From New England Magazine
An Old Deerfield Letter.
by S.G.W. Benjamin.
[EVERY one is familiar with the account of the dreadful night attack made on the settlement of Deerfield by the Indians, February 29, 1703. The extraordinary trials of the pastor, Rev. John Williams, and his family, form one of the most thrilling episodes of the Colonial period. But few realize what a constant border warfare was carried on between the settlers of that part of Massachusetts and the nominally Christian Indians of Canada. Scarce a year passed until 1730 but some skirmish occurred or some retaliatory expedition was undertaken. As throwing light on that phase of our early history, and vividly typifying the arduous life of the settlers of New England, the following graphic letter will be found of interest and value, it is curious to read in this plain unvarnished tale of deacons and devout church-members deliberately setting out to hunt Indians and shoot "squas and paposses," as on a battle to slaughter game. It is not without a certain qualm that we see these civilized colonists scalping their victims and slaying a man after he had come to shore at their invitation. But there was doubtless strong provocation on both sides, of which we who peacefully enjoy the fruits of those heroic endurances, those hardships and perils, are scarcely fitted to judge impartially.
Lieutenant Childs was attacked by an ambuscade of savages on his own farm in 1724, years after the events he dictates to Mr. Grant in this letter, and both he and a farm hand with him were desperately wounded. Captain Baker was at the Deerfield massacre and probably retained no amicable sentiments towards the noble red man of the forest.
Mr. Grant's letter leads us to infer that it was written at the request of Mr. Williams, — a fact which suggests that the latter may have entertained a plan to write a history of the Indian warfare in central New England, and was gathering data for such a work, which, however, he did not live to complete. His well-known story of his captivity, "Return of the Redeemed Captive to Zion," is a simple hut highly pathetic narrative. During all these years this letter of Mr. Grant has lain hidden. Now, at last, a waif of the fast-fleeting past, it has once more come to light, a dingy, yellow sheet, written in a fairly good hand by a man of some education. It is worth noticing that the word lieutenant, about whose correct English pronunciation there is yet an unsettled controversy, was evidently pronounced levtenant or leftenant, as if with a soft v, in the last century, if we may judge from the way it is spelled by the writer of this letter.
S.G. W. BENJAMIN.]
Reverd Sir/ After Due Regards, These may Inform you what Liuet Childs and Mr. Hoit related to me, concerning the travails of Capt Write & his Company towards Canada, & wt happened to them about that Time, is as follows —
Capt. Write & a small Company of men designing for Canada to Destroy ye Enemy. In ye Beginning of Aprll 1710. We then sot out from Deefield in Number containing 16. And travailed up Conneccticut
River, which is usually called 120 miles. There we Discovered two Bark Canoas, by reason of that our Capt was pleased to Leave 6 of his men, to Ly in wait at ye Cano's, supposing some Indians would come there. And then the Capt with ye Luet & ye rest of ye men sot forward up ye White
River, taking ye Norwest Branch, and following it up to the Head. Then we steared to French river, and travailing down ye River till we came to the 3d Falls, & yr we built two Canoas, & then sot out for the
Lake, & when we came there the wind was so high yt we was forced to Lye by a Day or two; After that one Evening we espied a fire ye opposite side, Supposing it to be Indians, we then forthwith Imbark, & steared our course towards the fire. And while we was upon ye water, there arose a terrible storm of Thunder & Lightning which put out the fire, yt we before espied, & thro' God's goodness we all got Safe to Land, & Drawing up our Canoas upon ye Land, turned them up for shelter, till next morning, & then we making search for the fire, that we afore espied, & found that it had only been ye woods on fire. After that we sot out for Canada in our Canoas, on the west side of the Lake, till two hours by sun, at night, and then the wind arose again, which forced us to Lye by, till next day in ye afternoon, & then we sot out for Shamblee, & coming to a point of Land near Fortlemoto, we espied 2 canoas of Indians, in number 8, coming towards us, then we passed to Land, and running up the Bank, by this time those Indians Canoas was got against us, & then we gave them a Salutation out of the mussel of our guns and turned one over-board, & we still continued firing, caused ym to Paddle away with all Speed, and left that fellow svimming about, & when they had got out of ye reach of our guns, both Canoas got together, and all got into one, & left ye other with considerable plunder in it, & when they were moved off, we maned out
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