Massasoit: A Story of the Indians of New England - Alma H. Burton

On the French Frontiers

The towns, on the frontiers of Maine and New Hampshire, suffered constant attacks from the Indians.

At Dover, there were five garrison houses, in one of which was Major Waldron. He had taken four hundred Indian prisoners, at the close of King Philip's war, by the stratagem of a sham battle.

When the muskets of the Indians had been discharged, he surrounded the warriors with his men, made them give up their arms, and sorted out about two hundred, who were sent to Bolton, to be sold as slaves in the West Indies.

It was now time, after thirteen years, to seek revenge for this deed of the white men. Indian women came to Dover, to beg for lodging, during one bitter cold night. Then, when all within were asleep, the squaws rose from their pallets, unbarred the doors, and whistled to the dusky savages who lurked among the bushes.

As they crept stealthily forward, a dog in one house barked, and the inmates seized their arms, and defended themselves, but two houses were burned, and two were captured. In one of those captured, was Major Waldron.

Major Waldron


He was eighty years old, but still strong and vigorous. He sprang from his bed, and drove his foes before him with his sword. As he turned 'for his musket, one of the Indians struck him on the back of the head.

He was tied to a chair and horribly tortured. As each Indian cut with a knife, he cried out, "I thus cross out my account."

Twenty-three white people were killed in Dover. Twenty-nine were taken prisoners. Some were adopted by the Indians. Their hair was plucked from their heads, except the scalp-lock, then they were soused in a brook to rinse out the white blood, dressed in skins, and taken to a lodge, to fill the place of some who had died. Some of the captives were sold to the French in Canada, as slaves.

Among those taken, was Sarah Garrish, a beautiful child, seven years old, the granddaughter of Major Waldron.

She had many adventures on her way to Canada.

Once her master told her to stand against a tree; then charged his gun as if to shoot her.

Another time a squaw pushed her into the river. Sarah caught some bushes overhanging the bank, and pulled herself out of the water, but she did not dare to tell of what had happened.

One morning, very early, the camp went on their way, leaving her fast asleep in the snow. She was in a deep forest, where she could hear the cries of wild beasts. She knew she could not find her way back to the English settlements, and so she rose from her bed of snow, and ran in the tracks of the Indians, until she overtook them.

The young Indians were always frightening her, and told her she was soon to be burned to death. One evening a large fire was built. The Indian boys and girls threw on the pine-knots, and ran about shouting in high glee, as if they had heard a very good piece of news.

When the flames were very high, Sarah's master called her to him, and told her she was to be burned.

The poor child threw her arms about the warrior's neck, and pleaded so hard for her life, that his heart was touched, and a few months afterward, she was restored to her parents. The war with the Indians of the frontiers continued for several months. It was very evident that the French were urging the Indians to their attacks, and doing all they could to draw away the trade in codfish and furs, along the Penobscot and Connecticut rivers.

At last, the French governor, Frontenac, sent out two hundred French and Indian troops to attack Schenectady, a town of about five hundred inhabitants, twenty miles from Albany. It was winter. The snow lay deep on the ground. The little army traveled on snow-shoes. They threaded the forests guided by frozen rivers, and slept at night on pine branches.

Some one in Schenectady said that the gates should be guarded that night, but as the inhabitants looked out over the vast fields of snow, they laughed at the idea of any approach, set up snow images for sentinels, and retired within their warm homes to sleep.

The party of French and Indians arrived, and ran swiftly in at the unguarded gates. The slaughter was terrible.

A few escaped through the deep snow to Albany. Those not killed were carried away captive, and the glare of burning buildings lighted their pathway for many weary miles, as they were driven on, loaded with the plunder of their own homes.

At Haverhill two boys were at work in the fields. Their names were Isaac Bradley and Joseph Whittaker.

They were hoeing the corn when the Indians sprang from the woods and carried them off. Isaac was quick to learn, and soon understood all the Indians said, though he did not let them know this.

He heard they were soon to be sold to the French. He determined to escape. One night, when all the Indians lay sound asleep around the camp-fires, he awakened Joseph by pinching him softly on the ear. He motioned for him to follow, and then stole silently over the bodies of the sleeping men.

They wandered through deep forests, and just as they were thinking they had escaped, they heard the shouts of the Indians in pursuit. They crawled into a great, hollow log. A dog, running ahead of the Indians, traced them to the log, and they threw him a piece of dried meat to keep him quiet. They hardly breathed as the footsteps drew nearer. But the Indians passed on.

The two boys traveled by night, and hid by day. They dug roots for food, and, after six days of weary march, came suddenly upon an Indian camp. They were greatly frightened at this, but managed to steal away before they were seen. On they wandered, until Joseph could walk no farther, and lay on the ground to die. Isaac lifted him up in his arms, and staggered on. He was just ready to fall under his burden, when he struck a path which led to a white trapper's cabin. Both boys were soon restored with food, and, after many long months, reached their own homes in Haverhill.

It was very evident that the French were urging the Indians to warfare.

The attacks on the frontiers of the North continued, until the alarm spread throughout all New England. Troops were raised for land and sea, to make war on the French.

A fleet of ships conquered Port Royal in Acadia. Then thirty-two vessels sailed up the St. Lawrence to conquer Quebec. But storms came on. Snow fell continually. The rocks in the river were dangerous for vessels in charge of unskilled pilots. So the fleet turned about for home. A high gale struck the prows. One vessel was wrecked; others foundered out in the open sea, and others sped away to the West Indies at the bidding of the hurricane.

Over two hundred men were lost, and again the coast was clear for the French to ravage the merchant ships along the English bays.

Then peace was made between England and France. But four years later war broke out again.

Another fleet, with more than seven thousand troops, sailed out of Boston Harbor in July, 1711, to conquer Quebec. The vessels lost their way in the thick fog of the St. Lawrence. Ten ships drifted against ledges of rocks, and went to pieces. A thousand soldiers were drowned.

Soon after this, another treaty of peace was made between England and France. Acadia became the English province of Nova Scotia by this treaty; yet so great had been the destruction of the war, that more than one hundred miles of the sea-coast of Maine had not a single English settlement, and the canoes of the red men sped undisturbed among its many bays.

But the busy New Englanders built ships and wharves, put in factories and mills, and extended their commerce more and more. Towns sprang up again on the coasts of Maine and New Hampshire. For twenty years there was peace.

Then war broke out again with France, called King George's War, because George II was king in England, and again the descendants of King Philip's warriors were called to their bloody work by the French. They attacked the English settlers on all the frontiers of the North.

Ft. Louisburg, on Cape Breton Island, was the chief stronghold of the French. The wide harbor, beneath its walls, was the safe retreat for privateers, who plundered the merchant ships of New England. The people said they should lay their heads together to capture this fort, or they would soon not be able to carry on any commerce.

Connecticut, New Hampshire and Rhode Island sent men and ships to Boston Harbor, and soon one hundred vessels set their sails for Louisburg. It was a great fleet. The red men crouched behind the rocks on the shore, and watched it disappear in the distance. They feared for the fate of their allies, and well they might.

After a siege of seven weeks, the great fortress surrendered, with all its cannon, and two thousand men.

There was joy in the colonies over this victory, which seemed to promise that the cruel wars would soon be over.

Boston Harbor was gay with ships flying their colors, and the batteries kept up a loud booming of guns. In the evening there was a bonfire on Boston Common, and curious fireworks were thrown up. In all New England there was rejoicing and festivities over the victory of Louisburg.