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In the Classroom > Course Overview > Unit Overview > Lesson 7
Lesson 7
Deerfield: The Many Stories of 1704

Text from the 1998 Exhibition at Memorial Hall Museum, Deerfield, Massachusetts

The 1704 raid on Deerfield was one of a series of battles in an international struggle known in Europe as the War of Spanish Succession. As part of this conflict, England and France fought Queen Anne's War (1703-1713) for control of North America. The 1704 attack was an effort by the French and Indians to halt the gradual expansion of English settlement and political domination. For Native Americans, an additional motive was to hold on to their homelands and to maintain their traditional sovereignty. In February of 1704, Jean-Baptiste Hertel de Rouville, led a party of forty-seven French Canadians and two hundred Alnôba [Abenaki], Pennacook, Kanien'kehaka [Mohawk], and Huron allies in an attack on Deerfield, resulting in the deaths of forty-four settlers and the capture of a hundred and nine more, totaling more than half of the town's residents.

Among the captives taken were the Reverend John Williams and his family. Upon his return, the Reverend Williams wrote an account of his captivity, The Redeemed Captive Returning to Zion, which heightened awareness of the raid on Deerfield for posterity. Although most captives returned to New England, many remained with their adoptive Native or French families in New France [Canada]. Most notable among the former was John Williams's daughter, Eunice, who lived out her life in Kahnawake, a Kanien'kehaka community near Montreal. The adoption of Deerfield residents into Native communities has fostered ongoing relationships between Deerfield and several Native American nations. Over the years, formal and informal gatherings and events have celebrated these connections.

As times change, so have the interpretations of 1704. In the nineteenth century, marble tablets installed here in the Memorial Room drew a firm line between the English "innocents" and Native American "savage villains." This exhibit examines the attack on Deerfield from the perspectives of the many participants. By doing this, we begin to understand 1704 as part of a continuum of events in the history of this country.

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