased in fury, and the snow, in blinding, smothering sheets, filled the air, and, in the course of the ensuing day, covered the ground to such a depth that for several weeks the army was unable to move in any direction. But on that very morning, freezing and tempestuous, in which despair had seized upon every heart, a vessel was seen approaching, buffeting the icy waves of the bay. It was one of the vessels from Boston, laden with provisions for the army. Joy succeeded to despair. Prayers and praises ascended from grateful hearts, and hymns of thanksgiving resounded through the dim aisles of the forest.
MRS. ROWLANDSON'S CAPTIVITY.
Winter quarters.—Building a village.—Indignation of the Indians.—The Narragansets disheartened.—Determination of Philip.—Diplomacy.—A new fort.—A new army raised.—Sufferings of the troops.—Two names for the Indians.—Their degraded nature.—Colonel Benjamin's mode of making proselytes.—Philip betrayed.—His flight.—Return of the troops.—Attack on Lancaster.—Precautions to guard against surprise.—The torch applied.—Massacre of the inhabitants.—Mr. Rowlandson's house.—Burning the building.—The inmates shot.—Mrs. Rowlandson wounded.—Scalping a child.—Indian bacchanals.—Wastefulness of the Indians.—Mrs. Rowlandson's narrative.—Her sufferings.—Her wounded child.—Friendly aid from an Indian.—Arrival at head-quarters.—Mrs. Rowlandson a slave.—Reciprocal barbarity.—Actions of the Christian Indians.—Meeting of the captives.—Return of the warriors.—Exultation of the Indians.—A captive murdered.—Journey to the interior.—Comfort obtained.—Fear of the English.—The flight.—The burden.—Crossing the river.—Want of food.—Compelling the captive to work.—The Indian village.—Numbers of the Indians.—Difficulty of obtaining food.—Mrs. Rowlandson meets her son.—Regal repast.—Preparations for an attack.—The queen invited to dinner.—An interview between the captives.—Unaccountable conduct.—A journey commenced.—Hardships endured.—Kindness from an old Indian.—False report about her son.—Dismal life.—Visions of liberty.—Slow march.—Gentlemanly conduct of Philip.—Queen Wetamoo.—Wampum, and how made.—Kindness to the captive.—Proposition for her ransom.—Evidence of slaughter.—A great feast.—Endeavors to see her children.—Bravery of Mr. John Hoar.—Assurance of freedom.—Dress for a grand dance.—Dress of Wetamoo.—Interview with Philip.—Her release.—Appearance of the country.—Return to her friends.
The little army was now supplied with food, but the vast masses of snow extending every where around them through the pathless wilderness rendered it impossible to move in any direction. The forest afforded ample materials for huts and fuel. A busy village speedily arose upon the shores of the frozen bay. Many of the wounded were, for greater safety and comfort, sent to the island of Rhode Island, where they were carefully nursed in the dwellings of the colonists. In their encampment at Wickford, as the region is now called, the soldiers remained several weeks, blockaded by storms and drifts, waiting for a change of weather. It was a season of unusual severity, and the army presented a spectacle resembling, upon a small scale, that of the mighty hosts of Napoleon afterward encamped among the forests of the Vistula—a scene of military energy which arrested the gaze and elicited the astonishment of all Europe.
As the English evacuated the Indian fort, the warriors who had escaped into the swamp returned to their smouldering wigwams and to the mangled bodies of their wives and children, overwhelmed with indignation, rage, and despair. The storm of war had come and gone, and awful was the ruin which it had left behind. The Rev. Mr. Ruggles, recording the horrors of the destruction of the Narraganset fort, writes:
"The burning of the wigwams, the shrieks and cries of the women and children, and the yells of the warriors, exhibited a most horrible and affecting scene, so that it greatly moved some of the soldiers. They were in much doubt then, and often very seriously inquired whether burning their enemies alive could be consistent with humanity and the benevolent principles of the Gospel."
The Narragansets, who were associated with the warriors of Philip in this conflict, and in whose territory the battle had been fought, were exceedingly disheartened. This experience of the terrible power and vengeance of the English appalled them, and they were quite disposed to abandon Philip. But the great Wampanoag chief was not a man to yield to adversity. This calamity only nerved him to more undying resolution and to deeds of more desperate daring. He had still about two thousand warriors around him, but, being almost entirely destitute of provisions, they for a time suffered incredibly.
To gain time, Philip sent deputies to the English commander-in-chief to treat of peace. The colonists met these advances with the utmost cordiality, for there was nothing which they more earnestly desired than to live on friendly terms with the Indians. War was to them only impoverishment and woe. They had nothing to gain by strife. It was, however, soon manifest that Philip was but trifling, and that he had no idea of burying the hatchet. While the wary chieftain was occupying the colonists with all the delays of diplomacy, he was energetically constructing another fort in a swamp about twenty miles distant, where he was again collecting his forces, and all the materials of barbarian warfare. In this fortress, within the territorial limits of the Nipmuck Indians, he also assembled a feeble train of women and children, the fragments of his slaughtered families. The Nipmuck tribe, then quite powerful, occupied the region now included in the southeast corner of Worcester county.
Hardly a ray of civilization had penetrated this portion of the country. The gloomy wilderness frowned every where around, pathless and savage. From the tangled morass in which he reared his wigwams he dispatched runners in all directions, to give impulse to the torrent of conflagration and blood with which he intended to sweep the settlements in the spring.
It was now manifest that there could be no hope of peace. An army of a thousand men, early in January, was dispatched from Boston to re-enforce the encampment at Wickford. Their march, in the dead of winter, over the bleak and frozen hills, was slow, and their sufferings were awful. Eleven men were frozen to death by the way, and a large number were severely frostbitten. Immediately after their arrival there came a remarkable thaw. The snow nearly all disappeared, and the ground was flooded with water. This thaw was life to the Indians. It enabled them to traverse the forests freely, and to gather ground-nuts, upon which they were almost exclusively dependent for subsistence.
The army at Wickford now numbered sixteen hundred. They decided upon a rapid march to attack Philip again in his new intrenchments. There were friendly Indians, as the English called them—traitors, as they were called by King Philip—who were ever ready to guide the colonists to the haunts of their countrymen. There were individual Indians who had pride of character and great nobility of nature—men who, through their virtues, are venerated even by the race which has supplanted their tribes. They had their Washingtons, their Franklins, and their Howards. But Indian nature is human nature, with all its frailty and humiliation. The great mass of the common Indians were low and degraded men. Almost any of them were ready for a price, and that an exceedingly small one, to betray their nearest friends.
An Indian would sometimes be taken prisoner, and immediately, in the continuance of the same battle, with his musket still hot from the conflict, he would guide the English to the retreats of his friends, and engage, apparently with the greatest zeal, in firing upon them. In the narrative given by Colonel Benjamin Church, one of the heroes of these wars, he writes, speaking of himself in the third person,
"When he took any number of prisoners, he would pick out some, and tell them that he took a particular fancy to them, and had chosen them for himself to make soldiers of, and if any would behave themselves well he would do well by them, and they should be his men, and not sold out of the country.
"If he perceived they looked surly, and his Indian soldiers called them treacherous dogs, as some of them would sometimes do, all the notice he would take of it would only be to clap them on the back and say, 'Come, come, you look wild and surly, and mutter; but that signifies nothing. These, my soldiers, were a little while ago as wild and surly as you are now. By the time you have been one day with me, you will love me too, and be as brisk as any of them.'
"And it proved so; for there was none of them but, after they had been a little while with him, and seen his behavior, and how cheerful and successful his men were, would be as ready to pilot him to any place where the Indians dwelt or haunted, though their own fathers or nearest relations should be among them, as any of his own men."
Such a character we can not but despise, and yet such, with exceptions, was the character of the common Indian. That magnanimity which at times has shed immortal brilliance upon humanity is a rare virtue, even in civilized life; in the savage it is still more rare.
Philip, in the retreat to which he had now escaped, was again betrayed by one of his renegade countrymen. The English, numbering sixteen hundred, immediately resumed active hostilities, and after having ravaged the country directly around them, burning some wigwams, putting some Indians to death, and taking many captives, broke up their encampment and commenced their march. It was early in February that Major Winslow put his army in motion to pursue Philip. As the English drew near the swamp, Philip, conscious of his inability to oppose so formidable a force, immediately set his wigwams on fire, and, with all his warriors, disappeared in the depths of the wilderness. As it was entirely uncertain in what direction the savages would emerge from the forest to kindle anew the flames of war, the troops retraced their steps toward Boston. The Connecticut soldiers had already returned to their homes.
On the 10th of February, 1676, the Indians, with whoop and yell, burst from the forest upon the beautiful settlement of Lancaster. This was one of the most remote of the frontier towns, some fifty miles west of Boston, on the Nashua River. The plantation, ten miles in length and eight in breadth, had been purchased of the Nashaway Indians, with the stipulation that the English should not molest the Indians in their hunting, fishing, or planting places. For several years the colonists and the Indians lived together in entire harmony, mutually benefiting each other. There were between fifty and sixty families in the town, embracing nearly three hundred inhabitants. They had noticed some suspicious circumstances on the part of the Indians who were dwelling around them, and they had sent their pastor, the Rev. Mr. Rowlandson, to Boston, to seek assistance for the defense of the town. He had taken the precaution before he left to convert his house into a bullet-proof fortress, and had garrisoned it for the protection of his family during his absence.
The savages, fifteen hundred in number, during the darkness of the night stationed themselves at different points, from whence they could, at an appointed signal, attack the town at the same moment in five different quarters. There were less than a hundred persons in the town capable of bearing arms, the remainder being women and children. The savages thus prepared to overpower them fifteen to one, and, making the assault by surprise, felt sure of an easy victory.
Just as the sun was rising the signal was given. In an instant every heart was congealed with terror as the awful war-whoop resounded through the forest. It was a cold winter's morning, and the wind swept bleakly over the whitened plains. Every house was immediately surrounded, the torch applied, and, as the flames drove the inmates from their doors, they fell pierced by innumerable bullets, and the tomahawk and the scalping-knife finished the dreadful work. There were several garrison houses in the town, where most of the inhabitants had taken refuge, and where they were able, for a time, to beat off their assailants. All who were not thus sheltered immediately fell into the hands of their foes. Between fifty and sixty were either slain or taken captive. The unhappy inmates of the garrisons looked out through their port-holes upon the conflagration and plunder of their homes, the mutilated corpses of their friends, and the wretched band of captives strongly bound and awaiting their fate.
There were forty-one persons in the Rev. Mr. Rowlandson's house. They all defended it valiantly, and no Indian dared expose himself within gun-shot of their port-holes. Still, the savages, in a body, prepared for the assault. The house was situated upon the brow of a hill. Some of the Indians got behind the hill, others filled the barn, and others sheltered themselves behind stones and stumps, and any other breastwork, from which they could reach the house with their bullets. For two hours, fifteen hundred savages kept up an incessant firing, aiming at the windows and the port-holes. Several in the house were thus wounded.
After many unsuccessful attempts to fire the house, they at length succeeded in pushing a cart loaded with hay and other combustible materials, all in flames, against the rear of the house. All the efforts of the garrison to extinguish the fire were unavailing, and the building was soon in a blaze. As the flames rapidly rolled up the wall and over the roof, the savages raised shouts of exultation, which fell as a death-knell upon the hearts of those who had now no alternative but to be consumed in the flames or to surrender themselves to the merciless foe. The bullets were still rattling against the house, and fifteen hundred warriors were greedily watching to riddle with balls any one who should attempt to escape. The flames were crackling and roaring around the besieged, and their only alternative was to perish in the fire, or to go out and meet the bullet and the tomahawk of the savage. When the first forks of flame touched the flesh, goaded by torture to delirium, they rushed from the door. A wild whoop of triumph rose from the savages, and, pouring a volley of bullets upon the group, they fell upon them with gleaming knives.
Many were instantly killed and scalped. All the men were thus massacred; twenty of the women and children were taken captives. Mrs. Rowlandson had two children, a son and a daughter, by her side, and another daughter about six years of age, sick and emaciate, in her arms. Her sister was also with her, with several children. No less than seventeen of Rev. Mr. Rowlandson's family and connections were in this melancholy group.
As many dropped dead around Mrs. Rowlandson, cut down by the storm of bullets, one bullet pierced her side, and another passed through the hand and the bowels of the sick child she held in her arms. One of her sister's children, a fine boy, fell helpless upon the ground, having his thigh-bone shattered by a ball. A sturdy Indian, seeing that the poor child was thus disabled, buried his tomahawk in his brain and stripped off his scalp. The frantic mother rushed toward her child, when a bullet pierced her bosom, and she fell lifeless upon his mangled corpse. The savages immediately stripped all the clothing from the dead, and, having finished their work of conflagration and plunder, plunged into the wilderness, dragging their wretched captives along with them. The beautiful town was left in ruins.
The victors, with shouts of exultation, marched about a mile, and encamped for the night upon a hill which overlooked the smouldering dwellings of their foes. Here was enacted one of the wildest scenes of barbarian bacchanals. Enormous fires were built, which, with roaring, crackling flame, illumined for leagues around the sombre forest. Fifteen hundred savages, delirious with victory, and prodigal of their immense booty of oxen, cows, sheep, swine, calves, and fowl, reveled in such a feast as they had hardly dreamed of before. Cattle were roasted whole and eagerly devoured, with dances and with shouts which made the welkin ring. With wastefulness characteristic of the Indians, they took no thought for the morrow, but slaughtered the animals around them in mere recklessness, and, when utterly satiated with the banquet, the ground was left strewed with smoking and savory viands sufficient to feed an army.
The night was cold; the ground was covered with snow, and a piercing wind swept the icy eminence. Mrs. Rowlandson, holding her wounded and moaning child in her arms, and with the group of wretched captives around her, sat during the long hours of the dreadful night, shivering with cold, appalled at the awful fate which had befallen her and her family, and endeavoring in vain to soothe the anguish of her dying daughter. "This was the dolefullest night," she exclaims in her affecting narrative, "that my eyes ever saw. Oh, the roaring and singing, dancing and yelling of those black creatures in the night, which made the place a lively resemblance of hell."
The next morning the Indians commenced their departure into the wilderness. Mrs. Rowlandson toiled along on foot, with her dying child in her arms. The poor little girl was in extreme anguish, and often cried out with pain. At length the mother became so exhausted that she fell fainting to the ground. The Indians then placed her upon a horse, and again gave her her child to carry. But the horse was furnished with neither saddle nor bridle, and, in going down a steep hill, stumbled, and they both were thrown over his neck. This incident was greeted by the savages with shouts of laughter. To add to their sufferings, it now began to snow. All the day long the storm wailed through the tree-tops, and the snow was sifted down upon their path. The woe-stricken captives toiled along until night, when the Indians again encamped upon the open ground.
"And now," writes Mrs. Rowlandson, "I must sit in the snow by a little fire, and a few boughs behind me, with my sick child in my lap, and calling much for water, being now, through the wound, fallen into a violent fever. My own wound, also, growing so stiff that I could scarce sit down or rise up, yet so it must be that I must sit all this cold winter's night upon the cold snowy ground, with my sick child in my arms, looking that every hour would be the last of its life, and having no Christian friend near me either to comfort or help me."
In the morning the Indians resumed their journey, marching, as was their custom, in single file through trails in the forest. A humane Indian mounted a horse and took Mrs. Rowlandson and her child behind him. All the day long the poor little sufferer moaned with pain, while the savages were constantly threatening to knock the child in the head if she did not cease her moaning. In the evening they arrived at an Indian village called Wenimesset. Here, upon a luxuriant meadow upon the banks of the River Ware, within the limits of the present town of New Braintree, the savages had established their head-quarters. It was about thirty-six miles from Lancaster. A large number of savages were assembled at this place, and they remained here for several days, gathering around their council fires, planning new expeditions, and inflaming their passions with war dances and the most frantic revels. The Indians treated their captives with comparative kindness. No violence or disrespect was offered to their persons. They reared a rude wigwam for Mrs. Rowlandson, where she sat for five days and nights almost alone, watching her dying child. At last, on the night of the 18th of February, the little sufferer breathed her last, at the age of six years and five months. The Indians took the corpse from the mother and buried it, and then allowed her to see the grave.
When Mrs. Rowlandson was driven from the flames of her dwelling, a Narraganset Indian was the first to grasp her; he consequently claimed her as his property. Her children were caught by different savages, and thus became the slaves of their captors. The Indians, by the law of retaliation, were perfectly justified in making slaves of their captives. The human mind can not withhold its assent from the justice of the verdict, "an eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth." The English made all their captives slaves, and women and children were sold to all the horrors of West Indian plantation bondage. The Narraganset Indian who owned Mrs. Rowlandson soon sold her to a celebrated chieftain named Quinnapin, a Narraganset sachem, who had married, for one of his three wives, Wetamoo, of whom we have heretofore spoken. Quinnapin is represented as a "young, lusty sachem, and a very great rogue." It will be remembered that Wetamoo, queen of the Pocasset Indians, was the widow of Alexander and sister of Wootonekanuske, the wife of Philip. The English clergyman's wife was assigned to Queen Wetamoo as her dressing-maid. The Indian slaveholders paid but little regard to family relations. Mrs. Rowlandson's daughter Mary was sold for a gun by a praying Indian, who first chanced to grasp her. The Christian Indians joined in this war against the whites, and shared in all the emoluments of the slave traffic which it introduced. Mary was ten years of age, a child of cultured mind and lovely character. She was purchased by an Indian who resided in the town where the Indian army was now encamped. When the poor slave mother met her slave child, Mary was so overwhelmed with anguish as to move even the sympathies of her stoical masters; their several owners consequently forbade their meeting any more.
After a few days, the warriors scattered on various expeditions of devastation and blood. Mrs. Rowlandson was left at Wenimesset. Her days and nights were passed in lamentations, tears, and prayers. One morning, quite to her surprise, her son William entered her wigwam, where she was employed by her mistress in menial services. He belonged to a master who resided at a small plantation of Indians about six miles distant. His master had gone with a war party to make an attack upon Medfield, and his mistress, with woman's tender heart, had brought him to see his mother. The interview was short and full of anguish.
The next day the Indians returned from the destruction of Medfield. Their approach through the forest was heralded by the most demoniac roaring and whooping, as the whole savage band thus announced their victory. All the Indians in the little village assembled to meet them. The warriors had slain twenty of the English, and brought home several captives and many scalps. Each one told his story, and recapitulated the numbers of the slain; and, at the close of each narrative, the whole multitude, with the most frantic gestures, set up a shout which echoed far and wide over mountain and valley.
There were now at Wenimesset nine captives, Mrs. Rowlandson, Mrs. Joslin, and seven children from different families. Mrs. Joslin had an infant two years old in her arms, and was expecting every hour to give birth to another child.
The Indians now deemed it necessary to move farther into the wilderness. The poor woman, in her deplorable condition, did nothing but weep, and the Indians, deeming her an incumbrance, resolved to get rid of her. They placed her upon the ground with her child, divested her entirely of clothing, and for an hour sang and danced around their victim with wildest exultation. One then approached and buried his hatchet in her brain. She fell lifeless. Another blow put an end to the sufferings of her child. They then built a huge fire, placed the two bodies upon it, and they were consumed to ashes. All the captive children were assembled to witness this tragedy, and were assured that if they made any attempt to escape from slavery, a similar fate awaited them. The unhappy woman, during all this awful scene, shed not a tear, but with clasped hands, meekly praying, she silently and almost joyfully surrendered herself to her fate.
All the day long, the Indians, leading their captives with them, traveled through the desolate wilderness. A drizzling rain was falling, and their feet slumped through the wet snow at every step. Late in the afternoon they encamped, with no protection from the weather but a few boughs of trees. Mrs. Rowlandson was separated from her children; she was faint with hunger, sore, and utterly exhausted with travel, and she sat down upon the snowy ground and wept bitterly. She opened her Bible for solace, and her eye fell upon the cheering words,
"Refrain thy voice from weeping and thine eyes from tears, for thy work shall be rewarded, and they shall come again from the land of the enemy."
Here, in this wretched encampment, the Indians, their families being with them, remained for four days. But some of their scouts brought in intelligence that some English soldiers were in the vicinity. The Indians immediately, in the greatest apparent consternation, packed up their things and fled. They retreated farther into the wilderness in the most precipitate confusion. Women carried their children. Men took upon their shoulders their aged and decrepit mothers. One very heavy Indian, who was sick, was carried upon a bier. Mrs. Rowlandson endeavored to count the Indians, but they were in such a tumultuous throng, hurrying through the forest, that she was quite unable to ascertain their numbers. It will be remembered that Mrs. Rowlandson's side had been pierced by a bullet at the destruction of Lancaster. The wound was much inflamed, and, being worn down with pain and exhaustion, she found it exceedingly difficult to keep pace with her captors. In the distribution of their burdens they had given her two quarts of parched meal to carry. Fainting with hunger, she implored of her mistress one spoonful of the meal, that she might mix it with water to appease the cravings of appetite. Her supplication was denied.
Soon they arrived at Swift River, somewhere probably within the limits of the present town of Enfield. The stream was swollen with the melting snows of spring. The Indians, with their hatchets, immediately cut down some dry trees, with which they made a raft, and thus crossed the stream. The raft was so heavily laden that many of the Indians were knee deep in the icy water. Mrs. Rowlandson, however, sat upon some brush, and thus kept her feet dry. For supper they made a broth by boiling an old horse's leg in a kettle of water, filling up with water as often as the kettle was emptied. Mrs. Rowlandson was in such a starving condition that a cupful of this wretched nutriment seemed delicious.
Feeling that they were now safe from attack, they reared some rude wigwams, and rested for one day. It so happened that the next day was the Sabbath. The English who were pursuing came to the banks of the river, saw the smoke of their fires, but for some reason decided not to attempt to cross the stream. During the day, Wetamoo compelled her slave to knit some stockings for her. When Mrs. Rowlandson plead that it was the Sabbath, and promised that if she might be permitted to keep the sacred day she would do double work on Monday, she was told to do her work immediately, or she should have her face smashed. The smashing of a face by an Indian's bludgeon is a serious operation.
The next morning, Monday, the Indians fired their wigwams, and continued their retreat through the wilderness toward the Connecticut River. They traveled as fast as they could all day, fording icy brooks, until late in the afternoon they came to the borders of a gloomy swamp, where they again encamped.
"When we came," writes Mrs. Rowlandson, "to the brow of the hill that looked toward the swamp, I thought we had come to a great Indian town. Though there were none but our company, the Indians appeared as thick as the trees. It seemed as if there had been a thousand hatchets going at once. If one looked before there were nothing but Indians, and behind nothing but Indians, and from either hand, and I myself in the midst, and no Christian soul near me."
The next morning the wearisome march was again resumed. Early in the afternoon they reached the banks of the Connecticut at a spot near Hadley, where they found the ruins of a small English settlement. Mrs. Rowlandson had for her food during the day an ear of corn and a small piece of horse's liver. As she was roasting the liver upon some coals, an Indian came and snatched half of it away. She was forced to eat the rest almost raw, lest she should lose that also; and yet her hunger was so great that it seemed a delicious morsel. They gathered a little wheat from the fields, which they found frozen in the shocks upon the icy ground.
The next morning they commenced ascending the river for a few miles, where they were to cross to meet King Philip, who, with a large party of warriors, was encamped on the western bank of the stream. Indians from all quarters were assembling at that rendezvous, in preparation for an assault on the Connecticut River towns. When Mrs. Rowlandson's party arrived at the point of crossing, they encamped for the night. The opposite shore seemed to be thronged with savage warriors. Mrs. Rowlandson sat upon the banks of the stream, and gazed with amazement upon the vast multitude, like swarming bees, crowding the shore. She had never before seen so many assembled. While she was thus sitting, to her great surprise, her son approached her. His master had brought him to the spot. The interview between the woe-stricken mother and her child was very brief and very sad. They were soon again separated.
The next morning they commenced crossing the river in canoes. When Mrs. Rowlandson had crossed, she was received with peculiar kindness. One Indian gave her two spoonfuls of meal, and another brought her half a pint of peas. The half-famished captive now thought that her larder was abundantly stored. She was then conducted to the wigwam of King Philip. The Wampanoag chieftain received her with the courtesy of a gentleman, invited her to sit down upon a mat by his side, and presented her a pipe to smoke with him. He requested her to make a shirt for his son, and, like a gentleman, paid her for her work. He invited her to dine with him. They dined upon pancakes made of parched wheat, beaten and fried in bear's grease. The dinner, though very frugal, was esteemed very delicious.
The Indians remained here for several days, preparing for a very formidable attack on the town of Northampton. During all the time that Mrs. Rowlandson remained near King Philip, though she was held as a captive, she was not treated as a slave. She was paid for all the work that she did. She made a shirt for one of the warriors, and received for it a generous sirloin of bear's flesh. For another she knit a pair of stockings, for which she received a quart of peas. With these savory viands Mrs. Rowlandson prepared a nice dinner, and invited her master and mistress, Quinnapin and Wetamoo, to dine with her. They accepted the invitation; but Mrs. Rowlandson did not appreciate the niceties of Indian etiquette. Wetamoo was a queen, Quinnapin was only her husband—merely the Prince Albert of Queen Victoria. As there was but one dish from which both the queen and her husband were to be served, the haughty Wetamoo deemed herself insulted, and refused to eat a morsel.
Philip and his warriors soon departed to make attacks upon the settlements. The Indians who remained took Mrs. Rowlandson and several other captives some six miles farther up the river, and then crossed to the eastern banks. Here they remained for some days, and here Mrs. Rowlandson had another short interview with her son, which lacerated still more severely her bleeding heart. The poor boy was sick and in great pain, and his agonized mother was not permitted to remain with him to afford him any relief. Of her daughter she could learn no tidings. Wetamoo, Quinnapin, and Philip were all absent, and the Indians treated her with great inhumanity, with occasional caprices of strange and unaccountable kindness.
One bitter cold day, the Indians all huddled around the fire in the wigwam, and would not allow her to approach it. Perishing with cold, she went out and entered another wigwam. Here she was received with great hospitality; a mat was spread for her, and she was addressed in words of tender sympathy by the mother of the little barbarian household, in whose bosom woman's loving heart throbbed warmly. But soon the Indian to whose care she was intrusted came in search of her, and amused himself in kicking her all the way home.
The next day the Indians commenced, for some unknown reason, wandering back again toward Lancaster. They placed upon this poor captive's back as heavy a burden as she could bear, and goaded her along through the wilderness. She forded streams, and climbed steep hills, and endured hardships which can not be described. Her hunger was so great that six acorns, which she picked up by the way, she esteemed a great treasure.
The night was cold and windy. The Indians erected a wigwam, and were soon gathered around a glowing fire in the centre of it. The interior presented a bright, warm, and cheerful scene, as Mrs. Rowlandson entered to warm her shivering frame. She had been compelled to search around to bring dry fuel for the fire. She was, however, ordered instantly to leave the hut, the Indians saying that there was no room for her at the fire. Mrs. Rowlandson hesitated about going out to pass the night in the freezing air, when one of the Indians drew his knife, and she was compelled to retire. There were several wigwams around; the poor captive went from one to another, but from all she was repelled with abuse and derision.
At last an old Indian took pity upon her, and told her to come in. His wife received her with compassion, gave her a warm seat by the fire, some ground-nuts for her supper, and placed a bundle under her head for a pillow. With these accommodations the English clergyman's wife felt that she was luxuriously entertained, and passed the night in comfort and sweet slumbers. The next day the journey was continued. As the Indians were binding a heavy burden upon Mrs. Rowlandson's shoulders, she complained that it hurt her severely, and that the skin was off her back. A surly Indian delayed not strapping on the load, merely remarking, dryly, that it would be of but little consequence if her head were off too.
The Indians now entered a region of the forest where there was a very heavy growth of majestic trees, and the underbrush was so dense as to be almost impenetrable. Plunging into this as a covert, they reared their wigwams, and remained here, in an almost starving condition, for fourteen days. The anxious mother inquired of an Indian if he could inform her what had become of her boy. The rascal very coolly told her, that he might torture her by the falsehood, that his master had roasted the lad, and that he himself had been furnished with a steak, and that it was very delicious meat. They also told her, in the same spirit, that her husband had been taken by the Indians and slain.
Thus the Indians continued for several weeks wandering about from one place to another, without any apparent object, and most of the time in a miserable, half-famished condition. A more joyless, dismal life imagination can hardly conceive. One day thirty Indians approached the encampment on horseback, all dressed in the garments which they had stripped from the English whom they had slain. They wore hats, white neckcloths, and sashes about their waists. They brought a message from Quinnapin that Mrs. Rowlandson must go to the foot of Mount Wachusett, where the Indian warriors were in council, deliberating with some English commissioners about the redemption of the captives. "My heart was so heavy before," writes Mrs. Rowlandson, "that I could scarce speak or go in the path, and yet now so light that I could run. My strength seemed to come again, and to recruit my feeble knees and aching heart. Yet it pleased them to go but one mile that night, and there we staid two days."
They then journeyed along slowly, the whole party suffering extremely from hunger. A little broth, made from boiling the old and dry feet of a horse, was considered a great refreshment. They at length came to a small Indian village, where they found in captivity four English children, and one of them was a child of Mrs. Rowlandson's sister. They were all gaunt and haggard with famine. Sadly leaving these suffering little ones, the journey was continued until they arrived near Mount Wachusett. Here King Philip met them. Kindly, and with the courtesy of a polished gentleman, he took the hand of the unhappy captive, and said, "In two weeks more you shall be your own mistress again." In this encampment of warriors she was placed again in the hands of her master and mistress, Quinnapin and Wetamoo. Of this renowned queen Mrs. Rowlandson says:
"A severe and proud dame she was, bestowing every day, in dressing herself, nearly as much time as any of the gentry in the land, powdering her hair and painting her face, going with her necklaces, with jewels in her ears. When she had dressed herself, her work was to make girdles of wampum and beads."
Wampum was the money in use among the Indians. It consisted of beautiful shells very curiously strung together. "Their beads," says John Josselyn, "are their money. Of these there are two sorts, blue beads and white beads. The first is their gold, the last their silver. These they work out of certain shells so cunningly that neither Jew nor Devil can counterfeit. They drill them and string them, and make many curious works with them to adorn the persons of their sagamores and principal men and young women, as belts, girdles, tablets, borders of their women's hair, bracelets, necklaces, and links to hang in their ears."
Our poor captive, having returned to the wigwam of her master and mistress, was treated with much comparative kindness. She was received hospitably at the fire. A mat was given to her for a bed, and a rug to spread over her. She was employed in knitting stockings and making under garments for her mistress. While here, two Indians came with propositions from the government at Boston for the purchase of her ransom. The news overwhelmed Mrs. Rowlandson with emotions too deep for smiles, and she could only give utterance to her feelings in sobs and flooding tears.
The sachems now met to consult upon the subject. They called Mrs. Rowlandson before them, and, after a long and very serious conference, agreed to receive twenty pounds ($100) for her ransom. One of the praying Indians was sent to Boston with this proposition.
While this matter was in progress, the Indians went out on several expeditions, and returned with much plunder and many scalps. One of the savages had a necklace made of the fingers of the English whom he had slain.
It was the custom of the Indians not to remain long in any one place, lest they should be overtaken by the bands of the colonists which were every where in pursuit of them. The latter part of April, after having perpetrated enormous destruction in Sudbury and other towns, the warriors returned to their rendezvous elated, yet trembling, as they knew that the English forces were in search of them. Immediately breaking up their encampment, they retreated several miles into the wilderness, and there built an enormous tent of boughs, sufficient to hold one hundred men.
Here the Indians gathered from all quarters, and they had a feast and a great dance. Mrs. Rowlandson learned from a captive English woman whom she found here that her sister and her own daughter were with some Indians at but a mile's distance. Though she had seen neither for ten weeks, she was not permitted to go near them. The poor woman plead with anguish of entreaty to be permitted to see her child, but she could make no impression upon their obdurate hearts.
One Sabbath afternoon, just as the sun was going down, a colonist, Mr. John Hoar, a man of extraordinary intrepidity of spirit, with a firm step approached the encampment, guided by two friendly Indians, and under the very frail protection of a barbarian flag of truce. The savages, as soon as they saw him, seized their guns, and rushed as if to kill him. They shot over his head and under his horse, before him and behind him, seeing how near they could make the bullets whistle by his ears without hitting him. They dragged him from his horse, pushed him this way and that way, and treated him with all imaginable violence without inflicting any bodily harm. This they did to frighten him; but John Hoar was not a man to be frightened, and the savages admired his imperturbable courage.
The chiefs built their council fire, and held a long conference with Mr. Hoar. They then allowed him a short interview with Mrs. Rowlandson. He brought her messages of affection from her distracted husband, and cheered her with the hope that her release would eventually, though not immediately, be obtained. She plead earnestly with the Indians for permission to return with Mr. Hoar, promising to send back the price of her ransom; but they declared that she should not go.
After dinner the Indians made arrangements for one of their most imposing dances. It was a barbarian cotillon, performed by eight partners in the presence of admiring hundreds. Queen Wetamoo and her husband, Quinnapin, were conspicuous in this dance. He was dressed in a white linen shirt, with a broad border of lace around the skirt. To this robe silver buttons were profusely attached. He wore white cotton stockings, with shillings dangling and clinking from the garters. A turban composed of girdles of wampum ornamented his head, while broad belts of wampum passed over his shoulders and encircled his waist.
Wetamoo was dressed for the ball in a horseman's coat of coarse, shaggy cloth. This was beautifully decorated with belts of wampum from the waist upward. Her arms, from the elbows to the wrist, were clasped with bracelets. A great profusion of necklaces covered her well-rounded shoulders and ample bosom. Her ears were laden with jewels. She wore red stockings and white shoes. Her face was painted a brilliant crimson, and her hair powdered white as snow. For music the Indians sang, while one beat time upon a brass kettle.
Soon after the dance, King Philip, who was there with his warriors, but who appears to have taken no part in the carousals, sent for Mrs. Rowlandson, and said to her, with a smiling face, "Would you like to hear some good news? I have a pleasant word for you. You are to go home to-morrow." Arrangements had been finally made through Mr. Hoar for her ransom.
On the next morning Mrs. Rowlandson, accompanied by Mr. Hoar and the two friendly Indians, commenced her journey through the wilderness toward Lancaster. She left her two children, her sister, and many other friends and relatives still in captivity. "In coming along," she says, "my heart melted into tears more than all the while I was with them."
Toward evening they reached the spot where Lancaster once stood. The place, once so luxuriant and beautiful, presented a dreary aspect of ruin. The storm of war had swept over it, and had converted all its attractive homes into smouldering embers. They chanced to find an old building which had escaped the flames, and here, upon a bed of straw, they passed the night. With blended emotions of bliss and of anguish, the bereaved mother journeyed along the next day, and about noon reached Concord. Here she met many of her friends, who rejoiced with her in her rescue, and wept with her over the captives who were still in bondage. They then hurried on to Boston, where she arrived in the evening, and was received to the arms of her husband, after a captivity in the wilderness of three months. By great exertions, their son and daughter were eventually regained. We now return from the incidents of this captivity to renew the narrative of Philip's war.
THE INDIANS VICTORIOUS.
Spies.—Attack upon Medfield.—Suspicions.—Energy of Philip.—An unpleasant surprise.—A conflagration.—The Indians retire.—Philip's letter.—Indian warfare.—An ambuscade.—A decoy.—The town burned.—Monoco's threats.—Monoco hung.—Destruction of Warwick.—Alarm from the Indians.—Exultation of the Indians.—Defeat of the Plymouth army.—Nanuntenoo.—Plan of action.—A stratagem, and its success.—Defeat certain.—Heroic defense.—An escape.—Escape of the Indians.—Their mode of accomplishing it.—Terrible slaughter.—Storming of Providence.—Roger Williams.—Nanuntenoo's reply.—Cowardly sentinels.—Alarm of the chief.—Flight of Nanuntenoo.—His capture.—Young America rebuked.—Execution of the sachem.—Statement of Cotton Mather.—Character of Nanuntenoo.—Peril of the settlers.—Mutual disasters.—Philip's affection for Taunton.—A family save a town.—Captain Wadsworth.—Attempt to save Sudbury.—The woods fired.—The English conquered.—A monument erected.—Delight in torture.—Mode of torture.—Attack upon Scituate.—Heroism of Mrs. Ewing.—Attack upon Bridgewater.—Valor of the English triumphs.—Deplorable condition of the English.—Sudden attack.—The Indians vanquished.—Escape of two boys.—A surprise party.—Its perfect success.—Slaughter of the Indians.—Burning the wigwams.—Refreshment after battle.—Alarm of the party.—Terrible peril.—Bravery of Captain Holyoke.—Heroic action.—Dawn of hope.—Escape.—Rage of the Indians.—Assault upon Hatfield.—Unexpected assistance.—Heroism.—A sudden appearance.—Attack upon Hadley.—Superstition.—General Goffe.—Old tradition.—Union of forces.—Philip's stratagem.—It recoils.—Hostility of the Mohawks.—Turn of the tide.—Dismay of the Indians.—Extract from Cotton Mather.—Search for King Philip.—An interview with the Indians.—The Indians desire peace.—Interview with the governor.—Captain Church visits Awashonks.—A perilous interview.—Rage of a warrior.—Proposals for an alliance.—Embassadors to the governor.—The journey interrupted.—Awashonks visits Major Bradford.—Proposals for an alliance.—Indian festivities.—Sagacious care.—Captain Church to visit the queen.—A luxurious supper.—Bill of fare.—A huge bonfire.—Indian dance.—Oath of fidelity.—Selection of warriors.—Grief of Philip.—Undying resolution.—Capture of Indians.—Continued success.—Approach of Philip's army.—Preparations for his reception.—He is received by Bridgewater lads.—Narrow escape of Philip.—His wife and child captured.—The Saconets continue the pursuit.—Treachery of the Indians.—The reconnoitering parties.—Description by Captain Church.—Captain Church's adventures.—Capture of prisoners.—The captives make merry in the pound.
The Massachusetts government now employed two friendly Indians to act as spies. With consummate cunning they mingled with the hostile Indians, and made a faithful report to their employers of all the anticipated movements respecting which they could obtain any information.
Eleven days after the destruction of Lancaster, on the 21st of February, the Indians made an attack upon Medfield. This was a very bold measure. The town was but seventeen miles from Boston. Several garrison houses had been erected, in which all the inhabitants could take refuge in case of alarm. Two hundred soldiers were stationed in the town, and sentinels kept a very careful watch. On the Sabbath, as the people were returning from public worship, one or two Indians were seen on the neighboring hills, which led the people to suspect that an assault was contemplated. The night was moonless, starless, and of Egyptian darkness. The Indians, perfectly acquainted with the location of every building and every inch of the ground, crept noiselessly, three hundred in number, each to his appointed post. They spread themselves over all parts of the town, skulking behind every fence, and rock, and tree. They concealed themselves in orchards, sheds, and barns. King Philip himself was with them, guiding, with amazing skill and energy, all the measures for the attack. Not a voice, or a footfall, or the rustling of a twig was heard, as the savages stood in immovable and breathless silence, waiting the signal for the onset. The torch was ready to be lighted; the musket loaded and primed; the knife and tomahawk sharp and gleaming.
At the earliest dawn of day one shrill war-whoop was heard, clear and piercing. It drew forth the instant response of three hundred voices in unearthly yells. Men, women, and children sprang from their beds in a phrensy of terror, and, rushing in their night-clothes from their homes, endeavored to reach the garrison houses. But the leaping savage was every where with his torch, and soon the blaze of fifty houses and barns shed its lurid light over the dark morning. Fortunately, many of the inhabitants were in the garrisons. Of those who were not, but few escaped. The bullet and the tomahawk speedily did their work, and but a few moments elapsed ere fifty men, women, and children were weltering in blood. Though they promptly laid one half of the town in ashes, the garrison houses were too strong for them to take. During the progress of this awful tragedy King Philip was seen mounted on a splendid black horse, leaping the fences, inspiriting his warriors, and exulting in the havoc he was accomplishing.
At length the soldiers, who were scattered in different parts of the town, began gradually to combine their strength, and the savages, learning that re-enforcements were also approaching from Sudbury, were compelled to retire. They retreated across a bridge in the southwest part of the town, in the direction of Medway, keeping up a resolute firing upon their foes who pursued them. Having passed the stream, they set fire to the bridge to cut off pursuit. In exultation over their victory, Philip wrote, probably by the hand of some Christian Indian, the following letter to his enemies, which he attached to one of the charred and smouldering posts of the bridge.
"Know by this paper that the Indians that thou hast provoked to wrath and anger will war this twenty-one years, if you will. There are many Indians yet. We come three hundred at this time. You must consider the Indians lose nothing but their life. You must lose your fair houses and cattle."
The Indians now wandered about in comparatively small bands, making attacks wherever they thought that there was any chance of success, and marking their path with flames and blood. Without a moment's warning, and with hideous yells, they would dash from the forest upon the lonely settlements, and as suddenly retreat before the least effectual show of resistance. Weymouth, within eleven miles of Boston, was assailed, and several houses and barns burnt. They ventured even into the town of Plymouth, setting fire to a house and killing eleven persons.
On the 13th of March, the Indians, in a strong party four hundred in number, made an attack upon Groton. The inhabitants, alarmed by the fate of Lancaster, had retreated into five garrison houses. Four of these houses were within musket-shot of each other, but one was more than a mile distant from the rest. The savages very adroitly formed, in the night, two ambuscades, one before and one behind the four united garrisons. Early in the morning they sent a small party of Indians to show themselves upon a hill as a decoy. The inhabitants, supposing that the Indians, unaware of their preparations for resistance, had come in small numbers, very imprudently left two of the garrisons and pursued them. The Indians retreated with precipitation. The English eagerly pursued, when suddenly the party in ambush rose and poured a deadly fire upon them. In the mean time, the other party in ambush in rear of the garrison rushed to the palisades to cut off the retreat of the English. Covered, however, by the guns of the two other garrisons, they succeeded in regaining shelter. A similar attempt was made to destroy the solitary garrison, but it was alike unsuccessful. The Indians, however, had the whole town except the garrisons to themselves. They burned to the ground forty dwelling-houses, the church, and all the barns and out-houses. The cattle were fortunately saved, being inclosed within palisades under the protection of the garrisons.
A notorious Nipmuck chief, Monoco, called by the English One-eyed John, led this expedition. While the church was in flames, Monoco shouted to the men in the garrison, assailing them with every variety of Indian vituperative abuse. He had been so much with the English that he understood their language very well.
"What will you do for a place to pray in," said he, "now that we have burned your meeting-house? We will burn Chelmsford, Concord, Watertown, Cambridge, Charlestown, Roxbury, and Boston. I have four hundred and eighty warriors with me; we will show you what we will do."
But a few months after this Monoco was taken prisoner, led through the streets of Boston with a rope round his neck, and hanged at the town's end.
On the 17th of March, Warwick, in Rhode Island, was almost entirely destroyed. The next day another band of Indians attacked Northampton, on the Connecticut. But by this time most of the towns had fortified themselves with palisades and garrison houses. The Indians, after a fierce conflict, were repelled from Northampton with a loss of eleven men, while the English lost but three.
On the Sabbath of the 26th of March, as the people of Marlborough were assembled at public worship, the alarming cry was shouted in at the door, "The Indians! the Indians!" An indescribable scene of confusion instantly ensued, as the whole congregation rushed out to seek shelter in their garrison. The terror and confusion were awfully increased by a volley of bullets, which the Indians, as they came rushing like demons over the plain, poured in upon the flying congregation. Fortunately, the savages were at such a distance that none were wounded excepting one man, who was carrying an aged and infirm woman. His arm was broken by a ball. All, however, succeeded in gaining the garrison house, which was near at hand. The meeting-house and most of the dwelling-houses were burned. The orchards were cut down, and all other ruin perpetrated which savage ingenuity could devise.
The Indians, exultant with success, encamped that night in the woods not far from Marlborough, and kept the forest awake with the uproar of their barbarian wassail. The colonists immediately assembled a small band of brave men, fell upon them by surprise in the midst of their carousals, shot forty and dispersed the rest.
On the same day in which Marlborough was destroyed, a very disastrous defeat befell a party of soldiers belonging to the old Plymouth colony. Nanuntenoo, son of the renowned Miantunnomah, was now the head chief of the Narragansets. He was fired with a terrible spirit of revenge against the English, and could not forget the swamp fight in which so many of his bravest warriors had perished, and where hundreds of his women and children had been cut to pieces and burned to ashes in their wigwams. He himself had taken a large share in this fierce fight, and with difficulty escaped. This chieftain, a man of great intrepidity and sagacity, had gathered a force of nearly two thousand Indians upon the banks of the Pawtucket River, within the limits of the present town of Seekonk. They were preparing for an overwhelming attack upon the town of Plymouth.
The colonists, by no means aware of the formidableness of the force assembled, dispatched Captain Pierce from Scituate with seventy men, fifty of whom were English and twenty Indians, to break up the encampment of the savages. Nanuntenoo, informed of their movements, prepared with great strategetic skill to meet them. He concealed a large portion of his force in ambush on the western side of the river; another body of warriors he secreted in the forest on the eastern banks. As Captain Pierce approached the stream, a small party of Indians, as a decoy, showed themselves on the western side, and immediately retreated, as if surprised and alarmed. The colonists eagerly crossed the stream and pursued them.
The stratagem of the wily savage was thus perfectly successful. The colonists had advanced but a few rods from the banks, near Pawtucket Falls, when the Indians, several hundreds in number, rose from their ambush, and rushed like an avalanche upon them. With bravery almost unparalleled in Indian warfare, they sought no covert, but rushed upon their foes in the open field face to face. They knew that the colonists were now drawn into a trap from which there was no possible escape. As soon as the battle commenced, the Indians who were in the rear, on the eastern bank of the narrow stream, sprang up from their ambush, and, crowding the shore, cut off all hope of retreat, and commenced a heavy fire upon their foe. Utter defeat was now certain. The only choice was between instantaneous death by the bullet or death by lingering torture. Captain Pierce was a valiant man, and instantly adopted his heroic resolve. He formed his men in a circle, back to back, and with a few words inspired them with his own determination to sell his life as dearly as possible. Thus they continued the fight until nearly every one of the colonial party was slain. But one white man escaped, and he through the singular sagacity of one of the friendly Indians.
Captain Pierce soon fell, having his thigh bone shattered by a bullet. A noble Indian by the name of Amos would not desert him; he stood firmly by his side, loading and firing, while his comrades fell thickly around him. When nearly all his friends had fallen, and the survivors were mingled with their foes in the smoke and confusion of the fight, he observed that all the hostile Indians had painted their faces black. Wetting some gunpowder, he smeared his own face so as to resemble the adverse party; then, giving the hint to an Englishman, he pretended to pursue him with an uplifted tomahawk. The Englishman threw down his gun and fled, but a few steps in advance of his pursuer. The Narragansets, seeing that the Indian could not fail to overtake and dispatch the unarmed fugitive, did not interfere. Thus they entered the forest, and both escaped.
A friendly Indian, pursued by one of Nanuntenoo's men, took shelter behind the roots of a fallen tree. The Indian who had pursued him waited, with his gun cocked and primed, for the fugitive to start again from his retreat, knowing that he would not dare to remain there long, when hundreds of Indians were almost surrounding him. The roots of the tree, newly-turned up, contained a large quantity of adhering earth, which entirely covered the fugitive from view. Cautiously he bored a small hole through the earth, took deliberate aim at his pursuer, shot him down, and then escaped.
Another of the Indian allies, in his flight, took refuge behind a large rock. This was a perfect shelter for a moment, but certain death awaited him in the end. His pursuer, with loaded musket, sure of his victim, quietly waited to see him start again. In this deplorable condition the beleaguered Indian thought of the following shrewd expedient. Putting his cap upon his gun, he raised it very gradually above the rock, as if he were endeavoring to peep over to discover the situation of his enemy. The sharp-eyed Narraganset instantly leveled his gun and sent a bullet through the cap, and, as he supposed, through the head of his foe. The fugitive sprang from his covert, and, advancing toward his unarmed enemy, shot him dead. Thus was escape effected. With the exception of one Englishman and five or six friendly Indians, all the rest were cut down. The wounded were reserved for the horrible doom of torture.
The Indians were exceedingly elated by this signal victory, and their shouts of exultation were loud and long-repeated. The next morning, with yells of triumph, they crossed the river, made a rush upon Seekonk, and burned seventy buildings. The next day they stormed Providence, and burned thirty houses. These devastations, however, were not accompanied with much bloodshed, as most of the inhabitants of Providence and of Seekonk had previously fled to the island of Rhode Island for protection.
The heroic Roger Williams, however, remained in Providence. He had ever been the firm friend of the Indians, and was well acquainted with the leading chiefs in this war-party. The Indians, while setting fire to the rest of the town, left his person and property unharmed. Flushed with success, they assured him that they were confident of the entire conquest of the country, and of the utter extermination of the English. Mr. Williams reproached them with their cruelties, and told them that Massachusetts could raise ten thousand men, and that even were the Indians to destroy them all, Old England could send over an equal number every year until the Indians were conquered. Nanuntenoo proudly and generously replied,
"We shall be ready for them. But you, Mr. Williams, shall never be injured, for you are a good man, and have been kind to us."
Nanuntenoo had about fifteen hundred warriors under his command. Thinking that the English were very effectually driven from the region of Seekonk, he very imprudently took but thirty men and went to that vicinity, hoping to obtain some seed-corn to plant the fields upon the Connecticut from which the English had been expelled. But the English, alarmed by the ravages which the Indians were committing in this region, sent a force consisting of forty-seven Englishmen and eighty Indians to scour the country. Most of the Indians were Mohegans, under the command of Oneco, a son of Uncas.
As this force was approaching Seekonk they encountered two Indians with their squaws. They instantly shot the Indians and took the squaws captive. Their prisoners informed them that Nanuntenoo was in a wigwam at a short distance, with but seven Indians around him. His hut was erected at the bottom of a hill, upon the brow of which he had stationed two sentinels. These cowardly savages, when they saw the English approaching in such force, precipitately fled, without giving their chieftain any warning. The sachem, from his wigwam, saw their flight, and sent a third man to the hill-top to ascertain the cause. As soon as he arrived upon the brow of the hill he saw the glittering array of more than a hundred men almost directly upon him. Appalled by the sight, he also fled like his predecessors. Nanuntenoo, amazed by this conduct, dispatched two more to solve the mystery. These last proved more faithful to their trust. They came running back in breathless haste, shouting, "The English are upon you."
Not a moment was to be lost in deliberation. The enemy was already in sight. Nanuntenoo leaped from his wigwam, and, with the agility of a deer, bounded over the ground in a hopeless attempt to escape. Nearly the whole army, English and Indians, like hounds in full cry, eagerly pressed the chase.
With amazing speed, the tall, athletic sachem fled along the bank of the river, seeking a place to ford the stream. In his rapid flight he threw off his blanket, his silver-laced coat, and his belt of wampum, so that nothing remained to obstruct his sinewy and finely-moulded limbs. A Mohegan Indian was in advance of all the rest of the company in the pursuit. Nanuntenoo plunged into the narrow stream to cross. His foot slipped upon a stone, and he fell, immersing his gun in the water. This calamity so disheartened him that he lost all his strength. His swift-footed pursuer, Monopoide, was immediately upon him, and grasped him almost as soon as he reached the opposite shore. The naked and unarmed chief could make no resistance, and, with stoicism characteristic of his race, submitted to his fate.
Nanuntenoo was a man of majestic stature, and of bearing as lofty as if he had been trained in the most haughty of European courts. A young Englishman, but twenty-one years of age, Robert Staunton, following Monopoide, was the first one who came up to the Narraganset chieftain after his capture. Young Staunton, in the pert spirit of Young America, ventured to question the proud monarch of the Narragansets. Nanuntenoo, looking disdainfully upon his youthful face, after a short silence, said,
"You are too much of a child—you do not understand matters of war. Let your chief come; him I will answer."
He was offered life upon condition that he would submit to the English, and deliver up to them all the Wampanoags in his territory.
"Let me hear no more of this," he replied, nobly. "I will not surrender a Wampanoag, nor the paring of a Wampanoag's nail."
He was taken to Stonington, where he was sentenced to be shot. When informed of his doom, he replied, in the spirit of an old Roman,
"I like it well. I shall die before my heart is soft, or before I have said any thing unworthy of myself."
He was shot by one of the Indians who were in alliance with the English; his head was cut off by them, and his body quartered and burned. The Indians who aided the colonists were always eager for any work of blood, and considered it a great privilege to enjoy the pleasures of executioners. They often implored permission to torture their enemies, and several times the English, to their shame be it recorded, allowed them to do so. In this case, "The mighty sachem of Narraganset," writes Cotton Mather, "the English wisely delivered unto their tawny auxiliaries for them to cut off his head, that so the alienation between them and the wretches in hostility against us might become incurable."
His head, a ghastly trophy of victory, was sent by the Mohegans to the Common Council at Hartford, in token of their love and fidelity to the English. The spirit of the times may be inferred from the following comments upon this transaction in the narrative written by Hubbard: "This was the confusion of that damned wretch that had often opened his mouth to blaspheme the name of the living God and those that made profession thereof."
We can not take leave of Nanuntenoo without a tribute of respect to his heroic and noble character. "His refusal," writes Francis Baylies, "to betray the Wampanoags who had sought his protection is another evidence of his lofty and generous spirit, and his whole conduct after his capture was such that surely, at this period, we may be allowed to lament the unhappy fate of this noble Indian without incurring any imputation for want of patriotism."
The inhabitants of New London, Norwich, and Stonington, being in great peril in consequence of their near vicinity to the enemy, raised several parties of volunteers and ranged the country. They succeeded in these expeditions in killing two hundred and thirty-nine of the enemy without incurring the loss of a single man. As most of the inhabitants of the towns had found it necessary to take refuge in garrison houses, prowling bands of Indians experienced but little difficulty in setting fire to the abandoned dwellings and barns, and the sky was every night illumined with conflagrations.
On the ninth of April a small party made an attack upon Bridgewater. They plundered several houses, and were commencing the conflagration, when the inhabitants sallied forth and put them to flight. It is said that Philip had given orders that the town of Taunton should be spared until all the other towns in the colony were destroyed. A family by the name of Leonard resided in Taunton, where they had erected the first forge which was established in the English colonies. Philip, though his usual residence was at Mount Hope, had a favorite summer resort at a place called Fowling Pond, then within the limits of Taunton, but now included in the town of Raynham. In these excursions he had become acquainted with the Leonards. They had treated him and his followers with uniform kindness, repairing their guns, and supplying them with such tools as the Indians highly prized. Philip had become exceedingly attached to this family, and in gratitude, at the commencement of the war, had given the strictest orders that the Indians should never injure a Leonard. Apprehending that in a general assault upon the town his friends the Leonards might be exposed to danger, he spread the shield of his generous protection over the whole place. This act certainly develops a character of more than ordinary magnanimity.
On the 18th of April an immense band of savages, five hundred in number, made an impetuous assault upon Sudbury. The inhabitants, warned of their approach, had abandoned their homes and taken refuge in their garrisons. The savages set fire to several of the dwellings, and were dancing exultingly around the flames, when a small band of soldiers from Watertown came to the rescue, and the inmates of the garrison, sallying forth, joined them, and drove the Indians across the river.
Captain Wadsworth, from Boston, chanced to be in the vicinity with about seventy men. Hearing of the extreme peril of Sudbury, although he had marched all the day and all the night before, and his men were exhausted with fatigue, he instantly commenced his march for that place. Painfully toiling on through the night by the road leading from Marlborough, early on the morning of the 19th he arrived within a mile and a half of the town. Here the Indians, who by their scouts had kept themselves informed of his approach, prepared an ambush. As the English were marching along with great caution, a band of about a hundred Indians crossed their path some distance in advance of them, and fled, feigning a panic. The English pursued them impetuously about a mile into the woods, when the fugitives made a stand, and five hundred Indians sprang up from their concealment, and hurled a storm of lead into the faces of their foes.
The English, with singular intrepidity, formed themselves into a compact mass, and by unerring aim and rapid firing kept their foes at bay while, slowly retreating, they ascended an adjacent hill. Here for five hours they maintained the conflict against such fearful odds. The superior skill of the English with the musket rendered their fire much more fatal than that of their foes. Many of the savage warriors were struck down, and they bit the dust in their rage and dying agony, while but five or six of the English had been slain.
The wind was high, and a drought had rendered the leaves of the forest dry as powder. Some shrewd savage thought of the fatal expedient of setting the forest on fire to the windward of their foes. The stratagem was crowned with signal success. A wide sheet of flame, roaring and crackling like a furnace, and emitting billows of smothering smoke, rolled toward the doomed band. The fierceness of the flames, and the blinding, suffocating smoke, soon drove the English in confusion from their advantageous position. The Indians, piercing them with bullets, rushed upon them with the tomahawk, and nearly every man in the party was slain. Some accounts say that Captain Wadsworth's company was entirely cut off; others say that a few escaped to a mill, where they defended themselves until succor arrived. President Wadsworth, of Harvard College, was the son of Captain Wadsworth. He subsequently erected a modest monument over the grave of these heroes. It is probably still standing, west of Sudbury causeway, on the old road from Boston to Worcester. The inscription upon the stone is now admitted to be incorrect in many of its particulars. It is said that one hundred and twenty Indians were slain in this conflict.
These successes wonderfully elated the Indians. They sent a defiant and derisive message to Plymouth:
"Have a good dinner ready for us, for we intend to dine with you on election day."
In this awful warfare, every day had its story of crime and woe. Unlike the movement of powerful armies among civilized nations, the Indians were wandering every where, burning houses and slaughtering families wherever an opportunity was presented. They seemed to take pleasure in wreaking their vengeance even upon the cattle. They would cut out the tongues of the poor creatures, and leave them to die in their misery. They would shut them up in hovels, set fire to the buildings, and amuse themselves in watching the writhings of the animals as they were slowly roasted in the flames. Nearly all the men who were taken captive they tortured to death. "And that the reader may understand," says Cotton Mather, "what it is to be taken by such devils incarnate, I shall here inform him. They stripped these unhappy prisoners, and caused them to run the gauntlet, and whipped them after a cruel and bloody manner. They then threw hot ashes upon them, and, cutting off collops of their flesh, they put fire into their wounds, and so, with exquisite, leisurely, horrible torments, roasted them out of the world."
On the 20th of April a band of fifty Indians made an attack upon Scituate, and, though the inhabitants speedily rallied and assailed them with great bravery, they succeeded in plundering and burning nineteen houses and barns. They proceeded along the road, avoiding the block-houses, and burning all that were unprotected. They approached one house where an aged woman, Mrs. Ewing, was alone with an infant grandchild asleep in the cradle. As she saw the savages rushing down the hill toward her dwelling, in a delirium of terror she fled to the garrison house, which was about sixty rods distant, forgetting the child. The savages rushed into the house, plundered it of a few articles, not noticing the sleeping infant, and then hastened to make an assault upon the garrison. A fierce fight ensued. In the midst of the horrid scene of smoke, uproar, and blood, Mrs. Ewing, with heroism almost unparalleled, stole from the garrison unperceived, by a circuitous path reached the house, rescued the babe, still unconsciously sleeping, and bore it in safety to the garrison. Soon after this, the savages, repelled from their assault, set fire to her house, and it was consumed to ashes. All the day long the battle and the destruction continued in different parts of the town. There were several garrisoned houses which the Indians attacked with great spirit, but in every case they met with a repulse. Many of the savages were shot, and a few of the English lost their lives.
On the 8th of May a band of three hundred Indians made a very fierce attack upon Bridgewater. The inhabitants had fortunately received warning of the contemplated assault, and had most of them repaired to their garrisoned houses. The savages, hoping to take the place by surprise, with fearful yells rushed from the forest upon the south part of the town. Disappointed in finding all the inhabitants sheltered in their fortresses, they immediately commenced setting fire to the buildings. But the inhabitants boldly sallied forth to protect their property, and the Indians, though greatly outnumbering them, fled before their determined valor. They succeeded, however, in burning some thirteen houses.
The condition of the colonists was at this time deplorable in the extreme. During the campaign thus far the Indians had been signally successful, and had effected an inconceivable amount of destruction and suffering. The sun of spring had now returned; the snow had melted, and the buds were bursting. It was time to plow the fields and scatter the seed; but universal consternation and despair prevailed. Every day brought its report of horror. Prowling bands of savages were every where. No one could go into the field or step from his own door without danger of being shot by some Indian lying in ambush. It was an hour of gloom into which scarcely one ray of hope could penetrate.
THE VICISSITUDES OF WAR.
An ambush discovered.—Information given.—Preparation for a surprise.—Sudden attack.—The Indians vanquished.—Escape of two boys.—A surprise party.—Its perfect success.—Slaughter of the Indians.—Burning the wigwams.—Refreshment after battle.—Alarm of the party.—Terrible peril.—Bravery of Captain Holyoke.—Heroic action.—Dawn of hope.—Escape.—Rage of the Indians.—Assault upon Hatfield.—Unexpected assistance.—Heroism.—Attack upon Hadley.—A sudden appearance.—Superstition.—General Goffe.—Old tradition.—Union of forces.—Phillip's strategem.—It recoils.—Hostility of the Mohawks.—Turn of the tide.—Dismay of the Indians.—Extract from Cotton Mather.—Search for King Philip.—An interview with the Indians.—The Indians desire peace.—Interview with the Governor.—Captain Church visits Awashonks.—A perilous interview.—Rage of a warrior.—Proposals for an alliance.—Embassadors to the governor.—The journey interrupted.—Awashonks visits Major Bradford.—Proposals for an alliance.—Search for Philip.—Cordial reception.—Indian festivities.—Sagacious care.—Captain Church to visit the queen.—A luxurious feast.—Bill of fare.—A huge bonfire.—Indian dance.—Oath of fidelity.—Selection of warriors.—Grief of Philip.—Undying resolution.—Capture of Indians.—Continued success.—Approach of Philip's army.—Preparations for his reception.—He is received by Bridgewater lads.—Narrow escape of Philip.—His wife and child captured.—The Saconets continue the pursuit.—Treachery of the Indians.—The reconnoitering parties.—Description by Captain Church.—Captain Church's adventures.—Capture of prisoners.—The captives make merry in the pound.