In the Classroom > Unit Overview > Lesson 6
Lesson 6 - Readings for Activity 2: Studying Reports of the Attack on Deerfield
Rouville and his men, savage with hunger, lay shivering under the pines till about two hours before dawn; then, leaving their packs and their snow-shoes behind, they moved cautiously towards their prey. There was a crust on the snow strong enough to bear their weight, though not to prevent a rustling noise as it crunched under the feet of so many men. It is said that from time to time Rouville commanded a halt, in order that the sentinels, if such there were, might mistake the distant sound for rising and falling gusts of wind. In any case, no alarm was given till they had mounted the palisade and dropped silently into the unconscious village. Then with one accord they screeched the war-whoop, and assailed the doors of the houses with axes and hatchets.
The hideous din startled the minister, Williams, from his sleep. Half-wakened, he sprang out of bed, and saw dimly a crowd of savages bursting through the shattered door. He shouted to two soldiers who were lodged in the house; and then, with more valor than discretion, snatched a pistol that hung at the head of the bed, cocked it, and snapped it at the breast of the foremost Indian, who proved to be a Caughnawaga chief. It missed fire, or Williams would, no doubt, have been killed on the spot. Amid the screams of his terrified children, three of the party seized him and bound him fast; for they came well provided with cords, since prisoners had a market value. Nevertheless, in the first fury of their attack they dragged to the door and murdered two of the children and a Negro woman called Parthena, who was probably their nurse.
The sun was scarcely an hour high when the miserable drove of captives was conducted across the river to the foot of a mountain or high hill. Williams and his family were soon compelled to follow, and his house was set on fire. As they led him off he saw that other houses within the palisade were burning, and that all were in the power of the enemy except that of his neighbor Stebbins, where the gallant defenders still kept their assailants at bay. Having collected all their prisoners, the main body of the French and Indians began to withdraw towards the pine forest, where they had left their packs and snow-shoes, and to prepare for a retreat before the country should be roused, first murdering in cold blood Marah Carter, a little girl of five years, whom they probably thought unequal to the march. Several parties, however, still lingered in the village, firing on the Stebbins house, killing cattle, hogs, and sheep, and gathering such plunder as the place afforded.
Thus this representative of a Christian nation, sent an army through the wilderness, not to fight an English force, but to surprise and butcher the settlers of an English plantation three hundred miles away, merely to keep on good terms with a savage tribe, and gratify his own ambition. It was an act of hardly less than cold-blooded murder. De Rouville's command was made up of two hundred French, and one hundred and forty Indians, part French Mohawks, or "Macquas" of Caghnawaga- probably in civilized dress- and part Eastern Indians in native costume.
...Little Town of Deerfield, the most Northerly Settlement on Connecticut-River. Which had long been a Watchful and an Useful Barrier for the rest of the Plantations in the Neighborhood. They Surprized the Place, about an Hour or Two before break of Day, and in a little Time, not without loss, to themselves, they Butchered and Captivated above One hundred and fifty of the People. Mr. John Williams, the Worthy Minister of that Pious and Holy Flock, was carried into Captivity, with five of his Children... were Slain; And his desirable Consort [wife] beginning to faint, at about a dozen Miles of the doleful journey they...Like themselves, cruelly Murdered her, and left her for the Funeral which her Friends afterwards bestowed on her.... Near Twenty more of the Captives lost their Lives for the manner was, that if any found themselves not able to Travel thro' deep Snows on the Ground, the Salvages would Strike their Hatchets into their Heads, and there leave them weltring in their Blood...Other..., Captives were a long while detained with the Indians in their horrid and howling Wigwams, and some are to this Day miserably circumstanced among those Dragons of the Wilderness.