During this terrible war there were many deeds of heroic courage performed which merit record. A man by the name of Rocket, in the town of Wrentham, was in the woods searching for his horse. Much to his alarm, he discovered, far off in the forest, a band of forty-two Indians, in single file, silently and noiselessly passing along, apparently seeking a place of concealment. They were all thoroughly armed. Mr. Rocket without difficulty eluded their observation, and then, at some distance behind, cautiously followed in their trail. It was late in the afternoon, and, just before twilight was fading into darkness, the Indians found a spot which they deemed safe, but a short distance from the town, in which to pass the night. It was a large flat rock, upon the brow of a steep hill, where they were quite surrounded by almost impenetrable bushes.
Rocket, having marked the place well, hastened back to the town. It was then near midnight. The inhabitants were immediately aroused, informed of their peril, and the women and children were all placed safely in the garrison house, and a small party was left for their defense. The remaining men capable of bearing arms, but thirteen in number, then hastened through the forest, guided by Rocket, and arrived an hour before the break of day at the encampment of the Indians. With the utmost caution, step by step, they crept within musket shot of their sleeping foes. Every man took his place, and endeavored to single out his victim. It was agreed that not a gun should be fired until the Indians should commence rising from their sleep, and the morning light should give the colonists fair aim.
An hour of breathless and moveless silence passed away. In the earliest dawn of the morning, just as a few rays of light began to stream along the eastern horizon, the Indians, as if by one volition, sprang from their hard couch. A sudden discharge of musketry rang through the forest, and thirteen bullets pierced as many bodies. Appalled by so sudden an attack and such terrible slaughter, the survivors, unaware of the feebleness of the force by which they were assailed, plunged down the precipitous hill, tumbling over each other, and rolling among the rocks. The adventurous band eagerly pursued them, and shot at them as they would at deer flying through the forest. Many more thus fell. One keen marksman struck down an Indian at the distance of eighty rods, breaking his thigh bone. In this short encounter twenty-four of the Indians were slain. The remainder escaped into the depths of the forest. The heroes of this adventure all returned in safety to their homes, no one having been injured. It was undoubtedly the intention of this prowling band to have attacked and fired the town as soon as the inhabitants had been scattered in the morning in their fields at work.
Soon after this, two English boys, who had been captured by the Indians and taken to the upper waters of the Connecticut, escaped, and, following down the river, succeeded in reaching the settlements. They gave information that the Indians, in large numbers, were encamped upon the banks of the river, just above the present site of Deerfield. Supposing that all the energies of the colonists were employed in endeavoring to arrest the ravages which were taking place in the towns nearer the seaboard, they were indulging in careless security.
The inhabitants of Hadley, Hatfield, and Northampton promptly raised a force of one hundred and fifty mounted men to attack them. On the night of the 18th of May they left Hadley, and, traveling as fast as they could about twenty miles, through the dead of night, arrived a little after midnight in the vicinity of the Indian encampment. Here they alighted, tied their horses to some young trees, and then cautiously crept through the forest about half a mile, when, still in the gloom of the rayless morning, they dimly discerned the wigwams of the savages. Concealing themselves within musket shot, they waited patiently for the light to reveal their foes. The Indians were in a very dead sleep from a great debauch in which they had engaged during the early part of the night. The night had been warm, and they were sleeping upon the ground around their wigwams. At an appointed signal, every gun was discharged upon the slumberers, and a storm of bullets fell upon them and swept through their wigwams. Many were instantly killed, and many wounded. The survivors, in a terrible panic, men, women, and children, sprang from the ground and rushed to the river, attempting to escape to the other shore.
They were just above some rapids, where the current was very swift and strong. Numbers attempted to swim across the stream, but were swept by the torrent over the falls. Some sprang into canoes and pushed from the shore. They presented but a fair mark for the bullets of the colonists. Wounded and bleeding, and whirled by the eddies, they were dashed against the rocks, and perished miserably. Many endeavored to hide in the bushes and among the rocks upon the shore. Captain Holyoke killed five with his own hand under a bank. About three hundred Indians were slain or drowned in the awful tumult of these midnight hours. Several of the most conspicuous of the Indian chiefs were killed. Only one white man lost his life. In the midst of the confusion the wigwams of the Indians were set on fire, and the black night was illumined by the lurid conflagration. The flashing flames, the dark billows of smoke, the rattle of musketry, the shouts of the assailants, the shrieks of women and children, and the yells of the savage warriors, presented a picture of earthly woe which neither the pen nor the pencil can portray.
At last the morning dawned. The sun of a serene and beautiful May day rose over the spectacle of smouldering ruins and blood. The victors, weary of sleeplessness, of their night's march, and of the carnage, sat down among the smoking brands and amid the bodies of the slain to seek refreshment and repose in this exultant hour of victory.
But disaster, all unanticipated, came upon them with the sweep of the whirlwind. It so happened that Philip himself was near with a thousand warriors. A captured Indian informed them of this fact, and instantly the victors were in a great panic. They were but one hundred and fifty in number. Their only retreat was by a narrow trail through the woods of more than twenty miles. A thousand savage warriors, roused to the highest pitch of exasperation, and led by the terrible King Philip, were expected momentarily to fall upon them. It was known that the fugitives, who had scattered through the woods, would speedily communicate the tidings of the attack to Philip's band.
The colonists, in much confusion, immediately commenced a precipitate retreat. They had hardly mounted their horses ere the whole body of savages, like famished wolves, with the most dismal yells and howlings, came rushing upon them. The peril was so terrible that there seemed to be no hope of escape. But there are no energies like the energies of despair. Every man resolved, in the calmness of the absolute certainty of death, to sell his life as dearly as possible. Captain Holyoke was a man equal to the emergency, and every member of his heroic little band had perfect confidence in his courage and his skill. Silently, sternly, sublimely, in a mass as compact as possible, they moved slowly on. Every eye was on the alert; every man had his finger to the trigger. Their guns were heavily loaded, that the balls might be thrown to a great distance. Not an Indian could expose his body but that he fell before the unerring aim of these keen marksmen.
Captain Holyoke exposed himself to every danger in front, on the flanks, and in the rear. His own lion-like energy was infused into the spirit of his men, and he animated them to prodigious exertions. His horse was at one time shot, and fell beneath him. Before he could extricate himself from his entanglement, a band of Indians threw themselves upon him. Two of them he shot down with his pistols, and then with his sword cut his way through the rest, aided by a single soldier who came to his rescue.
As they toiled along, pursued by the infuriate foe and harassed by a merciless fire, many were wounded, and every few moments one would drop lifeless upon the ground. The survivors could do nothing to help the dead or the dying. Hour after hour passed, and at length unexpected hope began to dawn upon them. They were evidently holding the Indians at bay. Could they continue thus for a few hours longer, they would be so near the settlements that the Indians, in their turn, would be compelled to retreat. Though it was evident that their loss must be great, there was now hope that the majority would escape. Thus animated, they accelerated their march, and at length, having lost about forty by the way, they emerged upon the clearings of the settlements, where the savages dared to pursue them no longer. With howls of disappointment and rage, the discomfited Indians returned to their forest fastnesses, and the heroic band, having lost about one third of their number, and with nearly all of the survivors exhausted, wounded, and bleeding, were received by their friends with throbbing hearts, and with blended tears of bliss and woe. Those who, while still living, fell into the hands of the Indians, were put to death by tortures too horrible to be described.
A fortnight after this, on the 30th of May, the men of Hatfield were all at work in the fields, having, as usual, established a careful watch to guard against surprise. All the houses in the centre of the town were surrounded by a palisade, but there were several at a distance which could not be included. One old man only was left within the palisades to open and bar the gate.
Suddenly a band of Indians, between six and seven hundred in number, plunged into the town between the palisades and the party at work in the fields, thus effectually cutting off the retreat of the colonists to their fortress. They immediately commenced a fierce attack upon the palisades, that they might get at the women, the children, and the booty. The people of Hadley, on the opposite side of the river, witnessed the assault. Twenty-five young men of Hadley promptly crossed the river, threw themselves unexpectedly and like a thunderbolt upon the band of seven hundred savages, cut their way through them, and gained an entrance within the palisades, having lost but five of their number. Where has history recorded a deed of nobler heroism? In their impetuous rush they cut down twenty-five of their foes. The Indians, intimidated by so daring an act, feared to approach the palisades thus garrisoned, and sullenly retired. The men in the fields took refuge in a log house. The savages spread themselves over the meadows, drove off all the oxen, cows, and sheep, and burned twelve houses and barns which were beyond the reach of protection.
On the 12th of June, the Indians, seven hundred in number, made an attack upon Hadley, and hid themselves in the bushes at its southern extremity, while they sent a strong party around to make an assault from the north. At a given signal, when the first light of the morning appeared, with their accustomed yells, they leaped from their concealment, and rushed like demons upon the town. The English, undismayed, met them at the palisades. The battle raged for some time with very great fury.
In the midst of this scene of tumult and blood, when the battle seemed turning against the English, there suddenly appeared a man of gray hairs and venerable aspect, and dressed in antique apparel, who, with the voice and manner of one accustomed to command, took at once the direction of affairs. There was such an air of authority in his words and gestures, the directions he gave were so manifestly wise, and he seemed so perfectly familiar with all military tactics, that, by instinctive assent, all yielded to his command. Those were days of superstition, and the aspect of the stranger was so singular, and his sudden appearance so inexplicable and providential, that it was generally supposed that God had sent a guardian angel for the salvation of the settlement. When the Indians retreated the stranger disappeared, and nothing further was heard of him.
The supposed angel was General Goffe, one of the judges who had condemned Charles I. to the block. After the restoration, these judges were condemned to death. Great efforts were made to arrest them. Two of them, Generals Goffe and Whalley, fled to this country. They were both at this time secreted in Hadley, in the house of the Rev. Mr. Russell. Mr. Whalley was aged and infirm. General Goffe, seeing the village in imminent peril, left his concealment, joined the inhabitants, and took a very active part in the defense. It was not until after the lapse of fifteen years that these facts were disclosed. The tradition is that both of these men died in their concealment, and that they were secretly buried in the minister's cellar. Their bodies were afterward privately conveyed to New Haven.
It so happened that the Connecticut colony had just raised a standing army of two hundred and fifty English and two hundred Mohegan Indians, and had sent them to Northampton, but a few miles from Hadley, for the protection of the river towns. A force of several hundred men also marched from Boston to co-operate with the Connecticut troops. The settlements upon the river were thus so effectually protected that Philip saw that it would be in vain for him to attempt any farther assaults.
He therefore sent most of his warriors to ravage the towns along the sea-coast. It is generally reported that, about this time, Philip took a party of warriors and traversed the unbroken wilderness extending between the Connecticut and the Hudson. He went as far as the present site of Albany, and endeavored to rouse the Mohawks, a powerful tribe in that vicinity, to unite with him against the English. It is said, though the charge is not sustained by any very conclusive evidence, that Philip, in order to embroil the Mohawks with the English, attacked a party of Mohawk warriors, and, as he supposed, killed them all. He then very adroitly arranged matters to convince the Mohawks that their countrymen had been murdered by the English. But one of the Mohawks, who was supposed to be killed, revived, and, covered with blood and wounds, succeeded in reaching his friends. The story he told roused the tribe to rage, and, allying themselves with the English, they fell fiercely upon Philip.
Whether the above narrative be true or not, it is certain that about this time the Mohawks became irreconcilably hostile to King Philip, and fell upon him and upon all of his allies with great fury.
And now suddenly, and almost miraculously, the tide of events seemed to turn in favor of the English. It is very difficult to account for the wonderful change which a few weeks introduced. The Massachusetts Indians, for some unknown cause, became alienated from the sovereign of the Wampanoags, and bitterly reproached him with having seduced them into a war in which they were suffering even more misery than they created. All the Indians in the vicinity of the English settlements had been driven from their corn-fields and fishing-grounds, and were now in a famishing condition. They had sufficient intelligence to foresee that absolute starvation was their inevitable doom in the approaching winter. At the same time, a pestilence, deadly and contagious, swept fearful desolation through their wigwams. The Indians regarded this as evidence that the God of the white men had enlisted against them. The colonial forces in the valley of the Connecticut penetrated the forest in every direction, carrying utter ruin into the homes of the natives. In this horrible warfare but little mercy was shown to the women and the children. The English did not torture their foes, but they generally massacred them without mercy.
This sudden accumulation of disasters appalled Philip and all his partisans. They were thrown into a very surprising state of confusion and dismay. Cotton Mather, speaking of this constant terror which bewildered them, writes:
"They were just like beasts stung with a hornet. They ran they knew not whither, they knew not wherefore. They were under such consternation that the English did even what they would upon them. I shall never forget the expressions which a desperate, fighting sort of fellow, one of their generals, used unto the English after they had captured him. 'You could not have subdued us,' said he, striking upon his breast, 'but the Englishman's God made us afraid here.'"
The latter part of July, Captain Church, the General Putnam of these Indian wars, was placed in command of a force to search for Philip, who, with a small band of faithful followers, had returned to the region of Mount Hope. Captain Church went from Plymouth to Wood's Hole in Falmouth, and there engaged two friendly Indians to paddle him in a canoe across Buzzard's Bay, and along the shore to Rhode Island. As he was rounding the neck of land called Saconet Point, he saw a number of Indians fishing from the rocks. Believing that these Indians were in heart attached to the English, and that they had been forced to unite with Philip, he resolved to make efforts to detach them from the confederacy. The Indians on the shore seemed also to seek an interview, and by signs invited them to land. Captain Church, who was as prudent as he was intrepid, called to two of the Indians to go down upon a point of cleared land where there was no room for an ambush. He then landed, and, leaving one of the Indians to take care of the canoe, and the other to act as a sentinel, advanced to meet the Indians. One of the two Indians, who was named George, could speak English perfectly well. He told Captain Church that his tribe was weary of the war; that they were in a state of great suffering, and that they were very anxious to return to a state of friendly alliance with the English. He said that if the past could be pardoned, his tribe was ready not only to relinquish all acts of hostility, but to take up arms against King Philip. Captain Church promised to meet them again in two days at Richmond's Farm, upon this long neck of land. He then hastened to Rhode Island, procured an interview with the governor, and endeavored to obtain authority to enter into a treaty with these Indians. The governor would not give his consent, affirming that it was an act of madness in Captain Church to trust himself among the Saconets. Nevertheless, Church, true to his engagement, took with him an interpreter, and, embarking in a canoe, reached the spot at the appointed time.
Here he found Awashonks, the queen of the tribe, with several of her followers. As his canoe touched the shore, she advanced to meet him, and, with a smile of apparent friendliness, extended her hand. They walked together a short distance from the shore, when suddenly a large party of Indians, painted and decorated in warlike array, and armed to the teeth, sprang up from an ambush in the high grass, and surrounded them. Church, undismayed, turned to Awashonks, and said, indignantly,
"I supposed that your object in inviting me to this interview was peace."
"And so it is," Awashonks replied.
"Why, then," Captain Church continued, "are your warriors here with arms in their hands?"
Awashonks appeared embarrassed, and replied,
"What weapons do you wish them to lay aside?"
The Indian warriors scowled angrily, and deep mutterings were passing among them. Captain Church, seeing his helpless situation, very prudently replied, "I only wish them to lay aside their guns, which is a proper formality when friends meet to treat for peace."
Hearing this, the Indians laid aside their guns, and quietly seated themselves around their queen and Captain Church. An interesting and perilous interview now ensued. Awashonks accused the English of provoking her to hostilities when she had wished to live in friendship with them. At one moment these children of nature would seem to be in a towering rage, and again perfectly pleasant, and almost affectionate. Captain Church happened to allude to one of the battles between the English and the Indians. Immediately one of the savages, foaming with rage, sprang toward him, brandishing his tomahawk, and threatening to sink it in his brain, declaring that Captain Church had slain his brother in that battle. Captain Church replied that his brother was the aggressor, and that, if he had remained at home, as Captain Church had advised him to do, his life would have been spared. At this the irate savage immediately calmed down, and all was peace again.
As the result of the interview, Awashonks promised to ally herself in friendship with the English upon condition that Church should obtain the pardon of her tribe for all past offenses. The chief captain of her warriors then approached Captain Church with great stateliness, and said, "Sir, if you will please to accept of me and my men, and will be our captain, we will fight for you, and will help you to the head of King Philip before the Indian corn be ripe." At this all the other warriors clashed their weapons and murmured applause.
Church then proposed that five Indians should accompany him through the woods to the governor to secure the ratification of the treaty. Awashonks objected to this, saying that the party would inevitably be intercepted on the way by Philip's warriors, and all would be slain. She proposed, however, that Captain Church should go to Rhode Island, obtain a small vessel, and then take her embassadors around Cape Cod to Plymouth.
Captain Church obtained a small vessel in Newport Harbor, and sailed for the point. When he arrived there the wind was directly ahead, and blowing almost a gale. As the storm increased, finding himself quite unable to land, he returned to Newport. Being a man of deep religious sensibilities, he considered this disappointment as an indication of divine disapproval, and immediately relinquished the enterprise.
Just at this time Major Bradford arrived in the vicinity of the present town of Fall River with a large force of soldiers. This region was then called Pocasset, and was within the territory of Queen Wetamoo. Captain Church immediately then took a canoe, and again visited Awashonks. He informed her of the arrival of Major Bradford, urged her to keep all her people at home lest they should be assailed by these troops, and assured her that if she would visit Major Bradford in his encampment she should be received with kindness, and a treaty of peace would be concluded. The next morning, Major Bradford, with his whole force, marched down the Tiverton shore, and encamped at a place called Punkatese, half way between Pocasset and Saconet Point.
Awashonks collected her warriors and repaired to Punkatese to meet the English. Major Bradford received her with severity and suspicion, which appears to have been quite unjustifiable. Awashonks offered to surrender her warriors to his service if they could be under the command of Captain Church, in whom both she and they reposed perfect confidence. This offer was peremptorily declined, and she was haughtily commanded to appear at Sandwich, where the governor resided, within six days. The queen, mortified by this unfriendly reception, appealed to Captain Church. He, also, was much chagrined, but advised her to obey, assuring her that the governor would cordially assent to her views. The Indians, somewhat reassured, now commenced their march to Sandwich, under the protection of a flag of truce.
The next morning Major Bradford embarked his army in canoes, and crossed to Mount Hope in search of King Philip. It was late at night before they reached the Mount, and the fires blazing in the woods showed that the Indians were collecting in large numbers. Meeting, however, with no foe, they marched on to Rehoboth. Here Captain Church, taking an Indian for a guide, set out for Plymouth to intercede for his friends, the Saconet Indians. The governor received him with great cordiality. Captain Church, highly gratified, took with him three or four men as a body-guard, and hastened to Sandwich. Disappointed in not finding Awashonks there, he went to Agawam, in the present town of Wareham; still not finding her, he crossed Mattapoiset River, and ascended a bluff which commanded a wide prospect of Buzzard's Bay.
As they stood upon the bluff, they heard a loud murmuring noise coming from the concealed shore at a little distance. Creeping cautiously along, they peered over a low cliff, and saw a large number of Indians, of all ages and sexes, engaged upon the beach in the wildest scene of barbarian festivities. Some were running races on horseback; some playing at football; some were catching eels and flat-fish; and others plunging and frolicking in the waves.
Captain Church was uncertain whether they were enemies or friends. With characteristic sagacity and intrepidity, he retired some distance into a thicket, and then hallooed to them. Two young Indians, hearing the shout, left the rest of their company to see from whence it came. They came close upon Captain Church before he discovered himself to them. As soon as they saw Captain Church, with two or three men around him, all well armed, they, in a panic, endeavored to retreat. He succeeded, however, in retaining them, and in disarming their fears.
From them he learned that the party consisted of Awashonks and her tribe. He then sent word to Awashonks that he intended to sup with her that evening, and to lodge in her camp that night. The queen immediately made preparations to receive him and his companions with all due respect. Captain Church and his men, mounted on horseback, rode down to the beach. The Indians gathered around them with shouts of welcome. They were conducted to a pleasant tent, open toward the sea, and were provided with a luxurious supper of fried fish. The supper consisted of three courses: a young bass in one dish, eels and flat-fish in a second, and shell-fish in a third; but there was neither bread nor salt.
By the time supper was over it was night, serene and moonless, yet brilliant with stars. The still waters of Buzzard's Bay lay like a burnished mirror, reflecting the sparkling canopy above in a corresponding arch below. The unbroken forest frowned along the shore, sublime in its solitude, and from its depths could only be heard the lonely cry of the birds of darkness.
The Indians collected an enormous pile of pine knots and the resinous boughs of the fir-tree. Men, women, and children all contributed to enlarge the gigantic heap, and when the torch was touched, a bonfire of amazing splendor blazed far and wide over the forest and the bay. This was the introductory act to a drama where peace and war were blended. All the Indians, old and young, gathered around the fire. Queen Awashonks, with the oldest men and women of the tribe, kneeling down in a circle, formed the first ring; next behind them came all the most distinguished warriors, armed and arrayed in all the gorgeous panoply of barbarian warfare; then came a motley multitude of the common mass of men, women, and children.
At an appointed signal, Awashonks' chief captain stepped forward from the circle, danced with frantic gesture around the fire, drew a brand from the flames, and, calling it by the name of a tribe hostile to the English, belabored it with bludgeon and tomahawk. He then drew out another and another, until all the tribes hostile to the English had been named, assailed, and exterminated. Reeking with perspiration, and exhausted by his phrensied efforts, he retired within the ring. Another chief then came out and re-enacted the same scene, endeavoring to surpass his predecessor in the fierceness and fury of his efforts. In this way all the chiefs took what they considered as their oath of fidelity to the English. The chief captain then came forward to Captain Church, and, presenting him with a fine musket, informed him that all the warriors were henceforth subject to his command. Captain Church immediately drew out a number of the ablest warriors, and the next morning, before the break of day, set out with them for Plymouth, where he arrived in the afternoon.
It is said that when King Philip, in the midst of his accumulating disasters, learned that the Saconet tribe had abandoned his cause and had gone over to the English, he was never known to smile again. He knew that his doom was now sealed, and that nothing remained for him but to be hunted as a wild beast of the forest for the remainder of his days. Though a few tribes still adhered to him, he was well aware that in these hours of disaster he would soon be abandoned by all. Proudly, however, the heroic chieftain disdained all thoughts of surrender, and resolved to contend with undying determination to the last. We can not but respect his energy and deplore his fate.
Receiving a commission from the governor, Captain Church that same evening took the field, with a company of eighteen Englishmen and twenty-two Indians. They saw gleaming in the distant forest the camp-fires of the Indians. Creeping stealthily along, they surrounded a small band of savages, took them by surprise, and captured every one. From one of his prisoners he learned there was another party at Monponsett Pond. Carrying his prisoners back to Plymouth, he set out again the next night, and was equally successful in capturing every one of this second band. Thus for some days he continued very successfully harassing the Indians in the vicinity of the Middleborough Ponds. From one of his prisoners he ascertained that both Philip and Quinnapin, the husband of Wetamoo, were in the great cedar swamp, which was full of Indian warriors, and that a hundred Indians had gone on a foray down into Sconticut Neck, now Fair Haven.
The main body of the Plymouth forces was at Taunton. Philip did not dare attempt the passage of the Taunton River, as it was carefully watched. He was thus hemmed in between the river and the sea. Church, with amazing energy and skill, drove his feeble bands from point to point, allowing them not one moment of rest. One Sabbath morning a courier was sent to the governor of the Plymouth colony, who happened to be at Marshfield, informing him that Philip, with a large army, was advancing, with the apparent intention of crossing the river in the vicinity of Bridgewater, and attacking that town. The governor immediately hastened to Plymouth, sent for Captain Church, who was in the meeting-house attending public worship, and requested him to rally all the force in his power, and march to attack the Indians. Captain Church immediately called his company together, and, running from house to house, collected every loaf of bread in town for the supply of his troops.
Early in the afternoon he commenced his march, and early in the evening arrived at Bridgewater. As they were advancing in the darkness, they heard a sharp firing in the distance. It afterward appeared that Philip had felled a tree across the stream, which was there quite narrow, as a bridge for his men. Some energetic Bridgewater lads had watched the movements of the Indians, and had concealed themselves in ambush on the Bridgewater side of the stream. As soon as the Indians commenced passing over the tree, they poured in upon them a volley of bullets. Many dropped from the slender bridge, dead and wounded, into the river. The rest precipitately retreated. This was on the evening of the 31st of July.
Early the next morning, Captain Church, having greatly increased his force by the inhabitants of Bridgewater, marched cautiously to the spot where Philip had attempted to effect a passage. Accompanied by a single Indian, he crept to the banks of the stream where the tree had been. He saw upon the opposite side an Indian in a melancholy, musing posture, sitting alone upon a stump. He was within short musket shot. Church clapped his gun to his shoulder, and was just upon the point of firing, when the Indian who accompanied him hastily called out for him not to fire, for he believed it was one of their own men. The Indian heard the warning, and, startled, looked up. Captain Church instantly saw it was King Philip himself. In another instant the report of a gun was heard, and a bullet whistled through the thin air, but Philip, with the speed of an antelope, was gone.
Captain Church immediately rallied his company, crossed the river, and pursued the Indians. The savages scattered and fled in all directions. Church and his men picked up a large number of women and children flying in dismay through the woods. Among the rest, he captured the wife of Philip and their only son, a bright boy nine years of age. Quinnapin, the husband of Wetamoo, with a large band of the Indians, retreated down the eastern bank of the river, looking anxiously for a place where they might ford the stream. Captain Church followed upon their trail, pursued them across the stream, and continued the chase until he thought it necessary to return and secure the prisoners.
The Saconet Indians begged permission to continue the pursuit. They returned the next morning, having shot several of the enemy, and bringing with them thirteen women and children as prisoners. The prisoners were all sent to Bridgewater, while bands of soldiers scoured the woods in all directions in pursuit of the fugitives. Every now and then the shrill report of the musket told that the bullet was accomplishing its deadly work. Another night came. It was dark and gloomy. Some of the captives informed the English that Philip, with a large party of his warriors, had sought refuge in a swamp. The heroic chief had heard of the capture of his wife and son, and his heart was broken. Dejected, disheartened, but unyielding, he still resolved to bid defiance to fate, and to contend sternly to the last. The Indian captives, with their accustomed treachery, guided the English to all the avenues of the swamp. Here Captain Church placed his well-armed sentinels, cutting off all escape, and watching vigilantly until the morning.
As soon as it was light, he sent two scouts to enter the swamp cautiously, and ascertain the position of the enemy. At the same moment Philip sent two of his warriors upon a tour of reconnoissance. The two opposite parties met, and the Indians, with loud yells to give the alarm, fled toward their camp. Terrified with the apprehension that the whole English force was upon them, the Indians plunged like affrighted deer into the deeper recesses of the swamp, leaving their kettles boiling and their meat roasting upon their wooden spits. But they were surrounded, and there was no escape. The following scene, described by Captain Church himself, gives one an idea of the nature of this warfare.
"In this swamp skirmish, Captain Church, with his two men, who always ran by his side as his guard, met with three of the enemy, two of whom surrendered themselves, and the captain's guard seized them; but the other, being a great, stout, surly fellow, with his two locks tied up with red, and a great rattlesnake's skin hanging to the back part of his head, ran from them into the swamp. Captain Church in person pursued him close, till, coming pretty near up with him, he presented his gun between his shoulders, but it missing fire, the Indian perceived it, turned, and presented at Captain Church, and missing fire also, their guns taking wet from the fog and dew of the morning. But the Indian turning short for another run, his foot tripped in a small grape-vine, and he fell flat on his face. Captain Church was by this time up with him, and struck the muzzle of his gun an inch and a half into the back part of his head, which dispatched him without another blow.
"But Captain Church, looking behind him, saw another Indian, whom he thought he had killed, come flying at him like a dragon. But this happened to be fair within sight of the guard that was set to keep the prisoners, who, spying this Indian and others who were following him in the very seasonable juncture, made a shot upon them, and rescued their captain, though he was in no small danger from his friends' bullets, for some of them came so near him that he thought he felt the wind of them. The skirmish being over, they gathered their prisoners together, and found the number they had taken to be one hundred and seventy-three."
With these prisoners the English returned to Bridgewater. Captain Church drove the captives that night into the pound, and placed an Indian guard over them. They were abundantly supplied with food and drink. These poor wretches were so degraded, and so regardless of their fate, that they passed the night in hideous revelry. Philip had by some unknown means escaped. With grief and shame we record that his wife and son were sent to Bermuda and sold as slaves, and were never heard of more. One of the Indian captives said to Captain Church,
"Sir, you have now made Philip ready to die. You have rendered him as poor and miserable as he used to make the English. All his relatives are now either killed or taken captive. You will soon have his head. This last bout has broken his heart."
DEATH OF KING PHILIP.
Fallen fortunes of Philip.—Execution of Sam Barrow.—Character of Wetamoo.—The queen drowned.—Deplorable condition of Philip.—Indomitable resolution.—Summary punishment.—Disposition of the army.—Confident of the capture of Philip.—The carnage commenced.—Rushing into danger.—Death of Philip.—Delight of Alderman.—Reception of the news.—Ignoble treatment of the body.—An Indian executioner.—Noble character of Philip.—His reluctance to commence war.—His foresight.—His humanity.—His mode of warfare.—Do justice to his memory.—Feelings for him in 1677.—Cotton Mather's record.—"In his fate, forget his crimes."—Annawan.—Plan for his capture.—The march.—A violent gale.—Resolution.—Reluctance of the Indians.—Uncomfortable night.—Successful decoy.—The plan repeated.—Making proselytes.—Advantages to be gained.—A feast.—The Indians in good-humor.—Women captured.—Capture of an old man.—His story.—A new enterprise proposed.—Energetic resolve of Captain Church.—Enthusiasm aroused.—The old man a guide.—Arrival at Annawan's retreat.—Drake's description of the place.—Annawan's retreat.—Annawan's retreat.—Employments of the Indians.—Precipitous descent.—Mode of entering the retreat.—Annawan captured.—A quiet surrender.—A grand repast.—Attempted repose.—Effect of excitement.—Disappearance of Annawan.—A magnificent present.—Address to Captain Church.—Relation of early adventures.—Attempt to save Annawan's life.—Tuspaquin.—His exploits.—Superstitious belief.—Discovery of the Indians.—Capture of Tuspaquin's relatives.—Outrageous violation of faith.
The heroic and unfortunate monarch of the Wampanoags was now indeed a fugitive, and almost utterly desolate. A few of the more noble of the Indians still adhered faithfully to the fortunes of their ruined chieftain. The colonists pursued the broken bands of the Indians with indefatigable energy. A small party sought refuge at a place called Agawam, in the present town of Wareham. Captain Church immediately headed an expedition, pursued them, and captured the whole band. A notorious Indian desperado called Sam Barrow was among the number. He was a bloodthirsty wretch, who had filled the colony with the terror of his name. He boasted that with his own hand he had killed nineteen of the English. Captain Church informed him that, in consequence of his inhuman murders, the court could allow him no quarter. The stoical savage, with perfect indifference, said that he was perfectly willing to die, and only requested the privilege of smoking a pipe. He sat down upon a rock, while his Indian executioner stood by his side with his gleaming tomahawk in his hand. The savage smoked a few whiffs of tobacco, laid aside his pipe, and calmly said, "I am ready." In another instant the hatchet of the executioner sank deep into his brain. He fell dead upon the rock.
On the 6th of August one of Philip's Indians deserted his master and fled to Taunton. To make terms for himself, he offered to conduct the English to a spot upon the river where Wetamoo had secreted herself with a party of Pocasset warriors. Twenty of the inhabitants of Taunton armed themselves and followed their Indian guide. He led them to a spot now called Gardiner's Neck, in the town of Swanzey.
At the beginning of the war, Wetamoo, flushed with hope, had marched to the conflict leading three hundred warriors in her train. She was now hiding in thickets, swamps, and dens, with but twenty-six followers, and they dejected and despairing. Next to King Philip, Wetamoo had been the most energetic of the foes of the English. She was inspired with much of his indomitable courage, and was never wanting in resources. The English came upon them by surprise, and captured every one but Wetamoo herself. The heroic queen, too proud to be captured, instantly threw off all her clothing, seized a broken piece of wood, and plunged into the stream. Worn down by exhaustion and famine, her nerveless arm failed her, and she sank beneath the waves. Her body, like a bronze statue of marvelous symmetry, was soon after found washed upon the shore. As faithful chroniclers, we must declare, though with a blush, that the English cut off her head, and set it upon a pole in their streets, a trophy ghastly, bloody, revolting. Many of her subjects were in Taunton as captives. When they beheld the features of their beloved queen, they filled the air with shrieks of lamentation.
The situation of Philip was now indescribably deplorable. All the confederate tribes had abandoned him; the most faithful of his followers had already perished. His only brother was dead; his wife and only son were slaves in the hands of the English, doomed to unending bondage; every other relative was cold in death. The few followers who still, for their own protection, accompanied him in his flight, were seeking in dismay to save their own lives. His domain, which once spread over wide leagues of mountain and forest, was now contracted to the dark recesses and dismal swamps where, as a hunted beast, he sought his lair. There was no place of retreat for him. All the Connecticut Indians had become his bitter foes, because he had embroiled them in a war which had secured their ruin. The Mohawks, upon the Hudson, were thirsting for his blood.
Still, this indomitable man would not think of yielding. He determined, with a resolution which seemed never to give way, to fight till a bullet from the foe should pierce his brain. In this hour of utter hopelessness, one of Philip's warriors ventured to urge him to surrender to the English. The haughty monarch immediately put the man to death as a punishment for his temerity and as a warning to others. The brother of this Indian, indignant at such severity, deserted to the English, and offered to guide them to the swamp where Philip was secreted. The ruined monarch had returned to the home of his childhood to fight his last battles and to die.
Captain Church happened to be at this time, with a party of volunteers, at Rhode Island, having crossed over by the ferry from Tiverton. Here he met the Indian traitor. "He was a fellow of good sense," says Captain Church, "and told his story handsomely." He reported that Philip was upon a little spot of upland in the midst of a miry swamp just south of Mount Hope. It was now evening. Half of the night was spent in crossing the water in canoes. At midnight Captain Church brought all his company together, and gave minute directions respecting their movements. They surrounded the swamp. With the earliest light of the morning they were ordered to creep cautiously upon their hands and feet until they came in sight of their foes. As soon as anyone discovered Philip or any of his men, he was to fire, and immediately all were to rise and join in the pursuit. To make sure of his victim, Captain Church also formed a second circle surrounding the swamp, placing an Englishman and an Indian behind trees, rocks, etc., so that no one could pass between them. He also stationed small parties in selected places in ambuscade.
Having completed all his arrangements, he took his friend Major Sandford by the hand, and said,
"I have now so posted my men that I think it impossible that Philip should escape us."
He had hardly uttered these words ere the report of a musket was heard in the swamp, and this was instantaneously followed by a whole volley. Some of the Indians had been discovered, and the murderous work was commenced. The morning had as yet but just dawned. An awful scene of dismay, tumult, and blood ensued. Philip, exhausted by days and nights of the most harassing flight and fighting, had been found soundly asleep. The few warriors still faithful to him, equally exhausted, were dozing at his side. A party of the English crept cautiously within musket shot of their sleeping foes, discharged a volley of bullets upon them, and then rushed into their encampment.
The dreams of the despairing fugitive were disturbed by the crash of musketry, the whistling of bullets, and the shout and the onset of his foes. He leaped from his couch of leaves, and, like a deer, bounded from hummock to hummock in the swamp. It so happened that he ran directly upon an ambush which Captain Church had warily established. An Englishman and the Indian deserter, whose name was Alderman, stood behind a large tree, with their guns cocked and primed. As Philip, bewildered and unconscious of his peril, drew near, the Englishman took deliberate aim at him when he was but at the distance of a few yards, and sprung his lock. The night dews of the swamp had moistened the powder, and his gun missed fire. The life of Philip was thus prolonged for one half of a minute. The traitor Alderman then eagerly directed his gun against the chief to whom but a few hours before he had been in subjection. A sharp report rang through the forest, and two bullets, for the gun was double charged, passed almost directly through the heart of the heroic warrior. For an instant the majestic frame of the chieftain, as he stood erect, quivered from the shock, and then he fell heavy and stone dead in the mud and water of the swamp.
Alderman, delighted with his exploit, ran eagerly to inform Captain Church that he had shot King Philip. Church ordered him to be perfectly silent about it, that his men might more vigorously pursue the remaining warriors. For some time the pursuit and the carnage continued. Captain Church then, by a concerted signal, called his army together, and informed them of the death of their formidable foe. The tidings were received with a simultaneous shout of exultation, which, repeated again and again, reverberated through the solitudes of the forests. The whole army then advanced to the spot where the sovereign of the Wampanoags lay gory in death. They had but little reverence for an Indian, and, seizing the body, they dragged it, as if it had been the carcass of a wild beast, through the mud to an upland slope, where the ground was dry. Here, for a time, they gazed with exultation upon the great trophy of their victory, and spurned the dishonored body as if it had been a wolf or a panther which had been destroying their families and their flocks. Captain Church then said,
"Forasmuch as he has caused many an Englishman's body to lie unburied and to rot above the ground, not one of his bones shall be buried."
An old Indian executioner, a vulgar, bloodthirsty wretch, was then called to cut up the body. With bitter taunts he stood over him with his hatchet, and cut off his head and quartered him. Philip had one remarkable hand, which was much scarred by the explosion of a pistol. This hand was given to Alderman, who shot him, as his share of the spoil. Alderman preserved it in rum, and carried it around the country as a show, "and accordingly," says Captain Church, "he got many a penny by it." We would gladly doubt the statement, if we could, that the head of this ill-fated chief was sent to Plymouth, where it was for a long time exposed on a gibbet. The four quarters of the mangled body were hung upon four trees, and there they remained swinging in the moaning wind until the elements wasted them away.
Thus fell Pometacom, perhaps the most illustrious savage upon the North American continent. The interposition of Providence alone seems to have prevented him from exterminating the whole English race upon this continent. Though his character has been described only by those who were exasperated against him to the very highest degree, still it is evident that he possessed many of the noblest qualities which can embellish human nature.
It is said that with reluctance and anguish he entered upon the war, and that he shed tears when the first English blood was shed. His extraordinary kindness to the Leonards, inducing him to avert calamities from a whole settlement, lest they, by some accident, might be injured, develops magnanimity which is seldom paralleled. He was a man of first-rate abilities. He foresaw clearly that the growth of the English power threatened the utter extermination of his race. War thus, in his view, became a dire necessity. No man could be more conscious of its fearful peril. With sagacity which might excite the envy of the ablest of European diplomatists, he bound together various heterogeneous and hostile tribes, and guided all their energies. Though the generality of the Indians were often inhuman in the extreme, there is no evidence that Philip ever ordered a captive to be tortured, while it is undeniable that the English, in several instances, surrendered their captives to the horrid barbarities of their savage allies.
"His mode of making war," says Francis Baylies, "was secret and terrible. He seemed like the demon of destruction hurling his bolts in darkness. With cautious and noiseless steps, and shrouded by the deep shade of midnight, he glided from the gloomy depths of the woods. He stole on the villages and settlements of New England, like the pestilence, unseen and unheard. His dreadful agency was felt when the yells of his followers roused his victims from their slumbers, and when the flames of their blazing habitations glared upon their eyes. His pathway could be traced by the horrible desolation of its progress, by its crimson print upon the snows and the sands, by smoke and fire, by houses in ruins, by the shrieks of women, the wailing of infants, and the groans of the wounded and the dying. Well indeed might he have been called the 'terror of New England.' Yet in no instance did he transcend the ordinary usages of Indian warfare.
"We now sit in his seats and occupy his lands; the lands which afforded a bare subsistence to a few wandering savages can now support countless thousands of civilized people. The aggregate of the happiness of man is increased, and the designs of Providence are fulfilled when this fair domain is held by those who know its use; surely we may be permitted at this day to lament the fate of him who was once the lord of our woods and our streams, and who, if he wrought much mischief to our forefathers, loved some of our race, and wept for their misfortunes!"
There was, however, but little sympathy felt in that day for Philip or any of his confederates. The truly learned and pious but pedantic Cotton Mather, allowing his spirit to be envenomed by the horrid atrocities of Indian warfare, thus records the tragic end of Pometacom:
"The Englishman's piece would not go off, but the Indians presently shot him through his venomous and murderous heart. And in that very place where he first contrived and commenced his mischief, this Agag was now cut in quarters, which were then hanged up, while his head was carried in triumph to Plymouth, where it arrived on the very day that the church was keeping a solemn thanksgiving to God. God sent them in the head of a Leviathan for a thanksgiving feast."
We must remember that the Indians have no chroniclers of their wrongs, and yet the colonial historians furnish us with abundant incidental evidence that outrages were perpetrated by individuals of the colonists which were sufficient to drive any people mad. No one can now contemplate the doom of Pometacom, the last of an illustrious line, but with emotions of sadness.
"Even that he lived is for his conqueror's tongue; By foes alone his death-song must be sung. No chronicles but theirs shall tell His mournful doom to future times. May these upon his virtues dwell, And in his fate forget his crimes!"
The war was now virtually at an end. Still there were many broken bands of Indians wandering through the wilderness in a state of utter desperation; they knew that to surrender doomed them to death or to hopeless slavery. Though they were unable to wage any effective warfare, they could desolate the settlements with murders and with terrible depredations.
A few days after the death of King Philip, intelligence was brought to Plymouth that Annawan, Philip's chief captain, a man of indomitable energy, was ranging the woods with a band of warriors in the vicinity of Rehoboth and Swanzey, and doing great mischief.
Annawan was now commander-in-chief of all the remaining Indian forces. His death or capture was accordingly esteemed a matter of great moment. Captain Church immediately gathered around him a band of his enthusiastic troops. They were so devoted to their successful commander that they declared their readiness to follow him as long as an Indian was left in the woods. They immediately commenced their march, and ranged the woods along the Pocasset shore. Not finding any Indians, they crossed the arm of the bay in canoes to Rhode Island, intending to spend the next day, which was the Sabbath, there in religious rest. Early the next morning, however, a messenger informed the captain that a canoe filled with Indians had been seen passing from Prudence Island to the west side of Bristol, which was then called Poppasquash Neck. Captain Church, thinking that these men were probably going to join the band of Annawan, resolved immediately to pursue them. He had no means of transporting his troops but in two or three frail birch canoes. He crossed himself, however, with sixteen of his Indian allies, when the gale increased to such severity, and hove up such a tumultuous sea, that the canoes could no longer pass. Captain Church now found himself upon Bristol Neck with but sixteen Indian allies around him, while all the rest of his force, including nearly all of his English soldiers, were upon Rhode Island, and cut off from all possibility of immediately joining him. Still, the intrepid captain adopted the resolve to march in pursuit of the enemy, though he was aware that he might meet them in overwhelming numbers.
The Indians expressed some reluctance to go unaccompanied by English soldiers; finally, however, they consented. Skulking through almost impenetrable thickets, they came to a salt meadow just north of the present town of Bristol. It was now night, and though they had heard the report of two guns in the woods, they had met no Indians. A part of their company, who had been sent out on a skulk, had not returned, and great anxiety was felt lest they had fallen into an ambush and been captured. The night was dark, and cold, and dreary. They had not a morsel of bread, and no food to cook; they did not dare to build a fire, as the flame would be sure to attract their wakeful enemies. Hungry and solitary, the hours of the night lingered slowly away. In the earliest dawn of the morning, the Indian scouts returned with the following extraordinary story, which proved to be true. They said that they had not advanced far when they discovered two Indians at a distance approaching them upon one horse. The scouts immediately hid in the brush in parallel lines at a little distance from each other. One of the Indians then stationed himself as a decoy, and howled like a wolf. The two Indians immediately stopped, and one, sliding from the horse, came running along to see what was there. The cunning Indian, howling lower and lower, drew him on between those lying in wait for him, until they seized and instantly gagged him. The other, seeing that his companion did not return, and still hearing the faint howlings of the wolf, also left his horse, and soon experienced the same fate.
The two captives they then examined apart, and found them to agree in the story that there were eight more Indians who had come with them into the Neck in search of provisions, and that they had all agreed to meet at an old Indian burying-place that evening. The two captives chanced to be former acquaintances of the leader of the scouting party. He told them enticing stories of the bravery of Captain Church, and of the advantages of fighting with him and for him instead of against him. The vagabond prisoners were in a very favorable condition to be influenced by such suggestions. They heartily joined their victors, and aided in entrapping their unsuspecting comrades. The eight were soon found, and, by a continuance of the same stratagem, were all secured. All these men immediately co-operated with Captain Church's company, and aided in capturing their remaining friends. In this perhaps they were to be commended, as there was nothing before them but misery, starvation, and death in the wilderness, while there was at least food and life with Captain Church.
With their band thus strengthened there was less fear of surprise. A horse was killed, roaring fires built, and the Indians, roasting the meat upon wooden spits, exulted for a few hours in a feast of steaks which, to them at least, were savory and delicious. The Indians usually carried salt in their pockets: with this alone they seasoned their horse-flesh. As there was not a morsel of bread to be obtained, Captain Church had no better fare than his savage companions.
The Indians were now in exceeding good-humor. All having eaten their fill, and loading themselves with a sufficient supply for the day, they commenced their march, under the guidance of the captives, to the place where they had left their women and children. All were surprised and captured. But no one could tell where Annawan was to be found. All agreed in the declaration that he was continually roving about, never sleeping twice in the same place.
One of the Indian prisoners entreated Captain Church to permit him to go into a swamp, about four miles distant, where his father was concealed with his young wife. He promised to bring them both in. Captain Church, thinking that he might, perhaps, obtain some intelligence respecting Annawan, decided to go with him. Taking with him one Englishman and a few Indians, and leaving the rest to remain where they were until his return, he set out upon this enterprise.
When they arrived on the borders of the swamp, the Indian was sent forward in search of his father. Pretty soon they heard a low howling, which was promptly responded to by a corresponding howl at a distance. At length they saw an old man coming toward them with his gun upon his shoulder, and followed by a young Indian girl, his daughter. Concealing themselves on each side of the narrow trail, Captain Church's party awaited their approach, and seized them both. Threatening them with terrible punishment if they deceived him with any falsehood, he examined them apart.
Both agreed that they had been lately in Annawan's camp; that he had with him about sixty Indians, and that he was at but a few miles' distance, in Squannaconk Swamp, in the southeasterly part of Rehoboth. "Can I get there to-night?" inquired Captain Church. "If you set out immediately," the old Indian replied, "and travel stoutly, you can reach there by sunset."
Just then the young Indian who had been in search of his father returned with his father and another Indian. Captain Church was now in much perplexity. He was very desirous of going in pursuit of Annawan before the wary savage should remove to other quarters. He had, however, but half a dozen men with him, and it was necessary to send a messenger back to acquaint those who had been left of his design. Collecting his little band together, he inquired if they were ready to go with him to endeavor to take Annawan. The enterprise appeared to them all very perilous. They replied,
"We are willing to obey your commands. But Annawan is a renowned and veteran warrior. He served under Pometacom's father, and has been Pometacom's chief captain during this war. He is a very subtle man, a man of great energy, and has often said that he would never be taken alive by the English. Moreover, the warriors who are with him are very resolute men. We therefore fear that it would be impossible to take him with so small a band. We should but throw away our lives."
Still, Captain Church, relying upon his own inexhaustible resources, and upon the well-known despondency and despair of the Indians, resolved to go, and with a few words roused the enthusiasm of his impulsive and fickle followers. He sent the young Indian, with his father and the young squaw, back to the camp, while he took the other old man whom he had captured as his guide. "You have given me my life," said the Indian, "and it is my duty to serve you."
Energetically they commenced their march through the woods, the old man leading off with tremendous strides. Occasionally he would get so far in advance that the party would lose sight of him, when he would stop until they came up. He might easily have escaped had he wished to do so. Just as the sun was setting, the old man made a full stop and sat down. The rest of the company came up, all being very weary, and sat down around him.
"At this hour," said the old man, "Annawan always sends out his scouts. We must conceal ourselves here until after dark, when the scouts will have returned."
As soon as the darkness of night had settled over the forest, the old man again rose to resume the march. Captain Church said to him,
"Will you take a gun and fight for us?"
The faithful guide bowed very low, and nobly said, "I pray you not to impose upon me such a thing as to fight Annawan, my old friend. I will go along with you and be helpful to you, and will lay hands on any man who shall offer to hurt you."
In the gloom of the wilderness it was now very dark, and all kept close together, and moved cautiously and silently along. Soon they heard a noise as of a woman pounding corn. All stopped and listened. They had arrived at Annawan's retreat. Captain Church, with one Englishman and half a dozen Indians, most of whom had been taken captive that very day, were about to attack one of the fiercest and most redoubtable of Philip's chieftains, surrounded by sixty of his tribe, many of whom were soldiers of a hundred battles. Drake, in his Book of the Indians, gives the following description of this noted place:
"It is situated in the southeasterly corner of Rehoboth, about eight miles from Taunton Green, a few rods from the road which leads to Providence, and on the southeasterly side of it. If a straight line were drawn from Taunton to Providence, it would pass very nearly over this place. Within the limits of an immense swamp of nearly three thousand acres there is a small piece of upland, separated from the main only by a brook, which in some seasons is dry. This island, as we may call it, is nearly covered with an enormous rock, which to this day is called Annawan's Rock. Its southeast side presents an almost perpendicular precipice, and rises to the height of twenty-five or thirty feet. The northwest side is very sloping and easy of ascent, being at an angle of not more than thirty-five or forty degrees. A more gloomy and hidden recess, even now, although the forest-tree no longer waves over it, could hardly be found by any inhabitant of the wilderness."
Creeping cautiously to the summit of the rock, Captain Church looked down over its precipitous edge upon the scene presented below. The spectacle which opened to his view was wild and picturesque in the extreme. He saw three bands of Indians at short distances from each other, gathered around several fires. Their pots and kettles were boiling, and meat was roasting upon the spits. Some of the Indians were sleeping upon the ground, others were cooking, while others were sitting alone and silent, and all seemed oppressed and melancholy. Directly under the rock Annawan himself was lying, apparently asleep, with his son by his side. The guns of the Indians were stacked at a little distance from the fires, with mats spread over them to protect them from the weather. It seemed impossible to descend the precipitous face of the rock, and Captain Church accordingly crept back and inquired of his guide if they could not approach by some other way.
"No," answered the guide. "All who belong to Annawan's company are ordered to approach by that entrance, and none can from any other direction without danger of being shot."
The old man and his daughter had left the encampment of Annawan upon some mission; their return, therefore, would excite no suspicion. They both had tule baskets bound to their backs. Captain Church directed them to clamber down the rocks to the spot where Annawan was reposing. Behind their shadow Church and two or three of his soldiers crept also. The night was dark, and the expiring embers of Annawan's fire but enabled the adventurers more securely to direct their steps. The old chief, in a doze, with his son by his side, hearing the rustling of the bushes, raised his eyes, and seeing the old Indian and his daughter, suspected no danger, and again closed his eyes. In this manner, supporting themselves by roots and vines, the small party effected its descent undiscovered. Captain Church, with his hatchet in his hand, stepped directly over the young man's head, and seized his weapons and those of his father. The young Annawan, discovering Captain Church, whipped his blanket over his head, and shrunk up in a heap. Old Annawan, starting from his recumbent posture, and supposing himself surrounded by the English army, exclaimed, "Ho-woh," I am taken, and sank back upon the ground in despair. Their arms were instantly secured, and perfect silence was commanded on pain of immediate death. The Indians who had followed Captain Church down over the rock, having received previous instructions, immediately hastened to the other fires, and informed the Indians that their chief was taken a captive; that they were surrounded by the English army, so that escape was impossible; and that, at the slightest resistance, a volley of bullets would be poured in upon them, which would mow them all down. They were assured that if they would peacefully submit they might expect the kindest treatment.
As Church's Indians were all acquainted with Annawan's company, many of them being relatives, the surprised party without hesitancy surrendered both their guns and hatchets, and they were carried to Captain Church. His whole force of six men was now assembled at one spot, but the Indians still supposed that they were surrounded by a powerful army in ambush, with loaded muskets pointed at them. Matters being thus far settled, Annawan ordered an abundant supper to be prepared of "cow beef and horse beef." Victors and vanquished partook of this repast together. It was now thirty-six hours since Captain Church and his men had had any sleep. Captain Church, overwhelmed with responsibility and care, was utterly exhausted. He told his men that if they would let him have a nap of two hours, he would then keep watch for all the rest of the night, and they might sleep. He laid himself down, but the excitement caused by his strange and perilous position drove all slumber from his eyelids. He looked around him, and soon the whole company was soundly sleeping, all excepting Annawan himself. The Indian and the English chieftain lay side by side for an hour, looking steadfastly at each other, neither uttering a word. Captain Church could not speak Indian, and he supposed that Annawan could not speak English. At length Annawan arose, laid aside his blanket, and deliberately walked away. Almost before Captain Church had time to collect his thoughts, he had disappeared in the midnight gloom of the forest. Though all the arms of the Indians had been taken from them, Captain Church was apprehensive that Annawan might by some means obtain a gun and attempt some violence. He knew that pursuit would be in vain in the darkness of the night and of the forest.
Placing himself in such a position by the side of young Annawan that any shot which should endanger him would equally endanger the son, he remained for some time in great anxiety. At length he heard the sound of approaching footsteps. Just then the moon broke from among the clouds, and shone out with great brilliance. By its light he saw Annawan returning, with something glittering in his hand. The illustrious chieftain, coming up to Captain Church, presented him with three magnificent belts of wampum, gorgeously embroidered with flowers, and pictures of beasts and birds. They were articles of court dress which had belonged to King Philip, and were nearly a foot wide and eight or ten feet long. He also had in his hands two powder-horns filled with powder, and a beautiful crimson blanket. Presenting these to Captain Church, he said, in plain English,
"Great captain, you have killed King Philip. I believe that I and my company are the last that war against the English. I suppose the war is ended by your means, and therefore these things belong to you. They were Philip's royalties, with which he adorned himself when he sat in state. I think myself happy in having an opportunity to present them to you."
Neither of these illustrious men could sleep amid the excitements of these eventful hours. Annawan was an intelligent man, and was fully conscious that a further continuance of the struggle was hopeless. With the most confiding frankness, he entertained his conqueror with the history of his life from his earliest childhood to the present hour. The whole remainder of the night was spent in this discourse, in which Annawan, with wonderfully graphic skill, described his feats of arms in by-gone years, when, under Massasoit, Philip's father, he led his warriors against hostile tribes.
As soon as day dawned, Captain Church collected his men and his sixty prisoners, and, emerging from the swamp, took up their march for Taunton. They soon gained the Taunton road, about four miles from the town, and there, according to appointment, met Lieutenant Howland, with the men who had been left behind. They lodged at Taunton that night. The next morning all the prisoners were sent forward to Plymouth excepting Annawan. Captain Church was anxious to save his life, and took the old chieftain with him to Rhode Island. After a few days he returned with him to Plymouth. Captain Church plead earnestly that Annawan's life might be spared, and supposing, without any doubt, that this request would not be denied him, set out, after a few days, in pursuit of another small band of Indians who were committing robberies in the vicinity of Plymouth.
The leader of this band was Tuspaquin, sachem of Namasket. At the beginning of the conflict he had led three hundred warriors into the field. He led the band which laid nineteen buildings in ashes in Scituate on the twentieth of April, and which burned seventeen buildings in Bridgewater on the eighth of May. Also, on the eleventh of May, he had burned eleven houses and five barns in Plymouth. The English were consequently exceedingly exasperated against him. Tuspaquin had great renown among his soldiers. He had been in innumerable perils, and had never been wounded. The Indians affirmed that no bullet could penetrate his body; that they had often seen them strike him and glance off.
Intelligence had been brought to Plymouth that Tuspaquin was in the vicinity of Sippican, now Rochester, doing great damage to the inhabitants, killing their horses, cattle, and swine.
Monday afternoon Captain Church set out in pursuit of him. The next morning they discovered a trail in the forest, and, following it noiselessly, they came to a place called Lakenham, where the thicket was almost impenetrable. Smoke was discovered rising from this thicket, and two Indians crept in to see what could be discovered. They soon returned with a report that quite a party of Indians, mostly women and children, were sitting silently around the embers. Captain Church ordered every man to creep on his hands and feet until they had formed a circle around the Indians, and then, at a given signal, to make a rush, and take them all prisoners. The stratagem was entirely successful.
Captain Church found, to his extreme satisfaction, that he had captured the wife and children of Tuspaquin, and most of his relatives. They said that he had gone, with two other Indians, to Wareham and Rochester to kill horses. Captain Church took all his prisoners back to Plymouth except two old squaws. They were left at the encampment with a good supply of food, and were directed to inform Tuspaquin on his return that Captain Church had been there, and had captured his wife and his children; that, if he would surrender himself and his companions at Plymouth, they should be received kindly, be well provided for, and he would employ them as his soldiers.
The next day Captain Church had occasion to go to Boston. Upon his return after a few days, he found, to his extreme chagrin and grief, that Tuspaquin had come in and surrendered; that both he and Annawan had been tried as murderers, and had been condemned and executed. This transaction can not be too severely condemned.
CONCLUSION OF THE WAR.
End of the war in the Middle States.—Devastation in Maine.—Character of Squando.—News of the war sent to York.—Attempt to release a captive.—Unfulfilled promises.—Thomas Purchas.—Dislike of the Indians.—His house plundered.—Narrow escape of his son.—A captive child released by Squando.—Proceedings about Brunswick.—Attack upon Saco.—Long-continued siege.—The assailants retire.—Attack upon Scarborough.—Repulse of the Indians.—Sagadahock.—Behavior of the Indians.—Absurdity.—Exertions to obtain a treaty.—Temporary respite.—Route of the English.—Bravery of Lieutenant Plaisted.—Sufferings of the Indians.—Atrocious conduct.—Just complaints of the Indians.—They are refused ammunition.—War resumed.—Capture of a fortress.—Mr. Lake killed.—Destruction of the establishment.—Unprotected condition of the settlements.—Outrages on the islands.—Aid sent from Massachusetts.—Arrival of friendly Indians.—Perplexity of Major Waldron.—A stratagem.—Was it right?—Disposition of the prisoners.—Massacre of scouts.—Treaty concluded.—Expedition to Casco Bay.—Landing at Maquoit.—The party sail for the Kennebec.—A conference.—Treachery discovered.—A fierce fight.—Renewed depredations.—Peace implored.—Terms of the treaty.—Terrible amount of misery created.
The war was now at an end in Plymouth, Massachusetts, and Connecticut, as nearly all the hostile Indians were either killed, captured, or had submitted to the mercy of their victors. A few hundred desperate warriors, too proud to yield and too feeble to continue the fight, fled in a body through the wilderness, beyond the Hudson, and were blended with the tribes along the banks of the Mohawk and the shores of the great lakes. There were also many bloody wretches, who, conscious that their crimes were quite unpardonable, fled to the almost impenetrable forests of the north and the east.
In the remote districts of New Hampshire and Maine the war still raged with unabated violence. Bands of savages were roving over the whole territory, carrying conflagration and blood to the homes of the lonely settlers. There were no large gatherings for battle, but prowling companies of from two or three to a hundred spread terror and devastation in all directions.
At this period the towns and plantations in the State of Maine were but thirteen. The English population was about six thousand; the Indians, divided into many petty tribes, were probably about eighteen thousand in number. These Indians had for some time been rather unfriendly to the English, and an act of gross outrage roused them to combine in co-operation with King Philip. An illustrious Indian, by the name of Squando, was sachem of the Sokokis tribe, which occupied the region in the vicinity of Saco. He was a man of great strength of mind, elevation of character, and of singular gravity and impressiveness of address. One day his wife was paddling down the River Saco in a canoe, with her infant child. Some English sailors, coming along in a boat, accosted her brutally, and, saying that they had understood that Indian children could swim as naturally as young ducks, overset the canoe. The infant sank like lead. The indignant mother dove to the bottom and brought up her exhausted child alive, but it soon after died. Squando was so exasperated by this outrage, that, with his whole soul burning with indignation, he traversed the wilderness to rouse the scattered tribes to a war of extermination against the English.
Just then the appalling tidings came of the breaking out of Philip's war. The Plymouth colony sent a messenger to York to inform the inhabitants of their danger, and to urge them to disarm the Indians, and to sell them no more powder or shot. A party of volunteers was immediately sent from York to ascend the Kennebec River, inform the settlers along its banks of their impending danger, and ascertain the disposition of the Indians. With a small vessel they entered the mouth of the river, then called the Sagadahock, and ascended the stream for several miles. Here they met twelve Indians, and, strange to relate, induced them to surrender their guns. One of the Indians, more spirited than the rest, was not disposed to yield to the demand, and, becoming enraged, struck at one of the English party with his hatchet, endeavoring to kill him. He was promptly arrested, bound, and confined in a cellar.
The Indians plead earnestly for his release, offering many apologies for his crime. They said that he was subject to fits of insanity, and that he was intoxicated. They offered to pay forty beavers' skins for his ransom, and to leave hostages for his good behavior in the hands of the English. Upon these terms the prisoner was released. They then, in token of amity, partook of an abundant repast, smoked the pipe of peace, and the Indians had a grand dance, with shouts and songs which made the welkin ring. The promises of the Indians, however, were not fulfilled. The hostages all run away, and not a beaver skin was ever paid.
A man by the name of Thomas Purchas had built him a hut in the lonely wilderness, just below the Falls of the Androscoggin, in the present town of Brunswick. His family dwelt alone in the midst of the wilderness and the Indians. He purchased furs of the natives, and took them in his canoe down to the settlements near the mouth of the Sagadahock, from whence they were transported to England. He is reputed to have been a hard-hearted, shrewd man, always sure to get the best end of the bargain. The Indians all disliked him, and he became the first sufferer in the war.
On the 5th of September, a few months after the commencement of hostilities in Swanzey, twenty Indians came to the house of Purchas under the pretense of trading. Finding Purchas and his son both absent, they robbed the house of every thing upon which they could lay their hands. They found rum, and soon became frantically drunk. There was a fine calf in the barn, and a few sheep at the door. The Indians were adroit butchers. The veal and the mutton were soon roasting upon their spits. They danced, they shouted, they clashed their weapons in exultation, and the noise of the Falls was drowned in the uproar of barbarian wassail. One of their exploits was to rip open a feather bed for the pleasure of seeing the feathers float away in the air. They, however, inflicted no violence upon Mrs. Purchas or her children.
In the midst of the scene, a son of Mr. Purchas was approaching home upon horseback. Alarmed by the clamor, he cautiously drew near, and was in consternation in view of the savage spectacle. Conscious that his interposition could be of no possible avail, he fled for life. The Indians caught sight of him, and one pursued him for some distance with his gun, but he escaped. Soon after the Indians left, telling Mrs. Purchas that others would soon come and treat them worse.
There was an old man by the name of Wakely, who had settled near the mouth of Presumpscot River, in Falmouth. His family consisted of nine persons. A week after the robbery of Mr. Purchas's house, a band of savages made a fierce onset upon this solitary cabin. They burnt the house and killed all the family, except the youngest daughter, who was about eleven years of age. This unfortunate child was carried away captive, and for nine months was led up and down the wilderness, in the endurance of all the horrors of savage life. At one time she was led as far south as Narraganset Bay, which led to the supposition that some of the Narraganset Indians were engaged in the capture. The celebrated Squando, in whose character humanity and cruelty were most singularly blended, took pity upon the child, rescued her, and delivered her to the English at Dover.
A family living several miles distant from Falmouth, at Casco Neck, saw the smoke of the burning house, and the next day a file of men repaired to the place. A scene of horror met their eye in the smouldering ruins and the mangled corpses. The bodies of the slain the savages had cut up in the most revolting manner. The tidings of these outrages spread rapidly, and the settlers, in their solitary homes, were plunged into a state of great dismay.
There were at this time in Brunswick two or three families who had erected their houses upon the banks of New Meadows. A party of twenty-five English set out from Casco in a sloop and two boats, sailed along the bay, and entered the river. The inhabitants had already fled, and the Indians were there, about thirty in number, rifling the houses. Seeing the approach of the English, they concealed themselves in an ambush. When the English had advanced but a few rods from their boats, the savages rushed upon them with hideous yells, wounded several, drove them all back to their sloop, and captured two boat-loads of Indian corn.
Emboldened by their success, a few days after, on the 18th of September, they made a bold attack upon Saco. A friendly Indian informed Captain Bonython, who lived on the east side of the river, about half a mile below the Lower Falls, that a conspiracy was formed to attack the town. The alarm was immediately communicated to all the settlers, and in a panic they abandoned their houses, and took refuge in the garrison house of Major Phillips, which was on the other side of the river. The Indians, unaware that their plot was discovered, came the same night and established themselves in ambush. The assailants were not less than one hundred in number. There were fifty persons, men, women, and children, in the garrison, of whom but ten were effective men. At eleven o'clock in the morning they commenced the assault. The besieged defended themselves with great energy, and many of the savages fell before their unerring aim. The savages at length attempted to set fire to the house, after having assailed it with a storm of shot all the day, and through the night until four in the morning. They filled a cart with birch bark, straw, and powder, and, setting this on fire, endeavored to push it against the house with long poles. They had ingeniously constructed upon the cart a barricade of planks, which protected those who pushed it against the fire of the house. When they had got within pistol shot, one wheel became clogged in a rut, and the other wheel going, whirled the cart around, so as to expose the whole party to a fatal fire. Six men almost instantly fell dead, and before the rest could escape, fifteen of them were wounded. Disheartened by this disaster, the rest sullenly retired.
Soon after this, Phillips abandoned his exposed situation, and his house was burned down by the savages. On the 20th the Indians attacked Scarborough, destroyed twenty-seven houses, and killed several of the inhabitants. The principal settlement in Saco was at Winter Harbor. Many families in the vicinity had fled to that place for refuge. They were all in great danger of being cut off by the savages. A party of sixteen volunteers from South Berwick took a sloop and hastened to their rescue. As they were landing upon the beach, they were assailed by one hundred and fifty of their fierce foes. The English, overpowered by numbers, were in great danger of being cut off to a man, when they succeeded in gaining a shelter behind a pile of logs. From this breastwork they opened such a deadly fire upon their thronging foes that the Indians were compelled to retire with a loss of many of their number. The inhabitants of the garrison, hearing the report of the guns, sent a party of nine to aid their friends. These men unfortunately fell into an ambush, and by a single discharge every one was cut down. This same band then ravaged the settlements in Wells, Hampton, Exeter, and South Berwick.
Great exertions had been made to prevent the Indians upon the Kennebec from engaging in these hostilities. About ten miles from the mouth of the Sagadahock is the beautiful island of Arrowsic. It is so called from an Indian who formerly lived upon it. Two Boston merchants, Messrs. Clark and Lake, had purchased this island, which contains many thousand acres of fertile land. They had erected several large dwellings, with a warehouse, a fort, and many other edifices near the water-side. It was a very important place for trade, being equally accessible by canoes to all the Indians on the Androscoggin, Kennebec, and Sheepscot. Captain Davis was the general agent for the proprietors upon this island.
The Indians in all this region were daily becoming more cold and sullen. Captain Davis, to conciliate them, sent a messenger up all these rivers to invite the Indians to come down and live near him, assuring them that he would protect them from all mischief, and would sell them every needed supply at the fairest prices. The messenger, thinking to add to the force of the invitation, overstepping his instructions, threatened them that if they did not accede to his request the English would come and kill them all. This so alarmed the Indians that they fled to the banks of the Penobscot, which was then in possession of the French. Here they held a general council.
Mr. Abraham Shurte was chief magistrate of the flourishing plantation of Pemaquid. He was a man of integrity, of humanity, and of great good sense. By indefatigable exertions, he succeeded in obtaining an interview with the sachems, and entered into a treaty of peace with them. In consequence of this treaty, the general court of Boston ordered considerable sums of money to be disbursed to those Indians who would become the subjects or allies of the colony. There was thus a temporary respite of hostilities in this section of the country. Upon the banks of the Piscataquis, however, the warfare still continued unabated. On the 16th of October, one hundred Indians assailed a house in South Berwick, burned it to the ground, killed the master of the house, and carried his son into captivity. Lieutenant Plaisted, commander of the garrison, viewing the massacre from a distance, dispatched nine men to reconnoitre the movements of the enemy. They fell into an ambuscade, and three were shot down, and the others with difficulty escaped.
The next day Lieutenant Plaisted ordered out a team to bring in the bodies for interment. He himself led twenty men as a guard. As they were placing the bodies in a cart, a party of one hundred and fifty savages rushed upon them from a thicket, showering a volley of bullets upon the soldiers. The wounded oxen took fright and ran. A fierce fight ensued. Most of the soldiers retreated and regained the garrison. Lieutenant Plaisted, too proud to fly or to surrender, fought till he was literally hewn in pieces by the hatchets of the Indians. His two sons also, worthy of their father, fought till one was slain, and the other, covered with wounds of which he soon died, escaped. The Indians then ravaged the regions around, plundering, burning, and killing.
The storms of winter now came with intense cold, and the snow covered the ground four feet deep upon a level. The weather compelled a truce. Though the Indians, during this short campaign, had killed eighty of the English, had burned many houses, and had committed depredations to an incalculable amount, still they themselves were suffering perhaps even more severely. They had no provisions, and no means of purchasing any. There was but little game in these northern forests, and the snow was too deep for hunting. Their ammunition was consumed, and they knew not how to obtain any more. Thus they were starving and almost helpless. Under these circumstances, they manifested a strong desire for peace. There were, however, individuals of the English who, by the commission of the most infamous outrages, fanned anew the flames of war.
Early in the spring, one Laughton had obtained a warrant from the court in Massachusetts to seize any of the Eastern Indians who had robbed or murdered any of the English. This Laughton, a vile kidnapper, under cover of this warrant, lured a number of Indians at Pemaquid on board his vessel. None of them were accused of any crime, and it is not known that they had committed any. He enticed them below, fastened the hatches upon them, and carried them to the West Indies, where they were sold as slaves. This fact was notorious; and, though the government condemned the deed, and did what it could to punish the offender, still the unenlightened Indians considered the whole white race responsible for the crimes of the individual miscreant.
Some of the Indian chiefs went to Pemaquid to confer with Mr. Shurte, in whom they reposed much confidence. Their complaint was truly touching.
"Our brothers," said they, "are treacherously caught, carried into foreign parts, and sold as slaves. Last fall you frightened us from our corn-fields on the Kennebec. You have withholden powder and shot from us, so that we can not kill any game; and thus, during the winter, many have died of starvation."
Mr. Shurte did what he could to conciliate them, and proposed a council. It was soon convened. The Indians appeared fair and honorable, but they said they must have powder and shot; that, without those articles, they could have no success in the chase, and they must starve.
"Where," exclaimed Madockawando, earnestly and impatiently, "shall we buy powder and shot for our winter's hunting when we have eaten up all our corn? Shall we leave Englishmen and apply to the French, or shall we let our Indians die? We have waited long to have you tell us, and now we want yes or no."
To this the English could only reply, "You admit that the Western Indians do not wish for peace. Should you let them have the powder we sell you, what do we better than to cut our own throats? This is the best answer we can return to you, though you should wait ten years."
At this the chiefs took umbrage, declined any farther talk, and the conference was broken up angrily. War was soon resumed in all its horrors.
Early in August a numerous band of savages made an incursion upon Casco Neck and swept it of its inhabitants. Thirty-four of the colonists were either killed or carried into captivity. On the 14th of August, two days after King Philip was slain in the swamp at Mount Hope, a party of Indians landed from their canoes upon the southeast corner of the island of Arrowsic, near the spot where the fort stood. They concealed themselves behind a great rock, and, with true Indian cunning, notwithstanding the sentinels, succeeded in creeping within the spacious inclosure which constituted the fortress. They then opened a sudden and simultaneous fire upon all who were within sight. The garrison, thus taken by midnight surprise, were in a state of terrible consternation. A hand to hand fight ensued of the utmost ferocity. The Indians, however, soon overpowered their opponents and applied the torch. Captain Davis, who was in command of the fort, with Mr. Lake, who was one of the owners of the island, escaped with two others from the massacre by a back passage, and, rushing to the water's edge, sprang into a canoe and endeavored to reach another island. The savages, however, pursued them, and, taking deliberate aim as they were paddling to the opposite shore, killed Mr. Lake, and wounded Mr. Davis, so as to render him helpless, just as he was stepping upon the shore. The savages then took a canoe and crossed in pursuit of their victims. Captain Davis succeeded in hiding himself in the cleft of a rock, and eluded their search. Here he remained for two days, until after the savages had left, and then, finding an old canoe upon the beach, he succeeded in paddling himself across the water to the main land, where he was rescued. The other two who were not wounded, plunging into the forest, also effected their escape.
The exultant savages rioted in the destruction of the beautiful establishment upon Arrowsic. The spacious mansion house, the fortifications, the mills, and all the out-buildings, were burned to the ground. Works which had cost the labor of years, and the expenditure of thousands of pounds, were in an hour destroyed, and the whole island was laid desolate. Thirty-five persons were either killed or carried into captivity. The dismay which now pervaded the plantations in Maine was terrible. The settlers were very much scattered; there was no place of safety, and it was impossible, under the circumstances, for the court in Massachusetts to send them any effectual relief. Most of the inhabitants upon the Sheepscot River sought refuge in the fort at Newagen. The people at Pemaquid fled on board their vessels; some sailed for Boston; others crossed over to the island of Monhegan, where they strongly fortified themselves. They had hardly left their flourishing little village of Pemaquid ere dark columns of smoke informed them that the savages were there, and that their homes were in a blaze. In one month, fifty miles east of Casco Bay were laid utterly desolate. The inhabitants were either massacred, carried into captivity, or had fled by water to the settlements in Massachusetts.
Many of the beautiful islands in Casco Bay had a few English settlers upon them. The Indians paddled from one to another in their canoes, and the inhabitants generally fell easy victims to their fury. A few families were gathered upon Jewell's Island, in a fortified house. On the 2d of September a party of Indians landed upon the island for their destruction. Several of the men were absent from the island in search of Indian corn, and few were left in the garrison excepting women and children. A man was in his boat at a short distance from the shore fishing, while his wife was washing clothes by the river side, surrounded by her children. Suddenly the savages sprang upon them, and took them all captives before the eyes of the husband and father, who could render no assistance. One of the little boys, shrieking with terror, ran into the water, calling upon his father for help. An Indian grasped him, and, as the distracted father presented his gun, the savage held up the child as a shield, and thus prevented the father from firing. A brave boy in the garrison shot three of the Indians from the loop-holes. Soon assistance came from one of the neighboring islands, and the Indians were driven to their canoes, after having killed two of the inhabitants and taken five captives.
In this state of things, Massachusetts sent two hundred men, with forty Natick Indians, to Dover, then called Cocheco, from whence they were to march into Maine and New Hampshire, wherever they could be most serviceable. Here they met unexpectedly about four hundred Indians, who had come from friendly tribes professedly to join them in friendly coalition. The English had offered to receive all who in good faith would become their allies. Many, however, of these men were atrocious wretches, whose hands were red with the blood of the English. Others were desperate fellows, who had ravaged Plymouth, Connecticut, and Massachusetts under King Philip, and, upon his discomfiture, had fled to continue their barbarities in the remote districts of New Hampshire and Maine.
Major Waldron, who had command of the English troops, was in great perplexity. Many of the Indians of this heterogeneous band had come together in good faith, relying upon his honor and fidelity. But the English soldiers, remembering the savage cruelties of perhaps the majority, were impatient to fall upon them indiscriminately with gun and bayonet. In this dilemma, Major Waldron adopted the following stratagem, which was by some applauded, and by others censured.
He proposed a sham fight, in which the Indians were to be upon one side and the English upon the other. In the course of the manoeuvres, he so contrived it that the Indians gave a grand discharge. At that moment, his troops surrounded and seized their unsuspecting victims, and took them all prisoners, without the loss of a man on either side. He then divided them into classes with as much care as, under the circumstances, could be practiced, though doubtless some mistakes were made. All the fugitives from King Philip's band, and all the Indians in the vicinity who had been recently guilty of bloodshed or outrage, were sent as prisoners to Boston. Here they were tried; seven or eight were executed; the rest, one hundred and ninety-two in number, were transported to the West Indies and sold as slaves.