Stedman and Hutchinson, comps. A Library of American Literature: An Anthology in Eleven Volumes. 1891. Vol. III: Literature of the Revolutionary Period, 17651787
Episodes of Warfare in New Hampshire
By Jeremy Belknap (17441798)
[From The History of New Hampshire. 1793.]
IN that part of the town of Dover which lies about the first falls in the river Cochecho, were five garrisoned houses; three on the north side, viz., Waldrons, Otis and Heards; and two on the south side, viz., Peter Coffins and his sons. These houses were surrounded with timber-walls, the gates of which, as well as the house doors, were secured with bolts and bars. The neighboring families retired to these houses by night; but by an unaccountable negligence, no watch was kept. The Indians who were daily passing through the town visiting and trading with the inhabitants, as usual in time of peace, viewed their situation with an attentive eye. Some hints of a mischievous design had been given out by their squaws; but in such dark and ambiguous terms that no one could comprehend their meaning. Some of the people were uneasy; but Waldron, who from a long course of experience was intimately acquainted with the Indians, and on other occasions had been ready enough to suspect them, was now so thoroughly secure, that when some of the people hinted their fears to him, he merrily bade them go and plant their pumpkins, saying he would tell them when the Indians would break out. The very evening before the mischief was done, being told by a young man that the town was full of Indians and the people were much concerned, he answered that he knew the Indians very well and there was no danger.
The plan which the Indians had preconcerted was, that two squaws should go to each of the garrisoned houses in the evening, and ask leave to lodge by the fire; that in the night when the people were asleep they should open the doors and gates, and give the signal by a whistle; upon which the strange Indians, who were to be within hearing, should rush in, and take their long meditated revenge. This plan being ripe for execution, on the evening of Thursday, the twenty-seventh of June, two squaws applied to each of the garrisons for lodging, as they frequently did in time of peace. They were admitted into all but the younger Coffins, and the people, at their request, showed them how to open the doors, in case they should have occasion to go out in the night. Mesandowit, one of their chiefs, went to Waldrons garrison, and was kindly entertained, as he had often been before. The squaws told the major, that a number of Indians were coming to trade with him the next day, and Mesandowit while at supper, with his usual familiarity, said, Brother Waldron, what would you do if the strange Indians should come? The major carelessly answered, that he could assemble a hundred men, by lifting up his finger. In this unsuspecting confidence the family retired to rest.
When all was quiet, the gates were opened and the signal given. The Indians entered, set a guard at the door, and rushed into the majors apartment, which was an inner room. Awakened by the noise, he jumped out of bed, and though now advanced in life to the age of eighty years, he retained so much vigor as to drive them with his sword through two or three doors; but as he was returning for his other arms, they came behind him, stunned him with a hatchet, drew him into his hall, and seating him in an elbow chair on a long table insultingly asked him, Who shall judge Indians now? They then obliged the people in the house to get them some victuals; and when they had done eating, they cut the major across the breast and belly with knives, each one with a stroke, saying, I cross out my account. They then cut off his nose and ears, forcing them into his mouth; and when spent with the loss of blood, he was falling down from the table, one of them held his own sword under him, which put an end to his misery. They also killed his son-in-law, Abraham Lee; but took his daughter Lee with several others, and having pillaged the house, left it on fire.
Elizabeth Heard, with her three sons and a daughter, and some others, were returning in the night from Portsmouth. They passed up the river in their boat unperceived by the Indians, who were then in possession of the houses; but suspecting danger by the noise which they heard, after they had landed they betook themselves to Waldrons garrison, where they saw lights, which they imagined were set up for direction to those who might be seeking a refuge. They knocked and begged earnestly for admission; but no answer being given, a young man of the company climbed up the wall, and saw, to his inexpressible surprise, an Indian standing in the door of the house, with his gun. The woman was so overcome with the fright that she was unable to fly; but begged her children to shift for themselves; and they, with heavy hearts, left her. When she had a little recovered she crawled into some bushes, and lay there till daylight. She then perceived an Indian coming toward her with a pistol in his hand; he looked at her and went away: returning, he looked at her again; and she asked him what he would have; he made no answer, but ran yelling to the house, and she saw him no more. She kept her place till the house was burned, and the Indians were gone; and then returning home, found her own house safe. Her preservation in these dangerous circumstances was more remarkable, if (as it is supposed) it was an instance of justice and gratitude in the Indians. For at the time when the four or five hundred were seized in 1676, a young Indian escaped and took refuge in her house, where she concealed him; in return for which kindness he promised her that he would never kill her, nor any of her family in any future war, and that he would use his influence with the other Indians to the same purpose. This Indian was one of the party who surprised the place, and she was well known to most of them.