Chapter 1 of New England Captives Carried to Canada.
THE WARS - DEFENCE
The real cause of contentions among men is the ambition to take
what does not belong to them." In the seventeenth, as alas in
the twentieth century, men killed each other for that ambition.
The beginning of hostilities between the French and English in
North America was in 1613 - seven years before the Mayflower came.
The end was the Peace of Paris in 1763. The beginning was in Acadia,
so-called, at Somes Sound, Mount Desert, when Captain Argall cut down at
Saint-Sauveur the cross which had been placed there by the
little colony of Jesuits and courtiers who had been sent out by
the pious Madame de Guercheville.
The last intercolonial war ended with the Cession of Canada. In
all the wars captives, mostly women and children, were carried
from New England to Canada.
The friendship between the Indians and whites, both French and
English, was doubtless based upon trade. Both colonies were
eager to buy furs. Each was jealous of the other and so the
chief cause of our intercolonjal trouble was commercial. This is
shown by the reports sent to Versailles by the governors of
Canada. They are always afraid that the English and Dutch
"by means of the cheap bargains they can give¹ will become masters
of all the peltries thereby destroying the industry upon which
¹ See Chapter III
²N. Y. Docs., IX, 405.
PHILIP'S WAR. 1675-1678. TREATY OF FALMOUTH, SIGNED UNDER "THE
SMOKING TREE" NEAR LONG CREEK BETWEEN PORTLAND AND SCARBOROUGH.
It was in this, a strictly Indian war, that the first captives
were carried to Canada. After the death of Philip his scattered
followers sold their New England prisoners to the French. If the
Indians had not profited by the ransoms paid for the group of
Hatfield and Deerfield people there would have been less
suffering in later wars. They boasted that if they were
successful "Canada Indians" would follow them.
FIRST INTERCOLONIAL WAR - KING WILLIAM'S, 168 8-1697.
"THE DECADE OF SORROWS." PEACE OF RYSWICK.
"Canada Indians," however, did not "follow" for eleven years.
Then the war between France and England was brought over to
their colonies. The right of William and Mary to the English
throne was disputed by Louis XIV, who upheld James II.
Apparently some New Englanders were less concerned than he, for
a bold pamphlet was printed in London in 1691 entitled: "The
Humble Address of the Publicans of New England to which King you
please with some Remarks Upon it." But as the "Publicans" were
uncertain whom they were humbly addressing, so had been their
King two years earlier when he sent Letters of Instruction "To
Such as for the Time being take Care for preserving the Peace
and Administering the Laws in Our Colony of the Massachusetts
Bay in New England in America."
During this war many of our people travelled the long, sad road
to Canada. Of the first summer's campaign Governor de Denonville
reported that because "of the good understanding he has had
through two Jesuits with the Indians who occupy the woods in the
neighborhood of Boston,¹ and who are disposed to become
Christians, he has been able . . . to seize, exclusive of Pem-
kuit, sixteen forts.²" This sounds boastful! After the massacre
²N. Y. Docs., IX, 438.
at Dover, which was an Indian revenge, attacks were made by
French soldiers and Mission Indians, usually led by French
officers and often aided by priestly zeal, on Pemaquid, Salmon
Falls and Casco Bay; then on York, Oyster River and Groton; while
all the time there was frontier warfare between the Connecticut
River on the western and the Kennebec on the eastern border.
In May, 1697, at a castle belonging to William III near the
village of Ryswick, a treaty was signed and peace came slowly
across the seas. Four years later the ambition of Louis XIV to
keep the crown of Spain for his grandson plunged all western
Europe into the "War of the Spanish Succession" which in the New
THE SECOND INTERCOLONIAL WAR - QUEEN ANNE'S OR GOVERNOR DUDLEY'S
WAR, 1702-1713. PEACE OF UTRECHT.
New England bore its stress. Her settlements were scattered,
unprotected and easily reached; weaker than New York, who had
powerful friends in the Indians of the Five Nations (the
Iroquois), she often received cruel punishment in revenge for
Indian attacks upon Canada. It is difficult to understand how a
civilized people could identify themselves with savage warfare,
especially a people who knew the horrors of torture and massacre
as did those of New France; but we must remember that the French
believed the Iroquois were instigated by the colonists of New
York and that Frontenac counted us all one people, "so if Albany
provokes Canada they count it just to fall upon Massachusetts
or any other Eastern Plantation."¹ New France asserted that she
did not wait to be attacked. It was her way to strike terror
rather than to be disturbed herself, knowing well that the
Abenakis at a trifling expense could "greatly inconvenience" New
England. To realize her success we need only mention the
"inconvenience" at Wells, Deerfield, Haverhill, and all the
border raids of this war. Scarcely a Village escaped.
¹Sewall's Letter-Book, Vol. I, 114.
In 1713 the Treaty of Utrecht brought peace of a sort. But the
treaty did not settle important questions for the Western
Continent where always the great issue was that of domination -
French or English. But perhaps the Indian allegiance was of more
vital interest to the people of that generation. The Five
Nations were called British subjects, but the Abenakis of
northern New England, claimed by both powers, were by French
policy left within the boundaries of Maine.
THREE YEARS' WAR, OR GOVERNOR DUMMER'S - FATHER RALE'S -
LOVEWELL'S, 1722-1725/6. TREATY OF BOSTON.
By all these names has this war been called. The quarrel was
between the two provinces of Massachusetts and New Hampshire and
the Eastern Indians, especially those of Norridgewock.
The French openly had no part in it for the two Crowns were at
peace, but when in 1724 the Norridgewocks asked for help Louis
XIV wrote that while it is not expedient that France appear in
this war, yet it is proper that Sr. de Vaudreuil "do secretly
encourage the other nations to assist the Abenakis" by telling
them that the English intend to become masters of the whole
continent and to enslave all the Indian nations.¹ In revenge for
the attempt to capture Father Rale the Indians burned the
village of Brunswick, and then Massachusetts declared war.
People were killed and prisoners taken from the eastern
settlements and from far-away Northfield. Norridgewock was
burned and Father Rale killed, although orders had been given to
spare his life. Three of the four officers in command of the
little troop had been captives in earlier wars. They were
Captains Harmon and Moulton and Lieutenant Bean or Bane.
There were fewer atrocities in this war. The priest's
intervention may have prevented some, but the chief reason was
Governor Shute's order that non-combatants be removed from
¹N. Y. Docs., IX, 936.
²One instance of compliance was at Kittery, where thirty six
houses were made "defencible" and all the families were ordered to
When M. de Vaudreuil was consulted about a peace he answered
that it did not concern the French¹, and the Mission Indians of
his country refused the belts of peace because they "wished to
continue to harass the English." Nevertheless, in the Council
Chamber at Boston in December, 1725, Dummer's treaty - now in
the State House - was signed by four eastern sagamores and
Lieutenant-Governor Dummer, who had been acting since 1723,
when Shute ran away to England. Were these the four Indians who
were presented two years later with elegant clothing? "A Broad
Cloth Coat Trim'd with Silver Lace" and three blankets similarly
adorned; with ruffled shirts and "a hatt with gold lace?"²
THIRD INTERCOLONIAL WAR - KING GEORGE'S WAR - SHIRLEY'S OR FIVE
YEARS' WAR - LOCALLY THE OLD FRENCH AND INDIAN. IN EUROPE THE
WAR OF THE AUSTRIAN SUCCESSION, 1744-1748. PEACE OF AIX-LA-CHAPELLE.
Frederick of Prussia began it. The shot he fired in Silesia in
1741 was heard the whole world over. Almost all the European
powers became involved, and ultimately fire and carnage were
brought again to our border.
After Norridgewock was burned the savages went to Canada "in
deplorable condition," assuring the governor that so long as
there is an Abenaki in the world they will fight the English;
and the governor assures Versailles that they will do it unless
the English destroy their forts and cease their encroachments."³
Nevertheless, during the next twenty years New England was not
much disturbed, partly because French influence had been
somewhat lessened and partly because of better trading-houses
and fairer treatment under Dummer's direction.
Thirty-five separate bands of Indians, counting from six to
thirty-six men, were sent out in the winter and spring of 1746.
They were sent "in the direction of Orange," or "to strike a
blow towards Boston." Much property was destroyed and some scalps,
¹Que. Docs., III, 126.
²Arch. 31; 156.
³Que. Docs., III, 114.
but not many prisoners, were brought back, says the French
The treaty said: "All things shall be restored," but Frederick
kept Silesia. In August, 1748, Canada, learning that the war was
over, notified the nations that they were to send no more
war-parties to New England, and that they would not be paid for
prisoners or scalps. But the Government feared that the
domiciliated Abenakis might continue their hostilities, not
having satisfied their revenge for the warriors they had lost.²
FOURTH INTERCOLONIAL WAR. IN EUROPE, THE SEVEN YEARS' WAR; IN
THE COLONIES, THE LAST FRENCH AND INDIAN WAR. 1755/6-1763. THE
PEACE OF PARIS.
This, the sixth and last Indian war of the century, was almost
continuous with that which preceded it for the treaty of
Aix-la-Chapelle, which was ratified by the Indians at Falmouth,
was little more than a truce. The boundaries between Canada and
the British colonies were still undetermined.
War was declared against the Penobscots in 1755, England making
her declaration against France the next year. The general cause
was the alleged encroachments of the French upon the English
frontiers. Nova Scotia, ceded to Great Britain in 1713, was
still claimed by France. Fort St. Frederick (Crown Point)
was being strengthened, and forts were building from the head of
the St. Lawrence to the Mississippi River. But hostile acts did
not wait upon hostile words, and we find in that smaller part of
the drama which concerns our writing that New Englanders were
carried to Canada as early as 1750. It was in 1760, after the
war was over, that the last captives made "the doleful journey."
For the French and English in America the questions of a century
and a half had been answered on the Heights of Abraham.
¹Que. Docs., III, 272.
²"Journal of Occurrences," N. Y. Docs., X, 174.
Preparedness was not unknown but it was limited; nor was it
popular. Colonel Westbrook, writing in 1724, says: "The people
generally preach up peace to themselves, if the Indians do not
knock some in the head in Six or Seven days."¹
During King Philip's War the Massachusetts Council, endeavoring
to protect the "whole country of Esex & a great part of
midlesex" from the inroads of the heathen, asked twenty towns to
consider the building of a fence - not a real Chinese wall - but
"a fence of stockades or stones (as the matter best suteth) to
be made about eight foot high . . . which fence . . . is not in
length above twelve miles; a good part whereof is aliready don
by large ponds that wil conveniently fal in the line."² The
towns were not eager to comply, one of them (Marblehead) saying
that as the Merrimac River was fordable in several places the
benefit hoped for would "no wayes counter-ballance the vast charge."
Men had to be pressed into service; to avoid which one at least
quoted Scripture, for "the Law of God is plaine that when a man
hath taken a new wife, he shall not goo out to warr . . . but he
shall be free at home one yeare" (Deuteronomy 24: ~). And the
"Law of God" prevailed. Nathaniel Byfield did not go.³
In King William's War Maine was poorly prepared as is shown by a
Report from York, which counts less than two hundred soldiers in
all the garrisons from Casco to the Piscataqua,4 and the
supplies of ammunition, food and clothing were meagre.
In 1694 an Act was passed, which continued during Queen Anne's
War, prohibiting the desertion of frontier towns; even though
many of their inhabitants had been killed or captured. A man
could change his residence only by permission of the governor
and council under pain of forfeiting his lands. Forasmuch as
considerable sums had been expended in the defence and
preservation of the Out-towns and frontiers, it was enacted
that they - naming eleven from Wells to Deerfield, and in
later years increasing the
¹Arch. 51, 406.
²Arch. 68, 174.
³Arch. 68, 231a.
4 Arch. 36, 52.
number - should not be broken up, for if they were deserted
without permission being given for "their drawing off," it would
lessen the strength of the province and the enemy would be encouraged.
Since the General Court ordered the people to stay in their
exposed homes of the border it had to supply defence, but the
"considerable sums" provided little, and very little help came
from England. A letter sent from the King's Council to
Massachusetts¹ in August, 1701, says that the Council had
several times laid before His Majesty "the Desires" that war
supplies be sent to the colony and a hope is held out that "some
small quantity" may be sent in the future; yet Stoughton is told
that the General Court must exert itself vigorously for defence,
and the New England people were blamed in this as in other
matters; but the gentlemen signed themselves: "Your very loving
Friends." Versailles took better care of its colony.
In King William's War the frontier of Massachusetts could "be
traced by a line beginning at Falmouth and running along the
towns of Scarborough, Saco, Wells, York, Amesbury, Haverhill,
Andover, Dunstable, Chelmsford, Lancaster and Worcester." The
New Hampshire towns lay a little out of the track of the
marauders, while "the seven outlying towns on the Connecticut
were in some sort, though imperfectly, covered by New York and
the friendly Iroquois."²
"Some proposalls Refferring to ye Deffence of ye Frontiers" in
1698³ show that the garrisons at many of these places were at
that time increased in numbers from two to twenty-five, with two
or three scouting parties for them all, and the "Court was to
consider the raising of a war tax." Frontier towns, in his
majesty's name, required all male persons capable of bearing
arms to take their arms and ammunition "to ye meeting-house
evary Saboth day and at all other publick meetings," and also
into the meadows and places where they worked, but if a man shot
off a gun except at an Indian
¹Arch. 70, 535.
²Paifrey's New England, IV, 30.
³Arch. 70, 380.
or a wolf he must forfeit five shillings, which amount he must
also pay if he refused his above "dewty."¹ Five shillings was
the whole of the soldier's weekly wage, yet there may have been
waste somewhere for Penhallow says: "The charge of war was so
great that every Indian Massachusetts had killed or taken cost
at least œ1000."² But we must remember that this was "old
tenor" of Massachusetts currency, and also that it was many of
us, but few of the Indians, who were "killed or taken."
Frequently the men were "disadvantaged" in defence and pursuit
by their lack of snowshoes. In 1702 the House "desired" the
Governor to provide "so many good Serviceable snowshoes as they
shall think needful with as many Indian shoes to be Disperst &
lodged in the frontier Towns . . . that they may be ready if
occasion should be, for the service against the Enemy."³ But alas!
They were not always "ready." Our men were less skilful in their use
than were the French and Indians. A French officer wrote that
"Raquettes were required only for those in advance for they make a
hard path for those who follow and for the sledges dragged by the dogs."
New Hampshire ordered every householder at his own charge to
procure "one good pair of snowshoes and mogasheens," or to be
liable to a fine. They were obliged to keep them in repair and
when damaged to replace them.
In Queen Anne's and the Three Years' War Massachusetts supplied
them, allowing money for repairs, but in 1725/6, the war ending
before the expiration of the year for which they had been
provided, it was resolved that "the said Snow Shooe Men be not
entitled to the three shillings mentioned." This was surely an
In the next war Governor Shirley told the Eastern Indians, then
supposedly friendly, that they who would not fight must make snowshoes.
Wooden forts, block houses and garrison-houses were places of
defence and refuge, and the terms are more or less interchange-
¹This order is quoted from Newbury.
²"Indian Wars." 48.
³Arch. 70, 616.
able, especially the last two. The wooden fort was usually a
stockade fence ten or twelve feet high enclosing cabins to
shelter the people in case of alarm, and furnished at the
corners with what were called flankers, which were boxes of
thick plank, large enough to hold two or more men.¹ The Oxford
Dictionary defines the block house originally as "a detached
fort which blocked the access to a landing, a narrow channel or
some strategical point." In later use - as in New England - it
was a building "of one or more storeys, constructed chiefly of
timber loop-holed and embrasured for firing." One of the largest
was Vaughan's at Scarborough. In it during Queen Anne's war
eleven families lived together seven years, "the war without
made peace within" wrote the local historian.
Garrison-houses, so-called, sheltered the scattered soldiers of
the garrison if there were any; but they were primarily places
of refuge for the people. As the villages were open, few having
the protection of a stockade, it was necessary to use those
houses that were best situated or adapted for defence in times
of peril. Throughout New England, to the latest time of Indian
warfare, this was the common means of defence. Sometimes they
had an overhanging story; not as was often said, "to shoot at
savages," or "to pour boiling water upon their heads," but because
it was the pretty fashion of the day. Bourne, writing of garrison-houses
in Maine,² quotes these reasons and adds that the occupants could
more easily exthiguish fire if the enemy tried to burn the
house, but he had never heard of boiling water being used.
If a garrison-house were to be built, permission must be asked,
and the owner must consult the military commander and the chief
person of the town. If a house already built were to be fortified
for this purose it was done at the town's charge.³ In
perilous times "All persons with their families" were commanded "to
abide at the particular garrisons allowed by his Excellency whereto they
¹Parkman's half-Century of Conflict," II, 230.
²Maine Hist. Coll., VII, 113.
³Arch. 70, 339.
are orderly assigned in the towns respectively where they dwell,
by the military commanding officer and the selectmen," and if
any failed he was fined. This especial order was given in 1707,
but it was the custom; the crowded, uncomfortable custom during
the early wars. In March, 1691/2, in the eight garrisons of
Groton there were living ninety-one men with their families.¹
That preparations in 1711 were better than during King William's
war is shown by "A List of the Frontier Garrisons" made in
November of that year.² Wells had ten; York, twenty-one;
Haverhill, twenty-five; Newichawannuck, sixteen; Dunstable, seven;
Groton, eighteen; Lancaster, twenty-seven; and marlborough, nineteen.
¹Butler's Groton, 91.
³Arch. 71, 871-6.
Bill Martin, Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada.
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