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A Journal Of An Indian Captivity During Pontiac’s Rebellion In The Year 1763, By Mr John Rutherfurd, Afterward Captain, 42nd Highland Regiment
“Every one of us was seized by his future master…
April 1958 | Volume 9, Issue 3
This was prevented by Wasson, the chief of the Chippewas. After a good deal of altercation upon the subject, Pontiac thought it most prudent to deliver me up, and thereby avoid a war with a nation superior in number to his own, which, besides the possibility of destroying his own nation, would have infallibly ruined the common cause for which they were united. I was immediately carried off by King Wasson to his hut. He was very good to me. He gave me plenty of victuals, and he told me he had plenty of girls in his family to do all the work, so that I should never be asked to do anything, but live as he and his sons did.
This pleased me very much, and indeed the behavior of him and his family was such that I had reason to think myself fortunate in falling into his hands. Every member of the family, which was very large, vied with one another to show me the most countenance and favor, and when any disturbance or alarm appeared in the camp, such as the young fellows, out of mere wantonness or in a drunken frolic, killing any of the captives—which they too frequently did—I was always hid till the danger was over.
The old king became so fond of me that he offered to make me his son-in-law when I should be disposed for matrimony and should fancy any of his daughters, who were reckoned the handsomest in the camp, and had more wampum than any others. He was satisfied with my telling him that I thought myself highly honored by the proposed alliance; and although I was not inclined to take a wife at that time, I did not know how soon I might wish to change my condition, and that then I should be happy to choose one of his family.
Little did I suspect that the ease and tranquility I then enjoyed would be of so short duration. I had not been in this situation for ten days when Peewash expressed a desire to have his son back again with him, saying that he and his wife had heartily repented their selling me to the French gentleman. They were willing to return the merchandise they had received for me, providing I was again restored to them, adding that it grieved their hearts to see me in the possession of another.
Wasson, however great his desire to keep me in his family, knew that although he was the chief of the nation he had no power to keep what was another’s property. He likewise did not choose to expose himself or his family to the revenge of Peewash, who would take the first opporunity to resent the injury done him. He therefore was obliged to give me up to my father, who with his whole house received me again with joy and the most expressive marks of satisfaction, while that of Wasson seemed sorry to part with me, and even the princesses showed that they were not indifferent.
The number of prisoners increased every day. Towards the end of July they had upwards of fifty, besides a great number of scalps that were daily brought into the camp; they were every day murdering some of their prisoners, even those that had been as long among them as myself. One day, in particular, I was in the hall of a Frenchman’s house, which was crowded with Indians, when some of the young warriors brought eight naked captives into the hall, at the sight of which I was surprised and terrified. I asked an Indian who was of the same nation with myself, and who had frequently professed a regard for me, whether or not I was to fall a sacrifice with those they were about to murder. At this question, he was amazed to see me there; and without making any answer he hurried me through the crowd, and putting me into another room in the house charged me to lie close and make no noise, otherwise I would be discovered and killed. He then locked the door and left me to think on what had passed.
I found two Dutch merchants in the room in the same situation as myself, having been hid there by their masters, who were desirous of saving them from the fury of their brethren. During our confinement we heard the Indians making long speeches over the unhappy people that were to suffer, telling them it was in order to make them prosperous in the war against the English that they were to be killed. The poor victims were begging the French people, who were looking on, to intercede in their behalf. One little boy in particular, a drummer of the Rangers about twelve years old, was crying bitterly and imploring their mercy; but alas, he knew not how vain it was to ask it from wretches whose hearts were steeled against every feeling of humanity.
I ventured to crawl to the window, where I saw them lead to the riverside (which ran just by the house) eight of these poor creatures, one by one, whom they put to death on the spot. Some of them were tomahawked, others they shot with their guns, and some of them they made the little boys shoot with bows and arrows, in order to accustom them to cruelty and perfect them in the use of that weapon. Thus they prolonged the pain of these unhappy wretches, and when one fell, the multitude would set up the most dreadful yells and cries that can be conceived. When they were all dead they scalped them, and some of the Indians took the skin off their arms to make tobacco pouches of (as they had formerly done with Captain Robertson and Captain Campbell), leaving the first joints of the fingers by way of tassels.
Then they threw the bodies into the river that they might float down to the fort, where their countrymen might see what they said they should all undergo in a short time. When this tragical scene was at an end, the Indian that had hid me came and set me at liberty, first leading me publicly through the middle of the crowd to convince me that there was no more danger at that time. Then he delivered me to Peewash, who seemed very happy to see me safe, having heard that the warriors had been hunting to destroy me.