American History Told by Contemporaries

Author: Quintin Stockwell  | Date: 1684

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U.S. History

A Story of Indian Captivity (1677–1678)


’IN the year 1677. September 19. between Sun-set and dark, the Indians came upon us; I and another Man, being together, we ran away at the out-cry the Indians made, shouting and shooting at some other of the English hat were hard by. We took a Swamp that was at hand for our refuge, the Enemy espying us so near them, ran after us, and shot many Guns at us, three Guns were discharged upon me, the Enemy being within three Rod of me, besides many other, before that. Being in this Swamp that was miry, I slumpt in, and fell down, whereupon one of the Enemy stept to me, with his Hatchet lift up to knock me on the head, supposing that I had been wounded, and so unfit for any other travel. I (as it hapned) had a Pistol by me, which though uncharged, I presented to the Indian, who presently stept back; and told me, if I would yield, I should have no hurt, he said (which was not true) that they had destroyed all Hatfield, and that the Woods were full of Indians, whereupon I yielded my self, and so fell into the Enemies hands, and by three of them was led away unto the place, whence first I began to make my flight, where two other Indians came running to us, and the one lifting up the Butt end of his Gun, to knock me on the head, the other with his hand put by the blow, and said, I was his Friend. I was now by my own House which the Indians burnt the last year, and I was about to build up again, and there I had some hopes to escape from them; there was an Horse just by, which they bid me take, I did so, but made no attempt to escape thereby, because the Enemy was near, and the Beast was slow and dull, then was I in hopes they would send me to take my own Horses, which they did, but they were so frighted that I could not come near to them, and so fell still into the Enemies hands, who now took me, and bound me, and led me away, and soon was I brought into the Company of Captives, that were that day brought away from Hatfield, which were about a mile off; and here methoughts was matter of joy and sorrow both, to see the Company: some Company in this condition being some refreshing, though little help any wayes; then were we pinioned and led away in the night over the Mountains, in dark and hideous wayes, about four miles further, before we took up our place for rest, which was in a dismal place of Wood on the East side of that Mountain. We were kept bound all that night. The Indians kept waking and we had little mind to sleep in this nights travel, the Indians dispersed, and as they went made strange noises, as of Wolves and Owles, and other Wild Beasts, to the end that they might not lose one another; and if followed they might not be discovered by the English.

’About the break of Day, we Marched again and got over the great River at Pecomptuck River mouth, and there rested about two hours. There the Indians marked out upon Trays the number of their Captives and Slain as their manner is. Here was I again in great danger; A

quarrel arose about me, whose Captive I was, for three took me. I thought I must be killed to end the controversie, so when they put it to me, whose I was, I said three Indians took me, so they agreed to have all a share in me: and I had now three Masters, and he was my chief Master who laid hands on me first, and thus was I fallen into the hands of the very worst of all the Company; as Ashpelon the Indian Captain told me; which Captain was all along very kind to me, and a great comfort to the English. In this place they gave us some Victuals, which they had brought from the English. This morning also they sent ten Men forth to Town to bring away what they could find, some Provision, some Corn out of the Meadow they brought to us upon Horses which they had there taken. From hence we went up about the Falls, where we crost that River again; and whilst I was going, I fell right down lame of my old Wounds that I had in the War, and whilest I was thinking I should therefore be killed by the Indians, and what Death I should die, my pain was suddenly gone, and I was much encouraged again. We had about eleven Horses in that Company, which the Indians made to carry Burthens, and to carry Women. It was afternoon when we now crossed that River, We travelled up that River till night, and then took up our Lodging in a dismal place, and were staked down and spread out on our backs; and so we lay all night, yea so we lay many nights. They told me their Law was, that we should lie so nine nights, and by that time, it was thought we should be out of our knowledge. The manner of staking down was thus; our Arms and Legs stretched out were staked fast down, and a Cord about our necks, so that we could stir no wayes. The first night of staking down, being much tired, I slept as comfortably as ever; the next day we went up the River, and crossed it, and at night lay in Squakheag Meadows; our Provision was soon spent; and while we lay in those Meadows the Indians went an Hunting, and the English Army came out after us: then the Indians moved again, dividing themselves and the Captives into many Companies, that the English might not follow their tract. At night having crossed the River, we met again at the place appointed. The next day we crost the River again on Squakheag side, and there we took up our quarters for a long time, I suppose this might be about thirty miles above Squakheag, and here were the Indians quite out of all fear of the English; but in great fear of the Mohawks; here they built a long Wigwam. Here they had a great Dance (as they call it) and concluded to burn three of us, and had got Bark to do it with, and as I understood afterwards,

I was one that was to be burnt. Sergeant Plimpton an other, and Benjamin Wait his Wife the third: though I knew not which was to be burnt, yet I perceived some were designed thereunto, so much I understood of their Language: that night I could not sleep for fear of next dayes work, the Indians being weary with that Dance, lay down to sleep, and slept soundly. The English were all loose, then I went out and brought in Wood, and mended the fire, and made a noise on purpose, but none awaked, I thought if any of the English would wake, we might kill them all sleeping, I removed out of the way all the Guns and Hatchets: but my heart failing me, I put all things where they were again. The next day when we were to be burnt, our Master and some others spake for us, and the Evil was prevented in this place: And hereabouts we lay three Weeks together. Here I had a Shirt brought to me, to make, and one Indian said it should be made this way, a second another way, a third his way. I told them I would make it that way that my chief Master said; Whereupon one Indian struck me on the face with his Fist. I suddenly rose up in anger ready to strike again, upon this hapned a great Hubbub, and the Indians and English came about me; I was fain to humble my self to my Master, so that matter was put up. Before I came to this place, my three Masters were gone a hunting, I was left with an other Indian, all the Company being upon a March, I was left with this Indian, who fell sick, so that I was fain to carry his Gun and Hatchet, and had opportunity, and had thought to have dispatched him, and run away; but did not, for that the English Captives had promised the contrary to one another, because if one should run away, that would provoke the Indians, and indanger the rest that could not run away. Whilest we were here, Benjamin Stebbins going with some Italians to Wachuset Hills, made his escape from them, and when the news of his escape came; we were all presently called in and Bound; one of the Indians a Captain among them, and alwayes our great Friend, met me coming in, and told me Stebbins was run away; and the Indians spake of burning us; some of only burning and biting off our Fingers by and by. He said there would be a Court, and all would speak their minds, but he would speak last, and would say, that the Indian that let Stebbins run away was only in fault, and so no hurt should be done us, fear not: so it proved accordingly. Whilest we lingered hereabout, Provision grew scarce, one Bears Foot must serve five of us a whole day; we began to eat Horse-flesh, and eat up seven in all: three were left alive and were not killed. Whilest we had been here, some of the Indians had been down and fallen upon Hadley, and were taken by the English, agreed with, and let go again; . . . then we parted into two Companies; some went one way and some went another way; and we went over a mighty Mountain, we were eight dayes a going over it, and travelled very hard, and every day we had either Snow or Rain: We noted that on this Mountain all the Water run Northward. . . . All the Indians went a Hunting but could get nothing: divers dayes they Powow’d but got nothing, then they desired the English to Pray, and confessed they could do nothing; they would have us Pray, and see what the English-man’s God could do. I Prayed, so did Sergeant Plimpton, in another place. The Indians reverently attended, Morning and Night; next day they got Bears: then they would needs have us desire a Blessing, return Thanks at Meals: after a while they grew: weary of it, and the Sachim did forbid us . . . as soon as it was light I and Samuel Russel vvent before on the Ice, upon a River, they said I must go vvhere I could on foot, else I should frieze. Samuel Russel slipt into the River vvith one Foot, the Indians called him back and dried his Stockins, and then sent us avvay; and an Indian vvith us to Pilot us; and vve vvent four or five miles before they overtook us: I was then pretty well spent; Samuel Russel was (he said) faint, and wondred how I could live, for he had (he said) ten meals to my one: then I was laid on the Sled, and they ran away with me on the Ice, the rest and Samuel Russel came softly after. Samuel Russel I never saw more, nor know what became of him: they got but half way, and we got through to Shamblee about midnight. Six miles of Shamblee (a French Town) the River was open, and when I came to travail in that part of the Ice, I soon tired; and two Indians run away to Town, and one only was left: he would carry me a few rods, and then I would go as many, and that trade we drave, and so were long a going six miles. This Indian now was kind, and told me that if he did not carry me I would die, and so I should have done sure enough: And he said, I must tell the English how he helped me. When we came to the first House there was no Inhabitant: the Indian spent, both discouraged; he said we must now both die, at last he left me alone, and got to another House, and thence came some French and Indians, and brought me in: the French were kind, and put my hands and feet in cold Water, and gave me a Dram of Brandey, and a little hasty pudding and Milk; when I tasted Victuals I was hungry, and could not have forborn it, but that I could not get it; now and then they would give me a little as they thought best for me; I lay by the fire with the Indians that night, but could not sleep for pain: next morning the Indians and French fell out about me, because the French as the Indian said, loved the English better than the Indians. The French presently turned the Indians out of doors, and kept me, they were very kind and careful, and gave me a little something now and then; while I was here all the Men in that Town came to see me: . . . it being Christmas time, they brought Cakes and other Provisions with them, and gave to me, so that I had no want: the Indians tried to cure me, but could not, then I asked for the Chirurgeon, at which one of the Indians in anger, struck me on the face with his Fist, a Frenchman being by, the French-man spake to him, I knew not what he said, and went his way. By and by came the Captain of the place into the Wigwan with about twelve armed Men, and asked where the Indian was that struck the English-man, and took him and told him he should go to the Bilboes, and then be hanged: . . . I spake to the Captain by an Interpreter, and told him I desired him to set the Indian free, and told him what he had done for me, he told me he was a Rogue, and should be hanged; then I spake more privately, alledging this Reason, because all the English Captives were not come in, if he were hanged, it might fare the worse with them; then the Captain said, that was to be considered: then he set him at liberty, upon this condition, that he should never strike me more, and every day bring me to his House to eat Victuals. I perceived that the common People did not like what the Indians had done and did to the English. . . . The next day the Chirurgion came again, and dressed me; and so he did all the while I was among the French. I came in at Christmass, and went thence May 2d. Being thus in the Captain’s house, I was kept there till Ben. Waite came: & my Indian Master being in want of Money, pawned me to the Captain for 14. Beavers, or the worth of them, at such a day; if he did not pay he must lose his Pawn, or else sell me for twenty one Beavers, but he could not get Beaver, and so I was sold. . . .

Increase Mather, An Essay for the Recording of Illustrious Providences (Boston, 1684), 39–57 passim.


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Chicago: Quintin Stockwell, "A Story of Indian Captivity (1677– 1678)," American History Told by Contemporaries, ed. Increase Mather in American History Told by Contemporaries, ed. Albert Bushnell Hart (New York: The Macmillan Company, 1897), 501–506. Original Sources, accessed August 17, 2022,

MLA: Stockwell, Quintin. "A Story of Indian Captivity (1677– 1678)." American History Told by Contemporaries, edited by Increase Mather, in American History Told by Contemporaries, edited by Albert Bushnell Hart, Vol. 1, New York, The Macmillan Company, 1897, pp. 501–506. Original Sources. 17 Aug. 2022.

Harvard: Stockwell, Q, 'A Story of Indian Captivity (1677– 1678)' in American History Told by Contemporaries, ed. . cited in 1897, American History Told by Contemporaries, ed. , The Macmillan Company, New York, pp.501–506. Original Sources, retrieved 17 August 2022, from