|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,
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:
I am, Sr, your humble servant THO: HINCHMAN.
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
By Order in Councill,
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
The above Acctt was related to mee. RICHARD WALDRON, junr.
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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