SOLDIERS

IN

KING PHILIP'S WAR

Chapter 21, Part V 

This expedition was the closing active military service of Major Walderne, although he still retained his office as Major, and was constantly concerned as such, and held his place as magistrate and leading citizen during his life. In the spring of 1678 this war with the Indians closed. Major Walderne, however, became involved in the strife of the factions that claimed the government of New Hampshire, and his life thus continued in turbulence, even to its tragic close, the manner of which requires here some notice, even though many years had passed after Philip's War.

For about eleven years there had been peace with the Indians. The Pennacooks had long ago returned, and Kankamagus above mentioned had by his energy and wisdom restored them to something of their former prosperity. But this chief was somewhat impatient under the constant unjust encroachments and wrongs of the English, and their constant threats that they would bring the Mohawks upon them, and at last, involved in some new occasion of complaint, he fled to his relatives among the Androscoggins some time in the year 1686, where, finding some others with like wrongs and resentments, he became a nucleus of discontent. There were many also scattered among the Eastern tribes who had been captured at Dover in 1676 and sold into slavery, and had made their way back to find their tribes scattered, their families broken up and lost. To many of these nothing was left but hate and vengeance upon the English, and especially against the one man whom they believed responsible for the transaction; the man was Major Walderne. Other causes were doubtless at work at the Eastward by the designs of the French and the Jesuit missionaries in the zeal for their religion; but the resentment seems to have centred upon Cocheco and Major Walderne. In June, 1689, the people began to be aware of large numbers of strange Indians among those who came in to trade, and many did not seem to come for that purpose, but were observed carefully scrutinizing the defences and approaches. The people became alarmed, and one after another many came and urged Major Walderne to take some precautions of defence. He, however, would not hearken, laughed at their fears, and told them to "go and plant their pumpkins," and he would tell them when the Indians should attack them. There were many old friends of the Major and of the English of Dover among the neighboring Indians, and some of these tried to warn them of their danger. A squaw came through the town, and here and there significantly recited the words which have been handed down in the rhyme,

"O Major Waldron, you great sagamore,
What will you do, Indians at your door."

Capt. Thomas Henchman of Chelmsford also was apprized of the plot against Dover, and sent down a letter of warning to the Council at Boston, as follows:

Hond Sir
This day 2 Indians came from Pennacook, viz. Job Maramasquand and Peter Muckamug, who report yt damage will undoubtedly be done within a few days at Piscataqua, and yt Major Waldrons, in particular, is threatened; and Intimates fears yt mischief quickly will be done at Dunstable. The Indians can give a more particular account to your honor. They say iff damage be done, the blame shall not be on them, having given a faithful account of what they hear; and are upon that report moved to leave yr habitation and corn at Pennacook. Sr, I was verry loth to trouble you and to expose myself to the Censure and derision of some of the confident people, that ware pleased to make sport of what I sent down by Capt. Tom. I am constrained from a sense of my duty and from love of my countrymen to give the acct. as above. So with my humble service to your Honor, and prayers for the safety of an Indangered people,

I am, Sr, your humble servant THO: HINCHMAN.
June 22 [1689]
Mass. Archives, vol. 107, p. 139.

This letter was received by Mr. Danforth, and on the 27th laid before Gov. Bradstreet and the Council, and a messenger was sent to Dover the same day with this warning to Major Walderne:

Boston: 27.: June: 1689
Honord Sir
The Governor and Councill haveing this day received a Letter from Major Henchman of Chelmsford, that some Indians are come unto them, who report that there is a gathering of some Indians in or about Penecooke with designe of mischiefe to the English, amongst the said Indians is one Hawkins [Hogkins or Kankamagus] is said to be a principle designer, and that they have a particular designe against yourselfe and Mr. Peter Coffin which the Councill thought it necessary presently to dispatch Advice thereof to give you notice that you take care of yor own Safeguard, they intending endeavour to to betray you on a pretention of Trade. Please forthwith to Signify import hereof to Mr. Coffin and others as you shall think necessary, and Advise of what Information you may receive at any time of the Indians motions.

By Order in Councill,
ISA: ADDINGTON, Sec'y.
For Major Richd Walden and Mr. Peter Coffin
or either of them at Cocheca with all
possible [haste]
Mass. Archives, vol. 107, p. 144.

The messengers made all possible speed for Dover, but were detained at the Ferry at Newbury, and did not arrive until June 28th, the day after the blow had fallen. On the evening of the 27th two squaws applied at each of the garrison houses for permission to sleep inside, as was often done, and two were admitted into each of the garrisons, Walderne's, Heard's and Otis's, and were shown how to unfasten the gates if they wished to go away during the night. There was a report of a great number of Indians coming to trade next day, and the sachem Wesandowit, who had taken supper at the Major's, asked him pointedly, "Brother Waldron, what would you do if the strange Indians should come?" "I could assemble a hundred men by lifting up my finger," replied the Major, in careless indifference. And thus all retired to rest; no watch was placed and no precautions taken.

After midnight the gates were opened by the squaws. The Indians waiting outside rushed in and took possession without any alarm and rushed into the Major's rooms. Aroused from sleep, the old man sprang up, seized his sword, and despite his eighty years, drove them before him through several rooms, but turning to secure other arms, they sprang upon him from behind and struck him down with a hatchet; they bound him into his arm-chair and placed him upon a long table; they mocked him, and asked, "Who shall judge Indians now?" They compelled the family of the Major to prepare them supper, after which they drew their knives, and slashed the helpless old man across the breast, saying "I cross out my account." They then cut off his ears and nose and forced them into his mouth, till at last, when fainting with the loss of blood he was about to fall, one of them held his sword beneath him, upon which falling he expired.

The following letter was written by his son, who was then at Portsmouth, as is seen:

Portsmo: 28th: June 1689 abt 8 a clock morning
Just now came ashore here From Cocheca Jno Ham & his wife who went hence last night home wod (they living wthin a mile of Majr Waldron) & abt break of the day goeing up the river in a cannoo they heard guns fired but notwthstanding proceeded to Land at Majr Waldrons landing place by wch time it began to be light & then they Saw abt twenty Indns near Mr. Coffins Garrison Shooting & Shouting as many more about Richard Otis's & Tho: Pains but Saw their way clear to Majr Waldrons where they Intended Imediately to secure themselves but comeing to the gate & calling & knocking could receive noe answer yet saw a light in one of ye Chambers & one of ym say (looking through a crack of the gate) that he saw Sundry Indns wthin ye Garrison wch suppose had murther'd Majr Waldron & his Familie & thereupon they betook ymselves to make an escape wch they did & mett wth one of Otis sons who alsoe escaped from his Fathers garrison Informing yt his Father and ye rest of the Family were killed. Quickly after [they] set sundry houses afire this is all the Acctt wee have at prsent wch being given in a Surprize may admitt of some alteration but Doubtlesse the most of those Families at or abt Cochecha are destroyed.

The above Acctt was related to mee. RICHARD WALDRON, junr.
Mass. Archives, Hutchinson Papers, vol. 3, p. 376.

Thus tragically closed the eventful life of Major Richard Walderne, in the opinion of many the most notable of the early settlers of New Hampshire.

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