Here to return to
COLONIAL LIFE IN NEW HAMPSHIRE.
The First Settlers. — During the summer of 1603 two small vessels commanded by Captain Martin Pring sailed into what is now Portsmouth Harbor and explored Piscataqua River for some distance. Pring was much pleased with the thickly wooded hills and the rich lowlands along the river banks, and, upon returning to England, gave such an account of the country that many Englishmen of influence and wealth became interested in this part of the New World.
Settlement at Pannaway.— In the year 1622 Mr. David Thompson obtained from the Grand Council of Plymouth a grant of land consisting of six thousand acres, the site of which was to be chosen by himself.
With a company of colonists, he sailed in midwinter in a ship called the “Jonathan of Plymouth,” and arrived at the Piscataqua in the spring of 1623. He chose for his place of settlement a location near the present city of Portsmouth, and soon completed a stone house large enough for himself and his followers. Thompson remained at this place, which was called Pannaway, several years, during which time he traded with the Indians for furs, and caught and salted fish which were found in great quantities off the coast. Shortly after the settlement was established he was visited by the renowned Miles Standish of the Plymouth Colony. This small settlement remained and flourished, although its leader in the year 1626 moved to the colony of Massachusetts.
Settlement at Dover. — About the time of the settlement at Pannaway a small company under the leadership of Mr. Edward Hilton built several log cabins near the present town of Dover, with the intention of establishing a trading-post. It was customary for the Plymouth company to demand that before any grant was made some settlement should be started to indicate the good faith of the persons who desired the land. Accordingly, Hilton brought to the notice of the Plymouth company the improvements which he had made on the Piscataqua, and in consideration of these, the company in the spring of 1630 granted him six thousand acres.
The Company of Laconia. — In 1629 the Grand Council of Plymouth gave to Sir Ferdinando Gorges, Captain John Mason, and seven other gentlemen a tract of territory near Lake Champlain, to which province they gave the name of Laconia, “on account of the great lakes therein.” These men imagined that Lake Champlain lay about ninety miles from the coast, and that the head waters of the Piscataqua were but a few miles from this region. They therefore hired the buildings which were erected seven years before by David Thompson, and made them a basis of supplies for expeditions to this country which they supposed was to be so easily reached. After struggling for two years to find a direct route to Laconia, all efforts were abandoned.
During this time, the colonists had noticed the many advantages which the region about the Piscataqua offered for commerce and fishing, and the Company of Laconia in 1631 obtained a grant to this section; but this grant in no way conflicted with the land previously given to Hilton. For a number of years the company continued under the leadership of Captain Walter Neale; but as nothing was done toward reclaiming the wilderness, and as their returns were meagre, the company soon disbanded.
Mason at this time bought the shares of two of his associates, and shortly before the surrender of the Grand Patent of the Company of Plymouth, procured a new grant of land in this section, which he called New Hampshire. But the name New Hampshire was not commonly used until 1679, when the colony was made a royal province. Mason persevered in his idea of settling this territory, and sent over many colonists with farming tools and cattle. He also set up two sawmills. Mason died in 1635, and for a time his widow managed the estate through her agent, Francis Norton. Finding that the expenses exceeded the returns, she soon severed all connection with the colony and left the settlers to shift for themselves as best they could.
Founding of Exeter. — In the year 1638 the Reverend John Wheelright, a man of remarkable intellect and of great independence, came from the Massachusetts Colony with a band of followers and settled at Exeter. He had been banished from Massachusetts on account of his belief in the religious teachings of Mrs. Anne Hutchinson a woman of great power, who profoundly stirred the theological minds of her time. A year after the founding of Exeter a code of laws was agreed upon, which formed the first written constitution of any New Hampshire settlement. The next year the colonists along the Piscataqua River entered into a similar constitution in order to protect themselves against “sundry mischiefes and inconveniences.” Thus the little settlements acknowledged their mutual dependence for law and order upon a written agreement which was more or less binding for all their people.
Grants by Massachusetts. — The early towns along the Merrimac River for a long time were supposed to be under the jurisdiction of Massachusetts, and grants were made under the authority of that colony. Of these towns, Dunstable was the earliest to be settled, but many others soon obtained charters from Massachusetts. This land was practically given to the settlers, but a nominal fee known as “quitt rents” was reserved by the authorities. In some instances the payment consisted of one ear of Indian corn for a rental of ten years. Usually a number of settlers combined and asked for the charter of a township, which was afterwards surveyed and divided among them, generally by lot.
Massachusetts finally had so many petitions presented for lands that she granted not only townships, but lines of towns, which were so situated as to effectually protect the frontier settlements. In the southern part of the state four lines were granted in the form of a quadrilateral extending west from Dunstable to Northfield, Massachusetts; from that place north along the east side of the Connecticut; thence east to Penacook (Concord), and from Penacook south to Dunstable. Only two of these sides were really settled under this arrangement, — the north side, where they were numbered from one to nine, and the west side, where they were numbered from one to four: it was from this fact that Charlestown was originally known as Number Four.
Conflicts with the Indians. — During the early years of the colony the settlers found the Indians well disposed, and these friendly relations were maintained for a long time. They traded with each other to mutual advantage. The Indians furnished many things to the whites, who in turn gave the Indians many articles which they were unable to make.
Gradually, however, misunderstandings began to arise. As the settlements spread, the Indians found themselves pushed farther and farther back toward the west, where they were checked by the powerful Iroquois. They could not understand the white men’s ideas of the ownership of land, nor could they comprehend the strict laws of the settlers or the crimes for which they were sometimes punished. They saw their hunting grounds and garden spots turned into farms and villages, and, becoming desperate, resolved to regain their lands from the settlers. In consequence, many expeditions were made against the exposed settlements. In these attacks the Indians were aided by gifts of arms and ammunition from the French in Canada, and therefore our forefathers were scarcely less bitter toward the French than toward the savages themselves.
The Indians practiced the same cruelties upon the whites that they were accustomed to inflict when fighting with each other. Always after a successful attack the captives who were not capable of traveling were put to death, and the others were taken to Canada, where they were either held for ransom or sold as slaves. It is estimated that during one year ten per cent of the men in New Hampshire were killed by Indian raiders. Men carried their flintlock guns with them everywhere, — into the fields on weekdays and into the meeting-houses on Sundays. To protect their log cabins, they built around them high fences of upright logs, which were sharpened and driven close together into the earth. In order to attack people within, the Indians had to expose themselves in climbing over these palisades. In addition, every community had at least one blockhouse, which was a sort of fort built large enough to hold several families. The first story was constructed like a log cabin, but the second was so built that it projected out beyond the first. By this means the attacking party could be fired on from above and driven from the walls, which would otherwise protect the Indians without as much as they did the settlers within.
Death of Major Waldron (1689). — During these troublesome times in New Hampshire the exposed settlements in Massachusetts were attacked by Indians under the command of a powerful chief named Philip, but after several massacres the savages were overcome and their leader was killed. A large number of Philip’s people came to the tribes in the southern part of New Hampshire, where they attempted to stir up a warlike spirit. This reached the ears of the authorities in Boston, and a company of soldiers was sent to stop the threatened uprising. Upon reaching Dover they found two or three hundred Indians entertained by Major Waldron whom the savages considered their fast friend. Among this number there were several of King Philip’s Indians whom the soldiers wished to take prisoners at once, but Waldron advised them to wait until the next day, when he would arrange a sham fight, and the Indians, being unarmed, could be taken without resistance. This was done, and, not suspecting any surprise, they were easily captured. All, however, were released, with the exception of King Philip’s old soldiers, who were brought captive to Boston. Eight of them were afterwards convicted of murder and hanged, while the rest were sold as slaves.
The Indians never forgave Major Waldron his treachery, and while still pretending friendship were quietly laying plans for revenge. On the evening of June 27, 1689, two squaws applied at each of the garrison houses in Dover for permission to sleep. A chief named Mesandowit was also entertained at Major Waldron’s. While they were at supper the Indian quietly asked Waldron, “What would you do if the strange Indians come?” Waldron, with confidence in the strength of his defense, replied, “I can assemble a hundred and fifty men by lifting my finger.”
During the night the squaws unbarred the doors of the blockhouses, and, at a signal, the Indians who were waiting outside rushed in and began their terrible work. Major Waldron, although eighty years old, grasped his sword and for a time beat them back, but finally was knocked down by a blow from behind. The savages lashed him to his armchair, placed it on a table, and told him to judge Indians now as he had done before. A number of them owed him money for goods, and each of these drew his knife across the old man’s breast, crying, “Thus I cross out my account!” while others taunted him with his treachery. At last, fainting from the loss of blood, he fell to the floor and the house was set on fire.
Attacks upon the Settlement at Oyster River. — Two months later in the same year a large body of Indians came down the Oyster River, with the intention of attacking the garrisons at that place. They first killed a party of eighteen persons belonging to Huckins’ garrison, as they were going to their morn‑ing devotions, and then attacked the house, in which were only women and children. For some time the savages were heroically beaten off by the efforts of two young boys, who poured a continuous fire upon them and wounded several. At length they set fire to the house, but even then the boys would not sur‑render until the Indians had promised to spare the lives of all the in‑mates. They broke their word, however, and all the younger children were killed, while the rest were carried away as captives.
During the summer of 1694, under the leadership of Sieur de Villieu, a company of two hundred fifty Indians made a general attack upon the fourteen garrison houses at this settlement on Oyster River. In the encounter which followed, five of the blockhouses fell into the hands of the enemy, and their inmates were either horribly murdered or sold into slavery in Canada. The others successfully resisted the attacks, and several of the Indians were killed.
A brave man named Bickford, being forewarned of the advance, sent his wife and children down the river in a boat, and determined to defend his home single-handed. The Indians endeavored to persuade Bickford to surrender, but he refused with scorn all their offers. In order to deceive them and make them think that they were opposed by a strong force, he changed his coat and his hat many times and fired from different loopholes about the fortress. He also gave stirring commands to an imaginary band of defenders. The Indians were completely deceived by his stratagem, and after a short time the entire force withdrew and left the solitary man in possession of the home he had so nobly defended.
Bravery Shown by Women. — The attitude which the women assumed during these trying times is one of which New Hampshire may be justly proud. Strong of body and keen of intellect, they were ever ready to help their husbands in the protection of their families. When it was necessary for the men to be absent they did the work in the fields and cared for the live stock. When fighting was to be done they could always be relied upon to handle the flintlock as ably as the men in defense of their homes. Too much honor, indeed, cannot be paid to the wives of our forefathers.
Among the captives taken at the attack upon Dover was Sarah Gerrish, a little seven-year-old girl, granddaughter of Major Waldron. At the end of a most fatiguing journey she arrived with her captors in Canada. After some time she was purchased by a wealthy French lady and placed in a nunnery; but later she was ransomed and returned to her parents, who had given up all hope of seeing her again.
On the 22d of March, 1690, the village of Salmon Falls was attacked by a band of Indians and utterly destroyed. Thirty of the people were killed and as many more taken to Canada as captives. One of these, Robin Rodgers, was burned at the stake as punishment for attempting to escape during the journey. Mehitable Goodwin, another of the captives, had a most terrible experience. The savage into whose charge she had been given, annoyed by the crying of her child, which was so small that she carried it in her arms, snatched it away and killed it before her eyes. Upon arriving in Canada she was sold as a slave and kept five years, at the end of which time she was enabled to return to her friends, who had mourned for her as dead.
During the spring of 1706 the Indians attacked a cabin near Oyster River and killed all of its inmates. They then made an attack upon a blockhouse near by. As it happened, there was not a man in the fort at the time. The women, however, not at all daunted, loaded their guns and prepared for a stubborn fight. That the Indians might think they were men, they undid their hair and allowed it to hang loosely over their shoulders. They also shot from different loopholes, in order that the savages might be deceived as to their numbers. The fire which they poured upon the attacking force was so sharp and so accurate that after a short time the Indians withdrew, having lost many of their best warriors.
Colonel Winthrop Hilton. — During the year 1710 the settlements of New Hampshire lost one of their bravest defenders in Colonel Hilton. While busily at work peeling bark from mast trees, he and his workmen were ambushed by a party of Indians; at the first fire Hilton and two of his men were killed, but the remainder of the party were able to make their escape.
Many stories are told of the prowess of Hilton. The following account, although related many years afterwards, is doubtless true.
Previous to the trouble with the Indians Colonel Hilton had always been very friendly with them. On many occasions he had been of assistance to the savages by furnishing them food and shelter and by protecting them from being cheated in trade with unscrupulous whites.
After the outbreak of the wars, however, the Indians found that they were constantly being thwarted in their plans by Hilton’s wisdom and cunning. Finally, one of the chiefs, who had formerly been his particular friend, decided that Hilton must die, and for this purpose ten of his best warriors were picked out and instructed by the old chief not to return without him, alive or dead. They came upon him as he was weeding corn not far from the blockhouse, with his rifle resting against a stump at some little distance. Quietly the Indians took advantage of the situation, and, having crept between Hilton and his gun, demanded that he accompany them.
Hilton immediately saw that he was securely caught, and, putting a pleasant face on the matter, treated the whole proceeding as a good joke of his old friend the chief. He chatted with his captors in the most unconcerned manner, asking about their families and their success in trapping. In this way they tramped several miles, until they reached a deserted log house which the Indians appropriated. As they were so strong in number they took no special precaution against their captive. They securely barred the only door, and, after setting their guns together in a corner, each one proceeded to roast his meat before the open fire.
Meantime Hilton was constantly talking with them, and finally asked permission to examine their guns. This being granted, he took up the guns one by one, and as he did so commented on the good points of their “kill-deers.” The Indians did not notice, however, that as he set them back each one was cocked and ready for firing.
A most singular contest now took place. One man matched himself against ten; with the utmost coolness and quick as lightning, one Indian after another fell under his accurate aim. The Indians rushed upon him, but were driven back by tremendous blows from the stock of his gun, and as they reeled back more guns were fired and each time an Indian was killed.
Thus the struggle continued until but one red man was left alive. He succeeded in unbarring the door and in making his escape. Hilton, with the ten guns upon his shoulders, marched in triumph toward his home, and on the way was met by a company of settlers who had started out for his rescue.
The Dunstable Massacre. — An Indian raid which turned out most unfortunately for the settlers at Dunstable, New Hampshire, occurred in September, 1724. One morning Nathan Cross and Thomas Blanchard, citizens of the town, crossed the Nashua River and began their usual work of making turpentine from the pine trees which abounded in this region. The day being rainy, they placed their luncheon and their guns in the hollow trunk of a fallen tree. While busy at work and wholly unsuspicious of an attack, they were surrounded by a large body of Indians and forced to surrender. The savages then cut the hoops of the barrels of turpentine, and, having done as much mischief as possible, took the two men with them as captives up the west bank of the Merrimac.
The neighbors, becoming frightened at their long absence, crossed the river in search of them. They easily found from the signs that Blanchard and Cross had been captured, and one of the brightest of the party judged, as the turpentine from the barrels had not yet ceased flowing, that it had not been long since the capture was effected.
This man, Farwell by name, counselled the others to take a circuitous route and by marching rapidly, to get ahead of the Indians and thus surprise them. Their leader, however, thinking Farwell’s advice arose from cowardice, urged them to follow directly on the path of the Indians, and started off, saying, “I shall take the direct path. If any one of you is not afraid, let him follow me.”
They had journeyed hardly three miles when the Indians, expecting this pursuit, fell upon them from an ambuscade and killed them all, with the exception of Farwell, who had cautiously kept in the rear, and thus was able to escape after a hot pursuit. He made his way back to the settlement and reported the result of the struggle. This was an exceedingly hard blow to the little town of Dunstable, which could ill afford at this time to lose eight of its most valued protectors.
On the next day a strong party went to the scene of conflict, and the bodies of the slain were brought home. They were all interred in one grave, and an old headstone in the cemetery back of the schoolhouse at South Nashua may now be seen marking the spot of their burial. The two captives were taken to Canada and were finally ransomed. After many years, when these men returned to their homes, they found the remains of two guns still lying in the hollow tree where they had been placed so long before. The settlers became furious at these repeated attacks and made many expeditions against the savages, but, as the latter were far more familiar with the ways and paths of the forest, very few of these were successful.
HEADSTONE IN SOUTH NASHUA CEMETERY
Lovewell’s Fight (1725). — John Lovewell of Dunstable, was a man particularly well fitted for waging Indian warfare. His sagacity and knowledge of woodcraft made him a formidable opponent to the cunning of the savages. Two successful expeditions were made under his Charge. On the first, the scouting party killed one Indian and captured a boy, and on the second, they surprised and killed a body of eight Indians, who, armed with new guns and plenty of ammunition, were evidently on their way to attack and to plunder the settlements.
Encouraged by this success, Lovewell was enabled to raise a body of men for the purpose of attacking a village of Pequakets under the noted chief Paugus. When about thirty miles distant from this village the company halted a few days, in order to make a rude fort to which they might retire in case of defeat. One morning after the completion of the fort, as they were marching in Indian file along the shore of a small lake, an Indian was seen a little way in front. Suspecting that he was placed there for the purpose of leading them into an ambush, they quietly put off their packs and cautiously advanced. When within range, the Indian was fired upon and killed, but not until he had seriously wounded Captain Lovewell.
Meantime, a large body of Indians under Paugus, who had been following them for two days waiting a favorable opportunity to attack, had seized the packs and by counting them, learned that the white men were fewer in number than they had supposed. They quietly concealed themselves and waited for the return of the settlers. As Lovewell’s men came forward the Indians fired, and then followed for more than eight hours a severe battle. From behind trees and rocks both Indians and whites watched keenly for one who should expose any part of his body.
After several hours of this kind of fighting the rifles of Chamberlain, one of the white men, and of Paugus, the Indian chief, became fouled. They both, as it happened, crept to the pond to wash their guns at the same time. Then came a trial to see which could get his gun cleaned and loaded first. Both worked with equal rapidity, and their guns were loaded at the same time. But in those days guns had to be primed, that is, a little powder was poured into a small pan, which caught the fire from sparks struck by the flint. Fortunately, Chamberlain’s gun had so large an opening leading from this pan to the barrel of his gun that by striking the stock a sharp blow the pan would fill itself with powder, while Paugus had to pour some into his from his powder horn. This gave Chamberlain an advantage. Aiming his gun at Paugus, he fired and killed him, but he had indeed very little time to spare, for the bullet from Paugus’ gun cut a hole in his cap.
At dusk the Indians withdrew. Then it was found that there were only nine men out of the thirty-four who were uninjured. The Indians, with twice as many at the beginning of the fight, had less than twenty unharmed. This fight, although not a decisive victory, was very disheartening to the savages.
It is impossible to describe the terrible sufferings of the wounded while endeavoring to return to the settlements. One man, who owing to his wounds was unable to walk and had to be left, asked them to load his gun and place it by his side in order that he might shoot one more Indian before being scalped.
Expedition to Louisburg (1745). — As a key to their possessions in Canada, the French, at an enormous expense, had built and fortified Louisburg. The walls of the fortress were constructed of solid masonry forty feet thick at the base, twenty-five feet high, and surrounded by a deep moat.
There were three things which led the colonists to make an expedition against this fortress. In the first place, it was understood that there was much dissension among the soldiers at the fort, leading almost to mutiny. Second, for a long time their commerce had suffered because French vessels had used the harbor at Louisburg as a perfectly safe place from which to make their sallies and to which they could retreat in case of attack. And, finally, they were led by popular indignation, which had been aroused through the harsh treatment of English prisoners who had been kept at Louisburg. So strong was the feeling concerning this expedition that men of all trades and professions, even clergymen, volunteered. Colonel William Pepperell of Kittery was put in command.
Louisburg was considered impregnable by the French. They had one hundred sixty-one cannon, seventy-six swivels, and sixteen hundred men. They thought that two hundred men could defend it against a force of five thousand; yet it proved that sixteen hundred men were not able to hold it against four thousand Yankees with only eighteen guns and three mortars.
The French were, indeed, astonished to see a New England army approaching, because, besides the massive walls, there were deep marshes to be crossed, over which it seemed impossible to transport artillery. A New Hampshire colonel, however, solved the problem. He built sledges of wood, on which the guns were placed, and the men, often knee-deep in mud, drew them through the marshes by means of straps over their shoulders.
One of the most conspicuous officers of this campaign was Colonel William Vaughn of Portsmouth. He conducted the first column through the woods and when within sight of the city saluted it with three cheers. Later, with a detachment of but thirteen men, he captured and held a battery of thirty guns, although it was attacked by a force of French, outnumbering his own little company ten to one.
These successes, together with the capture of the French ship “Vigilant,” which was laden with military stores for the relief of the garrison, led the French commander on June 15, 1745, to surrender Louisburg, which was probably the strongest fortress in the world.
When news of the victory was received the people went fairly wild with rejoicing and offered to invade Canada; but England was afraid to encourage a knowledge of war in her colonists, fearing lest they would realize their own strength and rebel against the home government. This victory, however, showed the Americans what a band of resolute men could do against a powerful enemy.
When the treaty was made between France and England, Louisburg was given back to France, much to America’s disgust; but it was not to remain long in her possession.
French and Indian Attack upon Charlestown. — In the spring of 1747 Captain Phineas Stevens, with a party of thirty men, occupied a deserted fort, then called Number Four, but now known as Charlestown, New Hampshire.
He had hardly time to put the fort in repair before it was attacked by a large party of Indians, under the leadership of Monsieur Debeliné. The dogs at the fort fortunately warned the garrison of the Indians’ approach, so that the defenders were able to take every precaution. The attack was carried on sharply, and many men were lost on both sides. The Indians tried by every means in their power to burn the fort. They set the adjoining buildings on fire and shot flaming arrows upon the roof of the garrison house, but through the watchfulness and daring of the inmates their efforts were not successful.
For two days the attack continued, when the French officer asked for a parley, at which he ordered Stevens to surrender the fort, stating that if this were done he would consider the Americans prisoners of war, but if his demands were refused all should be killed. To this calm proposal Stevens replied that, until compelled, he would not surrender the fort which had been intrusted to him. The French officer returned, “Go and see if your men dare fight any longer, and give me a quick answer.” Stevens then told the Frenchman that his men were fully as anxious to fight as he was himself, and that they would continue to hold the fort. Angered at this reply, coming as it did from so small a body of men, the Indians, led by their French commander, made a furious charge, attacking three sides of the fort at the same time. The brave garrison, realizing that to be captured meant death by torture, fought desperately. After a sharp hand-to-hand encounter the Indians were driven back, but not until they had suffered the loss of many warriors.
The next day, after asking for another parley, two Indians came forward to say that if Stevens would sell them some corn they would retire. Stevens replied that he could not sell them provisions, but that he would give them five bushels of corn for every English captive for whom they should leave a hostage until the captives could be brought from Canada. At this reply a few shots were fired at the fort and the attacking forces withdrew. The news of this successful resistance was received with great rejoicing at Boston, and Stevens obtained merited praise for his stubborn defense. Sir Charles Knowlton, who was in Boston at the time, presented Stevens with a costly sword, and it was from this same Sir Charles that Number Four was afterward called Charlestown.
Kilburn’s Defense. — During the spring of 1755 an Indian named Philip called at the cabin of John Kilburn, who, with several others, had settled near the present town of Walpole. Philip, who could speak a few words of English, came into the cabin, and, after lighting his pipe with a coal from the fireplace, asked Kilburn’s wife to give him a piece of flint for his gun; upon receiving this he disappeared. It happened that Kilburn had reason to visit the settlements lower down on the river, and he learned that the Indian had also called there and had asked for flints. This fact aroused suspicion that the Indian was acting as a spy and caused the settlers to be doubly cautious in all their movements. To add to this alarm, news was brought by a friendly Indian, sent from Governor Shirley of Albany, New York, that four or five hundred Indians were about to start from Canada for the purpose of destroying all the settlements along the Connecticut. The settlers took every precaution in their power to meet this expected attack. Doors and windows were strongly barred, and the houses were fortified as thoroughly as possible.
The first attack fell upon Kilburn. As he and a man named Peak were returning from their morning’s work with their two sons, they discovered the legs of several Indians through the underbrush which skirted the meadow. Without waiting to investigate further, they ran for the cabin and securely fastened the door. The Indians, seeing that their intended ambuscade was discovered, did not attack them at once, but crossed the mouth of Cold River, where they placed themselves in ambush to surprise Colonel Bellows (for whom Bellows Falls, Vermont, was named), who was working with his men a short distance east of this place. In this they were disappointed, for the dogs belonging to Bellows’ men gave them warning, so that after a sharp encounter they were able to elude the Indians.
The savages, balked in this attempt, returned to Kilburn’s cabin. Philip, the treacherous spy, approaching the house, cried out:
“Old John, young John, I know you. Come out here; we give good quarter.”
“Quarter!” shouted Kilburn, “quarter! you black rascals; begone, or we’ll quarter you!”
At this reply a general volley was fired at the cabin which riddled the roof, but the thick logs which formed the sides offered an effectual resistance. Our small band of defenders prepared for a stubborn fight. Powder was poured into hats that it might be gotten at more readily. In addition to the four already named, Kilburn’s wife and his daughter Hattie aided much in the defense.
During the first part of the engagement the women were kept busy reloading the extra guns which by good fortune they possessed. Very unfortunately, during the fight their store of bullets ran out. The pewter dishes and spoons, however, were quickly melted and run into bullet moulds, and when these were exhausted the quick-witted women thought of a method of obtaining lead from the enemy. While there was a lull in the firing they hung heavy blankets from the ridgepole. The bullets, retarded by passing through the roof, were stopped by the blankets and fell harmlessly to the floor. These they quickly gathered up and melted over again.
Several times the Indians tried to force open the door by means of a battering ram. Ten or a dozen of the bravest would lift a huge log upon their shoulders and rush with it against the door of the cabin. Nothing but the stoutest oak could withstand these tremendous blows. This method of attack, however, exposed the Indians to a heavy fire from the cabin, and, after a few trials, they were forced to give up the idea of breaking in the door. The fight continued unceasingly until sundown, when, baffled by the stubborn resistance which they had so unexpectedly encountered, they withdrew, but not until many Indians had been killed.
Destruction of the Indian Village of St. Francis. — The best known and most cordially hated of all Canadian governors was Count Frontenac, who came to this country first in 1672. Ten years later he was withdrawn from his governorship, but when war was declared against Great Britain in 1689 he was again given command.
Count Frontenac instigated many Indian raids against the English settlements, and furnished the Indians with guns and ammunition. He even went so far as to collect a number of Indian tribes in a village called St. Francis, in order that he might have them constantly at hand as a menace to the English colonists.
In September, 1759, nearly a hundred years after St. Francis was founded, Sir Jeffrey Amherst determined to teach these Indians a lesson, and for the purpose gave Major Rogers command of a company of two hundred men, with orders to lead them against this village.
Starting from Crown Point, Rogers, with his troops, passed down Lake Champlain in boats. On the fifth day after leaving Crown Point a keg of powder accidentally exploded, killing a number of men and seriously wounding several others, who had to be conducted by a guard back to the fort. This unfortunate affair reduced the force from two hundred to one hundred forty-two men. Arriving at Missiscoe Bay, Rogers concealed his boats in the bushes, together with sufficient provisions for the return journey. On the second day of their march he was overtaken by the two men who had been left on guard at the lake. They had traveled in great haste to inform him that a party of four hundred French and Indians had discovered the boats and started in pursuit. The fate of the expedition looked dubious; either he must give up the attack, or outmarch his pursuers. He determined on the latter course, and his little band pushed on rapidly. On the 4th of October, at eight o’clock in the evening, they came in sight of the town of St. Francis, where the Indians, entirely unsuspecting, were having a grand dance. During the night, Rogers placed his men around the village, and at break of day they began the attack. The Indians were completely surprised and made little resistance. The white men, having found poles, scattered through the village, to which had been fastened many scalps of English women and children, were beside themselves with anger. Between two and three hundred Indians were killed. The whole village had become enriched by the sale of English scalps to the French government and from the plunder which had been captured on their many raids. Over a thousand dollars in money was found, a silver image weighing ten pounds, and large quantities of wampum and supplies. The entire place was burned, and at eight o’clock on the morning of the assault Rogers was in retreat. During the march he was attacked from the rear by a small band of Indians, who shot several of his men. Favored by dusk, he formed an ambuscade on his own track, and fell upon and killed the Indians who followed him.
For about ten days the detachment kept together, and then it was thought best to divide into small parties which could march more rapidly toward some of the English settlements. Through lack of provisions, the men suffered extremely, but Rogers, with a majority of his force, finally reached Number Four. This expedition made a deep impression on the savages and caused a feeling of insecurity which they never before had experienced.
Capture of Canada. — The next year, 1760, Sir Jeffrey Amherst appeared before Montreal, and its commandant surrendered the city, together with the whole of Canada. The Peace of Paris was brought about in 1763, by which all the French and Indian wars were made a thing of the past. Hereafter the settlers were allowed to possess their homes and pursue their trades in peace.