In the Classroom > Course Overview > Unit Overview > Lesson 7

Lesson 7

A transcription of

The Redeemed Captive Returning to Zion
by Reverend John Williams, 1706

[title page]

The Redeemed Captive returning to ZION.

A FAITHFUL HISTORY OF Remarkable Occurrences,

Minister of the Gospel in Deerfield, who, in the Desolation which befel that Plantation, by an incursion of the French and Indians, was by them carried away, with his Family, and his Neighbourhood, unto Canada.

Drawn up by HIMSELF. Whereto there is annexed, a SERMON preached by him, upon his Return, at the Lecture in Boston, December 5, 1706, on those Words, Luke 8. 39. Return to thine own House, and shew how great Things God hath done unto thee.


As also an APPENDIX, containing an Account of those taken Captive at Deerfield, Feb. 29, 1703-4 ; of those killed after they went out of Town ; those who returned ; and of those still absent from their native Country ; of those who were slain at that Time in or near the Town ; and of the Mischief done by the Enemy in Deerfield, from the beginning of its Settlement to the Death of the Rev. Mr. WILLIAMS, in 1729.

With a Conclusion to the Whole, by the Rev. Mr. WILLIAMS of Springfield, and the Rev. Mr. PRINCE of Boston.

B O S T O N : Printed and Sold by JOHN BOYLE next Door to the Three Doves in Marlborough Street. 1774.



Captain General and Governor in Chief, in and over Her Majesty's Province of the Massachusetts-Bay, in New-England, &c.


IT was a satyrical answer, and deeply reproachful to mankind, which the Philosopher gave to that question, What soonest grows old ? Replied, Thanks. The reproach of it would not be so sensible, were there not sensible demonstrations of the truth of it, in those that wear the character of the ingenious. Such as are at first surprized at, and seem to have no common relish of divine goodness ; yet too soon lose the impression : They sang God's praise, but soon forgat his works. That it should be thus with respect to our Benefactors on earth, is contrary to the ingenuity of human nature : But that our grateful resentments of the signal favours of heaven, should soon be worn off by time, is to the last degree criminal and us pardonable.

It would be unaccountable stupidity in me not to maintain the most lively and awful sense of divine rebukes, which the holy GOD has seen meet in spotless sovereignty to dispense to me, my family and people, in delivering us into the hands of those that hated us ; who led us into a strange land ; My soul has these still in remembrance, and is humbled in me : However, GOD has given us plentiful occasion to sing of mercy as well as judgment. The wonders of divine mercy, which we have seen in the land of our captivity, and deliverance therefrom, cannot be forgotten without incurring the guilt of the blackest ingratitude.

To preserve the memory of these, it has been thought adviseable to publish a short account of some of those signal appearances of divine power and goodness for us, hoping it may serve to excite the praise, faith and hope of all that love GOD ; and may peculiarly serve to cherish a grateful spirit, and to render the impressions of

[page] ( 4 )

GOD's mighty works indelible on my heart, and on those who with me, have seen the wonders of the Lord, and tasted of his salvation : That we may not fall under that heavy charge made against Israel of old, Psal. 78. 11, 42. They forgot his works, and the wonders he shewed them : They remembred not his hand, nor the day that he delivered them from the enemy.

And I cannot, SIR, but think it most agreable to my duty to GOD, our supreme Redeemer, to mention your EXCELLENCY's name with honor ; since heaven has honored you as the prime instrument in returning our captivity. Sure I am, the laws of justice and gratitude (which are the laws of God) do challenge from us, the most public acknowlegements of your uncommon sympathy with us your children, in our bonds, expressed in all indearing methods of parental care and tenderness. All your people are cherished under your wings, happy in your government ; and are obliged to bless GOD for you : and among your people, those who are immediately exposed to the outrages of the enemy, have peculiarly felt refreshment from the benign influences of your wife and tender conduct ; and are under the most sensible engagements to acknowlege your EXCELLENCY, under GOD, as the breath of their nostrils.

Your uncommon sagacity and prudence in contriving to loose the bonds of your captived children ; your unwearied vigour and application, in pursuing them, to work our deliverance, can never be enough praised. It is most notorious that nothing was thought too difficult by you to effect this design ; in that you readily sent your own son, Mr. William Dudley, to undergo the hazards and hardships of a tedious voyage, that this affair might be transacted with success ; which must not be forgotton, as an expression of your great solicitude and zeal to recover us from the tyranny and op- pression of our captivity.

I doubt not but that the GOD, whom herein you have served, will remember and gloriously reward you ; and may heaven long preserve you at our helm, a blessing so necessary for the tranquility of this province, in this dark and tempestuous season : May the best of blessings from the Father of Lights be showered down upon your person, family and government ; which shall be the prayer of,

Your EXCELLENCY's Most Humble, Obedient, and Dutiful Servant,

John Williams
March 3d, 1706- 7

[the narrative]

[page] (5)

THE Redeemed C A P T I V E Returning to Z I O N.

THE history I am going to write proves, that days of fasting and prayer without REFORMATION will not avail, to turn away the anger of God from a professing people ; and yet witnesseth, how very advantageous, gracious supplications are, to prepare particular Christians, patiently to suffer the will of God, in very trying public calamities. For some of us moved with fear, set apart a day of prayer, to ask of God, either to spare, and save us from the hands of our enemies, or to prepare us to sanctify and honour him, in what way soever he should come forth towards us. The places of scripture from whence we were entertained, were Gen. 32. 10, 11. I am not worthy of the least of all the mercies, and of all the truth which thou hast shewed unto thy servant : Deliver me I pray thee, from the hand of my brother, from the hand of Esau : for I fear him, lest he will come and smite me, and the mother with the children. [In the forenoon.] And Gen. 32. 26. And he said, Let me go, for the day breaketh ; and he said, I will not let thee go, except thou bless me. [In the afternoon.] From which we were called upon to spread the causes of fear before God ; as also, how it becomes us with an undeniable importunity to be following God, with earnest prayers for his blessing, in every condition. And it is very observable how GOD ordered our prayers in a peculiar manner, to be going up to him ; to prepare us with a right christian spirit, to undergo, and endure suffering trials.

[page] ( 6 )

Not long after, the holy and righteous God brought us under great trials, as to our persons and families, which put us under a necessity of spreading before him in a wilderness, the distressing dangers and calamities of our relations : yea, that called on us, notwithstanding seeming present frowns, to resolve by his grace, not to be sent away without a blessing. Jacob in wrestling has the hollow of his thigh put out of joint ; and it is said to him, Let me go : yet he is rather animated to an heroic Christian Resolution to continue earnest for the blessing, than discouraged from asking.

ON Tuesday the 29th of February, 1703-4, not long before break of day, the enemy came in like a flood upon us ; our watch being unfaithful : an evil, whose awful effects, in a surprizal of our fort, should bespeak all watchmen to avoid, as they would not bring the charge of blood upon themselves. They came to my house in the beginning of the onset, and by their violent endeavors to break open doors and windows, with axes and hatchets, awakened me out of sleep ; on which I leapt out of bed, and running towards the door, perceived the enemy making their entrance into the house : I called to awaken two soldiers, in the chamber ; and returning toward my bed side, for my arms ; the enemy immediately brake into the room, I judge, to the number of twenty, with painted faces, and hideous acclamations. I reached up my hands to the bed-tester, for my pistol, uttering a short petition to God, for everlasting mercies for me and mine, on the account of the merits of our glorified Redeemer ; expecting a present passage through the valley of the shadow of death ; saying in myself, as Isa. 38. 10, II. I said, in the cutting off my days, I shall go to the gates of the grave ; I am deprived of the residue of my years. I said, I shall not see the Lord, even the Lord, in the land of the living : I shall behold man no more, with the inhabitants of the world. Taking down my pistol, I cock'd it, and put it to the breast of the first Indian who came up ; but my pistol missing fire, I was seized by 3 Indians who disarmed me, and bound me naked, as I was in my shirt, and so I stood for near the space of an hour : binding me, they told me, they would carry me to Quebec. My pistol missing fire, was an occasion of my life's being preserved ; since which I have also found it profitable to be crossed in my own will. The judgment of God did not long slumber against one of the three which took me, who was a Captain ; for by sun-rising he received a mortal shot from my next neighbour's house, who opposed so great a number of French and Indians as three hundred, and yet were no more than seven men in an ungarrison'd house.

I cannot relate the distressing care I had for my dear wife, who had lien in but a few weeks before ; and for my poor children, family, and christian neighbours. The enemy fell to rifling the

[page] ( 7 )

house, and entered in great numbers into every room of the house. I beg'd of God that he would remember mercy in the midst of judgment ; that he would so far restrain their wrath as to prevent their murdering of us ; that we might have grace to glorify his Name, whether in life or death ; and as I was able, committed our state to God. The enemies who entered the house were all of them Indians and Macqua's, insulting over me a while, holding up hatchets over my head, threatning to burn all I had ; but God beyond expectation, made us in a great measure to be pitied ; for tho’ some were so cruel and barbarous as to take and carry to the door, two of my children and murder them, as also a Negro wo- man ; yet they gave me liberty to put on my cloaths, keeping me bound with a cord on one arm, till I put on my cloaths to the other ; and then changing my cord, they let me dress myself, and then pinioned me again. Gave liberty to my dear wife to dress herself, and our children. About sun an hour high, we were all carried out of the house for a march, and saw many of the houses of my neighbours in flames, perceiving the whole fort, one house excepted, to be taken. Who can tell, what sorrows pierced our souls, when we saw ourselves carried away from God's sanctuary, to go into a strange land, exposed to so many trials ; the journey being at least three hundred miles we were to travel ; the snow up to the knees, and we never inur'd to such hardships and fatigues ; the place we were to be carried to, a Popish country. Upon my parting from the town, they fired my house and barn. We were carried over the river, to the foot of the mountain, about a mile from my house, where we found a great number of our Christian neighbours, men, women, and children, to the number of an hundred, nineteen of which were afterward murdered by the way, and two starved to death, near Cowass, in a time of great scarcity or famine, the savages underwent there. When we came to the foot of our mountain, they took away our shoes, and gave us in the room of them, Indian shoes, to prepare us for our travel-- Whilst we were there, the English beat out a company that remained in the town, and pursued them to the river, killing and wounding many of them ; but the body of the army being alarmed, they repulsed those few English that pursued them.

I am not able to give you an account of the number of the enemy slain, but I observed after this fight, no great insulting mirth, as I expected ; and saw many wounded persons, and for several days together, they buried of their party, and one of chief note among the Macqua's. The Governor of Canada told me, his army had that success with the loss but of eleven men ; three Frenchmen, one of which was the Lieutenant of the army, five Macqua's and three Indians. But after my arrival at Quebec, I spake with an Englishman, who was taken the last war, and mar-

[page] ( 8 )

ried there, and of their religion ; who told me they lost above forty, and that many were wounded. I replied, the Governor of Canada said, they lost but eleven men. He answered, 'tis true that there were but eleven killed outright at the taking of the fort, but that many others were wounded, among whom was the Ensign of the French ; but said he, they had a fight in the meadow, and that in both engagements, they lost more than forty ; some of the soldiers, both French and Indians then present told me so, (said he) adding, that the French always endeavor to conceal the number of their slain.

After this, we went up the mountain, and saw the smoak of the fires in the town, and beheld the awful desolations of our town ; and before we marched any farther they killed a sucking child of the English. There were slain by the enemy of the inhabitants of our town, to the number of 38, besides nine of the neighbouring towns. We travelled not far the first day ; God made the heathen so to pity our children, that though they had several wounded persons of their own to carry upon their shoulders, for thirty miles, before they came to the river, yet they carried our children, uncapable of travelling, in their arms, and upon their shoulders. When we came to our lodging-place, the first night, they dug away the snow, and made some wigwams, cut down some of the small branches of the spruce-trees to lye down on, and gave the prisoners some-what to eat ; but we had but little appetite. I was pinioned and bound down that night, and so I was every night whilst I was with the army. Some of the enemy who brought drink with them from the town, fell to drinking, and in their drunken fit, they kill'd my Negro man, the only dead person I either saw at the town, or in the way.

In the night an Englishman made his escape ; in the morning (March 1) I was called for, and ordered by the General to tell the English, that if any more made their escape, they would burn the rest of the prisoners. He that took me was unwilling to let me speak with any of the prisoners, as we march'd ; but on the morning of the second day, he being appointed to guard the rear, I was put into the hands of my other master, who permitted me to speak to my wife, when I overtook her, and to walk with her to help her in her journey. On the way, we discoursed of the happiness of those who had a right to an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens ; and God for a father and friend ; as also that it was our reasonable duty quietly to submit to the will of God, and to say, the will of the Lord be done. My wife told me, her strength of body began to fail, and that I must expect to part with her ; saying, she hoped God would preserve my life, and the life of some, if not of all our children, with us ; and commended to me, under God, the care of them. She never spake any discon-

[page] ( 9 )

tented word as to what had befallen us, but with suitable expressions justified God, in what had befallen us. We soon made an halt, in which time my chief surviving master came up, upon which I was put upon marching with the foremost, and so made to take my farewell of my dear wife, the desire of my eyes, and companion in many mercies and afflictions. Upon our separation from each other, we asked for each other, grace sufficient, for what God should call us to. After our parting from one another, she spent the few remaining minutes of her stay, in reading the holy scriptures ; which she was wont personally every day to delight her soul in reading, praying, meditating on, and over, by herself, in her closet, over and above what she heard out of them in our family worship. I was made to wade over a small river, and so were all the English, the water above knee deep, the stream very swift ; and after that to travel up a small mountain ; my strength was almost spent before I came to the top of it : No sooner had I overcome the difficulty of that ascent, but I was permitted to sit down, and be unburdened of my pack ; I sat pitying those who were behind, and intreated my master to let me go down and help my wife ; but he refused, and would not let me stir from him. I asked each of the prisoners (as they passed by me) after her, and heard, that passing through the abovesaid river, she fell down and was plunged over the head and ears in the water ; after which she travelled not far, for at the foot of that mountain, the cruel and blood-thirsty savage who took her, slew her with his hatchet at one stroke ; the tidings of which were very awful : and yet such was the hard-heartedness of the adversary, that my tears were reckoned to me as a reproach. My loss, and the loss of my children was great, our hearts was so filled with sorrow, that nothing but the comfortable hopes of her being taken away in mercy to herself, from the evils we were to see, feel, and suffer under, (and join'd to the assembly of [t]he spirits of just men made perfect, to rest in peace, and joy unspeakable and full of glory ; and the good pleasure of God thus to exercise us) could have kept us from sinking under at that time. That scripture, Job I. 21.-- Naked came I out of my mother's womb, and naked shall I return thither : The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away, blessed be the name of the Lord ; was brought to my mind, and from it, that an afflicting God was to be glorified ; with some other places of scripture, to persuade to a patient bearing my afflictions.

We were again called upon to march, with a far heavier burden on my spirits, than on my back. I beg'd of God to over-rule in his providence, that the Corpse of one so dear to me, and of one whose spirit he had taken to dwell with him in glory, might meet with a christian burial, and not be left for meat to the fowls of

[page] ( 10 )

the air, and the beasts of the earth ; a mercy that God graciously vocuhsafed to grant. For God put it into the hearts of my neighbours, to come out as far as she lay, to take up her corpse, recarry it to the town, and decently to bury it soon after. In our march they killed anothor sucking infant of one of my neighbours ; and before night, a girl about eleven years of age. I was made to mourn, at the consideration of my flock's being so far a flock of slaughter, many being slain in the town ; and from fears what we must yet expect, from such who delightfully imbrued their hands in the blood of so many of his people. When we came to our lodging place, an Indian Captain from the Eastward, spake to my master about killing me, an taking off my scalp. I lift up my heart to God, to implore his grace and mercy in such a time of need ; and afterwards I told my master, if he intended to kill me, I desired he would let me know of it ; assuring him that my death after a promise of quarter, would bring the guilt of blood upon him. He told me he would not kill me : we laid down and slept, for God sustained and kept us.

In the morning (March 2) we were all called before the chief Sachems of the Macquas and Indians, that a more equal distribution might be made of the prisoners among them. At my going from the wigwam, my best cloathing was taken from me. As I came nigh the place appointed, some of the captives met me, and told me, they thought the enemies were going to burn some of us, for they had pulled off the bark from several trees, and acted very strangely. To whom I replied, they could act nothing against us, but as they were permitted of God, and I was persuaded, he would prevent such severities. When we came to the wigwam appointed, several of the captives were taken from their former masters, and put into the hands of others ; but I was sent again to my two masters, who brought me from my house.

In our fourth day's March (Friday March 3) the enemy killed another of my neighbours, who being nigh the time of travail, was wearied with her journey. When we came to the great river, the enemy took slays to draw their wounded, several of our children, and their packs, and marched a great pace. I traveled many hours in water up to the ankles ; near night I was very lame, having before my travel wrong'd my ankle bone and sinues. I tho’t, so did others, that I should not be able to hold out to travel far. I lift up my heart to God, (my only refuge) to remove my lame- ness and carry me through, with my children and neighbours, if he judged it best ; however I desired God would be with me in my great change, if he called me by such a death to glorify him ; and that he would take care of my children, and neighbours, and bless them ; and within a little space of time, I was well of my


[page] ( 11 )

lameness, to the joy of my children, and neighbours, who saw so great an alteration in my travelling.

On the Saturday, (March 4) the journey was long and tedious : we travelled with such speed, that four women were tired, and then slain by them who led them captive.

On Sabbath day, (March 5) we rested, and I was permitted to pray and preach to the captives. The place of scripture spoken from, was Lam. I. 18. The Lord is righteous, for I have rebelled against his commandment : hear, I pray you, all people behold my sorrow ; my virgins and my young men are gone into captivity. The enemy who said to us, Sing us one of Zion's songs, were ready some of them to upbraid us, because our singing was not so loud as their's. When the Macquas and Indians were chief in power, we had this revival in our bondage, to join together in the worship of God, and encourage one another to patient bearing the indignation of the Lord, till he should plead our cause. When we arrived to New-France, we were forbidden praying one with another, or joining together in the service of God.

The next day, (Monday, March 6) soon after we marched, we had an alarm ; on which many of the English were bound ; I was then near the front, and my masters not with me, so I was not bound. This alarm was occasioned by some Indians shooting at geese that flew over them, which put them into a considerable consternation and fright ; but after they came to understand that they were not persued by the English, they boasted, that the English would not come out against them, as they had boasted before we began our journey in the morning. They killed this day two women, who were so faint they could not travel.

The next day (Tuesday, March 7) in the morning before we travelled, one Mary Brooks, a pious young woman, came to the wigwam where I was, and told me, she desired to bless God, who had inclined the heart of her master, to let her come and take her farewell of me. Said she, by my falls on the ice yesterday, I wrong'd my self, causing an abortion this night, so that I am not able to travel far ; I know they will kill me to day ; but (says she) God has (praised be his name) by his spirit with his word, strengthned me to my last encounter with death ; and mentioned to me some places of scripture so seasonably sent in for her support. And (says she) I am not afraid of death ; I can through the grace of God, chearfully submit to the will of God. Pray for me (said she) at parting, that God would take me to himself. Accordingly she was killed that day. I mention it, to the end I may stir up all in their young days to improve the death of Christ by faith, to a giving them an holy boldness in the day of death.

The next day (Wednesday, March 8) we were made to scatter one from another into smaller companies, and one of my children...


top of page