BEWARE: A warning that this post is gruesome. I’m posting it because I believe in relating history, good and bad. However, if you can’t read this particular post, I’ve written another post that is just as important! Don’t worry, I won’t make it a regular habit of posting these kinds of stories. — tk
Recent posts about Indian atrocities can be topped by many more. It is important to remember that the Indians often had provocation, and were sometimes urged to do their worst by the French, English and Dutch. Furthermore, their atrocities were not unique. Heretics were being burned at the stake in Spain, and enemies of the Church and State were torn to pieces in France and hanged on gibbets all over the countryside of Britain. It was a cruel age.
Some of the worst atrocities took place in the New England States, as part of Governor Frontenac‘s campaign to impress the Indians that France was far from finished in North America. The French inflamed the Abenaki Indians to massacre many settlements, including Wells on August 10, 1703.
The pattern of attack was nearly always the same. The French and Indians would swoop into a settlement during the night, or early in the morning; kill most of the men, women and children; take some prisoners, and burn their homes.
Haverhill, in Massachusetts, produced an amazing story. A Mrs. Dunstan had just given birth to a baby. The Indians smashed the baby against a tree and forced Mrs. Dunstan, Mrs. Neff and a small boy to go back to Acadia with them. It was a walk of 250 miles, which Mrs. Dunstan was in no condition to undertake. Nevertheless she kept going for more than 100 miles. One night their party of two warriors, three women, and seven children were sleeping close to the fire, while Mrs. Dunstan, Mrs. Neff, and the boy were trying to keep warm as best they could away from the fire. The two women took up hatchets and quickly killed ten of the twelve Indians. The other two were helpless. They ate the Indian’s food, scalped the bodies, and walked back to Haverhill with the bloody scalps swinging from their hands!
The attacks on Wells, Scarborough, and many other settlements produced similar stories. One woman scalded an attacking Indian to death by throwing boiling water on him. The other Indians thought so highly of her trick they took her prisoner instead of killing her. On the march to Acadia she gave birth to a baby. Its crying annoyed the Indians, so they dropped red-hot coals in its mouth.
The attacks on the New England settlements did not achieve any lasting benefit. On the contrary, they helped stir up the anger that led eventually to the capture of Louisburg, the expulsion of the Acadians, and finally the loss of France’s North American possessions.
If you read this, and you want to know more about it, I can lead you to a few sites. There is Infobase Learning, and the 1713 Treaty of Portsmouth. There’s also an interesting article at All Things Maine called Lost Boy Found in Quebec 300 Years Later.