A little learning is a dangerous thing;
Drink deep, or taste not the Pierian spring. — Alexander Pope

Story of the Thirteen Colonies - Helene Guerber

Indians on the Warpath

The French were in possession of Acadia, New France, and Louisiana. The immense tract of land drained by the St. Lawrence and Mississippi rivers was rich in fur-bearing animals, whose pelts were brought by Indians and trappers to the missions and trading posts. There they were loaded in canoes and floated down the Lakes and the St. Lawrence, or down the Mississippi, so as to be shipped to France from Quebec and New Orleans.

You might think that the French would have been satisfied with all they had, but they were not. They longed to control the Hudson also, which they claimed for France, because they said Verrazano had first visited New York Bay. Besides, Champlain had come within a few miles of where Albany now stands, shortly before Hudson sailed up the river bearing his name.

Longing for an excuse to drive the English away from the Hudson valley, the French were glad when war was declared, in 1689. Their king sent over Count Frontenac to be governor of Canada again, and to lead in the struggle with the English. Frontenac was a good general, and had much influence over the Indians. He is said to have joined in their war dances and athletic sports, in spite of his old age, and to have boasted of the tortures he meant to inflict on his English foes and their Iroquois allies.

But when Frontenac arrived in Canada (1689), he found that the Iroquois had struck first. They had destroyed some French villages, had killed many settlers, and had even roasted and eaten some of their captives in sight of Montreal. On the other hand, some Indian allies of the French had surprised Dover, in New Hampshire. Here dwelt Major Waldron, who had taken part in King Philip's war. To avenge the capture of two hundred of their race at that time, the savages now tortured Waldron to death, cutting off his hand to see how much it weighed. To their amazement, the scales marked just one pound! This awed them greatly, for although the traders had always told them that a white man's hand exactly balanced a pound of beaver skins, they had always doubted the truth of that statement. Half the people in Dover were killed, the rest carried off into captivity, and the town reduced to ashes.

The next winter (1690), Frontenac sent a small band of French and Indians against the village of Schenectady, New York, on snowshoes. They arrived there in the dead of night. The place was defended by a high palisade, but the inhabitants felt so sure no one would attack them that cold night, that they had left both gates wide open, and guarded only by huge snow sentinels set up there in fun.

Roused from sound slumbers by blood-curdling Indian war whoops, a few escaped, but only to die of cold on their way to Albany. Many of the rest were killed by the attacking party, who, after burning the place to the ground, withdrew with their captives and plunder.

In the course of this struggle,—which is known in our history as "King William's War," because it took place during that monarch's reign,—the French and Indians attacked many villages in New York and New England. The most daring of all their attempts was against Haverhill, a town not very far from Boston. Here much property was destroyed, and many people killed or captured.

There are countless stories told of the deeds of valor done by men, women, and even little children in those terrible times. You shall hear the story of Hannah Dustin, of Haverhill, as an example. This poor woman was just recovering from illness, and was alone in the house, with her baby and nurse. Seven other children were out in the fields with their father, who was busy with his plow. All at once, they were startled by a war whoop. Mr. Dustin, seeing the Indians between him and his house, and knowing he could not save his wife, bade the children run to the blockhouse, while he bravely covered their retreat.

Mr. Dustin defending his children

Father and children reached the fort in safety; but the Indians rushed into the house, killed the baby by dashing its head against the wall, and carried both women off as captives. After several days' march and much ill treatment Mrs. Dustin, her nurse, and two captive boys made up their minds to escape. One of the boys had learned from an Indian how to kill and scalp a foe; so one night, when their captors were asleep, the four prisoners noiselessly rose, seized tomahawks, and killed and scalped ten Indians. Then they took a canoe, and with some trouble made their way home. Mrs. Dustin received fifty pounds reward for those scalps, besides a present from the governor of Maryland, who admired her pluck. That people might not forget what hard times the settlers had, her statue has been placed in Concord, New Hampshire, where you can see her grasping a tomahawk, ready to kill her foes.

As long as the war lasted, New Englanders and New Yorkers defended themselves as bravely as they could. But Indian foes were very hard to fight, because they always fell upon people unawares. In their anger, the colonists finally determined to carry the war into the enemy's country.: They therefore sent out a fleet under Sir William Phips, to attack and destroy Port Royal, in Acadia. This being done, the fleet tried to take Quebec, while armies from New York and Connecticut attacked Montreal. But both these attempts failed, and when the war was ended by the treaty of Ryswick (1697), neither party had gained anything, although many lives had been lost.


Front Matter

Our Country Long Ago
The Barbarous Indians
The Mounds
Where the Northmen Went
The Northmen in America
Queer Ideas
Prince Henry the Navigator
Youth of Columbus
Columbus and the Queen
"Land! Land!"
Columbus and the Savages
Home Again
Columbus Ill-treated
Death of Columbus
How America Got its Name
The Fountain of Youth
"The Father of Waters"
The French in Canada
French and Spanish Quarrels
The Sky City
Around the World
Nothing but Smoke
Smith's Adventures
The Jamestown Men
Smith Wounded
Pocahontas Visits England
Hudson and the Indians
The Mayflower
Plymouth Rock
The First Thanksgiving
Snake Skin and Bullets
The Beginning of Boston
Stories of Two Ministers
Williams and the Indians
The Quakers
The King-Killers
King Phillip's War
The Beginning of New York
Penn and the Indians
The Catholics in Maryland
The Old Dominion
Bacon's Rebellion
A Journey Inland
The Carolina Pirates
Charter Oak
Salem Witches
Down the Mississippi
La Salle's Adventures
Indians on the Warpath
Two Wars with the French
Washington's Boyhood
Washington's Journey
Washington's First Battle
Stories of Franklin
Braddock's Defeat
Wolfe at Quebec
England and her Colonies
The Stamp Tax
The Anger of the Colonies
The Boston Tea Party
The Minutemen
The Battle of Lexington
Bunker Hill
The Boston Boys
The British leave Boston
Declaration of Independence
A Lady's Way of Helping
Christmas Eve
The Fight at Bennington
Burgoyne's Surrender
Winter at Valley Forge
The Quaker Woman
Putnam's Adventures
Indian Cruelty
Boone in Kentucky
Famous Sea Fights
The "Swamp Fox"
The Poor Soldiers
The Spy
A Traitor's Death
Two Unselfish Women
Surrender of Cornwallis
British Flag hauled down
Washington's Farewell