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from Cotton Mather
Magnalia Christi Americana, 1702
New York: Russell and Russell, 1702, 1967. A reprinting of the 1852 edition.
from vol 2, pp. 595-600.
[ South Berwick area Indian Raids & Captivities of 1690 -- Hertel and Hetty Goodwin ]
NEW ASSAULTS FROM THE INDIANS,
WITH SOME REMARKABLES OF CAPTIVES TAKEN IN THOSE ASSAULTS.
THE sun and the war be again returning! The year 1690 must begin very inauspiciously. In February, the French with Indians made a descent from Canada upon a Dutch town called Schenectada, twenty miles above Albany, under the government of New-York, and in that surprising incursion they killed about sixty persons, whereof one was their minister, and carried about half as many into captivity; but the people there, assisted by the Maqua's, pursued them, and recovered some of their captives from them. Upon the advice of this mischief in the west, order was dispatch'd unto Major Frost in the east, that the towns there should stand upon their guard. The Major did his duty; but they did not theirs: They dreampt that while the deep snow of the winter continued, they were safe enough; but this proved as vain as a dream of a dry summer. On March 18, the French with Indians -- being half one, half t'other - half Indianized French, and half Frenchified Indians -- commanded by Monsieur Artel and Hope-Hood, fell suddenly upon Salmon Falls, destroying the best part of the town with fire and sword. Near thirty persons were slain, and more than fifty were led into what the reader will by and by call "the worst captivity in the world." It would be a long story to tell, what a particular share in this calamity fell to the family of one Clement Short: This honest man, with his pious wife, and three children, were killed: and six or seven of their children were made prisoners. The most of which arrived safe to Canada, through a thousand hardships; and the most of these were with more than a thousand mercies afterwards redeemed from Canada, unto their English friends again. But my readers will be so reasonable as to excuse me, if I do not mention, the fate of every family that hath suffered a share in the calamity of this grievous war; for 'tis impossible that I should know all that hath happened; and it would be improper for me to write all that I know: And very little is the advantage of having a name standing upon record only among unhappy sufferers. About sevenscore English went out after 'em, and came up with 'em: Nevertheless, through the disadvantages of their feet by the snow, they could make no hand on it. Four or five of ours were kill'd, and as many of the enemy; but the night put an end unto the action. Ours took one prisoner, a Frenchman, who confess'd that they came from Canada, where both French and Indians were in pay at ten livers per month, and he particularly declared the state of Canada. This prisoner met with such kind usage from us, that be became a "freeman of Christ," and embraced and professed the Protestant religion. But of the prisoners which the enemy took from us, there were two which immediately met with a very different fate. Three Indians hotly pursued one Thomas Toogood, and one of them overtaking him, while the rest perceiving it, staid behind the hill, he yielded himself a prisoner. While the salvage was getting strings to bind him, be held his gun under his arm; which Toogood observing, suddenly pluckt it from his friend Stark Naught, threatening and protesting that he would shoot him down if he made any noise; and so away he ran with it unto Quochecho.
If my reader be inclined now to smile, when he thinks how simply poor Isgrim look'd, returning to his mates behind the hill, without either gun or prey, to remember him of his own deserts, the smiles will all be presently turn'd into tears. The Indians had now made a prisoner of one Robert Rogers, and being on their journey they came to an hill, where this man, being, through his corpulency, (for which he was usually nick-named, Robin Pork) and an insupportable and intolerable burden laid upon his back, not so able to travel as the rest, he absconded. The wretches missing him, immediately went in pursuit of him; and it was not long before they found his burden cast in the way, and the track of his going out of the way, which they followed, until they found him hidden in a hallow tree. They took him out, they stript him, they beat him, and prick'd him, and push'd him forward with their swords, until they were got back to the hill; and it being almost night, they fastned him to a tree with his hands behind him, and made themselves a supper, singing, dancing, roaring and uttering many signs of joy, but with joy little enough to the poor creature who foresaw what all this tended unto. They then cut a parcel of wood, and bringing it into a plain place, they cut off the top of a small red oak tree, leaving the trunk for a stake, whereto they bound their sacrifice. They first made a great fire near this "tree of death," and bringing him unto it, they bid him take his leave of his friends, which he did in a doleful manner; no pen, though made of a Harpy's quill, were able to describe the dolour of it! They then allowed him a little time to make his prayers unto Heaven, which he did with extream fervency and agony: whereupon they bound him to the stake, and brought the rest of the prisoners with their arms tied each to other, so setting them round the fire. This being done, they went behind the fire, and thrust it forwards upon the man, with much laughter and shouting; and when the fire had burnt some while upon him, even till he was near stifled, they pull'd it again from him. They danc'd about him, and at every turn they did with their knives cut collops of his flesh from his naked limbs, and throw them with his blood into his face. When he was dead, they set his body down upon the glowing coals and left him tied with his back to the stake; where the English army soon after found him. He was left for us to put out the fire with our tears!
Reader, who should be the father of these myrmidons?
THE CONDITION OF THE CAPTIVES THAT FROM TIME TO TIME FELL INTO THE HANDS OF THE INDIANS; WITH SOME VERY REMARKABLE ACCIDENTS.
WE have had some occasion, and shall have more, to mention captives falling into the hands of the Indians. We will here, without any thing worthy to be call'd a digression, come to a little stand still, and with mournful hearts look upon the condition of the captives in those cruel hands. Their condition truly might be express'd in the terms of the ancient Lamentations, (thus by some translated) Lam. iv. 3: "The daughter of my people is in the hands of the cruel, that are like the ostrich in the wilderness." Truly the "dark places" of New-England, where the Indians had their unapproachable kennels, were "habitations of cruelty;" and no words can sufficiently describe the cruelty undergone by our captives in those habitations. The cold, and heat, and hunger, and weariness, and mockings, and scourgings, and insolencies endured by the captives, would enough deserve the name of cruelty;but there was this also added unto the rest, that they must ever now and then have their friends made a "sacrafice of devils" before their eyes, but be afraid of dropping a tear from those eyes, lest it should upon that provocation be next their own turn to be so barbarously sacrificed. Indeed, some few of the captives did very happily escape from their barbarous oppressors, by a flight wisely managed; and many more of them were bought by the French, who treated them with a civility ever to be acknowledged, until care was taken to fetch 'em home. Nevertheless, many scores of 'em died among the Indians; and what usage they had may be gathered from the following relations, which I have obtained from credible witnesses:
RELATION I. -- James Key, son to John Key, of Quochecho, was a child of about five years of age, taken captive by the Indians at Salmon Falls; and that hellish fellow, Hope-Hood, once a servant of a Christian master in Boston, was become the master of this little Christian. This child lamenting with tears the want of parents, his master threatned him with death if he did not refrain his tears; but these threatnings could not extinguish the natural affections of a child. Wherefore, upon his next lamentations, this monster stript him stark naked, and lashed both his hands round a tree, and scourged him so that from the crown of his head unto the sole of his foot he was all over bloody and swollen: and when he was tired with laying on his blows on the forlorn infant, he would lay him on the ground, with taunts remembering him of his parents. In this misery the poor creature lay horribly roaring for divers days together, while his master, gratified with the musick, lay contriving of new torments wherewith to martyr him. It was not long before the child had a sore eye, which his master said proceeded from his weeping on the forbidden accounts: whereupon, laying hold on the head of the child with his left hand, with the thumb of his right he forced the ball of his eye quite out, therewithal telling him, "that when he heard him cry again he would serve t'other so too, and leave him never an eye to weep withal." About nine or ten days after, this wretch had occasion to remove with his family about thirty miles further; and when they had gone about six miles of the thirty, the child being tir'd and faint, sat him down to rest, at which this horrid fellow being provoked, he buried the blade of his hatchet in the brains of the child, and then chopp'd the breathless body to pieces before the rest of the company, and threw it into the river. But for the sake of these and other such truculent things done by Hope-Hood, I am resolved, that in the course of our story I will watch to see what becomes of that hideous loup-garou,* if he come to his end, as I am apt to think he will, before the story.
RELATION II. -- Mehitabel Goodwin, being a captive among the Indians, had with her a child about five months old; which, through hunger and hardship, (she being unable to nourish it,) often made most grievous ejaculations. Her Indian master told her, that if the child were not quiet he would soon dispose of it; which caused her to use all possible means that his Netop-ship might not be offended; and sometimes carry it from the fire out of his hearing, where she sat up to the waste in snow and frost for several hours until it was lull'd asleep. She thus for several days preserved the life of her babe, until he saw cause to travel with his own cubs farther afield; and then, lest he should be retarded in his travel, he violently snatch'd the babe out of its mother's arms, and before her face knock'd out its brains, and stript it of the few rags it had hitherto enjoy'd, and order'd her the task to go wash the bloody cloaths. Returning from this melancholy task, she found the infant hanging by the neck in a forked bough of a tree. She desired leave to lay it in the earth; but he said, "it was better as it was, for now the wild beasts would not come at it, [I am sure they had been at it!] and she might have the comfort of seeing it again if ever they came that way." The journey now before them was like to be very long, even as far as Canada, where his purpose was to make merchandise of his captive and glad was the captive of such happy tidings. But the desperate length of the way, and want of food, and grief of mind wherewith she now encountred, caused her within a few days to faint under her difficulties. When at length she sat down for some repose, with many prayers and tears unto God for the salvation of her soul, she found herself unable to rise, until she espied her furious executioner coming towards her with fire in his eyes, the devil in his heart, and his hatchet in his hand, ready to bestow a mercy-stroak of death upon her. But then this miserable creature got on her knees, and with weeping, and wailing, and all expressions of agony and entreaty, prevailed on him to spare her life a little, and she did not question but God would enable her to "walk a little faster." The merciless tyrant was prevail'd withal to spare her this time; nevertheless her former weakness quickly returning upon her, he was just going to murder her; but a couple of Indians just at that instant coming in, suddenly called upon him to "hold his hand;" whereat such an horror surprized his guilty soul, that he ran away. But hearing them call his name, he returned, and then permitted these his friends to ransom his prisoner from him. After this, being seated by a river side, they heard several guns go off on the other side, which they concluded was from a party of Albany Indians, who were enemies unto these; whereupon this bold blade would needs go in a canoo to discover what they were. They fired upon him, and shot through him and several of his friends before the discovery could be made unto satisfaction. But some days after this, divers of his friends gathered a party to revenge his death on their supposed enemies; with whom they joyned battel, and fought several hours, until their supposed enemies did really put 'em to the rout. Among the captives which they left in their flight, one was this poor Goodwin, who was overjoyed in seeing `her self thus at liberty; but the joy did not last long, for these Indians were of the same sort with the other, and had been by their own friends thus through a strange mistake set upon. However, this crew proved more favourable to her than the former, and went away silently with their booty, being loth to have any noise made of their foul mistake, and yet, a few days after, such another mistake happened; for meeting with another party of Indians, which they imagined in the English interests, they furiously engaged each other, and many were killed and wounded on either side; but they proved a party of the French Indians, who took this poor Goodwin, and presented her to the French captain, by whom she was carried unto Canada, where she continued five years, and then was brought safe back into New-England.
RELATION III. -- Mary Plaisted, the wife of Mr. James Plaisted, was made a captive by the Indians about three weeks after her delivery of a male child. They then took her, with her infant, off her bed, and forced her to travel in this her weakness the best part of a day, without any respect of pity. At night the cold ground in the open air was her lodging; and for many a day she had no nourishment, but a little water with a little bears-flesh; which rendred her so feeble, that she with her infant were not far from totally starved. Upon her cries to God, there was at length some supply sent in by her master's taking a Moose, the broth whereof recovered her. But she must now travel many days thro' woods, and swamps, and rocks, and over mountains, and frost and snow, until she could stir no farther. Sitting down to rest, she was not able to rise, until her diabolical master helped her up; which when he did, he took her child from her, and carried it unto a river, where, stripping it of the few rags it had, he took it by the heels, and against a tree dashed out his brains, and then flung it into the river. So he returned unto the miserable mother, telling her, "she was now eased of her burden, and must walk faster than she did before!"
RELATION IV. -- Mary Ferguson, taken captive by the Indians at Salmon Falls, declares that another maid, of about fifteen or sixteen years of age, taken at the same time, had a great burden imposed on her. Being over-born with her burden, she burst out into tears, telling her Indian master, "that she could go no further." Whereupon he immediately took off her burden, and leading her aside into the bushes, he cut off her head, and scalping it, he ran about laughing and bragging what an act he had now done; and showing the scalp unto the rest, he told them, "they should all be served so if they were not patient."
In fine, when the children of the English captives cried at any time, so that they were not presently quieted, the manner of the Indians was to dash out their brains against a tree. And very often, when the Indians were on or near the water, they took the small children, and held them under water till they had near drowned them, and then gave them unto their distressed mothers to quiet 'em. And the Indians in their frolicks would whip and beat the small children, until they set 'em into grievous outcries, and then throw 'em to their amazed mothers for them to quiet'em again as well as they could.
This was Indian captivity! -- Reader, a modern traveller assures us, that at the Villa Ludovisia, not far from Rome, there is to be seen the body of a petrified man; and that he himself saw by a piece of the man's leg, broken for satisfaction, both the bone and the stone crusted over it. All that I will say, is, that if thou canst read these passages without relenting bowels, thou thyself art as really petrified as the man at Villa Ludovisia.
Nescio tu quibuses, lector, lecturus ocellis; hoc scio quod siccis scribere non potui.**
** I know not, reader, whether you will read this record with dry or tearful eyes; I only know I could not write it without tears in mine.
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