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Indian Method of Warfare.
Destruction of New England Villages.
Terrible Retaliation by the Whites.
where the Pilgrims found a friend, and from his cabin, which had sheltered the exiles, Philip and his warriors spread through the country, arousing their brethren to a warfare of extermination.
The war, on the part of the Indians, was one of ambush and surprise. They never once met the English in open field; but always, even if eight-fold in number, fled timorously before infantry. But they were secret as beasts of prey, skillful marksmen, and in part provided with fire-arms, fleet of foot, conversant with all the paths of the forest, patient of fatigue, mad with passion for rapine, vengeance, and destruction, retreating into swamps for their fastnesses, or hiding in the green-wood thickets, where the leaves muffled the eyes of the pursuers. By the rapidity of their descent, they seemed omnipotent among the scattered villages, which they ravaged like a passing storm; and for a full year they kept all New England in a state of terror and excitement. The exploring party was waylaid and cut off, and the mangled carcasses and disjointed limbs of the dead were hung upon the trees to terrify pursuers. The laborer in the field, the reapers as they went forth to harvest, men as they went to mill, the shepherd's boy among the sheep, were shot down by skulking foes, whose approach was invisible. Who can tell the heavy hours of woman? The mother, if left alone in the house, feared the tomahawk for herself and children; on the sudden attack, the husband would fly with one child, the wife with another, and perhaps only one escape; the village cavalcade, making its way to meeting on Sunday, in files on horseback, the farmer holding the bridle in one hand and a child in the other, his wife seated on a pillion behind him, it may be with a child in her lap, as was the fashion of those days, could not proceed safely; but, at the moment when least expected, bullets would whiz among them, discharged with fatal aim from an ambuscade by the wayside. The red men hung upon the skirts of the English villages like the lightning on the edge of the clouds.'
a August 2.
b September 1.
"What need of repeating the same tale of horrors? Brookfield was set on fire, a and rescued only to be abandoned. Deerfield was burned.b surprised during a time of religious service,' was saved only by the daring of Goffe, the regicide, now bowed with years, a heavenly messenger of rescue, who darted from his hiding-place, rallied the disheartened, and, having achieved a safe defense, sank away in his retirement, to be no more seen. The plains of Northfield were wet with the blood of Beersa and twenty of his valiant associates. Lathrop's company of young men, the very flower of Essex, culled out of the towns of that county, were b September 18. butchered;b hardly a white man escaped; and the little stream whose channel became red with their life currents, is called Bloody Brook to this day."
a September 12.
The Narragansets played false to the white men, and in winter sheltered the foe that wasted their settlements. It was resolved to treat them as enemies, and through the deep snows of December, a thousand men, levied by the united colonies, marched to the great fort of the tribe. Its feeble palisades quickly yielded, and fire and sword soon "swept away the humble glories of the Narragansets. Their winter stores, their wigwams, and all the little comforts of savage life, were destroyed; and more, their old men, their women, their babes, perished by hundreds in the fire." It was a terrible blow for the Indians. Cold, hunger, and disease followed, and were the powerful allies of the English in the decimation of the tribe. Yet Canonchet did not despair, and he fought gallantly, until, being taken prisoner by the English, he was put to death.
In the spring, the spirit of revenge and retaliation began its work. Weymouth, Groton, Medfield, Lancaster, and Marlborough, in Massachusetts, were laid in ashes;
1 See page 420, vol. i., of this work.
2 The fort was situated upon an island containing four or five acres, imbosomed in a swamp. The island was encompassed by high and strong palisades, with abatis outside, and there three thousand of the Narragansets were collected to pass the winter. This swamp is a short distance southwest of Kingston village, in the township of Kingston, Washington county, Rhode Island. The Stonington and Providence rail-way crosses the swamp in a northeasterly direction from its western verge.
3 Bancroft, ii., 105.
Decimation of the Indians.
Strifes among them. Philip a Fugitive. His Death.
Warwick and Providence, in Rhode Island, were burned; and every where the isolated dwellings of adventurous settlers were laid waste. But as the season advanced, and more remote tribes came not to re-enforce them, the Indians, wasted and dispirited, abandoned all hopes of success. Strifes arose among them. The Connecticut Indians charged their misfortunes upon Philip, and so did the Narragansets. The cords of alliance were severed. Some surrendered to avoid starvation; other tribes wandered off and joined those of Canada; while Captain Church, the most famous of the English partisan warriors, went out to hunt and destroy the fugitives. During the year, between two and three thousand Indians were killed or submitted. Philip was chased from one hiding-place to another; and although he had vainly sought the aid of the Mohawks, and knew that hope was at an end, his proud spirit would not listen to words of peace; he cleft the head of a warrior who ventured to propose it. At length, after an absence of a year, he resolved, as it were, to meet his destiny. He returned to the beautiful land where his forefathers slept, the cradle of his infancy, and the nestling-place of his tribe. Once he escaped narrowly, leaving his wife and only son prisoners. This bereavement crushed him. My heart breaks," cried the chieftain, in the agony of his grief; "now I am ready to die." His own followers now began to plot against him, to make better terms for themselves. In a few days he was shot by a faithless Indian, and Captain Church cut off his head with his own sword. The captive orphan was transported to an island of the ocean. So perished the princes of the Pokanokets. Sad to them had been their acquaintance with civilization. The first ship that came on their coast kidnapped men of their kindred; and now the harmless boy, who had been cherished as an only child and the future sachem of their tribes-the last of the family of Massasoit-was sold into bondage, to toil as a slave under the suns of Bermuda. Of the once prosperous Narragansets of old, the chief tribe of New England, hardly one hundred remained. The sword, famine, fire, and sickness had swept them from the earth. During the whole war the Mohegans remained faithful to the English, and not a drop of blood was shed on the happy soil of Connecticut. So much the greater was the loss in the adjacent colonies. Twelve or thirteen towns were destroyed. The disbursements and losses equaled in value half a million of dollars an enormous sum for the few of that day. More than six hundred men, chiefly young men, the flower of the country, of whom any mother might have been proud, perished in the field. As many as six hundred houses were burned. Of the able-bodied men in the colony, one in twenty had fallen; and one family in twenty had been burned out. The loss of lives and property was, in proportion
1 Benjamin Church was born at Duxbury, in 1639. He was the first white settler at Seaconnet, or Little Compton. He was the most active and noted combatant of the Indians during King Philip's war, and when Philip was slain, Church cut off his head with his own hands. The sword with which he performed the act is in the cabinet of the Massachusetts Historical Society (see page 562, vol. i.). In 1689, Church was commissioned by President Hinckley, of Plymouth, and the governors of Maine and Massachusetts, commander-in-chief of a force sent against the Eastern Indians. He continued making expeditions against them until 1704. In his old age he was corpulent. A fall from his horse was the cause of his death, which occurred at Little Compton, January 17, 1718, at the age of seventy-seven years. Under his direction his son prepared a history of the Indian wars, which was published in 1716.
* The disposal of this child was a subject of much deliberation. Several of the elders were urgent to put him to death. It was finally resolved to be merciful, and send him to Bermuda, to be sold into slavery. Such was the fate of many Indians, a fate to them worse than death. During the war the government of Plymouth gave thirty shillings for every head of an Indian killed in battle, and Philip's brought the same price. Their living bodies brought a high price in Bermuda, and probably more living Indian heads went thither than dead ones to the market at Plymouth. Witamo, the squaw sachem of Pocasset, shared in the disasters of Philip. She was drowned while crossing a river in her flight. Her body was recovered, and the head cut off and stuck upon a pole at Taunton, amid the jeers of the whites and the tears of the captive Indians. The body of Philip was beheaded and quartered, according to the sentence of the English law against traitors. One of his hands was given to the Indian who had shot him, and on the day appointed for a public thanksgiving, his head was carried in triumph into Plymouth. What a mockery of Christianity! Men, guilty of gross injustice to a race that had befriended them, lifting their hands toward heaven reeking with the blood of those they had injured, and singing Te Deum Laudamus, or praising God for his providential care! No Providence for the poor Indian, because he had neither cunning, skill, nor gunpowder !
Sufferings of the Colonists.
A Happy Change.
Capture of the Pigot by Talbot.
to numbers, as distressing as in the Revolutionary war. There was scarce a family from which Death had not selected a victim." Thus ended the first general Indian war in New England. Righteousness, sitting upon the throne of judgment, has long since decided the question of equity; and we, viewing the scene at a distance, can not fail to discern the true verdict against the avaricious white man.
Those dark days of distress and crime are passed away forever. The splendors of an October sun, which then shed a radiance over the forests and the waters, beautiful as now, no longer light up the ambuscade of the red men, or the hiding-places of the pale-faces lurking for blood. From the bald eminence on which I stand, the land of Philip and Canonchet, of Witamo and Miantonōmoh, and the broad waters where they sported in peace, are spread out to the eye beautiful as the Happy Valley," and upon the whole domain rest the beneficent influences of love, harmony, righteousness, and peace. Let us, then, endeavor to forget the gloomy past, and leave upon memory only the bright vision of the present. The vision was bright indeed, but it was the sheen of the glacier. The unclouded sun and the uncurbed north wind wrestled for the mastery. The latter was the victor, and, until I was warmed at the table of Mr. Anthony, I could not fully comprehend the charms which I had beheld while half frozen among the mounds of the old fortress on the hill. I returned to Newport by the way of Vaucluse, on the eastern road, where I sketched the great sycamore pictured on page 85, which is standing upon the bank of the Seaconnet or Eastern Channel. Near the mouth of this passage, a little below Vaucluse, occurred one of those events, characterized by skill and personal bravery, which make up a large portion of the history of our war for independence. In order to close up this channel, when the French fleet appeared off Newport, the British converted a strong vessel of two hundred tuns into a galley, and named it Pigot, in honor of the commander on Rhode Island. Its upper deck was removed, and on its lower deck were placed twelve eight-pounders, which belonged to the Flora, that was sunk in Newport harbor, and also ten swivels. Thus armed, she was a formidable floating battery. Major Silas Talbot, whose exploits had already won the expressed approbation of Congress, proposed an expedition to capture or destroy this vessel, for it effectually broke up the local trade of that section. General Sullivan regarded his scheme as impracticable, but finally consented to give Talbot permission to make the attempt. A draft of men for the purpose was allowed, and with sixty resolute patriots, Talbot sailed from Providence in a coasting sloop called the Hawk, which he had fitted out for the purpose. Armed with only three three-pounders, besides the small arms of his men, he sailed by the British forts at Bristol Ferry, and anchored within a few miles of the Pigot. Procuring a horse on shore, he rode down the east bank and reconnoitered. The galley presented a formidable appearance, yet the major was not daunted. At nine o'clock in the evening, favored with a fair wind, and accompanied by Lieutenant Helm, of Rhode Island, and a small re-enforcement, Talbot hoisted the anchor of the Hawk, and with a kedge-anchor lashed to the jib-boom to tear the nettings of the Pigot, he bore down upon that vessel. It was a very dark night in October. Under bare poles he drifted past Fogland Ferry fort without being discovered, when he hoisted sail and ran partly under the stern of the galley. The sentinels hailed him, but, returning no answer, a volley of musketry was discharged at the Hawk without effect. The anchor tore the nettings and grappled the fore-shrouds of the Pigot, enabling the assailants to make a free passage to her deck. With loud shouts, the Americans poured from the Hawk, and drove every man of the Pigot into the hold, except the commander, who fought desperately alone, with no other mail than shirt and drawers, until he perceived that resistance was useless. The Pigot was surrendered, with the officers and crew. Her cables were coiled over the hatchways, to secure the prisoners below, and, weighing anchor, Talbot, with his prize, entered the harbor of Stonington the next day. This bold adventure was greatly applauded, and, on the 14th of November following, Congress complimented Talbot and his men, and presented him with
1 Bancroft, ii., 108, 109.
Promotion of Talbot.
Departure from Newport.
Adieu to New England.
a commission of lieutenant colonel in the army of the United States.'
"They love their land because it is their own,
And scorn to give aught other reason why;
A stubborn race, fearing and flattering none.
Such are they nurtured, such they live and die,
With merchandise, pounds, shillings, pence, and peddling;
"Or, wandering through the Southern countries, teaching
And gaining, by what they call 'hook and crook,'
A decent living. The Virginians look
Upon them with as favorable eyes
As GABRIEL on the Devil in Paradise.
"But these are but their outcasts. View them near,
At home, where all their worth and pride are placed;
And there the lowliest farm-house hearth is graced
Faithful in love, in honor stern and chaste,
He was afterward
1 See Tuckerman's Life of Talbot; Journals of Congress, iv., 471.
The Hudson Highlands.
The Indian Summer.
"By wooded bluff we steal, by leaning lawn,
Till to our wondering and uplifted eyes
"Nor clouds in heaven, nor billows in the deep,
In ages past here broke its granite bound,
THEODORE S. FAY.
VERY place made memorable by Revolutionary events has an interest in the mind and heart of the American, and claims the homage of regard from the lover of freedom, wheresoever he may have inspired his first breath. But there are a few localities so thickly clustered with associations of deep interest, that they appear like fuglemen in the march of events which attract the historian's notice. Prominent among these are the Highlands, upon the Hudson, from Haverstraw to Newburgh, the scenes of councils, battles, sieges, triumphs and treason, in all of which seemed to be involved for the moment, the fate of American liberty. Thitherward I journeyed at the commencement of our beautiful Indian summer,' the season
and rambled for a week among those ancient hills and the historic grounds adjacent. I arrived at Newburgh on the morning of the 25th of October. The town is pleasantly situated upon the steep western bank of the Hudson, sixty miles from New York, and in the midst of some of the finest scenery in the world, enhanced in interest to the student of history by the associations which hallow it. In the southern suburbs of the village, on the brow of the hill, stands the gray old fabric called "The Hasbrouck House," memorable
The week or ten days of warm, balmy weather in autumn, immediately preceding the advent of winter storms, when, as Irving says of Sleepy Hollow, a "drowsy, dreamy influence seems to hang over the land and pervade the very atmosphere," appears to be peculiar to the United States, and has attracted the attention of travelers and philosophers. It is called Indian summer, because it occurs at a season when the natives gathered in their crops of maize or Indian corn. The atmosphere is smoky, and so mellows the sunlight that every object wears the livery of repose, like the landscapes of Southern Italy. The cause of the warmth and other peculiarities of this season is an unexplained question. It is the season when the fallen leaves of our vast forests begin to decay. As decadence is slow combustion, may not the heat evolved in the process produce the effects noticed?