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Address of Rev. Dr. Moors at the Dedication of a Monument to mark the place where she was killed by a blow from the tomahawk of her Indian captor.

The story of Eunice Williams is soon told. But little is really known of her. The tragic circumstances of her death alone have sufficient interest to keep her memory fresh in the minds of successive generations of her descendants, her neighbors and friends. Her life and death were typical of the times in which she lived, and suggest a condition of things as unlike as possible to those with which we are familiar. The contrast between this beautiful summer's day, when we are fanned by the gentle breezes of the south wind, and the sunshine is broken by the shade of these graceful trees, and the heat is tempered by the refreshing showers which have watered the dry earth, and our ears are filled with the murmur of the waters in yonder brook as they fall over its pebbly channel and the scene which occurred here in the winter of 1704 is great indeed. And yet not greater than the contrast between our life of quiet security and peace and that of the scattered settlers in these valleys in the early part of the century which preceded this in which we live.

Eunice Mather was born in Northampton, August 2d, O. S.[old style], 1664. She was the daughter of Rev. Eleazer and Esther Mather. Mr. Mather, her father, was the first minister of Northampton, and had come there from Dorchester in 1658. He had graduated from Harvard College in 1656, and died in 1669. He was a son of Richard Mather, a man well known in his own day among the Puritans on both sides of the Atlantic. He was for years the minister of the ancient chapel of Toxteth Park in Liverpool. He was suspended for non-conformity in 1633, and though restored soon by the influence of friends, he was silenced in the following year and emigrated to America in 1635, and became minister in Dorchester. (See "account of ancient chapel of Toxteth Park, Liverpool, recently published by Rev. V. D. Davis," the present minister.) Four of his sons were distinguished clergyman in their day. Increase was the most noted of them all. He was born in 1639. Two years younger than he was his brother Ebenezer, born in 1637. So you see our heroine of to-day was nobly born, of a family which had a conspicuous part in the early history of our colony. The daughter of Eleazer of Northampton was the granddaughter of Richard, a noted man in his day; a niece of Increase, for sixty-two years pastor of the North church in Boston, and for fifteen years of this time president of Harvard College, and one of the greatest scholars of his day. His son, Cotton Mather, especially remembered now for his unfortunate connection with the witchcraft delusion, was cousin to our Eunice. No more distinguished lineage could any one in those days boast in the little colony. On the mother's side she was equally favored. She was granddaughter of Rev. John Warham, who was a distinguished Puritan minister at Exeter, England, but came to Massachusetts in 1630, as colleague pastor with John Maverick, who came with his church from Plymouth in England, and settled first at Dorchester and finally removed to Windsor, Ct. Rev. John Williams, the first minister in Deerfield, was born in Roxbury, Dec. 10, 1664, and was three months younger than his wife Eunice. He graduated at Harvard College in 1683, when he was 19 years old, and became the minister of Deerfield in 1686, when 22 years old. John and Eunice were married in 1687, and probably began housekeeping at once. At this time this record was made: "The inhabitants of Deerfield to encourage Mr. John Williams to settle among them to dispense the blessed word of truth unto them have made propositions to him as followeth: That they will give him 16 cow-commons of meadow land, with a home lot that lieth on meeting-house hill; that they will build him a house 42 feet long and 20 foot wide, with a leanto on the back side of the house, and finish said house; to fence his home lot, and within two years after this agreement to build him a barn and to break up his plowing land. For a yearly salary to give him £60 a year for the first, and four or five years after this agreement to add to his salary and make it £80." This seems to have been a very generous provision for the young minister and wife, when we consider that the whole population of the town could not have been 200 persons. They must have started their married and professional life under very pleasant auspices. Their house stood where the Dickinson High School now stands, and Deerfield Street, though lacking the grand and graceful rows of elms and maples which now adorn it and make it so attractive to all visitors, must have been a pleasant and sunny spot to dwell in. Here seventeen years of married life were spent. Happy years they doubtless were to the young minister and his youthful wife. In these seventeen years, according to the statement of your veracious president, whose word we are compelled to take without an iota of discount, she bore him eleven children. If this had been asserted of any woman in these degenerate days we might have questioned it. But eleven children in seventeen years stands the record. There were seven living at the time of the destruction of the town in 1704. Before this time there was great anxiety in the little settlement at Deerfield. In 1703 a warning came from Gov. Schuyler of Albany of danger to be apprehended from Canada. And in October of that year Mr. Williams wrote to Gov. Dudley of the great distress and poverty of the settlement. He says: "I abated them of my salary for several years together, though they never asked it of me, and now their children must suffer for want of clothing or the country consider them, and I abate them what they are to pay me. I never found the people unwilling to do when they had the ability, yet they have often done above their ability."

It was on the night of the 29th of February, 1704, that the assault so memorable in the history of the town was made. Its details are too familiar to require any more than the briefest notice. The guard of twenty men which had been sent for the protection of the village on rumors of danger were asleep. The deep snow and hard crust made it easy for the French and Indians to scale the palisades which had been erected about the fort, which contained the meeting-house, the minister's house and other dwellings. The story of what followed cannot be better told than in the words of Mr. Williams him self: "On Tuesday, the 29th of February, not long before the break of day, the enemy came in like a flood upon us, our watch being unfaithful. They came to my house at the beginning of the onset, and by their violent endeavors to open doors and windows with axes and hatchets awakened me out of sleep, on which I leaped out of bed and running towards the door perceived the enemy making their entrance into the house.

I cannot relate the distressing care I had for my dear wife, who had lain in but a few weeks before. The enemy fell to rifling the house and entered every room. Some of them were so cruel and barbarous as to take and carry to the door two of my children and murder them. They gave liberty to my dear wife to dress herself and our remaining children. About sun an hour high we were carried out of the house for a march. Upon my parting, they fired my house and barn. (Both Palfrey in his history of New England and Gay in his Bryant's history of the United States persist in the old error of supposing that the old Indian house destroyed in 1849 was Parson Williams' house. It was not so. The house Mr. Williams occupied was several rods south of the old Indian house and was burned in 1704.) We were carried over the river (the Deerfield) to the foot of the mountain (Petty's Plain), where we found our christian neighbors to the number of 100.

On the morning of the 2d day I was permitted to speak to my wife and to talk with her and to help her in her journey. We discoursed of the happiness of those who had a right to an house not made with hands and of our duty to say 'the will of the Lord be done.' My wife told me her strength began to fail and that I must soon expect to part with her, and commended the care of her children under God to me. Soon we made a halt and I was put upon marching with the foremost, and so made my last farewell of my dear wife, the desire of my eyes and companion of many mercies and afflictions. I was made to wade over a small river (the Green), the water above knee deep, the stream very swift, and after that to travel up a small mountain (the Leyden hills.) My strength was almost spent before I came to the top of it. I entreated my master to let me go down and help my wife, but he refused. I asked each of the prisoners, as they passed by, after her, and heard that, passing through the river, she fell down and was plunged overhead and ears in the water, after which she traveled not far, for at the foot of the mountain the cruel and bloodthirsty savage who took her, slew her with his hatchet at one stroke, the tidings of which were very awful." This is Mr. Williams' story of the sad event.

The next day it appears her body was found by a party of men from Deerfield who had followed upon the track of the Indians, carried back and buried in the old town burial ground, just west of the village, where the stone marking her grave is still seen, with this inscription: "Here lyeth the body of Mrs. Eunice Williams, the virtuous and desirable consort of the Rev. John Williams and daughter of Rev. Eleazer and Mrs. Esther Mather of Northampton. She was born Aug. 2, 1664, and fell by the rage of the barbarous enemy March 1st, 1703--4. Her children rise up and call her blessed."

Such is the brief recital of a short, but eventful, life. Mrs. Williams was 39 years 7 months old at the time of her tragic death. In its circumstances it differed not materially from that of hundreds of others among the early settlers in this region. Beyond the interest which is felt in her and which is testified to by this assembly to-day, and these marks of respect to her memory, and this effort of the Pocumtuck Memorial Association to keep her memory fresh for coming generations, is the interest we must all feel in the condition of the infant colony of Massachusetts and its relations to the two great European nations which were at that time engaged in a spirited and bloody contest for supremacy on this continent. We naturally ask what led to this cruel and merciless assault on a feeble and peaceful settlement on the frontiers of civilization as Deerfield was in 1704.

We utterly mistake the whole spirit of the event if we suppose that it was the Indians exercising the cruel and vindictive spirit of savages delighting in scenes of blood and carnage, who prompted and executed these deeds of cruelty. It was not the New England Indians, avenging the loss of favorite hunting grounds, or avenging the terrible massacre of their comrades at Turners Falls 28 years before, that led to the attack on Deerfield. The New England Indians had nothing to do with it. It was Indians from Canada who did this diabolical act, led by a Frenchman and accompanied by a large force of French soldiers, who directed and controlled the whole enterprise. The inhuman cruelties that were associated with it, the massacre in cold blood of helpless children and defenseless women, the use of the hatchet and tomahawk to be rid of troublesome prisoners, may be in a large measure laid to the Indians. They were savages, delighting in such scenes and quite accustomed to them. Such acts were in accord with their savage instincts. While we are pained at the recital of their ferocity, we can partially excuse it on the ground of their brutal natures. But behind these, the heads that planned these enterprises and were largely responsible for their execution were those of French officers, soldiers and priests, who at that time controlled the affairs of Canada. And we should be quite wide of the mark if we should attribute to them exceptional harshness and cruelty in their method of securing their ends. It was a time of war between England and France, and war in its very nature is harsh and cruel.

It is well nigh two centuries since these events occurred, and war then had a far larger measure of harshness and cruelty than at present. With the events of our nation's history within this present generation in mind, it is not easy for us to palliate or excuse the miseries of war. All was done in our great rebellion which it was possible for civilized and humane people to do to lessen the evils attendant upon war, and yet they were beyond the power of language to express or of figures to measure. War is refined and humane now compared with two centuries before. There is abundant reason to rejoice that the civilized world has outgrown the atrocious brutality which characterized acts of war even two centuries ago. We ask what prompted the French, for they were the responsible party, to make this assault on Deerfield? The question leads us to consider the relations of France and England at the close of the 17th and the opening of the 18th century.

In England in 1688, just sixteen years before the attack on Deerfield, had occurred the revolution which drove the reigning King, James II., from his throne into exile in France, and placed William of Orange on the throne of England. We record this event in a breath, but it was the result of a prolonged struggle in England and one fraught with important results to the whole world--to France no less than to England, to the remote colonies in America no less than to the home counties. Few names are more familiar to the readers of English history than that of James II. In 1685 he succeeded his brother, the witty, affable, profligate Charles II., upon the throne of England. He reigned but three years. He doubtless possessed some virtues and some ability, but he has left an ignoble name in history. He possessed, says a late writer, the vices of his race, (the Stuarts,) without its virtues and redeeming points, and in him the propensity to despotism developed itself in a form unmitigated by any mildness or amiableness of temper. The only point in his brief career as king which has any bearing on the occasion before us is the fact that he was an intense Roman Catholic, and used all the power he possessed to restore the Catholic religion to its former position in England. His openly avowed efforts in this direction gave such offense to his Protestant subjects that they united in an invitation to William of Orange, who had married his daughter Mary, to come over from Holland and assume the office of king. James, finding his power gone, and that the affections and respect of his subjects were alienated from him, weakly fled from England and put himself under the protection of the proud, ambitious French king, Louis XIV., England's most powerful and hated enemy. The presence of James and his family at the French court was an element of great significance in the politics of Europe and America for many years. It was war unceasingly, war to the knife, war unmitigated in its cruelties and atrocities between these two powerful nations. The spirit of rivalry which had existed for centuries had now full chance to display itself, aided and inflamed by religious bigotry and hatred.

At least four prominent objects the French king kept steadily in mind--the restoration of James to his throne; the establishment of the Catholic religion on a firm and enduring basis in England; the extension of his North American possessions and their protection from all encroachments by the English; and lastly, and more important than all the others, the raising up of France to the highest place among the nations, to be secured by lowering his hated rival, England, to a subordinate position. For years it was a prolonged duel between Louis and William, conducted with vigor on both sides, backed by all the military force and skill both could command. The Battle of the Boyne, in 1690, so graphically described by Macaulay, was one of the stirring and telling incidents of this bloody period. There were deep, underlying principles at stake. It was not simply whether Catholic James or Protestant William should rule England, whether France or England should rule America. The question involved was deeper than these. King William and the English people were the representatives of progress and reform in civil government. They had driven out the old, legitimate king, because he was oppressive to the people. By this act the old doctrine of the divine right of kings had been set aside, and the right of the people to a voice in public affairs had been vindicated. In the eyes of conservatism, it was not only revolution, it was rebellion against God, the king of kings, in whose name and by whose authority kings ruled. Louis, on the other hand, and the French government were the representatives of the old theory, that "divinity doth hedge a king," and that the people have no rights which a legitimate sovereign is bound to respect. It was the old war of conservative and progressive elements in society, which has been waged ever since society existed, and which will not end so long as society lasts. It was the open question in politics in the last quarter of the 18th century, debated on battle fields in England, in Holland, in France; debated in the wilds of America by rude savages, led on by so called Christian men, with tomahawks and scalping knives, whose arguments were enforced by burning villages and murdered infants. It was debated with varied success for years. On the whole, victory rested rather with William and the cause of freedom and progress; or rather, we may say it was a drawn game. Louis found himself foiled and defeated in many of his well-laid plans, and William was wearied and exhausted. Both parties were ready to cry quits, and in 1697 the Peace of Ryswick, a little town in Holland, not far from the Hague, was patched up for a while. By this treaty, Louis relinquished the claim of James to the English throne, and acknowledged William as king of England, and thus gave up his cherished plan of forcing Catholicism upon the English nation, while he retained all Hudson Bay, and all places in America to which the French held a claim, that is, the whole Atlantic coast from Maine to Labrador, besides Canada and the Mississippi valley. Unfortunately the boundaries of this vast territory were left wholly undefined, and these uncertain boundary lines caused untold trouble in after years.

The treaty of Ryswick was hailed with much joy by the English colonies in America. They fancied it would bring permanent peace between France and England, and protect them from Indian invasions, and give the English king a little time and money to devote to his needy and struggling colonies. But in this they were sadly disappointed. It was at best but a temporary truce that each party might get their breath for another and more violent encounter. The war was soon renewed on some question of the succession to the English throne. King William died five years after the treaty at Ryswick in 1702. He had not been loved by the English people. He was a foreigner, cold and blunt in his manners, silent and reserved, decided in his religious opinions, which were quite radical for those times, a brave soldier, a wise and far seeing statesman. The Protestant church is under great obligations to King William for the firm and resolute way in which he withstood and foiled the efforts of King James, aided by the whole force of King Louis and the Pope to establish Catholicism as the ruling faith on both continents. While we have not time to trace the corruptions and intrigues which characterized the dealings of those great nations at the close of the seventeenth and opening of the eighteenth century, we must glance for a moment at the French king, the master spirit of the time, who pulled the wires which made the puppets in Europe and America dance. Louis XIV known in history as the Grand Monarch. He was four years old when his father died and his reign began. But for eighteen years the power was really in the hands of the adroit diplomatist Mazarin, who acted as regent. On his death in 1661, the young King Louis, then 23 years old, assumed the direction of public affairs, and held it to his death in 1715, a period of seventy years in all. In all that time he made his power felt throughout the civilized world, and especially within his own kingdom. It is the brilliant period in French history. The arts and sciences flourished. Literature gave to the world at this time some of her most shining lights. The age will ever be illustrious by the distinguished men whom the king gathered round his throne.

The visitor to Paris to this day sees on every hand in the palaces and picture galleries that adorn that wonderful city the proofs of the taste and skill of the men who aided Louis XIV, in the administration of affairs, and of the lavish abundance of money he placed at their disposal. The King is represented as elegant and handsome, with manners at once grave and commanding. Our ideal King, certainly one of the most conspicuous characters in history. A man with some virtues and of fair abilities, but arrogant, and ambitious to a degree rarely equalled, profligate and superstitious to an extent we find it hard to believe. A good specimen of the low standard of morals and of honor which marked his age. In the earlier part of his long career he raised France to a preeminent station among the nations by his success in war and his skill in diplomacy. He attempted to render essential service to the Romish church, of which he was a bigoted adherent, by withdrawing from Protestants in his realm all the rights and privileges which they had possessed for a hundred years by the edict of Nantes. This edict Louis XIV, revoked in 1685, in the interest of the Catholic church. But it worked only disaster to France by driving out of the kingdom a full half million of the most skillful and industrious of the population who took refuge in England and Holland and carried to those countries the knowledge and virtues that enriched them and impoverished the land that drove them into exile. There is no more signal instance of the defeat of ones own plans by his own measure than that of the withdrawal of the liberty his protestant subjects enjoyed in the revocation of the edict of Nantes by Louis XIV. He was the representative of old and established ways in his day. He held tenaciously to the divine right of Kings. The King was ordained of God. It was his business to command and of his subjects to obey. He stood in the way of all progress and of individual liberty. Under him the people were weighed down by insufferable taxation. Every vestige of liberty was destroyed. It was simply a despotism of the worst kind. The most enormous crimes were committed by those high in authority. The resources of the country were squandered to an unparalleled extent and though the kingdom seemed outwardly to flourish in this brilliant reign, yet the seeds were widely sown of that whirlwind and tornado of anarchy and bloodshed which made the last decade of the 18th century one of the most noted in modern history. Louis the XVI, at the guillotine in 1793, was the natural and bloody sequel of the profligacy and corruption which marked the vanished vice of the reign of Louis XIV, a century before. One sowed the wind the other reaped the whirlwind. All this is not remote from the occasion we this day commemorate.

Louis XIV and his advisers were behind Hertel De Rouville and his gang of murderous savages in their assault on Deerfield in 1704. It was one result of the rivalry that then existed between France and England, and of the attempt of each to control the affairs of this Continent. No friendly relations could exist between them. They were rivals in the old world and the new, in the East and West Indies, on sea and land, in politics, in commerce and the arts, and especially rivals in religion, rivals for conquest and supremacy in church and State. It is not easy for us to fix upon France or England alone the responsibility for these acts of cruelty and atrocity. The same spirit animated both countries. France seems to have been the most aggressive, while England acted more on the defensive. It is a terrible comment upon the spirit of an age removed from our own by less than two centuries that to the natural and inevitable hardships and perils attendant upon a new settlement, far remote from neighbors, in a foreign clime, and under hard and untried conditions at the best, there should have been added the thousand fold increased hardship and peril from exposure to savage foes, who lurked in darkness, and whose delight was murder and rapine. I do not think it true to say that the French and English governments were equally to blame for the scenes transacted in their exposed colonies. We Protestants and of English descent are inclined to put all the blame on the French government and the Jesuits who had secured a controlling influence over the Indians in Canada. A more impartial study of the situation will teach us that the English people and government were not without their measure of blame in the matter. Perhaps it would be best to say that the times were responsible for the cruelties that were committed, that it was in accordance with what we shall call a semi-barbarous spirit which led the two most advanced nations in the world less than two centuries ago, to engage in a series of wars, carried on with hardly a cessation for nearly 70 years between New England and Canada, New France as it was then called, and in which both parties, with very little difference, availed themselves of the aid of savage allies. The English did not scruple to use Indians in their warfare upon New France any more than did the French in their attacks upon New England. We have been misled by our prejudices and have made the French and their Catholic leaders and advisers wholly responsible for crimes and cruelties which should have been attached in well nigh and equal share to the English themselves. Both nations claimed to be Christians, but neither had attained to any measure of the Christian standard; both were ruled by the old law, "an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth." It was tit for tat, a blow for a blow. Blood must be washed out by blood. The tragical story of those years is not alone of French soldiers and Indian allies rushing in at night upon a sleeping village, murdering the people, burning their houses, and then hurrying back to Canada with a few prisoners. It is also of English soldiers with Indian allies plundering, slaughtering, taking prisoners to be sold into slavery.

It was in 1676 that a band of English soldiers fell upon an unsuspecting party of Indians at Cocheco, near Dover, N. H., captured 300 of them, took them to Boston, shipped them to the West Indies to be sold as slaves. The memory of that act was not forgotten, and was the excuse, if not the justification, for the assault made by the Indians on an English settlement in the same place in 1689, and which is noted in the bloody annals of Indian warfare. It was in that same year, 1676, that the massacre of Indians occurred at Turners Falls. We try to tone down the affair by calling it the fight at Turners Falls. But no fight of opposing forces occurred there. It was simply a shooting by well armed English soldiers of men, women and children as they sprung from their sleep, aroused by the murderous yell of their unexpected assailants. It was a massacre and not a fight. It was in 1689 that the Iroquois, or the five nations as the English called them, inhabiting Central and Western New York, the allies of the English made an assault, Indian fashion, on Montreal, burning many houses, and according to a French historian murdering more than a thousand of the French settlers. This number is doubtless much exaggerated. It was not the French alone who were guilty of murdering and burning in those dark, sad days.

The revolution of 1688, which drove our King James from England, and at the same time expelled the fear of Catholic supremacy and established Protestant William on the throne, gave great joy to the settlers in New England. It was hailed with enthusiasm, for it opened the way, as was then thought, for the conquest of Canada, and its annexation to England, which was then a favorite plan, for it involved the expulsion of the old and hated form of religion from this continent. The inherited hatred of all English people toward France was intensified by the fact that their exiled and despised King had found a refuge at the French court and that Louis was ready to fight his battles in favor of the old religion. New England burned for war, which should bring opportunity for raids upon Canada. Various efforts were made in these years to secure this coveted possession, but they were only fruitful in disasters. It was not difficult to find causes for war between Canada and the English colonies. The former was inhabited by French Catholics, the latter by English Protestants. These distinctions were enough to arouse a deadly spirit of antagonism at any time. Then both were eager to secure the control of the cod fisheries on the Eastern coast, which had already grown into importance. The fur trade of the North and Northwest was a lucrative branch of business which the subjects of each nation sought to monopolize. The boundary lines were loosely drawn, and were a perpetual source of controversy. The French had their stations at remote points from the mouth of the St. Lawrence in the East, extending through the interior of the continent to the mouth of the Mississippi, enclosing the whole line of the English colonies on the Atlantic coast. They were continually encroaching upon the professed boundaries of Massachusetts, New York, Virginia, and the Carolinas.

If the English were eager to secure Canada the French were no less eager to secure all the territory held by the English. The relations of the French with the various Indian tribes were very intimate, and a source of great strength to the French cause. Proselytising to the Catholic church was a prominent object. If the same efforts had been made by the English, we should speak of them as heroic efforts to turn the benighted Indians towards the light of Christianity. The agents of the Catholic church were Jesuit missionaries. The zeal and devotion of these men to their cause, their heroic self-sacrifice, their patient and adroit management of their Indian converts, their unwearied efforts to make them serve the cause of the French government as well as the Catholic church are well described in Parkman's brilliant pages. The plan for a general attack on all the Northern English colonies was carefully matured by Callieres, the royal Governor of Canada, in 1689. His scheme was approved by the home government, and measures at once adopted for its execution. The design was entrusted to Count De Frontenac, who though nearly 70 years old, possessed energy, talent and experience, which well fitted him for the enterprise.

Callieres' plan was a large one, on the well founded suspicion that the colonies of New England and New York would attempt to seize and hold Canada, ruin its trade, overthrow its religion, enlist the Indians to pillage their towns, and destroy their people. His plan was to anticipate such a design by a vigorous assault on Albany, and having captured and garrisoned that with French soldiers, to hasten down the river and secure New York, and thus cut off New England from all the other colonies. "In this way," he says, "the French King will be absolute master of the Iroquois, i. e., the five nations, and all the other savages who will come without hesitation, and bring all their peltries to us. This will cause the trade of our colony to increase. It will also establish the Christian religion among the Iroquois and other Indians. It will secure the cod fishery on our coast, and on the Great Bank. It will give His Majesty one of the finest harbors in America." The French government readily adopted the plan marked out by Callieres, and issued orders at once to put the plan into execution. Frontenac with a large force was to proceed at once stealthily against Albany, protect such citizens as were willing to take the oath of allegiance to the French King, while the principal citizens, from whom a ransom could be expected, were to be delivered as prisoners. "The rest," so read the orders, "were to be put out of the colony, and in order to deprive the English of the facility of undertaking land expeditions from New England. His Majesty desires that the English settlements adjoining New York and further off, if necessary, should be destroyed." It can be seen at a glance that an expedition starting from Boston for the relief of Albany might find a convenient halting place at Deerfield. It was therefore convenient to have Deerfield out of the way. The expedition started the next year in 1690. And on a winter's night in February the combined French and Indian forces reach Schenectady and completely surprised the garrison there. Finding a gate carelessly left open, they rushed in, burned all the houses in town but two, and in the space of two hours 60 persons of all ages, and both sexes were killed. Many prisoners were taken, while a few of the wretched people escaped in the darkness and confusion, and made their way to Albany. The details of this massacre are of the most horrible description. The French officers could not control their Indian allies, who, Indian like, did not follow up their advantage by an immediate attack on Albany, but hurried back to Canada to dispose of their booty and rest till the fears of an assault on Albany were allayed, and they could accomplish their work by stealth. In the following year, 1691, Frontenac applied to the French government for more troops to renew his attempt on Albany and New York, but was told that the King had employment for all his forces nearer home, so there was nothing for him to do but to wait, though he was not idle. He did his best to subdue the Iroquois and to detach them from their alliance with the English. He also dispatched a party under command of Hertel De Rouville, a name familiar to all who know of the sacking of Deerfield, to harass and destroy the English settlements to the East. They made their way to Salmon Falls in New Hampshire, killed thirty of the inhabitants, burned 25 houses and carried back to Canada more than fifty prisoners. The English did not allow these efforts of their hated rival to go unnoticed. A meeting of Commissioners from the several colonies was held at New York in May 1690, soon after the news of the slaughter at Schenectady was widely known.

Bancroft dwells on this meeting as "the momentous example of an American Congress." Thus, he says, without exciting suspicion were the forms of Independence and Union prepared. The idea originated in Massachusetts, and Massachusetts, the parent of so many States is certainly the parent of the American Union. At this meeting of the "first Congress" the tit for tat policy was decided on. It was resolved to attempt the conquest of Canada. Arrangements were made for an expedition to accomplish this undertaking on a scale never before attempted by the colonies. A fleet of 32 vessels, one carrying 44 guns, sailed from Boston Harbor with 2000 men, under the command of Sir William Phipps, Colonial Governor of Massachusetts. The plan of the campaign was for the fleet to sail at once for an attack on Quebec. While the land forces from Connecticut and New York, aided by the Iroquois Indians were to make a simultaneous attack on Montreal. The expedition was well planned, but from a variety of causes it resulted in miserable and disastrous failure. The land forces never reached their destination; the fleet was repulsed before Quebec, and in a broken and dispirited condition, what was left of it reached Boston in Nov. 1690. Two hundred men lost their lives in this ill-fated enterprise, and Massachusetts sacrificed 50,000 pounds, a great sum in those days for the little colony. The failure of this pretentious campaign was a crushing mortification to the English colonies, and an occasion for a corresponding joy and exultation on the part of the French, as it inspired a new hope of securing the control of the whole continent. A medal commemorating the success of the French was struck off in Paris; and the visitor in Quebec to-day finds in the little old church of our Lady of Victory another monument of this triumph of the French over the American fleet. The French historians relate how Frontenac, who was set to watch and repulse the land forces, placed the hatchet with his own hand in that of his allies, and old as he was, danced the war dance in their presence. But divisions and rivalries in the English forces defeated them without meeting the enemy. The war dragged slowly on; Frontenac could secure no soldiers from France; they were fully occupied at home. The English colonies were too much exhausted by the unsuccessful attempt on Quebec to renew the effort for its possession. Nothing of importance was done; a few towns, principally in Maine, were destroyed, and their people killed or carried into captivity. Feeble efforts were renewed year by year to secure means for a new attempt on Canada, but they as feebly failed, with no further results than to keep alive the war spirit, and to invite fresh cruelties upon the frontier settlements.

In 1693 the presence of an English fleet with 2000 seamen and as many soldiers in the West Indies inspired the colonies with a brief hope that they could be used for another attempt on Quebec. The enterprise started well. "There can never," wrote the Government Secretary, "be such an occasion for the people of New England to show their zeal for their religion and love to their King and country." But the project failed. In 1696 in an address to the King the Massachusetts government represented the exhausted state of the colony, by reason of the languishing and wasting war with the French and Indians, and begged for a supply of ammunition and a naval force, for aid in the reduction of Canada, "The unhappy fountain," as they say, "from which issue all our miseries." The treaty of Peace at Ryswick in 1697 hailed with delight in the colony brought none of the coveted relief. Early in that year occurred the attack on Haverhill, and the familiar adventure of Hannah Dustin. Palfrey in his admirable history of New England says, "Neither at the French court nor by its military or ecclesiastical servants in Canada had it been supposed that the war between New England and New France had been any thing more than suspended by the treaty of Ryswick." In the five years that had since elapsed preparation for the renewal of hostilities had at no time been remitted by the soldiers and priests at Montreal and Quebec. Frontenac died in 1698, and his successor, De Callieres, coaxed the Iroquois into a treaty much more favorable to the French than had been before obtained. Priests were sent among them, who, while converting them to their own religious faith, served as spies who could inform the government of the intrigues of the English, and as well as of the movements of the Indian tribes. King William died in 1702 and was succeeded by the weak, incompetent Queen Anne, the sister of Mary, the King's wife, and the daughter of James the II. Affairs at home occupied all the resources of time, money, and men of both the French and English governments. They were upon the beginning of one of the most brilliant campaigns that ever attended the English army. On the 13th of August, 1704, was fought the great battle of Blenheim between the English and the Austrians on one side, the French and Bavarians on the other. By this battle the Duke of Marlboro reached his high position as one of the few great Generals of modern times. It was a complete victory for the English, and a complete humiliation for the French. This battle of Blenheim in 1704 deservedly holds a place among the decisive battles of the world. In the hurry and excitement of these great deeds, enacted on a large scale, taxing the resources and energies of the civilized world to the utmost, it is not strange that the puny interests of the struggling colonies were left un-cared for. Both parties appealed to the home government in vain for aid. This period from 1690 to 1700 is called by Cotton Mather the woeful decade. It well deserved the title and it could well be applied to the decade that followed. It was a woeful period. The military and ecclesiastical power of Canada was exercised to the utmost to secure the good will of the Indian tribes and to enlist them on their side, and in this they were very successful. The appeal was to their love of plunder, to their hatred to the English which was easily aroused, and to their zeal for the new faith, which they had embraced. It was war continually on the frontier, carried on stealthily, treacherously, and without mercy, in savage Indian style. In the autumn of 1703 news came from Albany of a threatened attack on Deerfield, and the government sent a guard of 20 men to defend the place. Some measures of defense were taken for awhile, but the precautions were slackened, till the threatened danger became a painful reality. The facts attending the sacking of the town in the winter of 1704 are too well known to require any recital from me. The French an Indian forces were commanded by Francis Hertel De Rouville--Hertel the name, De Rouville the title,--who bore the name and title of his father, and says a French historian "worthily filled the place of his father, whose age and infirmities no longer allowed him to go on distant expeditions." The father, Francis Hertel, as we learn from Parkman, belonged to or rather was the founder of one of the best families in Canada, and when a youth of 18 years was captured by the Mohawks in 1661. Some interesting letters from him while in captivity are retained by Parkman in his "Old regime," and from them we gather a graphic account of the state of fear and alarm in which the inhabitants of Canada lived at that time, quite equal to that of their distant neighbors across the border. How long Hertel remained in captivity I am unable to say, but when 29 years later a band of French and Indians fell upon Salmon Falls, it was Hertel who led the attack, and when the assailants were hard pressed by an overwhelming force it was Hertel who, sword in hand, held the prisoners in check, and covered the retreat of his men. He died about 1723 at the age of eighty years. The name is held in abhorrence in New England, but judged by the standard of war was he not a brave defender of his country and his faith? It could hardly have been his age alone that disqualified him from leading the attack on Deerfield. He was but 61 at the time. The honor or dishonor, it depends on your point of view, of leading the force against Deerfield fell to his oldest son, who, according to Palfrey, was accompanied by four brothers. We hold him up to execration as a bloodthirsty ruffian. There is no reason to suppose he was any thing of the kind. I suppose the people of Alabama and Georgia did not heap terms of compliment upon Gen. Sherman on his famous march to the sea; quite the contrary. We call him a brave and successful hero. In all these matters much depends on our point of view. I am inclined to think Francis Hertel was a better man than our imaginations have painted him.

The case of Deerfield was not peculiar. It was a frontier settlement in a time of war between two great nations, of different race, language and religion--a war stimulated by the strongest motives that ever prompted nations to fight each other. For centuries there had been intense hatred and jealousy between them. There was a natural desire for possession and control of this new and vast continent, which had already awakened splendid visions of fortune, wealth and power. Each had secured a share by means which were then thought justifiable; each selfishly grasped the whole, and were as eager to fight for it as two hungry dogs for a bone. The trade with the natives was considerable; each one was determined to monopolize the whole of it. To all these was added the violence, the ferocity, which has always characterized a religious war. "O Liberty, what crimes have been committed in thy name!" exclaimed Madame Roland on her way to the block in the bloody days of the French Revolution. "O Religion, what crimes have been committed in thy name!" is the exclamation which must escape the lips of every reader of history. It was in this case Catholic against Protestant, and with equal determination if not with equal ferocity, Protestant against Catholic. The spirit in both was much alike. If the atrocities committed in those dark years can be more fully attributed to the French than the English, it is partly owing to different national characteristics. The French were more impetuous and impulsive, the English more cool and cautious; and partly because the French had secured more influence over the Indians. They were more skillful managers. The forms and ceremonies of the Catholic church were more attractive to the untrained mind of the savage than the abstruse doctrines of Protestantism. The Jesuit missionary had a great advantage over the English clergyman. It was simply a question of greater strength and cunning, commonly called diplomacy.

Though Roger Williams in the previous century had advocated and defended the doctrines of toleration and religious liberty, they were not generally accepted at the time. In the year 1700, New York and Massachusetts passed laws against Jesuit and popish priests, requiring all persons receiving ordination from any authority derived from the Pope of Rome to depart from the colony before the first day of November. The world had moved. It no longer roasted heretics over a slow fire; it only banished them. It was a great stride forward.

One Col. Quay, writing from Boston in 1704, giving to the Board of Trade in London an account of the massacre at Deerfield, says: "We must expect such misfortunes to occur, and there is no way to prevent it except by cutting off Canada, which could be done with ease if her majesty would resolve upon it."

Vaudreuil, writing from Montreal in October, 1704, to the Government in France, says: "I write to inform you of the success of a party I sent this winter, at the request of the Abenakis Indians, whom the English attacked last autumn, and to speak to you of De Rouville, who commanded, that you would think of his promotion. His party accomplished everything expected of it." This, doubtless, had reference to the attack on Deerfield and shows that it was regarded at the time by the French authorities as a brave and honorable transaction. Our estimate depends a good deal upon our point of view. In that same year, 1704, Col. Church, the most famous partisan soldier of New England, the hero of King Phillips War, led an expedition to destroy Canadian towns in revenge for Deerfield.

We sometimes hear an outburst of indignation against the French for using Indian allies in these wars, who were doubtless the authors of most of the atrocities that were committed. But such complaints come with ill grace from English people, for their own government did the same, and continued to for a long period after the events we are considering. In what is known as the French and Indian War, from 1753 to 1768, Indians were employed on both sides. In 1759 Sir William Johnson used more than 1000 Indian soldiers in the capture of Fort Niagara and then led the same force in a Canadian expedition which led to the surrender of Montreal to the English and brought about the end of the war. In the Revolutionary war the English employed the savages of the wilderness as well as Hessian mercenaries to aid putting down the rebellious colonies. The motto prevailed that all was fair in war, and that it was justifiable to use every instrument to worry and crush an enemy. War in its nature is cruelty and selfishness. We may rejoice that the nations rush into it less heedlessly than formerly and still more that something of humanity and mercy marks the conduct of nations at war with each other-- qualities that were wanting two centuries ago. Civilized nations do not war upon defenseless women and children now-a-days. That is a step forward towards the day when men "shall learn war no more." We look back upon that period in our history, 180 years, and our minds are filled with horror at the cruelties and atrocities that were then committed by civilized and Christian men. They at the time doubtless were boasting of their refinement, and their advance in mercy and morals over those of two centuries before, and well they might. War at the beginning of the eighteenth century was merciful and humane as compared with war in the sixteenth century, even among Christian nations. Looking forward two hundred years, I believe that the dwellers in this continent will be pained and shocked at the bloodshed and suffering which in America marked the last half of the nineteenth century. They will look upon the deeds of Grant and Sherman, of Lee and Johnson, as we look upon those of Alva and William of Orange, of Marlboro and Van Ruyter, as contests of brute force to settle questions which should have been settled by peaceful and brotherly arbitration. War at the best is one proof that the old, barbaric spirit is not yet eliminated from the human race. Much has been done and is now doing to eradicate it. The world has made great strides onward in the century that is now passing. Greater strides, I verily believe, than in any previous century. Leaving out the last half of the fifteenth and the first half of the sixteenth century I should say that the nineteenth century has done more and better things for humanity than all the previous Christian centuries combined. Let us not blame Francis Hertel, nor the French government behind him, for what was done on that winter's morning, in Deerfield 180 years ago, but rather rejoice in the new light that has come into the world, the better interpretation of Christian precepts, the larger infusion of the Christian spirit, the fuller recognition of the brotherhood of man and the brighter hope we cherish that the time will yet come when Christian knowledge and charity shall cover the whole earth as the waters cover the sea.

(c) Pocumtuck Valley Memorial Association, Deerfield MA. All rights reserved.
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In 1884, 180 years after she was slain on the march to Canada following the attack on Deerfield on February 29, 1704, a monument was dedicated to Mrs. Eunice Williams, wife of the Deerfield minister, the Reverend John Williams. Rev. Moors, minister in Greenfield, Massachusetts, delivered the address at the dedication. He recounts Eunice Williams's ancestry, discusses warfare from the 15th century to the 19th, and concludes that the 19th century has done more and better things for humanity than all the previous Christian centuries combined.


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"Mrs. Eunice Williams"

printer   Greenfield Gazette and Courier
date   Aug 18, 1884
location   Greenfield, Massachusetts
height   28.5"
width   23.0"
process/materials   printed paper, ink
item type   Periodicals/Newspaper
accession #   #L98.020

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See Also...

"The Redeemed Captive Returning to Zion"

"The Deerfield Captive"

Puritans Led Off in Captivity

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