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Indian Captivity Narratives

This collection contains entire narratives of Indian captivity; that is to say, we have provided the reader the originals without the slightest abridgement. Some of these captivities provide little in way of customs and manners, except to display examples of the clandestine warfare Native Americans used to accomplish their means. In almost every case, there was a tug of war going on between principle government powers, French, American, British, and Spanish, and these powers used the natural prowess of the Indians to assist them in causing warfare upon American and Canadian settlers. There were definitely thousands of captivities, likely tens of thousands, as the active period of these Indian captivity narratives covers 150 years. Unfortunately, few have ever been put under a pen by the original captive, and as such, we have little first-hand details on their captivity. These you will find here, are only those with which were written by the captive or narrated to another who could write for them; you shall find in a later collection, a database of known captives, by name, location, and dates, and a narrative about their captivity along with factual sources. But that is for another time.

Narrative of the Captivity and Sufferings of Miss Sarah Gerish – Indian Captivities

Miss Sarah Gerish, who was Taken at the Sacking of Dover, in the Year 1689, by the Indians; as Communicated to the Reverend Dr. Cotton Mather, by the Reverend John Pike, Minister of Dover. Sarah Gerish, daughter of Capt. John Gerish, of Quochecho or Cocheco, was a very beautiful and ingenious damsel, about seven years of age, and happened to be lodging at the garrison of Major Waldron, her affectionate grandfather, when the Indians brought that horrible destruction upon it, on the night of the 27th of June, 1689. She was always very fearful of the Indians; but fear may we think now surprised her, when they fiercely bid her go into a certain chamber and call the people out! She obeyed, but finding only a little child in bed in the room, she got into the bed with it, and hid herself in the clothes as well as she could. The fell Indians quickly pulled her out, and made her dress for a march, but led her way with no more than one stocking upon her, on a terrible march through the thick woods, and a thousand other miseries, till they came to the Norway Planes.1 From thence they made her go to the end of Winnipisiogee Lake, thence eastward, through horrid swamps, where sometimes they were obliged to scramble over huge trees fallen by storm or age, for a vast way together, and sometimes they must climb up long, steep, tiresome, and almost inaccessible mountains. Her first master was an Indian named Sebundowit, a dull sort of fellow, and not such a devil as many of them were,...

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