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A Summary Historical Narrative Of The Wars In New-england with The French And Indians, In The Several Parts Of The Country.
[The original manuscript of the following History of the Wars in New-England with the French and Indians, was recently found in a box of papers bequeathed to the Massachusetts Historical Society by their venerable associate, the Rev. Dr. Freeman. The author of it, the Rev. Samuel Niles, was born, as he himself states in this work, on Block Island, May 1, 1674, and was graduated at Harvard College in 1699. He was settled at Braintree May 23, 1711, and died May 1, 1762, aged 88 years. He is enumerated by the Rev. John Barnard in his list of "the excellent and worthy men whom he knew among the ministers of New-England;" at the end of which list he adds, "These were all men of learning, pious, humble, prudent, faithful and useful men in their day." (1 Mass. Hist. Coll. X. 170.) He published several theological works, the titles of which are recorded in the brief notice of him in Allen's American Biographical Dictionary.
Prefixed to the History is an Introduction, of eight pages in the manuscript, which was found in such a mutilated condition that no use could be made of it. This, however, is the less to be regretted, as these pages consisted in great part of the author's reflections, and, judging from what remains, contained no facts of any importance. This Introduction concludes as follows :—" I have nothing further to add here, but only to acquaint the reader that in the following sheets he will find an exact Narrative,—as far as my intelligence has reached, and upon the best grounds I could obtain, from approved authors and otherwise,—of the successive Wars with the Indians, who first began to act in a hostile manner against the English in this country, and afterwards with the French, acting in conjunction with them. In which will be found some account of all the slaughter and bloodshed committed by them that I could find, from the beginning to this day. The slain, who they were, and where, are set down numerically, mostly with the circumstances attending their death, together with some few remarkable occurring providences. Which may they be made, through grace, effectual to awaken, reform, and quicken us to our duty, civil and religious, is the earnest wish and prayer of the author,
Braintree, April 24, 1760."
The late President, John Adams, in a letter to the Hon. William Tudor, dated Quincy, Sept. S3, 1818, thus speaks of this manuscript and its author.
c< There is somewhere in existence, as I hope and believe, a manuscript History of Indian Wars, written by the Rev. Samuel Niles, of Braintree. Almost sixty years ago, I was an humble acquaintance of this venerable clergyman, then, as I believe, more than fourscore years of age. He asked me many questions, and informed me, in his own house, that he was endeavoring to recollect and commit to writing a History of Indian Wars, in his own time, and before it, as far as he could collect information. This History he completed and prepared for the press; but no printer would undertake it, or venture to propose a subscription for its publication. Since my return from Europe, I inquired of his oldest son, the Hon. Samuel Niles, of Braintree, on a visit he made me at my own house, what was become of that manuscript. He laughed, and said it was still safe in the till of a certain trunk; but no encouragement had ever appeared for its publication. I then#evered, and still revere, the honest, virtuous, and pious man; and his memorial of facts might be of great value to this country."
The manner in which this country was at first settled by the English, must be owned as that which demonstrates it to be pointed out by the finger of God for some extraordinary event, as since in providence is manifest, and wonderfully proved.
It is not my present business or purpose to recriminate, much less to enter upon a detail of the many reflections cast on these memorable adventurers, the first planters, in their beginnings,—but to observe, as I go along, some of the difficulties attending them, especially with the wars they encountered from the French, and Indians in their interest, and the protection and defence ministered to them by the hand of Providence under all, which is worthy of commemoration and acknowledgment to the Almighty Ruler of the Universe.
It evidently appears, from all we can learn of those first times in New-England, that as God with a high hand and outstretched arm brought our fathers out of and from their native land into this wilderness, by the same power and goodness in providence he wonderfully protected and provided for them here; which must be allowed, if we take a survey of the country in the situation it then stood, they being but very few in number, thrown into a country crowded with thousands and ten thousands of inhabitants, of a different color, language, customs and manner of life, wholly void of any religious sentiments, and destitute of any proper notions of God or a Supreme Being, fierce, revengeful, and of a cruel and barbarous disposition, the reverse to all the rules of humanity in their tempers. Such a people as this God ordered in wisdom the first English planters here to cohabit with, as the place he had appointed for them; they being also altogether ignorant, at that time, of the nature of the soil, and best manner of cultivation of the ground for their support. Under all these dark and discouraging, insupportable difficulties, with manymore, as we may easily conceive, even as beyond and out of the reach of nature to surmount, God provided a remedy. For, in the first place, God sent their singular friend, Squanto, before them, who instructed them in theinanner of manure and tillage. So also God, in sovereignty, and in a wonderful manner, governed and softened the tempers of the barbarians to that degree that our people had a free and friendly commerce and correspondence with them all, until the Pequot tribe rose up in open acts of hostility; the manner whereof will be noticed in what follows.
But before we come to that war, it may be proper to remark that the universal friendship our fathers met with from the heathen here in the beginning, might proceed, in part, from this, namely; as the several tribes of Indians were near to one another, and their territories not large, and also being accustomed to war, as their manner is, which must cause an alienation, and probably jealousy of each other's fidelity,—these or such like intervening obstructions, doubtless prevented their uniting in the pursuit of an enterprise so precarious in the issue as it would have been to attempt the total destruction of the English, and especially if any were so corruptly disposed. They at the same time very well knew, that the English had several tribes of the Indians, with their sachems or kings, closely attached to them, that would soon espouse their cause and revenge any injury done them.
However, it must be acknowledged, that it was "the Lord's doing, and should be marvellous in our eyes," that the rage of the heathen was thus restrained. It is not my purpose here to transmit to after time the particular difficulties this people underwent in their beginnings. Those that want a more exact account I refer them to the book, entitled "New-England's Memorial,"* written in the beginning times of New-England's settlement by the English.
Therefore, as the design of the following History is to give a Narrative of the wars in the land from the year 1634 to this present year 1760—to offer something briefly anteceding the first war with the Indians. About or in the year 1633, several gentlemen arrived at the Massachusetts from England, who went up to the western parts to make a discovery of Connecticut river; the next year began to remove thither. About that time came over to the Massachusetts Captain John Mason, and soon after went up to Connecticut river, and there settled at the town called Windsor, but after removed to Norwich. In the beginning of the year 1637, Hartford, Windsor, and Wethersfield were settled, and a fortification built at Saybrook, at the mouth of the river. This town took its name from two gentlemen adventurers, whose names were Say and Brook, who probably built this fort.
At this time I am speaking of, there were especially three powerful warlike nations or tribes of Indians in the southwestern parts of the country,—the Narragansetts, the Pequots, and Mohegans. The Pequots were a fierce and powerful nation, that had, by their conquests and cruelties, struck a terror to all the nations of Indians round about them.
These Pequots, with their depending tribes, soon entered on a resolution to destroy the English out of the country, flush, probably, with a daring opinion of their superiority over all their neighboring countrymen, who termed Sassacus, the grand sachem of the Pequots, a god that nobody could kill. However, that he might more effectually accomplish his bloody purpose, he makes application to Miantinomo (or rather Ninicraft, which name the sachems of the Narragansett country have borne in their succeeding ages and reigns) for his junction in this war, politicly representing to him, "that if he should help or suffer the English to subdue the Pequots, they would thereby make way for his and his people's future ruin; alleging also that they need not come to open battle with the English, only fire their
[* The author was Nathaniel Morton, Secretary of Plymouth Colony. The last and best edition of this work was printed at Boston in 1826, greatly enlarged and improved by the notes of the editor, the Honorable Judge Davis. Pub. Com.]
houses,, kill their cattle, and lie in ambush and shoot them as they went about their business. By that means they would be forced quickly to leave the country, and the Indians not exposed to any great hazard." These truly crafty and politic arguments, it was said, were upon the point of prevailing on the Narragansetts; and had these, with the Mohegans, at this time nearly allied to the Pequots, joined against us, they might then, in the infant state of these colonies, easily have accomplished their desperate design. But God defeated the good counsel (on his part) of this heathen Ahithophel,—for the Narragansetts were more afraid of the Pequots, it is likely, than of the English; and at the same time an agency from the Massachusetts colony confirmed the friendship of the Narragansetts with the English, and made them refuse to join in confederacy with the Pequots. Notwithstanding, the Pequots pushed on in their purpose, and accordingly proceeded to acts of hostility with the English.
In the year 1632, one Captain Stone arrived in the Massachusetts in a ship from Virginia, who designed thither again in a short time; but having some business at a Dutch trading-house up in Connecticut river, sailed thither in a barque, and when he had got up about two leagues above the mouth of the river, his vessel ran aground, the water being very low, and being late in the day, at which time several Indians came on board, either Pequots or some of their accomplices, is uncertain. Captain Stone, meeting with this unexpected hindrance in his way, sent two of his men, with two Indians as pilots, to the Dutch trading-house; but night coming on before they reached their port, they ran their skiff, in which they were, ashore, and in the night, when the Englishmen were asleep, their Indian guides murdered them both.
There remained at this time with Captain Stone in his barque about twelve of the Indians, who took the opportunity when Captain Stone was asleep, and killed him and all his remaining company, being eight in number, and sunk the barque. This first beginning of heathen tragedies was acted in the year 1634, and in the year 1635, the Indians at Block Island (though under Ninicraft's jurisdiction, the sachem of the Narragansett country, before mentioned), killed Captain Oldham, with all his company, how many is