Taken captive by Indians was a dreaded possibility
during the early settlement of New England. So important were these
events, that a genre know as captivity literature emerged.
The number of stories in New England such as
the story of Mary Rowlandson relate these events during the 17th
and 18th centuries. To be captive was often thought of as a "fate
worse than death."
Among the reasons for taking the captives were
both revenge and ransom. Young men were often put to death in order
to diminish the strength of the hostile tribe. During the French
and Indian Wars in New England, the French offered the Indians money
for English captives. Ransom undoubtedly saved lives in this instance.
Still another reason was for the replacement of tribal members diminished
by war and disease. Captives, usually children, were usually treated
well and numerous accounts remain that indicate the reluctance of
captives to return to the colonies, among these was Eunice Williams
of Deerfield, Massachusetts.