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This Country of Ours - H. E. Marshall

War with the Indians in North and South Carolina

At first there had been no intention of making two provinces of Carolina. But the country was so large and the settlements made so far apart that very soon it became divided into North and South Carolina. The first settlements made in North Carolina were made round Albemarle Sound, and those of South Carolina at Charleston. One Governor was supposed to rule both states, but sometimes each had a governor. And in all the early years there was trouble between the governors and the people. Sometimes the governors were good men, but more often they were rascals who cared for nothing but their own pockets. So we hear of revolutions, of governors being deposed and imprisoned, of colonists going to England to complain of their governors, of governors going to complain of the colonists.

But far worse than the quarrel between people and governor were the troubles with the Indians. Many thousands of white people had by this time settled in the Carolinas, and the Redman saw himself year by year being driven further and further from his old hunting grounds; so year by year his anger grew. At first he had been friendly to the white man because he brought with him beads and copper ornaments and "fire water." But now he began to hate him.

At length the Indians in North Carolina plotted to kill all the white people. Many tribes of Indians dwelt round the settlements, but the chief among them were the Tuscaroras. These Tuscaroras now arranged with all the other tribes that early on the morning before the new moon they should all with one accord, tomahawk and firebrand in hand, fall upon the Pale-faces and wipe them utterly from the face of the earth.

From tribe to tribe the word was passed till hundreds knew the secret. But the Redman is silent and crafty, and neither by sign nor word did he betray it to the Pale-faces.

Suspecting nothing, with perfect faith in their friendship, the white people allowed the Indians to come and go freely in their settlements. Then one night a great many appeared, asking for food. Still the white people had no suspicion of evil, and many Indians were allowed even to spend the night in their houses.

The Pale-faces slept peacefully, but for the Redmen there was little rest. They waited impatiently for the dawn. At length the first streaks of light shivered across the sky, and from the woods came a loud fierce war whoop. It was answered by the Indians within the settlements, and with tomahawk in one hand and firebrand in the other they fell upon the still sleeping settlers.

They spared neither man nor woman, neither the old nor the young; and when they could find no more to slay they set fire to the houses. Then those who had hidden themselves were forced to flee from the flames, only to fall beneath the tomahawk. The Swiss and Germans round New Berne and the Huguenots of Bath were the chief sufferers.

But the wonder is that any white men escaped. For their cruel work at an end, and the settlements nought but flaming ruins, the Indians marched through the woods seeking any who had escaped, gathering at length to a spot arranged beforehand. Here they drank "fire water," rejoicing savagely over their victory. Then drunk with brandy and with blood they staggered forth again to continue their horrible labours. For three days the slaughter lasted, for three days the forests rang with terrifying war cries, and village after village was laid in ashes. Then too weary and too drunk for further effort, the Indians ceased their awful work.

At first the white people had been utterly stunned by the suddenness and horror of the uprising, and they were quite incapable of suppressing it by themselves. But soon help came, both from South Carolina and Virginia. Friendly Indians too, who wished to prove to the Pale-faces that they had had no part in the massacre, joined the forces.

Hundreds of the Indians were slain in battle, others were driven from fort to fort. But not for two years were they thoroughly subdued. Then at length, finding themselves no match for the white men, those who were left fled from the province and joined the Five Nations in New York, making from this time forward Six Nations.

In South Carolina too there was war with the Indians. The Yamassees had been among the Indians who marched from South Carolina to fight against their brothers, the Tuscaroras. Yet a little later they too rose against the Pale-faces.

Several causes led to the war, but it was chiefly brought about by the Spaniards who had a settlement at St. Augustine to the south of Carolina. They hated the British, and although the two countries were now at peace the Spaniards did all they could to injure the British colonies in America and elsewhere. So now they sympathised with the Yamassees, both with their real and imaginary grievances, and encouraged them to rise against the British.

Secretly and silently then the Redmen laid their plans. But this time the war did not burst forth entirely without warning. For when the Redman has truly given his faith and love nothing makes him false.

Now there was a chieftain named Sanute who had given his friendship to a Scotsman named Fraser, and he could not bear to think of his friend being slaughtered. So one day Sanute came to Fraser's wife to warn her.

"The British are all bad," he said, "they will all go to an evil place. The Yamassees also will go there if they allow these Pale-faces to remain longer in the land. So we will slay them all. We only wait for the sign of a bloody stick which the Creeks will send. Then the Creeks, the Yamassees, and many other nations will join with the Spaniards to slay the British. So fly in all haste to Charleston. And if your own boat is not large enough I will lend you my canoe."

Mrs. Fraser was very much frightened when she heard Sanute speak like this. But when she told her husband he laughed at her fears. The idea that the Spaniards should join with the Indians against the British seemed to him quite absurd.

"How can the Spaniards go to war with us," he said, "while they are at peace with Great Britain?"

"I know not," replied Sanute." But the Spanish Governor has said that soon there will be a great war between the British and the Spaniards, and while we attack on land he will send great ships to block up the harbours, so that neither man nor woman may escape."

Then laying his hand upon his heart Sanute implored his white friends to flee with all haste. "But if you are determined to stay," he added, "then I will take on myself one last office of friendship, and so that you may not be tortured I will slay you with my own hand."

Still Fraser doubted. But his wife was so terrified that he yielded to her entreaties. And gathering his goods together he got into his canoe with his wife and child, and paddled away to Charleston.

Unfortunately in the hurry of departure Fraser either forgot to warn his friends in the plantation near him, or they, being warned, disregarded it; and a few days later the slaughter began. At daybreak the signal was given, and at the sound of the war whoop the seemingly peaceful Indians were turned suddenly into raging demons who, with tomahawk and torch in hand, sowed destruction and death around. So the land was filled with blood and wailing, pleasant homesteads were laid in ruins, and only heaps of smouldering ashes marked where they had been.

But Governor Craven was one of the best governors of his time. He was a man of action and courage as well as a wise ruler, and he quickly gathered an army with which to march against the savages. The North Carolinians too, remembering gratefully the help which South Carolina had given to them in their need, sent men. Soon the Yamassees, and their friends were defeated and driven from the province. They fled across the border and took refuge in Spanish territory, where they were received with great rejoicing. They might indeed have been heroes returning from a victorious campaign, for the church bells were rung and salutes were fired in their honour.

The Yamassees were crushed, but they were not utterly conquered, from henceforth their hearts were filled with hatred against all the Carolinians. This hatred the Spaniards did their best to keep alive. They supplied the Indians with weapons, and made them valiant with "fire water." Thus encouraged they broke across the borders in small scalping parties, seizing and slaying, often with unspeakable tortures, all those who dwelt in lonely places. These frays were so unceasing, and so deadly, that at length hardly any one dared live in all the border region.

Meanwhile the war against the Indians had cost a great deal of money. And as the Lords Proprietor made a good deal of money out of the colony, the settlers thought they might as well bear some of the expense also. So they sent messengers home to arrange this matter. But the Lords Proprietor seemed to care little about their possessions except as a means of making money. And they refused to pay any of the cost of the war. This made the settlers angry.

They had never liked the rule of the Lords Proprietor; now they were heartily tired of it and they refused to stand it longer. King William III was now upon the throne, and the settlers asked him to make South Carolina a Crown Colony. To this King William agreed. Ten years later North Carolina also became a Crown Colony, and the two Carolinas from henceforth continued to be separate states.