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HOW KANKAMAGUS CROSSED OUT THE
Shortly before 1683 there loomed into prominence a man very different in temperament and character from Passaconaway and Wonalancet, namely, Kancamagus (pronounced Kankamaugus), a nephew of Wonalancet and grandson of Passaconaway. "Kancamagus, commonly in the histories called Hogkins, Hawkins, or Hakins, was an artful, persevering, faithful man, as long as he could depend upon the English for protection."1 He possessed more fiery passions and far less self-control than his predecessors in the Pennacook chieftaincy. But Passaconaway's great example was still potent among the New Hampshire Indians, and at the beginning of Kancamagus' sagamonship we find him a peaceful and law-abiding man.
The father of this powerful Indian was Nanamocomuck, the oldest son of Passaconaway. Strangely enough, instead of the title passing through Wonalancet to his son it reverted back to the son of the elder chief, long dead. Nanamocomuck, already mentioned, was Sachem of Wachusett and was at one time unjustly, as it proved, imprisoned in Boston.2 Being more savage than his younger brother, the "gentle-breathing" Wonalancet, possessing a temperament more like that which Kancamagus later showed, Nanamocomuck changed from a staunch friend of the English to a bitter hater. He finally abandoned his pacific people who dwelt at the foot of Mount Wachusett in Massachusetts and joined the Androscoggins, in Maine.3 We know not whether he joined a band inimical to the English or not we only know that he died among these people before Passaconaway abdicated the throne. Thus Kancamagus, far from the restraining and softening influence of Passaconaway, and being brought up with the warlike ideals of his father and among a people far more savage than the Pennacooks, might be expected to favor a more radical war-policy than that of his ancestral tribe. Naturally enough, under the peaceful and inactive rule of Wonalancet, many of the more fiery of the Pennacooks had sundered their hereditary ties and joined the warlike Maine Indians.4
In 1684 Kancamagus succeeded to the throne of the Indian confederacy and brought with him a throng of restless and vengeful Androscoggins. The news spread far and wide. From many quarters discontented Indians flocked to the standard of the new chieftain, who was a man of powerful physique and compellingly magnetic personality. He was a born leader and quickly gathered together the remnants of the once powerful Pennacooks. Restless men came from all directions; "strange Indians" returning from slavery naturally gravitated Kancamagusward.5 It is interesting to note how, after being sold as slaves in the Barbadoes, these sons of the forest had managed to work their way back to their native soil. In this year, 1684, then, we find Kancamagus heading a motley group of savages.
The English, aware of the lawless bands gathering at Pennacook, instead of preventing the coming storm, in reality hastened it, for their government again renewed its perfidious negotiations with the Mohawks.6 The Pennacooks knew that the Mohawks were being hired to annihilate all the Indians from Narragansett, R. I., to Brunswick, Maine.7 This alone, even without the vengeance the Indians were nursing against the whites for the Sham Fight treachery, would be sufficient to make them hate the white usurpers. Although terrible in revenge, Kancamagus did not deliberately stir up war. He was a staunch ally so long as the whites gave him a measure of justice; but when insulted, abused, and injured, he let loose the furies of war and reveled in his gory revenge. This new Bashaba, who, as it proved, was to be the last of the Bashabas, was not a man to be abused with impunity.
No English policy could have been more perfidious than this buying up of the Maguas to raid the New England Indians. Little wonder, then, that a few years later we find Kancamagus fighting under the "table cloth" standard of the French. Word came back from the Mohawks that they intended to kill all the Indians from Mount Hope to Pegypscott.8 The Pennacooks immediately rushed to their stronghold at Concord, where, many, many years before, the Mohawks had been decisively repulsed. The Bashaba made a trip to New Castle, in order that by strengthening his alliance with the English―not that he hated the English any less9―he might protect his people who lived on the frontier from the dreaded Mohawks.
"On the 15th of May, 1685, he addressed the following letter to Governor Cranfield:
Underneath his name are the signatures or marks of fourteen subordinate Indians.
We find the Bashaba sending a second letter to the governor on the same day:
Several Indian signatures or marks follow.
After this second note Kancamagus was recognized. He was given a message expressing Cranfield's regrets at being unable to see him because of "out of town" business. Mr. Mason had been left as acting Governor in Cranfield's absence. The neglected Kancamagus, reasoning with the simplicity of a child, was deeply grieved at this "putting off," and the next day sent this appealing note to the acting governor:
It is very probable that the mention of beaver skins was the inducement which caused the governor to notify the Bashaba of an engagement and to tell him of Mr. Mason's position. Both Cranfield and Mason knew well what proposition Kancamagus would make. The Bashaba had a letter all prepared for his "worship's" consideration, praying that, besides receiving protection from the Maguas, Cranfield would not have his Indians thrown into prison for imbibing too freely of the "fire-water," but allow him (Kancamagus) to punish them, which he would surely do if notified of their drunkenness.13 This proposal was one not to the liking of the official; so it seems that the pilgrim had his long walk for nothing. Bringing valuable gifts of furs from Pennacook, he was treated with sad neglect and never even given a real hearing. Such was the English way of accepting the friendship of a neighbor who, at this time, was sincerely inclined towards peace. It is a well-proven fact that Cranfield traveled as far as Albany, N. Y., in order, as he expressed it, to purchase peace with English gold, by bringing against the Pennacooks enough Mohawks to destroy them.14 Kancamagus, neglected and enraged, went back to his people. Many writers think that before this affair his friendship with the whites had been sincere,15 but from now on he nursed his grievances and only awaited the time when he should drink from the sweet cup of revenge.
Gathering together all his subjects, he plunged deeper into the wilderness. Some of the Maine Indians and tribes on the seaboard joined him.16 The Court became greatly alarmed. The officials realized that here was a man who would resent an insult. They therefore sent messengers asking the reason of the Pennacooks' withdrawal. Kancamagus sent back the answer that it was the fear of the "Mohogs" which caused their flight to the fort. They were then asked why they did not come in and mingle with the English and thereby be protected by them. To this the Bashaba answered that if they did this the Mohawks would hurt the English on their account,17 which of course they would not wish. At length they were persuaded to return and an agreement was reached.
"Their chiefs being assembled with the council of New Hampshire and a deputation from the province of Maine, a treaty was concluded, wherein it was stipulated, that all future personal injuries on either side should, upon complaint, be immediately redressed; that information should be given of approaching danger from enemies; that the Indians should not remove their families from the neighborhood of the English without giving timely notice, and if they did that it should be taken as a declaration of war; and, that while these articles were observed, the English would assist and protect them against the Mohawks and all other enemies."18 This treaty was apparently kept by both sides until it expired, four years later.19 For some reason the energetic Governor Cranfield was removed and Walter Barefoot, whom we find negotiating this treaty,20 was unable to secure the alliance of the Mohawks.
In the year 1689, at the expiration of the treaty, "King William's War" was declared between the French and the English colonists.21 Naturally this-a border Indian war-involved the Pennacooks. Kancamagus had allied with himself such noted warriors as Paugus, Metambomet, Mesandowit, and Wahowah (or Wahwah).22 This Wahowah, sometimes known as Hope-Hood, was a very "Indian-rubber Devil," capable of mischief of every description, one who could not be killed or in any way checked in his bloody career, "a tiger, and one of the most bloody warriors of the age."23
As the treaty had expired, the Indians were not disposed to form another alliance. They were nursing their wrongs. The son-in-law of Passaconaway was still a slave in the Barbadoes;24 the English had deliberately bartered with the Mohawks, the natural enemies of the Pennacooks; they had treated the Bashaba with neglect; even now they were hunting for one of Kancamagus' subjects―Hope-Hood―and lastly, although not least by any means, same of the "strange Indians" had returned from slavery and were raging for the blood of their betrayer.25 Then, too, it is highly probable that a little urging on the part of the French was not without effect.26 Hence, in this year, when the Andros government had been wrecked by revolution and when the governments of both New Hampshire and Massachusetts seem to have swayed on their very unsteady foundations,27 we find news leaking out that Kancamagus was "the principal enemy and designer"28 of a bloody plot against the English and that he had threatened "to knock on the head whosoever came to treat, whether English or Indian."29 Messengers were sent up to Penn a cook to seize Hope-Hood but they were unsuccessful.30
In extenuation of the Pennacooks' growing hostility to the English, Potter says: "What class or nation of whites at the present time would suffer such wrongs to go unavenged! And should we expect more of patience from the rude untutored Red Man!"31 Therefore we must not judge Kancamagus and his warriors too harshly. In the bloody affair at Cocheco we shall find the dusky avengers hurting few, if any, besides those against whom they had personal grudges.
Although great secrecy was observed, the news leaked out, and two friendly Indians, Job Maramasquand and Peter Muckamug, speedily carried it to Col. Hinchman and to Hon. Danforth, of the council but, probably on account of the unsettled condition of the government at the time, no action was taken until it was too late. ("The friendly warning is said to have come from Wonalancet."32) On the twenty-seventh of June a messenger was despatched to warn Waldron of the proposed onslaught. This messenger was unavoidably detained at Newbury Ferry and arrived at Dover on the twenty-eighth, just after the Indians had done their work. 33
Miss Mary H. Wheeler has put into verse her conception of the events which transpired in the camp of Kancamagus on the eve of the massacre:
Two squaws appeared at Major Waldron's block-house and applied for permission to sleep there. As such hospitality seems to have been a common custom, no objections were offered. Two squaws were also unsuspectingly admitted into each of the houses of Heard, Otis, and the elder Coffin. Before retiring the families, upon request, showed the squaws how to open the gates, in case they should wish to leave in the night. Mesandowit, a chief very friendly to the whites, was accustomed to sup frequently with Major Waldron. On this fateful evening he was a guest at the trader's table. During the meal the chieftain alluded to the numerous Indians about Dover and said: "Major Waldron, what would you do if the strange Indians should come?" "I could assemble an hundred men by lifting up my finger," carelessly replied the Major.36 Having done his duty as a friend, the Indian, not wishing to further betray his kinsmen, said no more. The unwary Waldron retired, as was his custom, without posting a watch.
As darkness fell and lights in the different houses began to disappear one by one, the camp of the red man also quieted down and one might have thought it deserted. In fact, the warriors had silently withdrawn to the woods. As midnight approached, dusky forms crept up to Cocheco's stockade. Suddenly a gentle creaking was heard, then heavy timbers seemed to jar farther and still farther down the tiny village the same sound was heard. The hour had arrived. Crouching Indians sprang up from their hiding-places and rushed through the open gates, leaving a guard stationed at the entrance, however.
Richard Waldron's judgment-day had arrived. Never again would he defraud Indians or horsewhip Quakers.37 Against the Major, that unscrupulous and deceitful trader, was the Indian vengeance chiefly aimed. Through the ponderous doors of his block-house a bloodthirsty band sped. Up the stairs and into the trader's sleeping-apartment rushed the Indians. Waldron, although over eighty years old, with sword in hand, rushed desperately upon the invaders. His counter-attack was so fierce that he actually drove them through two or three chambers. Then he ran back to his chamber for his pistols. But in this retreat he was overtaken and stunned by a blow from the flat of a tomahawk. Binding him, Kancamagus' men placed him in a large arm-chair upon the dining-table. Taunting cries of "Who shall judge Indians now?"38 echoed and re-echoed through the spacious halls. Then the exulting Indians sat down and feasted, compelling the family to serve them a supper. Having finished their meal, they arose, and, forming a line, marched round and round the table, jeering and hooting at their long-hated victim. During this march each Indian slashed his knife across the naked breast of the gigantic trader, exclaiming, "I cross out my account with Major Waldron!" and, "Now, will your fist weigh a pound ?"39 The sight of flowing blood seemed to redouble the ferocity of the captors. They sliced off Waldron's ears and nose and brutally forced these into his mouth. At length, fainting from loss of blood, Waldron began to topple over, whereupon one of the Indians held the Major's own sword so that, as he fell, it ran him through, thereby putting an end to his terrible sufferings. To quote the old poem, "The Winter Evening," again:
But this did not end the carnage. Parties of the invaders fell upon each of the other houses. The garrison of Otis, a partner of Waldron, was taken in the same way as was the Major's. After the fray Otis was found dead in his chamber. Some think that he was shot while getting out of bed; others that he met his death while peering out of his window. His son and a daughter (Hannah), a child of two years old, also perished. The latter's brains were dashed out against the stairs. Kancamagus captured the wife and infant of Otis and the two children of Stephen, his son. Three daughters of the elder Otis's family were taken, but, at Conway, the party was surprised and these captives were set free.
The case was different at Heard's house. Just as the redskins were entering, a youth, William Wentworth, being awakened by a dog, rushed upon them and, by a Herculean effort, pushed the invaders out and slammed the door in their faces. By lying upon his back, he was able so to brace himself as to hold the door against them, until assistance arrived. The Indians shot through the door twice, but probably they fired too high to hit Wentworth, for he still persisted unharmed until help came and the door was barred.
In the capture of the elder Coffin's house, they encountered little opposition. But, as these "blood-thirsty savages" bore no grudge against him, they limited their mischief to making him scatter coins by the handful from a bag they found there, while, child-like, the Indians "scrambled" for them. The night before, Coffin, the son, had refused the squaws admittance, so the red men were barred from his house. But the Indians led forth his father and, by threatening to murder him in full view of the garrison, finally gained admittance. These newly-surrendered captives were placed in a small vacant building and were left unguarded. In the excitement they all escaped. Amidst these bloody scenes a young woman, who had once done an Indian a kindness, took her child and ran to the woods for cover. A fierce warrior, perceiving her, pursued her. Upon discovering, in the semi-darkness, who she was, a smile flickered for an instant over his countenance and he left her unharmed.41
The details of the other garrisons are not known. In this one night there were twenty-three persons slain and twenty-five made captives. In all, six houses were burned, including that of Waldron, and the mill upon the lower fall. It is interesting to note that not one of the trader's family except the Major himself was harmed. This shows that, though terrible in revenge, the savage could discriminate. Even amidst the bloodiest scenes he would not harm one who, perhaps years before, had done him or a friend a kindness.
Of course this terrible onslaught, although small numbers were involved, coming as it did out of an almost clear sky, was a heavy blow up the English. The fact that the prisoners were on their way to Canada seems to indicate that the French knew of the affair and that there was trouble ahead. The English could find no sufficient explanation or cause for such an onslaught. "It was a most unexpected, unwarranted and savage outbreak," said the wise ones. Evidently they were unaware that thirteen years ago―a savage remembers as far back as that―these very Indians had been betrayed and sold into slavery, shot in broad daylight by malicious whites, plundered, robbed and unjustly imprisoned, yet there was "no sufficient cause"!
The Indians must be punished. Such bloody deeds, when there is no open enmity against the whites as in this case, shall be avenged. There shall be no mercy shown these terrible heathen. A war of extermination shall be waged against this pestiferous vermin. Hence Captain Church is speedily despatched to Pennacook. He will show these savages the power of British law. Upon reaching Pennacook he finds the empty shell of the fort and some small patches of corn. These he immediately confiscates, but the "great Indian fighter" can discover not a single redskin, for some are hidden, others scattered up and down the Merrimac, eking out a miserable existence, but Kancamagus and the majority of his elated warriors are making a speedy march to the amicable French.
The following September Captain Church surprised and captured the fort upon the Amariscoggin River. In it were found Kancamagus's wife and children, his brother-in-law and his wife, together with several "squaws and papooses." For considerable time this fort had been known as Worombo's Fort and had been a rendezvous for the fugitives. In the struggle which ensued, Kancamagus's sister and daughter were slain and the rest made prisoners.42 A short time after, the wily brother-in-law escaped. This affair seems to have enraged the chief, for at Casco Kancamagus and Wororobo fell upon the whites with terrible fury, although the latter were numerically superior. The redskins were at length repulsed, but they had struck their blow and seven whites lay lifeless on the ground. Twenty-four more were wounded, while evidently the Indian losses were slight.43
As a sort of "civilized" revenge for this attack, Church's men proposed to butcher their captives. But, luckily, two women captives, whom Kancamagus had treated kindly and who were living at Worombo's Fort at the time of its seizure, interceded, saying that Kancamagus had several whites in his power and in retaliation would surely slay these. They also proposed an exchange of prisoners. Therefore, leaving two aged squaws to negotiate with Kancamagus, and after destroying a little corn, Church's soldiers retraced their steps.44 We find that it was in this year that Hope-Hood, "the tiger," met a fate similar to that of "Stonewall" Jackson in later years; that is, his own men, mistaking him for an enemy, fired upon and killed him. This loss seems to have taken the heart out of the fiery and vengeful Kancamagus.45
In May, 1691, Kancamagus, Worombo, and eight other "Chief Sagamons" entered the Wells Garrison under a flag of truce to treat for peace.46 Here they exchanged their prisoners, of which the Indians had at least four score, for those taken by Church's band. They made the treaty known as the "Truce of Sackatehock," which lasted just a year. Before delivering up the Indian prisoners, Captain Andras made them all promise, three times, that they never would fight against the English.47
The power of the Pennacooks was now shattered, the warriors were scattered. The tribe was broken up into groups of poverty-stricken wanderers. Most of them either went under the name of Merrimacs, or took refuge in Canada, at Saint Francis.48 Perhaps it is not to be wondered at that the Saint Francis Indians soon became noted as the bitterest foes of the English colonies. And they continued to be so until the fall of the French power in America. Their descendants to this day may be found at Saint Francis.49
There were a few more instances in which we find the name of Pennacook and Kancamagus appearing. The first of these was the attack on Haverill, a year after the "Truce of Sackatehock," which truce had expired in 1692. We have very authoritative evidence that in this foray several of the now "Merrimacs," formerly "Pennacooks" of the Kancamagus jurisdiction, took part. A captive, Isaac Bradley, testified later that many of these raiders belonged to the Saco and Pennacook tribes. Possibly the warlike Bashaba himself had a hand in the affair.50
When Dudley visited Casco, on June 20, 1703, he held a conference with delegates representing several tribes, the Pennacook among others. The red men informed him that ''as high as the sun is above the earth, so far distant was their design of making the least breach of the peace."51 They presented him with a belt of wampum, after which both parties went to the "Two Brothers" (two large piles of stones), upon which they threw more stones, thereby strengthening the existing friendship. Yet, six weeks later, they were taking part in "Queen Anne's War."52
From now on, we find the Pennacooks, or the more mettlesome of them, making insignificant raids upon the English.53 Their great confederacy had ceased to exist. As we have said, they now made their headquarters at Saint Francis. The French doubtless fitted out these expeditions and the bounty they offered the redskins was a great temptation.
Says Belknap, referring to the Boston Evening Post of July 28, 1747: "At Pennacook a party of the enemy discovered" (disclosed) "themselves by firing at some cattle. They were pursued by fifty men and retreated with such precipitation as to leave their packs and blankets with other things behind."54 Twelve years later, when Major Rogers and his famous Rangers attacked and pillaged the village of Saint Francis, they found six hundred scalps hanging from the different Indian scalp-posts in the town.55 Doubt less twenty-three of these had come from Cocheco, while many others were tokens of the prowess of Kancamagus and his followers. With the destruction of Saint Francis, the tribal history of the Pennacooks ended. They had turned from the peaceful path shown them by Passaconaway, and had staked their all on the tomahawk and musket. "They that take the sword shall perish with the sword."56 It was ever thus, as the downfall of mighty military nations attests. "Thus the aboriginal inhabitants, who held the lands of New Hampshire as their own, have been swept away. Long and valiantly did they contend for the inheritance bequeathed to them by their fathers, but fate had decided against them and it was all in vain. With bitter feelings of unavailing regret, the Indian looked for the last time upon the happy places where for ages his ancestors had lived and loved, rejoiced and wept, and passed away, to be known no more forever.57
At the western extremity of the Passaconaway, Albany, or Swift River, Intervale, between Mt. Tripyramid and Mt. Huntington, lies a long, low mountain, bearing the name of the conquerer of Dover―Kancamagus. Sweetser describes it as "a bold wooded ridge which may be ascended by the way of the Flume Brook."58 The Swift River Trail of the Appalachian Mountain Club and the American Institute of Instruction Path, sometimes known as the Livermore Path, cross the northern shoulder of Kancamagus, as I shall state more in detail in a coming chapter. The view from the summit of Kancamagus is not worth the climb.59 Instead of wasting strength and breath in scrambling up the wooded steeps of Mt. Kancamagus, I prefer to lie comfortably in my sailor hammock on the piazza of our cottage, "Score-o'-Peaks," and study the distant undulating sky-line of said mountain, thinking of the dusky warrior whose name it bears. From the mountain my mind travels down to Dover, where flame and blood and midnight shrieks mingle in a scene of confusion and death. Thence, again, memory once more takes up its journey, following the footsteps of an exile chief, northward and eastward until the trail disappears in oblivion. How and when Kancamagus died we know not. But his life story, at best, was a pathetic one. His gory deeds at Cocheco have been softened down by the pencil of time. Even the white man now admits that there was great provocation. And no one can deny that greed and injustice and cruelty and treachery only received their just desert when the Indians "crossed out their account with Major Waldron."
In recording the story of the Pennacook chieftains; we are dealing not only with historic men, but with men of large caliber and ability. One historian says: "Passaconaway, Wonalancet, and Kancamagus were all of them men of more than ordinary power; equal in mental vigor, physical proportions, and moral qualities to any of their white contemporaries."60
Of Kancamagus Judge Potter discriminatingly affirms: "Kancamagus was a brave and politic Chief, and in view of what he accomplished, at the head of a mere remnant of a once powerful tribe, it may be considered a most fortunate circumstance for the English colonists that he was not at the head of the tribe at an earlier period, before it had been shorn of its strength, during the old age of Passaconaway and the peaceful and inactive reign of Wonalancet. And even had Kancamagus succeeded to the Sagamonship ten years earlier than he did, so that his acknowledged abilities for counsel and war could have been united with those of Philip, history might have chronicled another story than the inglorious death of the Sagamon of Mount Hope, in the swamp of Pokanoket; or the success of his renowned conqueror, Major Church."61 Such meditations as these run through our mind as the hammock swings in the west wind which comes sweeping down us straight from the blue ridge of Mt. Kancamagus.62
1. Drake: Indians
of North America, 297.