New England Indians
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French And Indian War Of 1689
Many scenes of depredation and bloodshed are described by historians of those early times previous to the regular campaigns of 1689 and the years ensuing, against the French and Indians. During the war of 1675-6, connected with Philip s conspiracy, the most important affairs were the burning, by the Indians, of the towns of Casco and Saco. Under the administration of Sir Edmund Andross, the conflicting claims to territory in Maine, between the Baron of St. Castine and English proprietors, brought about a war in which the neighboring Indian tribes were involved. With their usual success, the French excited the eastern Indians to espouse their cause, and a series of depredations upon the English colonists ensued.
At Cocheco (Dover), Major Waldron was still in authority, with a considerable force under his command, occupying five fortified buildings. In the summer of 1689, a party of Indians planned an attack upon this post, as well to strike a signal blow in behalf of their white allies, as to revenge the former wrong done to their friends by Waldron. The English considered themselves perfectly secure, and kept no watch a circumstance which had been observed by the enemy. On the 27th of June, two squaws obtained leave to sleep in each of the garrisoned houses. During the night they rose quietly, unbarred the doors, and, by appointed signals, announced to the warriors lurking without that the time was propitious for an attack.
The English were completely overpowered, fifty-two were killed or carried away captive; among the former was Major Waldron. The old warrior (he was eighty years of age) defended himself with astonishing strength and courage, but was finally struck down from behind. Bruised and mangled, he was placed in a chair upon a table, and the savages, gathering round, glutted their long-cherished vengeance by cutting and torturing the helpless captive. He was in bad odor with the Indians for having, as they alleged, defrauded them in former trading trans actions. It was reported among them that he used to ” count his fist as weighing a pound, also that his accounts were not crossed out according to agreement.” Placed as above mentioned, upon a table, some of them ” in turns gashed his naked breast, saying, “I cross out my account.” Then cutting a joint from his finger, would say, “Will your fist weigh a pound now?” (Drake’s edition of Church’s Indian Wars.) They continued these cruelties until he fainted from loss of blood, when they dispatched him. It is said, by the above author, that one of the squaws, to whom was assigned the duty of betraying Waldron’s garrison, felt some compunction at the act of treachery, and endeavored, ineffectually, to warn the commandant by crooning the following verse:
“O, Major Waldo,
You great sagamore,
O, what will you do?
Indians at your door!
In September of this year (1689) Captain (now styled Major) Church was commissioned by the authorities of the United Colonies to prosecute the war in Maine, and he sailed accordingly with his forces for Casco Bay. He had with him two hundred and fifty volunteers, English and friendly Indians, and two companies from Massachusetts. His arrival was seasonable, as a large party of Indians and French was ascertained to be in the vicinity, intending to destroy the place. Some smart skirmishing took place upon the succeeding day, but the enemy finally drew off.
When afterwards ordered home with his troops, Church bestirred himself to bring about some action on the part of the government for the more effectual protection of the unfortunate inhabitants of Casco (the country in the vicinity of the present town of Portland), but in vain; and in the ensuing spring the whole district was ravaged by the enemy. The English settlers at the East, after the event, no longer dared to remain exposed to attacks of the savages, and, deserting their homes, collected at the fortified post at Wells, in the south of Maine.
Church’s second eastern expedition, in September 1690, was against the Indian forts on the Androscoggin. With little resistance he drove off the occupants, released several English captives, and took prisoners several members of the families of the noted sachems Warombo and Kankamagus. A number of Indian prisoners were brutally murdered by the successful party; but two old squaws were left to deliver a message to their own people that Captain Church had been there, and with him many Indians, formerly adherents of King Philip; and to report further, as a warning, what great success he had met with in the war against the great sachem. Word was also left that if the fugitives “had a mind to see their wives and children, they should come to Wells garrison.” With respect to the massacre of prisoners on this occasion, we are left to infer that a portion of them, at least, consisted of women and children. The old narrative here as elsewhere is rather blind, and deficient in detail, but if the facts were as above suggested, the whole history of these Indian wars does not present a more revolting instance of cold-blooded barbarity. That the act was done by Church s orders, or that it was countenanced by him, seems utterly incredible when compared with his usual course towards prisoners. Of one man, who was captured in the taking of Warombo s fort, it is said: “The soldiers being very rude, would hardly spare the Indian s life while in examination;” and it is possible that they might have committed the wanton butchery above mentioned without their commander’s concurrence. We would not, how ever, endeavor to screen the guilty; and if Church is to be held responsible for the murder, it certainly must leave a black and indelible stain upon his character.
From the plundered fort Church proceeded to Casco, where he engaged the enemy, and beat them off, but not without the loss of about thirty of his own men in killed and wounded.
In August 1692, Church was again commissioned by Sir William Phipps to undertake an expedition against the Indians at Penobscot; and, although he failed to surprise the enemy, who escaped in their canoes, he destroyed a quantity of their provision, and brought away a considerable amount of plunder.
A force, sent into Maine, in 1693, under Major Convers, was opposed by none of the natives, and, within a short time after, these miserable people were glad to conclude a treaty of peace with the English at Pemmaquid, where a strong fort had been erected in 1690. At this negotiation the hostile tribes delivered hostages as a security that they would cease depredations and renounce their allegiance to the French. Many of them were, notwithstanding, induced to join the invasion under M. de Villiere, in the following year.
In this campaign, the first object was the destruction of the settlement on Oyster River, near Dover, New Hampshire, where twelve houses had been garrisoned and put in a state of defense. Five of these were forced, and nearly one hundred persons were killed or taken prisoners; the other strongholds made a successful defense, but fifteen unprotected houses were burned. Nothing of special interest occurred in connection with the Eastern Indians from this time until 1696. During the summer of that year, some blood was shed by the savages at Portsmouth and Dover; but the most important occurrence of the season was the reduction of the strong fort at Pemmaquid by the enemy. Church was also engaged in another eastern campaign in the months of August and September, but owing to orders received from the colonial authorities, he was impeded in the prosecution of his plans, and nothing of special moment was affected.
In January 1699, the war with the French being at an end, the Indians of Maine and New Hampshire entered into a treaty of peace with the English colonies acknowledging, by their principal sachems, allegiance to the King of England.