Sidor som bilder

frontiers of New York and New England, from the Mohawk to beyond the Kennebec, were stung through all their length by innumerable nocturnal surprises and petty attacks. The details of this murderous though ineffective partisan war would fill volumes, if they were worth recording. One or two examples will show the nature of all.

In the valley of the little river Ashuelot, a New Hampshire affluent of the Connecticut, was a rude border-settlement which later years transformed into a town noted in rural New England for kindly hospitality, culture without pretence, and good-breeding without conventionality. In 1746 the place was in all the rawness and ugliness of a backwoods hamlet. The rough fields, lately won from the virgin forest, showed here and there, among the stumps, a few logcabins, roofed with slabs of pine, spruce, or hemlock. Near by was a wooden fort, made, no doubt, after the common frontier pattern, of a stockade fence ten or twelve feet high, enclosing cabins to shelter the settlers 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, raised above the ground on posts, and pierced with loopholes, so that each face of the stockade could be swept by a flank fire. One corner of this fort at Ashuelot was, however, guarded by a solid block. house, or, as it was commonly called, a “mount."

1 Keene, originally called Upper Ashuelot. On the same stream, a few miles below, was a similar settlement, called Lower Ashuelot, - the germ of the present Swanzey. This, too, suffered greatly from Indian attacks.

On the twenty-third of April a band of sixty, or, by another account, a hundred Indians, approached the settlement before daybreak, and hid in the neighboring thickets to cut off the men in the fort as they came out to their morning work. One of the men, Ephraim Dorman, chanced to go out earlier than the rest. The Indians did not fire on him, but, not to give an alarm, tried to capture or kill him without noise. Several of them suddenly showed themselves, on which he threw down his gun in pretended submission. One of them came up to him with hatchet raised; but the nimble and sturdy borderer suddenly struck him with his fist a blow in the head that knocked him flat, then snatched up his own gun, and, as some say, the blanket of the half-stunned savage also, sprang off, reached the fort unhurt, and gave the alarm. Some of the families of the place were living in the fort; but the bolder or more careless still remained in their farmhouses, and if nothing were done for their relief, their fate was sealed. Therefore the men sallied in a body, and a sharp fight ensued, giving the frightened settlers time to take refuge within the stockade. It was not too soon, for the work of havoc had already begun. Six houses and a barn were on fire, and twenty-three cattle had been killed. The Indians fought fiercely, killed John Bullard, and captured Nathan Blake, but at last retreated; and after they were gone, the charred remains of several of them were found among the ruins of one of the burned cabins, where they had probably been thrown to prevent their being scalped.

Before Dorman had given the alarm, an old woman, Mrs. McKenney, went from the fort to milk her cow in a neighboring barn. As she was returning, with her full milk-pail, a naked Indian was seen to spring from a clump of bushes, plunge a long knife into her back, and dart away without stopping to take the gray scalp of his victim. She tried feebly to reach the fort; but from age, corpulence, and a mortal wound she moved but slowly, and when a few steps from the gate, fell and died.

Ten days after, a party of Indians hid themselves at night by this same fort, and sent one of their number to gain admission under pretence of friendship, intending, no doubt, to rush in when the gate should be opened; but the man on guard detected the trick, and instead of opening the gate, fired through it, mortally wounding the Indian, on which his confederates made off. Again, at the same place, Deacon Josiah Foster, who had taken refuge in the fort, ventured out on a July morning to drive his cows to pasture. A gunshot was heard; and the men who went out to learn the cause, found the deacon lying in the wood-road, dead and scalped. An ambushed Indian had killed him and vanished. Such petty attacks were without number.

There is a French paper, called a record of “military movements," which gives a list of war-parting

sent from Montreal against the English border between the twenty-ninth of March, 1746, and the twenty-first of June in the same year. They number thirty-five distinct bands, nearly all composed of mission Indians living in or near the settled parts of Canada, – Abenakis, Iroquois of the Lake of Two Mountains and of Sault St. Louis (Caughnawaga), Algonquins of the Ottawa, and others, in parties rarely of more than thirty, and often of no more than six, yet enough for waylaying travellers or killing women in kitchens or cow-sheds, and solitary laborers in the fields. This record is accompanied by a list of wild Western Indians who came down to Montreal in the summer of 1746 to share in these “military movements.”” No part of the country suffered more than the western borders of Massachusetts and New Hampshire, and here were seen too plainly the evils of the prevailing want of concert among the British colonies. Massachusetts claimed extensive tracts north of her present northern boundary, and in the belief that her claim would hold good, had built a small wooden fort, called Fort Dummer, on the Connecticut, for the protection of settlers. New Hampshire disputed the title, and the question, being referred to the Crown, was decided in her favor. On this, Massachusetts withdrew the garrison of Fort Dummer and

1 Ertrait sur les differents Mouvements Militaires qui se sont faits à Montreal & Poccasion de la Guerre, 1745, 1746. There is a transla. tion in W. Y Col. Docs.

left New Hampshire to defend her own. This the Assembly of that province refused to do, on the ground that the fort was fifty miles from any settlement made by New Hampshire people, and was therefore useless to them, though of great value to Massachusetts as a cover to Northfield and other of her settlements lower down the Connecticut, to protect? which was no business of New Hampshire. But some years before, in 1740, three brothers, Samuel, David, and Stephen Farnsworth, natives of Groton, Massachusetts, had begun a new settlement on the Connecticut about forty-five miles north of the Massachusetts line and on ground which was soon to be assigned to New Hampshire. They were followed by five or six others. They acted on the belief that their settlement was within the jurisdiction of Massachusetts, and that she could and would protect them. The place was one of extreme exposure, not only from its isolation, far from help, but because it was on the banks of a wild and lonely river, the customary highway of war-parties on their descent from Canada. Number Four - for so the new settlement was called, because it was the fourth in a range of townships recently marked out along the Connecticut, but, with one or two exceptions, wholly unoccupied as yet — was a rude little outpost of civilization, buried in forests that spread unbroken to the banks of the St. Lawrence, while its nearest

1 Journal of the Assembly of New Hampshire, quoted in Saunder son, History of Charlestown, N. H., 20.

« FöregåendeFortsätt »