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PONT EACH 



Robert Rogers 



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PORTRAIT OF MAJOR ROBERT ROGERS 

From Gtukicktt drr Kriegt in u*d autter Europa, Elfter Tbeil, Niirnberg, 1777 



PONTEACH 

OR THE 

SAVAGES OF AMERICA 

A TRAGEDY 
BY ROBERT ROGERS 

WITH AN INTRODUCTION 
AND A BIOGRAPHY OF THE AUTHOR 

BY ALLAN KEVINS 




CHICAGO 

THE CAXTON CLUB 
1914 







The Publication Committee of the Caxton Club certify that 
this is one of an edition of one hundred and seventy-five copies 
printed on Old Stratford paper, and three copies printed on 
Japanese vellum. The printing was done from type which has 
been distributed. 



365 



PONTEACH 






Copyright, 1914, by THE CAXTON CLUB 



JAN -4 1915 



PREFACE 

The editor feels that no extended explanation of the direc 
tion his editorial labors have taken is necessary. The large 
space given to the life of the author of Ponteach in what 
purports to be a mere introduction rests for its justification 
upon the fact that, although the career of Rogers possesses 
not merely much intrinsic historical interest, but many addi 
tional elements of value as typical of an early period of pioneer 
existence, and an early type of pioneer character, no adequate 
account of it has yet been written, and those that do exist 
contain many inaccuracies. In the present jgraphy every 
effort has been made to probe sources of i, ,ormation upon 
such mooted and obscure heads as those of Rogers birth 
and early life, his troubles as a counterfeiter in 1754, his 
participation in the Cherokee War in the Carolinas, his con 
duct as governor at Mackinac, and his last years and death in 
London following the American Revolution. The editor has 
made personal investigations in London, and has had papers 
copied and material examined in every useful library in Canada 
and the United States. Small attention, on the other hand, 
has been paid to Pontiac s life and character, for the obvious 
reason that Parkman s account of his conspiracy gives an in 
imitably full and fascinating relation of both, in a book familiar 
to almost every American home. Equally obvious is the fact 
that the literary importance of the tragedy does not warrant 
a studiously critical attention to the task of prefacing and an 
notating it; while its imaginary structure precludes the attempt 
to read into its pages any significance as an historical document 
that is not almost immediately visible to the student of the 
time which it mirrors. 

The editor is under many obligations to friends for criti 
cism^ and assistance, which he wishes to acknowledge gratefully. 
His thanks are due especially to Professor Clarence W. Alvord, 



PONTEACH : OR THE SAVAGES OF AMERICA 

whose experienced counsel has been indispensable. For a care- 
fill reading of his manuscript and many helpful suggestions he 
is indebted to Professor Raymond M. Alden, Professor Stuart 
P. Sherman, Dr. Jacob Zeitlin, and Dr. Arthur Jcrrold Tieje. 
Among those who from a distance have interested themselves in 
his work, and aided him in securing information that without 
their assistance had been inaccessible, are Albert S. Batchellor, 
Editor of the New Hampshire State Papers; Worthington C. 
Ford, President of the Massachusetts Historical Society; Mr, 
Frank B. Priest, President of the Littleton Historical Society, 
Littleton, Massachusetts; Mr. Ezra Stearns, Fitchburg, Massa 
chusetts; Mr. Peter Nelson, Assistant- Archivist at the New York 
State Library; Mr. James O. Lyford, Boston, Massachusetts; 
and Mr. James H. Fassett, Manchester, New Hampshire. 



TABLE OF CONTENTS 

p.*. 

Introduction . .11 

Life of Robert Rogers 17 

Literary Bibliography . 174 

Ponteach : or- the Savages of America . . . . 1 77 

Index . . . . . . . . 259 



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS 

Pate 

Portrait of Major Robert Rogers . . Frontispiece > 

From an old print 

An old view of the Straits of Mackinac . . 106 l 

From Schoolcraft i Ethnological Rtuarckei Among tkt Rtd Mtn 

Map of the region about Mackinac . . . 128 * 

rrom Carver s Travels, London, 1781 

Facsimile of title-page of Rogers Ponteach, 1766 . . 177 



INTRODUCTION 

The importance of Rogers Ponteacb does not lie 
in any purely artistic qualities. It is only the historian, 
whether of events or letters, in whom it can nowadays 
inspire more than a .transiently curious interest; for 
while it is the product of a fresh acquaintance with 
savage character and the various causal trains which 
exploded the spectacular rebellion of the Indian ruler 
while it has, too, a factitious importance as almost the 
first of American dramatic compositions, and even yet 
remains one of our few specimens of poetic tragedy, 
it must seem to any reader who picks up the play for 
its own sake almost pitifully devoid of intrinsic merits. 
The web and woof of its style never rise from the 
commonplace to the even faintly poetical, and all too 
frequently sink to doggerel and empty declamation; 
the larger outlines of the plot reveal manifold absurd 
ities. Even over one or two passages of comparative 
force and eloquence, such as those in Acts II and III 
in which Ponteach throws fuel upon his anger and 
reveals the main outlines of his great plan to his 
sons and warriors, few readers would linger long. As 
we wonder at the temerity with which Rogers, author 
a month before of the shrinkingly modest preface to 
the Concise Account, left his production to the caustic 
mercy of the great reviews, we can only reflect that it 
was completed in haste, at the moment he was called 
back to take command at Mackinac, and that to an 
untutored and ambitious man it might have seemed 



PONTEACH : OR THE SAVAGES OF AMERICA 

that its faults could hide behind its novelty, and that, 
helping "to give a just idea of the genius and ideas of 
the Indians/ it would interest many by the pictur- 
esqueness of its scenes and the fame of its central 
character. 

And in a measure Rogers was right; for the tragedy 
is one that can scarcely be forgotten; and waiving its 
merely curious attraction as the strange product of an 
American backwoodsman suddenly transported to the 
center of Anglo-Saxon civilization and fashion, its chief 
claim to a reprieve from oblivion lies in those historical 
elements upon which Rogers mistakenly hoped to base 
a temporary appeal. Parkman and other writers upon 
the period have attested its value by a liberal use of it 
as a source. In his military service at Albany and the 
forts immediately north, in his rangings over upper 
New York and lower Canada, and in his survey of the 
lake posts at the close of the Seven Years War, Rogers 
had by 1762 familiarized himself with the conditions 
of Indian life and the strange facts evoked by the 
attempted adjustment to it of English authority, com 
merce, and agriculture; he had, indeed, engaged in the 
trade himself, and so had felt both a soldier s and a 
merchant s concern in inter-racial relations. Participa 
tion in the suppression of Pontiac s rebellion in 1763 
finally equipped him with the adequate knowledge of 
the chief and his conspiracy which the tragedy mani 
fests. Indeed, Rogers informing historical accuracy 
is beyond the many definite parallels between the 
language of the play and that of the Concise Account 
one of the surest establishments of the authorship 
which he never formally claimed. No other hand in 
London could have written with such directness and 
truth to fact the two first and expository acts of the 
drama. 



12 



PONTEACH : OR THE SAVAGES OF AMERICA 

The specification of the grievances of the Indians is 
accomplished with a detail which is kept fresh and 
-interesting_by a grimly effective sense of humor. The 
traders Murphy and McDole, with their use of rum 

" More powerful made by certain strengthening drugs," 

and scales 

" so well conceived 
That one small slip will turn three pounds to one," 

so that they secure ninety pounds of beaver skin for 
six quarts of a vile alcoholic decoction; the hunters 
Osborne and Honeyman, who shoot two braves for 
their loads of fur; Colonel Cockum and Captain Frisk, 
of the English fort, who requite the chiefs pleas for 
justice with unsoldierly insults; Governors Sharp, Gripe, 
and Catchum, who, quoting scripture to their own 
wretched purposes, steal all but a beggarly remnant of 
the ^"1000 worth of goods given them for presents to 
the Indians; all are drawn by a satirical pen that 
makes of the scenes in which they appear rather more 
than a mere explanation of the central action. With 
the transition to a direct study of the Indian point of 
view, the play assumes a greater elevation of tone; and 
the pride of Pontiac, his haughty sense of humiliation, 
his brooding jealousy of his kingly prerogatives, are 
expressed in what, despite Rogers deficiencies of ex 
pression, approaches the force ascribed to his oratory, 
and the stateliness to his person and character. The 
development of his plot, moreover, from his sudden 
determination : 

" The broken accents murmured from his tongue, 
As rumbling thunder from a distant cloud, 
Distinct I heard, T is fixed, I 11 be revenged." 

3 



PONTEACH : OR THE SAVAGES OF AMERICA 

and the moment when, in his poor cabin, he gathers 
his sons and chiefs to denounce the "false, deceitful, 
knavish, insolent band," 

" Who think us conquered and our country theirs," 

to that in which he secures the adhesion of the western 
tribes to his design, is traced with considerable spirit. 
With the entrance, however, of the romantic element, 
which after Act II almost dominates the play, its his 
torical interest reappears only in flashes, for the value 
even of the impression Rogers gives of Indian character 
is greatly diminished. The part played in the story by 
Pontiac s negotiations for Mohawk aid has no basis in 
fact, for this easternmost tribe of the Iroquois Confed 
eracy was a fast-rooted ally of the English, and would 
have offered a field of discouragingly scant promise to 
his emissaries. We know nothing of Pontiac s sons or 
Hendrick s daughter; Hendrick himself was eight years 
dead at the time of the revolt; and private calamities 
had nothing to do with Pontiac s retirement to the 
Illinois. But, altogether, Rogers picture of the vices 
and abuses of the soldiers and traders, lying at the 
source of the rebellion, of the galled resentment of 
the Indians, and, in fact, of the whole fundamental 
characteristics of much of border life, is proved by con 
temporary documents to be faithful and authoritative. 
In particular, the portrait of Pontiac, partially idealized 
as it is, must always be matter for the study of those 
who are interested in the character of the greatest of 
North American Indians. 

From the point of view of American literary history 
the influence of Rogers production upon the develop 
ment of the stage was nil; for at the time, and until 
long after, there was no native American stage. One 
may perceive by a moment s reflection the paucity of 



PONTEACH: OR THE SAVAGES OF AMERICA 

the author s opportunities to familiarize himself with 
the theater. The first American playhouse was opened 
at Williamsburg, Virginia, in the second decade of the 
eighteenth century; the second at New York, in 1732; 
the third at Charleston, in 1736. Throughout vir 
tually all New England the theater lay under a ban, 
and players were subject to arrest, during the whole 
colonial period; in Massachusetts until 1792. Even 
elsewhere, performances were so infrequent that Rogers 
may very probably never have watched one until he 
reached London, and saw the spacious stage of Better- 
ton and Garrick. As for playwriting, if we waive 
consideration of a few wretchedly obscure manuscripts 
of interest only to the antiquarian, Ponteach is the 
second drama penned by an American, and narrowly 
escaped being the first in print; for Rogers published 
his play in January, 1766, and it was antedated in 
book form by Thomas Godfrey s he Prince of Parthia 
by only a few months. It must needs be added that 
Godfrey, a Philadelphian, the son of a member of 
Franklin s Junto, was already dead, and that his tra 
gedy had been written about 1760; that, beaten out in 
smooth blank verse, and with considerable merit of 
construction, it was much superior both poetically and 
dramatically to Rogers work ; and that it enjoyed later 
(April 24, 1767) a single representation, a distinction 
which its successor never achieved. But Rogers re 
mained for a full generation the only son of New 
England to permit his dramatic ambitions to struggle 
up from under the incubus of prejudice and neglect 
which Puritanism had thrown upon all activities con 
nected with the stage. 



THE LIFE OF ROBERT ROGERS 



Birth and Early Life; King George s War; Early Manhood. 

We have no historical background of family or 
lineage against which to place Robert Rogers, and 
about his cradle hangs a cloud which research has 
not found it easy to dispel. He first saw the light of 
day on November 17, 1731, in the frontier cabin of 
James Rogers, a sturdy farmer of Methuen in upper 
Massachusetts. Of his mother we know only that her 
name was Mary. His birth is the first fact in the 
family annals which the local records have preserved, 
and whence his parents and three older brothers had 
come, or what had been their previous history, remains 
a secret. 1 As to even the stock from which he sprung, 
whether English, Scotch, or Scotch-Irish,* we have 

1 Metbuen Town Records; New Hampshire Province Deeds, XXXVIII, 20. 
Rogers three elder brothers were Daniel, who lived some years in Dunbarton, 
New Hampshire, as a farmer ; Samuel ; and James, who became an ensign and 
later a captain in the rangers commanded by Robert Rogers, married Margaret 
McGregor, daughter of the Rev. David McGregor of Londonderry, New Hamp 
shire, and fleeing to Canada on the outbreak of the Revolution, founded the 
influential and wealthy Canadian branch of the family. 

a There are many families of Rogers identified with the early history of 
Essex County, Massachusetts ; while the name is of course generally one of the 
most common in New England, whether among the Puritans two who came 
in the Mayflower were named Rogers or among the Scotch-Irish who began 
to enter the northern colonies in 1 7 1 9. It will be remembered that one of the 
seventeenth century presidents of Harvard College was John Rogers. A James 
Rogers of Londonderry who settled at Dunbarton (Starkstown or Gorhamstown) 
about twelve years after Robert s father moved there was long confused with the 
latter. There were so many English families of Rogers in Essex that there is 
room for serious doubt whether Rogers was not of that people. See Josiah H. 
Drummond, The John Rogers Families in Plymouth and Vicinity. Read before the 
Maine Historical Society, Portland, Maine, 1895, n.p. James Rogers of London 
derry and James Rogers of Dunbarton, Manchester, N. H., 1897. 



PONTEACH : OR THE SAVAGES OF AMERICA 

only the tradition that it was his father who in later 
years named a piece of land upon which they settled 
Mountalona, after a loved spot among the Presbyterian 
hills of County Derry. 1 The absence of any note of 
James Rogers presence in Methuen before 1737 makes 
it certain that he was but a newcomer in the town, 
having arrived probably a year or two earlier along one 
of the forest-girdled bridle-paths which stretched from 
the coast settlements westward along the Merrimac 
River. In a double sense, therefore, Robert Rogers 
was born into a pioneer environment; for Methuen 
lay as an outpost for all the northern and western 
section of the province, verging upon a wilderness that 
extended deep and unbroken to the French villages 
along the St. Francis, and he had entered a household 
before which still lay in large part the task of wresting 
a living from the woods and untamed fields. 

The community of Methuen was a happy one for a 
growing and struggling family. 3 Virtually a western 
extension of Haverhill, from which it had enjoyed but 
five years separation, it constituted with the older town 
ship a connected belt of settlement along the upper 
bank of the Merrimac, roughly fifteen miles long and 
four miles wide; a still wild region facing the brawling 
little river, and only sparsely dotted with log huts and 
their surrounding clearings. Upon the present site of the 
city of Haverhill huddled the homes of a compact vil 
lage, and elsewhere at central points rose rough meeting 
houses. While the family had neighbors in plenty, es 
pecially along the rutted and stony cart-tracks which 

1 John Farmer and J. B. Moore, A Gazetteer of the State of New Hamp- 
jbirf, Concord, 1823-31 ; p. 121. Also Caleb Stark, History of Dunbarton, 
New Hampshire, Concord, 1860. Also New Hampshire State Papers, XXVII, 
197, where it is called Montetony. 

3 J. S. Howe, Historical Sketch of Methuen, Methuen, 1901, p. 9-17. 
George Wingate Chase, History of Haverhill, Haverhill, 1861, Chapters VI-X. 

18 



THE HOME AT METHUEN 

traversed hill and thicket toward Haverhill, their homes 
were scattered over miles of ground in the roomy 
manner characteristic of Anglo-Saxon settlement, and 
left ample space for a free agricultural and sylvan life. 
The Naumkeag, the Accomenta, and the Agawam In 
dians lay toward the French possessions in a cloud threat 
ening enough to such an exposed community ; but since 
Queen Anne s war they had committed none but the 
most trivial depredations. 1 Game abounded, and the 
near-by Spicket and Merrimac swarmed with salmon 
and shad. 3 The beauty of the forested and hiHy coun 
try, broken by jutting capes of bare smooth upland, 
and by river meadows whose moist black earth afforded 
a luxuriant sickle-grass for the cattle and deer, was evi 
dent to anyone who had eyes for it. Nor, externally 
rough and picturesquely wild as it often seemed, was 
the land really unproductive. By labor certainly hard, 
but as certainly fruitful, it could be brought to exchange 
its elm and hemlock for apple and pear, its wild black 
berry for patches of pumpkin and turnips, and its timber 
and bush for Indian corn and timothy. 

To such institutions, moreover, as ministered to its 
higher social needs, the township paid the same zealous 
attention that was characteristic of the whole Puritan 
colony. The General Court s ordinance of division 4 
from Haverhill had provided that within three years 
from 1725 the citizens should erect a house for public 
worship, and settle in it "a learned orthodox minister 
of good conversation"; and after a brief period of con- 

1 John G. Whittier, Prose Works, Boston, 1888, II, 368. 

2 J. S. Howe, Sketch of Metbuen, p. 4. For generations after apprentices 
commonly stipulated in their articles of indenture that they should not have to eat 
salmon more than six times weekly. 

3 J. G. Whittier, Prose Works, I and II (Legends and Sketches}. Whittier was 
a native of Haverhill. H. D.Thoreau, A Week on the Concord and Merrimac Rivers. 

4 This ordinance of division was passed in December, 1725. See Howe, 
Sketch of Methuen, p. 10. 

9 



PONTEACH : OR THE SAVAGES OF AMERICA 

tentious wrangling over the location of the church and 
the choice of a pastor, a minister was inducted into 
office at a salary little short of munificent for so poor a 
community. Of equal importance to the householders 
was the maintenance of the public schools, for which 
fifty acres of land had been set aside at the creation of 
the village. In the year of Robert s birth, the citizens 
voted to appoint three schoolmasters, each of whom 
should conduct classes in his own home for one month 
in midwinter. In 1735 it was resolved to erect a suit 
able structure to house the growing number of children, 
and a log school was soon after placed, for conven 
ience of access, and surety of pastoral supervision, beside 
the church. 1 Robert s three older brothers were able 
to avail themselves of this education from its very be 
ginnings, and he himself soon after; for no townsman 
could retain even his younger children at home without 
incurring the decided disapproval of his neighbors. 
Reading was taught from the Bible, with perhaps a 
well-thumbed copy of the New England primer, and 
writing and accounts upon carefully smoothed and 
stripped sections of birch bark. Under the rigid appli 
cation enforced by a sternly dignified master, and amid 
the earnest atmosphere of an intelligent and religious 
community, acquisition of a serviceable modicum of 
knowledge was rapid. 

Thus under circumstances of which it is not hard to 
form some conception, Robert passed at Methuen the 
first eight years of his life. His home was the typical 
frontier cabin of the period, built of roughly-squared 
logs, with a loft above and two comfortable rooms be 
low. In the great living-room, puncheon-floored^-Slood 

1 Howe, Sketch of Methuen. Chase, History of Haver bill, p. 273. 
G. C. Bush, History of Education in New Hampshire, Washington, 1898, p. 55. 
Jtmes O. Lyford, History of Canterbury, New Hampshire, Concord, 1912, 
Chapter XIX. 



20 



THE HOME AT METHUEN 

the inevitable spinning-wheel, the clothes-chest, the 
rough table and stiff chairs; at one side rose the large, 
unvarnished dresser, the pewter and china sparkling in 
serried rows upon it; a shelf above supported its Bible 
and a few cherished books, chiefly devotional, and per 
haps mingled with a handful of polemical tracts; and 
at one end was built the spacious fireplace, whose heavy 
andirons admitted eight-foot logs to crackle on the 
hearth, filling the apartment on the bitterest winter 
night with radiance and warmth. The firelight or sun 
light playing into the other room lit up the drawers 
and shelves fastened , to the timbers, caught the glint 
of woolen coverlets on the beds, and sparkled bravely 
back from the polished Queen s arm that hung, its 
battles with the French long over, from pegs driven 
deep into the wall. Above all, festooning the ceiling 
in both rooms, were strings of dried fruit, bunches of 
herbs, links of corn tied by the husks, and even sausages 
and bacon. The heavy diamond-paned windows were 
crossed inside with wooden bars, and a portable ladder 
reached the loft. As a boy Robert knew the hard fare 
of such a home, game, Indian meal sweetened with 
berries into samp, and simple vegetables; and as he 
grew older he was impressed into the less arduous of 
the daily tasks about the busy household, or played with 
his brothers in the neighboring forests. 1 He became 
familiar with the gliding naked forms of the savages, 
passing to town to barter or steal; with the fur-clad 
hunter, bent under a load of steaming venison; with 
the rough lumberman, the fisher, the mower along the 
wide meadow marshes, and perhaps even the jolly mar- 
iners who^came up by ship to Haverhill. He heard 
stories of the northern tribes, varying from vivid re 
citals of the attacks of thirty years before to peaceful 

1 J. G. Whittier, Proif Works, II, 396, and elsewhere. 



21 



PONTEACH : OR THE SAVAGES OF AMERICA 

legends of the half-mystical grandeur of their old chief 
Passonconway ; echoes of the hostile presence of the 
French to the north; and descriptions of the wild-cat, 
the bear, the wolf, and the grisly catamount. He was 
thus awakening fully to the frontier life about him 
when in 1739 his parents resolved upon a new step. 
James and Mary Rogers had arrived at Methuen too 
late to share in the general distribution of the town s 
land, and hence had obtained there no extensive hold 
ings. 1 To the north and west, beyond the bend of the 
Merrimac and in its upper valley, lay a broad tract of 
rich territory just becoming available through the lib 
eral grants of the General Court. Here they naturally 
began to look for such a breadth of acres as would 
ensure them a more generous competence, in especial, 
probably, after the complication of family problems by 
the birth of a fourth son in 1734 and of a daughter in 
1736. In these years they heard more and more of 
the delectable lands, for they were rapidly being ex 
plored and surveyed, and a thin lino of settlers was 
streaming up the east bank of the river and breaking 
across it at a score of places into what is now New 
Hampshire. Rumford, lying fifty miles up on the left 
side, was incorporated in 1734 with nearly one hundred 
families, and in the same month the township immedi 
ately below it was granted to veterans of the Narra- 
gansett War. Londonderry and Chester, intervening 
between Rumford and Methuen, were already filled 
with Scotch-Irish, and Suncook, lying athwart the river 
near them, had been parceled-out to settlers ten years 

1 Howe, Sketch of Methucn, p. 7. 

Drummond, "Jama Rogers of Londonderry and James Rogers of Dunbarton t 
p. II. The brother was named Richard ; he afterward became a captain in 
Robert Rogers Rangers, and died in the service, at Fort William Henry, in 
1767, of smallpox. The sister was named Mary. Another brother, John, and 
another sister, Catherine, were born after the family s removal to the north. 



22 



THE REMOVAL NORTHWARD 

previously. 1 Amid an exploitation of new territory that 
thus yearly became more general, Rogers was upon the 
alert to buy advantageously. 

His choice was a bold one. On November 24, 1738, 
for the sum of i 10, he bought of Zaccheus Lovewell 
of Canterbury a tract called Lovell s Farm, comprising 
nearly four hundred acres sixteen miles south and west 
of Rumford, at a greater distance beyond the Merrimac 
than any settler had yet gone. 3 The farm was a portion 
of a larger area which Lovewell and five associates had 
secured in 1735, but which lay so well outside the 
direct currents of immigration which in Massachusetts 
were hugging the colonial boundary, and in New 
Hampshire the Merrimac River, that even its proprie 
tors knew little of its character. By 1737 two cot 
tagers only had crept timidly westward a few miles 
from Rumford, and although in the same year the 
whole township in which Lovewell s grant lay was 
assigned to one Shubal Goreham and his associates, no 
colonists had yet proposed to settle upon it. 3 Rogers, 
however, who had never known the border except in 
time of peace, was irresistibly attracted by one salient 
feature of the new site : high hills and unbroken forests 
lay about, but down between them crept and expanded 
a broad meadow, partly natural intervale land and partly 
cleared by beavers, over which billowed a field of rich 
grass. He prevailed upon one of his neighbors, Joseph 
Pudney, a former shopkeeper of Salem, and more re 
cently, with his six stalwart sons, the cultivator of 

1 New Hampshire State Papers, XXIV, 59, 108, 233. 

a New Hampshire Province Deeds, XXXVIII, 20. The land was granted 
Lovewell in recognition of his services under his brother, Captain John Lovewell, 
in the campaign against the Main Indians which culminated in the latter* u vic 
torious death at Pigwacket. In 1737 Captain William Tyng, the first soldier to 
use snowshoes in campaigning against the Indians, was given land a few miles 
southeast of Lovewell s settlement, which he, like Gorham, failed to colonize. 

3 New Hampshire State Papers, XXIV, 80 (with plan). 



PONTEACH : OR THE SAVAGES OF AMERICA 

several farms near Haverhill, to accompany him. Pud- 
ney, an unlettered man, was already growing old, but 
he possessed a practical turn of mind, and his assistance 
and that of his family would be almost indispensable in 
opening a new country. 1 Early in the spring of 1739, 
when Robert was eight years old, the two families re 
moved to their new home; driving their cattle before 
them, and conveying as best they could, in the absence 
of roads, their movable goods." 

The tract upon which they found themselves offered 
several wholly novel advantages in agriculture. 3 From 
the broad top of the highest hill, near the point where 
Rogers actually laid his hearthstone, the crests of the 
White Mountains, nearly a hundred miles to the north, 
could be seen on clear days "like great bright clouds 
above the horizon." There were many small lakes in 
the tov/nship, emptying to the east by trout-brooks 
which fed down under thick coverts of alder and birch 
to the bickering Merrimac, seven miles away; and the 
rougher land was heavily forested. The chief advantage 
of the district, however, consisted in its smooth upland 
meadows, a relief especially welcome to tenants used to 
the broken ground and marshy arable land of Methuen. 
Upon the largest and most elevated of these Rogers and 
Pudney commenced the construction of their houses, 
and during the summer months erected two buildings of 
hewn logs at no great distance from one another. Their 
families once safely installed, they were able before the 
beginning of winter to provide two hasty shelters for 

1 Eucx County Record*, Salem, Massachusetts. New Hampshire State Papers, 
XXVII, 190: "Joseph Pudney, his mark." 

1 New Hampshire State Papers, XX VII, 190. 

3 Descriptions will be found in Jeremy Belknap, History of New Hampshire, 
Boston, 1791-2; Farmer and Moore, New Hampshire Gazetteer; Caleb Stark, 
History of D unbar ton ; D. H. Hurd, History of Merrimac and Belknap Counties, 
New Hampshire, Philadelphia, 1885. 



THE FARM NEAR RUMFORD 

their stock. Their houses were in a forlornly chilly 
solitude, broken only by the presence within the neigh 
boring valleys of some small camps of friendly Indians. 
In this changed seat the families prospered for the 
next few years. Pudney had bought no land, but had 
shared the purchase of Rogers; and he or his neighbor 
secured an additional plot near by upon a promissory 
note, and they jointly began clearing it for tillage. 
Some neighboring fields were being already fenced, and 
during the summer herdsmen drove fattening cattle 
upon them from farms lower along the Merrimac, 
retiring again to the south, however, at the approach 
of winter. Two orchards were set out by the pioneers, 
and by 1745 had so prospered as to bear fruit; one 
hundred acres of meadow were fenced, and mown or 
grazed annually; and as many more were devoted to 
grain. 1 In the larger tasks the two households gave 
one another the assistance that made extensive farming 
operations possible. Each year the bays of the barn 
were crammed with hay for winter fodder; each year 
the older sons bent beneath the midsummer sun to the 
cutting of the wheat or rye; each year the care of the 
orchard and the cutting of brush, with hunting and 
trapping, filled in the portions of the twelve-month 
not devoted to seeding and harvesting. Even after the 
first storms of winter there was no relaxation of labor. 
Long after, 3 Robert told in London of how as a boy he 
gathered the shoots of alder and birch, and bearing 
them home in fagots, bound them into brooms, and 
carried them over ice and snow fifteen miles through 
the woods to the nearest marketplace, the town of 
Rumford. Hither from Lovell s Farm led only a 

1 New Hampshire State Papers, XXVII, 192. 

a John Farmer and J. B. Moore, Historical and Miscellaneous Collections , 
Concord, 1823-31, I, 240. 



PONTEACH : OR THE SAVAGES OF AMERICA 

blazed path, winding beneath the sombre shade over 
hill and valley, through copse and brake, skirting the 
ridges and fording streams, until it came in view of 
the brief, uneven streets of rough houses, and the edge 
of the Merrimac river beyond. Upon the town s mills 
and stores the isolated pioneers depended for their 
scanty store of purchased provisions, and possibly upon 
its schools and churches for meagre mental and spiri 
tual guidance. They kept intact also the links between 
themselves and Methuen, for during several autumns, 
one marked by so great a drought that farmers else 
where imported hay from England, the elder Rogers 
bought or took at a rental cattle in Haverhill and drove 
them north to be wintered. 1 But in general the fami 
lies were self-sufficing social and economic units, and 
as such felt but little hardship in their position. 

The outbreak of King George s War in 1 744 brought 
the first sharp reversal of their fortunes, blighting their 
hopes for a serene continuance of years of apple-grow 
ing and hay-cropping, threatening the little property 
they had amassed, and finally making them tremble for 
their very lives. The descent of the war, however, 
with its inevitable concomitants of Indian massacre and 
Canadian pillage, was not unexpected, and such isolated 
settlers as Rogers and Pudney had ample time in which 
to prepare or remove to the towns. Even if the French 
attack on the border, Mercifully delayed more than a 
year after the beginning of the conflict, had come early, 
no distant holm or hamlet would have been taken un 
aware; for when in June, cresting a general wave of 
alarm, the couriers rode forth from Boston with the 
news that had just come by ship, warning all New 
England to gird herself, the settlements had already 
begun their preparations, nowhere with more vigor 

1 Hurd, History of Merrimac ard Belknap Countiei, p. 292. 

26 



KING GEORGE S WAR 

than at Rumford. Even while Governor Benning 
Wentworth was declaring to a special session of the 
Assembly at Portsmouth that "the naked condition of 
our inland frontiers requires your compassionate re 
gard," sixty-seven families at the center to which 
Rogers and Pudney looked for protection had sent to 
the capital a memorial praying that, inasmuch as the 
buildings of the town "were compact, properly-formed 
for defense, and well-situated for a barrier, lying on the 
Merrimac only fifteen miles below the confluence of 
the two main river gangways of the Canadians to the 
frontiers of the provinces," the settlement be created 
the seat of a general garrison. 8 Though the petition 
remained unanswered, a number of the strongest houses 
in the town were fortified as places of instant refuge, 
the fields were worked by men in armed companies, 
and during the summer a scouting squad was kept 
ranging the woods to the north. Not, however, until 
the autumn of the next year, 1745, did the French 
begin the inspiration of their savage allies to border 
ravages; when, incensed and humiliated by Pepperell s 
capture of Louisbourg, they commenced a horrifying 
series of outrages along the upper Connecticut, and in 
northern New York. During the first two summers of 
the war Rogers and Pudney remained upon the fields 
that constituted their all, their only danger being from 
bands of the weak neighboring tribes, now withdraw 
ing resentfully from the vicinity of the settlements, 
against whom their own numbers constituted a suf 
ficient protection ; but in early October of the second 
year a heavy attack was made upon Westmoreland, 
directly west of Rumford on the Connecticut, in No- 

1 New Hampshire Province Papen t V, 709. 

2 James O. Lyford (editor), History of Concord, New Hampshire, Concord, 
1903, I, 166. 

27 



PONTEACH : OR THE SAVAGES OF AMERICA 

vember Saratoga was sacked and burnt, and simultane 
ously Crown Point became the basis of operation for a 
score of strong Indian parties. Outlying farms were 
everywhere deserted, and the inhabitants rallied to the 
nearest villages for defense. 

At the beginning of winter in 1745 Rogers and 
Pudney seem to have come in to the shelter of Rum- 
ford. Here they remained for three years, able to 
devote only the most intermittent attention to their 
farms, so unceasing were the inroads of the savages; 
but in an environment which gave the boy Robert his 
first invaluable lessons in the art of woodland warfare. 
The persistency with which the savages pushed the 
struggle to their very doors is well set forth in local 
and other documents. In the months of May and June, 
1 746, according to a French paper yet preserved, thirty- 
five different war-parties of Abenaki and Ottawa were 
sent out from Crown Point to ravage the frontier ; and 
on May 5 zealous Captain Goffe wrote from Rumford, 
"about two o clock in the morning": "The Indians 
are all about. There was never more need of soldiers 
than now. It is enough to make one s blood boil to 
see our fellow creatures killed and taken up on every 
quarter." 8 On May 15, 1746, by order of the General 
Assembly, three citizens of Rumford distributed its 
families and those that had taken refuge in the town 
among ten garrison houses, assigning to one James and 
Samuel Rogers, and to another Joseph Pudney and his 
sons William, Henry, and Samuel. 3 Up and down the 

1 Parkman, A Half -Century of Conflict, II, 214. All references to Francis 
Parkman s Works are to the Frontenac Edition, Boston, 1905 ; except to the 
Conspiracy of Pontiac, where the pag^s refer to the Boston edition of 1851. 

New Hampshire Province Papers, V, 800. 

3 Lyford, History of Concord, I, 170-173. Nathaniel Bouton, History of 
Concord, Concord, 1856, p. 154. The two Rogers were assigned to the house 
of Timothy Walker, Jr., at what is now Main and Thorndike streets, Concord. 

28 



FIRST MILITARY SERVICE 

Merrimac men worked in the fields, during this and 
the following summer, only in large companies, with 
arms always by their sides. Even at church the settlers 
carried their guns into the pews, and the minister 
prayed with his piece resting against the pulpit. Bands 
of rangers patrolled the woods of the neighborhood. 
To the poor the towns distributed free powder, bullets, 
flints, and muskets. No shot might be fired after sun 
set. 1 On May 20, 1747, there was so incisive an attack 
upon the town of Suncook, immediately below Rum- 
ford and to the east of Lovell s farm, that the province 
ordered out a trebly-augmented body of scouts to safe 
guard the upper reaches of the river. 9 Those even of 
comparatively sheltered regions who were forced to take 
risks in preserving the fruit of their acres often suffered 
for their temerity; and the people of Pembroke, east 
of the Merrimac, complained that they "lived so much 
exposed to the Indian enemy that they got their bread 
at the peril of their lives, by reason of the sword of the 
wilderness." In July of 1747, when the aged Joseph 
Pudney had his arm broken by a shot while carrying 
"a woodf . bottle of beer" from a village garrison to 
men at work in the fields, the alarm became extra 
ordinary, and only a reinforcement of thirty men sent 
by Wentworth to Rumford permitted a continuance of 
hay-mowing, then just begun, in the vicinity of town. 3 
Nor until the end of the year did the frequency of 
Indian aggressions at all abate. 

During these two adventurous years the boy Robert 
Rogers, for his age remarkably tall and sturdy, not 
merely bore the excited interest of youth in all that 

1 Potter, Military History of New Hampshire, New Hampshire Adjutant 
General s Report, Concord, 1866, I, 38; Bouton s History of Concord, p. 150. 

2 Potter, Military History of New Hampshire, I, 99. 

3 Lyford, History of Concord, I, 1 80. New Hampshire Province Paper j, 
V, 880. 

29 



PONTEACH : OR THE SAVAGES OF AMERICA 

was passing about him, but found means also to mingle 
actively in the heady "current of the war s events:; hr 
winter, when even the boldest hunters stirred little 
abroad, he may have been in school ; in summer he 
participated in both the village harvest and the village 
military expeditions. In August, 1746, when at fifteen 
he was not yet liable for militia duty, he was impressed 
into the ranks by a sudden exigency, an attack made 
on the tenth of that month upon a detachment of a 
local scouting company, as it was being transferred 
along a forest lane from Rumford to a fortified house 
two miles west, resulting in the killing and scalping of 
seven men, 1 in the very heart of garrisons and patrols, 
and at not a mile s distance from a whole company of 
soldiery. Amid the general consternation Robert and 
his brother Samuel, with two of the Pudneys, enlisted 
and served until the end of September, ranging over all 
the country below Lake Winnipesaukee, but seeing little 
real fighting. 9 Similarly in August of the second year 
Robert enlisted again in a company of rangers, and 
campaigned for six weeks under Captain Ebenezer 
Eastman. The body of which he made one scoured 
the woods north and west of his home for thirty miles, 
operating over territory with which he had become 
thoroughly familiar, and engaging, upon one or two 
occasions, in a light skirmish. 3 At various times the 
hardy lad may have done sentinel duty about the town. 
During the winter of 1747-8 the intensity of the 
war lessened so perceptibly that Rogers and his old 
neighbor felt that they might securely return to Lovell s 

1 Lyford, History of Concord, I, 175. 

a Potter, Military History of New Hampshire, I, 95. During the summer of 
1747 thirty soldiers were on guard at Rumford ; in the autumn a large party of 
Indians hung about the southwest part of town, killing cattle, until driven off. 
Jacob Moore, Annals of Concord, Concord, 1824. 

3 Potter, Military History of New Hampshire, I, 99. 

3 



DESTRUCTION OF THE ROGERS HOME 

Farm, and at a very early date in the spring they were 
once more-settled in their -old homes, readyjto recom 
mence farming operations. For some months fewer 
and fewer rumors of the proximity of the Indians had 
disturbed the settlements; since the capture of Fort 
Massachusetts two years before no military event of 
any moment had occurred in America; and European 
affairs were steadily pointing toward peace. Unfortu 
nately, one of the last strokes of the war was destined 
to touch the fortunes of the pioneers most severely. 
Toward evening of one day in April a band of savages 
was discovered to be lurking in the vicinity of Rum- 
ford. The alarm was given, and while messengers noti 
fied other outlying cottagers, two friends of Rogers and 
Pudney traced their way along the blazed path through 
the forest blackness to warn them of the impending 
danger. Upon receipt of the alarming intelligence, the 
two families precipitately abandoned their homes, and 
beat a speedy retreat to the nearest garrison. The next 
day, accompanied by an adequate guard from the town, 
they returned to drive their cattle in to safety. They 
were too late. The Indians had plundered and burnt 
their houses, destroyed their barns, killed a heifer and 
a steer belonging to Rogers, and spread such devastation 
through their orchard that but a single tree remained 
standing; and when the settlers turned from the smok 
ing ashes and wasted acres in pursuit, the forest had 
swallowed the marauders up. 

Although this disastrous and unexpected attack vir 
tually ended the partisan fighting in that region, the 
disheartened Rogers and Pudney spent the remainder 
of the year in Suncook and Rumford, and from that dis 
tance planted and reaped what they might. 1 In October, 

1 Caleb Stark, History of Dunbarton , p. 11-13. New Hampshire State Papers, 
XXVII, 190. 

3 



PONTEACH : OR THE SAVAGES OF AMERICA 

1748, the peace of Aix-la-Chapelle was finally signed, 
and husbandry, industry, and colonization could once 
more move forward unchecked in the valley of the 
Merrimac. 

Social conditions along the upper valley changed 
rapidly after 1748; and it was into a country filling 
with settlers, and brightened by new hopes of pros 
perity, that James Rogers moved back upon Lovell s 
Farm a year later, setting Robert and his elder brothers 
once more at their wonted tasks. Indeed, the inpouring 
of fresh colonists into the region threatened for a time 
his tenure of the land for which he had toiled so hard. 
He had purchased it from the Massachusetts General 
Court; and now came Scotch farmers from east of the 
Merrimac, under the leadership of Archibald Stark, 
bearing more recent and more valid titles from John 
Mason s heirs. Rogers and Pudney hastened to engage 
a lawyer at Portsmouth, and in a petition to the pro 
prietors, which several others who had improved land 
in the neighborhood reinforced, protested vigorously 
against any redistribution of acres which should ignore 
their claims. 1 Their voices were heard, and in the new 
township of Starkstown, as chartered in December, 1748, 
to them and to their sons were given adjacent shares on 
the site of their former fields, and in that part of the 
tract near which the present town of Dunbarton stands. 
The terms of the charter provided for the rapid settle 
ment near them of forty-five other families, each with 
its own house and a clearing of three acres, and re 
served also an ample endowment in land for a church 
and school. Their new neighbors began at once to fell 
the heavy woods which had lain untroubled about the 
great meadow, to raise their own house timbers, and to 
fill the deep woodland paths with the heavy burr of 

1 New Hampshire State Papers, XXVII, 190-200. 

32 



DEATH OF ROGERS FATHER 

their Scotch accent. By 1751 the community was 
sparsely but widely peopled, roads were projected to 
the east and south, and a stimulus had been given to 
agriculture and land-investment under which Rogers 
felt a new prosperity. His position became for a time 
an enviably thriving one, in which he was apparently 
able to make considerable additions to his estate; for at 
various dates in 1751 and 1752 he bought most of the 
holdings of Pudney, and the shares also of several of 
the Scotch assignees who were prevented from comply 
ing with the conditions of the charter. 1 

In this life of a frontier farmer s son Robert Rogers 
was engaged until the tragic death of his father. In the 
winter of 1752-3 there came into the country one of 
James Rogers old friends, Ebenezer Ayer of Haverhill, 
celebrated as a successful hunter. He made a camp on 
Walnut Slope, between Rogers farm and the Merrimac 
River, and thence pursued his regular avocation of fol 
lowing bears, deer, and other game. In early spring he 
had once completed a day s sport, and at dusk had re 
paired to his rude hut; and as it was not yet late, and 
he had been unsuccessful, he was still on the outlook 
for a possible wild animal. The unfortunate Rogers, 
dressed from head to foot in bearskins, and already bent 
by his years of labor, drew near the camp to pay his 
friend a visit. Deceived by the dusk of evening, the 
eager hunter shot and so heavily wounded him that, 
almost before his children or his wife could be brought 
to his side, he died.* Ayer could never after speak of 
the occurrence without tears. Four of Rogers sons, 
however, including Robert, were arrived at manhood s 
estate, and the future of his family was assured. 

1 New Hampshire Province Deeds. 

* Caleb Stark, History of Dunbarton, p. 386. J. B. Walker, Robert Rogers 
the Ranger, Boston, 1885, p. 2. 

33 



PONTEACH : OR THE SAVAGES OF AMERICA 

In fact, when in 1753 his father s estate was divided, 
Robert Rogers was twenty- two years old, of extraordi 
nary physique and courage, and completely self-reliant. 1 
Since the close of the war he had become an expert 
enced hunter and guide in all the region thereabout, 
and more recently still had begun to make some agri 
cultural ventures of his own. He had already bought a 
parcel of wooded land at Merrimac, half-way between 
Rumford and Methuen, for jo t and upon this, in the 
summer after his father s death, he began a clearing. 
A year later (1753) he commenced the cultivation of 
several acres there, and erected a house and barn, in 
which, during the autumn, he placed a tenant. He is 
variously referred to during these two summers as a 
"husbandman and yeoman of Rumford," or as a 
" housewright of Merrimac"; 3 while we glean from 
other references to him that his winters, and his spare 
weeks generally, were spent in hardy and adventurous 
expeditions northward, as hunter and trader. It is evi 
dent that in this latter occupation lay his chief interest. 
"Between the years 1743 and 1753," ne wrote later in 
the only reference he ever made to his youth, "I was 
led to a general acquaintance both with the British and 
French settlements in North America, and especially 
with the uncultivated desert, the mountains, valleys, 
rivers, lakes, and several passes that lay between and 
contiguous to the said settlements. Nor did I content 
myself with the accounts I received from the Indians, 
but travelled over large tracts of country myself, which 

1 Robert Rogers was six feet in stature, well proportioned, and one of the 
most athletic youths of his time well known in all the trials of strength or 
activity among the young men for several miles around. He was endowed with 
great presence of mind, intrepidity, perseverance, and possessed a plausible 
address." Caleb Stark : Memoir of John Stark (in Robert Rogers Reminis 
cences of the French War, a garbled edition of the Journalist Concord, 1831, 

P- 387. 

3 New Hampshire Province Deeds , Parker to Rogers, and others. 

34 



FRONTIER TRAVELS 

tended not more to gratify my curiosity than to inure 
me to hardship, and to qualify me for my later ser 
vices." His knowledge of the French towns could 
easily have been obtained as a petty trader, or a hunter- 
explorer. The nearest of them lay far to the north and 
west, above Memphremagog, Champlain, and the head 
waters of the St. Francis a journey to be measured 
only in days of hard travel. Intercourse between the 
French and the English, however, was not rare after 
the close of King George s War; and in one capacity 
or the other many opportunities must have offered the 
young man, already locally famed for his strength of 
limb and knowledge of the wood, to accompany expe 
ditions beyond the border. His love for adventure and 
his geographical curiosity alone might account for the 
fact that, like Whittier s grandfather, he had repeatedly 
watched the moonlight play upon Norman cap and 
bodiced waist, reeling in dance among the northern 
pines, or in dusky wigwam or open camp had sat down 
to the moose and roast corn of a savage board.* He 
may have helped build roads, such as that which Gov 
ernor Wentworth projected in 1753 to Cohase Meadows, 
high up on the Connecticut, or have joined the official 
surveying and exploring parties which at this time were 
penetrating all upper Vermont and New Hampshire. 
Parkman has suggested that he was probably engaged 
in smuggling ; 3 but in New England nefarious com 
merce was then almost exclusively a coastwise practise, 
and no such improbable hypothesis is required to ex 
plain why a young man of mettle should not always 
have contented himself with a farmer s sphere. 

What is to be observed is that when in 1754 he had 

1 Preface to Robert Rogers Journals, London, 1765. Similar statements 
are to be found in some of his later memorials. 

2 J. G. Whittier, Snowbound, 

3 Parkman, Montcalm and Wolfe, II, 1 19. 

35 



PONTEACH : OR THE SAVAGES OF AMERICA 

attained to some maturity, he appreciated fully the re 
sources and temper of English border civilization; he 
was acquainted with the language and customs of both 
French and Indians; the forest was a book whose pages 
he had cultivated until there were few of its problems, 
its hardships, or its dangers he could not master; and 
he knew with some intimacy all the land enclosed be 
tween the White Mountains, the nearer shore of the 
St. Lawrence, and the sources of the Hudson. His 
whole character his strength, endurance, and initia 
tive, with many rougher and less , admirable traits 
was that of a frontiersman. With 1754 there dawned 
a new epoch in his life. 



II 

Ranging service; The French and Indian War; Exploits on Lake 
Champlain; The Surrender of the West. 

As early as 1753, the summer in which Robert 
Rogers was engaged at Merrimac, all the omens of the 
sky, from the St. Lawrence and Penobscot to the 
Niagara and Ohio, threatened another French war. 1 
In the spring of that year Duquesne had sent out from 
Montreal an expedition which by June had built forts 
at Presqu Isle and Le Boeuf, and in August had occu 
pied Venango, thus commanding the portages from 
Lake Erie to the Alleghany. Throughout the summer 
the Indians of the Northwest the Miami, Sauk, Pota- 
watomi, Chippewa, and even some of the Iroquois 
were submitting to the representatives of the French 
king with the most zealous protestations of fidelity, 
some even bringing in. English scalps in earnest of their 
sincerity. Already Dinwiddie of Virginia had sent out 
troops to throw up a fort at the forks of the Ohio, and 
was laying those plans which, with the coming of 
autumn, were to introduce George Washington to the 
world. In the east preparations for war went as briskly 
on. During the summer of 1749 the first redoubts and 
palisades at Halifax, on the south coast of Acadia, had 
been erected, and the battalions of Louisbourg had 
marched in behind the ramparts of the most northern 
of English fortresses; and under more immediate indi 
cations of conflict nearly one-third of the French in- 

1 Francis Parkman, Montcalm and Wolfe. Boston, 1905, Frontenac Edition, 
II, Chapters I-V. 

37 



PONTEACH : OR THE SAVAGES OF AMERICA 

habitants of the land, pastoral and listless as they were, 
were emigrating to their brethren in the west. At the 
same time, international discussions showed that the 
theoretical claims of the two peoples were irreconcil 
able. The French extremists claimed to the heads of 
the waterways emptying into the St. Lawrence, the 
Great Lakes, and the Ohio; the English extremists, 
basing their title upon the wide territory overrun by 
the Six Nations, would have confined their rivals, out 
side Louisiana, to their meagre settlements in Ontario 
and Quebec. 

For the colony of New Hampshire the avant-couriers 
of war were, as usual, sporadic outbreaks of violence 
and discontent among the unruly Indians who occupied 
the hinterland between the settlements and Canada; 
and it was in the suppression of these irruptions that 
Rogers was first called into service. The northern 
colonies were not well prepared for the extremity that 
was upon them. As the Mohawk chief Hendrick told 
their governors at the Albany conference of 1759, they 
had but to look about to see that their country was 
bare of fortifications. " It is but a step from Canada 
hither," he said, "and the French may come at any 
time and turn you out of doors. Like men, they are 
fortifying everywhere. But you are like women, ex 
posed and open, without fortifications." As the fever 
and tension of war increased, the tribes responsiveness 
to it kept pace. In December, 1752, the Assembly of 
New Hampshire authorized the cutting of a road to the 
fertile Cohase Meadows, 3 one hundred miles up on the 
Connecticut; and the appearance in 1753 f a company 
of woodsmen and guards in that extreme region, sur 
veying the proposed highway, threw the Indians of the 

1 Nftv York Colonial Documents, VI, 863. 
1 New Hampshire Province Papers, VI, 198. 

38 



FRESH MILITARY SERVICE 

St. Francis tribe into a state of restless uneasiness. 1 Al 
though the scheme was not pushed, they at once began 
a course of depredations and raids. The spring of 1754 
witnessed petty attacks upon Stevenstown, Conticook, 
and other townships north of Rumfbrd, in such num 
bers that in early summer Governor Wentworth ordered 
out a company, under Colonel Blanchard, to patrol the 
upper reaches of the Merrimac. In this company 
Rogers enlisted on August 23, and served until Sep 
tember 2 1 3 the third time, except for various brief 
periods of militia duty, that he had been in the military 
employ of the colony. He was a valued accession to 
the corps, for of the country over which Blanchard 
attempted to extend a fan-like grip he had a ready and 
intimate knowledge. He did not, however, see real 
action; although the pestering inroads of the Indians 
continued, Blanchard did no*- even come to a skirmish 
with them, and the penurious Assembly forced the 
dissolution of the command within two months. He 
was therefore free during the autumn to return to his 
later harvest, or to whatever adventurous pursuits he 
chose. 

But not for long. Some weeks he spent in rather 
desultory employment near Rumford, hunting, farming, 
and selling cattle, and then, in midwinter, as belligerent 
measures went on apace, found employment as an en 
listing officer. On May 28, 1754, the troops of Wash 
ington, encountering in the valley of the Monongahela 
the courier party of Coulon de Jumonville, had received 
the order to fire, and so opened the Seven Years war. 
The news of Washington s surrender at Fort Necessity 
on July 4 thus found the troops of Carolina, Virginia, 



New Hampshire Province Papers, 4J, 199. 

3 New Hampshire Province Pa fen, VI, 296; Potter, Military History of 
New Hampshire, I, 118. 

39 



PONTEACH : OR THE SAVAGES OF AMERICA 

and New York all mobilizing for western campaigns, 
and the burgesses of Pennsylvania and Maryland grant 
ing to the common cause all that their poverty or 
parsimony would allow, 1 New England had always 
suffered so much from French war-parties that she 
was eager to accoutre herself for battle. Shirley of 
Massachusetts wrung a large grant of money from the 
General Court, marched himself to forestall French 
occupation of the Chaudiere, and despatched Captain 
Winslow to build two forts on the Kennebec. In New 
Hampshire Wentworth had already detached a troop 
to search for a French fort falsely rumored to be under 
construction on the Connecticut. As the first snows 
fell, plans were being matured among the upper tier 
of colonies for a northern expedition, at first vaguely 
designated as "against Canada," but as the months 
went by clearly aimed against Crown Point, always a 
thorn in New England s side. As an enlisting agent 
for this last army Rogers found remunerative employ 
ment, as well as an opportunity to provide a small 
future command for himself. We first hear of him 
in this connection in January, 1755, when, without 
stopping to get permission from Governor Wentworth, 
he accepted employment under Major Joseph Frye of 
Massachusetts to raise twenty men for the Bay Colony s 
quota. 3 

This occupation he was compelled to interrupt to 
extricate himself from grave legal difficulties. Early in 
February he was suspected of being implicated with 
others in counterfeiting the bills of credit of the prov 
inces, a crime punishable according to the inhumane 
laws of the period by an extreme penalty. On Febru 
ary 7, he was arrested and tried before the Inferior 

Parkman, Montialm and Wolfe, I, Chapter VJ. 
2 New Hampshire Province Papen, VI, 364. 

40 



THE CHARGE OF COUNTERFEITING 

Court at Rumford, with fifteen others, and so much 
evidence was adduced against him that he was placed 
under bond of ^500 to appear before the Superior 
Court at Portsmouth on February 12. It was estab 
lished during Rogers examination that, while he was 
hunting near Rumford the previous autumn, he had 
been approached by one Sullivan of Boston, a maker 
of counterfeit notes, who had offered to buy three yoke 
of oxen which Rogers kept for sale, and, showing him 
a handful of new bills, had given him one of twenty 
shillings for pasturing his horse. Hoping to get a large 
quantity of the counterfeit money, Rogers had brought 
his oxen to the place appointed, but had found that 
Sullivan, alarmed, was already fled from the country. 
Rogers testified also that he had asked Captain Blanch- 
ard and others to become partners with him in count 
erfeiting, "to find out if they were concerned in the 
matter"; and that they had refused and had warned 
him of the business in the strongest terms. Four of 
those who were tried with Rogers were sent to jail, 
and five others were admitted to bond. He was badly 
frightened, and went at once to Portsmouth to find 
means of clearing himself; * meanwhile twenty-four 
men whom he had enlisted for Massachusetts had 
gathered there, and a happy thought struck him. 
Finding that his own province was greatly in need 
of volunteers, and of capable enlisting officers to drum 

1 New Hampshire Court Files, Secretary of State s Office, No. 26954 and 
others. 

2 In this matter of counterfeiting, see ihe papers used in the Inferior Court, 
Feb. 7, 1754, and still presen cd at Concord, New Hampshire. The bills 
counterfeited were of twenty, ten, and six shilling denominations. The two 
Joseph Blanchards (one of whom Rogers had asked to join him), John GofFe, 
and Matthew Thornton were the justices who conducted the examination. The 
general impression to be gained from the answers of Rogers to their questions 
is that he had been temporarily led astray, in part by native dishonesty, in part by 
a rural want of judgment, but had early forsaken his evil course in alarm. 



PONTEACH: OR THE SAVAGES OF AMERICA 

them up, he secured a commission from Wentworth 
himself, and the next day turned over all his soldiers to 
the New Hampshire government. When the hour set 
for his trial arrived a week later, he had so curried 
favor that he was admitted as King s evidence, and 
apparently escaped scot free. 1 He returned up-country, 
and set about registering soldiers for Colonel Blanchard, 
who was to command the single regiment which the 
province was sending against Crown Point. Here he 
met with marked success, until Frye, with the backing 
of Shirley, complained to Wentworth of his conduct, 
stating that Rogers had secured his first volunteers by 
the use of king s money, and demanding that he be 
given exemplary punishment for treacherously and il 
legally returning them for New Hampshire. Went 
worth, however, shielded his subordinate by replying 
that Frye s agreement with Rogers was utterly irregu 
lar, and that the latter, "whom I am told is recognized 
for a capital offense," was out of his reach." Indeed, 
although in April fresh evidence against Rogers as a 
counterfeiter was produced by a farmer of Exeter, who 
had received bad notes from him, he was not further 
molested. 3 The New Hampshire quota of five hundred 
men was now almost complete, and ready to march ; 

1 No Superior Court records of his trial have been preserved, and the sole 
statement upon which this explanation of his continued liberty is based (perhaps 
an insufficient one) is that in the New Hampshire Province Papers t VI, 364, 
in which Fryc states that Rogers had gone to Portsmouth to take the steps sug 
gested. 

a John Winslow, Journal (Ms. ), Massachusetts Historical Society, I, 9. 

3 This farmer, named Carty Gilman, when searched as a suspect, had on his 
person two counterfeit bills and a letter from Rogers ; the letter he stuffed in his 
mouth and partially ate before it could be recovered. The decipherable portion, 
still preserved, runs: Mr. Gilman, for God s sake do the work that you 
promised me that you would do. By no means fail, or you will destroy me 
forever. Sir, my life lies at your providence ; once more I adjure you by your 
Maker to do it, for why should such an honest man be killed?" Gilman con 
fessed that he had received several bills from Captain Rogers, some of which he 
had passed, others of which he had returned. 



APPOINTMENT AS CAPTAIN 

the Assembly, acting in unison with those of Massachu 
setts, Connecticut, and New York, had voted ,30,000 
toward the expense of the joint attack on Crown Point; 
and the state s experienced soldiers could not be kept 
waiting in the lawcourts. 

In Blanchard s regiment, Rogers, who had enlisted 
more men than any other agent, and who, as an old 
friend and subordinate of the commander, had given full 
proof of his merits as a fighter, was at the end of spring 
appointed captain of the first company. 1 His avenue to 
distinction was now fairly open. The plan of the first 
campaign of the war General Braddock had determined 
upon two months previously, in conference with the 
governors of the colonies at Alexandria, Virginia. The 
commander-in-chief was himself to cross the Alleghanies 
and reduce Fort Duquesne ; Governor Shirley of Massa 
chusetts was to head an expedition against Fort Fron- 
tenac and Niagara on the Great Lakes ; Moncton was to 
take ship against the French posts which threatened 
Nova Scotia; and Sir William Johnson, whom Admiral 
Sir Peter Warren had placed in charge of his extensive 
lands on the Mohawk years before, and who had just 
been made Indian superintendent, was to lead the long 
dreamed-of attack upon Crown Point. Thanks to the 
zeal of the northern colonies, when the last-named com 
mander hastened back to Albany with Braddock s in 
structions, he found his forces everywhere mustering 
with arms and stores, and ready to begin their march. 
The troops were of heterogenous origin. 3 Connecticut 
had voted twelve hundred men, Rhode Island four hun 
dred, Massachusetts twelve hundred, New York eight 
hundred. In May and June, together with swarms of 
Mohawk Indians, they all began to converge toward 

1 Potter, Military History of New Hampshire, I, 129. 

8 Parkman, Montcalm and H olfe, II, Chapters VII and IX. 

43 



PONTEACH : OR THE SAVAGES OF AMERICA 

their appointed camp at the " Flats " above Albany ; 
and in the general movement the New Hampshire 
regiment at once entered upon its term of service. 
Rogers company was the earliest in motion. 

The first instructions given to the regiment to march 
were blundering. 1 Ignorant, like all his counselors, of 
the actual geography of the country about Lakes George 
and Champlain, Wentworth on May 28 announced his 
intention of sending the regiment against Crown Point 
by a short cut through Cohase Meadows on the high 
Connecticut. A rendezvous was chosen on its banks 
some miles above Lancaster, and so Wentworth 
thought only four days across the wilds of Vermont 
from the English headquarters above Albany. Far 
from being expeditious, a route more roundabout, more 
exposed to attack, and more poorly calculated to assist 
the forward movement of Johnson s main force from 
the south, could scarcely have been chosen. Shirley 
immediately protested, but for the present the gover 
nor s instructions could only be obeyed. While the 
remainder of the troops were gathering at Canterbury, 
Rogers with his fifty men was sent on to Cohase, there 
to build a fort at the rendezvous. This rough rampart, 
thrown up during the month of June, he named Fort 
Wentworth, and after posting a sufficient guard be 
hind its walls, at once returned south. 3 Meanwhile, 
Johnson had warned Wentworth early in June against 
going any farther northward; and the main column 
of provincials, already straggling through the forest to 

1 New Hampshire Province Papers, VI, 386, 392, and ff. 

3 Rogers Journals say : " Upon taking command of a company of the troops 
furnished by the province of New Hampshire, I made several excursions, pursuant 
to special orders from the governor, on the northern and western frontiers, with a 
view to deter the French and Indians from making inroads upon us by that way. 
In this manner I was employed until the month of July" (page viii). For an 
account of ;he fort Rogers built see Potter s Military History of New Hampshire , 
I, 144. Rogers was probably formally enlisted April 24, 1755. Idem, p. 129. 

44 



FIRST EXPERIENCE AS RANGER 

Stevenstown, was recalled to a secure line of march. 
On July 20, Blanchard and his men set out along the 
proper route, by way of Charleston and Fort Dummer, 
and arrived on August 12 at Albany. The regiment 
rested a few days in town, and was then sent to guard 
the companies and wagons moving slowly up the Hud 
son to Fort Edward. 

Here, at the end of three weeks, Rogers was given 
the employment in which he was to make his distinc 
tive military mark, and for which his talents designed 
him. While Johnson s army, preceded by squadrons 
of axemen hewing the way, pushed on to Lake George, 
Blanchard was ordered to defend Fort Edward, still in 
complete; but the tall young captain was called in to 
an interview with the general, to whom he had been 
recommended as a person well acquainted with the 
haunts and passes of the enemy, and the Indian mode 
of righting. The shrewd, frank baronet was impressed 
with Rogers presence and speech. 1 His army, for the 
most part a badly organized concourse of farmers and 
farmers sons, pressing into a forest alive with French 
spies and hostile Indians, stood in dire need of a body 
of efficient scouts; and he saw his opportunity to use 
such a frontiersman to advantage. The bold young 
provincial was therefore at once detached from Blanch- 
ard s command, and ordered, with a party of selected 
and hardy woodsmen, to hold himself in readiness for 

1 Rogers Journals, page 8. Johnson wrote to Sir Charles Hardy: Captain 
Rogers bravery and veracity stand very clear in my opinion, and that of all who 
know him. Though his regiment is gone he remains here a volunteer, and is the 
most active man in our army. Tomorrow he purposes to set off with two or three 
picked men to take a review of Ticonderoga, and proceed to Crown Point for a 
prisoner. I mention him particularly as I understand that some insinuations have 
been made to his disadvantage. I believe him to be as brave and as honest a man 
as any I have equal knowledge of, and both myself and the army are convinced 
he has distinguished himself since he has been among us, superior to most, inferior 
to none, of his rank." Johnson MJS., 3, 83. (October 13, 1755.) 

45 



PONTEACH: OR THE SAVAGES OF AMERICA 

special ranging excursions. Within a few days he was 
sent away to follow and explore the upper distances of 
the Hudson, to the west of Lake George, and was 
therefore absent when, on September 8, the French 
army which Dieskau had marched too rashly to the 
head of the lake was defeated, and its leader killed. 
This barren victory, closing for a moment major oper 
ations in that quarter, gave only a further impulse to 
Rogers forays and scouts, for the defensive columns at 
Crown Point and Ticonderoga, settling pugnaciously 
down before William-Henry, the new fort on Lake 
George, required constant surveillance. Within a month 
he had proved his indispensability to yohnson, and as 
the colonial legions melted away to the proportions of 
a large garrison he was fairly divorced from the frontier 
settlement, with all its peaceful dangers to a nature like 
his, and devoted to the excursions and alarms of war. 
As the remaining battalions established themselves be 
hind their new bulwarks, he found himself designated 
for the special services of irregular warfare, at first under 
the direct command of Johnson himself, later under the 
commissioners sent to the fort by the colonies. 1 

Indeed, the incidents of the first six months sufficed 
to establish Rogers reputation and position. 9 Before 
the close of 1755 he had made seven sallies from Fort 
William-Henry, had mapped in detail the French 
works at Crown Point and Ticonderoga, had thor 
oughly explored the surrounding country, and had 
repeatedly taken prisoners whose examination yielded 

1 Potter, Military History of New Hampshire, I, 155. A council of war was 
held at Lake George in November, 1755, an ^ by its decision Rogers and his 
company were among those retained at Fort William Henry as a garrison through 
out the winter. He represented all the colonies, and not New Hampshire in par 
ticular a fact which later caused him endless difficulty in securing his own and 
his men s pay. 

3 Rogers Journals^ p. 1-12. 

46 



GALLANTRY AND COLONIAL RECOGNITION 

facts of the greatest value concerning the enemy s 
position. His squads, which numbered from four to 
fifty j he handled, in Johnson s words, with "unpar 
alleled boldness and usefulness." He was the eyes of 
the English camp. In March and February of 1756 
he continued his tactics with signal success, twice on 
bitterly cold nights marching sixty men within hailing- 
distance of the French forts, and setting in flames the 
villages under their very walls. In a winter noted for 
the general listlessness with which the war was con 
ducted, his long expeditions furnished the only illumi 
nation on the page of affairs. The northern colonies, 
deeply interested in the reduction of Crown Point, 
were especially regardful of his services, and as the 
spring assemblies convened official notice was taken of 
his exploits. In late February the New York House 
granted him 125 Spanish milled pieces of eight "as a 
gratuity for his extraordinary courage, conduct, and 
diligence against the French and their Indians." 1 A 
proposal for a similar measure was made in New 
Hampshire; while Shirley, quite forgetting his old 
score, twice urged the Massachusetts Court to show 
a like mark of their approbation. 2 

Upon their refusal, Shirley resolved with customary 
zeal to take some step which would ensure Rogers 
continuance in his present station, and increase the 
scope of his possibilities for service, and in March sent 
for him to come to Boston. In the council chamber 
of the old Province House the governor gave the young 
officer a commission as captain of a,i independent com 
pany of rangers. Specific directions to enlist woods 
men accustomed to travelling and hunting, and to use 
them in harassing the French, accompanied the com- 

1 Massachusetts Archives, IV, 546. This was on February 25, 1756. 

2 Massachusetts Archives, CIX, 243. 

47 



PONTEACH : OR THE SAVAGES OF AMERICA 

mission. 1 Within a fortnight Rogers had attracted to 
his standard the requisite number of tried frontiersmen, 
and, sending a part with his brother Richard to Albany, 
marched with the rest across the forest-covered hills of 
lower Vermont. The manner of his arrival was char- 
acteristic. Emerging on a bright May morning from 
the woods near the enemy s post, he lay in wait oppo 
site, hoping some party might venture across to be 
attacked. In the afternoon and evening four or five 
hundred gaily-uniformed grenadiers, piloted by Indians 
in war-paint, paddled loiteringly past; but although the 
English kept their posts till ten o clock next day, they 
found no opportunity to ambush them. At that hour 
they discovered a herd of cattle grazing close behind 
them, and shot more than a score, whose tongues they 
found "a great refreshment." The reports of their 
guns, unfortunately, were heard by the French, and 
eleven canoes of armed men crossed the lake so direct 
ly and threateningly toward them that they were forced 
to disperse to escape their pursuers. Later they passed 
down the lake on a raft, seeing as they did so the 
French soldiery drawn up on glittering parade, with a 
crowd of interested savages watching them, beside the 
"old carrying-place" of Ticonderoga. 

Beginning with October, 1755, and continuing near 
ly six years, all Rogers expeditions, adventures, and 
exploits, are recorded in his journals; dryly, unam- 
bitiously, but with a detail that in spite of itself glows 
at some passages into vividness. The forces he com 
manded, and the magnitude of the operations in which 
he engaged, grew from a small beginning until he was 
among the most renowned and efficient of provincial 
commanders; but the spectacular zest, the bold dash, 



Rogers Journals, p. 13, 14, I 5. 
Rogera* Journals , p. 16, 17. 



48 



THE LIFE OF THE RANGER 

of his achievement was always the same. No branch 
of American arms of the period was so glamorously 
adventurous, so active, dangerous, and fascinating ; none 
balanced so well the unique piquancy of forest cam 
paigning against its constant-perils and privations. The 
first four weary years that the campaign dragged on 
about Crown Point were emblazoned by his feats alone. 
With headquarters at William-Henry, his command 
held in leash all the debatable ground that lay to the 
north, and ranged over plain and valley to give battle 
or secure information. The two attractive lakes, George 
and Champlain, with the hills, the deep woods, the 
brooks and ponds that environed them, were in all 
seasons and weathers their constant arena, and a home 
of wonderful variety and charm. In summer they 
made their daring dashes upon the placid water which 
for miles mirrored back the surrounding rock and 
mountain, paddling their canoes noiselessly along shores 
whose drooping foliage made for them an embowered 
lane, and slipping past islands asleep in August haze, in 
a silence broken only by the screaming of the jay, or 
the soughing of the wind through the sumac and 
ivy. In frozen winter, they would break a midnight 
camp as the rising moon threw its chill reflection 
over the glittering waste of the forest, or under a 
wan and dying sun thread their way on snow-shoes 
along some ice-bound st r ^am, under birches and alders 
stooping with their feathery burden. The fascination 
of the surpri&e, of the sharp report that rang over the 
sleeping hill, of the gloomy ambush and the breath 
less pursuit or flight, was stronger with them than 
the fear of death, or the longing for security and 
peace. From spring till autumn contact wkh nature 
filled them with hardy energy. Nor were their ser 
vices ever insignificant. With their increasing strength 

49 



PONTEACH : OR THE SAVAGES OF AMERICA 

and prestige they kept the whole region, and every 
French or Indian encampment, under continuous sur 
vey. They reconnoitred their forts, took prisoners to 
extort information, intercepted provisions, fired grain- 
ricks and houses, killed cattle, captured bateaux, and 
reported the most trivial movements of troops. Their 
vigilance and pugnacity kept them always penetrating 
the enemy s lines, stealing upon his intrenchments and 
sentries, 1 engaging his outparties in hornet-like skir 
mishes, and retiring with volleys into the darkness of 
an unforeseen ambuscade. 

Rogers command was steadily augmented. On July 
20, 1756, he was given a second company, captained 
by his brother Richard, and in the next month thirty 
Stockbridge Indians were placed under his direction, to 
serve upon missions which required endurance and sly 
daring rather than calm judgment; while during the 
late autumn, two new companies, under Captain Spike- 
man and Hobbs, were ordered up to spend the winter 
at William-Henry. In one of these Robert s brother 
James was ensign. With the full advent of spring two 
more companies were raised, one from the Jerseys 
under Captain Burgin, the other from inactive regi 
ments of English regulars. Still another was afterwards 
added, so that during the greater portion of the three 
years campaigning about Crown Point which followed 
1756, Rogers commanded seven or eight companies, 
the whole forming a perfectly unified and coherent 
battalion, although its various parts were often dispersed 
on widely different errands. His comprehensive author 
ity over the body was recognized early in 1758, when 

1 For this, and whatever matter is not hereafter specifically credited to another 
source, see Rogers Journals, London, 1765. For the account of the habits of 
Rogers men and their method of fighting, material has been drawn in especial 
from the plan of discipline which he drew up for his regular companies in 1757, 
given on pp. 60-70. 

5 



THE LIFE OF THE RANGER 

Abercrombie appointed him a major commanding all 
the rangers in His Majesty s service. Thenceforth he 
directed the movement of the whole corps, retaining, 
however, command of an especial company with which 
he himself undertook the most dangerous and onerous 
expeditions. With him or under him, at different 
times, such famous and capable soldiers as John Stark, 
Israel Putnam, and James Dalyell served their appren 
ticeship. 

These rangers stand among the most picturesque of 
all the troops which have served on the American con 
tinent, for both temper and appearance answered well 
to their rough and audacious life. Most of them were 
the resolute sons of the border villages and farms, inured, 
like their commander, to the fatigues of harassing and 
unbelievable journeys, the extremes of heat and cold, 
and distressing privations of food and shelter during 
long periods; fearless, steady of nerve, and resourceful 
of mind. A few were true Puritans; some others, worse 
than Rogers, added to a stern forcefulness character 
istics by no means so praiseworthy, and were rough 
and drunken when off duty, unscrupulous in private 
morals, and cruel in battle. In active campaigning, 
withal, they were brave, orderly, and efficient. There 
was the same, want of smooth coordination between 
their loose private life and their hard fighting capacity 
that marked the buccaneers of Drake and Hawkins. 
They wore a uniform which varied slightly in the 
different companies, but which in all was only a mili 
tary variation of the ordinary garb of hunter and 
trapper; and each carried a smooth-bore firelock, with 
sixty rounds of powder and ball, and a heavy hatchet. 
Their life in the field was one of infinite vigilance and 
hourly readiness for action. Except upon marshy 
ground, they marched in single file, far enough apart 

5 



PONTEACH: OR THE SAVAGES OF AMERICA 

that one shot might not kill two men, and with a cloud 
of skirmishers to the front and sides. The usual fords 
and paths they carefully avoided, and in passing along 
a large body of water, kept at such a distance that no 
hostile ambuscade could cut off their retreat. At every 
suspicious thicket and hedgy bank they stopped to 
reconnoitre. Any considerable force of the enemy was 
hotly engaged in the scattering, galling Indian style, 
from behind logs and the heavy covert of shrubs and 
bushes; and when overwhelmed in numbers the rangers 
retired with a slow, enchafing fire until they reached a 
defensible eminence. Their aim would check a black 
bird s swift flight in mid-air, or bring down a chatter 
ing squirrel as it ran along the topmost branch of an 
oak. When encamped for the night, they posted their 
sentries in silent groups of six, two of whom were con 
stantly alert, so as to avoid the necessity of relief from 
the main body. At dawn, the hour of stealthy Indian 
attacks, they were always awake and in position to repel 
a surprise. Some of their forced marches were almost 
incredible. In midwinter they would skate down the 
sheeted lakes, and in summer send their light canoes 
shooting over their smooth surface, always hugging the 
shore, and moving preferably by night to avoid detec 
tion. To surprise and thwart the enemy was their 
eternal ambition. And of this rough and stalwart 
crew Rogers, with his commanding physique, his un 
dying energy and powers of woodland leadership, his 
ready wit and rollicking bonhomie, was the heart and 
informing spirit. 

Out of the almost monotonous succession of raids, 
skirmishes, captures of prisoners, and spying trips of 
the rangers, two principal engagements stand forth in 
relief. The first occurred in January, 1757, soon after 
the arrival of Abercrombie and Loudon with the whole 



PARTISAN ENGAGEMENTS 

army of the center at Fort Edward. 1 On the seventh 
of the month Rogers took seventy-five men, among 
them Lieutenant John Stark, and skated down the 
lake, frozen deep and wind-swept of the heavy snow, 
until finally he turned to the northwest and entered 
the woods. His soldiers had provided themselves with 
snowshoes, and with these they pushed on northward, 
now tacking to the east, now to the west, but keeping 
always several miles to the left of the glittering waste 
of Lake George and Lake Champlain, and moving 
single file over ironbound swamps, iceclad rocks, 
through thickets drifted high with snow and under 
firs and pines bowed with an icy weight. At night 
they bivouacked in the lee of a tall hill, scraping back 
the snow from a projecting bank, and throwing down 
their beds of spruce and pine bough about a blazing 
campfire. The morning of the twenty-first, dawning 
with a cold rain which multiplied the exertions and 
discomfort of their travel, discovered them breaking 
camp in the deep woods half way between Crown 
Point and Ticonderoga. The gusts and flaws of the 
unseasonable day increased. Shielding their guns as 
best they could from the dripping branches, and plung 
ing at every step into the deep slush of the forest 
glades, they marched eastward toward the guiding 
bosom of Lake Champlain, three miles away. As they 
drew near the edge of the ice, they discovered a sledge, 
drawn by a team of heavy Norman horses, emerging 
from a neighboring headland, and obviously bound 
from Ticonderoga to Crown Point. At once Rogers 

1 Journals, p. 38 ff. Parkman, Montcalm and Wolfe, II, 129. Pot er, Mil 
itary History of New Hampshire, I, 160 ff. The valley between Crown Point and 
Ticonderoga is less than five miles in breadth and some seventeen or eighteen long. 
From the beginning of the campaigns about the two lakes, it was guarded by four 
distinct outposts of the French, and constantly ranged over by swarms of Indians, 
and a force of Canadian partisans under their own bold colonial leader, Marin. 

53 



PONTEACH : OR THE SAVAGES OF AMERICA 

dispatched Stark along the bank to cut off its progress, 
and himself prepared to sally out to intercept it in the 
rear. But even as he watched, eight or ten more sleds 
emerged from cover, and pursued the track of the first. 
In hot haste he sent a messenger to warn his lieutenant 
not to show himself, but it was too late. Already Stark 
was upon the ice, and the whole train had taken alarm 
and turned in galloping flight back toward Ticonde- 
roga. By a quick pursuit the rangers captured three 
of the sledges with seven men, but the rest, with their 
drivers and guards, escaped. The prisoners were Lan- 
guedoc Frenchmen, and when interrogated, revealed an 
alarming state of affairs. At Ticonderoga there lay be 
tween the rangers and Fort William-Henry besides 
three hundred and fifty regular troops three hundred 
fresh Canadians and Indians, spoiling for a fight, and 
prepared to march upon an instant s notice. Rogers 
perceived that the fugitives would give the alarm 
within the hour, and that only decisive measures and 
the best of luck could save his command from total 
extinction. 

He instantly ordered his men to return on the 
double-quick to their bivouac of the previous night, 
and there rekindle their fires to dry their guns for battle. 
Midday was past before they had completed this opera 
tion, and they at once set out southward, pushing their 
way through the dripping foliage, over snowy, broken 
ground. In this manner they advanced half a mile, and 
then commenced the ascent of a steep hill, even more 
densely wooded than its neighbors. As their foremost 
men were but five yards from the summit, a furious 
volley blazed forth from the guns of more than two 
hundred of the enemy, arranged in a semi-circle along 
the ridge above. Two men were killed on the spot 
and others wounded; among the latter Rogers himself, 

54 



PARTISAN ENGAGEMENTS 

whose scalp was grazed by a bullet. The rangers, 
immediately returning the fire, gave way in some dis 
order, and were hotly pursued by the enemy to the 
opposite crest. Here they made a stubborn stand, 
finally beating back their assailants for the moment, 
and gaining time to ensconce themselves for a deter 
mined resistance. Twice the Canadians attempted to 
dislodge them by a flank attack, and repeatedly they 
advanced in force from the front; but having the 
advantage of the ground, and sheltered by large trees, 
the English stood firm and did heavy execution. As 
the drizzly afternoon closed in an early dusk, Rogers 
received a ball through his hand and wrist. One of the 
lieutenants bound the wound with the ribbon of his 
queue, however, and the captain, although disabled 
from loading his gun, continued to encourage his men. 
The French tried threats and cajolery, as well as force, 
to pursuade the English to surrrender, and calling 
Rogers by name, repeatedly gave him " the strongest 
assurancevS of their esteem and friendship." A constant 
fire was nevertheless maintained until darkness shut 
down, when the rangers were enabled to creep away, 
and furtively make off homeward. 1 They had lost four 
teen killed, and twelve wounded or missing, but had 
inflicted far more serious injury upon the French. 

It was this smart little battle, capping so bold and 
creditable a dash, that first really spread abroad the 
reputation of Rogers. The commander-in-chief, Aber- 

1 Captain Spikeman was killed in this action, and it is stated by Caleb Stark 
{Memoir if Gen. John Stark, Concord, 1860) that Rogers was twice wounded. 
He also gives (p. 18) the story of the heroic retreat. " By marching all night, 
they reached Lake George at eight o clock next morning. The wounded, who, 
during the march, had kept up their spirits, were by that time so overcome with 
cold, fatigue, and loss of blood that they could march no farther. It became, 
therefore, necessary to forward a notice to the fort, that sleighs might be sent for 
them. Lieut. Stark volunteered for this purpose, and, by undergoing extraordinary 
fatigues, reached Fort William Henry, distant forty miles, the next evening." 

55 



PONTEACH : OR THE SAVAGES OF AMERICA 

crombie, sent him his especial thanks, and strongly 
commended his merits to Lord Loudon. Abercrombie s 
nephew, who had accompanied Rogers upon a short 
expedition, and apparently conceived a personal esteem 
for him, wrote him from Albany that "you cannot 
imagine how all ranks of people here are pleased with 
your conduct and your men s behaviour." Every news 
letter of the time mentioned the affair with commen 
dation, and coupled with accounts of his former dashes, 
the story went east and west. 

The second engagement, which occurred more than 
a year after, did not have so happy an issue. For 
some months Rogers had been confined to the fort 
by his wound and by an attack of the smallpox, a 
general epidemic of which more than decimated his 
troops, and carried off his brother Richard. He was 
then marched to Albany, and embarked for Halifax, 
where until the expedition then on foot against 
Louisbourg was abandoned his forces were broken 
into scouting columns, gangs of haymakers, and press- 
gangs in pursuit of deserters. In early autumn he and 
his depleted companies were remanded to Fort Edward, 
for William-Henry had been captured and destroyed 
during his absence by Montcalm. He was engaged 
during the winter in training fresh recruits, and no 
noteworthy expedition took place until March, 1758. 
On March 10, however, he was ordered to Ticon- 
deroga, with but 180 men, although he had asked for 
more and considered double the number necessary. 
The French fort at this moment contained four hun 
dred regular soldiers, while near it lay a large body of 
Indians and Canadians; and through the recent escape 
of a deserter to their ranks, the enemy were upon the 
qui vive for Rogers approach. For two days his men 
streamed silently through the frozen forest, over sev- 



PARTISAN ENGAGEMENTS 

eral feet of snow, and by the ni^ht of the eleventh 
were upon the narrows of Lake George. Here they 
bivouacked, keeping sentries far out through the gloom 
of the woods, and patrolling the neighboring portions 
of the lake. The next day they pushed on upon skates, 
alarmed once by a dog trotting far out upon the ice, 
and again near dusk by some phosphorescent patches 
of rotten wood on the shore, which they mistook for 
hostile campfires. On the thirteenth they found them 
selves in territory distinctly French, and exchanged the 
cold lake for the secret, hushed heart of the wilderness. 
Travelling upon snowshoes, they kept on along the 
crest of a line of ridges which overlooked the advanced 
camps of the main French army at Ticonderoga, and 
by noon had reached a point west of Bald Mountain, 
near the bold promontory now called Rogers rock. 
Here thev refreshed themselves until three, and then 
again set off over ground so rough and rocky that for 
ease in walking they kept near the bed of a small 
rivulet. To the right rose the steep promontory that 
overlooked the lake, and all about the naked, icy waste, 
the tops of the highest bushes peeping from beneath 
four feet of snow. 

Within an hour the advance guard came running 
back with the information that a hundred Indians 
were approaching upon the ice of the brook. Rogers 
immediately drew up his men under cover, their guns 
commanding the bed of the stream, and their backs to 
the hill; and when the foremost rank of the incautious 
enemy arrived opposite his center, gave the order to 
fire. Half the Indians were killed on the spot, and as 
the rest fled in confusion, Rogers, believing this troop 
their main body, gave the order for a pursuit. He 
was rudely surprised. As the dashing rangers poured 
along the stream they were met by a fresh array of 

_JL7 



PONTEACH : OR THE SAVAGES OF AMERICA 

several hundred more Canadians and savages, with 
some French officers commanding. Fifty of the Eng 
lish were shot down, and the rest driven back in dis 
order, a yelling, nring mob at their heels. With his 
accustomed expedition Rogers rallied his men, and 
formed them upon the steep slope to their right. 
Twice he repulsed his assailants with severe loss, and 
twice they returned to the attack, reducing each time 
the number of defenders. The third assault continued 
for an hour and a half, during which time the com 
mixed enemy were never twenty yards from the 
rangers, and often intermingled with them and fought 
hand to hand. Until near sunset the uproar of firing 
and war-whoops continued, by which time more than 
a hundred of Rogers men lay dead or badly wounded 
in the snow, and a flanking guard, which he had 
stationed on a neighboring hill, had surrendered. The 
Indians were on the point of gaining the heights in 
the rear, and as the sun sank Rogers, with twenty 
survivors, made up the steep and escaped to the south 
east. Tradition relates that the chagrined commander, 
having fallen behind his men to fire a parting shot, 
escaped only by reversing his snowshoes and sliding 
down the steep descent of the mountain five hundred 
feet to the lake; and that the Indians, considering this 
wonderful feat significant of the interposition of the 
Great Spirit, at once gave up further pursuit. 

In this fight, Rogers lost 130 of his 180 men; none 
of the wounded escaped, for the savages either des 
patched them on the spot, or left them to perish from 
exposure. He states that for his part he killed 150 
and wounded as many more; but at best the action 
was but a sorry affair for the English. The major 
was inclined to place the blame for the "unfortunate 
scout" upon the shoulders of Colonel Haviland, who, 

58 



HARDSHIPS AND DIFFICULTIES 

"doubtless with reason, doubtless with ability to vindi 
cate his conduct," sent him forth with such an "in 
comprehensibly reduced party." " What we should 
have done had we been 400 or more strong I will 
not pretend to determine," he concludes his account 
of the defeat. There can be but little doubt that 
Haviland erred in. allowing him so small a command, 
and that thereby he was responsible in major part 
for the disaster ; but . even Rogers account does not 
attempt to disguise the fact that for once, at the 
moment of the attack, he was wanting in judgment 
and caution. 

Lesser incidents indicative of the daring impassivity 
of the rangers in the face of danger, of their uncom 
plaining endurance of extreme hardship, and of other 
characteristics reaching from the merely picturesque to 
the grimly or naively humorous, lie thickly sown 
through the pages of the Journals. To enumerate 
them would be impossible. Such words as these taken 
from the very first pages of Rogers record, may well 
represent a whole chapter of suffering and weariness. 

" We approached very near their fort by night, and were 
driven by the cold (now very severe) to take shelter in one 
of their evacuated huts ; before day there was a fall of snow 
which obliged us, with all possible speed, to march homeward. 
After being almost exhausted with hunger, cold, and fatigue, 
we had the good fortune to kill two deer for refreshment." 

In March, 1759, during a period of excessive cold, 
twenty-three of Rogers scouts were frostbitten and 
were perforce sent back exhausted, "under the charge 
of a careful sergent"; but the main body, almost over 
come at times, pushed on, two thirds of them with 
frozen feet, till the object of their expedition was 
attained. Again and again they slept unprotected in 
the most inclement weather, forbidden by caution to 

59 



PONTEACH : OR THE SAVAGES OF AMERICA 

kindle a fire, by expediency in marching to carry 
blankets. Twice during his campaigns his men were 
overtaken upon Champlain by sudden squalls, and 
once a single craft was overturned and its occupants 
drowned. Scarcely one of his scores of raids was per 
formed without fatigue, pain, and loss of life, and, often 
as his achievements were spectacular, still oftener they 
were the result merely of obscure, persevering labor, 
and were bought by a triumph over difficulties which 
less hardened soldiers would have deemed insuperable. 
Some of the more notable events cannot be omitted. 
On October 21, 1755, Rogers and his squad lay all 
night within three hundred yards of Crown Point ; 
and at daybreak, as the bugles blew from the parapets, 
he advanced alone much nearer, wriggling along be 
hind fresh bushes which he held upright in his hands. 
So many soldiers came out that he lay as if petrified, 
until one approached so near that he had to kill him 
with his fusee, and hurriedly dash back into the forest. 
In October, 1757, he tried to take a prisoner near 
Ticonderoga, but unsuccessfully; until he marched his 
men boldly down the fort s road upon a sentry, hailed 
him in French, and spirited him away, "cutting his 
breeches and coat from him that he might march with 
the greater ease and expedition." In midsummer of 
1756, again, on nights all too moonlit and calm for his 
purpose, he took fifty men in five whaleboats down 
Lake Champlain, and passed with muffled oars under 
the very walls of Ticonderoga and Crown Point, so 
close that they "heard the voices of the sentinel calling 
the watchword." During the day they lurked beneath 
drooping branches in the shadow of the shore, with 
bateaux passing and repassing on the hot, gleaming 
expanse, and even landing noisily near them. When 
the whaleboats, abandoned later in the year, were dis- 

60 



THE DEFEAT OF ABERCROMBIE 

covered at the head of Lake Champlain, Bougainville, 
the astounded French commander, propounded five 
different hypotheses for their being there. It was this 
same party who in June boarded and captured a 
schooner of forty tons bound for Canada, guarded by 
two lighters; and as Rogers honestly confesses, "we 
sunk and destroyed their vessels and cargoes, which 
consisted chiefly of wheat and flour, wine and brandy; 
some few casks of the latter we carefully concealed/ 
In the closing years of the war, Rogers and his now 
large command played a not insignificant part. 1 Early 
in 1758 Loudon was succeeded by Abercrombie, and 
the final active campaigns were set on foot. By the 
end of July the fortress of Louisbourg was in the hands 
of the English; by the end of August, Fort Frontenac; 
by the end of November, Fort Duquesne. Meanwhile 
Abercrombie at Fort Edward had ordered Rogers to 
muster his eight companies before June 10, and was 
himself engaged in bringing his whole army up to 
Lake George. By June 28 he and Lord Howe had 
16,000 men encamped upon the site of Fort William- 
Henry, and on July 5 embarked them in bateaux for 
Ticonderoga. Rogers had spent the preceding month, 
with fifty rangers, in scouting over the ground which 
the new movement was intended to conquer; and at 
the moment of embarkation he had secured complete 
new plans of the fort and the Indian encampment at 
Ticonderoga, and maps of the country at the foot of 
Lake George and the head of Lake Champlain, with 
the intervening portage. When the army moved for 
ward toward the most important grapple of the year, 
one which was expected to crush the French center 
and destroy Montcalm s main force, he had his six 
hundred men all in readiness. In Abercrombie s ad- 

1 Rogers Journals, p. 108 ff. 

6l 



PONTEACH : OR THE SAVAGES OF AMERICA 

vance, his ill-judged and disastrous attack upon Mont- 
calm s strongly entrenched position, and his humiliating 
retreat, Rogers corps held a prominent and honorable 
position. Like many others, the young major has left 
his testimony to the bravery of the scene as, on a fair 
July morning, with music, flags, the glitter of arms, 
the parade of bright uniforms, and the flash of oars, 
the whole army moved down the sparkling, mountain- 
circled breast of Lake George. His corps held its 
place on the left of the army throughout the day and 
night, and when early in the morning the flotilla 
reached a point near the foot of the lake, he and 
Howe went on together to reconnoitre a landing. 
When the army had been safely disembarked, and 
had commenced its march toward the head of Lake 
Champlain, his rangers again constituted the advance 
guard, leading the way through the mazes of the 
forest; and as such they aided in the destruction of a 
venturesome squadron of the French, which, after 
killing Lord Howe, had been caught between the 
leading columns of the English army. The next day 
Abercrombie pushed steadily on toward the head of 
Lake Champlain, where lay the main army of the 
enemy, only 3500 strong. On the morrow, July 
eighth, Rogers was ordered at sunrise to beat the 
French within the breastworks and abattis which 
Montcalm had thrown up across the rocky promontory 
of Ticonderoga. "The line followed the top of a 
ridge, along which it zig-zagged in such a manner 
thai the whole front could be swept by flank-fires of 
musketry and grape. From its central part the ground 
sloped away like a natural glacis; while at the sides it 
was undulating and broken. Over this whole space, to 
the distance of a musket-shot from the works, the forest 
was cut down, and the trees left lying where they fell, 

62 



THE DEFEAT OF ABERCROMBIE 

with tops turned outward, forming one vast abattis, like 
a forest laid flat by a hurricane. But the most formid 
able obstruction was immediately along the front of the 
breastwork, where the ground was covered with heavy 
boughs, overlapping and interlaced, with sharpened 
points bristling into the face of the assailants like the 
quills of a porcupine." 1 It was behind these works that 
Rogers, with the assistance of several provincial regi 
ments, drove the French pickets; his men and the 
other colonials then lay down in detachments, through 
the intervals between which the regulars advanced sto 
lidly to the assault. Beyond all doubt it was fortunate 
for him that, having opened that hopeless charge, he 
was forced to lie and watch the ranks of his compa 
triots shattered and swept away by the withering fire 
the French poured into the military clearing. The 
full body of the British grenadiers was sent forward to 
storm the impregnable works before the provincials 
were allowed to support them; and not for a full hour 
could he have entered the tangled arena swept by the 
bullets of the enemy. Of his part in the dreadful car 
nage of the later afternoon we know little. "We toiled 
with repeated attacks for four hours," a he writes, and 
there is no reason to doubt that his men, like some of 
their provincial comrades, found their way to the very 
foot of the abattis. When at seven o clock the battle 
closed and retreat was ordered, the general directed him 
to bring up the rear as the broken army fell back to its 
starting-point below Lake George. 

Within two days of the battle Rogers ranging ser 
vice commenced afresh, for his defeated commander 
was anxious to learn the state in which Montcalm s 
army lay at the opposite end of the lake; after a time, 

1 Parkman, Montcalm and Wolfe, II, 306. 
3 Rogers Journals, p. 1 1 6 ff. 

63 



PONTEACH : OR THE SAVAGES OF AMERICA 

moreover, it became necessary to check the war parties 
which the French were constantly sending out to harass 
Abercrombie s communications with Fort Edward. 1 A 
Canadian partisan corps, organized by Marin in imita 
tion of the rangers, was especially active, and in two 
excursions within ten days killed 150 English soldiers 
engaged in convoying wagons through the woods. 
Enraged at the repetition of these attacks, Abercrombie 
sent off Rogers with his rangers, Israel Putnam with 
some provincials, and Captain Dalyell with a number 
of regulars, in pursuit toward the eastern extremity of 
Lake Champlain. For eight days they explored the 
basking August woods unsuccessfully; until in their 
return, having passed the night on the high cleared 
land where stood old Fort Anne, a crumbling survival 
of former wars, they prepared in the morning to strike 
camp and march in home. They were south and east 
of the main English force, and in their whole recent 
march had seen no signs of the proximity of French 
or Indians; so that, forgetting the caution which had 
heretofore led him to enjoin the strictest silence upon 
his men, Rogers banteringly challenged Putnam to a 
contest of markmanship, and cut a rude bulls-eye upon 
a neighboring tree. Mann s corps of Canadians and 
Indians heard the shots, and at once took steps to sur 
prise their reckless enemies. A thick-starting, heavily 
tangled and interlaced growth of shrubbery covered the 
long glacis about the old fort, and was penetrated only 
by a winding, gently sloping path. As the mixed Eng 
lish columns of scouts, regulars, and provincials issued 
in single file down this still dewy lane and out into 
the forest beyond, they were met by the concentrated 
fire of 500 men, lying in a semicircle about its head. 
For a moment all was confusion; Putnam, leading the 

1 Rogers Journals, p. I 1 7 ff. 

64 



FINAL SERVICES ON LAKE GEORGE 

men, was jerked into the lines of the enemy and taken 
prisoner ; the advance guard, left without a commander, 
first recoiled upon Itself and then dropped behind bushes 
to answer with a weak, scattering fire. Rogers and 
Dalyell, in the extreme rear, struggled hurriedly for 
ward through the brush to rally their men; and before 
the sun had mounted a half-hour had them replying 
spiritedly and steadily to their opponents. Four of 
Marin s successive attacks were repulsed, and in an 
hour his ranks were so broken that he was glad to 
allow his men to scatter back into the forest. After 
burying his own dead, Rogers pursued his way un 
molested to Fort Edward. He was universally praised 
for his coolness and bravery, and a week later the 
general-in-chief, anxious to report even small successes, 
wrote to Pitt that " Rogers deserves much to be com 
mended." The engagement was widely reported in col 
onial gazettes and newspapers. 

In the final successful movements of the next year 
against Crown Point,Ticonderoga, and Montreal, Rogers 
assumed only the role of commander of an advance 
guard and force of picket-scouts. In June and July of 
1759, Gage and Amherst, the latter the new com- 
mander-in-chief, moved down Lake George with a 
force so strong that it required all the ranger s 700 
men to serve as a screen, and as guides through the 
various forest roads. In besieging Ticonderoga Amherst 
drew a lesson from Abercrombie s failure of the preced 
ing year, and brought up his heavy cannon to blow its 
protecting redoubts to pieces. On the night of July 22 
the French, preparing to evacuate their indefensible 
position, left a match burning in the magazine, and 
took to their boats with all their stores. At this hour 
Rogers happened to have sixty of his rangers in three 
bateaux upon the lake, where his men were making a 

65 



PONTEACH : OR THE SAVAGES OF AMERICA 

nocturnal attempt to saw through a boom of timbers 
which had been thrown out below the fort, and which 
prevented the English boats from passing by to cut off 
the French retreat. He had scarce reached the boom 
when, with a loud reverberation, the soft summer night 
was lit up by the flaring explosion of the fort s maga 
zine. Hastily he drew his boats alongside the-floa4ing 
timbers, and opened fire upon the enemy, with such 
successes to drive ten of their most heavily laden craft 
ashore. 1 Three days later a party of his scouts brought 
back news of the desertion and dismantling of Crown 
Point. 

Two main services of the war remained to be per 
formed by Rogers, the destruction of the St. Francis 
Indians and the reception of the surrender of the west 
ern posts. For the first the whole frontier breathed its 
relieved thanks. During three quarters of a century 
the Abenaki, Pennacook, and shreds of other tribes 
which dwelt near the junction of the St. Francis and 
St. Lawrence, Catholic but still savage, had been the 
scourge of the New England border. Rogers as a boy 
had known the horror of their raids, for it was one of 
their parties which had burned his father s home; and 
now, partly by reason of the long hatred of the colonists 
for them, partly for their recent violation of the rights 
of a party of truce, they were singled out to feel the 
specific anger of the victorious British. 8 In September 
Amherst gave Rogers two hundred men, and ordered 
him to "take revenge for the infamous cruelties and 
barbarities of the Indian scoundrels " ; a command 
which he prepared to obey with the more alacrity that 
to his "own knowledge, in six years time they had 
carried into captivity and murdered 400 persons." In 

1 Rogers Journals, p. 144 ft*. 
a Rogers Journals, p. 144 ff. 

66 



THE ST. FRANCIS EXPEDITION 

whaleboats he slipped down Lake Champlain to its 
north end, eluding the French sloops still patrolling 
those waters; and, hiding his craft in Missiquoi Bay, 
where he left two friendly Indians to guard them, 
struck out on the long overland journey toward St. 
Francis. On the evening of the second day the two 
-Indians ran- panting into _camp with the startling news 
that four hundred French had disco veredTi is boats and 
were in ardent pursuit. His party s retreat by water 
was cut off, all their provisions lost, and they were 
faced by the fearful certainty that other alarmed bands 
and troops would at once be out to intercept their path. 
With characteristic decision Rogers cut the knot of 
his difficulties, and determined to outmarch his pur 
suers, destroy the village before help could arrive, and 
return south by a hasty dash to Cohase Intervales and a 
voyage down the Connecticut. Accordingly he de 
spatched an officer back through the forest to Crown 
Point to ask Amherst to send a relief party up the river 
to meet him, and set out northeast by forced marches. 
The way for the most part traversed limitless spruce 
swamps, so wet that his men splashed for hour after 
hour through a foot of water, and that to snatch a few 
hours sleep at night they had to lie among the tops of 
hastily felled trees; but for nine days they hurried on 
with almost delirious energy. At the end of that time, 
fording the swift, deep St. Francis river with the great 
est peril, they found themselves within a few miles of 
the town. As dusk fell Rogers watched its darkening 
streets from a treetop, and later crept to its borders 
upon his hands and knees, finding the unsuspecting 
savages deep in the celebration of a marriage with 
dancing and feasting. In the dark hours immediately 
preceding dawn the next day his men took the village 
completely by surprise. With a fury fed by the sight 

67 



PONTEACH: OR THE SAVAGES OF AMERICA 

of six hundred English scalps festooning the doorways 
of the houses, they killed -the two hundred warriors of 
the place, drove the women and children into the 
woods, and burned everything except three granaries 
of maize. Five white captives were retaken. 

Post-haste now Rogers set out for the Connecticut; 
for having examined several prisoners while his men, 
were loading themselves with such provisions as the 
smoking ruins afforded, he learned that the two large 
bodies of French and Indians were lying in wait for 
him near-by, still uncertain of his movements. The 
return trip was a sustained nightmare. For eight days 
he hurried his men up the St. Francis, past its head 
waters, and on to Lake Memphremagog. Here their 
carefully husbanded supply of food was utterly ex 
hausted, and that they might better subsist on the coun 
try through which they passed, he separated his men 
into small detachments. Within two days some of his 
force were shot by the pursuing Canadians, while the 
rest, killing an occasional squirrel or partridge, or living 
on ground-nuts or lily-roots, toiled on toward the 
Connecticut. The French still hung upon their rear, 
slaying and capturing in all fifty men. The members 
of two of the bands, almost insane from hunger, fell 
upon the bodies of their comrades and ate them. Those 
that finally reached the Connecticut, however, were 
followed no more, and, gathering again in a single party, 
dizzy with weakness, struggled on down its banks to 
the mouth of the Amonsook. Here they looked con 
fidently for the succor and provisions for which Rogers 
had sent to Amherst; but they were rudely disappointed. 

The forest glades were empty, except for a fresh fire 
burning brightly amid the signs of a recent camp; 
their comrades had come, had waited, and were just 
gone. "Our distress," says Rogers, "our grief and con- 

68 



RANGING ON THE ST. LAWRENCE 

sternation, were truly inexpressible. After so many 
days weary march over steep, rocky mountains, or 
through wet, dirty swamps after such expectation that 
we should find our distresses alleviated our spirits, 
depressed by the hunger and fatigues we had suffered, 
entirely sank within us, for we saw no hope that we 
should escape a miserable death by famine/ His own 
indomitable energy alone remained unshaken, and with 
two of his strongest comrades he made a raft and 
pushed on, engaging . to return help within ten days. 
The current carried them down with perilous swiftness, 
and they tried to steady their wretched craft with 
branches of trees improvised as paddles. When it was 
finally lost over White River Falls, the requisite distance 
but half covered, they were too weak to wield the axe 
in constructing another, and so burnt trees down and 
to the proper length, lashing the logs together with 
grapevine. A day later they again approached the roar 
of a waterfall this time the Wattockquitchey ; the 
desperate Rogers went below, swam into the rapids, 
and caught the second precious raft as it came over, 
for they were too far spent to build a third. By great 
good fortune they next day killed a partridge, and, 
thus strengthened, finally reached the first military post 
on that long, lonely river, and sent back aid to their 
starving friends. 

In Amherst s final summer advance upon Montreal 
from Crown Point, Rogers participated, first scouting 
over the country to glean general information, and later, 
in an unsuccessful attempt to surprise St. John s, a small 
fort just above the foot of Lake Champlain, taking the 
minor post of St. d Estrese in the same valley. The 
enemy were carting hay here into the stockade, and 
watching their opportunity his men dashed from the 
woods and followed one of the loads through before 

6 9 



PONTEACH: OR THE SAVAGES OF AMERICA 

the heavy gate could be closed. Later he was with 
Haviland, and in command of his full corps of 600, 
when the evacuation of Isle aux Noix was forced, and 
having later been sent to subdue the valley of the 
Sorrel, returned in time to witness the surrender of 
Montreal, September 8, 1760. His services during 
these final months carried him over several hundred 
miles of territory, and twice won for him stray words 
of commendation from Amherst. 

On September 1 2 the commander-in-chief did him 
the honor of designating him as the officer who should 
receive the surrender of all the French posts along the 
Great Lakes, an arduous task which, while involving no 
real responsibility, was distinguished in that it elevated 
him to an office ambassadorial in nature. With two 
hundred troops he set out on the thirteenth, and, de 
spite the obstacles presented by great distances, rough 
roads, and bad weather, had accomplished his duties by 
December first, receiving a reluctant submission at De 
troit and Shawneetown, visiting Niagara, Fort de Boeuf, 
Fresqu Isle, Venango, and Pittsburg, apprising the still 
hostile Indian tribes of the issue of the conflict, and 
everywhere forcing upon the unwilling French inhab 
itants the oath of allegiance. The larger part of his 
journey was performed in whaleboats, with which he 
ascended the St. Lawrence, passed by Niagara Falls, and 
skirted the southern shores of Lake Ontario, while 
a detachment drove cattle for provisions along the 
forested bank. A projected expedition from Detroit to 
Mackinaw failed because of stormy winds and the piling 
up of ice-cakes on Lake Huron. The fertile and varied 
landscape of the regions through which he passed was 
a source of never-ending interest to the major; and at 
one point in his journey, near Presqu Isle, he met the 
chief Pontiac of whom more anon. 

70 



Ill 

Civil Life and Marriage; The Cherokee War; Pontiac s Rebellion} 
London and Literary Ventures. 

On February 14, 1761, Rogers arrived alone at New 
York, having travelled from Detroit to Pittsburg through 
the rich, trackless forest of Ohio and eastern Pennsyl 
vania, following the shores of Lake Sandusky and Erie, 
and descending the Muskingum River, stopping at many 
Indian villages Wyandotte, Iroquois, and Delaware 
along the way; and proceeding from Pittsburg to Phila 
delphia by way of the common road. He records that 
he was greatly fatigued when he reached Manhattan 
Island, for he had traveled almost continuously since 
his departure from Montreal the preceding fall, some 
times covering twenty miles of rough, heavily timbered 
country, or paddling over a great extent of stormy 
water, between sunrise and dusk. 1 His duty was done, 
however, and, having reported the fulfillment of his 
mission at headquarters, he obtained an indeterminate 
furlough, without either surrendering his commission or 
losing his liability to active service. He was compli 
mented by the general upon his ability and performances, 
and received the indirect praise conveyed by instructions 
to keep ever within call, lest his services as a border 
commander should be required. 3 The hour was a bright 
one for the major. He was not yet thirty years old ; he 
had risen against many obstacles of birth and education 
to a position of real command in a distinct and spectac- 

Rogers Journals, p. 236. 

3 Dartmouth Mts. t Rogers to the King, March 13, 1775. 

7 



PONTEACH : OR THE SAVAGES OF AMERICA 

ular arm of the service, and had impressed his superiors, 
not merely American but English, with his trustworthi 
ness and brilliancy in that arm ; his fame had gone 
abroad through all the provinces as a dashing, bold, and 
experienced fighter. He had the consciousness that, as 
he himself boasted, no one of his rank had "rendered 
such essential services throughout the war," and that 
whether continued peace left him to rest upon his 
laurels, or new wars offered new opportunities, his rep 
utation was for the time secure. Everywhere he went 
he was known, stared at, and sought after, for every 
news agency for five years had rung with his exploits; 
everywhere he was introduced and referred to as "the 
famous Major Rogers." 

His first concern upon being placed at liberty from 
the restrictions of daily duty was to clear up certain 
troubling financial affairs. The preceding year 8 he had 
sent a memorial to the General Court of Massachusetts, 
asking ^850 arrears of pay for his own and his com 
pany s service during the winter of 1755 56 at Fort 
William-Henry. This pay, already a source of vexatious 
and expensive law-suits to him, had been heretofore re 
fused on account of some doubt as to whether he was 
then in the service of the crown, or of Governor Shirley, 
or Governor Wentworth; and his memorial had been 
referred to the New Hampshire Assembly for a decision. 
Immediately, therefore, he proceeded to Portsmouth, to 
urge his claim before the provincial assembly. On 
June 5 the legislature read his memorial, and on 
June 27, the last day of its session, Rogers, equipped 
with recommendations from Johnson and Amherst, 3 
and his muster-rolls, was admitted to speak in his own 

1 Dartmouth Mis. t Rogers to the King, March 13, 1775. 

a March 9, i 760. 

3 Johnson Mss. t 24, 84. 

72 



RESIDENCE AT PORTSMOUTH 

favor* When he finished talking it was after noon; the 
legislators were tired and hungry, and could think of 
nothing but that the hour at which they were to be 
prorogued had struck; and as he had omitted to bring 
with him his vouchers, the only adequate evidence of 
his rights, he was called into the chamber and told 
that no action could then be taken. 1 Not until the be 
ginning of 1763, two years later, when he was again 
free to appear in person before the house, did he re 
ceive a part payment of two hundred and thirty-five 
pounds." 

Meanwhile, during this spring and summer, a more 
important and more interestingly personal matter was 
engrossing his attention. When he had returned to his 
native colony after an absence of six years, he had at 
once taken steps to renew his acquaintance, under his 
now advantageous circumstances, with the best families 
of the province. He was received with especial favor 
in Portsmouth, where the constant reception of official 
reports of his deeds during the war had made him a 
figure of very real prominence; and was undoubtedly 
given an entree into circles which, in even that demo 
cratic town, would before have disdained him. Among 
the friendships which he formed was one with the 
family of the Reverend Arthur Browne, the most re 
spected and best obeyed clergyman in the capital, then 
a white haired but still sternly erect and commanding 
figure of sixty-two, entering upon his twenty-sixth year 
of service as rector of Queen s Chapel. 3 He was the 
son of a Scotch veteran of the battle of the Boyne, and, 
having grown up in Drogheda and Dublin in Ireland, 

1 New Hampshire Province Papers, VI, 790794. 

* Idem, VI, 866. 

3 For this biographical information see W. B. Sprague, Annals of the American 
Pulpit, New York, 1857-69, V, 76; C. R. Batchclder, History of the Eastern 
Diocese, Claremont, N. H., 1876, Vol. I, p. 165 ff. 

73 



PONTEACH : OR THE SAVAGES OF AMERICA 

had received his degree from Trinity College, in the 
latter city, in 1729. Only a year previously Dean 
Berkeley had embarked for the Bermudas on his phil 
anthropic project of establishing a circle of Protestant 
missions to convert the savage western world. This 
half-philosophic, half-evangelical scheme of the great 
prelate s had instilled a missionary fire into the brain of 
the young man; and immediately upon his ordination 
he crossed the seas to take charge of King s Chapel in 
Providence, Rhode Island, whence he was called in six 
years to Portsmouth. He was broadly educated, though 
of a conservative temper, and, despite a reputation for 
austerity and even harshness of mind, especially to 
wards his family of nine children, had become one 
of the most influential men in the community. He 
had published several tracts and sermons, notably one 
on The Folly and Perjury of the Rebellion in Scotland 
(1746). In the Browne home, Rogers met and fell in 
love with the youngest daughter, Elizabeth, a beauti 
ful girl of nineteen, and into this domestic circle he 
determined to push himself. Apart from all reasons of 
sentiment, he could have taken no step more advan 
tageous. He had no fixed abode, and marriage would 
give him an opportunity to establish himself perma 
nently at Portsmouth, in a position sociably enviable, 
and commanding distinct commercial privileges in the 
career of real estate speculation to which, in the event 
of continued peace, he was then looking forward. 

On the other hand, the honor bestowed upon the 
Browne household by the proposals of the dashing 
major was an indubitable one. It seems hard to record 
that although the chief person concerned, Elizabeth 
herself, was not in entire harmony with the arrange 
ment, plans for the union went on apace. As to her 
attitude, we have her own words in a statement which 

74 



COURTSHIP AND MARRIAGE 

the unfortunate progress of events wrung from her 
many years after, at a time when her life must have 
seemed to her nearly wrecked by this marriage con 
tracted at so tender an age. "When I entered into 
matrimony, in June, 1761, with Col. Rbb t Rogers," 
she states, "he was a person of character and distinc 
tion; though I married him solely in obedience to the 
will of my parents and friends." 1 How real was this 
pressure, how much the union was against her will, 
and how much, in the light of her later injuries, she 
may have forgotten an original prepossession in the 
bridegroom s favor, it is impossible to say; but the 
whole spirit of household government then, and the 
temper of her father, were such that feeble protesta 
tions of her own would not have availed much. On 
June 30, 1761, the day on which the bride celebrated 
her twentieth birthday, she was led to the altar in 
Queen s Chapel by the tall and soldierly commander; 
and her own father, in the church over which he pre 
sided and where she had worshipped since her child 
hood, read the service which united them. 9 They 
returned after the ceremony to the home of the 
Brownes, for Rogers had as yet made no provision for 
a separate establishment. The honeymoon was brief. 
Six days after the wedding, there came to the major, 
from New York, the summons to a new campaign ; 
and the husband caught up his arms, said a hasty fare 
well to his new and intimate connections, and was off 
to a farther frontier than any he had yet served upon. 3 

1 Petition of Elizabeth Rogers to the General Assembly of New Hampshire, 
February 1 1, 1778. No separate account is given in these pages of the divorce 
suit of Rogers wife, but the grounds upon which it was based and granted will 
appear in detailed statements in the course of the narrative. 

2 Records of the Queen s Chapel, Portsmouth, New Hampshire. 

3 Petition of Elizabeth Rogers to the General Assembly of New Hampshire, 
February 11, 1778. 

75 



PONTEACH : OR THE SAVAGES OF AMERICA 

This frontier was the great undefined borderland be 
tween the Carolinas and the lands of the Cherokee 
Indians. The struggle now going on there was a re 
verberating echo of the far greater struggle that had 
just been fought out along the Ohio and the St. Law 
rence, a dying glow of the heat of the conflict that 
had run from the northeastern tip of the crescent which 
bpunded the American colonies to its southwestern 
extremity. In the decades previous to the Seven Years 
War the Cherokees were the natural allies of the 
English; but early in the conflict the French had 
begun to tamper with them and estrange them. 1 In this 
they were aided by the blundering and bullying policy 
of the royal governor himself, one Lyttleton, who 
loaded the Indians with indignities when they should 
have been treated with diplomatic kindness, and finally 
marched into their country to force an unwelcome 
treaty down their throats. Upon his return homeward 
the infuriated nation rushed down upon the innocent 
and defenseless families of the frontier in such force 
that a hurried call was sent northward for help. On 
April i, 1760, 1200 men under Colonel Montgomery, 
despatched by Amherst from the armies set free by the 
surrender of Quebec and Montreal, reached Charleston; 
and they, together with seven companies of partisan 
fighters raised by the governor, sufficed to defend the 
border during the summer. In February, 1761, a few 

1 Edward McCready, South Carolina under the Royal Government, New 
York, 1899, pp. 330-350. W. Roy Smith, South Carolina as a Royal Province, 
New York, 1903, pp. 186, 208-225. "When the war with the Cherokees 
began, the Assembly resolved, in February, 1 760, to provide for seven troops of 
rangers of seventy-five men each, to be continued in the pay of the province until 
July i. ... An eighth troop was added in January, 1761, forming a regiment 
of six hundred men. Continued in service until October I, 1761, they took 
part in the Indian campaigns of Colonels Montgomery and Grant. The number 
of troops was reduced to four on October i, 1761, to two on April i, 1762, and 
the remainder were disbanded, July i, 1762." (Smith, p. 186.) 

76 



SERVICE AGAINST THE CHEROKEE 

days before Rogers am 4 in New York from the west, 
Lieutenant Colonel James Grant, with whom the ranger 
had been associated at Fort Edward two years before, 
received orders to embark for the relief of the pro 
vince. This expedition of Grant s, remarkable as the 
school in which a half-dozen such Revolutionary offi 
cers as Moultrie, Pickens, Laurens, and Marion learned 
their first lessons in war, invaded the Cherokee terri 
tory in May, 2600 strong; and a month later, march 
ing up the beautiful valley of the Salida, his army 
attacked and completely defeated the savages. A fort 
night more of burning and pillaging reduced the farms 
of the tribes to desolate wastes; and returning early in 
August to Fort Prince Henry, he received the now 
submissive chief of the Cherokees, and transmitted him 
to Charleston to sue for peace. 

So matters stood when, on August 20, 1761, Rogers 
arrived at the capital of South Carolina, having come 
boldly overland in a full month s journey through Vir 
ginia and North Carolina with Colonel Byrd and a few 
Indian guides. 1 His advent had been long expected. 
Certain members of his old corps had been fighting 
under Grant since early spring; and as early as Novem 
ber of the preceding year, he himself had been men 
tioned us billeted for a command at Fort Loudon. 
Three days after his arrival he set out northward, and 
travelling the one hundred and fifty miles to the border 
of the Cherokee country, assumed at Fort Prince George 
the command of an independent company. His new 
post was worth ^560 a year, and represented a fulfill 
ment of Amherst s promise of a "substantial reward to 
follow his services." 3 Rogers was too late for the active 

1 South Carolina Gazette, June 6, 1761 ; August 22, 1761. 
* Idem, September 13, November 22, 1760; February 7, May 30, 1761. 
3 P. R. O., C. O. 5, Volume 154, number 18 ; Rogers to Hillaborough, 
November 17, 1771. 

77 



PONTEACH : OR THE SAVAGES OF AMERICA 

service of real warfare, but under Grant s orders he was 
engaged in scouting the country, even to the foot of 
the rugged, pine-grown hills that stretched their great 
flanks away toward the smoky summits of the Blue 
Ridge, and in helping hold in awe the great extent of 
plain and valley recently subjugated. 1 In a later account 
he described the fascination for him of the wide savan 
nahs of grass, alternating with spacious forests of mag 
nolia, tulip, gum, and oak, and breaking, to the west, 
into the misty mountainous country, where the limit 
less expanse of upland, embrowning under the August 
sun, rounded into vast knobs across whose hazy outline 
distant clouds of birds drifted like a slender wisp of 
srnoke; and he touched also upon the discomforts of 
the sultry, thunderous weather, and the pestiferous clouds 
of mosquitos. In September he was withdrawn to the 
post called Ninety-six, for peace once more reigned 
on the border; 3 and here, halfway between the upper 
branches of the Sabinc and the Savannah, in a country 
still hilly and full of an interesting Indian life, he 
lingered until the departure of nearly every other por 
tion of Grant s force in December. Early in spring, 
while still retaining command of his now idle company, 
he was empowered by the provincial governor to raise 
volunteers up-colony, for a new regiment demanded for 
northern service by Amherst. In this he achieved re 
markable success, beating up, from the towns north of 
Charleston, more than one hundred men within two 
months. 3 He was not interested in mere recruiting, 
however, and chafed to be permitted to return to the 
north. Finally, on August i, he completed his enlist- 

1 South Carolina Gazette, August 22, 1761. 
. * Idem, November I, 1761. 

3 Idem, December 19, 1761 ; April 10 and June 5, 1762. In May, it may 
be noted, a privateer was fitted out in Charleston Harbor for use against the 
Spaniards by Rogers brother James, and christened Major Rogers. " 

78 



LAND VENTURES AND FINANCIAL TROUBLES 

ments, sending forty men into Charleston in one day; 
and on October 9, together with Lieutenant Ramsay, 
Amherst s special enlisting agent, he sailed for New York 
in the brig "Hannah." 1 The command of his company 
he had given up on the first of July, when it was finally 
disbanded. In his whole employment in the south, he 
had undergone no very exciting experiences, and had 
been given no opportunity to prove himself more than 
an efficient garrison officer; but he had greatly enlarged 
his acquaintance with the American colonies, and with 
the Indians of the west. 

Early in November, after a brief stay in New York, 
Rogers was received with cordiality at his home in 
Portsmouth, from which he had been absent nearly a 
year and a half. 3 In January of 1763, as has been 
noted, he again presented to the Assembly his claim 
for deferred pay during 1755, and had it in part 
allowed; and at the same time new personal difficul 
ties forced him to shape more carefully his business 
affairs, while he began to resume that interest in New 
Hampshire and New York lands which his summons 
to South Carolina had interrupted. Even before begin 
ning his services in the Seven Years War he had been 
involved in several minor actions for debt, now as 
defendant, now as plaintiff, and had signed one bond 
of ^130 to a neighbor at Merrimac named William 
Allds. Although his present liabilities rendered his 
financial situation precarious, he now plunged into a 
series of land litigations with Allds, who claimed a 
prior right to Rogers farm at Merrimac, and lost 
them all, with heavy costs. 3 Another venture was simi 
larly fruitless. A year before, following a proclamation 

1 South Carolina Gazette , August 6, October 2, and October 16, 1762. 
a Elizabeth Rogers Petition to the General Assembly of New Hampshire, 
February 1 1, 1778. 
3 Idem. 

79 



PONTEACH : OR THE SAVAGES OF AMERICA 

by Governor Golden of New York that the close of 
the war had opened for settlement the uncleared coun 
try above the Mohawk, Rogers and several fellow offi 
cers had petitioned for a grant of 25,000 acres on the 
shores of Lake George, but had been thwarted by the 
protests of the Mohawk Indians, conjoined with a 
stoppage by the crown of all such grants. Now, ably 
seconded by his associates, he renewed his claim, but 
without success. 1 His only prudential business measure 
was the purchase of a share of a Suncook sawmill. He 
spent much of his time between Portsmouth and Rum- 
ford, and his improvidence, and a tendency toward dis 
sipation, troubled and angered his father-in-law. On 
December 20, 1762, by the expedient of loaning him 
jfiooo, the minister forced him to part with his 500 
acres of land at Rumford, with three negro slaves, and 
"one Indian Boy named Billy, aged thirteen," which 
Browne at once transferred to a brother to hold in trust 
for Elizabeth Rogers. During the spring the good 
pastor seems finally to have lost patience with his son- 
in-law. In April he made out a bill for the board and 
lodging of the major and his family, amounting, to 
gether with small sums paid his washerwoman, shoe 
maker, and tailor, to ^2600 ; and adding to it the 
^"looo paid for his farm, and ^500 for personal prop 
erty given him, secured a writ and set a sheriff upon 
his heels. All his available property it was but ^50 
was attached, and he was forced to give bond for the 
payment of the remainder of the debt. 3 His wife still 
remained, in a sense, loyal to him, but he was more 
and more estranged from her family. 

During the worried months that followed his return 

1 Johnson Mss. t 24, 104. 

8 These accounts, bills, and writs are still preserved at the Secretary of State s 
office at Concord, New Hampshire. 

80 



THE REBELLION OF PONTIAC 

from the Carolinas, Rogers retained his majority and 
was an intent observer of public affairs, in momentary 
readiness to resume his active command under Amherst s 
orders. His consistent hope was to win promotion in 
the colonial service; and, as he found ground for doubt 
ing that military affairs would present him many more 
opportunities, he temporarily fixed his ambitions upon 
appointment to a civil post, preferably the command of 
a western garrison. To this end he asked permission 
to go to England, as had several of his brother provin 
cials, to urge before the home government the claim 
his services gave him upon a higher office; Johnson, 
however, partly because he wished to keep the experi 
enced ranger at hand for frontier service, more largely 
because a growing distrust of Rogers character made 
him feel that it would be dangerous to put the ranger 
in the way of responsible promotion, steadfastly refused 
to permit his departure. 1 If the major chafed, it was 
not for long. In April he began to hear murmurs of 
widespread discontent throughout the savage nations of 
the west. Toward the end of the month these grew 
stronger, until news reached him in New Hampshire 
that the commandant of Detroit, alarmed at the con 
gregation near that post of a great host of the Algon 
quin races, had sent an appeal for re-enforcements to 
headquarters. The Indians along the Susquehanna were 
in arms against the encroaching white settlers, and from 
widely scattered posts along the Ohio and the Great 
Lakes came rumors of impending trouble. Fort Miami 
on March 30 reported the uprising of the Shawnee, 
and continued despatches from about Detroit reflected 
the increasing uneasiness of the savages there. The 
French had had no right, the tribes were complaining, 

1 Dartmouth Mss., Rogers to Dartmouth, March 13, 1775. Johnson Mss. t 

12, 22. 

8l 



PONTEACH : OR THE SAVAGES OF AMERICA 

to cede the red man s country to the English; and the 
irresistible trenching of the sturdy frontier farmer upon 
their hunting grounds beyond the Alleghanies filled 
them with resentful dismay. Finally on May 10 Am- 
herst, skeptical and impatient as he was of the attitude 
of the Indians, announced that he would summon a 
meeting of the chiefs to have the terms of the treaty of 
peace explained to them, and began making prepa 
rations for the employment, if necessary, of harsher 
measures. A few days earlier Rogers had received an 
appointment as captain of one of the New York inde 
pendent companies, in the room of a resigned officer, 
and had started west to Albany. 1 

Events now daily opened before him the new arena 
of action. As during the month all the border country 
of New York, Pennsylvania, and Virginia began to feel 
the still half-veiled fury of the western confederacy, the 
widespread nature and serious import of the uprising 
first began to be understood; though not until June 4, 
1763, when definite news of the insurrection reached 
New York from Fort Pitt and Detroit, was it evident 
that by a concerted plan the whole northwest was ex 
pressing its hatred of British aggression. Within ten 
days Amherst, who believed on June i that the whole 
affair would end in scattering and isolated outbreaks, 
and that even i:he minor posts were in no danger, had 
recognized his error, and determined to raise three full 
regiments and to equip smaller expeditions of relief. a 
Reenforcements to the number of one hundred men 
had set out for Detroit, nearly a month before, with 
provisions and arms, and more were at once made ready. 
On June 16 Captain Dalyell, Amherst s aid, brought 
news from Albany that the first force had been attacked 

1 South Carolina Gazette, May 14, 1763. 

2 Bouquet Papers, 44, 821, 634, pp. 262-270. 

82 



THE SIEGE OF DETROIT 

by night as it rested twenty-four miles from its goal, 
and driven back toward Niagara with the loss of forty 
men and all their stores. 1 Preparations for the march 
of a larger relief party were at once, and with redoubled 
energy, set on foot, and the honor of heading it allotted 
to Dalyell. Rogers was now at New York, and received 
with some chagrin the news of Dalyell s appointment 
to a command for which he felt himself the obvious 
candidate. Nevertheless, as he boasted later," "it was 
with alacrity that he put himself forward under an 
inferior officer, nominated to an artificial rank for 
the occasion, it being matter of indifference to whom 
the credit of a dangerous enterprise was entrusted, so 
that he was signalized in a prompt obedience to his 
country." While he hurriedly gathered together the 
members of the slender company over which he had 
just assumed command, and posted northward through 
Albany to Lake Erie, his superior collected two hun 
dred men from the 55th and the 8oth regiments of 
regulars, just arrived from the siege of Havana, and as 
hastily followed him. At Niagara they halted long 
enough to secure boats, and to equip them with ammu 
nition, fresh provisions, and small cannon. While they 
tarried, there came the news of the treacherous mas 
sacre of the garrison at Venango, of the loss, rumored 
or assured, of Sandusky, Miami, Mackinac, and Presqu 
Isle, and of the redoubling of the attacks on Detroit. 
It was plain that the western woods were all aflame, 
and that scores of Indian villages and tribes were in 
arms. At the same time the busied soldiers heard full 
accounts of the organization of the war by Pontiac, 
chief of the Ottawa, and learned something of the 
resources and numbers of the great Indian army under 

1 Documents Relative to the Colonial History of New Fork, VII, 534. 

2 P. R. O., C. O. j, Volume 154, number 18. 

83 



PONTEACH : OR THE SAVAGES OF AMERICA 

his command, then concentrated about Detroit, against 
which their little column was to pit. its strength. 1 

Rogers first meeting with Pontiac had been three 
years before, during the course of the memorable jour 
ney he had taken in the autumn and winter of 1760 
to assume possession of the western forts surrendered by 
the French. 3 On the fourth of November of that year, 
he had set out westward irurrr Presqu* Isle with seven 
barges, coasting along the southern shore of Lake Erie. 
The weather was rough, and an overcast sky and cold 
drizzling rain were accompanied by a wind which sent 
the waves breaking high over the prows of their boats; 
the shore-line, level and high-timbered, showed the 
once-blazing foliage of the Indian summer hanging 
dreary and dark in the chilling blast, or whirling in 
sodden clouds over the wet beach. By the seventh, 
having skirted the lake for nearly forty miles, they had 
reached the mouth of the "Chogage" 3 river, a consider 
able stream flowing down placidly through tall, free 
groves of oak, hickory, and locust, near the site of the 
present city of Cleveland. Here, putting in for an hour s 
refreshment, they were hailed by a party of Indians 
wearing the paint and garb of Ottawas, who repre 
sented themselves as ambassadors of Pontiac, and in 
the name of "the king and lord of the country" com 
manded Rogers to await his presence. In the course of 
an hour the chief arrived; he advanced "with an air 
of majesty and princely grandeur," and, according the 
respectful major a grave salutation, demanded of him 

1 Francis Parkman, Conspiracy of Pontiac, Boston, 1851 ; Diary of the Siege 
of Detroit , edited by Franklin B. Hough, Albany, 1860; H. M. Utley, History 
of Michigan , New York, 1906, I, 243-291; Silas Farmer, History of Detroit, 
Detroit, 1889, I, 231-241. 

3 Rogers Journals, y. 214; Rogers Concise Account of North America,^. 240. 

3 So called by Rogers. Variously conjectured to have been the Chagrin, the 
Cuyahoga, and the Grand. See T. M. Cooley s Michigan, Boston, 1885, p. 42. 

84 



PREVIOUS RELATIONS WITH PONTIAC 

how he dared enter unannounced the Indian country. 
Rogers quietly informed him of his mission to Detroit, 
diplomatically adding that the expulsion of the French 
could not fail to benefit the savages in increased privi 
leges in hunting and trade. In brief rejoinder Pontiac 
held out a small string of wampum, in token that the 
rangers must not depart without his leave, and retired 
to deliberate in council upon the matter^- Although 
the calumet of peace was smoked during the course 
of evening, Rogers posted double guards, and himself 
remained awake all night, until at daybreak the con 
ference was continued. Amid puffs at the re-lighted 
pipe, and in measured syllables, the chief now declared 
that he was satisfied with the English officer s statement 
of his purposes in invading the country ; that he wished 
to live in amity with his new neighbors ; that he would 
warn all the Indian towns along the shore and about the 
mouth of the Detroit river to offer no obstacle to the 
British advance; and that he would supply the company 
with parched corn and meat, and detail one hundred 
warriors to help them transport their provisions. 1 Con 
tinued rainstorms confined the soldiers to camp for 
several days, daring which time the savages held a 
veritable carnival in marketing their wild turkies and 
venison. Meanwhile Pontiac had withdrawn. On No 
vember 29, when Rogers lieutenants, in presence of a 
vastly larger French force, cut loose the white lilies of 
the Bourbons from the flagstaff at Detroit, and raised 
in their stead the colors of England, seven hundred In 
dians, standing by with their chief, lifted a mighty cry 
of wonderment and acclamation. They had been ready 

1 "In 1763, when I went to throw provisions into the garrison at Detroit, I 
sent this Indian a bottle of brandy by a Frenchman. His councillors advised him not 
to eat it, insinuating that it was poisoned, and sent with a design to kill him ; but 
Ponteach, with a nobleness of mind, laughed at their suspicions, saying it was not in 
my power to kill him, who had so lately saved his life." Concise Account, p. 244. 

85 



PONTEACH : OR THE SAVAGES OF AMERICA 

but a few days before to fall in annihilating strength 
upon the English, but had been restrained by Pontiac. 
During Rogers stay at Detroit, he often saw the 
proud chieftain, who dwelt with his squaws and re 
tainers on Peche Isle, a high, wooded islet near by 
in Lake St. Clair, and always with strong deference 
to Pontiac s intense personal pride and egotism -en 
gaged him in repeated interviews. He learned much 
concerning the western country, and the empire which 
even then the lake Indians had formed, and discovered 
in him " great strength of judgment, great thirst after 
knowledge, and great jealousy of his own respect and 
honor." The chief offered the major a part of his 
kingdom if he would take him over seas to England, 
and initiate him into British military, social, and com 
mercial affairs; but at the same time made it clear 
that he would expect to be treated abroad with the 
courtesy due an independent and equal potentate. He 
was decisive in his assertions that the country of the 
western tribes was not to be bartered about among 
European nations as a piece of conquered territory. 

Now Rogers was guiding a party over this same 
route, but in arms against the chief, and amid wide 
spread signs of his hostile power. On the seventh of 
July, in calm bright weather, the force set out, and, 
soon leaving the thunder and mist of the falls far 
oehind, were by nightfall well out along the full 
expanse of the lake. They numbered nearly two hun 
dred, in part veterans who had fought battles under 
the British flag in many climes, in part experienced 
provincial scouts; Rogers had direct command of the 
twenty men most experienced in wood service, and 
guided the expedition as it proceeded. Although 
Dalyell, who had served continuously in America since 
1756, was of indubitable bravery and experience, there 

86 



THE RELIEF OF DETROIT 

seems early to have been some jealous friction between 
the two men. Through successive days of oppressive 
heat they coasted the south shore, moving as fast as 
they might; the lake was calm, the heavy green tops 
of the fringing woods hung languidly motionless in the 
full effulgence of the sun, and the sky met the water 
at the horizon like an inverted mirror. They finally 
reached the charred, wrecked ruins of the fort at 
Presqu* Isle, the ground about it furrowed and littered 
with the works thrown up by the attacking savages; 
and a few days later Sandusky, where dusty trenches, 
converging upon a mound of ashes, and some half- 
burned timbers, told the same story of violence. At this 
point they landed to wreak vengeance upon a neigh 
boring village of the Wyandotte, and, after ravaging 
their cornfields, pushed on again by water for the 
mouth of the Detroit river. When they arrived here 
on the evening of July 28, all was still, for the savage 
host, lying only a few miles above, had not even a scout 
out to sound the alarm. Under cover of night, paddling 
as rapidly as possible, they ascended the stream, and in 
the misty dawn, making a final dash for the beleaguered 
fort, gained the protection of its guns just at sunrise. As 
they entered, the Indian besiegers broke the silence of 
a fortnight with a hot fusillade, and inflicted a trifling 
loss upon the hindmost boats; but nothing could stop 
the cheers of the garrison, worn as they were with 
constant watching, and as the soldiery disembarked, 
the streets of the French village rang with their re 
joicing. The barracks could not accommodate the new 
arrivals, and they were quartered in the homes of the 
habitants. 

The Indian army under Pontiac, then numbering 
more than two thousand warriors, had but recently 
withdrawn its main camp to a river marsh two miles 

87 



PONTEACH : OR THE SAVAGES OF AMERICA 

above the post, whence it kept the town and fort con 
stantly surrounded. Dalyell feared its withdrawal, and 
proposed an immediate attack, which was actually set 
on foot soon after midnight on the second day after his 
coming. By some it is said that a dispute between the 
provincials and the English regulars as to their relative 
fighting effectiveness was the mainspring behind the 
ill-judged advance. The commander s plans were be 
trayed to the Indians by the French about the post, and 
when in the heavy gloom just before the dawn of July 
3 1 his little corps moved out from town along a road 
parallel to the river, and into the pitchy forest beyond, 
he was attacked in force. The battle which followed is 
known as Bloody Run, for it surged and varied along 
the shores of a little stream which for hours ran crim 
son. The English column, stumbling along the dark 
ness of the village road, with its flank protected by two 
cannon-bearing bateaux on the river opposite, was on 
the point of crossing this creek, when it was met in the 
face by the fire of the intrenched savages, forced back 
in confusion, reattacked on the open side, and finally, 
as it still rallied stubbornly, pushed back among the 
first scattering houses of the town. Half of the officers 
were killed in the first moments of the combat, and, 
despite the heroic efforts of the rear guard to keep open 
the communications with the fort in the rear, the full 
body occupied several hours in its fighting retreat, 
which the Indians endeavored repeatedly to cut orF. 
After their first fire the savages scattered, and from 
behind trees, wood piles, barns, and outbuildings poured 
a galling fusillade into the ranks of the troops, still 
bewildered in the slowly-dissipating darkness. 

Rogers and his men early occupied a house beside 
the highway, first expelling a troop of Indians, and 
from it covered their comrades retreat, until in a few 

88 



PONTIAC S DEFEAT OF DALYELL 

moments they were themselves completely isolated. 
Many years later an eyewitness gave Parkman an ac 
count of the fighting from this building. 1 "The major 
entered with some of his own men, while many panic- 
stricken regulars broke in after him, in their anxiety to 
gain a temporary shelter. The house was a large and 
strong one, and the women of the neighborhood had 
crowded into the cellar for refuge. While some of the 
soldiers looked in blind terror for a place of conceal 
ment, others seized upon a keg of whiskey in one of 
the rooms, and quaffed the liquor with eager thirst, 
while others piled packs of furs, furniture, anything in 
reach, against the windows as a barricade. Panting and 
breathless, their faces moist with sweat and blackened 
with gunpowder, they thrust their muskets through 
the openings, and fired out upon the whooping assail 
ants. At intervals a bullet sharply whizzed through a 
crevice, striking down a man, or rapping harmlessly 
against the partitions. The gray-haired master of the 
house, old Campau, stood on a trap door to prevent 
the frightened soldiers seeking shelter among the 
women in the cellar. The screams of the half-stifled 
women below, the quavering war-whoops without, the 
shouts and curses of the soldiers, the groans of the 
wounded, mingled in a scene of clamorous confusion." 
From their perilous position here Rogers and his men 
were saved by the hasty movement of the bateaux, 
which were rowed down to a position where the swivel 
cannon swept the woods and gardens about, and drove 
the savages away from their path in momentary dis 
order. Yet not a moment too soon the rangers fell 
upon the retreating main body, for as they parted by 
one door the foremost Indians leaped in at another. 
At eight o clock the troops, exhausted, crestfallen, 

1 Francis Parkman, Tbf Conspiracy of Pontiac, Boston, 1851, p, ^75. 

89 



PONTEACH : OR THE SAVAGES OF AMERICA 

and discouraged, reentered the palisades they had so 
lately quitted. The night s sally had cost them dear, 
for they had lost their commander and sixty men. 
Dalyell had been killed in an act of impulsive bravery, 
running back to save a comrade, and a Captain Grant 
had taken his place in the chief command. The 
Indians were greatly elated; their yells of triumph 
filled the woods, and swift runners were at once sent 
out to bear the joyful news far and wide. Nevertheless 
the English kept up a good heart. They had succeeded 
in inflicting some small injury upon the enemy, and 
they knew that their position, since the reenforcement 
of the garrison, was entirely safe. 

For some months the siege dragged wearily and 
uneventfully on. When on August i 3 a schooner and 
sloop were sent to Niagara for troops and supplies, 
Rogers took opportunity to transmit to Johnson a par 
tial journal of the siege, extending from its beginning 
until July 4, material for which he had obtained from 
the officers of the fort; 1 and in October he inquired 
whether he would be relieved from garrison duty dur 
ing the fall, and requested that his wife be given the 
same information. 9 On the twelfth of this month one 
of the chiefs represented to Major Gladwin that the 
young braves were urgent to begin the winter hunts, 
and arranged a truce which permitted the soldiers to 
lay in a further store of provisions; none too soon, for 
they were subsisting on five pounds of flour and one 
half-gallon of wheat each week. At about the same 
time Pontiac wrote that his Indian followers had 
buried the hatchet, and "all the bad things had passed 
should be forgotten on both sides." A few days later 

1 This journal is reprinted in the Diary of the Siege of Detroit, edited by 
Franklin B. Hough, and published at Albany in 1860. 
See the same volume, page 175. 

90 



ROGERS AND THE INDIAN TRADE 

the smoke ceased to rise from their whilom encamp 
ment. Taking their women and children, the savages 
had departed southward. Peace had not been made, 
and the war which, indeed, did not end for nearly a 
year was only broken; but Detroit had little to fear 
until spring. 1 

In November Gladwin determined to reduce his gar 
rison for the winter, and sent all but two hundred men 
east to Niagara, where they arrived near the end of the 
month. Rogers, accompanied by two Mohawk Indians, 
followed a few days later, relieved by a return to the 
security of the East. 3 Ever since the departure of the 
Indians the days had passed monotonously at Detroit, 
for it was unsafe to wander far from the fort, or to 
pursue stray game into the woods; the treachery of the 
French in the town near by was constantly feared; the 
men, in a garrison so small, had to perform irksomely 
constant garrison duty; and their rations were limited 
in variety, as well as in quantity. For some time, 
apparently, the major lingered near Niagara, partly on 
military duty, partly engaged in affairs of his own, 
affairs, too, of no very creditable nature. Of any speci 
fic misdeeds we know nothing, but it seems clear that 
he was concerned in the trade with the friendly tribes 
of the Moliawks and Delawares in the region, and was 
using his uniform, his commission, and his reputation 
in furthering his business ventures; while at the same 
time he was none too honest in his various dealings 
with associates in the Indian trade, and permitted one 
such trader, William McCracken, to forfeit a bond in 
his name. In the last years of the French war, and in 
the period since, except for the time he was engaged 
in the Carolina campaigns, he had been suspected of 

1 Bouquet Papers, Canadian Archives, 1889, pp. 242 ff. 
a Jobwon Mss. t 24, 22. 



PONTEACH : OR THE SAVAGES OF AMERICA 

an illegal participation in the very traffic with the 
border tribes which it was his military duty to help 
regulate; and his open concern with it now brought 
him under the direct displeasure of Sir William John 
son at Johnson Hall. Early in January, 1764, he sur 
rendered his commission, and posted to New York; 
and on the twenty-second of that month, according to 
a rather cryptic letter of the period, he "escaped" to 
"precious" Connecticut by sea. 1 The exact nature and 
extent of his derelictions in Indian commerce are du 
bious, but they had sufficed to make for him powerful 
enemies. 

On February 24, Rogers was again at Rumford, 
looking after the farm which he had given over a year 
before to his father-in-law, and which was now held 
in his wife s name. He dined on this date with the 
Rev. Mr. Walker, and seems to have been hereabouts 
on brief errands of business repeatedly through the 
summer. Most of the year, however, he spent near or 
in Portsmouth, engrossed in his dealings in land. A 
number of the score or more of conveyances to which 
he was a party between his marriage and 1765 are 
dated during these months, and in all of them he signs 
himself as "of Portsmouth" or "now residing in Ports 
mouth." His absences from his wife s home, however, 
were frequent and lengthy, and she complains repeat 
edly that he scarcely succeeded, in all, in spending more 
than a few days with her. Nothing, indeed, is more 
significant of Rogers real character than his consistent 
attitude toward the woman whom, as she herself re 
minded him, 3 he was "bound by the tenderest, most 
sacred ties to protect, succor, and comfort," his habi- 

1 "Johnson Mss. t 8, 121 (McCracken to Johnson), and 12, 22 (Johnson to 
Gen. Gage). 

2 Elizabeth Rogers petition. 

92 



NEW HAMPSHIRE LAND VENTURES 

tual neglect of her, the calm indifference with which 
he forgot for months at a time his entire connection 
with her, his failure to make any real provision for her 
separate maintenance. Whatever may have been his 
object in marrying, it was plainly not to found a home. 
The excuse which his military services gave him for 
his neglect was far from valid now, when no matter 
what his ambitions his only immediate abstraction 
was with his real-estate ventures. And although he was 
associated much with his brother, James Rogers, who 
had secured the grant of a tract of nearly twenty thou 
sand acres lying east of Lake Champlain, in Vermont, 
he was seldom far from the capital; indeed, his most 
important project, culminating July 4 in the acquisi 
tion of three thousand acres at Readsboro, Vermont, he 
carried through without leaving the city, for the colony 
granted him the land in his capacity as a half-pay offi 
cer. 1 This property he was compelled immediately to 
mortgage to one Gysbert Fonda of Albany for ^5600, 
while his wife s land he also placed under an encum 
brance of ^350. He was evidently deep in debt. 9 

In early March, 1765, Rogers giving out that he 
was off for the West Indies departed for England, 
upon the trip which in his own worldly interests he 
had so long meditated. His knowledge of the pro 
nounced disapproval with which, in all capacities ex 
cept the rather narrow one of Indian fighter, Johnson 
and his American associates viewed him, made it seem 
imperative that he seek his coveted promotion on the 
other side of the water. Colonel Gladwin, with whom 

1 New Hampshire Province Papers, VII, i ; New Hampshire Province and 
State Papers, X, 207. 

3 In later years the farm of Roger* at Concord, with the old Rogers house, 
was occupied by his wife, then divorced. The house stood for many yean, 
marking the virtual outskirts of Concord to travelers coming down the river. 
Lyford s Concord, I, 619. 

93 



PONTEACH : OR THE SAVAGES OF AMERICA 

he had been associated at Detroit, was gone in October, 
tired of the American service, yet certain that he had 
fulfilled his duty; he was presented to the sovereign, 
and complimented upon his achievements. 1 Some such 
distinction Rogers hoped to receive, while he wished 
above all to secure fin administrative appointment in the 
king s employ, whether in Europe, India, or America. 
For some time past he had seen junior officers elevated 
above him merely because they had found time to pre 
sent themselves at London, and opportunity to secure 
the influence of court friends. One Gorham, for ex 
ample, a mere captain of rangers who had served for 
two years under his command, was now established as a 
lieutenant colonel over his head. 3 He was, moreover, 
anxious to see the land of his fathers; anxious to leave 
the complaints of his wife, and the importunities of his 
creditors; anxious to investigate the glamor of metro 
politan existence; and anxious to publish two books 
upon which he had meditated during his leisure mo 
ments. In the English book marts of the hour there 
was a ready demand for military accounts of the glori 
ous struggle just closed, and for geographical descrip 
tions of the vast realms just added to the crown. 

His chief activities in London, therefore, were politi 
cal and literary. His exploits had well advertised him, 
and his advent attracted general notice. Old military 
friends crowded about him, and with the recommenda 
tions to various gentlemen of prominence which he 
had brought with him, he shortly became known 
among the lesser notables of the season. In the maga 
zines of the time 3 is found frequent mention of his 

1 Documents Relative to the Colonial History of New York, VII, 666. 

3 Dartmouth Ma., March 13, 1775. 

3 Gentleman s Magazine, November and December, 1760; December, 1765; 
March, 1766. The Monthly Review, XXIV, 9, 22, and 242. 7 be Critical 
Review, 1766, p. 151 ; 1765, p. 386. 

94 



ROGERS IN LONDON 

career and his person, and upon the streets his tall, 
sturdy figure, carried with an easy boldness of demeanor, 
was frequently pointed out. He resorted to the parties 
and clubs at which officers, retired and active, were 
found, and won speedily a deserved reputation for jovial 
ity and good fellowship. Tradition has still perpetuated 
stories of how, when accosted one lonely night by a 
highwayman on Hounslow Heath, he peremptorily 
knocked him down and dragged him away to justice; 
of how he appeared, on a wager, at a fashionable ball 
in the uncouth garb of a backwoods hunter; of how 
once, deep in his glasses with a merry company, he bet 
he could tell the greatest lie, and, relating the strange 
but true story of his father s death, was vociferously 
awarded the palm. 1 Indeed, he laid at this time the 
real foundation for a very considerable and lasting pop 
ularity in London, one which endured through all 
the compromising vicissitudes which later brought him 
an exiled petitioner to the capital. Of his picturesque 
appearance at the time, and of some of the grounds 
upon which his reputation was based, we may judge 
from a crudely designed and colored print-portrait of 
him which ten years later was exposed for sale in all 
the shop-windows, with the legend beneath, " Major 
Rogers, the famous Ranger. " It was reproduced in 
Germany, and copies of it are even yet preserved. They 
show us a tall, heavy man, smooth-shaven, with a coun 
tenance pleasantly open and regular, but coarsely de 
lineated. He is in full uniform, with long hair partially 
hidden by a regulation cockade; a heavy rifle is thrown 

1 John Farmer and J. B. Moore, Collections, Topographical, Historical, and 
Biographical, Relating Principally to New Hampshire, Concord, 1822-4, Vol 
ume I, 240. 

3 This print, first struck off on October I, 1776, is described in Smith s 
British Mezzotint Portraits. It was reprinted in Geschichte der Kriege in und 
ausser Europa, Elfter Theil, Niirnbcrg, 1777. 

95 



PONTEACH : OR THE SAVAGES OF AMERICA 

over the hollow of his arm; a powder-horn is sus 
pended from his shoulder by a band of Indian work 
manship; an embroidered belt, fastened by a heavy 
silver buckle, encircles his waist; his lower limbs are 
encased in leggings, and a sword hangs by his side. 
This military and energetic bearing, however, height 
ened as it is by the relief with which his sinewy figure 
is outlined against a gloomy forest background, from 
whose shades indistinctly push two naked savages, is 
not borne out by his expression or features. The jaw 
is harsh, the lips full and heavy, the large nose .and 
prominent eyes almost cold and phlegmatic in aspect; 
the glance and the set of the features, while direct 
enough, still seem calculating and evasive. While the 
face is clearly that of a man of action, largely wanting 
in lines of thought, it is far from being indicative of 
the rugged, daredevil energy with which we associate 
Rogers name. 

To further his designs for an American appointment 
Rogers soon set about the preparation and publication 
of his Journals, or the diary he had kept of his move 
ments during the Seven Years War, and of another 
book which he called A Concise Account of North 
America. These appeared simultaneously in October, 
1765, from the press of John Millan, a Whitehall 
stationer of some prominence, in small octavo dress, 
and sold for four and five shillings respectively. Both 
were at once favorably reviewed by the critical maga 
zines, which took evident pleasure in introducing the 
military hero in his literary capacity. " Few of our 
readers," said the Monthly Review, "are unacquainted 
with the name, or ignorant of the exploits of Major 
Rogers, who with so much reputation headed the pro 
vincial corps called Rangers during the whole course 
of our late successful wars in America, a brave, active, 



CRITICISM OF ROGERS BOOKS 

judicious officer. To him we are obliged, in the Con 
cise Account, for the most satisfactory description we 
have yet been favored with of the interior parts of the 
immense continent which victory has so lately added to 
the British Empire." Of the journals it said that the 
author, "who has given undoubted proofs of his bravery 
and skill," wrote "like an honest, a sensible, and a mod 
est man," and that his work was "authentic, important, 
and necessary to a thorough understanding of the late 
military operations in North America." The other 
periodicals similarly joined praise of his military and 
his literary achievements in the same articles. "The 
fatigues Major Rogers has undergone in the course of 
his duty," writes the reviewer for the Critical Review, 
"would seem almost incredible were they not con 
firmed by the unquestionable relations of others." The 
estimate of his merits as an author is more guarded, 
but "the prepossessing openness with which he writes" 
is praised, and portions of his work are spoken of as 
"valuable," and other parts as "new and curious." 1 

In truth, the two books were interesting and timely 
contributions to the British knowledge of current af 
fairs. The journals followed his field career, day by 
day, month by month, from the moment when as an 
obscure captain he arrived with his company of rangers 
below Crown Point till that in which he received the 
surrender of the outermost forts of the French. They 
display no sense of historical proportion, for several in 
significant scouts receive as much space as the operations 
of Abercrombie or Amherst against Montcalm; and 
they are written, as one of his critics noted, in a "dry 
unambitious" style. They are honest and accurate in 
tone, however, and, while intimately personal, seldom 
if ever give evidence of prejudice or jealousy in their 

1 Monthly Review, January, 1766; Critical Review, November, 1765. 

97 



PONTEACH : OR THE SAVAGES OF AMERICA 

outlook upon the affairs of fellow and superior officers. 
Their chief value lies in the facts which, despite 
Rogers monotonous lack of emphasis, we may glean 
from his pages concerning the defeat of -Abercrombie, 
the victories of Amherst and Haviland below Montreal, 
and the account of his own journey upon the Great 
Lakes; their chief interest lies in the fuller narrative 
of one or two of his most brilliant skirmishes, the un 
conscious color that creeps between the lines which 
describe his various scouts, and the rather bitter recital 
of his dangers and hardships on the St. Francis raid. 
The style is awkward and poverty-stricken, and the 
ill-calculated space given at times to trivial letters and 
orders betrays hasty composition. 

The Concise Account, which bears evidence of more 
careful literary workmanship, is a manual of informa 
tion regarding the colonies of North America, their 
natural advantages, and the location and character of 
the colonial settlements and outposts. Large portions 
of it, especially the historical sketches of the provinces, 
are mere compilations from previous publications, but 
all the regions from Nova Scotia to the Carolinas, from 
New York to Detroit, which Rogers had traversed in 
person, are described in full, and especially in the 
case of distinctly frontier phases of existence with 
acute observation. A too-pervading formality unfor 
tunately restrains the writer from ever falling into a 
genuinely racy, fresh vein. An appendix contains a 
popularly exaggerated description of various wild ani 
mals, and a considerable treatment of the manners, cus 
toms, and character of the Indians the latter the 
cream of the book. A real sympathy, if some trite 
ness, is brought by Rogers to this exposition of savage 
life. He recognizes the errors and weaknesses of the 
race, but he does ample honor to their virtues. In their 

98 



CRITICISM OF ROGERS BOOKS 

domestic institutions he finds much that is admirable: 
their rigid if somewhat oblique ethics; the respect in 
which the aged are held; the fine appreciation of per 
sonal dignity which restrains the parent from chastising 
his child; their universal equanimity under the assaults 
of every passion (except revenge), ."surpassing all but 
the most Christian philosophers *; their respectful un 
selfishness toward friends and allies. What is far more 
distinctive in a rough, active frontiersman, Rogers ex 
presses an almost town-bred admiration of the simple 
gentleness of their untutored minds, and the pastoral 
beauty and happiness of their roving life. In this re 
spect he speaks most especially of the Illinois and Mis 
souri, whose land he regarded as "the most salubrious 
and fertile in the world." "These people of any upon 
earth," he writes, "seem blessed in this world: here is 
health and joy, peace and plenty; care and anxiety, 
ambition and the love of gold, and every uneasy passion, 
seem banished from this happy region. The goodness 
of the country they inhabit renders their life enchant- 
ingly agreeable and easy." And he presages with an 
apparent lingering of regret the coming day when the 
region must be occupied by a people whose studied 
refinement in "dress, equipage, and the modes of life" 
will shatter this existence of halcyon content; for he 
observed that the Indians insatiable fondness for spir 
ituous liquors would clear the continent of them in a 
century. 1 

In short, Rogers attitude toward the savage race 
bespeaks a liberality almost anomalous in one whose 
earliest lesson was to fear and hate the redskin, and 
whose fame depended upon the success with which he 
had waged his campaigns against them and their Cana 
dian leaders. This largeness of view expresses itself, 

1 Concise Account of North America, 210. 

99 



PONTEACH: OR THE SAVAGES OF AMERICA 

again, in a sentiment which would now be called 
imperial patriotism. He regards the new domains as 
amongst the most fruitful and desirable upon earth, and 
rejoices everywhere that they have been given to the 
English race to be subdued and cultivated. Again and 
again he repeats, in effect, the declaration which fol 
lows the account in his Journals of the surrender of 
Montreal, that the wealth of the Incas and Aztecs 
was as nothing to that of -the northern continent, and 
that the Anglo-Saxon peoples could not fail to find in 
it a home of wonderful scope and resource. The style 
of the second book, moreover, is solid and clear, and it 
amasses an amount of information, drawn from observa 
tion and research, that is far from contemptible. Al 
together, there is no point at which we are more likely 
to be surprised into real respect for the Ranger than 
in the reading of his two treatises. They not merely 
exhibit his singular success in self-education, but for 
one of his education and profession reflect every credit 
upon his natural powers and abilities. 

Rogers himself had no illusions as to the main de 
fects of his work ; in the preface to his Journals he 
attempts to disarm the critics by his statement that the 
work was written " not with silence and leisure, but 
among deserts, rocks, and mountains, amidst the hurries, 
disorders, and noise of war, and under that depression 
of spirits which is the natural consequence of exhaust 
ing fatigue," while in that to his Concise Account he 
asserts that it is not his ambition to shine as a learned 
historian, but merely to relate "such simple facts as 
may be useful to his country" until he might "resign 
his plume to someone with greater life and ornament." 
It was generally understood 1 that both books were to 
be continued, and in the Concise Account appeared an 

* Monthly Review > 34, 10. 



100 



CRITICISM OF ROGERS* BOOKS 

advertisement of a third volume to contain a history of 
the Cherokee war and the siege of Detroit, with many 
maps and plans. The demand for this addition, which 
Rogers planned to sell at one guinea by subscription, 
was, however, so slender that he abandoned the project. 
A seemingly trivial circumstance determined the nature 
of his third and last publication. That part of the 
Concise Account which had most struck the fancy of 
several reviewers was the description, among the pages 
devoted to the Indians, of the chief Pontiac, widely 
famed even in England for his recent rebellion. Rogers 
had drawn him with a taciturn dignity which fired 
the imagination of the writer for the Critical Review, 
and at the close of his paragraph the latter made a 
suggestion upon which the major hastily acted. "The 
picture exhibited of the Emperor Pontiac," he said, 
"is novel and interesting, and would appear to vast 
advantage in the hands of a great dramatic genius." 

In February, 1766, four months later, and some 
weeks after Rogers had returned homeward from Eng 
land, the tragedy Ponteach appeared from the press of 
John Millan, under a timid anonymity, but with the 
universal knowledge that Rogers was the author. Like 
the other volumes, it was published in small octavo, 
and sold for two shillings sixpence. It closed disas 
trously Rogers brief career as an author, for the press 
united in condemnation of it. " One of the most absurd 
productions we have ever seen," was the verdict of the 
Monthly Review. 1 "It is a great pity that so brave and 
judicious an officer should thus run the hazard of ex 
posing himself to ridicule by an unsuccessful attempt to 
enliven the poet s bays with the soldier s laurels. In 
turning bard and writing a tragedy Rogers makes just 
as good a figure as would a Grub-street rhymester at the 

1 Monthly Review, 34, 243. 



101 



PONTEACH : OR THE SAVAGES OF AMERICA 

head of our author s corps of North American rangers." 
Even the Critical Review, which had suggested the 
topic, admitted it could bestow no encomiums upon 
Rogers as a poet, and pronounced the drama unprece- 
dentedly insipid and flat. The Gentleman s Magazine 
alone gave the play more than a few lines, and it did 
so only to point out the flimsiness of its plot and the 
"disgusting familiarity" of its language. 

The major was followed at this time by an agent or 
secretary, named Nathaniel Potter, an educated and 
rather clever, but disreputable Englishman whom he 
had engaged in New Hampshire before sailing for 
England, and who hod presumably accompanied him. 
Potter said of himself later that since meeting Rogers 
in early 1765 he "had continued to be much connected 
with him and used by him in various ways," while 
Johnson stated in 1767 that he had been hired because 
Rogers was so illiterate as to require someone to do 
business for him. 1 If he were actually with the major 
at this time, he may be partially deserving of credit 
for the Concise Account and Ponteach, which represent 
a greater literary facility than do the Journals or 
Rogers ordinary letters and reports; although the con 
tent of both is by internal evidence largely Rogers . He 
may also have assisted the Ranger in one of his most 
original steps toward political preferment, the pro 
posal of August 12, 1765, for a search after the North 
west Passage. In the memorial embodying this project, 
as presented to the King, Rogers set forth his unusual 
qualifications for the quest knowledge of the country, 
capacity for making discoveries, strength of constitu 
tion, and talent for conciliating the Indians and his 
certainty that there was such a passage, gained from 
"his assiduous prosecution of every possible inquiry" 

1 Johnson Mss. t 15; 106, 154. 



102 



THE NORTHWEST PASSAGE SCHEME 

and his employment at private expense of Indians to 
explore the distant rivers to the Pacific and Arctic. 
He prayed to be given two hundred men, with whom 
he would proceed across the headwaters of the Missis 
sippi, and down the Oregon to Puget Sound, thence 
following northward the western shore of the conti 
nent; the expedition would consume in all ^28762 
and three years time. Although in a pathetic note he 
represented himself ruined by expensive lawsuits, his 
petition was refused by the Privy Council. 1 

In obtaining an appointment, however^ Rogers was 
more successful. He bore a letter of introduction to 
the Lord Mayor, 2 and by Amherst and others was well 
recommended to Hillsborough, President of the Board 
of Trade; while in October, 1765, one of the intimate 
friends he had made, William Fitzherbert, was installed 
a Commissioner of Trade and Plantations. 3 On the 
twelfth of that month he received his coveted post. 4 
One of the November reviews of his Journals congrat 
ulated him upon his advancement, 5 and the colonial 
gazettes soon repeated the news in the colonies. 6 In 
December he sailed for home; and on January 10 it 
was made known that by royal direction General Gage 
at New York had appointed him commander of the 
troops at Mackinac (Michilimackinac), almost the west 
ernmost, and one of the most important, of the British 
garrisons. 7 

1 Documents Relative to the Colonial History of New Tork, VII, 988. 
a Memorial, Rogers to Hillsborough, December 21, 1768. 

3 Gentleman s Magazine , October, 1765. 

4 Memorial, Rogers to Hillsborough, October 26, 1769. 
s Critical Review, November, 1765. 

6 Johnson Mr/., 12, 22. 

7 Memorial, Rogers to Hillsborough, October 26, 1769. 



103 



IV 

The Governorship at Mackinac; Financial and Political Difficulties} 
Quarrels and Alleged Treason; Court-Martial and Acquittal. 

In America Johnson and his associates heard the 
news of Rogers appointment with indignant appre 
hension. None of his superiors in the colonies con 
sidered him even remotely fitted for a position of 
executive trust, and there was a general conviction that 
with his incapacity for governmental affairs was allied 
a want of principle and character that might make him 
actively dangerous. The same officers that in 1755 had 
been loath to believe the charges of rascality brought/ 
against him as a counterfeiter and enlisting officer were 
now the first to express their amazement at his new 
promotion. Gage wrote to Johnson characterizing him 
as morally untrustworthy, and the latter replied in the 
most emphatic terms. 1 "It was I," he said, "who for 
his readiness first made him an officer, and had him 
continued in the service, where he soon became puffed 
up with pride and folly, from the extravagant enco 
miums and notices of the provinces. This spoiled a 
good Ranger, for he was fit for nothing else; neither 
has nature calculated him for a large command in that 
service. He has neither understanding nor principles, 
as I could sufficiently show. The character you have 
given him is just, and I am astonished that the govern 
ment should have thought of such an employment for 
him." Several other letters of the Indian Commissioner 
expressed the same disgust. The concurrence of the 

January 23, 1766. Johnson Mss. t 12, 22. 

104 



ROGERS* APPOINTMENT AT MACKINAC 

general public in his opinion, moreover, proves that it 
was no mere rankling prejudice, nor the effect of his 
enmity toward Amherst and the other men to whom 
Rogers probably owed his appointment. Indeed, in a 
letter of a slightly subsequent date Johnson alludes to 
the universal disapproval of Rogers, and expresses a 
charitable wish that, extricating himself from his debts, 
he may belie his reputation. 1 " He does not appear to 
be much esteemed, and it gives me pain to find a use 
ful, active man struggling under the disadvantage of 
distress and a bad name; for he would have done much 
better if he had not been exalted too much by the 
people here, who now appear foremost in debasing 
him. I hope he will act a proper part at Mackinac, 
prove of service to the public, extricate himself from 
his difficulties, and deserve a better character than the 
public has for some time bestowed upon him. I wish 
the government had found a better or more adapted 
employment for him." But he makes it clear else 
where that to him this was a highly improbable con 
summation. 

Johnson, indeed, was at this moment particularly 
jealous of the western administration, and wished no 
officers at the frontier posts upon whose integrity and 
ability he could not rely. During the whole preceding 
summer he had been engaged in making peace with 
the still-inflamed nations under Pontiac, and had sent a 
command under Colonel George Croghan into the Illi 
nois country to treat with them; and now he was 
busied with large plans for the preservation and devel 
opment of the trade with the distant tribes. The 
French west of the Mississippi he believed to be cre 
ating among the Indians of the northwest an active 
opposition to the English occupation, and to English 

1 To Major Moncrieffe Gage. Johnson Mss. t 12, 27. 

105 



PONTEACH : OR THE SAVAGES OF AMERICA 

commerce. "Those of the Illinois," he wrote, "are 
continually among the savages with immense cargoes 
of goods, instilling the most pernicious sentiments into 
the minds of a credulous people, and diverting the 
trade from its proper channels. 11 Croghan had per 
suaded the peoples along the Illinois, the Wabash, the 
Chicago, the St. Joseph, and the Saginaw and La Baye 
to petition for a large extension of British commercial 
facilities toward their villages, and Johnson was earn 
estly trying to persuade the Board of Trade of the 
urgent necessity, for both political and economic rea 
sons, of granting this extension. "It is not in the power 
of rny officer to permit traders to go from Detroit or 
Mackinac," he wrote, "and the Indians will be supplied 
this year chiefly from the Illinois, which is all French 
property. If trading posts are not established at proper 
places in that country, soon the French will carry the 
best part of the trade over the Mississippi, on whose 
left bank they are building a strong fort."* He had 
for some time been pushing a plan the main provision 
of which was the establishment, at each western mili 
tary post, of a commissary of Indian affairs, as respon 
sible to him for the conduct of the trade and the main 
tenance of amicable relations with the savages as the 
commandant was to Gage in military matters. In par 
ticular, now, he was urging the establishment of such 
commissaries at Detroit, Mackinac, and Fort Chartres 
on the Mississippi, the three stations which dominated 
the western country. 3 That these local superintendents 
should do their work well it was essential that the 
regular governors at their respective forts should will 
ingly and honestly cooperate with them. The plan, 
moreover, was not yet a certainty, and until it was put 

1 Documents Relative to the Colonial History of New York, VII, 775. 
Idem, p. 788. 3 Idem, p. 808. 

106 



.:,; , 







ROGERS APPOINTMENT AT MACK1NAC 

in operation the governors would adminster Indian 
affairs, still delicate and sensitive as these were. When, 
therefore, Rogers widely known for his unscrupulous- 
ness, and already covertly defiant of Johnson was given 
the chief authority at Mackinac, the latter had reason 
to be sincerely alarmed. 

Rogers appeared before the northern superintendent 
at Johnson Hall early in February, sending his "Journals 
on in advance "for perusal"; and it was clear that he 
would soon be at his post. At once Johnson arrived at 
a determination that the major must be so hampered in 
his new office by restrictions, so bound by instructions, 
and so watched by his superiors, that all the gates to 
possible wrongdoing would be barred, and no latitude 
left him to obstruct more than passively the plans of 
the Indian department or of Gage. "I am of opinion," 
he said in a letter to the General, 1 "that he should be 
tied up in such a manner as shall best prevent him do 
ing mischief. ... If he is bound by my orders in 
everything relating to Indian affairs, and obliged to 
transmit regular reports of all transactions, I think he 
will not have it in his power to do as much harm as 
otherwise; though to prevent him from doing any is 
impossible, for he has been concerned in trade, and 
will again be, with those of his connections in that 
quarter. By his being commandant he will have it in 
his power to confine the trade in great measure to 
himself and friends; neither would he stick at saying 
anything to the Indians, to effect any of his purposes. 
. . . The only thing to be done is to point out from 
whom he is to take his orders respecting Indian affairs, 
and the channels through which his reports are to be 
transmitted; and to limit his expenses to pipes, tobacco, 
and a little liquor unless when he may be ordered to 

1 Johnson Mss., 13, 22. 

107 



PONTEACH : OR THE SAVAGES OF AMERICA 

meet any body of Indians; and whenever they shall 
address him to send a faithful copy of his speeches." 
His recommendations were followed. It was clearly 
Johnson s haunting fear that the pressure of Rogers 
obligations would force him to take criminal means to 
supply his wants, and it was to this end that the sug 
gested instructions, of which there was no lack, harped 
upon a frank and open administration of Indian affairs, 
the chief theme of which was to be rigid economy. 
Gage wrote in transmitting the major his appointment: 
" I can t recommend to you too strongly the strictest 
economy in the small expenses that may unavoidably 
be incurred at your post. Nothing new or chargeable 
must on any account be done by you upon your own 
head." 1 Rogers was further informed that in all his 
dealings with the savages he must pay the strictest 
obedience to Johnson, and report as frequently to him 
as to the military commandant at Detroit. In June, 
again, supplementary instructions were issued to him 
from Johnson Hall, cautioning him, as Indian com 
missary, to acquaint himself with the tribes, to avoid 
giving them any umbrage, and to see that his garrison 
and the traders committed no offense; and, above all, 
to send in exact copies of all his proceedings to head 
quarters, under affidavit, every six months. 3 Finally, 
Johnson took opportunity to hold a long and earnest 
conference with him, giving him minutely detailed in 
structions as to his conduct toward the Indians, while 
Gage did as much for military affairs; and both, "find 
ing him very desirous of some liberty in the article of 
expenses," cautioned him thoroughly again to avoid 
useless expenditures. 

Throughout the spring of 1766 Johnson was still 

1 Johmon Mss., 12, 10. 

P. R. O..C. O.j, Vol. 85, p. 351. 

1 08 



JOHNSON AND THE INDIAN TRADE 

pushing his new plan regarding Indian affairs; and 
finally, by a bold step, he determined upon its inaugu 
ration. He knew that in this he was as yet supported 
by scant authority from England; but Gage approved 
and abetted his conduct, and to him the temper of the 
Indians and the ominous movements of the French and 
Spanish on the Mississippi made the step seem impera 
tive. The French habitants on the Missouri, Missis 
sippi, Illinois, and Miami, as he pointed out, monopo 
lized most of the trade in those parts; for despite the 
fact that they could procure goods only at great ex 
pense, the sensitive Western tribesmen would go long 
journeys in order to barter their furs for powder, tobac 
co, and cloth with those who would treat with them 
kindly, courteously, and fairly, and not as a debased, 
inferior people. Yet while he acknowledged that he 
could never persuade the English to offer the savages 
more than a polite civility, Johnson was far from de 
spairing of weakening the French influence through his 
commissaries. These men were to ingratiate themselves 
into the favor of the tribes, by presents and cajolery; 
were to supervise the various traders who made the 
posts their headquarters, and putting a stop to their 
dishonesty and cruelty to force them to pay fair 
prices, to be considerate and gentle, and to stop their 
pernicious traffic in rum ; and were to nip all plots 
or discontents in the bud, and counteract directly all 
foreign influences. " I have for some time," Johnson 
wrote to London in January, 1766, "made choice of 
the best persons for these offices at all the posts, and 
no time may be lost after I receive orders to appoint 
them;" and meanwhile he had called Pontiac and all 
the chiefs of the West to a conference at Oswego, to 
announce his new plan. 1 Finally, on March 22, he 

1 Documents Relative to the Colonial Hhtory of New York, VII, 808 ff. 

109 



PONTEACH : OR THE SAVAGES OF AMERICA 

wrote the Board of Trade that he was on the eve of 
making the necessary proposed appointments, although 
he was not yet for some weeks to announce them. 1 " I 
hope your lordship will not disapprove of my conduct," 
he added, and suggested that they might infer its urgen 
cy from the fact that the appointments would be made 
at risk of his private fortune. His mails from that day 
onward were choked with applications. The great sig 
nificance of his move was clear. It meant that hence 
forth the government of the west and .north was not to 
be purely military, but half-military and half-civil, and 
that he and Gage would divide its authority. For al 
most a year murmurs of subordinate jealousy from west 
ern military officers had greeted the proposal, and now 
the moment for real friction was at hand. 

For a short period during the spring Rogers was at 
home at Portsmouth ; and here his wife, not yet fally 
estranged from him, decided to accompany him to his 
distant command. The unhappy woman was urged by 
many friends, in sincere remonstrance, to refrain from 
a step which, no less from the character of the major 
than from the location of the post, was full of uncer 
tainty and danger. Her father, however, animated by 
a Puritan churchman s sense of duty, exhorted her to 
perform the full tenor of her vows, and she herself 
"felt some hope yet of winning her husband by gentle 
ness and condescension." 8 

Accompanied by her, therefore, Rogers set out in 
June, under orders from Johnson to proceed to Oswego, 
and take charge there of the preparations for the im 
pending congress of the western Indians. Here, at the 
little fort and village planted at the mouth of Oswego 

1 Documents Relative to the Colonial History of New Tork, VII, 817. 
a Elizabeth Rogers Petition of February u f 1778, to the New Hampshire 
Assembly. 



I 10 



THE CONFERENCE AT OSWEGO 

River, were now gathering the chiefs of the Potawa- 
tomi, Huron, and Chippewa, and the principal men of 
the Ottawa, all anxiously awaiting the coming of Pon- 
tiac, their leader and most accomplished diplomatist, 
who since the failure of his conspiracy had been a 
wanderer in the Illinois country. 

On the English side the chief representatives were 
to be, besides Johnson and Rogers, Daniel Claus, head 
of Indian affairs in the province of Quebec, Edward 
Cole, newly appointed commissary at Fort de Chartres, 
Jehu Hay, holding the same office at Detroit, and 
most interesting of all Lieutenant Benjamin Roberts, 
one of Johnson s most trusted aids, and commissary at 
Oswego since the preceding April. 1 The meeting of 
the major with this last officer, already of course on 
the spot, was curiously watched, for it was rumored that 
the commissary was soon to be sent out to Mackinac 
to take over a share of Rogers responsibility in Indian 
relations, and there were many points in the tempera 
ment of each that seemed prophetic of a clash between 
them. Roberts was an experienced English officer, still 
young, who had been with Rogers corps in 1757, and 
had participated in many of the most fatiguing expedi 
tions. His zeal in ingratiating himself with the Indians 
had first recommended him to Johnson s notice. He 
early learned the Mohawk language, and because of 
this, and a very curious incident, the savages of New 
York took a violent fancy to him. a While at garrison 
at Schenectady in 1759, the gentlemen and ladies acted 
" Othello," before an audience room crowded with 
chiefs and braves, most of whom were wrought up to 
an extraordinary pitch of curiosity. The gallantly at- 

1 Documents Relative to the Colonial History of New Tork t VII, 850 ff. 
a This biographical material is drawn from two long petitions of Roberts , 
dated May 27 and June 9, 1773, among the unpublished Dartmouth Mss. 



PONTEACH : OR THE SAVAGES OF AMERICA 

tired Roberts strutted upon the. stage as Lodovico, 
saluted by a fanfare of trumpets, and responding to a 
general burst of acclamations by repeatedly doffing a 
hat of truly Venetian courtliness. The Indians were so 
much struck by his general appearance, especially by his 
plumed headpiece, that they concluded him to be a per 
sonage of exalted importance; and he confirmed their 
awed admiration by giving them both his hat and vel 
vet cloak, for which they could not be sufficiently 
grateful. In the last years of the war he served at Fort 
Stanwix, near Niagara. Everywhere and always he 
flattered the Indians; everywhere he mastered their 
dialect; everywhere he acquainted himself with their 
customs and temper. He even reconciled himself to 
marrying an influential old squaw, a virago of whom 
he spoke as one of the most frightful of human beings. 
In 1766, when his regiment was ordered back to Eng 
land, Johnson stopped him to engage him in " settling 
disputes between the Western Indians and the Six Na 
tions, and to help regulate the Indian trade. 1 He was 
an intimate and a favorite of Johnson s; a faithful, sin 
cere officer, and an ardent partisan of those with whom 
his interest was enlisted. His zeal in military and tribal 
matters had involved him heavily in debt, from which, 
however, he was unwilling to extricate himself by un 
principled means. With all his fine moral temper and 
efficient conscientiousness there seems to have been in 
termixed a heavy streak of impulsiveness and emotion 
alism. A rude, frank, impatient man like Rogers was 
sure to seem dangerous to him, just as Roberts had 
seemed troublesome and pettish to many of his superiors. 
With everything in tension at the little fort for the 
coming conference, at which Pontiac was expected to 
give in his adherence to British rule, the two men were 
not long in quarreling. The major seized the reins of 



12 



THE CONFERENCE AT OSWEGO 

affairs officiously, for his military jealousy of the com 
missary was not diminished by the report that such a 
faithful servant of Johnson Hall was likely soon to be 
come his co-worker at his new post; and the brusque- 
ness with which he treated Roberts soon had its upshot 
in a sharp quarrel as to their respective powers. 1 At the 
mouth of the Oswego River, and on its farther shore, 
Captain Peeke Fuller of the post had tentatively sta 
tioned a number of traders. Their position there was in 
accordance with the wishes of Johnson, as local condi 
tions made it possible to control their trade more ef 
fectually on that side; for military reasons, however, 
Rogers set about transferring them to a point near the 
walls of the fort. When Roberts protested, he was 
peremptorily silenced, and his quotation of Johnson s 
authority availed naught. The controversy grew into 
one in which Rogers refused decisively to respect John 
son s general orders that his commissaries were to be 
obeyed in all affairs pertaining to the trade. " He 
thinks," wrote the humiliated Roberts, "that he is not 
to obey all orders that do not come directly from the 
general." 2 Petty in itself, the incident showed the de 
termination of the newly-appointed governor to assert 
his independence as a military commandant, even 
against the authority of Sir William; and it is signi 
ficant as the beginning of his relations with one who 
was later his chief enemy. 

The congress with the Indians began July 23, in the 
shade of some magnificent trees between the river and 
the parade-ground of the fort, and endured . three days. 
The temper of the savages at the moment demanded 
immediate appeasal. "The injuries and slights they 
have met with," had written Johnson, "give us no 
room to upbraid them. Our people on the frontier 

1 Johnson Mss. t 13, 93. 3 Idem, 12, 232. 



PONTEACH: OR THE SAVAGES OF AMERICA 

seem determined to bring on a new war in the face of 
their own ruin. Twenty murders upon them have been 
treacherously committed within the six months past." 
He represented himself as at his wits end for means to 
stop the provocations of the whites, and urged con 
stantly upon the home government the clothing of the 
commissaries with new power. " I cannot check their 
grievances," he said, "and the commissaries are in the 
same situation. They have an office and a duty laid 
down for them, but no power to execute it. To answer 
the purposes of the appointment they must be empow 
ered to see commerce equitably conducted, and justice 
executed." His querulous plea arose doubtless in part 
from such instances as Rogers disrespectful handling of 
Roberts. Yet he spoke boldly to the Indians of the 
new scheme, as well as of the measures for checking 
the outrages of frontier farmers along the Alleghanies. 
"You begin already," he addressed them, "to see and 
feel the fruits of peace, from the number of traders and 
plenty of goods at all our garrisoned posts, and are en 
joying the peaceable possession of Illinois. You will 
likewise now see that proper officers, men of honor 
and probity, are appointed to reside at the posts, to 
prevent abuses in trade." He exhorted them to confine 
their commerce to the forts, pointing out the impossi 
bility of checking fraud if they refused. To all this the 
Indians gravely bowed. "We heartily thank you, father, 
for having appointed the commissaries, and for not let 
ting the traders straggle through the woods to our vil 
lages, but to trade only at the posts ; it was not prudent 
to let them ramble where they pleased, but there will 
be no danger along the waters to the forts, and we shall 
be justly dealt with," said Tiata, chief of the Huron, 
and all promised their furtherance of the plan, accept- 

1 Documents Relative to the Colonial History of New Tork t VII, 851. 

"4 



ROGERS* ARRIVAL AT MACKINAC 

ing it as an earnest of the love of the English people. 1 
After further parley, and Pontiac s final submission, the 
congress broke up to general satisfaction. 

In the early days of August, Rogers and his wife, 
with Rogers secretary Potter, arrived at Mackinac, 
having come through by way of Niagara, Detroit, and 
the lakes. The post stood then on a bold point a mile 
or two west of the present site of Mackinac City, just 
south of and overlooking the straits; and to arrive at it 
Rogers passed the beautiful Mackinac Island, its high, 
blanched limestone cliffs, crowned and backed by heavy 
pine forests, rising in irregular splendor from the lake. 
Newly rebuilt since Pontiac s war, the fort was not a 
prepossessing structure, for it was neither commodious 
nor strong; and its situation, among monotonous sand- 
dunes that ran back for a long distance before they 
were broken by the odorous woods of cedar and pine, 
was bleak in winter and baking hot in summer. Heavy 
barracks rose near the fort proper, and at some distance 
stood the French village of Mackinac, a cluster of 
white-plastered log houses, defining the extremities of 
the long, narrow, rectangular plot in which the villagers 
cultivated their land. In front the opposite shore 
outlined by well-wooded heights spread the brief 
straits, widening away on either hand into the lovely 
waters of Huron and Michigan. The little garrison 
numbered two companies, 3 and Captain Spiessmacher, 
a German officer at its head, resigned the position of 
chief command into Rogers hands. The latter installed 
himself within the most comfortable of the officers 
houses within the stockade walls, and set himself to 
gaining a full acquaintanceship with his new duties 
and opportunities. He had left Roberts behind at 

1 Documents Relative to the Colonial History of New Tork, VII, 854. 
8 P. R. O., C. O. 5, Vol. 85, p. 155. 

"5 



PONTEACH : OR THE SAVAGES OF AMERICA 

Niagara, and except for his ironclad oral and written 
instructions, he was invested with full powers as com 
mander of the garrison and agent of Indian affairs. 
With a full appreciation of the isolation of his post 
for Detroit was a long week s journey behind him, and 
a rigorous winter, which would stop all communica 
tion with the east, but a few months away his feeling 
was one of autocratic independence. Except for his 
instructions from Gage and Johnson, which he now 
might with temporary security entirely disregard, his 
own affairs and those of the region were under the 
direct guidance of his hand. He could undertake 
whatever ambitious administrative schemes he deemed 
best, and if fair fortune offered attempt a replen 
ishment of his exhausted purse, free from all but the 
most distant supervision. From his temper and his pre 
vious financial irresponsibility it was clear he would not 
halt at heavy bills when impressed with the opportu 
nity of carrying through some striking, largely-con 
ceived scheme; and that in affairs with the tribes he 
would regard himself as chiefly responsible to Gage, 
and would order matters of trade and of Indian rela 
tions with but scant deference to Johnson. 

This last, indeed, was immediately evident. Johnson 
had given to Rogers, as to all the commissaries, strict 
est orders that the Indian trade was to be confined to 
the immediate vicinity of the fort; that the packs of 
the dealers were to be opened, as far as possible, only 
under the commandant s eyes; that no cheating was to 
be allowed, and a fixed scale of prices, which Johnson 
himself scheduled, was to be enforced ; and that the 
commandant should control jealously the entire issu 
ance of rum to the Indians. The general order was 
clearly repugnant to one who, like Rogers, knew in 
timately the circumstances under which the traffic in 

116 



ROGERS ARRIVAL AT MACKINAC 

furs went on in the northwest. Ever since the founda 
tion of the fur-trade by the French coureurs-de-bois the 
tribes of the region had parted with their peltry on the 
very hunting-ground upon which they did their winter 
shooting and trapping. The market had been an itin 
erant one; and following the various villages of braves 
into the snowy wilderness each winter, the French ad 
venturer, with his cloth, trinkets, liquor, hatchets, guns, 
grease, and provisions of powder and shot, had saved 
them the necessity of interrupting their hunts for a long, 
exhausting trip, over choked trails, to a central depot 
of stores. Adopting the Indian s ways, learning even his 
dialect, by tact and kindliness reaching his very heart, 
the wandering trader would sleep at nigh^ in his wig-- 
warn, warm himself by h^ fire, eat at his rude board, 
and, indeed, make himself a member of the savage 
community. He had a supply of exchangeable goods 
always in the sight of the eager tribesmen, who knew 
the sole commodity by the barter of which they could 
procure any desired article, and set themselves to secure 
it; he could give them necessities, as of weapons, or 
ammunition, or tools, on the spot; he could save them 
the occasion of leaving their wives and children a prey 
to starvation, and their country to hostile tribes, while 
they carried their growing packs in to market. More 
than that, he could penetrate to far-off peoples, and 
bring back bundles of fur that else would never have 
touched a Caucasian hand. Far beyond the pioneer 
clearing, far beyond the garrison, he was the real 
vidette of commerce and civilization. Rogers knew 
that to keep the traders under the walls of his fort 
would cut in ha ; f the commercial importance of 
Mackinac, and he lost no time in resolving to disobey 
Johnson s injunction. Immediately upon his arrival he 
issued a general permit to all traders to "go wintering," 

117 



PONTEACH: OR THE SAVAGES OF AMERICA 

and follow the Indians along their trails to the coverts 
of the lynx, the mink, and the beaver. 

"For this," wrote the indignant Daniel Claus, super 
intendent of the district, from Montreal, "he is vastly 
liked and applauded here." 1 The approbation of Mon 
treal was indeed fervent. In the merchant houses of 
that city centered almost all the channels of trade which 
drained the Mackinac district. Trafficking in old French 
fashion, and with their factors on every trail in Ontario 
and Michigan, these firms had been the earliest and 
most active in their opposition to Johnson s plan. They 
foresaw that their agents at Oswego, Niagara, Detroit, 
and above all at Mackinac, dealing with peoples who 
for generations to them almost immemorial had sold 
from the hunting lodge and thicket, would be ruined 
by the new policy. They had not contented themselves 
with direct protests to Johnson ; they had instructed / 
the Indians of the west and north to send in pleas that/ 
each of their multitudinous villages along the Illinois/ 
Wisconsin, Saguenay, and Ottawa might be allowed/a 
trader, pleas that multiplied throughout 1765 and 1766; 
and they had induced a large number of the inhabitants 
of Montreal to sign a petition presented to the Lords 
of Trade in May, 1766, setting forth the incalculable 
damage being wrought the commerce of his Majesty s 
subjects by the new regulations, and praying for a re 
dress. Pressure had been brought, too, upon Rogers 
predecessor, Captain Howard, who had been con 
strained by clamor and influence to release a number 
of the traders from the most irksome of the restric 
tions; so that the major s decisive step had not been 
without its indecisive precedent. Johnson had pro 
tested most vigorously, however, at the course of 

1 Johnson Mss. t 13, 134. 

* Documents Relative /? the Colonial History of New Tork t VII, 871. 

118 



ROGERS ARRIVAL AT MACKINAC 

Howard, who had been saved from a severe visitation 
of official wrath only by the recall which installed 
Rogers in his stead. Now the latter, by letting not 
merely several, but all of the traders, go en bivernement, 
had placed himself in the full path of the Indian 
Commissioner s biting anger. This he knew so fully 
that he may well have been guided in his complaisance 
toward certain of the factors by interested motives. 

Rogers, indeed, began fast to make friends about the 
fort; and we know, from the records concerning the 
latter part of his administration, the names of the more 
important of these, all men interested in the trade: 
Atkinson, Goddard, Stuart, Des Rivieres, and Tute, the 
last-named a New Hampshire neighbor with whom 
Rogers had had business dealings three years before. 1 
The most memorable of his relationships at the incep 
tion of his duties, however, was with a needy adven 
turer who had followed him out from the east upon a 
previous understanding Jonathan Carver. This offi 
cer, slightly older than Rogers, had first come into 
contact with the leader of the Rangers in the fighting 
about Lake George, where he also had served as a 
provincial captain. He was a native of Connecticut, 

1 See various deeds kept at the office of" the Secretary of State in Concord, 
New Hampshire. Tute had also served as a lieutenant in the Rangers under 
Rogers in the Seven Years War and was captured while on a scout from Fort 
Edward in 1760; Rogers Journals, p. 132. He was one of Rogers most 
trusted friends and agents. Stuart also had been an adjutant in the Rangers under 
Rogers. James Stanley Goddard was one of the earliest traders from Montreal in 
the upper country, and in 1761 was operating from Mackinac and Green Bay. 
After Pontiac s Conspiracy he became one of the most prominent merchants in the 
Northwest, and Claus wrote Johnson in 1768 that he had more influence among 
the Indians there than any other single man. In 1777 he was commissioned gen 
eral storekeeper for the government, at Montreal, a position which he held as late 
as 1795. In 1767 Carver named a river emptying into Lake Superior after him. 
Johnson Mss. , 1 6, I 34. Wisconsin Historical Coll. , XVIII, 2 8 5 ; Carver s Travels. 

a This information is most largely drawn from petitions of Carver s presented 
to the Board of Trade when he went to England in 1769 to secure his expenses 
for his journey ; sec Board of Trade, Commercial Papers, Volume 459. 

119 



PONTEACH : OR THE SAVAGES OF AMERICA 

born, like Rogers, into a frontier community, and left 
fatherless at an even earlier age, though amid surround 
ings vastly better for his education. Wounded at the 
massacre of Fort William Henry, he had written a 
vivid and stirring account of that sorry occurrence. 
He was retired from the service in 1763, returning to 
Massachusetts, where his company had been raised, and 
apparently dragging out a rather painful civil existence 
there for the next two years. Now, in the middle of 
August, he was at Mackinac, head bent with the major 
over vast plans which centered about one wild surmise, 
In one way, perhaps through hearing of Rogers 
petition of 1765, more probably through meeting him 
upon his return from London, Carver had been struck 
with the possibility of aiding the governor of Mack 
inac in carrying out, upon a modest scale, his glorious 
scheme for the discovery of the semi-fabulous North 
west Passage. In his published travels he long after 
attempted to arrogate to himself the credit for his ex 
pedition, 1 saying that he was independently struck by 
the possibility in it of performing a further service to 
the king ; but it has already been shown that Rogers 
had made a similar proposal to the ministry in 1765, 
so that he has a better claim to be the originator of 
the plan. 2 Carver s missions would have in his own 

1 Introduction, Travels Through the Interior Part of North America, by 
J. Carver, London, 1779. 

2 There has been a very considerable reaction from the complete condemnation 
of Carver s Travels, since the publication of E. C. Bourne s destructive criticism, 
American Historical Review, XI, 2, p. 287. The study of Carver s career by 
John T. Lee in the Wisconsin Historical Society s Proceedings, 1912, pp. 87- 
123, Ibid, 1909, pp. 143-153, has completely overthrown most of Professor 
Bourne s contentions, and, as far as his actual travels are concerned, Carver is re- . 
garded to-day by historians as a reliable witness. See also M. M. Quaife, The 
Evolution of Source Material for Western History, in Mississippi Galley Historical 
Review, I, 167 and following (September, 1914). It is interesting to note that 
for Carver s descriptions of th beaver, bear, and porcupine, pp. 282, 274, and 
279 of the Travels, he drew almost verbatim upon Rogers paragraphs upon the 
same, pp. 253, 259, and 263 of the Concise Account. 



120 



ROGERS AND CARVEU S EXPLORATIONS 

ambitions an almost inexplicable origin ; he must have 
known that he, a landless, almost penniless officer, 
could never have financed it; and if he had conceived 
it alone it is unbelievuble that he would not have 
sought some official approbation for it. Three years 
later in London, at the very moment Rogers was col 
lecting his personal expenses in the expedition, Carver 
secured his own share by swearing before the Privy 
Council for Plantation Affairs that it was only in 
consequence of the governor s commission that he 
undertook the journey. 1 Finally, we gather from a 
letter of Claus to Johnson that Rogers had returned 
from England still quite full of the plan he had 
broached there so full that he was willing to seize 
the opportunity his new authority gave him. 9 The 
enterprise was rapidly put under way. In June, while 
Rogers was in New England or New York, Carver 
set out from Boston, and taking the same ship as his 
superior, 3 apparently arrived with him, or at any rate 

1 Board of Trade, Commercial Papers, Volume 459. 

3 Johnson Mss., 16, 134. Claus speaks of Lieutenant Pauli of the Royal 
Americans having proposed to him in confidence a plan for an expedition north 
west of Lake Superior, "he having made himself acquainted with the discoveries 
of several nations at sea, particularly those of the Russians, which latter gave him 
great encouragement" ; and compares Pauli s fitness for the journey with that of 
Rogers, as the originator of an earlier and similar scheme, which Rogers was still 
hopeful of carrying out. 

3 It seems impossible to determine just when or how Carver arrived at Mack- 
inac ; for deliberately or otherwise, his Travels throw a great deal of dust about 
those of his movements which immediately preceded the initiation of his expedition. 
In 1 766 the only schooner plying between Detroit and Mackinac was the Gladtvin, 
which had played such a part in the siege of Detroit : if he arrived upon it he 
almost certainly came with Rogers, for trips were infrequent, and he was at the 
post early in August. He may, however, have come by canoe. It may as well 
be remarked here as anywhere, that throughout his book Carver seems anxious to 
exclude Rogers name from any connection with his travels, and makes no mention 
whatever of him in narrating his return to Mackinac at the end of the summer 
of 1767. He speaks merely of the tranquil pleasures of fishing and of the pass 
ing of the time in pleasant company, during the stirring months in which Rogers was 
arrested, kept in irons, and the entire settlement was rull of excitement. In a letter 
from the fort to his wife, September 24, 1767, he states that the date of his arri- 



121 



PONTEACH : OR THE SAVAGES OF AMERICA 

not many days behind him, at the straits, thirteen hun 
dred miles to the west. The prompt assistance which 
the major, so new at his post, rendered him, far beyond 
the measures of his legal powers, is almost indubitable 
evidence of previous collusion. On August 12 Rogers 
issued Carver a commission as leader of a special ex 
ploring detail from the fort, at a salary of eight shil 
lings daily, "for the purpose of making surveys of the 
interior, especially to the west and northwest," and 
outlining carefully the route to be followed. 1 

He endowed Carver and his companions liberally 
with supplies, promised to send more to the Falls of 
St. Anthony, and advised him as carefully as his superior 
knowledge of the Indians and the West warranted him. 
The hopes and fears of both officers were high. If the 
exploration succeeded in even a portion of its objects 
it would benefit both immeasurably. The West, in all 
its rich resources, its scenery, and its Indian life, was 
unknown; its plains, rivers, mountains, unmapped; the 
routes to the western ocean but conjectural. To pene 
trate it would be at once to confer a benefit upon science 
and geography, to give England a claim to its posses 
sion, to open it to settlement, and perhaps, if a water 
passage above the "Ouragon" did not prove mythical, 

val was August 30; while in his Travels he puts it "at the beginning of Novem 
ber." In this letter he further says that "on my return to this place, I received 
the thanks of the Governor Commandant, who has promised he will take special 
care to acquaint the government at home of my services," and that "I have two 
hundred pounds sterling due to me from the crown, which I shall have in the 
spring." Published by John T. Lee in Wisconsin Historical Society Proceedings, 
1909, p. 149, and in The Nation, New York, Volume XCIX, 161. Carver re 
turned to his family at Montague, Massachusetts, in August, 1768. 

1 Board of Trade, Commercial Papers, Volume 459. Carver says he never 
received the provisions which Rogers promised to send him to the Falls of St. 
Anthony ; but it is certain that they were sent to him, for Rogers was later paid 
for them. The fact that Carver used that part of Rogers plan of 1765 which 
appointed the Falls as headquarters for the first winter may have a slight signi 
ficance. Sec Carver s Petition of Feb. 10, 1773, in the Earl of Dartmouth s Mss., 
(unpublished). 



ROGERS AND CARVER S EXPLORATIONS 

to give a new impulse to commerce. On the third day 
of September, Carver set forth with several traders and 
guides down Lake Michigan. The trip was destined to 
do much less, and much more, than was expected of it ; 
it was to discover no Northwest passage, and to map 
no vast extent of unknown territory ; but it was to give 
birth to a book of travel which should arouse European 
curiosity for America as no other ever had, and to in 
terest Schiller, Chateaubriand, and Byron. 1 As stout 
paddlers drove the canoes out over the choppy waters 
of the straits, the cheers of the garrison bade the ex 
plorers farewell. Before they returned affairs at the 
fort were to undergo a momentous revolution. 

During the autumn and early winter Rogers con 
tinued his government in the most ambitious fashion. 
His chief concern, after granting the traders their de 
sired immunity from Johnson s rules, was to secure the 
favor and friendship of the tribes of the northwest. 
The Indians in the vicinity of the fort he immediately 
found means of pleasing. The same traders that re 
joiced Montreal and angered Claus with their reports 
of Rogers freedom with the trade brought news also 
that "his behavior toward the Indians was liked and 
approved by them, as well as the people of Mack- 
inac." 3 Generosity, flattery, and a liberality of fair 
promises characterized his treatment of his red chil 
dren. But to gain the golden opinions of those near 
the fort, while he merely indulged the others with 

1 In evidence of the astonishing popularity of Carver s Travels John T. Lee 
enumerates thirty editions, with translations into German, French, and Dutch. 
(Wisconsin Historical Society Proceedings, 1909, pp. 143-183.) "From Car 
ver s Travels Chateaubriand drew not a few of the descriptions of Indian customs 
for his fascinating and poetic Vujage en Amerique. From the same source Schiller 
derived the language and thought for his Nadowessier s Todtenlied, f3miliar to 
English readers through Bulwer-Lytton s translation as Tbe Indian s Death 
Dirge.** Joseph Bedier, Etudes Critiques , Paris, 1903, on Chateaubrknd. 

3 Johnson Mss. t 13, 134. 

113 



PONTEACH: OR THE SAVAGES OF AMERICA 

traders, did not satisfy him. Only a few weeks after 
his arrival, therefore, he sent forth an embassy among 
the faraway Folles Avoines, Puan, Saux, Renard, Chip- 
pewa, and Sioux, under Goddard and Des Rivieres, 
ostensibly to notify them of his assumption of the com 
mand of Mackinac, of the concluding of peace between 
Pontiac and the English, and of the occupation of Illi 
nois. 1 The dwellings of these tribes were scattered over 
the great distances of Wisconsin, Michigan, northern 
Illinois, and even the immediate trans-Mississippi region; 
but the undaunted embassy loaded itself for its long 
journey with numerous presents. Despite all the cau 
tions he had received, Rogers succeeded in spending 
^300 in Indian affairs within the first six weeks after 
his arrival, and duly drew a draft for this amount upon 
Johnson.* Moreover, his disbursements continued to be 
heavy. The great tribe of the Chippewa, residing for 
the most part above the Ottawa river and north and 
west along Lake Superior, were threatening a war with 
the Sioux, and were trying to involve in it their allies, 
the Ottawas and Pottawattomies, both Michigan tribes. 
This conflict Rogers labored anxiously to prevent, fear 
ing that it would disrupt the whole western trade; and 
his protests to the chiefs he again enforced by expensive 
presents. 3 His messengers he kept out all winter, and 
he even found means to intercept roving bands of 
tribesmen, whom he conciliated over-generously. By 
Christmas his expenditures had necessitated a second 

1 New Tor k Coloi^al Documents, VII, 989. Documentary History of New Tor k t 
II, 863. Johnson Mss., 15, 125 ; 13 : 74 and 89. Near the St. Croix River 
in November, I 766, Carver mediated a peace between the Sioux and a band of 
hostile Chippewa. 

a Documentary History of New Tor k, II, 848. Johnson Mss., 13, 74 and 89. 

3 See New Tork Colonial Documents, VII, 966, 969 (where Johnson says the 
expense incurred on this head "contrary to orders within a few months amounts 
to several thousand pounds, apparently to serve the interests of a few traders"), 
989. Johnson Mss., 15, 26. 



DISSIPATION OF ROGERS 

draft on Johnson for about ^500, with more immedi 
ately to follow. 1 

Simultaneously Rogers was becoming personally much 
entangled, and deeply dissipated. Most of the goods for 
his lavish gifts he had secured on credit from the favor 
ably-impressed and over-confident traders, representing 
Montreal and English firms; 3 so large was the stock 
advanced him he may even have hoped to engage in 
the trade himself, through clandestine agents. As time 
passed, the merchants, who had at first hoped for exor 
bitant prices, realized that Rogers extravagant course 
would so embroil him with Johnson that they might 
receive nothing at all, while they also began to fear an 
overt motive in his zealous conciliation of the tribes; 
and they entered upon a course of constant harassing 
and importunity. The commander gave way, too, to a 
course of sustained licentiousness, no whit mitigated by 
his wife s restraining presence. His chief vices, prob 
ably learned in London, attacked him with extreme 
vigor during the long winter season, the enforced con 
finement of which told much upon his nervous, ener 
getic spirit. When for months the ice, piling at times 
sixty feet high in the straits outside, cut off all naviga 
tion, and the town and fort lay snowbound and isolated 
between the wilderness and the lake, his constant re 
course was to carouse in the garrison or village, with 
companions of the most doubtful cast. His sensitive 
wife suffered deeply from his conduct, while her grief 
was supplemented by a sense of the certain gulf to 
which his improvidence and disobedience of orders 
was leading him. "To paint," she says, "in their true 
colors my sufferings during my stay in that remote and 

1 Johnson Mss., 14, 42. 

Johnson Mss., 18: 185, 186; 19: 112, 163, 172, 179, 185, 226. 
Treasury Minutes, February, 1772. In Johnson Mss., 14, 193, is given a bill 
of Stephen Groesbeck for goods given by Rogers to the Indian nations at Mackinac. 

125 



PONTEACH : OR THE SAVAGES OF AMERICA 

lonely region would be a task beyond my ability. T is 
enough to say that I underwent every hardship, and 
endured every species of ill-treatment which infidelity, 
uncleanness, and drunken barbarity could inflict." Thus 
the winter passed away; and when, along with reports 
of his disregard of instructions, along with his rapidly 
mounting drafts, there reached Johnson rumors of his 
dissipation and his debts, it was determined to send 
Roberts, still commissary at Niagara, on to Mackinac. 
Worst of all, the drafts were decisively, if temporarily, 
refused payment by Johnson, upon the ground that he 
"had no letter of advice from any person upon the 
subject," and peremptory orders were sent to Rogers 
to incur no more expenses/ 

Roberts, who by Johnson s orders, Gage concurring, 
was ready to start for Mackinac from Oswego late in 
April, was delayed by various circumstances, and did 
not reach his destination until June 23, I768. 9 In the 
interim Rogers continued his eccentric and arbitrary 
conduct of affairs. In the early spring he sent his 
assistant, Potter, upon an expedition to the upper 
reaches of Lake Superior, to continue treating with 
the still war-like Chippewa. 3 It was observed about 
the fort at the time that his manner was becoming 
more discontented and restless than ever; a fact traced 
to his increasing debts, and the embarrassment caused 
him by the refusal of his drafts upon the government. 
In the closing days of winter he threw himself secretly 
into the formulation of a new and amazing scheme, 
which a last gleam of hope for his material salva 
tion was designed to render more direct his control 
over the region, to stimulate the fur trade, and to make 

1 Documentary History of New Tork, II, 848, 853, 863, 865. 
a The chief of these circumstances was the failure of Captain McLeod to take 
his place promptly at Niagara. 

3 New Tork Colonial Documents, VII, 990. 

1*6 



MISADMINISTRATION BY ROGERS 

him forever independent of his troublesome eastern su 
periors. This was a proposal for a new form of govern 
ment at Mackinac, which we find drawn up in formal 
detail in a petition transmitted direct to the Board of 
Trade on May 29, 1768. An effective preamble at 
tacked Johnson s restrictions and recited the vast extent 
of the fur trade at Mackinac, the exchangeable value 
of which was declared to reach ^60,000, or one hun 
dred heavy boat-loads of Montreal goods, yearly; the 
circumstances which proved that even this volume of 
trade, if properly nourished, could be immensely in 
creased; and the fact that Mackinac, with its com 
manding situation on three lakes, stood as the logical 
center for the entire Northwest. Rogers wished, there 
fore, to have established at Mackinac a combined civil 
and military government which should give a more 
direct attention to Indian affairs, and feel a more sin 
cere anxiety as to means of controlling and developing 
traffic possessing many local and peculiar characteristics. 
He asked to be appointed governor, with power of 
electing one of his subordinate officers as lieutenant- 
governor, and another secretary; while the rest of his 
plan embraced a council of twelve, to be chosen by 
popular vote from among the citizens of the town, 
with limited legislative and advisory functions. To 
preserve order he wished a few companies of rangers, 
ready to enforce his mandates among all the French or 
savage inhabitants of the whole vast territory; and he 
craved allowance of "a fixed sum annually, for presents 
to keep the Indians peaceable such as shall be thought 
adequate for a post to which more than one third the 

1 .This petition contains more chan six thousand words, and is phrased as care 
fully as it is planned. As Potter himself is authority for the statement that it was 
composed secretly by Rogers, and during Potter s own absence, the document 
alone is sufficient to refute Johnson s allegation that Rogers was illiterate. Johnson 
composed a long reply to it (New York Colonial Documents t VII, 997). 

127 



PONTEACH : OR THE SAVAGES OF AMERICA 

Indians on the continent resort, beside other nations as 
far as the Pacific." Like the governor of a crown col 
ony, he was to be responsible only to the king s minis 
ters. The plan was suggestive, but its obvious inspira 
tion lay in his debts, his troubles with the traders and 
with Johnson, and the increasing certainty that a com 
missary would soon be watchfully at his side. It was 
clear that, under a scheme for promoting trade, he was 
virtually proposing that he be given the most absolute 
control over the tribes, the fur business, the garrison 
of the northwest, and a large sum of money. 

As his negotiations with the tribes progressed, Rogers 
kept his agents, with their presents, still out among 
the villages, and himself visited a number of the chiefs. 
He had issued a call for a general convocation of the 
tribes in June, and as the war clouds that hung over 
the Sioux and the Chippewa drew off, it became evi 
dent that this would be one of the most impressive 
gatherings of savages ever held on the American con 
tinent. His messengers, from far beyond the Wisconsin, 
and down the Mississippi, brought back news that the 
most distant prairies were sending their braves. 1 The os 
tensible object of the gathering was the final ratification 
of the Sioux-Chippewa peace, and as such was deeply 
irritating to Johnson from the very moment he heard 
of it. "It is not good policy," he objected, "to interest 
ourselves in quarrels of distant nations, which do not 
affect our forts, settlements, or communications. It may 

1 When Carver returned southeastward in April, 1767, from wintering among 
the Sioux, to secure provisions, he was accompanied by a large band of tribesmen 
whom he persuaded to go on before him to the great conference at Mackinac, 
while he himself struck off toward Prairie du Chien, See Travels. Tute was 
credited at this time with "carrying matters with a high hand on the Mississippi, 
giving gorgets to the Indians inscribed with fleurs-de-lis, and creating numerous 
chiefs." Johnson Mss., 15, 125. Goddard and others were similarly busy; 
and of Goddard it was written, " chey have found out the river that runs from 
Lake Superior to the Mississippi." Wisconsin Historical Collections , XVIII, 285. 

128 




MAP OF THE REGION ABOUT MACKINAC 
From Carver , TV,/,, Third Edition, London, ,78, 



MISADMINISTRATION OF ROGERS 

indeed be interesting to a dozen traders, who in defiance 
of all orders go to the Indian towns; but on the other 
hand these wars take off and engage some of the most 
violent of the Indians, who would otherwise be danger 
ous to us." Above all, it was a most expensive affair. 1 
Between May 26 and June 10 a vast concourse of 
Indians, comprising many of the sachems and braves 
of the Ottawa, Potawatomi, Chippewa, Nascapee, and 
Missisaugus, began pouring in toward the straits. Rogers, 
with his able lieutenants, Tute and Goddard, the latter 
of whom had unbounded influence with the aborigines, 
marshalled them into order, and kept them quiet. 3 On 
June 24 the Sioux, Saux, Folles Avoines, Puan, and 
Renard, accompanied by a band of fresh Ottawa as 
protectors from the still churlish Chippewa, arrived in 
such numbers that the waters of the lake were black 
ened by their canoes. The woods for a great distance 
about were filled with their tents, and through the 
forest paths and over the sandy shingle roamed one of 
the most picturesque and motley assemblages in Indian 
history. For a time minor conferences were held. 
Finally, on July 3, in the shade beside the lake, all 
the tribes gathered in one great and dignilied conven 
tion, friendly and disaffected side by side, and the chiefs 
interchanged assurances of friendship and love, united 
in protesting their loyalty to the English, and passed 
about a huge calumet. Even the Sioux, after recount 
ing that "the Chippewa have lately stained our country 
with blood, and given us great provocation to lift up 
the hatchet against them," promised forbearance until 

1 Nftv York Colonial Documents, VII, 969. Johnson regarded the peace as a 
pretext of Rogers " to acquire a name and influence among the Indians for his 
preconcerted purposes." Idem, p. 989. 

a Rogers has left a circumstantial account of this conference, in a paper which, 
entitled The Journal of Major Rogers, May 2 4- July 2j t 1767, is preserved in 
the library of the American Antiquarian Society, Worcester, Massachusetts. 

129 



PONTEACH : OR THE SAVAGES OF AMERICA 

Rogers, "our father next to the great king," redressed 
their injuries. They all delighted Rogers by begging 
that they might have traders sent among them. Before 
the meeting broke up, the governor devoted one whole 
day to the distribution of many presents, secured upon 
more drafts from the merchants of the town. With 
these the red men departed rejoicing. Their congress 
had been a splendid and unforgettable pageant, and had 
inspired them with some fealty to the British Empire; 
but the piper was still to be paid. 

The bills incurred in these conferences were promptly 
presented to Johnson by eastern agents of the Mackinac 
merchants, and as promptly roused him to a high pitch 
of anger. Despite the fact that other commissaries, 
notably Cole of Fort de Chartres, had recently sent in 
requests for sums which were, says Johnson, "vastly 
more than I could have thought of," he considered 
Rogers expenditures wholly unjustifiable. As pre 
sented during the summer in Montreal and Albany, 
they reached a grand total of ^5000. His suspicions 
equalled his resentment. He was at once certain that 
Rogers had been meddling with Indian affairs in a 
wholly unwarrantable way, and with a design to fur 
ther his own overweening ambitions. " There must be 
some particular motive for this," he wrote Gage. "Ex 
penses seem to have been made, Indians called, and 
traders indulged purely to procure their esteem." All 
in all, he was ready at once to demand Rogers imme 
diate recall. 

Meanwhile, on June 23, Roberts had taken office at 
Mackinac, with instructions to cut down expenses, to 

1 Documentary History of New York, II, 863. September 6, 1767, he says: 
"On my arrival at Albany I was surrounded by people with drafts drawn on me 
by Major Rogers, to between ^2000 and ^3000. " September 11 : "Farther 
drafts on me have been shown at Montreal to the amount of ^i 100, and I hear 
the whole exceeds ^5000." All these bills were at once protested. ldem t 865. 

130 



MISADMINISTRATION OF ROGERS 

watch Rogers, and to enforce the trade regulations. 
He was received with so plain a show of jealousy and 
bad feeling that none of his three tasks was easy. 1 The 
commandant attempted from the very beginning to 
throw difficulties in his way ; to increase his expenses, 
prejudice the traders against him, and to render impos 
sible full obedience to Johnson. Indeed, Roberts re 
ports indicated that from the very first he was troubled 
both by the plain irregularities about the post, and the 
commandant s obvious intention of increasing the fric 
tion incident upon maintaining order among the traders. 
In his first letter to Johnson he showed that many mer 
chants were plying their art away from the post, and 
beyond his powers of supervision ; that Rogers was try 
ing to betray him into extravagance; that he was covert 
ly attempting to secure from the Indians a petition for 
Roberts withdrawal, and his own restoration to full 
control; and that rum sometimes got among the sav 
ages. 2 He pointed out, too, a dangerous tendency among 
the soldiery to participate in the trade, to forestall which 
he recommended a frequent relief of the garrison. In 
his plan for the civil government of Mackinac, indeed, 
Rogers had given open indication of the nature of his 
preference among the traders of the region. "Since it 
is true," he had declared, "that the French at Mack 
inac, St. Mary s, Green Bay, and other places where 
they are looking and walking up and down, are an in 
dolent, slothful set of vagabonds, ill-disposed to the 
English and very influential among the savages, ought 
they not for the better security of the British trade to 
be removed out of the country?" To men like Tute, 
Goddard, Engineer, and Atherton he tried constantly 

1 Documentary History of New Turk, II, 864. The date of Roberts arrival is 
noted on a Return of the Trade at Mackinac, Dartmouth Mss. t dated 1767. 
8 Johnson Mss., 15, 90. 

3 



PONTEACH : OR THE SAVAGES OF AMERICA 

to divert the trade, employing them at times as his 
direct agents among the tribes, and at times allowing 
them full freedom in their own commercial transac^ 
tions. Roberts described such men as "simple, canting, 
over-reaching New Englanders, who watch every oppor 
tunity of making the Indians drunk, and cheating them 
of their furs, continually abuse one another, and never 
speak well of any one in power." Whatever may 
have been their attitude toward the Indians, and toward 
Spiessmacher and the commissary, they were evidently 
bound by the closest ties of self-interest to each other 
and to Rogers. Their primary interest was undoubtedly 
commercial, and the perpetuation of their advantages by 
the thwarting of Roberts strict and suspicious policy. 

The obstacles in Roberts way multiplied as the weeks 
went on ; yet by conscientious labor he began slowly 
to triumph over them. Throughout the long summer 
days, when the lazy Indians^ionnged in throngs in the 
woods and camps about the straits, a fertile soil for the 
corruptions and wiles of the villagers, his chief fear was 
that the traders might carry rum among them, and so 
inflame them to violent deeds. The avid taste of the 
savages for liquor was supplied, in general, by carefully 
doled-out portions from the general store-room of the 
fort, as highly-prized gifts; but smugglers were con 
stantly attempting to evade Johnson s strict embargo 
upon the sale of alcohol, for it was the most profitable 
medium of exchange. " Every hour," he wrote John 
son, " my uneasiness is increased. In spite of my vigi 
lance, I fear we will have mischief done." 2 The ardu- 
ousness of his labors began to tell upon him. He was 
obliged to employ clerks constantly, recording every 
minute instance of charity or generosity to the begging 

1 Memorial to Dartmouth, Dartmouth Mss., February 10, 1773. 
3 Johnson Mss. t 13, 134. 



MISADMINISTRATION OF ROGERS 

savages, and reporting it to every other northern com 
missary; to preserve, besides the strictest accounts, a 
journal of all Indian intelligences; to keep in constant 
touch with the East, and to make long journeys into 
the Indian land. He could not attempt to impose 
Johnson s restrictions upon trade, for the ministry had 
made, through the influence of Sir Guy Carleton, the 
governor of Canada, an exception for the trade north 
of Mackinac; but he required every trader who went 
wintering among the Indians to give a bond for his 
good behavior, and another in guarantee that he would 
return his furs through the post, and not carry them 
down the Mississippi to New Orleans. In July and 
August he thus licensed one hundred and twenty canoes 
of goods, paddled by traders from the fort into Lakes 
Huron, Superior, or Michigan. Each trader was re 
quired to bring back observations on the numbers and 
temper of the Indians lie-dealt with. At_ihe same time, 
Roberts was kept busy issuing clothing and food to needy 
braves, giving presents to groups of influential indivi 
duals, and receiving with affable kindness deputations of 
chiefs. His task, weighing his meager resources, had 
been rendered doubly difficult by Rogers excessive gen 
erosity, but his tact and sense stood him in good stead. 
"The Indians," he was able to report to his superior, 
" complain Rogers promises more than he can perform, 
and say he has more love for packs, but less sense, than 
me." 1 "Though no Englishman dared trade far down 
Lake Michigan," he declared long afterwards, "all the 
Indians thereabouts sent me invitations to visit them, 
and paid me a great compliment by saying they would 
look upon me as one of themselves." 1 His knowledge 
of their language, his kindly cordiality, even his volatil- 

1 Johnson Mss. , 15, 90. 

3 Memorial to Dartmouth , February 10, 1773. 

>33 



PONTEACH : OR THE SAVAGES OF AMERICA 

ity, where it inflamed him into a desire to protect them, 
rapidly won him their warm regard. 

But he and Rogers continued more and more jealous, 
suspicious, and sullen in their attitude toward one an 
other. Rogers debts, joined with . the news that his 
heavy drafts were meeting with protests in New York, 
and would likely be returned to him, was driving him 
into increasing moodiness and discontent. He grew 
troubled, quarrelsome, and irritable. In July Potter 
returned from his trip upon Lake Superior, and three 
or four days later the entire garrison was amazed to see 
the door of Rogers house fly violently open, and the 
two emerge, scuffling, fighting, and blaspheming one 
another, down the steps. They separated after a mo 
ment, and strode away from each other, white and 
panting, but without divulging the root of the sudden 
and amazing quarrel. The soldiery were agog, and 
watched the two men closely. On the morrow they 
indulged in high words on the parade ground, and on 
the third day, meeting again, Rogers flew into a violent 
passion, knocked Potter down, and ordered him put in 
irons. On the advice of Roberts and others, however, 
Potter applied to Spiessmacher for protection, and re-/ 
ceived it. He nevertheless still declined to make any 
statement as to the cause of his altercation with one so 
long his protector and friend, and it was generally sup 
posed that the affair was the mere outgrowth of Rogers 
violent frame of mind. The soldiers in especial re 
mained almost unanimously loyal to the governor. 
Roberts, abetted more and more by Spiessmacher, in 
clined to pur the worst possible construction upon his 
acts. 1 

1 For this, and references also for matter in the succeeding pages not otherwise 
ascribed, see New fork Colonial Documents, VII, 988, 990, 993. and 997 ; 
Documentary History of New Tor k t II, 883, 885, 888, 895 ; Canadian Ar (hives, 
Series Q, Volume 4, 304-307, Series Q, Volume 5, part 2, 607-611 ; Jobn- 

134 



ROGERS BREAK WITH ROBERTS 

The sharp final explosion between the two men was 
not long delayed. During the early days of August it 
seemed clear to Roberts that Rogers, in desperation, 
was putting some huge and nefarious scheme under 
way. Atherton and Tute he had sent out down Lake 
Michigan, on some unknown mission ; he himself was 
constantly engaged in receiving belts and making 
speeches, of which he would let Roberts know noth 
ing; Stuart and his other agents about the fort were 
suspiciously busy. The whisper began to go through 
out the settlement that the governor intended in the 
spring to gather his associates about him, sack the 
place, and proceed southward by way of La Baye, Lake 
Michigan, and the Illinois river to join the French and 
Spanish beyond the Mississippi. The various merchants 
and traders to whom Rogers was in debt and he was 
said to owe several hundred thousand French livres 
and who held large stocks of seizable goods, came to 
Roberts in great alarm, with such fervent prayers that 
he protect them and their property that he made a 
secret agreement with Spiessmacher to cat short any 
attempted evasion of the governor. The secretary, 
Potter, still sulking and silent, was making dilatory 
plans to leave the fort and go to England. He hinted 
at times to Roberts of matters of weighty importance 
which he might disclose, and which, he said, his con 
science strongly urged him to lay before Johnson, in 
full written form. As the middle of the month passed, 

son M<s., 16 : 123, 134, 144; 17 : 4, 13, 154, etc. ; Dr.F.B. Hough s Edition 
of Rogers Journals, Albany, 1850, Appendix; Wisconsin Historical Collections, 
XII, 27-37 ; Michigan Pioneer and Historical Collections, X, 224-233. As 
most of these references deal with the events of one or two days, to state the 
varied authorities for each single fact would involve useless repetition. In this ac 
count it should be kept in mind that although all Rogers contemporaries recognized 
that there were two sides to the whole affair, we have no means of stating in full 
just what the major s case was ; for only the accusations of his enemies have 
been preserved. 

35 



PONTEACH : OR THE SAVAGES OF AMERICA 

the commissary reported to his chief at Albany that it 
had become an open secret that Rogers had declared, 
unless some ray of hope were offered him in his present 
gloomy circumstances, he "would go off in the spring, 
and not empty-handed." Stephen Groesbeck, one of 
the richest merchants at the post, whom Roberts char 
acterized as "a heavy, self-interested Dutchman," was 
the governor s creditor for several thousand pounds, 
covered only by worthless drafts upon the Indian de 
partment. He seemed deeply interested in Rogers 
machinations, and had sent out a messenger with belts 
to the Indians of the Northwest. "Rogers," wrote 
Roberts again, "says that if affairs to the northwest 
don t turn out luckily, he must go off, and it s thought 
Groesbeck won t stay behind." It was known, too, that 
the commander had been instrumental in sending eleven 
canoes loaded with goods to Lake Superior, and was 
now anxiously awaiting their return. 

Finally, on the night of August 19, Roberts was 
awakened about midnight by the noise of some traders 
carrying rum from the fort s storehouse down to the 
water. He refrained from interfering at the time, but 
as soon as it grew light began an investigation. From 
some source he secured certain evidence that the smug 
gling of rum out of the fort had reached a great mag 
nitude within the last few days, and that a number of 
kegs had been landed, with Rogers full knowledge and 
approbation, at a small island on the way to La Baye, 
where they were to be used in gaining political and 
commercial credit with the Indians. In great excite 
ment he called in Potter, and summoned him to give 
all the information he possessed of the governor s plots. 
After some hesitation, assumed or real, the ex-secretary 
unfolded his entire story. He said that Rogers had de 
termined a full month before, that, if his plan for the 

136 



ROGERS BREAK WITH ROBERTS 

civil government of Mackinac did not elicit a favorable 
reply from England during the ensuing winter, he 
would close at once with an offer he had received from 
the French through one of his old comrades in the 
provincial service, Captain Hopkins, now a turncoat in 
the West Indies. 1 With Tute, Goddard, Atherton, and 
whatever part of the garrison he could induce to desert, 
Potter further alleged, he planned to rifle all the trad 
ing depots in the vicinity, and thus "full-handed" join 
the French west of the Illinois country. 2 It was his 
own refusal to adhere to this plan, said Potter, which 
had occasioned his quarrel with Rogers, who had 
threatened him with instant death if he revealed it. 
Trembling with indignation, Roberts at once sat down 
and penned a decisive note to Spiessmacher, impeach 
ing " Robert Rogers, Esquire, for holding secret cor 
respondence with the enemies of Great Britain, and 
forming conspiracies," and exhorting the captain to 
" seize his person and papers, among which you will 
find sufficient proof." This he sealed, directed, and 
sent at once by a messenger. He then wrote a full 
letter to Johnson; and a third to Daniel Claus, intro 
ducing Potter, and desiring that he be allowed to repeat 
his accusation in Montreal under oath. These two he 
gave to Potter to transmit. 

1 "Captain Hopkins," wrote Johnson to Shclburnc, "of Maryland, former 
ly of the i8th Regiment, obtained a captain s commission in the Queen s Inde 
pendents, on the reduction of which he entered the French service, and is now 
(1767) a colonel in Hispaniola. A great intimacy always subsisted between him 
and Rogers." An alleged letter of his to Rogers, exhorting the latter to join the 
French, and speaking of disgraces which Rogers had endured, was later found 
among the major s effects, and is given in NcwTork Colonial Document^ VII, 993. 

2 Louisiana was at this time properly Spanish ; but the French still held many 
offices of more than local control. Cf. P. R. O., C. O. 5, 86 ; Gage to Hills- 
borough, October, I 768 : " There is such a strange mixture of French and Span 
ish government on the opposite side of the Mississippi that there is no knowing to 
whom the country belongs. A French officer, M. St. Ange, commands on the 
Mississippi, and receives orders from both Don Ulloa and M. Aubry." 

137 



PONTEACH : OR THE SAVAGES OF AMERICA 

By this time the fire of his wrath was somewhat 
abated, and he was able to hold himself under restraint. 
He called his clerk, John Hanson, and, going out upon 
the parade ground, applied to Rogers for a sergeant and 
two men to send with Hanson to seize the contraband 
rum. 1 A proof of the bad feeling existing between the 
men lies in the fact that before he reluctantly acqui 
esced in their going, the major forced the commissary 
to promise to pay the soldiers for their time. They 
were absent some hours, and in the interim Roberts 
halted seven canoes which had reached the fort, for 
bidding them to proceed into a region where, for aught 
they knew, all the savages might be maddened and 
blood-thirsty with liquor. At the end of the period 
the two boats he had dispatched grated heavily on the 
pebbly beach, and Hanson supervised the rolling out of 
several kegs of rum over the gunwale of each. As 
"seizing-officer," Roberts felt the disposition of the 
rum to be his, and ordered it to be placed in the king s 
store, of which he held the key ; but Rogers, who was 
standing glowering by, sharply contradicted his direc 
tions, commanding that it be given to the deputy 
commissary of provisions. A heated quarrel ensued, in 
which both the excitable commissary, highly wrought 
upon by all he had heard, and the imperious governor 
lost their heads; the lie was exchanged; a denuncia 
tion as traitor trembled on the lips of Roberts; and 
Rogers in a rage called the guard, and had the strug 
gling officer, before the amazed eyes of the Indians and 
townspeople, borne away and locked up in his house. 

Affairs had now gone so far that interference from 
the East was inevitable. At Mackinac, however, it 
seemed for a time that the direct quarrel between the 

1 Some time previously Roberts had quarreled with Hanson, and had cautioned 
Johnson to receive no information through him. See Johnson Mss., 15, 12$. 

.38 



ROGERS* BREAK WITH ROBERTS 

two officers might be glossed over. Roberts was not 
long kept in durance, for on August 22, after testifying 
with others at a court of inquiry into the seizure of 
rum, over which Rogers presided, he was released. A 
temporary reconciliation followed, but one merely tem 
porary; for Roberts knowledge of Rogers secret de 
signs made it impossible for him to avoid a renewal of 
the disputes. Early in September he was again under 
arrest, and by September 21 felt his confinement so 
deeply that he addressed to Spiessmacher a petition 
praying for relief. 1 Finally he grew wholly insubordi 
nate, denouncing Rogers as a traitor on every hand, and 
was sent eastward in irons, to await trial under General 
Gage. Meanwhile, on August 29, Potter had set out 
for Montreal, and a month later made deposition there 
under oath as to all of Rogers plots, sailing immedi 
ately thereafter to England. This deposition, together 
with Roberts letter, reached Gage and Johnson in Oc 
tober, and produced a real sensation. " From Potter s 
character," writes Johnson, "I have no doubt he will 
make the most of his discoveries; at the same time, I 
believe his account is within compass." Already, on 
September 1 5, upon hearing of his enormous expendi 
tures, Gage had decided to remove Rogers. Now a 
new order was sent to Spiessmacher, directing him to 
arrest the major, and confine him until he might be 
brought to Montreal to trial; and to seize all his prop 
erty, especially any goods with which he had been 
trading, to satisfy his creditors. 3 On December 6 
Roberts arrived at New York, with more than twenty 
affidavits from Mackinac of his own unfitness and mis 
conduct, to report to Gage for trial; and on the same 

1 Jobmon MSJ., 15 : 44, 55. 

a Major Rogers has goods trading for his benefit in the Indian country to a 
very considerable amount, and the returns may soon be in, as I am informed." 
Documentary History of New Tor ;, II, 888. 

39 



PONTEACH : OR THE SAVAGES OF AMERICA 

day Rogers was arrested at the far western post by 
Spiessmacher, on a charge of high treason. 1 

Throughout the winter Rogers remained confined to 
his house, closely watched by Spiessmacher and Lieu 
tenant Christie, now second in command. From the 
first these gentlemen reported that they found some 
thing very suspicious in his behavior. For his own 
part, he complained that he was loaded with irons, 
kept in a fireless room, open to the full inclemency of 
the freezing weather, and scarcely allowed the neces 
sities of life. He was robbed also of his effects, "to the 
value of several thousand pounds, of his papers, and of 
the maps he had taken, at great expense, of the Indians 
country"; while his wife "was treated with the same 
inhumanity as himself, and exposed to the insults of the 
common soldiers." 2 Under these circumstances, and in 
collusion with his orderly, David Fullerton, he laid plans 
to escape, first approaching a Canadian, Joseph Ans. 3 

1 Gage wrote on this date to Johnson : Which of the two men is most in 
fault I can t say ; most probably both of them in some degree." On October 9 
Sir Guy Carleton, writing to the Earl of Shelburne in regard to the matter, said 
of the root of the difficulty : " From the fact that a jealousy about presents, which 
certainly amounts to no inconsiderable sum, it being the constant custom of both 
traders and Indians to present some at their arrival and departure from these posts, 
and which, from being the usual perquisite of the Commandant, are now become 
the Commissary s, occasions disputes and misrepresentations constantly, on both 
sides, I submit that all present* of value, from either Indians or traders, should be 
absolutely declined by the officers of the crown. ... It must be acknowledged 
that Mr. Potter bears but a very bad character . . . and may be actuated by 
views of self-interest and motives of revenge ; unhappy it is for Major Rogers that 
his character does not stand in so fair a light as to permit a neglect of Potter s 
information ; the less so that the distresses resulting from his extravagance may 
give weight to a suspicion of his using some extraordinary means to extricate him 
self." Potter, by reason of his ill-health, was not expected to reach Europe. 
Canadian Archive 5 1 Series 4, Volume 4, 304-7. 

Memorial to Hillsborough, December 21, 1768. P. R. O., C. O. 5, 
Volume 70, 235. 

3 Joseph Louis Ans (or Ainse) was born at Mackinac, May I, 1744. Soon 
after his information against Rogers he was taken into English employ as an in 
terpreter. In 1790 he was convicted of having embez?) :d government stores for 
his own trading ventures. Michigan Pioneer and Hi .oricil Collections , XI, 491. 

140 



THE TRIAL OF ROGERS 

Rogers alleged plot was to have the savages decoy 
Spiessmacher and Christie out of the fort, when 
as most of the soldiers were yet his fast friends he 
could seize the keys, sack Mackinac and Detroit, and 
march away to the Illinois. Ans betrayed the attempt 
to Spiessmacher, first taking him to a point where he 
could hear one of their conferences, and later securing 
from Rogers a promissory note for ^500 if Ans would 
carry him safely to a force commanded by Captain 
Hopkins on the Mississippi. 1 As a result of this ex 
posure the major s orderly was arrested, and the guard 
about his house, previously relaxed, was resumed. 

In the spring the sloop expected for Rogers convey 
ance arrived, and he was put on board to be transported 
to Niagara." "I was thrown," he afterwards testified, 
" into the hold of the vessel, upon the ballast of stones, 
still in irons ; and in this manner, transported the whole 
distance. When they were taken off, the weight of 
them was so considerable, and they were fastened so 
tightly, that my legs were bent. From the pain I 
suffered, together with the cold, the bone of my right 
leg was split, and the marrow forced its way out of it 
through the skin," 3 At Niagara he received the charges 

1 "The French had two battalions waiting for him," Ans reported Rogers 
as saying, "under Colonel Hopkins, who had often written to him." Spiess 
macher testified that the major s orderly broke down and confessed the plot when 
taxed with it, and that Rogers had had Ans brought up from St. Joseph in the 
spring of 1767, ostensibly as an interpreter, but really ro use him as a messenger 
between himself and Hopkins, to invite Hopkins to come with a few men and 
receive possession of the fort. 

2 Navigation in the straits became possible about May i. See P. R. O., C. O. 
j, 86; Gage to Hillsborough, August 17, 1768. "Some disturbance happened 
at Mackinac, on the occasion of sending Major Rogers from that fort to Detroit ; 
a disorderly tribe of the Chippewa went there with their arms, and threw their 
English belts into the lake, and invited other nations to join them to release the 
major from his confinement. The officer commanding tried to satisfy them by 
various methods, but at length put the garrison under arms, and with two armed 
boats put him on board the vessel." 

3 Memorial to Hillsborough, December 21, 1768. P. R. O., C. O. j, 
Volume 70, 235. 

141 



PONTEACH : OR THE SAVAGES OF AMERICA 

against him from General Gage, and was taken on, un 
der strong guard, to be tried at Montreal. Almost im 
mediately upon his arrival there it was decided to alter 
the charge against him from treason to mutiny. 1 In the 
first place, it was desired that he be brought before an 
official of the bar at once, without the delays and use 
less formality of a civil trial; and high treason was a 
crime under the cognizance of the civil, mutiny under 
the military law. For his part, Rogers was anxious to 
prolong his trial upon several pretences, chief of which 
was that he required time to bring his witnesses up from 
Mackinac. As a second consideration, it was at once 
perceived by his prosecutors that there was a failure of 
sufficient evidence to convict him of really treasonable 
conduct. Potter hud gone to England for his health, 
and Chief-Justice Hay pronounced that in common 
law the affidavit made out by him, as coming from a 
man of doubtful character, and one who had just quar 
reled violently with Rogers, could do no material injury 
to the latter. One of the chief pieces of evidence for 
the state, an alleged letter of Hopkins, found among 
Rogers effects, which urged him to make haste to join 
with the French, Rogers declared to be an arrant for 
gery. It had been transmitted to him, immediately 
upon leaving for the West, by Johnson, and, dated San 
Domingo, April 9, 1766, was signed "Maryland." "I 
always thought, and am still of the opinion," said the 
major, " that it was penned on the Mohawk River. I 
returned it to General Gage, but by some magic art my 
letters miscarried." 2 Of other tangible evidence of so 
serious a crime, except the rumors upon which Roberts 
and Spiessmacher had based their suspicions, there was 
very little. Yet Rogers had wrought too much evil to 

1 Johnson Mss., 16: 123, 134, 144. 
a P. R. O. f C. O. 5, Volume 70, 235. 

142 



THE TRIAL OF ROGERS 

go unprosecuted. With the new charge of mutinous 
conduct were joined accusations of disobedience to 
Gage and Johnson, and of embezzlement of goods and 
funds to his own purpose at the fort, and preparations 
were made to have the requisite witnesses at the fort 
relieved from duty and sent down, from Mackinac at 
once. 1 

"In his grinning way," wrote Claus to Johnson, 
" Rogers makes a light matter of his crime, and tells 
the merchants that if they supported him he would 
soon return to his post." This support was no more 
than a fair exchange, for these were the persons Rogers 
had endeavored to aid in his policy with regard to the 
Indian trade; and as he was greatly their debtor, it 
was obviously to their interest that they should clear 
him. Rogers friend Goddard was charged with assist 
ing him in his second crime the embezzlement of 
money and goods. There was a general inclination to 
let him off easily, however, as his influence with the 
Indians, manifested in a number of ways, had shown in 
him the possibility of a most useful public servant. 
Tute, Atherton, and the others were out of reach, and 
no particular effort was made to secure them. Not until 
early October did the trial, delayed by the necessity of 
bringing witnesses of the prosecution, and by Rogers 
own indisposition from disease brought on by his ex 
cesses and dissipations, begin. There was some difficul 
ty in obtaining the testimony of Roberts, who had been 
almost as deeply involved as Rogers himself in debt, 
suits, and legal difficulties ever since he had been sent 
home a prisoner from Mackinac, and who, while await 
ing the opening of the trial in Montreal, was shortly 
arrested at the instance of one Morrison of Oswego, 
with whom he had disputed regarding the trade during 

1 Johnson Mu. t 16, 123. 

143 



PONTEACH : OR THE SAVAGES OF AMERICA 

his commissaryship there. For the defense Rogers had 
a number of witnesses, and all his accounts, certified to 
by some of his officers as proper and necessary, besides 
other documents. Against him Spiessmacher, Christie, 
and others testified, and Potter s affidavit and Hopkins 
letter were adduced; but the case utterly collapsed 
through want of more confirmatory evidence. "The 
gentlemen concerned in the prosecution did not have 
the same desire to do him a prejudice," explained 
Johnson, "as himself and sundry others had to mani 
fest his innocence, and induce the public to deem the 
whole a malicious attack upon a man of worth." Of 
the details of the trial no record has been preserved. 

During the closing days of the hearing, while still 
ignorant of how it was tending, Rogers addressed a me 
morial to Hillsborough from prison. "I make not the 
least doubt," he said, "that I am honorably acquitted, 
altho witnesses were hired to swear falsely against me, 
and my most material ones prevented from coming 
down." After a detailed account of the cruelty of his 
treatment he continues: "My being cleared alone is 
not sufficient; I must have an opportunity of clearing 
up my character, for which purpose I beg an order 
that Mr. Roberts, Captain Spiessmacher, and Lieuten 
ant Christie may be confined and court-martialed; and 
that I may go up country to bring down my proper 
evidence, and few remaining effects." He asked also 
for a new appointment, either in America or the East 
Indies, and stated that he intended coming to England 
in the autumn. He made it evident at the same time, 
by some insulting inquiries which he addressed to Gage 
regarding that officer s failure to prosecute Roberts, that 
his temper was dangerous. And so, in December, the 
trial broke up. "I hope," wrote Johnson to Gage, 
"that t.ny affairs of party arising from the proceedings 

144 



THE SECOND VOYAGE TO ENGLAND 

may totally subside. If not, it will be easy to see what 
keeps it up." Such a subsidence, as the event proved, 
was out of the question ; and Rogers resentment, car 
ried before his powerful friends in England, was to be 
the force to keep it up. The major, nursing his anger 
at what Johnson himself called the "indignities" he 
had received, remained in Montreal during the winter 
limping sadly on his injured leg, and everywhere com 
miserated. Early in May he had a vicious quarrel with 
Roberts in the public streets of the city, and, asking 
him "if he would give him satisfaction for bribing 
Potter to swear his life away," halted him with his 
cane before an excited crowd of townspeople, called 
him puppy, tweaked his nose, and challenged him to a 
duel. The military commander in the city was forced 
to put both men under a bond to keep the peace; but 
Roberts nevertheless complained that "Jones won t be 
lieve Rogers carries arms, and all that is said by every 
body seems prepossessed in his favor." 1 Already the 
major was skilfully trying, with success in Montreal at 
least, to turn the tables of public sentiment upon his 
enemies. At the coming of summer he took ship for 
England. 

Johnson Mss. t 17, 154. 



45 



Second Trip to England} The Debtor s Prison; African Service} The 
American Revolution ; Last Years and Death. 

There was a multiplicity of motives to lure Rogers 
upon his second journey to England. His most power 
ful friends were there, as his most powerful enemies 
were in America. His financial affairs at home lay in 
utter ruin, and by the expedient of a quick passage he 
might escape his debtors until they could instruct Lon 
don agents to continue harrying him. To the public 
he was still favorably known across the water; while 
in his own country, although he had his eager partisans 
in Canada, where many were induced to believe that 
he had been spitefully wronged by the tools of Johnson, 
a general ill-savor attached to his name. Finally, his 
angry resentment against the commander-in-chief and 
the superintendent of Indian affairs made it a daily 
humiliation to remain longer upon a continent in which 
they were in power. His three direct purposes at the 
seat of empire were to work some malice against the 
party of Johnson ; to obtain a fresh appointment in 
some part of King George s wide dominions; and some 
how, by obtaining payment for his losses at Mackinac 
and elsewhere, to find his way through all the mazes 
of his indebtedness to solvency. 

His liabilities totaled thirteen thousand pounds, and to 
keep himself from falling into a debtor s prison was his 
immediate care. In May, soon after his street-quarrel 
with Roberts, he had left Montreal and proceeded to 
New York, closely dogged by his creditors, where he 

146 



MACHINATIONS IN LONDON 

importuned Gage for his pay as commandant at Mack- 
inac. The general refused him, upon the ground that 
as his appointment was made by the London minister, 
it could not go in the American accounts; an answer 
which filled the shrewd major with mingled regret and 
rejoicing, as it led him to believe that he had never 
lost his commission, and was still on the active pay 
roll. 1 He was able, however, to secure immediate pay 
ment of his expenses at Montreal, and upon these slen 
der resources, having secured signed leave of absence, 
he left for the mother country in June. 2 At his arrival 
in the capital he went into residence near the old house 
of the Penn family, at Spring Gardens and Charing 
Cross, a very busy and somewhat fashionable part of 
London. 

Here he renewed his acquaintance with William Fitz- 
herbert and other of his old military and political friends 
in the city, and set himself to use every possible pa 
tron. During October he reopened the communication 
which he had begun with Hillsborough while in prison, 
narrating in full the grievances and injuries he had suf 
fered since his appointment, and asking that his lord 
ship lend his potent influence to have him remunerated 
for his labors in the Northwest. He waited, too, upon 
Hillsborough at that officer s public levees, with such 
allies as he could induce thus personally to push his 
suit; 3 and simultaneously sent in a detailed account of 
his arrears of pay to the Treasury. 4 Certificates of his 
usefulness and bravery he secured from almost every 
considerable American leader during the Seven Years 
War, Amherst, Abercrombie, Howe, Moncton,Webb, 
Loudoun, Eglinton, and others; some of them, deliv- 

1 P. R. O. t C. O. 5, Volume 70, 699. 
a Johnson Mss., I 8, 185. 
3 P. R. O., C. O. 5, Volume 70, 691-9. 
* Idem, p. 627. 

47 



PONTEACH : OR THE SAVAGES OF AMERICA 

ered with an alacrity strongly suggestive of jealousy of 
Gage and Johnson, added warm personal recommenda 
tions to the more perfunctory testimonials. 1 He became 
once more a familiar figure at parties and public recep 
tions. Finally, as a crowning mark of distinction, Fitz- 
herbert presented him to George III, whose royal hand 
he kissed and to whom he offered in person a petition 
for the reissuance of the lands once given him on Lake 
Champlain. 3 So visibly powerful were his friends, 
whether disinterested patrons or the enemies of John 
son, that for the moment he became presumptuous in 
his requests. "The minister [Hillsborough] asked what 
would content him," reported a correspondent of John 
son s in February, 1770; "he desired to be made a 
baronet, with a pension of 600 sterling, to be restored 
to his governorship at Mackinac, and to have all his 
account paid." 3 And although these requests were be 
yond reason, the fruits of his energetic contrivances and 
motions were soon apparent. 

In January, 1770, he presented a final petition to 
Hillsborough, emphasizing the fact that he was an in 
nocent, injured man, cleared of the unjust aspersions 
thrown upon him, and reiterating his desire to return 
to his post whenever he had been enabled to meet his 
obligations. 4 The Secretary of State was at some pains 
to lay the matter before the Treasury Board in proper 
form, and within a few days Grey Cooper, its secretary, 
informed Rogers that he should be paid as commandant 
at Mackinac to December 21, 1769, a date chosen as 
terminating four years of service under the commission 
of 1765.* Good fortune came not singly. With his 

1 Johnson MJS., 19, 112. 

Idem, 18, 185. P. R. O., C. O. 5, Volume 1074, 3 8 5- 

3 William Rivington ; Johnson Mss., 18, 185. 

4 P. R. O., C. O. 5, Volume 70, 701. 

s Treasury Minutes, December 21, 1769; July 13, 1770. 

148 



MACHINATIONS IN LONDON 

arrears in salary were also paid his accounts for Carver s 
expedition to the West, covering bills not merely for 
the supplies with which he had outfitted his subordi 
nate in 1766, but for those, more meagre in quantity, 
which he had attempted to forward the lieutenant early 
the next year at the Falls of St. Anthony. 1 He was 
assisted in this by Carver himself, a fresh arrival in 
England, who had petitioned successfully during the 
summer for the eight-shilling wage which Rogers had 
offered him. a There was thus appropriated to the major 
at the beginning of 1770 more than ^3000, a truly 
rejuvenating relief, enabling him to throw several sops 
to his pack of creditors, and to secure a new hold upon 
means of subsistence in the city. He continued, how 
ever, to pray for his salary as Indian commissioner at 
Mackinac, for his collateral expenses, and for the goods 
he had given as presents to the Indians an enormous 
sum still. At the same time, having definitely lost his 
post, he began to push his claims upon the government 
for a new situation in India or America. 

In his political objects, Rogers met for a time with 
success. Roberts had sailed for London in March, 
1770, with letters of recommendation from Johnson 
Hall, and with several diplomatic and business com 
missions to execute for the Indian department. Like 
Rogers, he was so head over heels in debt that he 
could escape from his creditors only with difficulty, 
and before taking ship was forced to secure a transfer 
of suit in an embarrassing damage case brought by the 
Mackinac merchants whose rum he had confiscated; 3 
and he, too, hoped to mend his fortunes by securing 

1 Johnson Mss. t 18, 185. 

a Carver had testified that it was "in consequence of Rogers commission 
that he undertook and performed his great journey." Board of Trade, Commer 
cial Papers, Volume 459. 

3 Johnson Ma. t 19, 163. 

49 



PONTEACH : OR THE SAVAGES OF AMERICA 

payment of ^1000 which he had expended in the 
king s service. 1 Long before he sailed he received re 
ports that "Rogers was making a noise in England," 
and implored Johnson to secure protectors for him 
against one who "might keep me in hot water."" 
When shown on the eve of his departure "the extra 
ordinary letter from London " which told of Rogers 
court presentation, he wrote again to his superior: "I 
suppose I shall find a strong party against me by Rogers, 
and wish you might send something to the ministry 
that would be useful to support me against the clamor. 
It would be disgraceful to see that scoundrel honored, 
and I that have served thirteen years unblemished un 
noticed." 3 From the unusual care with which Johnson 
equipped his agent, it was clear that he also had a regard 
for the pertinacity and vigor with which the ex-com 
mandant was organizing all the existing opposition to 
the American regime. Nor were their forebodings 
amiss. Roberts had immediate difficulty in seeing Hills- 
borough, before whom he was to lay a plea that the 
Northern Department be allowed more funds, and only 
after repeated visits did he " make his lordship recollect 
that Johnson had mentioned him in his letters." 4 A 
similar coldness elsewhere convinced him that every 
where his paths had been poisoned, and his character 
defamed, by his wily enemy. " Rogers story is much 
attended to by those of the great," he reported early in 
August, after a month of fruitless endeavors, "who are 
only too glad to censure any reputation better than their 
own. Until that fellow is sent somewhere, I shall be 
continually plagued with contradicting his vile story." 5 

1 Petitions of May 27 and June 9, 1773, Earl of Dartmouth s unpublished 
papers. 

2 Johnson Mss., 19, 179. 

3 Idem, 19, 185. 

* Idem, 19, 112. 5 Idem, 19, 172. 

150 



MACHINATIONS IN LONDON 

He had lost his position by his trip to England, and 
even this fact the major used against him. "Rogers," 
complains his second letter, "has reported that I was 
turned out of employment for the ill-treatment I gave 
him, and he has been too much believed. It is unfor 
tunate that I can t be introduced to more men in au 
thority, and so contradict in person what I am obliged 
to do through various channels." Finally, the wide 
spread nature of the dislike which he found had been 
inspired for Johnson and his colleague plainly puzzled 
him. "It is a little odd," he tactfully informed his 
own immediate chief, " how Rogers has procured aid 
from Amherst, Abercrombie, and almost every other 
field officer. It seems a party against General Gage, 
but time will clear it up, and honesty triumph." 

It was, however, only so long as Rogers was able to 
give head to a temporary sentiment against the Ameri 
can officers that his affairs prospered ; und when the- 
small furor to which his charges, his loud complaints, 
and his bitter vaporings gave rise had subsided, and the 
novelty of his petty attacks had spent itself in vain, he 
was once more relegated to the chilly anterooms of 
noblemen, and spent his time in the composition of 
unavailing petitions for further relief. Fitzherbert, it is 
true, remained for some time longer his faithful friend, 
so that Roberts was informed in October, 1770, that 
three of the ministry intended providing for Rogers, 
and that it was thought he would get a post in the 
East India service. 3 At the same time, the major found 
ready allies in his creditors, anxious to help him through 
their London agents to the money which would satisfy 
their own demands. Six different firms, with extensive 

June 12, 1770. Johnson Mfs. t 19, 112. 

2 Idem, 19, 112. 

3 Idem, 19, 112, 226. 



PONTEACH : OR THE SAVAGES OF AMERICA 

business and political connections, were all, in Roberts 
expressive phrase, "pushing for him" during the period 
that he seemed basking in official favor. But they were 
ready to turn upon him the moment his affairs took a 
darker turn, a moment which, so far was he out of 
his depth financially, so beyond reason were most of 
the claims in his total of ^10,000, even his energy and 
assurance could no longer postpone. As summer passed 
he who had once "hummed all the great people" 1 had 
gained nothing. In May, 1771, he had fruitlessly peti 
tioned the Board of Trade for his huge grant on Lake 
Champlain, which, he said, "he meant to occupy and 
cultivate. " a For the Board s refusal he had had in part 
to thank his old rival, for a few days previously, at 
Hillsborough s instance, Roberts "was examined before 
the Beard, and given an opportunity to make known 
the treatment he received from Rogers, and to show 
them how far they had been imposed upon." 3 

Other memorials met a like fate, and matters went 
rapidly from bad to worse. In November, 1771, he 
made a personal appeal to Hillsborough in terms that 
have a note of desperation in them. "No man, my 
lord," he recites, "has gone through more vicissitudes 
of alternate hardship and success than myself; and I 
urge my case with greater confidence, now that pre 
judice has had time to subside, and the world is dis 
posed to be just to my character." The hackneyed 
story of his long services and unjust persecution follows; 
and he concludes : " I was without cause dismissed from 
employ, and do now stand consigned to inanity, and 
almost absolute want, with an enormous responsibility 
to my expenditures on credit in the ranging and Indian 

1 Johnson Mss., 18, 186. 

3 P. R. O., C. O. j, Volume 1075, 117. 

3 Johnson MJS., 20, 230. 

152 



ROGERS IN DEBTORS PRISON 

services. I implore your lordship to consider and com 
miserate my situation." Yet he asked only for a re 
newal of his commission as major, with pay of fifteen 
shillings daily. 1 In February, 1772, he prayed the 
Treasury to find means for presenting his demands to 
the House of Commons, a request utterly and absurd 
ly impracticable. Reports home of his activities thence 
forth became meagre, for he was no longer a person of 
sufficient importance to figure in the letters to New York 
from London. Despite his many discouragements, he 
continued to petition for his pay as commissary to 
Mackinac, and, on August 10, 1772 wrote a curt note 
to Sir William Johnson for a certificate of his appoint 
ment "to manage Indian affairs at Mackinac," as also 
for "a statement of the commissary s usual allowance." 3 
At length his debtors passed from urgency to threats, 
and from threats to action. Early in March, 1773, one 
of them, Robert Hunter, had lost patience, and unsuc 
cessfully petitioned the treasury for the value of the 
merchandise supplied th? major in the Northwest in 
1767.* The pack to whom he owed money immedi 
ately closed in. On June 14, he was in the Fleet prison 
for debt, complaining bitterly that he was in distress 
for want of every necessity, and greatly injured in his 
health by his long and close confinement. 5 In a neigh 
boring cell was Benjamin Roberts, who, having drawn 
on Johnson for 100 to maintain himself in England, 
had been summarily deserted by his old friend and 
patron. 

One of the last straws at which Rogers clutched was 
a reopening of his old proposal for a search after the 

1 P. R. O. t C. O. j, Volume 154, 18. 

* Treasury Minutes, February, 1772. 

3 Johnson Ms*., zi, 238. 

Treasury Minutes , March 7, 1773. 

s Acts of the Privy Council, VI. 538. Colonial Scries, Unpublished P*per. 

153 



PONTEACH : OR THE SAVAGES OF AMERICA 

Northwest Passage in a plan presented the Privy Coun 
cil in February, 1772. As he had done seven years be 
fore, he set before the Council his unusual qualifications 
for such a search, stating that as a commander at the 
farthermost of the Great Lake posts, and in "various 
expeditions which he has made or caused to be made" 
therefrom, he " has gained information which almost 
positively established the existence of a navigable pas 
sage"; and he prayed "to be employed in this time of 
peace in such an expedition, at a salary of $ per day 
as director and conductor of the enterprise." He esti 
mated that in all the trip would consume three years, 
and although he insisted upon a party of sixty, includ 
ing several officers, a geographer, cartographers, pion 
eers, and fifty hunters, he believed that ij> ios. daily 
would suffice for salaries. The itinerary of his earlier 
proposal he changed but slightly. Leaving from the 
Mohawk in April or May, he would traverse the Great 
Lakes and Wisconsin to the Falls of St. Anthony, and 
there pass the first winter; the second summer he 
would push on to the Pacific, where he would again 
halt; and at the coming of the third spring, he would 
strike north and northeast along the coast, following its 
rounding contour, and exploring every considerable in 
let, until he found the one which really connected the 
Atlantic with the Pacific. In its return the party would 
pass through Japan, Siberia, and Russia. The plan 
never received really serious consideration, although it 
was transmitted from the Privy Council to a commit 
tee, thence to the Board of Trade, and finally to the 
Treasury. 1 

Of Rogers movements between the middle of June, 
1773, and the middle of March, 1775, we know almost 
nothing. On the former date, he petitioned to the king 

1 P. R. O., C. O. J2j, Volume 27, 143. 

54 



ROGERS IN DEBTORS PRISON 

from Fleet prison to grant him "sixty miles square on 
the banks of some great and convenient river or lake 
in America, that he might compromise with his credi 
tors." Although his memorial was recommended by 
six of these unwearied pursuers, and by thirteen gen 
eral officers who had at some time served in America, 
including many names of distinction, it was refused. 1 
The blank of twenty months which follows was one 
of importance to an officer connected with both English 
and American affairs, for it was a period which saw the 
two peoples rapidly drifting into war. The silence is 
broken finally by a petition from Rogers to the Earl 
of Dartmouth, Hillsborough s successor as Secretary of 
State for America, announcing the major s intention of 
rejoining the army, and asking for a renewal of his 
commission, as " it will prove of infinite service to him 
in many respects." He had at that date evidently been 
contemplating for some time reentrance into active ser 
vice; for he mentions that he had left his commission 
at one of the under-secretaries desk several weeks be 
fore, and that he had repeatedly applied for the renewal 
to Lord Barrington, "who had absolutely refused to do 
any services for him. * But how had he escaped the 
debtors cell ? And how had he spent the last twelve 
month? As to the first of these questions, we know 
only that his brother James, already a rich land holder 
in New York, had assumed by bond his most pressing 
obligations; 3 not, however, before Rogers was in such 
desperate straits that he had attempted a legal prosecu 
tion of Gage to reimburse himself for his expenditures 
in the Northwest, a step which the ministry hastily 
stopped. As to the second, we have only Rogers un- 

1 Acti. of the Privy Council, VI, 538. 

* Dartmouth MJS., Petition of March 13, 1775. 

3 American Arcbivti, Series 4, Volume 3, 865-8. 

5S 



PONTEACH : OR THE SAVAGES OF AMERICA 

verified statement of a later date to President Wheelock 
of Dartmouth College, that he had fought two battles 
under the Bey of Algiers. 1 At all events, early in 1775 
he was still in London, free from his most immediate 
difficulties, interested in the threatening aspect of colo 
nial affairs, and anxious to see service again, either in 
America or in India. For a time it seemed probable 
that he would go to the latter field, for Dartmouth not 
only restored him to his majority, upon half-pay, but 
recommended an application which he made to the 
directors of the East India Company; Parliament re 
solved during the spring, however, to send no addi 
tional officers there, and his reviving hopes fell short 
of their mark. He at once turned to the other al 
ternative, and, representing to Harrington that he was 
seized with a burning desire to visit his family in the 
New World, and that business affairs required his im 
mediate presence there, sailed on June 4, 1775, from 
Gravesend." 

Before leaving England he was advised by his politi 
cal friends that if he wished to obtain service in America 
he would do well to attempt a repair of his breach with 
Gage, widened so far by his loud speeches in London 
in 1769 70, and by his more recent steps in law. 3 
Immediately upon arriving in September at Baltimore, 
therefore, he wrote the commander-in-chief expressing 
" equal hope and firm desire that every past unhappy 
circumstance should be buried in oblivion." It was 
clear that as soon as he had completed matters of bus 
iness in the rebellious provinces, he hoped again to 
receive a command under the British flag. Meanwhile, 
as he halted a few days in Baltimore to acquaint him- 

1 American Ar (hives t Series 4, Volume 3, 265. 

* Idem, Volume 4, 158. 

3 Dartmouth Mss. t Rogen to Powna.ll, October 3, 1775. 

.56 



ROGERS RETURN TO AMERICA 

self with the revolutionized posture of affairs in British 
America, he assumed a wisely conciliatory and cordial 
attitude toward his revolted countrymen. 

Lexington and Bunker Hill were now months-old 
stories; Boston was invested, and Washington had just 
assumed command of the besiegers; Rogers old com 
rade, Israel Putnam, had been chosen one of the four 
major-generals of the colonial army ; and the Continen 
tal Congress was sitting at Philadelphia, where a few 
days since it had simultaneously set forth the necessity 
of taking up arms and owned the continuing sovereign 
ty of the king. Rogers was rilled with shocked amaze 
ment at the new spirit of resistance abroad among the 
colonists, writing to the home government that "since 
my arrival here I have done all I can to undeceive 
these people, now laboring under an unhappy delu 
sion." 1 However, he found it necessary to wait on the 
Continental Congress at Philadelphia, on September 22, 
to obtain a permit to close his debts in lower NewYork, 
and to arrange his affairs with his brother, resident above 
Albany. He was duly given this passport, over Frank 
lin s signature, upon a promise neither to bear arms 
against the colonies, nor to supply information concern 
ing their defenses to Gage or to the ministry. 8 While 
in Philadelphia, nevertheless, he did not conceal the 
fact that he was on half pay, and considered himself 
yet a loyal officer in the king s army, and his attitude 
here toward the American radicals seems to have been 
one of rather unfriendly neutrality. Nor did he hesi 
tate, upon reaching New York, to open negotiations 
with both Gage and Dartmouth for a command, com 
plaining of the impossibility of maintaining himself and 
his family upon half-pay. In the city he lodged at 

1 Rogers to Pownall, October 3, 1775. 

a American Archives, Scries 4, Volume 3, 865-8. 

157 



PONTEACH : OR THE SAVAGES OF AMERICA 

" Dr. Harrison s on Broadway," and was under the sur 
veillance of the local Committee of Safety during every 
moment of his stay. In fact, he seems never to have 
entertained, nor to have given others the impression of 
entertaining, any disposition to adhere to the cause of 
his fellow provincials. 1 

While his military future was still unsettled, he de 
voted himself to business. From Governor Tryon he 
secured a reissue of several old grants of land along the 
New Hampshire boundary line, with which to satisfy 
his creditors; 3 and early in October he set out north 
through Albany, to join his family, and to visit his 
various friends and relatives. He was halted on the 
road by what he called "a severe attack of fever and 
ague," but finally pushed on to his brother James in 
Kent, near the Connecticut. He then proceeded to 
Portsmouth, where he stayed a few days with his wife 
and young son, at the home of his aged and very in 
firm father-in-law, evidently no very welcome guest. 3 
He was never to see Elizabeth Rogers again. Proceed 
ing toward his farm at Rumford, he passed by way of 
Hanover, where he stopped for dinner at the cultured 
home of the Rev. Eleazar Wheelock, head of the strug 
gling young college there, one of the most interest 
ing interviews of his whole career. He did not impress 
the venerable minister and educator favorably. In faded 
undress uniform, he was uncouth and ill-restrained in 
manner, while his splendid physique already showed 
evidence of wreck and dissipation. He talked boast 
fully of his services in Africa, of his large grants of 

1 American Archives, Series 4, Volume 3, 913. 

8 Letter to Pownall, October 3, 1775. 

3 Some doubt may be thrown upon his story of the fever and ague by his 
wife s testimony that "he was in a situation which, as her peace and safety forced 
her to shun and fly from him, so decency forbids her to say more upon so indeli 
cate a subject." Petition, to the New Hampshire General Assembly, 1778. 

158 



PATRIOT OR LOYALIST? 

land, and of flattering offers which he had rejected 
from the provincial army, and officiously volunteered 
to assist Dr. Wheelock in obtaining English aid for his 
institution, a proposal which was coldly declined. All 
Rogers movements were by this time regarded with 
suspicion by colonial patriots, and next day the minister 
addressed to Washington at Cambridge a full account 
of their meeting. 1 

Meanwhile, having economically avoided payment 
of his night s lodging at a neighboring inn, the shabby 
major had fared on to his farm; and from thence he 
set out again, in the course of a week, to return to the 
British headquarters at New York. Two interesting 
occurrences marked his homeward journey. On his 
way to Medford he fell in with a tall, alert lad of 
fifteen, and, struck by his appearance, engaged him in 
conversation. Finding that the boy was the son of his 
old fellow in the ranging service, Captain John Stark, 
on his way to join his father in camp, he paid his 
reckoning at the hostelry at which they stopped at 
noon. That night at Medford he held a long conver 
sation with the elder Stark, and drew from him a 
declaration of his unfaltering allegiance to the Ameri 
can cause. 3 The second incident was concerned with a 
more eminent Continental officer. The next day, De 
cember 14, he sent a letter by Stark to Washington in 
the latter s entrenchments before Boston, asking for a 
continuance of his permit to pursue his private affairs, 
as he believed it would require some months yet for 
him to settle with his creditors. "I have leave to retire 
on my half-pay, and never expect to be called in ser 
vice again," he added. "I love North America; it is 
my native country ; and I expect to spend the evening 

1 American Archives, Series 4, Volume 4, 158. 
3 Hurd, History of Merrimac County, p. 302. 

59 



PONTEACH : OR THE SAVAGES OF AMERICA 

of my days in it." This at last was conscious duplicity, 
for he was even then in hopes of a fresh commission. 
Washington s single decisive answer was to order Gen 
eral Schuyler to keep a close watch over the ranger, 
and to make arrangements for a constant return of 
information concerning his motions. On January 5, 
1776, by the first of these reports, the commander-rin- 
chief learned that the major had set out from Albany 
to New York. 3 On the very same day Lord Germain, 
three thousand miles away, wrote to General George 
Howe, cousin of the young subaltern who had known 
Rogers in the Seven Years War, and now Gage s suc 
cessor as head of the British army: "The king approves 
of the arrangement you propose in respect to an adju 
tant-general and a quartermaster-general, and your at 
tention to Major Rogers, of whose firmness and fidelity 
we have received further testimony from Governor 
Tryon." 3 As the one cause treated him with suspicion 
and disdain, the other courted his assistance. 

Rogers, however, was still to wait some trying 
months for his appointment; for his business in the 
middle colonies remained unfinished, and it was im 
possible for him in any event to join Howe, closely 
pent v/ith an unaggressive army within Boston. He 
busied himself chiefly about New York, free to come 
and go in its streets as he pleased, but under a super 
vision that grew daily harsher and more minute. The 
city was become so patriot that Governor Tryon and 
his Council had been forced to flee aboard the British 
ship Asia in the harbor, and the Tory elements in the 
population concealed their sentiments and their hopes 

1 American Archives, Scries 4, Volume 4, 265. 

a Idem, p. 581. 

3 Idem, p. 575. Gage had sailed for England October 10, 1775. It was 
advised by the ministry that Howe continue the war from New York, but he 
remained at Boston. 

160 



PATRIOT OR LOYALIST? 

in meekness and fear. The half-pay major, still lodg 
ing on Broadway, felt with many others the severity 
of the party feeling manifested by the Whigs, and of 
the radical restriction imposed by the great numbers 
who were now beginning openly to express their hopes 
of an immediate declaration of independence. In the 
preceding August, the Provincial Congress of New York 
had resolved to punish by imprisonment and forfeiture 
of property those who gave information or supplies to 
the enemy; in September it had authorized the seizure 
of the arms of all those who had not sworn allegiance 
to the American cause; and throughout the winter it 
saw that the local committees of safety kept a minute 
watch over such suspects as Rogers. In his business 
operations, the major felt especially hampered. During 
February, 1776, while he was still soliciting grants of 
several tracts of land within the province, he was forced 
to petition the Provincial Congress for permission to 
attend "his excellency the governor" on board the 
Duchess of Gordon, then lying with four other warships 
between Nutter s and Bedloe s Islands, and not until he 
had carefully specified that it was "business of a private 
nature, and such only as respects myself and creditors," 
that rendered his attendance aboard ship necessary, was 
he given the requested permit. " 

With the coming of the colonial army a few weeks 
later his situation grew doubly irksome and dangerous. 
On March 4, 1776, the American commander-in-chief 
had fortified Dorchester Heights, with the result that 
within ten days Howe evacuated Boston, and, abandon 
ing all his stores, set sail with his troops and more than 
a thousand Massachusetts loyalists for Nova Scotia. The 

1 For this and other general matter see C. H. Van Tyne, The American Revo 
lution (Volume 9 of The American Nation: A History}, New York, 1905. 
8 American Archives, Series 4, Volume 4, izoi. 

161 



PONTEACH : OR THE SAVAGES OF AMERICA 

continental headquarters were at once removed south 
ward. On April 1 3, Washington arrived at New York, 
and for many days thereafter his ragged, ill-fed, but 
faithful troops came straggling in over the rough, 
muddy spring roads to the port. Neither he nor his 
men had any sympathy for American-born citizens who 
still adhered to the British cause, and living as they 
were in daily fear of an English naval attack, they took 
prompt measures to drive out or chain up intestine 
enemies. "Why," asked Washington, "should persons 
who are preying upon the vitals of the country be suf 
fered to stalk at large, whilst we know that they will 
do every mischief in their power?" 1 The next few 
weeks were weeks of terror to all loyalists, for they 
were harried by the militia, seized and imprisoned 
without mercy, or sent in exile to neighboring colo 
nies upon parole.* None of them was an object of 
greater suspicion than Rogers, and none was made more 
clearly to feel the uneasy sufferance with which his 
presence was regarded. Immediately before leaving 
Cambridge, Washington wrote Schuyler at Albany that, 
" Rogers being much suspected of unfriendly views to 
ward this country, his conduct should be attended to 
with some degree of vigilance and circumspection;" 3 
and at his arrival he detailed Captain Peters of the 
New York colonials to preserve a close watch over all 
his goings and comings, and saw to it that sources 
of information concerning his actions in New Hamp 
shire and New York were probed. 

His vigilance was not without fruit, for Rogers was 
utterly unable to maintain a plausible and innocent ap 
pearance. He went north on business again in the late 

1 Washington s Writings, Sparks Edition, III, 357. 
3 Calendar of New York Historical Mss. t I, 338. 
3 American Archives, Scries 4, Volume 4, 696. 

162 



PATRIOT OR LOYALIST? 

spring; and in returning in June from the oversight 
of his property at Rumford, he followed so vagrant a 
course that he was taken up at South Amboy, New Jer 
sey, and examined in council by Washington, Greene, 
Stirling, Mifflin, and other colonial generals. He was 
strongly suspected of activity as a spy, and unplaus- 
ibly pleaded to the commanders that he had gone out 
of his way only to make a secret offer of his services to 
Continental Congress, showing as proof various com 
mendatory letters which he had secured from American 
friends. The council, however, resolved that he was 
too dangerous a character to be permitted to enter the 
revolutionary ranks, and Washington sent him on to his 
destination with a letter recommending that a deaf ear 
be turned to his proffer. The step was a wise one, for 
at the same moment (June 25) the New Hampshire 
House of Representatives was appointing a committee 
to "consider the expediency of securing Major Rogers 
in consequence of sundry informations against him." 
Under conduct of a guard detailed from Washington s 
camp, the major was transmitted to Philadelphia in the 
closing days of June; and thus he was present a pris 
oner, lying in the very shadow of Independence Hall, 
at the birth of the United States. 1 

When he arrived on July i, Philadelphia already felt 
a premonition of the great event. Hancock announced 
the inception of the measure and Rogers coming in 
the same letter to Washington. "Major Rogers is under 
guard at the barracks," he wrote, "Congress having, 
by a particular appointment, had under consideration a 
momentous matter this day, which prevented their at 
tention to him. My next will inform you, I hope, of 
some very decisive measures." 3 The momentous matter 

1 American Archives, Scries 4, Volume 6, 1 108, 1 109. 
a Idem, Volume 6, 1108. Idem, Scries 5, Volume i, 33. 

163 



PONTEACH: OR THE SAVAGES OF AMERICA 

of which he spoke was Richard Henry Lee s motion 
that " These united colonies arc, and of right ought to 
be, free and independent states." Discussion upon it and 
upon Jefferson s draft of the Declaration wholly en 
grossed the next three days. It was not until July 5, 
when the important step had been debated and deter 
mined upon, adopted by twelve colonies, and signed by 
the president and secretary, that the major, waiting to 
know his fate, was given a moment s consideration. It 
was summarily ordered by Congress that he be sent to 
the New Hampshire Assembly for final disposal. This 
reference of the case was notified to the provincial body 
in the same letter of Hancock s, dated July 6, which, 
after prefacing that "altho 1 it is not possible to foresee 
the consequences of human actions, yet it is neverthe 
less a duty which we owe to ourselves and posterity, in 
all our public councils, to decide the best we are able, 
and trust the event of God," heralded the dissolution 
of the connection between the colonies and Great Brit 
ain. 1 But Rogers had no intention of answering for his 
alleged informations and treacheries, and in the early 
morning of July 8, while still held under a loose guard 
at Philadelphia, found means to make his escape. The 
Pennsylvania Committee of Safety offered a reward of 
^50 for his head, but he safely made his way across 
country to Staten Island, where Howe, with thirty 
thousand men, had just landed." 

Here Rogers was received with open arms. Not 
merely had Howe been assured of his ability and held 
previous communication with him, but to an army 
composed largely of men untrained in New World 
methods of fighting, unfamiliar with the enemy, and 
entirely uncertain of i:he ground over which it must 

1 American Archives, Series 5, Volume I, 33. 
* Idem, p . 136. 

.64 



SERVICE WITH GENERAL HOWE 

pass, he seemed a valuable accession. He knew in 
timately the whole central region along the Hudson 
and toward Philadelphia in which Howe was to oper 
ate, and the temper and immediate resources of the 
Americans; and he had many Tory friends in the 
neighboring boroughs whom he could induce to enter 
the British army. In the first days of August, he was 
given the title of Lieutenant-Colonel, and empowered 
to muster a battalion of loyalists, to be called the 
"Queen s American Rangers." 

It was only in the first campaign after he joined the 
British army, however, the campaign of the autumn 
and winter of 1776-7, along the lower course of the 
Hudson, and through New Jersey, that Rogers con 
nection with the American Revolution was one of any 
importance. The earliest movements about New York 
demonstrated that, however successful he had been in 
partisan fighting, he had little place in an army which 
marched, deployed, and fought in European style, over 
ground for the most part well-cleared and cultivated, 
and under generals who realized all the advantages of a 
complicated system of military tactics. During Howe s 
preliminary manoeuvres to drive Washington out of 
the city, he was fortunately occupied in collecting his 
men, whom he drew from all the towns in lower 
Connecticut, Long Island, and along the New York 
shore of the Sound. His method of enlistment was 
that time-honored and serviceable one by which he 
offered a commission to a chosen few who engaged 
to bring in a certain quota of soldiers; a method 
which, while it rapidly filled his ranks, at the same 
time gave him a corps of officers notable chiefly for 
their inefficiency. His allotment of four hundred men 
made up, he was sent to occupy that position along the 
front where it was expected his force of pickets and 

,65 



PONTEACH : OR THE SAVAGES OF AMERICA 

scouts would prove of especial service. While he was 
enlisting his troops, Howe had won the battle of Long 
Island, and forced Washington successively from Brook 
lyn Heights to New York, and from New York to 
White Plains, half-way to the Connecticut line. It was 
in the attempt to defeat him here during October that 
the commander of the Queen s Rangers saw his first 
active fighting of the war. 

On the twelfth of October, Howe landed a large 
force of men ten miles up the East River, and urged 
them forward as rapidly as possible past Forts Lee and 
Washington, while he simultaneously disembarked 
Rogers and others on the shore of the Soand, hoping 
to cut off the communication of the Continental army 
with Connecticut. Rogers, stationed with his battalion 
during the past fortnight at Huntington on Long 
Island, had for some time been meditating a descent 
upon the colonial stores collected at Greenwich, Stam 
ford, and Norwalk, with the inlets and avenues to which 
his men were perfectly familiar. Now, shielding his 
eastern wing with the Queen s Rangers, the comman- 
der-in-chief at once began to explore along the whole 
front the possibility for a general advance. As Rogers 
outpost party was moved forward toward White Plains, 
the force which he commanded finally took a bold sta 
tion at Mamaroneck, only ten miles distant from the 
American lines. Here, on the night of October 21, 
he was attacked by a regiment of nearly double his 
own numbers, under Colonel Haslett, who inflicted 
upon his men a defeat so crushing that only the dark 
ness, and the defection of some of the American guards, 
prevented their annihilation. As it was, they took 
thirty-six prisoners, a pair of colors, and many arms 
and provisions, and drove back the boasted new corps 

1 American Archives, Series 5, Volume 2, 1208. 

1 66 



SERVICE WITH GENERAL HOWE 

in humiliating disorder. 1 Stirling was so pleased with 
Haslett s success that he thanked him and his men 
publicly on parade. The new hatred and contempt of 
the patriots for Rogers is felt in every letter reporting 
the affair. "The late worthless major skulked off in 
the dark," says one; another speaks of him as charac 
teristically "very careful to get himself off, though he 
often leaves his men in the lurch." 9 The whole action 
was but a skirmish, however, and with Washington s 
defeat at White Plains a week later, the war was car 
ried southwest toward Philadelphia. 

Thus briefly and ingloriously was Rogers revolution 
ary career, to all practical purposes, ended. A few 
weeks later the leadership of his corps was given to 
Colonel French, and then to Major Wemyss; until 
finally, on October 15, 1777, it passed to Major J. G. 
Simcoe, who dismissed the more incompetent officers, 
substituted southerners for them, and brought the com 
mand to a high state of efficiency. 3 Henceforth the 
now more and more discredited major, apparently kept 
in service chiefly by the memory of his past achieve 
ments, was employed only as a recruiting officer. In 
October, 1778, he still preserved some connection with 
his corps, for at Quebec he petitioned Haldirnand, 
Governor of Canada, to be permitted to rejoin it 3t 
New York by way of England, the only route then 
open, and actually signed himself as its ranking officer. 
At the same time he was seeking employment at the 
north, for Haldirnand refused as impracticable his peti 
tion to be allowed to raise two battalions from the 
neighboring colonies. He was permitted, however, to 
return for a brief space to the mother country, where 
he still had matters of business. 

1 American Archives, Series 5, Volume 2, 1270. 

2 Idem, pp. 1 187 and 1270. 3 See the introduction to Simcoe s Journals. 

167 



PONTEACH : OR THE SAVAGES OF AMERICA 

His stay in England was brief, although we learn 
from a letter he later sent to the governor, thanking 
him for his leave of absence, that through it he "found 
means to get provided for.* On May i, 1779, he was 
back to New York. Here he secured authority from 
Clinton to attempt the recruiting for which Haldimand 
had withheld permission, men being sadly needed by 
the British army, and immediately sent out officers to 
begin enlistments in the northern communities contigu 
ous with the Canadian border. 1 Each battalion was to 
be commanded by a major, who would issue his orders, 
when the ranks were full, through nine captains to six 
hundred men. One of the recruiting agents for whom 
the major happily secured employment was his brother, 
Major James Rogers, who had been totally ruined by 
the confiscation of his wealthy estate in Vermont, and 
driven by the rapacious and vindictive Whigs from his 
wife and six children into Canada. 3 Rogers appointed 
him major of one of the two battalions, and in May, 
1780, petitioned Haldimand to create him also Lieu 
tenant-Colonel. He, and one or two of Rogers other 
subordinates, proved effective servants, and the corps 
was shortly put upon a foundation which augured a 
speedy organization. By this period of the war, indeed, 
the ranger had become known as one of the most 
prominent and active of the various leaders who drew 
loyalist volunteers into George Ill s army, and for his 
pertinacity in northern New Hampshire had been pro 
scribed in November, 1778, by the Representatives of 

1 For the remainder of the references to Rogers services as a recruiting offi- 
ccr see the Canadian Archives, 1888, Haldirmmd-Collection, pp. 673-6837 

2 In the Proceedings of the Royal Society of Canada, Series II, Volume 6, is 
an account of James Rogers by one of his descendants. His estate in what is 
now Windham County, Vermont, was valued at ^3 0,000, and compris:d 
22,000 acres. After the war he received a township in the Frontenac district of 
Ontario. There is no doubt that he was a man of both integrity and ability. He 
died in 1792. 

1 68 



FINAL RECRUITING ACTIVITIES 

his old colony. 1 His headquarters he established first 
at St. John s, New Brunswick, and later at Kamouraska, 
Quebec, and successfully began to prosecute his enlist 
ments for the King s Rangers, as the new troop was to 
be called, along the "eastern frontiers of New England 
and Penobscot." In the autumn of 1779, having halted 
for a few days at Penobscot Harbor, he witnessed there 
a small naval battle." 

Had he held to his new task with the energy with 
which he entered upon it, had he even permitted his 
brother James to prosecute it without hindrance or 
help from himself, Rogers might successfully have 
weathered the few remaining storms that could have 
lowered about him before the conclusion of the war, 
and retired from it with scarcely less honor than the 
generality of English officers. He was now fifty years 
old, a veteran in the service. The two enemies that 
were to interpose themselves, however, were those which 
he had no genius to conquer, dishonesty, and his old, 
drunken, threadbare vices of everyday life. His semi- 
authoritative and detached position, allowing him to 
spend much time in Quebec, Montreal, and New York; 
his want of direct responsibility to any superior officer ; 
his cutting-ofF from the vigorously hurried life of the 
army in the field, which alone was sufficient to keep 

1 New Hampshire State Papers, VIII, 810. 

3 One battalion of the King s Rangeri was destined for service in Quebec 
Province, the other at Halifax. Rogers commission to the command of the corps 
was dated May I, 1779, his brother James was gazetted Major June z, 1779. 
Eleven other newly-appointed officers were sent northward on the brigantine 
Hawk* arriving at Montreal in September, 1779 ; Rogers, following with his own 
staff on the sloop Bloud, happened tol>e~at Penobscot on Aug*t 13, the day the - 
British won a small naval victory there. The total strength of the Canadian army 
was then six thousand men. For a time much confusion was caused by the fact 
that Haldimand was given no definite instructions as to the embodiment of the 
new corps. Finally, on his own authority, he placed it upon a half-pay establish 
ment of his own. Proceedings of the Royal Society of Canada, Series II, Volume 
6, Section 2, p. 49. 

169 



PONTEACH : OR THE SAVAGES OF AMERICA 

him from liquor and gambling, all conspired to one 
end. His time was wasted, his duties neglected, his 
ready money laid waste and that of his brother and his 
department peculated, even while the dragging war 
revealed new resources and determination on the part 
of the Americans, and called with more urgency for 
the men he might have sent. 

In September, 1779, Rogers reported to Haldimand 
at Quebec that he had raised seven hundred men, for 
whose expenses, with his own, he sent in a requisition 
for ^500. His success elicited general congratulation; 
which abruptly ceased when in the early spring, it hav 
ing become necessary to move these troops forward, it 
appeared that their number had unaccountably dropped 
to forty. Meanwhile, the major had spent the winter 
months in Quebec, where he drew money on the 
accounts of his subordinate officers, and spent it in 
drunken and riotous revellings. One lieutenant, named 
Longstreet, whom he thus cheated of ^25, was espe 
cially bitter against him, and complained loudly to 
Haldimand. In March he was deeper than ever in his 
evil courses, and the governor found difficulty in getting 
him to return to the front; he reprimanded Rogers 
severely when, ten days after the major had announced 
his departure, and drawn money and other necessities 
for his journey, an aide found him still skulking about 
the streets of the town. When iinally he set out for 
Kamouraska, he "contracted debts and drew bills the 
whole way," as Haldimand s secretary tells us, and 
"thoroughly disgraced and injured the whole cause." 
It had become evident by this time that it would be 
suicidal to the British hopes of drawing many volun 
teers from the loyalists along the northern frontier to 
permit so disreputable an officer to remain in charge 
of the enlistment. On March 20, Rogers wrote from 

170 



FINAL RECRUITING ACTIVITIES 

the Lac du Grand-Portage, on his way south, that he 
hoped "his excellency will overlook anything wherein 
I have given offense, as I have nothing more at heart 
than his majesty s service." He was immediately made 
to realize, however, that his best safety lay in a com 
plete evasion of Haldimand s condemnation. On April 
26, 1780, he fled to Halifax to board a ship, on which 
he sailed for England a few days later; writing his 
brother James on the eve of his departure that he was 
sorry his affairs were in such confusion, and that he 
would send an agent back to America to arrange for 
meeting his financial obligations. 

In July, there came as a last echo of his service a 
number of bills which he had contracted at Kamour- 
aska; they were drawn on his brother James, whom 
they left financially prostrate, while as a humiliation of 
the Canadian organization for recruiting they thorough 
ly angered Haldimand. Rogers, however, still retained 
his command, for his commission had been issued by 
Clinton, and it was not in Haldimand s power to re 
voke it; and even James, sensitive under the stigma of 
his brother s disgrace, unable to meet any fresh debts 
drawn upon the "King s Rangers," and moreover em 
broiled in disagreeable quarrels with officers enlisting 
for rival branches, was unable to resign his post and 
take a fresh commission under Haldimand himself. 
After several futile attempts at escape, he devoted him 
self manfully to his task of completing the Rangers, 
beset by manifold jealousies and difficulties, and when 
the war was over had rostered and equipped four com 
panies. The promised agent from his brother never 
came to assist him, and of course Robert Rogers him 
self never touched American soil again. The last full 
reference to him written on this continent is in a letter 
of his brother s, bearing a date virtually coincident with 

171 



PONTEACH : OR THE SAVAGES OF AMERICA 

his departure: "The conduct of my brother of late had 
almost unmanned me. When I was last in Quebec I 
often wrote to and told him my mind in regard to it, 
and as often he promised to reform. I am sorry his 
good talents should so unguarded fall a prey to intem 
perance." 

On May 18, 1795, Rogers died in poor lodgings in 
a populous and busy part of south London. 1 Of the 
conduct of his life after leaving Halifax fifteen years 
before we know nothing. There is a tradition in his 
family, recorded in every account of the ranger s career, 
but unsupported by any contemporary evidence, that his 
last years were improvident and vicious, a tradition in 
full harmony with our knowledge of his character and 
tendencies at the time of his return to England. That 
they were also accompanied by the disease and infirmity 
that his evil habits and once great hardships had ensured 
there can be little doubt. Our only means of tracing 
his continued existence, however, lies in the fact that 
after the conclusion of peace with the United States in 
1783 his name occurs regularly on the Half- Pay Reg 
isters, where he is credited with a daily stipend of eight 
shillings five pence, a sum ample for the maintenance 
of life in comfort. He never left the city, and, dying 
where he had lived, in the parish of Newington Butts, 
was buried five days later in the grounds of the old 
church of St. Mary Newington. His grave is now un 
known; for the church has been torn down and the 
churchyard paved over. He left no will, and his estate, 
valued at but ^100, was assigned to John Walker, a 
crecitor. 3 No one, so far as we know, mourned his 
going. His wife had been divorced from him by a 
decree of the New Hampshire legislature, seventeen 

1 Paymaster-General s Books, 1795. 
* Administration Act Book, 1796. 

172 



DEATH IN LONDON 

years before, and she having remarried his only 
son had grown up under an alien roof, among patriot 
Americans who regarded all loyalists with opprobrium. 
He died in total obscurity, and no newspaper or news 
letter, in either America or England, chronicled his 
going in its curtest list of obituaries. 

1 This divorce was granted by legislative action on March 4, 1778. New 
Hampshire State Papers, VIII, 776. After her divorce Elizabeth Rogers married 
Captain John Roach, a retired British sea-captain, living with him upon the Rogers 
estate just outside Concord until her death in 1812. The land and the old house 
descended to her son Arthur Rogers, who after living many years in Portsmouth, 
and practising law there, 1793-4, died there in 1841, leaving three children in 
respectable standing in San Domingo. 



173 



LITERARY BIBLIOGRAPHY. 

Works of Robert Rogers. 

A Concise Account of North America. London, John Millan. 
1765. 

The Journals of Major Robert Rogers. London, John Millan. 
1765. 

The Same. Dublin, J. Potts. . 1770. 

The Same. Edited with an Introduction, Notes, and an Ap 
pendix, by Dr. F. B. Hough. Albany, J. Munsell s Sons. 
1883. 

A Journal of the Siege of Detroit. Edited with Notes by 
Franklin B. Hough. Albany, J. Munsell. 1860. 

Ponteach; or the Savages of North America. A Tragedy. 
London, John Millan. 1766. 

Reminiscences of the French War (Rogers Journals). Con 
cord, New Hampshire, L. Roby. 1831. 

Criticism. 
The Literary History of Philadelphia. By Ellis P. Ober- 

holtzer. Philadelphia, 1906. 
History of the Conspiracy of Pontiac. By Francis Parkman. 

Boston, 1851. 
American Literature in the Colonial and National Periods. By 

Lorenzo Sears. Boston, 1902. 
The Literary History of the American Revolution, 1763-1783. 

By Moses Coit Tyler. New York, 1897. 
A History of American Literature. By Moses Coit Tyler. 

New York, 1879. 



PONTEACH: 
OR THE SAVAGES OF AMERICA. 



PONTEACH: 



o R T H E 



Savages of America. 



TRAGEDY. 




LONDON: 

Printed for the Author ; and Sold by J. MILL AN, 
oppofite the Admiralty , Whitehall. 

M.DCCLXVI. 
[ Price as. 6d. J 



DRAMATIS PERSONS. 



PONTEACH, 

PHILIP an. 1 CHE- 
KITAN. 


1 


Indian En^ertr ta tbt treat Lakes. 


Sons of Pont each. 


TENESCO, 




His cbief Counsellor and Generalissimo. 


AST IX AGO, - 
The BEAR, 
The WOLF. 


! 


Indian Kings wbo join with Ponteatb. 


TORAX and MO- 
NELIA 


} 


Son and Daughter to Hendrick, 
Emperor of the Mohawks. 


Indian ... 




Conjurer. 


French - 




Priest. 


SHARP, - - 
GRIPE, - - 
CATCHUM, - 


1 


Three English Governors. 


Colonel COCKUM 
Captain FRISK 


} 


Commanders at a Garrison in Pon- 
teach s Country. 


M DOLE and 
MURPHEY 


t 


Two Indian Traders. 


HONNYMAN and 
ORSBOURN 


i 


Two English Hunters. 



MRS. HONNYMAN Wife to Honnyman the Hunttr. 
Warriors, Messengers, Sec. 



PONTEACH: 
OflrTHE SAVAGES OF AMERICA. 

ACT I. 

SCENE I. An Indian Trading House, 

Enter M Dole and Murphey, Two Indian Traders, 

and their Servants. 

M Dole. 

So, Murpbey y you are come to try your Fortune 
Among the Savages in this wild Desart? 

Murpbey. Ay, any Thing to get an honest Living, 
Which faith I find it hard enough to do ; 
Times are so dull, and Traders are so plenty, 1 
That Gains are small, and Profits come but slow. 

M Dole. Are you experienc d in this kind of Trade ? 
Know you the Principles by which it 1 prospers, 
And how to make it lucrative and safe? 
If not, you re like a Ship without a Rudder, 
That drives at random, and must surely sink. 

Murpbey. I m unacquainted with your Indian Commerce. 
And gladly would I learn the Arts from you 
Who re old, and practis d in them many Years. 

M Dole. That is the curst Misfortune of our Traders, 
A thousand Fools attempt to live this Way, 
Who might as well turn Ministers of State. 
But, as you are a Friend, I will inform you 
Of all the secret Arts by which we thrive, 
Which if all practis d, we might all grow rich, 
Nor circumvent each other in our Gains. 
What have you got to part with to the Indian* ? 

1 Cf. Johnson Mss., 24, 6. Abercrombie condemns the vast extent of the 
illicit fur-trade in Pennsylvania. 

79 



PONTEACH : OR THE SAVAGES OF AMERICA 

Murpbey. I ve Rum and Blankets, Wampum, Powder, Bells, 
And such-like Trifles as they re wont to prize. 

M Dole. Tis very well : your Articles are good : 
But now the Thing s to make a Profit from them, 
Worth all your Toil and Pains of coming hither. 
Our fundamental Maxim then is this, 
That it s no Crime to cheat and gull an Indian. 9 

Murpbey. How ! Not a Sin to cheat an Indian, say you? 
Are they not Men ? hav nt they r* right to Justice 
As well as we, though savage in their Manners ? 

M Dole. Ah ! If you boggle here, I say no more; 
This is the very Quintessence of Trade, 
And ev ry Hope of Gain depends upon it; 
None who neglect it ever did grow rich, 
Or ever will, or can by Indian Commerce. 
By this old Ogden built his stately House, 
Purchas d Estates, and grew a little King. 
He, like an honest Man, bought all by Weight, 
And made the ign rant Savages believe 
That his Right Foot exactly weigh d a Pound: 3 
By this for many Years he bought their Furs, 
And died in Quiet like an honest Dealer. 

Murpbey. Well, I ll not stick at what is necessary; 
But his Device is now grown old and stale, 
Nor could I manage such a barefac d Fraud. 

M Dole. A thousand Opportunities present 
To take Advantage of their Ignorance ; 

1 CT. Johnson Mss. t 5, 153. Egremont to Amherst ; pointing to the neces 
sity of correcting the trickery of Indian traders in their dealings with the Indians 
and compelling imitation of the more honorable French practice. Also Idem, 
5, 108. 

3 "The English fur-trade had never been well regulated, and it was now in 
a worse condition than ever. Many of the traders, and those in their employ, 
were ruffians of the coarsest stamp, who vied with each other in the worst rapa 
city, violence, and profligacy. They cheated, cursed, and plundered the Indians, 
and outraged their families ; offering, when compared with the French traders, 
who were under better regulation, a most unfavorable example of the character 
of their nation." Parkman, The Conspiracy of Pontiac, Chapter VII. See 
Colonial History of New York, VII, 995. 

3 This classic method of cheating the Indians is probably best known through 
Washington Irving s ludicrous description of its practice by the Dutch in his 
Knickerbocker History of New York. 

1 80 



PONTEACH : OR THE SAVAGES OF AMERICA 

But the great Engine I employ is Rum, 1 

More pow rful made by certain strength ning Drugs, 

This I distribute with a lib ral Hand, 

Urge them to drink till they grow mad and valiant; 

Which makes them think me generous and just, 

And gives full Scope to practise all my Art. 

I then begin my Trade with water d Rum, 

The cooling Draught well suits their scorching Throats. 

Their Fur and Peltry come in quick Return : 

My Scales are honest, but so well contriv d, 

That one small Slip will turn Three Pounds to One ; 

Which they, poor silly Souls ! ignorant of Weights 

And Rules or Balancing, do not perceive. 

But here they come ; you ll see how I proceed. 

Jack, is the Rum prepar d as I commanded P 

Jack. Yes, Sir, all s ready when you please to call. 

M Do/e. Bring here the Scales and Weights immediately. 
You see the Trick is easy and conceal d. 

(Skewing bow to slip the Scales. 

Murpbey. By Jupiter , it s artfully contriv d; 
And was I King, I swear I d knight th Inventor. 
ST0;#, mind the Part that you will have to act. 

Tom, Ah, never fear, I ll do as well as Jack. 
But then, you know, an honest Servant s Pains 
Deserves Reward. 

Murpbey. O ! I ll take care of that. 

Enter a Number of Indians with Packs of Fur. 

ist Indian. So, what you trade with Indians here to-day? 
M Dole. Yes, if my Goods will suit, and we agree. 
2nd Indian. Tis Rum we want, we re tired, hot, and thirsty. 
jrd Indian. You, Mr. Englishman, have you got Rum? 

1 "The Indians dwindle away . . . chiefly because when settled among the 
English they have better opportunity of procuring spirituous liquors, of which 
they are inordinately fond ; and very little care has ever been taken to prevent 
those who are incl : ned to take advantage of them in trade from debauching them; 
by which means, where there were considerable settlements of them a few yetr 
since, their name is now almost totally extinct." Rogers, A Concise Account of 
North America, p. i 52. See also Johnson Mu. t 24 : 11,12; Johnson, engaged 
(July, 1758,) in bringing an Indian party up to Fort Edward, disgustedly charge* 
his delay to an illicit rum-trade, and aska power to quash it. 



PONTEACH : OR THE SAVAGES OF AMERICA 

M Dole. Jack, bring a Bottle, pour them each a Gill. 
You know which Cask contains the Rum. The Rum ? 

/// Indian. It s good strong Rum, I feel it very soon. 

AT Dole. Give me a Glass. Here s Honesty in Trade; 
We English always drink before we deal. 

2nd Indian. Good Way enough; it makes one sharp and 
cunning. 

M Dole. Hand round another Gill. You re very welcome. 

jrd Indian. Some say you Englishmen are sometimes Rogues ; 
You make poor Indians drunk, and then you cheat. 

/// Indian. No, English good. The Frenchmen give no Rum. 

2nd Indian. I think it s best to trade with Englishmen. 

M Dole. What is your Price for Beaver Skins per Pound? 1 

2nd Indian. How much you ask per Quart for this strong 
Rum? 

M Dole. Five Pounds of Beaver for One Quart of Rum. 

1st Indian. Five Pounds? Too much. Which is t you call 
Five Pound ? 

M Dole. This little Weight. I cannot give you more. 

1st Indian. Well, take cm ; weigh em. Don t you cheat us now. 

M Dole. No: He that cheats an Indian should be hang d. 

(Weighing the Packs. 

There s Thirty Pounds precisely of the Whole; 
Five times six is Thirty. Six Quarts of Rum. 
Jack, measure it to them ; you know the Cask. 
This Rum is sold. You draw it off the best. 

(Exeunt Indians to receive their Rum. 

Murphey. By Jovf, you ve gain d more in a single Hour 
Than ever I have done in Half a Year; 
Curse on my Honesty ! I might have been 
A little King, and liv d without Concern, 
Had I but known the proper Arts to thrive. 

M Dole. Ay, there s the Way, my honest Friend, to live. 

(Clapping his Shoulder. 

There s Ninety Weight of Sterling Beaver for you, 
Worth all the Rum and Trinkets in my Store; 
And, would my Conscience let me do the Thing, 

1 In 1765, according to Alexander Henry, beaver was worth two shillings 
sixpence per pound at Mackinac, or one-half pound of powder, or one pound of 
shot, or one-tenth of a blanket. Travels and Adventures, Bain s Edition, Boston, 
1901, p. 187. 

182 



PONTEACH : OR THE SAVAGES OF AMERICA 

I might enhance my Price, and lessen theirs, 
And raise my Profits to an higher Pitch. 

Murpbey. I can t but thank you for your kind Instructions, 
As from them I expect to reap Advantage. 
But should the Dogs detect me in the Fraud, 
They are malicious, and would have Revenge. 

M Dole. Can t you avoid them? Let their Vengeance light 
On others Heads, no matter whose, if you 
Are but secure, and have the Gain in Hand: 
For they re indiff rent where they take Revenge, 
Whether on him that cheated, or his Friend, 
Or on a Stranger whom they never saw, 
Perhaps an honest Peasant, who ne er dreamt 
Of Fraud or Villainy in all his life; 
Such let them murder, if they will a Score, 
The Guilt is theirs, while we secure the Gain, 
Nor shall we feel the bleeding Victims Pain. 

(Exeunt. 



SCENE II. A Desart. 
Enter Orsbourn and Honnyman, Two English Hunters. 

Orsbourn. 

Long have we toil d, and rang d the Woods in vain, 
No Game, nor Track, nor Sign of any Kind 
Is to be seen; I swear I am discourag d 
And weary d out with this long fruitless Hunt. 
No Life on Earth besides is half so hard, 
So full of Disappointments, as a Hunter s: 
Each Morn he wakes he views the destin d Prey, 
And counts the Profits of th ensuing Day; 
Each Ev ning at his curs d ill Fortune pines, 
And till next day his Hope of Gain resigns. 
By Jove, I ll from these Desarts hasten home, 
And swear that never more I ll touch a Gun. 

Honnyman. These hateful Indians kidnap all the Game. 
Curse their black Heads ! they fright the Deer and Bear, 
And ev ry Animal that haunts the Wood, 
Or by their Witchcraft conjure them away. 
No Englishman can get a single Shot, 

183 



PONTEACH: OR THE SAVAGES OF AMERICA 

While they go loaded home with Skins and Furs. 
Twere to be wish d not one of them survived, 
Thus to infest the World, and plague Mankind. 
Curs d Heathen Infidels ! mere savage Beasts ! 
They don t deserve to breathe in Christian Air, 
And should be hunted down like other Brutes. 

Orsbourn. I only wish the Laws permitted us 
To hunt the savage Herd where-e er they re found; 
I d never leave the Trade of Hunting then, 
While one remain d to tread and range the Wood. 

Honnyman. Curse on the Law, I say, that makes it Death 
To kill an Indian^ more than to kill a Snake. 
What if tis Peace? these Dogs deserve no Mercy; 
Cursed revengeful, cruel, faithless Devils ! 
They kill d my Father and my eldest Brother. 
Since which I hate their very Looks and Name. 

Orsbourn. And I, since they betray d and kill d my Uncle; 
Hell seize their cruel, unrelenting Souls! 
Tho these are not the same, twould ease my Heart 
To cleave their painted Heads, and spill their Blood. 
I abhor, detes, *~d hate them all, 
And now cou d c-,. an Indian s Heart with Pleasure. 

Honnyman. I d join you, and soop his savage Brains for Sauce; 
I lose all Patience when I think of them, 
And, if you will, we ll quickly have Amends 
For our long Travel and successless Hunt, 
And the sweet Pleasure of Revenge to boot. 

Orsbourn. What will you do? Present, and pop one down? 

Honnyman. Yes, faith, the first we meet well fraught with Furs ; 
Or if there s Two, and we can make sure Work, 
By Jove, we ll ease the Rascals of their Packs, 
And send them empty home to their own Country. 
But then observe, that what we do is secret, 
Or the Hangman will come in for Snacks. 

Orsbourn. Trust me for that; I ll join with all my Heart; 
Nor with a nicer Aim, or steadier Hand, 
Would shoot a Tyger than 1 would an Indian. 
There is a Couple stalking now this Way 
With lusty Packs; Heav n favour our Design. 

Hon. Silence ; conceal yourself, and mind your Eye. 

Orsbourn. Are you well charg d? 

.84 



PONTEACH: OR THE SAVAGES OF AMERICA 

Honnyman. I am. Take you the nearest, 
And mind to fire exactly when I do. 

Orsbourn. A charming Chance! 

Honnyman. Hush, let them still come nearer. 

(They shoot, and run to rifle tbt Indians. 
They re down, old Boy, a Brace of noble Bucks! 

Orsbourn. Well tallow d, faith, and noble Hides upon em. 

(Taking up a Pack. 

We might have hunted all the Season thro 
For Half this Game, and thought ourselves well paid. 

Honnyman. By Jove, we might, and been at great Expence 
For Lead and Powder, here s a single Shot. 

Orsbourn. I swear I ve got as much as 1 can carry. 

Honnyman. And faith I m not behind; this Pack is heavy. 
But stop ; we must conceal the tawny Dogs, 
Or their blood-thirsty Countrymen will find them, 
And then we re bit. There ll be the Devil to pay, 
They ll murder us, and cheat the Hangman too. 

Orsbourn. Right. We ll prevent all Mischief of this Kind. 
Where shall we hide their savage Carcases? 

Honnyman. There they will lie conceal d and snug enough 

(They cover them. 

But stay perhaps ere long there ll be a War, 
And then their Scalps will sell for ready Cash, 
Two Hundred Crowns at least, and that s worth saving. 

Orsbourn. Well ! that is true, no sooner said than done 

(Drawing bis Knife. 
I ll strip this Fellow s painted greasy Skull. (Strips off the Scalp. 

Honnyman. A damn d tough Hide, or my Knife s devilish 
dull (Takes the other Scalp. 

Now let them sleep to Night without their Caps, 
And pleasant Dreams attend their long Repose. 

Orsbourn. Their Guns and Hatchets now are lawful Prize, 
For they ll not need them on their present Journey. 

Honnyman. The Devil hates Arms, and dreads the smell of 

Powder; 

He ll not allow such Instruments about him, 
They re free from training now, they re in his Clutches. 

Orsbourn. But, Honnyman, d ye think this is not Murder? 
I vow I m shock d a little to see them scalp d, 
And fear their Ghosts will haunt us in the Dark. 

.85 



PONTEACH : OR THE SAVAGES OF AMERICA 

Honnyman. It s no more Murder than to crack a Louse, 1 
That is, if you ve the Wit to keep it private. 
And as to Haunting, Indians have no Ghosts, 
But as they live like Beasts, like Beasts they die. 
I ve killed a Dozen in this self-same Way, 
And never yet was troubled with their Spirits. 

Orsbourn. Then I m content; my Scruples are remov d. 
And what I ve done, my Conscience justifies. 
But we must have these Guns and Hatchets alter d, 
Or they ll detect th Affair, and hang us both. 

Honnyman. That s quickly done Let us with Speed return, 
And think no more of being hang d or haunted; 
But turn our Fur to Gold, our Gold to Wine, 
Thus gaily spend what we ve so slily won, 
And bless the first Inventor of a Gun. (Exeunt. 



SCENE III. An English Port. 
Enter Colonel Cockum and Captain Frisk. 

Cockum. 

What shall we do with these damn d bawling Indians?* 
They re swarming every Day wirh their Complaints 
Of Wrongs and Injuries, and God knows what 
I wish the Devil would take them to himself. 

Frisk. Your Honour s right to wish the Devil his Due. 
I d send the noisy Helhounds packing hence, 
Nor spend a Moment in debating with them. 

1 "Twenty Indians have been murdered near here in a treacherous manner 
within the last six months. A young fellow executed lately for two unparalleled 
murders declared on the gallows that he thought it a meritorious act to kill heathen 
wherever they were found ; and this seems to be the opinion of all the common 
people." Johnson in Documentary History of New Tork, VII, 852. 

2 "The officers and soldiers of the garrisons did their full part in exciting the 
resentment of the Indians. Formerly when the warriors came to the forts, they 
had been welcomed by the French with attention and respect. The inconven 
ience which their presence occasioned had been disregarded, and their peculiarities 
overlooked. But now they were received with cold looks and harsh words from 
the officers, and with oaths, menaces, and sometimes blows from the reckless and 
brutal soldiers. These marks of contempt were unspeakably galling to their 
haughty spirit." Parkman, Conspiracy of Pontiac, Chapter VII. See Johnson 
Mss. t 5, 188. 

1 86 



PONTEACH : OR THE SAVAGES OF AMERICA 

The more you give Attention to their Murmurs, 
The more they ll plague and haunt you every Day, 
Besides, their old King Ponteach grows damn d saucy, 
Talks of his Power, and threatens what he ll do. 
Perdition to their faithless sooty Souls, 
I d let em know at once to keep their Distance. 

Cockum. Captain, You re right; their Insolence is such 
As beats my Patience; cursed Miscreants! 
They are encroaching; fain would be familiar: 
I ll send their painted Heads to Hell with Thunder! 
I swear I ll blow em hence with Cannon Ball, 
And give the Devil an Hundred for his supper. 

Frisk. They re coming here ; You see they scent your Track, 
And while you ll listen, they will ne er be silent, 
But every Day improve in Insolence. 

Cockum. I ll soon dispatch and storm them from my Presence. 

Enter Ponteach, 1 and other Indian Chiefs. 

Ponteach. Well, Mr. Colonel Cockum, what d they call you ? 
You give no Answer yet to my Complaint; 
Your Men give my Men always too much Rum, 
Then trade and cheat em. What! d ye think this right? 

Cockum. Tush ! Silence ! hold your noisy cursed Nonsense ; 
I ve heard enough of it; what is it to me? 

1 Pontiac was born about 1720, probably on the Maumee River. Though 
his paternity is not positively established, it is most likely that his father wai an 
Ottawa chief and his mother a Chippewa. As early as 1746 he commanded the 
Indians mostly Ottawa who defended Detroit against the attack of the north 
ern tribes. It is supposed he led the Ottawa and Chippewa warriors at Brad- 
dock s defeat. He first appeared prominently in history at his meeting with 
Major Rogers in 1760 (see p. 84), less than three years before the formation of 
his famous conspiracy. His achievements and talents had gained him by thia time 
an influence over the Chippewa, Potowatomi, Huron, Shawnee, Miami, and 
other Algonquin people, with the Seneca of the Six Nations, scarcely less power 
ful than over the Ottawa ; and to the limits of the Illinois country, and through 
the domain of the Creek and the Cherokee, his name was known and feared. 
Physically, he was not above middle height, but his figure was remarkably sym 
metrical, well-knit, and muscular ; his complexion was swarthy, his features bold 
and stern, and his bearing imperious and peremptory. He was eloquent, shrewd, 
energetic, and had a strong and capacious intellect, partially, but not wholly, free 
from the passions, prejudices, and limitations of his race. Ponttac Mss. Rogers, 
A Concise Account of North America. Parkman, Conspiracy of Pontiac. (Edition 
of C. M. Burton, Detroit, 1912.) 

.87 



PONTEACH : OR THE SAVAGES OF AMERICA 

Ponteach. What ! you a Colonel, and not command your Men ? 
Let ev ry one be a Rogue that has a Mind to t. 

Cockum. Why, curse your Men, I suppose they wanted Rum ; 
They ll rarely be content, I know, without it. 

Pont each. What then? If Indians are such Fools, I think 
White Men like you should stop and teach them better. 

Cockum. I m not a Pedagogue to your curs d Indians, (aside. 

Ponteach. Colonel, I hope that you ll consider this. 

Frisk. Why don t you see the Colonel will not hear you? 
You d better go and watch your Men yourself, 
Nor plague us with your cursed endless Noise; 
We ve something else to do of more Importance. 

Ponteacb. Hah ! Captain Frisky what! you a great Man too? 
My Bus ness here is only with your Colonel; 
And I ll be heard, or know the Reason why. 

1st Chief. I thought the English had been better Men. 

2nd Chief. Frenchmen would always hear an Indian speak, 
And answer fair, and make good Promises. 

Cockum. You may be d d, and all your Frenchmen too. 

Ponteach. Be d d! what s that? I do not understand. 

Cockum. The Devil teach you ; he ll do it without a Fee. 

Ponteach. The Devil teach ! I Think you one great Fool. 
Did your King tell you thus to treat the Indians? 
Had he been such a Dunce he ne er had conquer d, 
And made the running French for Quarter cry. 
I always mind that such proud Fools are Cowards, 
And never do aught that is great or good. 

Cockum. Forbear your Impudence, you curs d old Thief; 
This Moment leave my Fort, and to your Country. 
Let me hear no more of your hellish Clamour, 

Or to D n I will blow you all, 

And feast the Devil with one hearty Meal. 

Ponteach. So ho! Know you whose Country you are in? 1 
Think you, because you have subdu d the French^ 

1 " Pontiac assured me that he was inclined to live peacably with the English 
while they used him as he deserved but intimated that if they treated him with 
neglect he would shut up the way and exclude them from his country j in short, 
his whole conversation indicated that he was far from considering himself a con 
quered Prince, and he expected to be treated with the respect and honor due a 
King by all who came into his country." Rogers, A Conche Account of North 
America, p. 243. 

188 



PONTEACH : OR THE SAVAGES OF AMERICA 

That Indians too are now become your Slaves? 

This Country s mine, and here I reign as King; 

I value not your Threats, nor Forts, nor Guns; 

I have got Warriors, Courage, Strength, and Skill. 

Colonel, take care; the Wound is very deep, 

Consider well, for it is hard to cure. (Exeunt Indians. 

Frisk. Vile Infidels! observe their Insolence; 
Old Ponteach puts on a mighty Air. 

Cockum. They ll always be a Torment till destroy d, 
And sent all headlong to the Devil s Kitchen. 
This curs d old Thief, no doubt, will give us Trouble, 
Provok d and madded at his cool Reception. 

Frisk. Oh ! Colonel, they are never worth our minding, 
What can they do against our Bombs and Cannon? 
True, they may skulk, and kill and scalp a few, 
But, Heav n be thank d, we re safe within these Walls: 
Besides, I think the Governors are coming, 
To make them Presents, and stablish Peace. 

Cockum. That may perhaps appease their bloody Minds, 
And keep them quiet for some little Term. 
God send the Day that puts them all to sleep, 
Come, will you crack a Bottle at my Tent? 

Frisk. With all my Heart, and drink D n to them. 

Cockum. I can in nothing more sincerely join. 

(Exeunt. 



SCENE IV. An Apartment in the Port. 
Enter Governors Sharp, Gripe, and Catchum. 

Sharp. 

Here are we met to represent our King, 
And by his royal Bounties to conciliate 
These Indians minds to Friendship, Peace and Love, 
But he that would an honest Living get 
In Times so hard and difficult as these, 
Must mind that good old Rule, Take care of One. 

Gripe. Ay, Christian Charity begins at home; 
I think it s in the Bible, I know I ve read it. 

Catchum. I join with Paul, that he s an Infidel 
Who does not for himself and Friends provide. 

189 



PONTEACH : OR THE SAVAGES OF AMERICA 

Sharp. Yes, Paul in fact was no bad Politician, 
And understood himself as well as most. 
All good and wise Men certainly take care 
To Kelp themselves and Families the first; 
Thus dictates Nature, Instinct, and Religion, 
Whose easy Precepts ought to be bbey d. 

Gripe. But how does this affect our present Purpose? 
We ve heard the Doctrine; what s the Application? 

Sharp. We are intrusted with these Indian presents. 
A Thousand Pound was granted by the King, 
To satisfy them of his Royal Goodness, 
His constant Disposition to their Welfare, 
And reconcile their savage Minds to Peace. 
Five hundred s gone; you know our late Division, 
Our great Kxpence, Et cetera, no Matter: 
The other Half was laid out for these Goods, 
To be distributed as we think proper; 
And whether Half (I only put the Question) 
Of these said Goods, won t answer every End, 
And bring about as long a lasting Peace 
As tho the Whole were lavishly bestow d? 1 

Catchum. I m clear upon t they will, if we affirm 
That Half s the Whole was sent them by the King. 

Gripe. There is no doubt but that One Third wou d answer, 
For they, poor Souls ! are ignorant of the Worth 
Of single things, nor know they how to add 
Or calculate, and cast the whole Amount. 

Sharp. Ay, Want of Learning is a great Misfortune. 
How thankful should we be that we have Schools, 
And better taught and bred than these poor Heathen. 

Catchum. Yes, only these Two simple easy Rules, 
Addition and Subtraction, are great Helps, 
And much contribute to our Happiness. 

Sharp. Tis these I mean to put in Practice now; 
Subtraction from these Royal Presents makes 
Addition to our Gains without a Fraction. 

1 " In the zeal for retrenchment which prevailed soon after the clow of hos 
tilities, the presents which it had always been customary to give the Indiana, at 
stated intervals, were either withheld altogether or doled out with a niggardly and 
reluctant hand ; while, to make matters worse, the agents and officers of govern 
ment often appropriated the presents to themselves, and afterwards sold them at an 
exorbitant price to the Indians." Parkman, Conspiracy of Pontiac, Chapter VII. 

190 



PONTEACH : OR THE SAVAGES OF AMERICA 

But let us overhawl and take the best, 
Things may be given that won t do to sell. 

(They over bawl the Goods , &V. 

Catcbum. Lay these aside ; They ll fetch a noble Price. 
Gripe. And these are very saleable, I think. 

Sharp. The Indians will be very fond of these. 
Is there the Half, think you? 

Gripe. It s thereabouts. 

Catcbum. This bag of Wampum may be added yet. 

Sharp. Here, Lads, convey these goods to our Apartment. 

Servant. The Indians^ Sir, are waiting at the Gate. 

Gripe. Conduct them in when you ve disposed of these. 

Catchum. This should have been new-drawn before they 
enter d. (pulling out an Inventory of the whole Goods. 

Gripe. What matters that? They cannot read, you know, 
And you can read to them in gen ral Terms. 

Enter Ponteacb, with several of bis Chieftains. 

Sharp. Welcome, my Brothers, we are glad to meet you, 
And hope that you will not repent our coming. 

Ponteacb. We re glad to see our Brothers here the English. 
If honourable Peace be your Desire, 
We d always have the Hatchet buried deep, 
While Sun and Moon, Rivers and Lakes endure, 
And Trees and Herbs within our Country grow. 
But then you must not cheat and wrong the Indians^ 
Or treat us with Reproach, Contempt, and Scorn ; 
Else we will raise the Hatchet to the Sky, 
And let it never touch the Earth again, 
Sharpen its Edge, and keep it bright as Silver, 
Or stain it red with Murder and with Blood. 
Mind what I say, I do not tell you Lies. 

Sharp. We hope you have no Reason to complain 
That Englishmen conduct to you amiss; 
We re griev d if they have given you Offence, 
And fain would heal the Wound while it is fresh, 
Lest it should spread, grow painful, and severe. 

Pont each. Your Men make Indians drunk, and then they 

cheat em. 

Your Officers, your Colonels, and your Captains 
Are proud, morose, ill-natur d, churlish Men, 

191 



PONTEACH: OR THE SAVAGES OF AMERICA 

Treat us with Disrespect, Contempt, and Scorn. 

I tell you plainly this will never do, 

We never thus were treated by the French, 

Them we thought bad enough, but think you worse. 

Sharp. There s good and bad, you know, in every Nation ; 
There s some good Indians, some are the reverse, 
Whom you can t govern, and restrain from ill; 
So there s some Englishmen that will be bad. 
You must not mind the Conduct of a few, 
Nor judge the rest by what you see of them. 

Pont each. If you ve some good, why don t you send them here? 
These every one are Rogues, and Knaves, and Fools, 
And think no more of Indians than of Dogs. 
Your King had better send his good Men hither, 
And keep his bad ones in some other Country; 
Then you would find that Indians would do well, 
Be peaceable, and honest in their Trade ; 
We d love you, treat you, as our Friends and Brothers, 
And Raise the Hatchet only in your Cause. 

Sharp. Our King is very anxious for your Welfare, 
And greatly wishes for your Love and Friendship; 
He would not have the Hatchet ever raised, 
But buried deep, stamp d down and cover d o er, 
As with a mountain that can never move: 
For this he sent us to your distant Country, 
Bid us deliver you these friendly Belts, 

(holding out Belts of Wampum. 
All cover d over with his Love and Kindness. 
He like a Father loves you as his Children; 
And like a Brother wishes you all Good; 
We ll let him know the Wounds that you complain of, 
And he ll be speedy to apply the Cure, 
And clear the Path to Friendship, Peace and Trade. 

Ponteach. Your King, I hear s a good and upright Man, 
True to his word, and friendly in his Heart; 
Not proud and insolent, morose and sour, 
Like these his petty Officers and Servants: 
I want to see your King, 1 and let him know 

1 "Pontiac was curious and expressed a great desire to see England, and 
offered me a part of his country if I would conduct him there." Rogers, A 
Concise Account of North America, p. 242. 

192 



PONTEACH : OR THE SAVAGES OF AMERICA 

What must be done to keep the Hatchet dull, 
And how the Path of Friendship, Peace and Trade 
May be kept clean and solid as a Rock. 

Sharp. Our King is distant over the great Lake, 
But we can quickly send him your Requests ; 
To which he ll listen with attentive Ear, 
And act as tho* you told him with your Tongue. 

Ponteacb. Let him know then his People here are Rogues, 
And cheat and wrong and use the Indians ill. 
Tell him to send good Officers, and call 
These proud ill natur d Fellows from my Country, 
And keep his Hunters from my Hunting Ground. 
He must do this, and do it quickly too, 
Or he will find the Path between us bloody. 

Sharp. Of this we will acquaint our gracious King, 
And hope you and your Chiefs will now confirm 
A solid Peace as if our King was present; 
We re his Ambassadors, and represent him, 
And bring these Tokens of his Royal Friendship 
To you, your Captains, Chiefs, and valiant Men. 
Read Mr. Catchum^ you ve the Inventory. 

Catcbum. The British King, of his great Bounty, sends 
To Ponteacb) King upon the Lakes, and his Chiefs, 
Two hundred, No (aside) a Number of fine Blankets, 
Six hundred (aside) Yes, and several Dozen Hatchets, 
Twenty thousand (aside) and a Bag of Wampum, 
A Parcel too of Pans, and Knives, and Kettles. 

Sharp. This rich and royal Bounty you ll accept, 
And as you please distribute to your Chiefs, 
And let them know they come from England s King, 
As Tokens to them of his Love and Favour. 
We ve taken this long Journey at great Charge, 
To see and hold with you this friendly Talk; 
We hope your Minds are all disposed to Peace, 
And that you like our Sovereign Bounty well. 

ist Chief. We think it very small, we heard of more. 1 
Most of our Chiefs and Warriors are not here, 
They all expect to share a part with us. 

1 "The government of Virginia his treated the Six Nations, Cherokccs, and 
others with an ill-timed frugality which greatly disgusted them." Johnson s letter, 
(August, 1757,) Documentary History of New York, VII, 852. 

193 



PONTEACH: OR THE SAVAGES OF AMERICA 

2nd Chief. These won t reach round to more than half our 

Tribes, 

Few of our Chiefs will have a single Token 
Of your King s Bounty, that you speak so much of. 

jrd Chief. And those who have nt will be dissatisfied, . 
Think themselves slighted, think your King is stingy, 
Or else that you his Governors are Rogues, 
And keep your Master s Bounty for yourselves. 

4th Chief. We hear such Tricks are sometimes play d with 

Indians^ 

King AstenacO) the great Southern Chief, 1 
Who s been in England^ and has seen your King, 
Told me that he was generous, kind, and true, 
But that his Officers were Rogues and Knaves, 
And cheated Indians out of what he gave. 

Gripe. The Devil s in t, I fear that we re detected (aside. 

Ponteach. Indians a n t Fools, if White Men think us so; 
We see, we hear, we think as well as you; 
We know they re Lies, and Mischiefs in the World; 
We don t know whom to trust, nor when to fear; 
Men are uncertain, changing as the Wind, 
Inconstant as the Waters of the Lakes, 
Some smooth and fair, and pleasant as the Sun, 
Some rough and boist rous, like the Winter Storm; 
Some are Insidious as the subtle Snake, 
Some innocent, and harmless as the Dove; 
Some like the Tyger raging, cruel, fierce, 
Some like the Lamb, humble, submissive, mild, 
And scarcely one is every Day the same; 
But I call no Man bad, till such he s found, 
Then I condemn and cast him from my Sight; 
And no more trust him as a Friend and Brother. 
I hope to find you honest Men and true. 

1 Astinaco was one of the three Cherokee chiefs who visited England, June- 
August, 1762. They were brought on the frigate Epreuve, given English clothes 
and a house in Suffolk street, and entertained by such men as the Earl of March, 
Lord Bruce, and Mr. Montagu, by whom they were also taken to military re 
views and the navy-yard at Portsmouth. Magnificent specimens of their race, 
they were a two-months wonder in London, and a popular print was sold of 
Astinaco. Nothing is known of his connection with Pontiac. Sec Gentleman s 
Magazine, 1762, passim. 

194 



PONTEACH : OR THE SAVAGES OF AMERICA 

Sharp. Indeed you may depend upon our Honours, 
We re faithful Servants of the best of Kings ; 
We scorn an Imposition on your Ignorance, 
Abhor the Arts of Falshood and Deceit. 
These are the Presents our great Monarch sent, 
He s of a bounteous, noble, princely Mind 
And had he known the Numbers of your Chiefs, 
Each would have largely shar d his Royal Goodness; 
But these are rich and worthy your Acceptance, 
Few Kings on Earth can such as these bestow, 
For Goodness, Beauty, Excellence, and Worth. 

Ponteach. The Presents from your Sovereign I accept, 
His friendly Belts to us shall be preserved, 
And in Return convey you those to him. 

(Belts and Furs. 

Which let him know our Mind, and what we wish, 
That we dislike his crusty Officers, 
And wish the Path of Peace was made more plain, 
The Calumet I do not chuse to smoak, 
Till I see further, and my other Chiefs 
Have been consulted. Tell your King from me, 
That first or last a Rogue will be detected, 
That I have Warriors, am myself a King, 
And will be honour d and obey d as such; 
Tell him my Subjects shall not be oppress d, 
But I will seek Redress and take Revenge; 
Tell your King this ; I have no more to say. 

Sharp. To our great King your Gifts we will convey, 
And let him know the Talk we ve had with you; 
We re griev d we cannot smoak the Pipe of Peace, 
And part with stronger Proofs of Love and Friendship ; 
Mean time we hope you ll so consider Matters, 
As still to keep the Hr.tchet dull and buried, 
And open wide the shining Path of Peace, 
That you and we may walk without a Blunder. 

(Exeunt Indians. 

Gripe. Th appear not fully satisfied, I think. 

Catchum. I do not like old Ponteach s Talk and Air, 
He se^ms suspicious, and inclin d to War. 

Sharp. They re always jealous, bloody, and revengeful, 
You see that they distrust our Word and Honour; 

95 



PONTEACH : OR THE SAVAGES OF AMERICA 

No wonder then if they suspect the Traders, 
And often charge them with downright Injustice. 

Gripe. True, when even we that come to make them Presents, 
Cannot escape their Fears and Jealousies. 

Catcbum. Well, we have this, at least, to comfort us; 
Their good Opinion is no Commendation, 
Nor their foul Slanders any Stain to Honour. 
I think we ve done whatever Men could do 
To reconcile their savage Minds to Peace. 
If they re displeas d, our Honour is acquitted, 
And we have not been wanting in our Duty 
To them, our King, our Country, and our Friends. 

Gripe. But what Returns are these they ve left behind? 
These Belts are valuable, and neatly wrought. 

Catcbum. This Pack of Furs is very weighty too; 
The Skins are pick d, and of the choicest Kind. 

Sharp. By Jove, They re worth more Money than their 
Presents. 

Gripe. Indeed they are; the King will be no Loser. 

Sharp. The King! who ever sent such Trumpery to him? 

Catcbum. What would the King of England do with Wampum? 
Or Beaver Skins, d ye think? He s not a Hatter! 

Gripe. Then it s a Perquisite~Tjeiungs to us? 

Sharp. Yes, they re become our lawful Goods and Chattels, 
By all the Rules and Laws of Indian Treaties. 
The King would scorn to take a Gift from Indians, 
And think us Madmen, should we send them to him. 

Catcbum. I understand we make a fair Division, 
And have no Words nor Fraud among ourselves. 

Sharp. We throw the whole into one common Stock, 
And go Copartners in the Loss and Gain. 
Thus most who handle Money for the Crown 
Find means to make the better Half their own; 
And, to your better Judgments with Submission, 
The self Negiecter s a poor Politician. 
These Gifts, you see, will all Expences pay; 
Heav n send an Indian Treaty every Day; 
We dearly love to serve our King this Way. 

Tbe End of the First ACT. 
196 



ACT II. 

SCENE I. An Indian House. 

Enter Philip and Chekitan from bunting^ loaded with Venison. 

Philip. 

The Day s Toil s ended, and the Ev ning smiles 
With all the Joy and Pleasantness" of Plenty. 
Our good Success arid Fortune in the Chace 
Will make us Mirth and Pastime for the Night. 
How will the old Ki ig and his Hunters smile 
To see us loaded with the fatt ning Prey, 
And joyously relate their own Adventures? 
Not the brave Victor s Shout, or Spoils of War, 
Would give such Pleasure to their gladden d Hearts. 

Chekitan. These, Philip, are the unstain d Fruits of Peace, 
Effected by the conqu ring British Troops. 
"Now may~we hunt the Wilds_ecure from Foes, 
And seek our Food and Cloathing by the Chace, 
While Ease and Plenty thro our Country reign. 

Philip. Happy Effects indeed! long may they last! 
But 1 suspect the Term will be but short, 
Ere this our happy Realm is curs d afresh 
With all the Noise and Miseries of War, 
And Blood and Murder stain our Land again. 

Chekitan. What hast thou heard that seems to threaten this, 
Or is it idle Fancy and Conjectures? 

Philip. Our Father s late Behaviour and Discourse 
Unite to raise Suspicions in my Mind 
Of his Designs? Hast thou not yet observ d, 
That tho at first he favour d England s Troops, 
When they late landed on our fertile Shore, 
Proclaim d his Approbation of their March, 
Convoy d their Stores, protected them from Harm, 
Nay, put them in Possession of Detroit ;* 

1 For Pontiac s assistance to Rogers in taking possession of Detroit, sec p. 85. 

197 



PONTEACH : OR THE SAVAGES OF AMERICA 

And join d to fill the Air with loud Huzza s 
When England s Flag was planted on its Walls ? 
Yet, since, he seems displeas d at their Success, 
Thinks himself injured, treated with Neglect 
By their Commanders, as of no Account, 
As one subdu d and conquer d with the French, 
As one, whose Right to Empire now is lost, 
And he become a Vassal of their Power, 
Instead of an Ally. At this he s mov d, 
And in his Royal Bosom glows Revenge, 
Which I suspect will sudden burst and spread 
Like Lightning from the Summer s burning Cloud, 
That instant sets whole Forests in a Blaze. 1 

Cbekitan. Something like this I have indeed perceiv d; 
And this explains what I but now beheld, 
Returning from the Chace, myself concealed, 
Our Royal Father basking in the Shade, 
His Looks severe, Revenge was in his Eyes, 
All his great Soul seem d mounted in his Face, 
And bent on something hazardous and great. 
With pensive Air he view d the Forest round; 
Smote on his Breast as if oppress d with Wrongs, 
With Indignation starred upon the Ground; 
Extended then and shook his mighty Arm, 
As in Defiance of a coming Foe; 
Then like the hunted Elk lie forward sprung, 
As tho to trample his Assailants down. 
The broken accents murmur d from his Tongue, 
As rumbling Thunder from a distant Cloud, 
Distinct I heard, "Tis fix d, I ll be reveng d; 
"1 will make War: I ll drown this Land in Blood." 
He disappear d like the fresh-started Roe 
Pursu d by Hounds o er rocky Hills and Dales, 
That instant leaves the anxious Hunter s Eye; 
Such was his Speed towards the other Chiefs. 

Philip. He s gone to sound their Minds to Peace and War, 
And learn who ll join the Hazards in his Cause. 
The Fox, the Bear, the Eagle, Otter, Wolf, 

1 He puts on an air of majesty and princely grandeur, and is greatly hon 
ored and revered by all his subjects." Rogers, A Concise Account of Ntrtb 
America t p. 240. 

198 



PONTEACH : OR THE SAVAGES OF AMERICA 

And other valiant Princes of the Empire, 
Have late resorted hither for some End 
Of common Import. Time will soon reveal 
Their secret Counsels and their fix d Decrees. 
Peace has its charms for those who love their Ease, 
But active Souls like mine delight in Blood. 

Cbekitan. Should War be wag d, what Discords may we fear 
Among ourselves? The powerful Mohawk King 
Will ne er consent to fight against the English, 
Nay more, will join them as a firm Ally, 
And influence other Chiefs by his Example, 
To muster all their Strength against our Father. 
Fathers perhaps will fight against their Sons, 
And nearest Friends pursue each other s Lives ; 
Blood, Murder, Death, and Horror will be rife, 
Where Peace and Love, and Friendship triumph now. 

Philip. Such stale Conjectures smell of Cowardice. 
Our Father s Temper shews us the Reverse: 
All Danger he defies, and, once resolv d, 
No Arguments will move him to relent, 
No Motives change his Purpose of Revenge, 
No Prayers prevail upon him to delay 
The Execution of his fix d Design: 
Like the starv d Tyger in Pursuit of Prey, 
No Opposition will retard his Course; 
Like the wing d Eagle that looks down on Clouds, 
All Hindrances are little in his Eye, 
And his great Mind knows not the Pain of Fear. 

Cbekitan. Such Hurricanes of Courage often lead 
To Shame and Disappointment in the End, 
And tumble blindfold on their own Disgrace. 
True Valour s slow, deliberate, and cool, 
Considers well the End, the Way, the Means, 
And weighs each Circumstance attending them. 
Imaginary Dangers it detects, 
And guards itself against all real Evils. 
But here Tenesco comes with Speed important; 
His Looks and Face presage us something new. 

Tenesco. Hail, noble Youth ! The News of your Return 
And great Success has reach d your Father s Ears. 
Great is his Joy ; but something more important 

199 



PONTEACH: OR THE SAVAGES OF AMERICA 

Seems to rest heavy on his anxious Mind, 
And he commands your Presence at his Cabbin. 

Philip. We will attend his Call with utmost Speed, 
Nor wait Refreshment after our Day s Toil. (Exeunt. 



SCENE II. Ponteach s Cabbin. 
Ponteach, Philip, Chekitan, and Tenesco. 

Ponteacb. 

My Sons, and trusty Counsellor Tenesco , 
As the sweet smelling Rose, when yet a Bud, 
Lies close conceal d, till Time and the Sun s Warmth 
Hath swell d, matur d, and brought it forth to View, 
So these my Purposes I now reveal 
Are to be kept with You, on pain of Death, 
Till Time hath ripen d my aspiring Plan, 
And Fortune s Sunshine shall disclose the Whole; 
Or should we fail, and Fortune prove perverse, 
Let it be never known how far we fail d, 
Lest Fools shou d triumph, or our Foes rejoice. 

Yenesco. The Life of great Designs is Secrecy, 
And in Affairs of State tis Honour s Guard; 
For Wisdom cannot form a Scheme so well, 
But Fools will laugh if it should prove abortive; 
And our Designs once known, our Honour s made 
Dependent on the Fickleness of Fortune. 

Philip. What may your great and secret Purpose be, 
That thus requires Concealment in its Birth? 

Ponteacb. To raise the Hatchet from its short Repose, 
Brighten its Edge, and stain it deep with Blood; 
To scourge my proud, insulting, haughty Foes, 
To enlarge my Empire, which will soon be yours: 
Your Interest, Glory, Grandeur, I consult, 
And therefore hope with Vigour you ll pursue 
And execute whatever I command. 

Cbekitan. When we refuse Obedience to your Will, 
We are not worthy to be call d your Sons. 

Philip. If we inherit not our Father s Valour, 
We never can deserve to share his Empire. 



200 



PQNTEACH : OR THE SAVAGES OF AMERICA 

Tenesco. Spoke like yourselves, the Sons of Ponteach; 
Strength, Courage, and Obedience form the Soldier, 
And the firm Base of all true Greatness lay. 

Ponteacb. Our Empire now is large, our Forces strong, 
Our Chiefs are wise, our Warriors valiant Men; 
We are all furnish d with the best of Arms, 
And all things requisite to curb a Foe; 
And now s our time, if ever, to secure 
Our Country, Kindred, Empire, all that s dear, 
From these Invaders of our Rights, the English, 
And set their Bounds towards the rising Sun. 
Long have I seen with a suspicious Eye 
The Strength and growing Numbers of the French; 
Their Forts and Settlements I ve view d as Snakes 
Of mortal Bite, bound by the Winter Frost, 
Which in some future warm reviving Day 
Would stir and hiss, and spit their Poison forth, 
And spread Destruction through our happy Land. 
Where are we now? The French are all subdued, 
But who are in their Stead become our Lords? 
A proud, imperious, churlish, haughty Band. 
The French familiarized themselves with us, 
Studied our Tongue, and Manners, wore our Dress, 
Married our Daughters, and our Sons their Maids, 
Dealt honestly, and well supplied our Wants, 
Used no One ill, and treated with Respect 
Our Kings, our Captains, and our aged Men; 
Call d us their Friends, nay, what is more, their Children, 
And seem d like Fathers anxious for our Welfare. 
Whom see we now? their haughty Conquerors 
Possess d of every Fort, and Lake, and Pass, 
Big with their Victories so often gained; 
On us they look with deep Contempt and Scorn, 
Are false, deceitful, knavish, insolent; 
Nay think us conquered, and our Country theirs, 
Without a Purchase, or ev n asking for it. 
With Pleasure I wou d call their King my Friend, 
Yea, honour and obey him as mv Father; 
I d be content, would he keep his own Sea, 
And leave these distant Lakes and Streams to us; 
Nay I would pay him Homage, if requested, 



PONTEACH : OR THE SAVAGES OF AMERICA 

And furnish Warriors to support his Cause. 
But thus to lose my Country and my Empire, 
To be a Vassal to his low Commanders, 
Treated with Disrespect and public Scorn 
By Knaves, by Miscreants, Creatures of his Power; 
Can this become a King like Ponteach, 
Whose Empire s measured only by the Sun? 
No, I ll assert my Right, the Hatchet raise, 
And drive these Britons hence like frighted Deer, 
Destroy their Forts, and make them rue the Day 
That to our fertile Land they found the Way. 

Tenesco. No Contradiction to your great Design ; 
But will not such Proceeding injure us? 
Where is our Trade and Commerce to be carry d? 
For they re possess d of all the Country round, 
Or whence Supplies of Implements for War? 

Ponteach. Whence? Take them from our conquered running 

Foes. 

Their Fortresses are Magazines of Death, 
Which we can quickly turn against themselves; 
And when they re driven to their destin d Bounds, 
Their Love or Gain will soon renew their Trade. 
The heartless French^ whene er they see us conquer, 
Will join their little Force to help us on. 
Nay many of their own brave trusty Soldiers, 
In Hope of Gain, will give us their Assistance; 
For Gain s their great Commander, and will lead them 
Where their brave Generals cannot force their March : 
Some have engag d, when they see hope of Plunder, 
In sly Disguise to kill their Countrymen. 

Chekitan. These Things indeed are promising and fair, 
And seem a Prelude to our full Success. 
But will not many Indian Chiefs refuse 
To join the Lists, and hold themselves oblig d 
T assist the Foe when hardly press d by us ? 

Ponteach. I ve sounded all their Minds; there s but a few 
That are not warm and hearty in our Cause, 
And those faint Hearts we ll punish at our Leisure: 
For hither tends my Purpose ; to subdue 
The Tribes who now their annual Homage pay 
To the Imperious haughty Mohawk Chief, 



PONTEACH: OR THE SAVAGES OF AMERICA 

Whose Pride and Insolence tis Time to curb. 
He ever boasts the Greatness of his Empire, 
The Swiftness, Skill and Valour of his Warriors, 
His former Conquests, and his fresh Exploits, 
The Terror of his Arms in distant Lands, 
And on a Footing puts himself with me, 
For Wisdom to contrive, and Power to do. 
Such a proud Rival must not breath the Air; 
I ll die in fighting, or I ll reign alone 
O er every Indian Nation, Tribe, and Chief. 
But this in solemn Silence we conceal, 
Till they re drawn in to fight the common Foe, 
Then from my Face, the sly Disguise I ll cast, 
And shew them Ponteach to their Surprize. 

Tenesco. Thy Plan is wise, and may Success attend it; 
May all the warlike numerous Tribes unite, 
Nor cease to conquer while thou hast a Foe! 
Then may they join and own thee for their Sovereign, 
Pay full Submission to thy scepter d Arm, 
And universal Empire be thy own ! 

Chekitan. Would you the Mohawk Emperor displease, 
And wage a bloody War, by which you made 
Him and his num rous Tribes your certain Foes? 

Ponteach. Most of his Tribes will welcome the Proposal; 
For long their galled necks have felt the Yoke, 
Long wish d for Freedom from his partial Sway, 
In favour of the proud incroaching Britons. 
Nay, they have oft, in spite of his Displeasure, 
Rush d forth like Wolves upon their naked Borders, 
And now, like Tygers broken from their Chains, 
They ll glut themselves, and revel in their Blood. 

Philip. Myself will undertake to make even Hendrick 1 
Our zealous Friend against the common Foe; 
His strong Attachment to them I ll dissolve, 
And make him rage, and thirst for Vengeance on them. 

1 Hendrick was a Mohawk chief, son of a Mohegan father and a Mohawk 
mother. With many of his men he participated in the campaign against the French 
in 1755, and at the request of General Johnson joined the English army, which 
met two thousand French under Dieskau near Lake George. At the battle which 
there took place, September 8, 1755, Hendrick with many of his followers was 
killed. He was then less than seventy years of age. 

203 



PONTEACH : OR THE SAVAGES OF AMERICA 

Ponteacb. This would be doing Honour to thyself, 
And make thee worthy of thy Father s Crown. 
The secret Means I will not now inquire, 
Nor doubt but thus engag d you will perform. 
The Chiefs in part are knowing to my Purpose, 
And think of nought but War, and Blood, and Plunder, 
Till in full Council we declare our Pleasure, 
But first my last Night s Dream I will relate, 
Which much disturb d my weary anxious Mind, 
And must portend some signal grand Event 
Of good or Evil both to me or mine. 
On yonder Plain I saw the lordly Elk 1 
Snuffing the empty Air in seeming Sport, 
Tossing his Head aloft, as if in Pride 
Of his great Bulk and nervous active Limbs, 
And Scorn of every Beast that haunts the Wood. 
With mighty Stride he travelled to and fro, 
And as he mov d his Size was still increas d, 
Till his wide Branches reached above the Trees, 
And his extended Trunk across the Plain. 
The other Beasts beheld with wild Amaze, 
Stood trembling round, nor dare they to approach 
Till the fierce Tyger yell d the loud Alarm, 
When Bears, Cats, Wolves, Panthers, and Porcupines, 
And other Beasts of Prey, with Force united 
And savage Rage, attack d the common Foe. 
But as the busking Bull, when Summer Flies, 
With keenest Sting disturb the grazing Herd, 
Stands careless in some shady cool Retreat, 
And from his Sides sweeps the invenom d Mites, 
Or shakes them with a Stamp into the Dust; 
So he unmov d amidst their Clamours stood, 
Trampled and spurn d them with his Hoofs and Horns, 
Till all dispers d in wild Disorder fled, 
And left him Master of th extended Plain. 

Tenesco. This Dream no doubt is full of some great Meaning, 

1 " The Indians have a great veneration for the elk, and imagine that to dream 
of it portends good fortune and long life." Rogers, A Concise Account of North 
America, p. 260. "The Indians depend much upon their dreams, and really 
believe the dream the whole history of their future life, ... for which reason 
they make dreaming a kind of religious ceremony ..." Idem, p. 215. 

204 



PONTEACH : OR THE SAVAGES OF AMERICA 

And in it bears the Fate of your Design, 
But whether good or ill, to me s a Secret. 

Philip. It ne er was counted ill to dream of Elks, 
But always thought portentous of Success, 
Of happy Life, and Victories in War, 
Or Fortune good when we attempt the Chace. 

Chekitan. Such is the common Say ; But here the Size 
And all the Circumstances are uncommon, 
And therefore can contain no common Meaning: 
I fear these Things portend no Good to us, 
That Mischiefs lurk like Serpents in the Grass, 
Whose pois nous deadly Bite precedes all Warning, 
That this Design will end in mighty Ruin 
To us and ours, Discord among our Friends, 
And Triumph to our Foes. 

Philip. A valiant Hero ! 
Thou always wast a Coward, and hated War, 
And lov st to loll on the soft Lap of Peace. 
Thou art a very Woman in thy Heart, 
And talk st of Snakes and Bugbears in the Dark, 
Till all is Horror and Amaze about thee, 
And even thy own Shadow makes thee tremble. 

Cbekitan. Is there no Courage in delib rate Wisdom? 
Is all rank Cowardice but Fire and Fury? 
Is it all womanish to re-consider 
And weigh the Consequences of our Actions, 
Before we desperately rush upon them ? 
Let me then be the Coward, a mere Woman, 
Mine be the Praise of Coolness, yours of Rage. 

Pont each. Peace, Peace, my Sons, nor let this casual Strife 
Divide your Hearts; both mean the common Good; 
Go Hand in Hand to conquer and promote it. 
I ll to our worthy Doctor and the Priest, 
Who for our Souls Salvation come from France ; 
They sure can solve the Mysteries of Fate, 
And all the Secrets of a Dream explain ; 
Mean while, Tenesco, warn the other Chiefs 
That they attend my Call within an Hour. 

(Exeunt Pont. & Tenesco. 

Philip. My Warmth perhaps has carried me too far, 
But it s not in me to be cool and backward 

205 



PONTEACH : OR THE SAVAGES OF AMERICA 

To act or speak when Kingdoms are the Prize. 
My Blood runs high at the sweet Sound of Empire/ 
Such as our Father s Plan ensures to us, 
And I m impatient of the least Delay. 

Cbekitan. Thy Fire thou hast a Right to stile a Virtue ; 
Heat is our Friend when kept within due Bounds, 
But if unbridled and allowed to rage, 
It burns and blisters, torments and consumes, 
And, Torrent-like, sweeps every Comfort by. 
Think if our Father s Plan should prove abortive, 
Our Troops repuls d, or in th Encounter slain, 
Where are our conquer d Kingdoms then to share, 
Where are our Vict ries, Trophies, Triumphs, Crowns, 
That dazzle in thy Eye, and swell thy Heart; 
That nerve thy Arm, and wing thy Feet to War 
With this impetuous Violence and Speed? 
Crest-fallen then, our native Empire lost, 
In captive Chains we drag a wretched Life, 
Or fly inglorious from the conquering Foe 
To barren Mountains from this fertile Land, 
There to repent our Folly when too late, 
In Anguish mourn, and curse our wretched Fate. 

Philip. But why so much of Mischiefs that may happen? 
These are mere possibilities at most; 
Creatures of Thought, which ne er can be Objections, 
In valiant Minds, to any great Attempt; 
They re empty Echoes of a tim rous Soul, 
Like Bubbles driv n by the tempestuous Storm, 
The Breath of Resolution sweeps them off. 
Nor dost thou judge them solid from thy Heart. 
I know the secret Motive in thy Breast, 
Thus to oppose our Father s great Design, 
And from an Undertaking to dissuade, 
In which thou lt share the Profit and the Glory. 
Hendrick, the King of Mohawks, hath a Daughter, 
With whom I saw you dallying in the Shade, 
And thought you then a Captive to her Charms. 
The bright Moneiia hangs upon thy Heart, 
And softens all the Passions of thy Soul ; 
Her thou think st lost should we proclaim a War, 
In which the King her Father will not join. 

206 



PONTEACH: OR THE SAVAGES OF AMERICA 

Cbekitan. What if I have a Value^for Monelia, 
Is it a Crime? Does she not merit Love 
From all who see her move, or hear her speak? 

Philip. True, she is engaging, has a charming Air; 
And if thy Love is fix d, I will assist it, 
And put thee in Possession of the Joy 
That thou desirest more than Crowns and Empire. 

Cbekitan. As how, dear Philip? Should we wage a War 
Which Hendrick disapproves, the Prize is lost. 
Not Empires then could make Monelia mine; 
All Hopes are dash d upon that fatal Rock; 
Nor Gold, nor Prayers, nor Tears, nor Promises, 
Nor all the Engin ry of Love at Work, 
Could save a single Moment of my Joy. 

Philip. Yes, I will save it all, and make her thine, 
Act but thy Part, and do as I prescribe, 
In Peace or War thou shalt possess the Prize. 

Cbekitan. Thy Words revive my half-despairing Heart. 
What must I act? or which Way must I turn? 
I ll brave all Dangers, every 111 defy. 
Risque Life itself, to call Monelia mine. 
Help me, my Philip, and I ll be thy Slave, 
Resign my Share of Empire to thy Hand, 
And lay a Claim to nothing but Monelia. 

Philip. Rewards I do not ask ; I am thy Brother, 
And hold my Kindness to thee as a Debt. 
Thou know st I have engag d to bring King Hendrick 
To join the Lists, and fight against our Foes, 
To rouse him to Revenge, and Rage, and War, 
And make him zealous in the common Cause. 
Nay, with uncommon Fury he shall rave, 
And urge his Warriors on to Blood and Murder. 
When this is done, Monelia may be thine, 
Hendrick will court Alliance to our Tribe, 
And joy to call great Ponteacb s Son his own. 

Cbekitan. But should you fail in these Attempts, and he 
Prove obstinately fix d against the War, 
Where s then Monelia? where is Cbekitan? 
My Hopes are blasted, all my Joys are fled, 
Like the vain Phantoms of a Midnight Dream, 
Are scattered like the Dust before a Whirlwind, 

207 



PONTEACH: OR THE SAVAGES OF AMERICA 

And all my Soul is left a Void for Pain, 
Vexation, Madness, Phrensy, and Despair, 
And all the Pains of disappointed Love. 
Better I ne*er had flattered my fond Heart, 
Nor sooth d my Mjnd with Prospects of my Joy, 
Than thus to perish on the Point of Hope. 

Philip. Leave all to me; I ve so concerted Matters, 
That I defy ev n Fate to disappoint me. 
Kxert thyself, and to Monelia go, 
Before th assembled Chiefs in Council meet; 
Urge it to her, and to her Brother Torax, 
That should their Father prove refractory, 
Withdraw himself, and order his Domesticks 
To hasten home at News of our Design ; 
Urge it, I say, to them ; Torax loves War; 
To linger here in Hopes of his Return, 
W 7 hich tell them I ll effect ere twice the Sun 
Has run the Circuit of his daily Race. 
Here they may loiter careless, range the Woods, 
As tho* the Noise of War had not been heard. 
This will give full Success to both our Wishes : 
Thoul t gain the Prize of Love, and I of Wrath, 
In favour to our Family and State. 
Thoul t tame the Turtle, I shall rouse the Tyger; 
The one will soothe thy Soul to soft Repose, 
The other prove a Terror to our Foes. 

Chekitan. I see the subtle Argument thou lt use, 
And how thou lt work upon the old King s Weakness. 
Thou lt set his strong Affection for his Children 
At War against his Kindness for our Foes, 
By urging their Attachment to our Cause, 
That they ll endure ev n Banishment and Death, 
Rather than cease to be our stedfast Friends. 

Philip. All this I ll urge, nay more, I will convince him, 
These Foes to us can be no Friends to him ; 
I ll thunder in his Ears their growing Power, 
Their Villainies and Cheats upon his Subjects : 
That their fair Shew of Love is foul Disguise; 
That in their Hearts they hate the name of Indians, 
And court his Friendship only for their Profit; 



208 



PONTEACH : OR THE SAVAGES OF AMERICA 

That when no longer he subserves their Ends, 
He may go whistle up some other Friends. 

Cbekitan. This must alarm and bring him to our Mind. 
I ll hasten to my Charge with utmost Speed, 
Strain every Nerve, and every Power exert ; 
Plead, promise, swear like any Christian Trader; 
But I ll detain them till our Ends are answer d, 
And you have won their Father to our Purpose. (Exit. 

Philip, solus. 

Oh ! what a wretched Thing is a Man in Love! 
All Fear all Hope all Diffidence all Faith 
Distrusts the greatest Strength, depends on Straws 
Soften d, unprovident, disarm d, unman d, 
Led blindfold ; every Power denies its Aid, 
And every Passion s but a Slave to this; 
Honour, Revenge, Ambition, Interest, all 
Upon its Altar bleed Kingdoms and Crowns 
Are slighted and contemn d, and all the Ties 
Of Nature are dissolv d by this poor Passion: 
Once have 1 felt its Poison in my Heart, 
When this same Chekitan a Captive led 
The fair Donanta from the Illinois; 
I saw, admir d, and lov d the charming Maid, 
And as a Favour ask d her from his Hands, 
But he refus d and sold her for a Slave. 
My Love is Dead, but my Resentment lives, 
And now s my Time to let the Flame break forth, 
For while I pay this antient Debt of Vengeance, 
I ll serve my Country, and advance myself. 
He loves Monelia Hendrick must be won 
Monelia and her Brother both must bleed 
This is my Vengeance on her Lover s Head 
Then I ll affirm, twas done by Englishmen 
And to gain Credit both with Friends and Foes, 
I ll wound myself, and say that I receiv d it 
By striving to assist them in the Combat. 
This will rouse Hendrick s Wrath, and arm his Troops 
To Blood and Vengeance on the common Foe. 
And further still my Profit may extend ; 



209 



PONTEACH : OR THE SAVAGES OF AMERICA 

My Brother s Rage will lead him into Danger, 
And, he cut off, the Empire s all my own. 
Thus am I fix d ; my Scheme of Goodness laid, 
And I ll effect it, tho thro Blood I wade, 
To desperate Wounds apply a Desperate Cure, 
And to tall Structures lay Foundations sure ; 
To Fame and Empire hence my Course I bend, 
And every Step I take shall thither tend. 



End of the Second ACT. 



210 



ACT III. 
SCENE I. A Forest. 

Chekitan seeing Torax and Monelia coming towards them. 

As the young Hunter, anxious in the Chace, 

With beating Heart and quivering Hand espies 

The wish d lor Game, and trembles for th Event, 

So I behold the bright Monelia s Steps, 

Whom anxiously I ve sought, approach this way 

What shall I say ? or how shall I accost her ? 

It is a fatal Minute to mistake in. 

The Joy or Grief of Life depends upon t ; 

It is the important Crisis of my Fate. 

I ve thought a thousand things to say and do, 

But know not which to say or do the first. 

Shall I begin with my old Tale of Love? 

Or shall I shock her with the News of War? 

Must I put on the Face of Joy or Grief? 

Seem unconcern d or full of Doubts and Fears? 

How unprepar d I am for the Encounter! 

I d rather stand against an Host of Foes 

But she draws near, and Fate must guide me now. 

Enter Torax and Monelia. 

Where tend your Steps with such an Air of Joy? 

Torax. To view the Beauties of th extended Lake, 
And on its mossy Bank recline at Ease, 
While we behold the Sports of Fish and Fowl, 
Which in this Calm no doubt will be diverting. 
And these are new Amusements to Monelia, 
She never saw the Sea or Lakes before. 

Chekitan. I m glad our Country s aught to give such Pleasure 
To one deservedly so welcome in it. 

Monelia. That I am welcome you have oft assur d me, 



PONTEACH: OR THE SAVAGES OF AMERICA 

That I deserve it you may be mistaken, 
The outside Shew, the Form, the Dress, the Air, 
That please at first Acquaintance, oft deceive us, 
And prove more Mimickers of .true Desert, 
Which always brightens by a further Trial, 
Appears more lovely as we know it better, 
At least can never suffer by Acquaintance. 
Perhaps then you To-morrow will despise 
What you esteem to-Day, and call deserving. 

Chekitan. My Love to you, Monelia^ cannot change. 
Your Beauty, like the Sun, for ever pleases, 
And like the Earth, my Love can never move. 

Monelia. The Earth itself is sometimes known to shake, 
And the bright Sun by Clouds is oft conceal d, 
And gloomy Night succeeds the Smiles of Day 
So Beauty oft by foulest Faults is veil d, 
And after one short Blaze admir d no more, 
Loses its Lustre, drops its sparkling Charms, 
The Lover sickens, and his Passion dies. 
Nay worse, he hates what he so doted on. 
Time only proves the Truth of Worth and Love, 
The one may be a Cheat, the other change, 
And Fears, and Jealousies, and mortal Hate, 
Succeed the Sunshine of the warmest Passion. 

Chekitan. Have I not vow d my Love to you, Monflia t 
And open d all the Weakness of my Heart ? 
You cannot think me false and insincere, 
When I repeat my Vows to love you still; 
Each time I see you move, or hear you speak, 
It adds fresh Fuel to the growing Flame. 
You re like the rising Sun, whose Beams increase 
As he advances upward to our View; 
We gaze with growing Wonder till we re blind, 
And every Beauty fades and dies but his. 
Thus shall I always view your growing Charm, 
And every Day and Hour with fresh Delight. 
Witness thou Sun and Moon, and Stars above, 
Witness ye purling Streams and quivering Lakes, 
Witness ye Groves and Hills, and Springs and Plains, 
Witness ye Shades, and the cool Fountain, where 
1 first espied the Image of her Charms, 



212 



PONTEACH : OR THE SAVAGES OF AMERICA 

And starting saw her on th* adjacent Bank, 
If I to my Monelia prove untrue. 

Monelia. Hoh! now your Talk is so much like a Christian s, 
That I must be excus d if I distrust you, 
And think your fair Pretenses all designing. 
I once was courted by a spruce young Blade, 
A lac d Coat Captain, warlike, active, gay, 
Cockaded Hat and Medal on his Breast, 
And everything was clever but his Tongue ; 
He swore he lov d, O ! how he swore he lov d, 
Call d on his God and Stars to witness for him, 
Wish d he might die, be blown to Hell and damn d, 
If ever he lov d woman so before: 
Call d me his Princess, Charmer, Angel, Goddess, 
Swore nothing else was ever half so pretty, 
So dear, so sweet, so much to please his Taste, 
He kiss d, he squeez d, and press d me to his Bosom, 
Vow d nothing could abate his ardent Passion, 
Swore he should die, should drown, or hang himself, 
Could not exist if I denied his Suit, 
And said a thousand Things I cannot name: 
My simple Heart, made soft by so much Heat, 
Half gave Consent, meaning to be his Bride. 
The Moment thus unguarded, he embrac d, 
And impudently ask d to stain my Virtue. 
With just Disdain I push d him frcm my Arms, 
And let him know he d kindled my Resentment; 
The Scene was chang d from Sunshine to a Storm, 
O ! then he curs d, and swore, and damn d, and sunk, 
Call d me proud Bitch, pray d Heav n to blast my Soul, 
Wish d Furies, Hell, and Devils had my Body, 
To say no more; bid me begone in Haste 
Without the smallest Mark of his Affection. 
This was an Englishman, a Christian Lover. 

Chekitan. Would you compare an Indian Prince to those 
Whose Trade it is to cheat, deceive, and flatter? 
Who rarely speak the Meaning of their Hearts? 
Whose Tongues are full of Promises and Vows ? 
Whose very Language is a downright Lie? 
Who swear and call on Gods when they mean nothing? 
Who call it complaisant, polite good Breeding, 

213 



PONTEACH: OR THE SAVAGES OF AMERICA 

To say Ten thousand things they don t intend, 
And tell their nearest Friends the basest Falsehoods? 
I know you cannot think me so perverse, 
Such Baseness dwells not in an Indian .* Heart, 
And I ll convince you that I am no Christian. 

Mone/ia. Then do not swear, nor vow, nor promise much, 
An honest Heart needs none of this Parade; 
Its Sense steals softly to the listning Ear, 
And Love, like a rich Jewel we most value, 
When we ourselves by Chance espy its Blaze 
And none proclaims where we may find the Prize. 
Mistake me not, I don t impeach your Honour, 
Nor think you undeserving my Esteem ; 
When our Hands join you may repeat your Love, 
But save these Repetitions from the Tongue. 

Chekitan. Forgive me, if my Fondness is too pressing, 
Tis Fear, tis anxious Fear, that makes it so. 

Mone/ia. What do you fear? have I not said enough? 
Or would you have me swear some Christian Oath ? 

Chekitan. No, but I fear our Love will be oppos d, 
Your Father will forbid our Hands to join. 

Monelia. I cannot think it ; you are Ponteach s Son, 
Heir to an Empire large and rich as his. 

Chekitan. True ; but your Father is a Friend to Britons, 
And mine a Foe, and now is fix d on War, 
Immediate War: This Day the Chiefs assemble, 
To raise the Hatchet, and to arm the Troops. 

Monelia. Then I must leave your Realm, and bid Adieu, 
In spite of your fond Passion, or my own; 
For I can never disoblige my Father, 
Though by it I were sure to gain an Empire. 

Chekitan. Then Chekitan s undone, undone forever. 
Unless your Father by kind Fate is mov d 
To be our Friend, rnd join the Lists with mine. 

Torax. Nothing would please me better; I love War, 
And think it time to curb the English Pride, 
And give a check to their increasing Power. 
The Land is ravag d by their numerous Bands, 
And every Day they re growingliiore~our Lords. 

Chekitan. Are you sincere, or do you feign this Speech? 

Torax. Indeed my Tongue does not bely my Heart; 

214 



PONTEACH : OR THE SAVAGES OF AMERICA 

And but my Father s wrong-turn d Policy 
Forbids, I d instant join in War with you, 
And help to set new Limits to their Power. 

Cbektfan. Tis plain, if they proceed, nor you nor I 
Shall rule an Empire, or possess a Crown, 
Our Countries all will soon become a Prey 
To Strangers ; we perhaps shall be their Slaves. 
But will your Father be convinc d of this? 

Torax. I doubt he ll not. The good old Man esteems 
And dotes upon them as most worthy Friends ; 
I ve told Him often that he cherish d Serpents 
To bite his Children, and destroy his Friends. 
But this he calls the Folly of my Youth, 
Bids me be silent, shew Respect to Age, 
Nor sow Sedition in my Father s Empire. 

Cbekitan. Stiff as he is, he yet may be subdued; 
And I ve a Power prepar d that will attack him. 
Should he refuse his Aid to our Design, 
Retire himself, and bid his Troops to follow, 
Yet Philip stands engag d for his Return, 
Ere twice the Sun hath ris n and blest the Earth. 
Philip is eloquent, and so prepar d, 
He cannot fail to bend him to our Purpose. 
You and Monelia have a Part to act; 
To linger here, should he in Haste retreat 
Till Philip follows and employs his Force. 
Your Stay will add new Life to the Design, 
And be of mighty Weight to gain Success. 

Monelia. How shall we tarry midst the Noise of War, 
In Danger of our Lives from Friends and Foes; 
This will be deem d a Madness by our Father, 
And will deserve his most severe Rebuke. 

Chekitan. Myself will be a Sponsor for your Safety; 
And should your Father baffle our Attempts, 
Conduct you home from all the Noise of War, 
Where may you long in Peace and Plenty smile, 
While I return to mourn my hapless Fate. 
But should Success attend on Philip s Purpose, 
Your Katherwill not discommend your Stay, 
But smiling give new Vigour to the War; 
Which being ended, and our Foes subdu d, 

215 



PONTEACH : OR THE SAVAGES OF AMERICA 

The happy Fruits of Peace succeed to all, 
But we snail taste the greater Sweets of Love. 

Vorax. The Purport of our Stay is hid from me ; 
But Philip s subtle, crafty as the Fox, 
We ll give full Scope to his inticing Art, 
And help him what we can to take the Prey. 

Monelia. In your Protection then I trust myself, 
Nor will delay beyond th appointed Term, 
Lest anxious Fears pr jsess our Father s Heart, 
Or Mischiefs happen that incur his Anger. 

Tor ax. It is agreed; we now pursue our Walk; 
Mean time consult what else may be of Use, 
You re pain d with Love, and I m in Pain for War. (Exeunt. 

Chekitan solus. The Game is sure Her Brother s on my 

Side 

Her Brother and my own My Force is strong 
But could her Father now be rous d to War, 
How should I triumph and defy even Fate? 
But Fortune favours all advent rous Souls : 
I ll now to Philip; tell him my Success, 
And rouse up every Spark of Vigour in him : 
He will conceive fresh Hopes, and be more zealous. 



SCENE II. Ponteach s Cabbin. 
Ponteach, an Indian Conjurer, and French Priest. 

Ponteach. 

Well ! have you found the Secret of my Dream, 
By all your Cries, and Howls, and Sweats, and Prayers? 
Or is the Meaning still conceal d from Man, 
And only known to Genii and the Gods? 

Conjurer. Two Hours I ve lain within the sultry Stove, 1 

1 "Among the tribes to the southward you will find a conjurer in almost every 
village, who pretends to great things, both in politics and physic, undertaking to 
reveal the most hidden secrets, and to tell what passes in the most secret cabinets, 
and cause the most difficult negotiations to succeed, to procure good fortune to 
their warriors and hunters, etc.; the conjurer, to prepare himself for these exploits, 
takes a sound sweat in a stove and directly after it plunges into a river or lake, be 
it ever so cold." Rogers, A Concise Account of North America, p. 247. 

216 



PONTEACH : OR THE SAVAGES OF AMERICA 

While Floods of Sweat run trickling from my Skin ; 
With Howls and Cries and all the Force of Sound 
Have I invok d your Genius and my own , 
Smote on my Breast, and beat against my Head, 
To move an Answer and the Secret learn. 
But all in Vain, no Answer can I have, 
Till I first learn what secret Purposes 
And great Designs are brooding in your Mind. 

Priest. At our pure Virgin s Shrine I ve bowed my Knees, 
And there in fervent Prayer pour d out my Soul ; 
Call d on Saint Peter, call d on all the Saints 
That know the Secrets both of Heaven and Earth, 
And can reveal what Gods themselves can do : 
I ve us d the Arts of our most holy Mother, 
Which I receiv d when I forsook the World, 
And gave myself to Holiness and Heaven; 
But can t obtain the Secret of your Dream, 
Till I first know the Secrets of your Heart, 
Or what you hope or wish to be effected. 
Tis on these Terms we learn the Will of God, 
What Good or 111 awaits on Kings or Kingdoms; 
And without this, St. Peter s Self can t tell, 
But at a Dream like yours would be confounded. 

Pont each. You re well agreed Our Gods are much alike 
And I suspect both Rogues What! wont they tell! 
Should they betray my Scheme, the whole is blown. 
And yet I fain would know. I ll charge them first. (aside. 
Look here ; if I disclose a Secret to you, 
Tell it to none but silent honest Gods; 
Death to you both, if you reveal to Men. 

Both. We will, we will, the Gods alone shall know. 

Ponteach. Know then that I have fix d on speedy War, 
To drive these new Encroachers from my Country. 
For this I mean t engage our several Tribes, 
And when our Foes are driven to their Bounds, 
That we may stand and hold our Rights secure, 
Unite our Strength under one common Head, 
Whom all these petty Kings must own their Lord, 
Not even Hendrick s self shall be excused. 
This is my purpose. Learn if it shall prosper, 
Or will it end in Infamy and Shame? 

217 



PONTEACH: OR THE SAVAGES OF AMERICA 

Conjurer. Smiting on his Breast, groaning and muttering in 
bis Cloak or Blanket, falls down upon the Ground, 
beats bis Head against it, and pretends to listen ; 
then rises, and says with a rumbling hideous Voice, 

Success and Victory shall attend your Arms ; 

You are the mighty Elk that none can conquer, 

And all the Tribes shall own you for their King. 

Thus, say the Genii, does your Dream intend. 

Priest, (looking up to Heaven in a praying Posture for a small 
Space, says) 

Had I but known you was resolv d on War, 

And War against those Hereticks the English, 

I need not to have ask d a God or Saint 

To signify the Import of your Dream. 

Your great Design shall have a prosperous End, 

Tis by the Gods approv d, and must succeed. 

Angels and Saints are dancing now in Heaven: 

Your enemies are theirs, are hated by them, 

And they ll protect and help you as their Champion, 

That fights their Battles, and defends their Cause. 

Our great St. Peter is himself a Warrior; 

He drew his Sword against such Infidels, 

And now, like him, you ll gain immortal Honour, 

And Gods in Heaven and Saints on Earth will praise you. 
Ponteacb. The Gods and Genii do as you have said. 

I ll to the Chiefs, and hasten them to Arms. 

(Exeunt Pont. & Conj. 
Priest, solus. 

This, by St. Peter, goes as I would have it. 

The Conjurer agreed with me to pump him, 

Or else deny to solve his dubious Vision : 

But, that we ve so agreed in our responses, 

Is all mere Providence, and rul d by Heaven, 

To give us further Credit with this Indian. 

Now he is fix d will wage immediate War 

This will be joyful News in France and Rome, 

That Ponteacb is in Arms, and won t allow 

The English to possess their new-gain d Empire: 

That he has slain their Troops, destroy d their Forts, 

Expell d them from the Lakes to their old Limits: 

That he prefers the French, and will assist 

218 



PONTEACH : OR THE SAVAGES OF AMERICA 

To repossess them of this fertile Land. 

By all the Saints, of this I ll make a Merit, 

Declare myself to be the wise Projector ; 

This may advance me towards St. Peter s Chair, 

And these blind Infidels by Accident 

May have a Hand in making me a Pope 

But stop Won t this defeat my other Purpose? 

To gain the Mohawk Princess to my Wishes ? 

No by the holy Virgin, I ll surprise her, 

And have one hearty Revel in her Charms. 

But now I ll hasten to this Indian Council; 

I may do something there that s a-propos. (Exit. 



SCENE III. An Indian Senate-House. 

Ponteach, Tenesco, Philip, Astinaco, Bear, Wolf, and 
French Priest. 

Ponteacb. 

Are all the Chiefs and Warriors here assembled, 
That we expect to honour this Day s Council ? 

Tenesco. All are conven d except the Mohawk King, 
Who, as we are inform d, denies his Presence. 

Philip. I ve half succeeded with the stubborn Chief, 
He will not join in Council, but hath promised, 
Till further Notice, not to be our Foe : 
He ll see how we unite, and what Success 
Attends our Arms ; in short, he gives strong Hints 
That he will soon befriend the common Cause. 

Ponteach. Do what he will, tis this explains my Meaning; 

(taking up the Hatchet. 
You are all well appris d of my Design, 
Which every passing Moment but confirms: 
Nay, my Heart s pain d while I with-hold my Hand 
From Blood and Vengeance on our hated Foes. 
Tho I should stand alone, I ll try my Power 
To punish their Encroachments, Frauds, and Pride; 
Yet tho I die, it is my Country s Cause, 
Tis better thus to die than be despis d ; 
Better to die than be a Slave to Cowards, 

219 



PONTEACH : OR THE SAVAGES OF AMERICA 

Better to die than see my Friends abus d ; 

The Aged scorn d, the Young despis d and spurn d. 

Better to die than see my Country ruin d, 

Myself, my Sons, my Friends reduc d to Famine, 

Expell. d from hence to barren Rocks and Mountains, 

To curse our wretched Fate and pine in Want ; 

Our pleasant Lakes and Fertile Lands usurp d 

By Strangers, Ravagers, rapacious Christians. 

Who is it don t prefer a Death in War 

Tc this impending Wretchedness and Shame? 

Who is it loves his Country, Friends or Self, 

And does not feel Resentment in his Soul? 

Who is it sees their growing Strength and Power, 

And how we waste and fail by swift Degrees, 

That does not think it Time to rouse and arm, 

And kill the Serpent ere we feel it sting, 

And fall the Victims of its painful Poison? 

Oh ! could our Fathers from their Country see 

Their antient Rights sncroach d upon and ravag dj 

And we their Children slow, supine, and careless 

To keep the Liberty and Land they left us, 

And tamely fall a Sacrifice to Knaves! 

How would their Bosoms glow with patriot Shame, 

To see their Offspring so unlike themselves? 

They dared all Dangers to defend their Rights, 

Nor tamely bore an Insult from a Foe. 

Their plain rough Souls were brave and full of Fire, 

Lovers of War, nor knew the Pain of Fear. 

Rouse, then, ye Sons of antient Heroes, rouse, 

Put on your Arms, and let us act a Part 

Worthy the Sons of such renowned Chiefs. 

Nor urge I you to Dangers that I shun, 

Or mean to act my Part by words alone; 

This Hand shall wield the Hatchet in the Cause, 

These Feet pursue the frighted running Foe, 

This Body rush into the hottest Battle; 

There should I fall, I shall secure my Honour, 

And, dying, urge my Countrymen to Vengeance 

With more Success than all the Force of Words. 

Should I survive, I ll shed the foremost Tear 

O er my brave Countrymen that chance to fall ; 



220 



PONTEACH : OR THE SAVAGES OF AMERICA 

I ll be the foremost to revenge their Blood, 
And, while I live, honour both them and theirs. 
I add no more, but wait to hear your Minds. 

Tenesco. Tho I m a Warrior, and delight in Arms, 
Have oft with Pleasure heard the Sound of Battle, 
And oft return d with Victory and Triumph ; 
Yet I m not fond to fight without just Cause, 
Or shed the Blood of Men for my Diversion: 
But I have seen, with my own Eyes I ve seen, 
High Provocations from our present Foes, 
Their Pride and Insults, Knavery and Frauds, 
Their large Encroachments on our common Rights, 
Which every Day increase, are seen by all, 
And grown so common, they are disregarded. 
What calls on us more loudly for Revenge, 
Is their Contempt and Breach of public Faith. 
When we complain, they sometimes promise fair; 
When we grow restless, Treaties are propos d, 
And Promises are gilded then with Presents. 
What is the End ? Still the old Trade goes on ; 
Their Colonels, Governors, and mighty Men, 
Cheat, lye, and break their solemn Promises, 
And take no Care to have our Wrongs redress d. 
Their King is distant, would he hear our Prayers: 
Still we ve no other Way to come at Justice, 
But by our Arms to punish Wrongs like these, 
And Wrongs like these are national and public, 
Concern us all, and call for public Vengeance. 
And Wrongs like these are recent in our Minds. 

Philip. Public or private Wrongs, no matter which. 
I think our Hunters ought to be reveng d ; 
Their Bodies are found torn by rav nous Beasts, 
But who doubts they were kill d by Englishmen? 
Their Heads are scalp d, their Arms and Jewels gone, 
And Beasts of Prey can have no Use for these. 
No, they were murdered, slily, basely shot, 
And who that has a Heart does not resent it? 
O how I long to tear their mangled Limbs ! 
Yes, I could eat their Hearts, and drink their Blood, 
And revel in their Torments, Pains, and Tortures; 
And, though I go alone, I ll seek Revenge. 

221 



PONTEACH : OR THE SAVAGES OF AMERICA 

Astinaco. This is the Fire and Madness of your Youth, 
And must be curb d to do your Country Service. 
Facts are not always what they seem to be, 
And this perhaps may be the Fault of One 
Whom their Laws punish if you once detect him. 
Shall we then, to revenge your Countrymen, 
To recompence a Wrong by one committed, 
Rouse all to Arms, and make a general Slaughter? 
Tis higher Motives move my Mind to War, 
And make me zealous in the common Cause. 
But hear me Tis no Trifle we re upon 
If we have Wisdom, it must now be used; 
If we have Numbers, they must be united; 
If we have Strength, it must be all exerted; 
If we have Courage it must be inflamed, 
And every Art and Stratagem be practis d : 
We ve more to do than fright a Pigeon Roost, 
Or start a timorous flock of running Deer; 
Yes, we ve a strong, a warlike stubborn Foe, 
Unus d to be repuls d and quit the Field, 
Nay, flush d with Victories and long Success, 
Their Numbers, Strength, and Courage all renown d, 
Tis little of them that you see or know. 
I ve seen their Capital, their Troops and Stores, 
Their Ships, their Magazines of Death and Vengeance, 
And, what is more, I ve seen their potent King, 
Who like a God sits over all the World, 
And thunders forth his Vengeance thro the Earth, 
When he is pleas d, Smiles sit upon his Face, 
And Goodness flows in Rivers at his Feet; 
When he s provok d, tis like a fiery Tempest, 
All s Terror and Amazement in his Presence, 
And frighted Heroes trembling flee his Wrath. 
What then is to be done? what may we hope? 
At most, by secret, sly, and subtle Means 
To curb these vagrant Outcasts of his Subjects, 
Secure our Countries from their further Ravage, 
And make ourselves of more Importance to them, 
Perhaps procure a Peace to our Advantage. 
In this I ll join and head my valiant Troops, 
Who will not fail to act a valiant Part. 



PONTEACH: OR THE SAVAGES OF AMERICA 

The Bear. What is the Greatness of their King to us? 
What of his Strength or Wisdom ? Shall we fear 
A Lion chain d, or in another World? 
Or what avails his flowing Goodness to us? 
Does not the ravenous Tyger feed her Young? 
And the fierce Panther fawn upon his Mate? 
Do not the Wolves defend and help their Fellows 
The poisonous Serpent feed her hissing Brood, 
And open wide her Mouth for their Protection ? 
So this good King shews Kindness to his own, 
And favours them, to make a Prey of others; 
But at his Hands, we may expect no Favour. 
Look back, my Friends, to our Forefathers Time, 
Where is their Country? where their pleasant Haunts? 
The running Streams and shady Forests where? 
They chas d the flying Game, and liv d in Plenty. 
Lo, these proud Strangers now possess the Whole; 
Their Cities, Towns, and Villages arise, 
Forests are spoil d, the Haunts of Game destroy d, 
And all the Sea Coasts made one general Waste. 
Between the Rivers Torrent-like they sweep, 
And drive our Tribes towards the setting Sun. 
They who once liv d on yon delightful Plains 
Are now no more, their very Name is lost. 
The Sons of potent Kings, subdu d and murder d, 
Are Vagrants, and unknown among their Neighbours. 
Where will the Ravage stop? the Ruin where? 
Does not the Torrent rush with growing Speed, 
And hurry us to the same wretched End ? 
Let us grow wise then by our Fathers Folly, 
Unite our Strength, too long it s been divided, 
And mutual Fears and Jealousies obtain d: 
This has encourag d our encroaching Foes, 
But we ll convince them, once, we dare oppose them. 

The Wolf. Yet we have Strength by which we may oppose, 
But every Day this Strength declines and fails. 
Our great Forefathers, ere these Strangers came, 
Liv d by the Chace, with Nature s Girts content, 
The cooling Fountain quench d their raging Thirst. 
Doctors, and Drugs, and Med cines were unknown, 
Even Age itself was free from Pain and Sickness. 

223 



PONTEACH: OR THE SAVAGES OF AMERICA 

Swift as the Wind, o er Rocks and Hills they chas d 

The flying Game, the bounding Stag outwinded, 

And tir d the savage Bear, and tam d the Tyger; 

At Evening feasted on the past Day s Toil, 

Nor then fatigu d; the merry Dance and Song 

Succeeded ; still with every rising Sun 

The Sport renew d ; or if some daring Foe 

Provok d their Wrath, they bent the hostile Bow, 

Nor waited his Approach, but rush d with Speed, 

Fearless of Hunger, Thirst, Fatigue, or Death. 

But we their soften d Sons, a puny Race, 

Are weak in Youth, fear Dangers where they re no; 

Are weary d with what was to them a Sport, 

Panting and breathless in one short Hour s Chace 1 ; 

And every Kffort of our Strength is feeble. 

We re poison d with the Infection of our Foes, 

Their very Looks and Actions are infectious, 

And in deep Silence spread Destruction round them. 

Bethink yourselves while any Strength remains; 

Dare to be like your Fathers, brave and strong, 

Nor further let the growing Poison spread. 

And would you stop it, you must resolve to conquer, 

Destroy their Forts and Bulwarks, burn their Towns, 

And keep them at a greater Distance from us. 

O tis a Day I long have wish d to see, 

And, aged as I am, my Youth returns 

To act with Vigour in so good a Cause. 

Yes, you shall see the old Wolf will not fail 

To head his Troops, and urge them on to Battle. 

Pont each. Your Minds are all for War, we ll not delay; 
Nor doubt but others gladly will comply, 
When they behold our Union and Success. 

Tenesco. This Holy Priest has something to propose 
That may excite us all to greater Zeal. 

Ponteacb. Let him be heard : Tis something from his Gods, 
And may import the common Interest much. 

Priest. (Coming from one Side, where be batb stood listening.) 
Tis not to show my Eloquence of Speech, 
Or drown your Senses with unmeaning Sound, 
That I desire Admittance to your Council ; 
It is an Impulse from the Gods that moves me, 

224 



PONTEACH : OR THE SAVAGES OF AMERICA 

That what I say will be to your Advantage. 

Oh ! With what secret Pleasure I behold 

So many wise and valiant Kings unite, 

And in a Cause by Gods and Saints cspous d. 

Heaven smiles on your Design, and it shall prosper. 

You re going to fight the Enemies of God ; 

Rebels and Traitors to the King of Kings ; 

Nay those who once betray d and kill d his Son, 

Who came to save you Indians from Damnation 

He was an Indian, therefore theyjdestroy d him; 1 

He rose again and took his flighFto Heaven; 

But when his Foes are slain he ll quick return; 

And be your kind Protector, Friend, and King. 

Be therefore brave and fight his Battles for him ; 

Spare not his Enemies, where-e r you find em : 

The more you murder them, the more you please him ; 

Kill all you captivate, both old and young, 

Mothers and Children, let them feel your Tortures; 

He that shall kill a Briton, merits Heaven. 

And should you chance to fall, you ll be convey d 

By flying Angels to your King that s there 

Where these your hated Foes can never come- 

Doubt you the Truth of this my Declaration ? 

I have a Witness here that cannot lye (pulling out a turning Glass. 

This Glass was touch d by your great Saviour s Hand, 

And after left in holy Peter s Care ; 

When I command, it brings down Fire from Heaven, 

To witness for me that I tell no Lye 

(The Indians gather round and gaze. 

Behold Great God, send Fire, convince these Indian Kings 
That I m their Servant, and report the Truth, 

(in a very Praying posture and solemn canting Tone. 
Am sent to teach them what they ought to do, 

1 Doubtful authority has it that a part of the far-western Jesuit catechism of 
the seventeenth century ran: Q^ Who killed Jesus Christ? A. The bloody 
English." In 1763 there were many godly and influential priests, Jesuits ind 
others, who did unforgettable service in the vicinity of Detroit for the beleaguered 
and all but overwhelmed English. Pere Pothier, chief of the Wyandot village 
there, tried to dissuade his flock from attack. Perc Jonois, chief of the Ottawa 
mission at Mackinac, brought the news of the fall of that post in a letter from 
Captain Etherington, "who spoke in the highest terms " of its bearer. Pontiac 
Ma. Parkman, Conspiracy of Pontiac , pp. 214, 243. 

225 



PONTEACH : OR THE SAVAGES OF AMERICA 

To kill and scalp, to torture and torment 

Thy murderous treacherous Foes, the hateful English. 

(it takes Fire t the Indians-dr* amaz d, and retreat from it. 

Ponteacb. Who can now doubt the Justice of our Cause, 
Or this Man s Mission from the King above, 
And that we ought to follow his Commands? 

Astinaco. Tis wonderful indeed It must be so 

Tene sco. This cannot be a Cheat It is from Heaven 

All. We are convinc d and ready to obey; 
We are impatient to revenge our King. 

Pont each. (Takes up the bloody Hatchet and flourishes it round) 
Thus do I raise the Hatchet from the Ground, 
Sharpen d and bright may it be stain d with Blood, 
And never dull d nor rusted till we ve conquer d, 
And taught proud Englishmen to dread its Edge. 

All. (Flourishing their Hatchets^ and striking them upon a 

Block.) 

Thus will we hew and carve their mangled Bodies, 
And give them to the Beasts and Birds for Food. 

Ponteacb. And thus our Names and Honours will maintain 
While Sun and Moon, Rivers and Trees remain; 
Our unborn Children shall rejoice to hear 
How we their Fathers made the English fear. 

The WAR SONG. 

To the Tune of Over the Hills and far away, sung by Ten- 
esco the head Warrior. They all join in the Chorus, and 
dance while that is singing in a Circle round him; and during 
the Chorus the Mustek plays. 

Where-e r the Sun displays his Light, 

Or Moon is seen to shine by Night, 

Where-e r the noisy Rivers flow 

Or Trees and Grass and Herbage grow. Chorus. 

Bc t known that we this War begin 
With proud insulting Englishmen; 

The Hatchet we have lifted high, (holding up their Hatchets.) 
And them we ll conquer or we ll die. Chorus. 

The Edge is keen, the Blade is bright, 
Nothing saves them but their Flight; 

226 



PONTEACH : OR THE SAVAGES OF AMERICA 

And then like Heroes we ll pursue, 

Over the Hills and Valleys through. Chorus. 

They ll like frighted Women quake, 

When they behold a hissing Snake; 

Or like timorous Deer away, 

And leave both Goods and Arms a Prey. Chorus. 

Pain d with Hunger, Cold, or Heat, 
In Haste they ll from our Land retreat; 
While we ll employ our scalping Knives 

(drawing and flourishing their scalping Knives. 
Take off their Sculls, and spare their Lives. Chorus 

Or in their Country they ll complain, 
Nor ever dare return again ; 
Or if they should they ll rue the Day, 
And curse the Guide that.shew d the Way. Chorus. 

If Fortune smiles, we ll not be long 

Ere we return with Dance and Song, 

But ah ! if we should chance to die, 

Dear Wives and Children do not cry. Chorus. 

Our Friends will ease your Grief and Woe, 

By double Vengeance on the Foe; 

Will kill, and scalp, and shed their Blood, 

Where-e er they find them thro the Wood. Chorus. 

No pointing Foe shall ever say 

Twas there the vanquish d Indian lay ; 

Or boasting to his Friends relate 

The Tale of our unhappy Fate. Chorus. 

Let us with Courage then away 

To hunt and seize the frighted Prey; 

Nor think of Children, Friend or Wife, 

While there s an Englishman alive. Chorus. 

In Heat and Cold, thro* Wet and Dry, 
Will we pursue, and they shall fly 
To Seas which they a Refuge think, 
And there in wretched Crouds they ll sink. 

Chorus. Exeunt omnes singing. 

Tbc End of the Third ACT. 

227 



ACT IV. 

SCENE I. 7 "be Border of a Grove. 

Enter Tenesco to Philip and Chckitan. 

Tenesco. 

The Troops are all assembled, some have march d, 
Perhaps are now engag d, and warm in Battle; 
The rest have Orders where to bend their Course. 
Each Tribe is headed by a valiant Chief, 
Except the Bulls which fall to one of you; 
The other stays to serve the State at home, 
Or back us, should our Forces prove too weak. 

Philip. The Bulls are brave, had they a brave Commander, 
They d push the Battle home with sure Success. 
I d chuse of all the Troops to be their Leader; 
For tho I d neither Courage, Skill, nor Strength, 
Honour attends the Man who heads the Brave; 
Many are dubb d for Heroes in these Times, 
Who owe their Fame to those whom they commanded. 

Tenesco. But we shall ne er suspect your Title false ; 
Already you ve confirm d your Fame and Courage, 
And prov d your Skill and Strength as a Commander. 

Philip. Still I ll endeavor to deserve your Praise, 
Nor long delay the Honour you propose. 

Chekitan. But this will interfere with your Design, 
And oversets the Sciieme of winning Hendrick. 

Philip. Ah true and kills your Hopes This man s in 
Love. (To Tenesco. 

Tenesco. Indeed! In Love with whom? King Hendrick s 
Daughter? 

Philip. The same; and I ve engag d to win her Father. 

Tenesco. This may induce him to espouse our Cause. 
Which likewise you engag d should be effected. 

Philip. But then I can t command as was propos d 
I must resign that Honour to this Lover, 
While I conduct and form this double Treaty. 

228 



PONTEACH : OR THE SAVAGES OF AMERICA 

Tentsco. I am content if you but please yourselves 
By means and Ways not hurtful to the Public. 

Chekitan. Was not the Public serv d, no private Ends 
Would tempt me to detain him from the Field, 
Or in his Stead propose myself a Leader ; 
But every Power I have shall be exerted : 
And if in Strength or Wisdom I should fail, 
I dare presume you ll ever find me faithful. 

Tenesco. I doubt it not You ll not delay your Charge; 
The Troops are all impatient for the Battle. 

(Exeunt Tenesco and Philip. 

Chekitan t solus. 

This is not to my Mind But J must do it 
If Philip heads the Troops, my Hopes are blown 
I must prepare, and leave the Event to Fate 
And him Tis fix d There is no other Choice; 
Monelia I must leave, and think of Battles 
She will be safe But Oh the Chance of War 
Perhaps I fall and never see her more 
This shocks my Soul in spite of Resolution 
The bare Perhaps is more than Daggers to me 
To part for ever! I d rather stand against 
Embattled Troops than meet this single Thought; 
A Thought in Poison dipp d and pointed round; 

how it pains my doubting trembling Heart! 

1 must not harbour it My Word is gone 
My Honour calls and, what is more, my Love. 

(Noise of Monelia striving behind the Scene. 
What Sound is that? It is Monelia s Voice; 
And in Distress What Monster gives her Pain? 

( Going towards the Sound, the Scene opens and discovers the 
Priest with her.) 



SCENE II. Monelia and Priest. 

What do I see? The holy Priest is with her. 

Monelia. (Struggling with the Priest , and trying to disengage 
No, I would sooner die than be dishonour d [herself.) 

Cut my own Throat, or drown me in the Lake. 

Priest. Do you love Indians better than us white Men? 

229 



PONTEACH: OR THE SAVAGES OF AMERICA 

Monelia. Nay, should an Indian make the foul Attempt, 
I d murder him, or kill my wretched Self. 

Priest. I must, I can, and will enjoy you now. 

Monelia. You must! You shan t, you cruel, barbarous 

Christian. 

Cbekitan. Hold, thou mad Tyger What Attempt is this? 

(seizing him. 

Are you a Christian Priest? What do you here? (pushes him. 
What was his will, Monelia? He is dumb. 

Monelia. May he be dumb and blind, and senseless quite, 
That has such brutal Baseness in his Mind. 

Cbekitan. Base, false Deceiver, what could you intend ? 

(making towards him. 

Monelia. Oh I am faint You have preserv d my Honour, 
Which he, foul Christian, thirsted to destroy. 

(Priest attempts to go. 

Cbekitan. Stay ; leave your Life to expiate your Crime : 
Your heated Blood shall pay for your Presumption. 

(offering to strike him with a Hatchet. 

Priest. Good Prince, forbear your pious Hand from Blood; 
I did not know you was this Maiden s Lover, 
1 took her for a Stranger, half your Foe. 

Cbekitan. Did you not know she was King Hendrick s 

Daughter? 

Did you not know that she was not your Wife? 
Have you not told us, holy Men like you 
Are by the Gods forbid all fleshly Converse? 
Have you not told us, Death, and Fire, and Hell 
Await those who are incontinent, 
Or dare to violate the Rites of Wedlock? 
That your God s mother liv d and died a Virgin, 
And thereby set Example to her Sex? 
What means all this ? Say you such Things to us, 
That you alone may revel in these Pleasures ? 

Priest. I have a Dispensation from St. Pett, 
To quench the Fire of Love when it grows painful, 
This makes it innocent like Marriage Vows; 
And all our holy Priests, and she herself, 
Commits no Sin in this Relief of Nature: 
For, being holy, there is no Pollution 
Communicated from us as from others; 

230 



PONTEACH : OR THE SAVAGES OF AMERICA 

Nay, Maids arc holy after we ve enjoy d them, 
And, should the Seed take Root, the Fruit is pure. 

Chekitan. Oh vain Pretence ! Falshood and foul Deception ! 
None but a Christian could devise such Lies ! 
Did I not fear it might provoke your Gods, 
Your Tongue should never frame Deceit again. 
If there are Gods, and such as you have told us, 
They must abhor all Baseness and Deceit, 
And will not fail to punish Crimes like yours. 
To them I leave you But avoid my Presence, 
Nor let me ever see your hated Head, 
Or hear your lying Tongue within this Country. 

Priest. Now by St. Peter I must go He s raging, (aside, 

Chekitan. That Day I do, by your great dreadful God, 
This Hand shall cleave your Head, and spill your Blood, 
Not all your Prayers, and Lyes, and Saints shall save you. 

Priest. I ve got his Father s Secret, and will" use it. 
Such JDisappointment ought to be reveng d. (aside. 

Chekitan. Don t mutter here, and conjure up your Saints, 
I value not their Curses, or your Prayers. 

(stepping towards the Priest to hurry him. 

Priest. By all the Saints, young Man, thou shalt repent it. 

(Exit. 

Monelia. Base, false Dissembler Tyger, Snake, a Christian ! 
1 hate the Sight; I fear the very Name. 

Prince, what has not your kind Presence sav d me ! 
Chekitan. It sav d to me more than my Father s Empire; 

Far more than Crowns and Worlds It sav d Monelia^ 
The Hope of whom is more than the Creation. 
In this I feel the Triumphs of an Hero, 
And glory more than if I d conquer d Kingdoms. 
Monelia. O I am thine, I m more than ever thine; 

1 am your Captive now, your lawful Prize : 
You ve taken me in War, a dreadful War! 
And snatch d me from the hungry Tyger s Jaw. 
More than my Life and Service is your Due, 
And had I more I would devote it to you. 

Chekitan. O my Monelia I rich is my Reward, 
Had I lost Life itself in the Encounter; 
But still I fear that Fate will snatch you from me. 
Where is your Brother? Why was you alone? 

23 



PONTEACH: OR THE SAVAGES OF AMERICA 

Enter Torax, from listening to their Discourse. 

Torax. Here am I : What would you of me? 

M one Ha. Torax ! 

I ve been assaulted by a barbarous Man, 
And by mere Accident escap d my Ruin. 

Torax. What Foe is here? The English are not come? 

Monelia. No : But a Christian lurk d within the Grove, 
And every Christian is a Foe to Virtue ; 
Insidious, subtle, cruel, base, and false! 
Like Snakes, their very Eyes are full of Poison ; 
And where they are not Innocence is safe. 

Torax. The holy Priest! Is he so vile a Man? 
I heard him mutter Threat nings as I past him. 

Chekitan. I spar d his guilty Life, but drove him hence, 
On Pain of Death and Tortures, never more 
To tread the Earth, or breathe the Air with me. 
Be warn d by this to better tend your Charge. 
You see how Mischiefs lye conceal d about us, 
We tread on Serpents ere we hear them hiss, 
And Tygers lurk to seize the incautious Prey. 
I must this Hour lead forth my Troops to Battle, . 
They re now in Arms, and waiting my Command. 

Monelia. What Safety shall I have when you are gone? 
I must not, cannot, will not longer tarry, 
Lest other Christians, or some other Foe, 
Attempt my Ruin. 

Cbekitan. Torax will be your Guard. 
My Honour suffers, should I now decline; 
It is my Country s Cause; I ve pawn d my Word, 
Prevented Philip, to make sure of you. 
He stays. Tis all in favour to our Love: 
We must at present please ourselves with Hopes. 

Monelia. Oh! my fond heart no more conceals its Flame; 
I fear, my Prince, I fear our Fates are cruel: 
There s something whispers in my anxious Breast, 
That if you go, I ne er shall see you more. 

Cbekitan. Oh ! how her Words unman and melt my Soul ! 
As if her Fears were Prophecies of Fate. (aside. 

I will not go and leave you thus in Fears; 
I ll frame Excuses Philip shall command 

232 



PONTEACH : OR THE SAVAGES OF AMERICA 

I ll find some other Means to turn the King; 

I ll venture Honour, Fortune, Life, and Love, 

Rather than trust you from my Sight again. 

For what avails all that the World can give ? 

If you re with-held, all other Gifts are Curses, 

And Fame and Fortune serve to make me wretched. 

Monelia. Now you grow wild You must not think of 

staying; 

Our only Hope, you know, depends on Philip. 
I will not fear, but hope for his Success, 
And your Return with Victory and Triumph, 
That Love and Honour both may crown our Joy. 

Cbekitan. Now this is kind; I am myself again. 
You had unman d and soften d all rny Soul, 
Disarm d my Hand, and cowardiz d my Heart: 
But now in every Vein I Teel an Hero, 
Defy the thickest Tempest of the War: 
Yes, like a Lion conscious of his Strength, 
Fearless of Death I ll rush into the Battle; 
I ll fight, I ll conquer, triumph and return; 
Laurels I ll gain and lay them at your Feet. 

Monelia. .May the Success attend you that you wish ! 
May our whole Scheme of Happiness succeed! 
May our next Meeting put an End to Fear, 
And Fortune shine upon us in full Blaze ! 

Cbekitan. May Fate preserve you as her Darling Charge ! 
May all the Gods and Goddesses, and Saints, 
If conscious of our Love, turn your Protectors ! 
And the great thundering God with Lightning burn 
Him that but means to interrupt your Peace. 

(Exeunt. 



SCENE III. Indian Senate-House. 
Ponteach and Philip. 

Pont each. 
Say you that Torax then is fond of War ? 

Philip. He is, and waits impatient my Return. 
Ponteach. Tis friendly in you thus to help your Brother; 

233 



PONTEACH : OR THE SAVAGES OF AMERICA 

But I suspect his Courage in the Field ; 

A love-sick Boy makes but a cow rdly Captain. 

Philip. His Love may spur him on with greater Courage; 
He thinks he s fighting for a double Prize; 
And but for this, and Hopes of greater Service 
In forwarding the Treaty with the Mohawk, 
I now had been in Arms and warm in Battle. 

Ponteach. I much commend the Wisdom of your Stay. 
Prepare yourself, and hasten to his Quarters ; 
You cannot make th Attempt with too much Speed. 
Urge ev ry Argument with Force upon him, 
Urge my strong Friendship, urge your Brother s Love, 
His Daughter s Happiness, the common Good; 
The general Sense of all the Indian Chiefs, 
The Baseness of our Foes, our Hope of Conquest; 
The Richness of the Plunder if we speed; 
That we ll divide and share it as he pleases ; 
That our Success is certain if he joins us. 
Urge these, and what besides to you occurs; 
AH cannot fail, 1 think, to change his Purpose. 

Philip. You d think so more if you knew all my Plan. 

(aside. 

I m all prepar d now I ve receiv d your Orders, 
But first must speak t his Children ere I part, 
I am to meet them in the further Grove. 

Ponteach. Hark! there s a shout We ve News of some 

Success ; 
It is the Noise of Victory and Triumph. 

Enter a Messenger. 

Huzza! for our brave Warriors are return d 
Loaded with Plunder and the Scalps of Christians. 

Enter Warrior. 

Ponteach. What have you done? Why all this Noise and 

Shouting? 
ist Warrior. Three Forts are taken, all consum d and 

plunder d; 

The English in them all destroy d by Fire, 
Except some few escap d to die with Hunger. 

234 



PONTEACH : OR THE SAVAGES OF AMERICA 

2nd Warrior. We ve smoak d the Bear in spite of all his Craft, 
Burnt up their Den, and made them take the Field : 
The mighty Colonel Cockum and his Captain 
Have dull d our Tomhocks; here are both their Scalps: 

(nolding out the Two Scalps. 
Their Heads are split, our Dogs have eat their Brains. 

Philip. If that be all they ve eat, the Hounds will starve. 

$d Warrior. These are the Scalps of those two famous Cheats 
Who bought our Furs for Rum, and sold us Water. 

(holding out the Scalps, which Ponteach takes. 
Our Men are loaded with their Furs again, 
And other Plunder from the Villains Stores. 

Ponteacb. All this is brave ! (tossing up the scalps^ which others 
catchy and toss and throw them about. 
This Way we ll serve them all. 

Philip. We ll cover all our Cabbins with their Scalps : 

Warriors. We ll fat our Dogs upon their Brains and Blood. 

Ponteach. Ere long we ll have their Governors in Play : 

Philip. And knock their grey-wig d Scalps about this Way. 

Ponteach. The Game is started ; Warriors hunt away, 
Nor let them find a Place to shun your Hatchets. 

All Warriors. We will ; We will soon shew you other Scalps. 

Philip. Bring some alive ; I long to see them dance 
In Fire and Flames, it us d to make them caper. 

Warriors. Such Sport enough you ll have before we ve done. 

(Exeunt. 

Ponteach. This still will help to move the Mahawk King. 
Spare not to make the most of uur Success. 

Philip. Trust me for that Hark; there s another Shout; 

(shouting without. 
A Shout for Prisoners Now I have my Sport. 

Ponteach. It is indeed; and there s a Number too. 

Enter Warriors. 

We ve broke the Barrier, burnt their Magazines, 
Slew Hundreds of them, and pursu d the rest 
Quite to their Settlements. 

2nd Warrior. There we took 
Their famous Hunters Honnyman and Orsbourn; 
The last is slain, this is his bloody Scalp. (tossing it up. 

With them we found the Guns of our lost Hunters, 



PONTEACH : OR THE SAVAGES OF AMERICA 

And other Proofs that they re the Murderers ; 

Nay, Honnyman confesses the base Deed, 

And, boasting, says, he s kill d a Score of Indians. 

jd Warrior. This is the bloody Hunter: This his Wife; 

(leading them forward^ pinioned and tied together. 
With Two young Brats that will be like their Father. 
We took them in their Nest, and spoil d their E)reams. 

Philip. Oh I could eat their Hearts and drink their Blood, 
Were they not Poison, and unfit for Dogs. 
Here, you Blood-hunter, have you lost your feeling? 
You Tygress Bitch ! You Breeder up of Serpents ! 

(slapping Honnyman in the Face y and kicking his Wife. 
Ponteacb. Stop We must first consult which way to torture. 
And whether all shall die We will retire. 

Philip, going. 
Take care they don t escape. 

Warrior. They re bound secure. 

(Exeunt Indians, manent Prisoners. 



SCENE IV. 

Mrs. Honnyman. 

O Honnyman, how desperate is our Case ! 
There s not a single Hope of Mercy left: 
How savage, cruel, bloody did they look ! 
Rage and Revenge appear d in every Face. 

Honnyman. You may depend upon t, we all must die. 
I ve made such Havock, they ll have no Compassion; 
They only wait to study out new Torments : 
All that can be inflicted or endur d, 
We may expect from their relentless Hands. 
Their brutal Eyes ne er shed a pitying Tear ; 
Their savage Hearts ne er had a Thought of Mercy; 
Their Bosoms swell with Rancour and Revenge, 
And, Devil-like, delight in others Plagues, 
Love Torments, Torture, Anguish, Fire, and Pain, 
The deep-fetch d Groan, the melancholy Sigh, 
And all the Terrors and Distress of Death, 
These are their Musick, and enhance their Joy. 
In Silence then submit yourself to Fate: 

236 



PONTEACH : OR THE SAVAGES OF AMERICA 

Make no Complaint, nor ask for their Compassion; 

This will confound and half destroy their Mirth ; 

Nay, this may put a stop to many Tortures, 

To which our Prayers and Tears and Plaints would move them. 

Mrs. Hon. O dreadful Scene ! Support me, mighty God, 
To pass the Terrors of this dismal Hour, 
All dark with Horrors, Torments, Pains, and Death! 
O let me not despair of thy kind Help; 
Give Courage to my wretched groaning Heart ! 

Honnyman. Tush, Silence ! You ll be overheard. 

Mrs. Hon. O my dear Husband! Tis an Hour for Prayer, 
An Infidel would pray in our Distress: 
An Atheist would believe there was some God 
To pity Pains and Miseries so great. 

Honnyman. If there s a God, he knows our secret Wishes; 
This Noise can be no Sacrifice to him; 
It opens all the Springs of our weak Passions. 
Besides, it will be Mirth to our Tormentors; 
They ll laugh, and call this Cowardice in Christians, 
And say Religion makes us all mere Women. 

Mrs. Hon. I will suppress my Grief in Silence then, 
And secretly implore the Aid of Heaven. 
Forbid to pray ! O dreadful Hour indeed! (pausing. 

Think you they will not spare our dear sweet Babes? 
Must these dear Innocents be put to Tortures, 
Or dash d to Death, and share our wretched Fate? 
Must this dear Babe that hangs upon my Breast 

(looking upon her Infant. 

Be snatch d by savage Hands and torn in Pieces ! 
O how it rends my Heart ! It is too much ! 
Tygers would kindly soothe a Grief like mine ; 
Unconscious Rocks would melt, and flow in Tears 
At this last Anguish of a Mother s Soul. 

(pauses, and views her Child again. 
Sweet Innocent! It smiles at this Distress, 
And fondly draws this final Comfort from me : 
Dear Babe, no more : Dear Tommy too must die, 

(looking at her other Child. 
Oh my sweet First-born ! Oh I m overpower d. (pausing. 

Honnyman. I had determin d not to shed a tear; (weeping. 
But you have all unmann d my Resolution ; 

23? 



PONTEACH : OR THE SAVAGES OF AMERICA 

You ve call d up all the Father in my Soul ; 
Why have you narn d my Children ? O my Son ! 

(looking upon him. 

My only Son My Image Other Self! 
How have I doted on the charming Boy, 
And fondly plann d his Happiness in Life! 
Now his Life ends : Oh the Soul-bursting Thought ! 
He falls a Victim for his Father s Folly. 
Had I not kill d their Friends, they might have spar d 
My Wife, my Children, and perhaps myself, 
And this sad dreadful Scene had never happen d, . 
But tis too late that I perceive my Folly ; 
If Heaven forgive, tis all I dare to hope for. 

Mrs. Hon. What! have you been a Murderer indeed! 
And kill d the Indians for Revenge and Plunder? 
I thought you rash to tempt their brutal Rage, 
But did not dream you guilty as you said. 

Honnyman. I am indeed. I murder d many of them, 
And thought it not amiss, but now I fear. 

Mrs. Honn. O shocking Thought ! Why have you let me know 
Yourself thus guilty in the Kye of Heaven? 
That I and my dear Babes were by you brought 
To this Extreme of Wretchedness and Woe? 
Why have you let me know the solemn Weight 
Of horrid Guilt that lies upon us all? 
To have died innocent, and seen these Babes 
By savage Hands dash d to immortal Rest, 
This had been light, for this implies no Crime: 
But now we die as guilty Murderers, 
Not savage Indians^ but just Heaven s Vengeance 
Pursues our Lives with all these Pains and Tortures. 
This is a Thought that points the keenest Sorrow, 
And leaves no Room for Anguish to be heighten d. 

Honnyman. Upbraid me not, nor lay my Guilt to Heart; 
You and these Fruits of our past morning Love 
Are innocent. I feel the Smart and Anguish, 
The Stings of Conscience, and my Soul on Fire. 
There s not a Hell more painful than my Bosom, 
Nor Torments for the Damn d more keenly pointed. 
How could I think to murder was no Sin? 
Oh my lost Neighbour! I seduc d him too. 

238 



PONTEACH : OR THE SAVAGES OF AMERICA 

Now Death with all its Terrors disappears, 
And all I fear s a dreadful Something-after; 
My Mind forebodes a horrid woful Scene, 
Where Guilt is chain d and tortur d with Despair. 

Mrs. Hon. The Mind oppress d with Guilt may find Relief. 

Honnyman. Oh could I reach the pitying Ear of Heaven, 
And all my Soul evaporate in Sound, 
Twould ask Forgiveness ! but I fear too late ; 
And next I d ask that you and these dear Babes 
Might bear no Part in my just Punishment. 
Who knows but by pathetic Prayers and Tears 
Their savage Bosoms may relent towards you, 
And fix their Vengeance where just Heaven points it? 
I still will hope, and every Motive urge. 
Should I succeed, and melt their rocky Hearts, 
I d take it as a Presage of my Pardon, 
And die with Comfort when I see you live. 

(Death Halloo is heard without. 

Mrs. Hon. Hark! they are coming Hear that dreadful 
Halloo. 

Honnyman. It is Death s solemn Sentence to us all; 
They are resolv d, and all Intreaty s vain. 
O horrid Scene! how shall I act my Part? 
Was it but simple Death to me alone ! 
But all your Deaths are mine, and mine the Guilt. 

Enter Indians, with Stakes y Hatchet s> and Firebrands. 

O horrid Preparation, more than Death ! 

Ponteach. Plant down the Stakes, and let them be confin d. 

(they loose them from each other. 
First kill the Tygers, then destroy their Whelps. 
Philip. This Brat is in our Way, I will dispatch it. 

(offering to snatch the sucking Infant. 
Mrs. Hon. No, my dear Babe shall in my Bosom die; 
There is its Nourishment, and there its End. 

Philip. Die both together then, twill mend the Sport ; 
Tie the other to his Father, make a Pair; 
Then each will have a Consort in their Pains; 
Their sweet Brats with them, to increase the Dance. 

(they are tied down facing each other upon their 
Knees, and their Backs to the Stakes. 

239 



PONTEACH : OR THE SAVAGES OF AMERICA 

Warrior. All now is ready ; they arc bound secure. 

Philip. Whene er you please, their jovial Dance begins. 

(to Ponteach. 

^ Mrs. Hon. O my dear Husband ! What a Sight is this! 
Could ever fabling Poet draw Distress 
To such Perfection ! Sad Catastrophe ! 
There are not Colours for such deep-dyed Woe, 
Nor Words expressive of such heighten d Anguish. 
Ourselves, bur Babes, O cruel, cruel Fate! 
This, this is Death indeed with all its Terrors. 

Honnyman. Is there no secret Pity in your Minds? 
Can you not feel some tender Passion move, 
When you behold the Innocent distress d? 
True, I am guilty, and will bear your Tortures : 
Take your Revenge by all the Arts of Torment; 
Invent new Torments, lengthen out my Woe, 
And let me feel the keenest Edge of Pain : 
But spare this innocent afflicted Woman, 
Those smiling fiabes who never yet thought 111, 
They never did nor ever will offend you. 

Philip. It cannot be: They are akin to you, 
Well learnt to hunt and murder, kill and rob. 

Pont each. Who ever spar d a Serpent in the Egg? 
Or left young Tygers quiet in their Den ? 

Warrior. Or cherishes young Vipers in his Bosom? 

Philip. Begin, begin; I ll lead the merry Dance. 

(offering at the Woman with a Firebrand. 

Ponteach. Stop: Are we not unwise to kill this Woman? 
Or sacrifice her Children to our Vengeance ? 
They have not wrong d us ; can t do present Mischief. 
1 know her Friends ; they re rich and powerful, 
And in their Turn will take severe Revenge: 
But if we spare, they ll hold themselves oblig d, 
And purchase their Redemption with rich Presents. 
Is not this better than an Hour s Diversion, 
To hear their Groans, and Plaints, and piteous Cries ? 

Warriors. You Counsel s wise, and much deserves our Praise ; 
They shall be spar d. 

Ponteach. Untie, and take them hence; 

(they untie the Woman and the oldest Child from Honnyman, 
and retire a little to consult his Death. 
240 



PONTEACH: OR THE SAVAGES OF AMERICA 

When the War ends her Friends shall pay us for it. 

Philip. I d rather have the Sport than all the Pay. 

Honnyman. O now, kind Heaven, thou hast heard my Prayer, 
And what s to follow I can meet with Patience. 

Mrs. Hon. O my dear Husband, could you too be freed ! 

(weeping, 

Yet must I stay and suffer Torments with you. 
This seeming Mercy is but Cruelty! 
I cannot leave you in this Scene of Woe, 
Tis easier far to stay and die together ! 

Honnyman. Ah ! but regard our Childrens Preservation ; 
Conduct their Youth, and form their Minds to Virtue ; 
Nor let them know their Father s wretched End, 
Lest lawless Vengeance should betray them too. 

Mrs. Hon. If I must live, I must retire from hence, 
Nor see your fearful Agonies in Death; 
This would be more than all the Train of Torments. 
The horrid Sight would sink me to the Dust; 
These helpless Infants would become a Prey 
To worse than Beasts, to savage, bloody Men. 

Honnyman. Leave me They are prepar d, and coming on 
Heav n save you all ! O tis the last dear Sight! 

Mrs. Hon. Oh may we meet where Fear and Grief are 

banish d ! 
Dearest of Men, adieu Adieu till then. 

(Exit, weeping with her Children. 

Philip. Bring Fire and Knives, and Clubs, and Hatchets all; 

1 "If the sentence of a prisoner be death, the whole village sets up the death- 
hollo or cry, and the execution is no longer deferred than till they can make the 
necessary preparations for it. They first strip the person who is to suffer naked 
and fixing two posts in the ground, they fasten to them two pieces crossways, one 
about two feet from the ground, the other about five or six feet higher ; they then 
oblige the unhappy victim to mount upon the lower crosspiece ; and in this pos 
ture they burn him all over the body, sometimes first daubing him all over with 
pitch. The whole village, men, women, and children, assemble around him, and 
everyone has a right r .o torture him in whatever manner they please. If none of 
his bystanders are inclined to lengthen out his torments, he is not long kept in 
pain, but is either shot to death with arrows or inclosed with dry bark, to which 
they set fire ; they then leave him on the frame, and in the evening run from 
cabin to cabin and strike with small twigs their furniture, the walls and roof of 
their cabins, to prevent his spirit from remaining there to take vengeance for the 
evils committed on the body." Rogers, A Concise Account of North America, 
p. 235. 

241 



PONTEACH : OR THE SAVAGES OF AMERICA 

Let the old Hunter feel the Smart of Pain. 

(they fall upon Honnyman with various Instruments 
of Torture. 

Honnyman. Oh ! this is exquisite ! (groaning and struggling. 

1st Warrior. Hah ! Does this make you dance? 

2d Warrior. This is fine fat Game! 

Philip. Make him caper. 

(striking him with a Club, kicking, &c. 

Honnyman. O ye eternal powers, that rule on high, 
If in your Minds be Sense of human Woe, 
Hear my Complaints, and pity my Distress! 

Philip. Ah call upon your Gods, you faint-heart Coward ! 

Honnyman. Oh dreadful Racks ! When will this Torment end ? 
Oh for a Respite from all Sense of Pain ! 
Tis come I go You can no more torment (dies. 

Philip. He s dead; he ll hunt no more; h as done with 
Game. (striking the dead Body, and spitting in the Fate. 

Ponteach. Drive hence his wretched Spirit, lest it plague us; 
Let him go hunt the Woods; he s now disarm d. 

( They run round brushing the Walls, &c. to dislodge the Spirit. 

All. Out, Hunters, out, your Business here is done. 
Out to the Wilds, but do not take your Gun. 

Pont each, (to the Spirit) 

Go, tell our Countrymen, whose Blood you shed, 
That the great Hunter Honnyman is dead: 
That we re alive, we ll make the English know, 
Whene er they dare to serve us Indians so : 
This will be joyful News to Friends from France, 
We ll join the Chorus then, and have a Dance. 

(Exeunt omnes, dancing, and singing the two last Lines. 

End of the Fourth ACT. 



242 



ACT V. 

SCENE I. The Border of a Grove, in which 
Monelia and Torax are asleep. 

Enter Philip, speaking to himself. 

As a dark Tempest brewing in the Air, 
For many Days hides. Sun and Moon, and Stars, 
At length grown ripe, bursts forth and forms a Flood 
That frights both Men and Beasts, and drowns the Land; 
So my dark Purpose now must have its Birth, 
Long nourish d in my Bosom, tis matur d, 
And ready to astonish and embroil 
Kings and their Kingdoms, and decide their Fates. 
-Are-they^ notjiere ? Have I delay d too long? 

(he espies them asleep. 

Yes, in a Posture too beyond my Hopes, 
Asleep ! This is the Providence of Fate, 
And proves she patronizes my Design, 
And I ll shew her that Philip is no Coward. 

(taking up his Hatchet in one Hand, and Scalping Knife in 

the other , towards them. 

A Moment now is more than Years to come: 
Intrepid as I am, the Work is shocking. 

(he retreats from them. 

Is it their Innocence that shakes my Purpose? 
No; I can tear the Suckling from the Breast, 
And drink their Blood who never knew a Crime. 
Is it because my Brother s Charmer dies? 
That cannot be, for that is my Revenge. 
Is it because Monelia is a woman ? 
I ve long been blind and deaf to their Enchantments. 
Is it because I take them thus unguarded? 
No; though I act the Coward, it s a Secret. 
What is it that shakes my firm and fix d Resolve? 

243 



PONTEACH: OR THE SAVAGES OF AMERICA 

Tis childish Weakness: I ll not be unman d. 

(approaches and retreats again. 
There s something awful in the Face of Princes, 
And he that sheds their Blood, assaults the Gods : 
But I m a Prince, and tis by me they die; 

(advances arm d as before. 
Each Hand contains the Fate of future Kings, 
And, were they Gods, I would not balk my Purpose. 

(stabs Monelia with the Knife. 
Torax. Hah, Philip^ are you come? What can you mean ? 

(Torax starts and cries out. 
Philip. Go learn my Meaning in the World of Spirits; 

(knocks him down with his Hatchet^ &c. 
Tis now too late to make a Question of it. 
The Play is ended (looking upon the Bodies] now succeeds the 

Farce. 
Hullo! Help! Haste! the Enemy is here. 

(calling at one of the Doors, and returning. 
Help is at Hand But I must first be wounded: 

(wounds himself. 
Now let the Gods themselves detect the Fraud. 

Enter an Indian. 

What means your Cry? Is any Mischief here? 

Philip. Behold this flowing Blood ; a desperate Wound ! 

(shewing his Wound. 
And there s a Deed that shakes the Root of Empires. 

(pointing to the Bodies. 

2d Ind. O fatal Sight ! the Mohawk Prince is murder d. 
jd Ind. The Princess too is weltering in her Blood. 
Philip. Both, both are gone; tis well that I escap d. . 

Enter Ponteach. 

What means this Outcry, Noise, and Tumult here ? 

Philip. O see, my Father ! see the Blood of Princes, 
A Sight that might provoke the Gods to weep, 
And drown the Country in a Flood of Tears. 
Great was my Haste, but could not stop the Deed; 
I rush d among their Numbers for Revenge, 
They frighted fled ; there I receiv d this Wound. 

(shewing his Wound to Ponteach. 

244 



PONTEACH : OR THE SAVAGES OF AMERICA 

Ponteacb. Who, what were they? or where did they escape? 

Philip. A Band of English Warriors, bloody Dogs ! 
This Way they ran from my vindictive Arm, (pointing, &c. 
Which but for this base Wound would sure have stopp d them. 

Ponteach. Pursue, pursue, with utmost Speed pursue, 

(to the Warriors present. 
Outfly the Wind till you revenge this Blood ; 
Tis royal Blood, we hold it as our own. 

(Exeunt Warriors in haste. 
This Scene is dark, and doubtful the Event; 
Some great Decree of Kate depends upon it, 
And mighty Good or 111 awaits Mankind. 
The Blood of Princes cannot flow in vain, 
Tht; Gods must be in Council to permit it: 
It is the Harbinger of their Designs, 
To change, new-mould, and alter Things on Earth : 
And much I fear, tis ominous of 111 
To me and mine; it happen d in my Kingdom. 
Their Father s Rage will swell into a Torrent 
They were my Guests His Wrath will Centre here; 
Our guilty Land hath drunk his Children s Blood. 

Philip. Had I not seen the flying Murderers, 
Myself been wounded to revenge their Crime, 
Had you not hasten d to pursue the Assassins, 
He might have thought us treacherous and false, 
Or wanting in our hospitable Care : 
But now it cannot but engage his Friendship, 
Rouse him to Arms, and with a Father s Rage 
He ll point his Vengeance where it ought to fall; 
And thus this Deed, though vile and dark as Night, 
In its Events will open Day upon us, 
And prove of great Advantage to our State. 

Ponteach. Haste then ; declare our Innocence and Grief; 
Tell the old King we mourn as for our own, 
And are determin d to revenge his Wrongs; 
Assure him that our Enemies are his, 
And rouse him like a Tyger to the Prey. 

Philip. I will with Speed ; but first this bleeding Wound 
Demands my Care, lest you lament me too. 

(Exit, to have his Wound dress d. 



245 



PONTEACH : OR THE SAVAGES OF AMERICA 

Ponteacb, solus. 
Pale breathless Youths ! Your Dignity still lives : 

(viewing the Bodies. 

Your Murderers were blind, or they d have trembled, 
Nor dar d to wound such Majesty and Worth; 
Jt would have tam d the savage running Bear, 
And made the raging Tyger fondly fawn; 
But your more savage Murderers were Christians. 
Oh the distress d good King ! I feel for him, 
And wish to comfort his desponding Heart; 
But your last Rites require my present Care. . (Exit. 



SCENE II. The Senate-House. 
Ponteach, Tenesco, and others. 

Pont each. 

Let all be worthy of the royal Dead ; 
Spare no Expence to grace th unhappy Scene, 
And aggrandize the solemn gloomy Pomp 
With all our mournful melancholy Rites. 

Tenesco. It shall be done; all Things are now preparing. 

Pont each. Never were Funeral Rites bestow d more just; 
Who knew them living, must lament them dead; 
Who sees them dead, must wish to grace their Tombs 
With all the sad Respect of Grief and Tears. 

Tenesco. The Mourning is as general as the News; 
Grief sits on every Face, in every Eye, 
And gloomy Melancholy in Silence reigns: 
Nothing is heard but Sighs and sad Complaints, 
As if the First-born of the Realm were slain. 

Ponteacb. Thus would 1 have it; let no Eye be dry, 
No Heart unmov d, let every Bosom swell 
With Sighs and Groans. What Shouting do I hear? 

(a Shouting without, repeated several Times. 

Tenesco. It is the Shout of Warriors from the Battle; 
The Sound of Victory and great Success. 

(he goes to listen to it. 

Ponteacb. Such is the State of Men and human Things; 
We weep, we smile, we mourn, and laugh thro Life, 

246 



PONTEACH : OR THE SAVAGES OF AMERICA 

Here falls a Blessing, there alights a Curse, 
As the good Genius or the evil reigns. 
It s right it should be so. Should either conquer, 
The World would cease, and Mankind be undone 
By constant Frowns or Flatteries from Fate; 
This constant Mixture makes the Potion safe, 
And keeps the sickly Mind of Man in health. 

Enter Chekitan. 

It is my Son. What has been your Success? 

Chekitan. We ve fought the Enemy, broke thro* their Ranks, 
Slain many on the Spot, pursu d the rest 
Till Night conceal d and sav d them from our Arms. 

Ponteacb. Tis bravely done, and shall be duely honor d 
With all the Signs and Marks of public Joy. 

Chekitan. What means this Gloom I see in every Face? 
These smother d Groans and stifled half-drawn Sighs ; 
Does it offend that I ve return d in Triumph? 

Ponteach. I fear to name And yet it must be known. 

(aside. 

Be not alarm d, my Son, the Laws of Fate 
Must be obey d: She will not hear our Dictates. 
I m not a Stranger to your youthful Passion, 
And fear the Disapointment will confound you. 

Chekitan. Has he not sped? Has 111 befel my Brother? 

Ponteach. Yes, he is wounded but Monelia s slain, 
And Torax both. Slain by the cowardly English^ 
Who scap d your Brother s wounded threatning Arm, 
But are pursued by such as will revenge it 

Chekitan. Oh wretched, wretched, wretched Chekitan I 

(aside. 

Ponteach. I know your re shock d The Scene hath shock d 

us all, 

And what we could, we ve done to wipe the Stain 
From us, our Family, our Land and State ; 
And now prepare due Honours for the Dead, 
With all the solemn Pomp of public Grief, 
To shew Respect as if they were our own. 

Chekitan. Is this my Triumph after Victory ? 
A solemn dreadful pompous Shew : 
Why have I scap d their Swords and liv d to see it ? (aside. 

H7 



PONTEACH: OR THE SAVAGES OF AMERICA 

Montlia dead! aught else I cou d have borne: 
I m stupify d: I can t believe it true; 
Shew me the Dead ; 1 will believe my Eyes, 
But cannot mourn or drop a Tear till then. 

Tenesco. I will conduct you to them Follow me 

(Exeunt Tenesco and Chekitan. 

Ponteacb. This is a sad Reception from a Conquest, 
And puts an awful Gloom upon our Joy ; 
I fear his Grief will over-top his Reason; 
A Lover weeps with more than common Pain. 
Nor flows his greatest Sorrow at his Eyes : 
His Grief is inward, and his Heart sheds Tears, 
And in his Soul he feels the pointed Woe, 
When he beholds the lovely Object lost. 
The deep-felt Wound admits no sudden Cure; 
The festering Humor will not be dispers d, 
It gathers on the Mind, and Time alone, 
That buries all Things, puts an End to this. 

(Exeunt omnes. 



SCENE III. The Grove, with the dead Bodies; 
Tenesco pointing Chekitan to them. 

Tenesco. 

There lie the Bodies, Prince, a wretched Sight! 
Breathless and pale. 

Cbekitan. A wretched Sight indeed ; (going towards them. 
O my Monelia ; has thy Spirit fled ? 
Art thou no more? a bloody breathless Corpse! 
Am I return d full flush d with Hopes of Joy, 
With all the Honours Victory can give, 
To see thee thus? Is this, is this my Welcome? 
Is this our Wedding? Wilt thou not return? 
O charming Princess, art thou gone for ever ? 
Is this the fatal Period of our Love? 

! had I never seen thy Beauty bloom, 

1 had not now been griev d to see it pale : 
Had I not known such Excellence had liv d, 
I shou d not now be curs d to see it dead : 



PONTEACH : OR THE SAVAGES OF AMERICA 

Had not my Heart been melted by thy Charms, 
It would not now have bled to see them lost. 

wherefore, wherefore, wherefore do I live : 
Monelia is not What s the World to me? 
All dark and gloomy, horrid, waste, and void: 
The Light of the Creation is put out ! 
The Blessings of the Gods are all withdrawn ! 
Nothing remains but Wretchedness and Woe; - 
Monelia s gone : Monelia is no more. 

The Heavens are veil d because she don t behold them; 

The Earth is curs d, for it hath drunk her Blood ; 

The Air is Poison, for she breathes no more : 

Why fell I not by the base Briton s Sword ? 

Why press d I not upon the fatal Point? 

Then had I never seen this worse than Death, 

But dying said, tis well Monelia lives. 

Tenesco. Comfort, my Prince, nor let your Passion swell 
To such a Torrent, it o erwhelms your Reason, 
And preys upon the Vitals of your Soul. 
You do but feed the Viper by this View; 
Retire, and drive the Image from your Thought, 
And Time will soon replace you every Joy. 

Chekitan. O my Tenesco^ had you ever felt 
The gilded Sweets, or pointed Pains of Love, 
You d not attempt to sooth a Grief like mine. 
Why did you point me to the painful Sight? 
Why have you shewn this Shipwreck of my Hopes, 
And plac d me in this beating Storm of Woe. 
Why was I told of rny Monelia s Fate? 
Why wa n t the wretched Ruin all conceal d 
Under some fair Pretence That she had fled 
Was made a Captive, or had chang d her Love 
Why wa n t I left to guess her wretched End ? 
Or have some slender Hope that she still liv d? 
You ve all been cruel; she died to torment me; 
To raise my Pain, and blot out every Joy. 

I enesco. I fear d as much : His Passion makes him wild 

(aside. 

1 wish it may not end in perfect Phrensy. 

Chekitan. Who were the Murderers? Where did they fly? 
Where was my Brother, not to take Revenge? 

249 



PONTEACH : OR THE SAVAGES OF AMERICA 

Shew me their Tracks, I ll trace them round the Globe: 
I ll fly like lightning, ravage the whole Earth 
Kill every thing I meet, or hear, or see. 
Depopulate the World of Men and Beasts, 
Tis all too little for that single Death. 

(pointing to Monelia s corpse. 
I ll tear the Earth that dar d to drink her Blood; 
Kill Trees, and Plants, and every springing Flower : 
Nothing shall grow, nothing shall be alive, 
Nothing shall move; I ll try to stop the Sun, 
And make all dark and barren, dead and sad; 
From his tall Sphere down to the lowest Centre, 
There I ll descend, and hide my wretched Self, 
And reign sole Monarch in a World of Ruin. 

Tenesco. This is deep Madness, it hath seiz d his Brain. 

(aside. 
Chekitan. But first I ll snatch a parting last Embrace. 

(be touches and goes to embrace the Corpse. 
Thou dear cold Clay! forgive the daring Touch; 
It is thy Chekitan^ thy wounded Lover. 
Tis ; and he hastens to revenge thy Death. 

(To rax groans and attempts to speak. 
Torax. Oh, oh, I did not Philip Philip Oh. 

(Chekitan starts. 

Chekitan. What did I not hear a Groan? and Philip call d? 
Tenesco. It was, it was, and there is Motion too. 

(approaches Torax, who groans and speaks again. 
Torax. Oh! Oh! Oh! Oh! Oh! Philip help. Oh! Oh! 
Tenesco. He is alive We ll raise him from the Ground. 

(they lift him up and speak to him. 
Torie, are you alive ? or are our Ears deceiv d ? 
Torax. Oh Philip, do not do not be so cruel. 
Cbekitan. He is bewilder d, and not yet himself. 
Pour this into his Lips it will revive him. 

(they give him something. 
Tenesco. This is a Joy unhop d for in Distress. 

(Torax revives more. 

Torax. Oh! Philip, Philip! Where is Philip gone? 
Tenesco. The Murderers are pursued He will go soon. 
And now can carry Tidings of your Life. 

Torax. He carry Tidings ! he s the Murderer. 

250 



PONTEACH : OR THE SAVAGES OF AMERICA 

Tenesco. He is not murder d; he was slightly wounded, 
And hastens now to see the King your Father. 

Tor ax. He is a false, a barbarous bloody Man, 
A Murderer, a base disguis d Assassin. 

Chekitan. He still is maz d, and knows not whom he s with. 

Torax. Yes, you are Chekitan, and that s Monelia, 

(pointing to the Corpse. 
This is Tenesco Philip stabb d my Sister, 
And struck at me; here was the stunning Blow: 

(pointing to his Head. 
He took us sleeping in this silent Grove; 
There by Appointment from himself we waited. 
I saw him draw the bloody Knife from her, 
And, starting, ask d him, Why, or what he meant? 
He answered with the Hatchet on my Skull, 
And doubtless thought me dead and bound in Silence. 
I am myself, and what I say is Fact. 

Tenesco. The English twas beset you ; Philip ran 
For your Assistance, and himself is wounded. 

Tor ax. He may be wounded, but he wounded me; 
No Englishman was there, he was alone. 
I dare confront him with his Villainy : 
Depend upon t, he s treacherous, false, and bloody. 

Chekitan. May we believe, or is this all a Dream? 
Are we awake? Is Tor ax yet alive? 
Or is it Juggling, Fascination all ? 

Tenesco. Tis most surprising ! What to judge I know not. 
I ll lead him hence; perhaps he s still confus d. 

Torax. I gladly will go hence for some Relief, 
But shall not change, from what I ve now aver d. 

Tenesco. Then this sad Storm of Ruin s but begun, (aside. 
Philip must fly, or next it lights on him. 

(Exeunt Tenesco and Torax led by him. 

Chekitan. And can this be Can Philip be so false? 
Dwells there such Baseness in a Brother s Heart? 
So much Dissimulation in the Earth? 
Is there such Perfidy among Mankind? 
It shocks my Faith But yet it must be so 
Yes, it was he, Monelia, shed thy Blood. 
This made him forward to commence our Friend, 
And with unusual Warmth engage to help us; 

251 



PONTEACH : OR THE SAVAGES OF AMERICA 

It was for this so chearful he resign d 

To me the Honour of Command in War; 

The English Troops would never come so near ; 

The Wounds were not inflicted by their Arms. 

All, all confirms the Guilt on Philip s Head, 

You died, Monelia t by my Brother s Hand; 

A Brother too intrusted with our Love. 

I m stupify d and senseless at the Thought; 

My Head, my very Heart is petrify d. 

This adds a Mountain to my Weight of Woe. 

It now is swell d too high to be lamented; 

Complaints, and Sighs, and Tears are thrown away. 

Revenge is all the Remedy that s left; 

But what Revenge is equal to the Crime? 

His life for her s ! An Atom for the Earth 

A single Fly a Mite for the Creation: 

Turn where I will I find myself confounded : 

But I must seek and study out new Means. 

Help me, ye Powers of Vengeance ! grant your Aid, 

Ye that delight in Blood, and Death, and Pain ! 

Teach me the Arts of Cruelty and Wrath, 

Till I have Vengeance equal to my Love, 

And my Munelias Shade is satisfied. (Exit. 



SCENE IV. 

Philip, solus. 

His Grief no Doubt will rise into a Rage, 
To see his Charmer rolling in her Blood, 
I chuse to see him not till my Return ; 
By then the Fierceness of the Flame may cease; 
Nay, he ll grow cool, and quite forget his Love, 
When I report her Father s kindled Wrath, 
And all the Vengeance he intends to take. 

(Chekitan comes in sight. 
But this he, I cannot now avoid him; 
How shall I sooth his Grief He looks distracted 
I m such a Stranger grown to Tears and Pity, 
I fear he will not think I sympathize. 

252 



PONTEACH : OR THE SAVAGES OF AMERICA 



Enter Chckitan. 

Cbekitan. Have I then found thee, thou false hearted 

Traitor ? 

Thou Tyger, Viper, Snake, thou worse than Christian; 
Blood thirsty Butcher, more than Murderer! 
Thou every Thing but what Men ought to love ! 
Do you still live to breathe and see the Sun ? 
And face me with your savage guilty Eye ? 

Philip. I fear d, alas, you would run mad and rave. 
Why do you blame me that I am not dead? 
I risk d my Life, was wounded for your Sake, 
Did all I could for your Monelias Safety, 
And to revenge you on her Murderers. 
Your Grief distracts you, or you d thank me for t. 

Cbekitan. Would you still tempt my Rage, and fire my Soul, 
Already bent to spill your treacherous Blood? 
You base Dissembler ! know you are detected, 
T orax still lives, and has discover d all. 

(Philip starfs and trembles. 

Philip. Torax alive ! It cannot must not be (aside. 

Cbekitan. Well may you shake You cannot mend your 

Blow. 

He lived to see, what none but you could think of, 
The bloody Knife drawn from Monelia s Breast. 
Had you a thousand Lives, they d be too few; 
Had you a Sea of Blood, twould be too small 
To wash away your deep-dy d Stain of Guilt. 
Now you shall die; and O if there be Powers 
That after Death take Vengeance on such Crimes, 
May they pursue you with their Flames of Wrath, 
Till all their Magazines of Pain are spent. 

(be attacks Philip with bis Hatchet. 

Philip. I must defend myself (drawing bis Hatchet) the Case 
is desperate. (Fight s t Philip falls. 

Fate is too hard; and I m oblig d to yield. 
Twas well begun but has a wretched End 
Yet I m reveng d She cannot live again. 
You cannot boast to ve shed more Blood than I 
Oh had I had I struck but one Blow more! (dies. 

Cbekitan. What have I done ! this is my Brother s Blood ! 

253 



PONTEACH : OR THE SAVAGES OF AMERICA 

A guilty Murderer s Blood! He was no Brother. 

All Nature s Laws and Ties are hence dissolv d; 

There is no Kindred, Friendship, Faith, or Love 

Among Mankind Monelia s dead The World 

Is all unhing d There s universal War 

She was the Tie, the Centre of the Whole ; 

And she remov d, all is one general Jar. 

Where next, Monelia, shall I bend my Arm 

To heal this Discord, this Disorder still, 

And bring the Chaos Universe to Form? 

Blood still must flow and float the scatter d Limbs 

Till thy much injur d love in Peace subsides. 

Then every jarring Discord once will cease, 

And a new World from these rude Ruins rise. (pauses. 

Here then I point the Edge, from hence shall flow 

(pointing his knife to bis Heart. 
The raging crimson Flood, this is the Fountain 
Whose swift Day s Stream shall waft me to thy Arms, 
Lest Philip s Ghost should injure thy Repose. (stabs himself. 
I come, I come, Mone/ia> now 1 come 
Philip away She s mine in spite of Death. (dies. 

Enter Tenesco. 

Oh ! I m too late, the fatal Work is done. 

Unhappy Princes; this your wretched End; 

Your Country s Hopes and your fond Father s Joy; 

Are you no more? Slain by each other s Hands, 

Or what is worse; or by the Air you breath d? 

For all is Murder, Death, and Blood about us: 

Nothing safe; it is contagious all: 

The Earth, and Air, and Skies are full of Treason ! 

The Evil Genius rules the Universe, 

And on Mankind rains Tempests of Destruction. 

Where will the Slaughter of the Species end? 

When it begins with Kings and with their Sons, 

A general Ruin threatens all below. 

How will the good King hear the sad Report. 

I fear th Event; but as it can t be hid, 

I ll bear it to him in the softest Terms, 

And summon every Power to sooth his Grief, 

And slack the Torrent of his royal Passion. (Exit. 



PONTEACH : OR THE SAVAGES OF AMERICA 



SCENE V. Senate-House. 

Ponteacb, solus. 

The Torrent rises, and the Tempest blows ; 
Where will this rough rude Storm of Ruin end ? 
What crimson Floods are yet to drench the Earth? 
What new-form d Mischiefs hover in the Air, 
And point their Stings at this devoted Head? 
Has Fate exhausted all her Stores of Wrath, 
Or has she other Vengeance in Reserve? 
What can she more ? My Sons, my Name is gone ; 
My Hopes all blasted, my Delights all fled; 
Nothing remains but an afflicted King, 
That might be pitied by Earth s greatest Wretch. 
My Friends; my Sons, ignobly, basely slain, 
Are more than murder d, more than lost by Death. 
Had they died fighting in their Country s Cause, 
I should have smil d and gloried in their Fall; 
Yes, boasting that I had such Sons to lose, 
I would have rode in Triumph o er their Tombs. 
But thus to die, the Martyrs of their Folly, 
Involv d in all the complicated Guilt 
Of Treason, Murder, Falshood, and Deceit, 
Unbridled Passion, Cowardice, Revenge, 
And every Thing that can debase the Man, 
And render him the just Contempt of all, 
And fix the foulest Stain of Infamy, 
Beyond the Power of Time to blot it out; 
This is too much ; and my griev d Spirit sinks 
Beneath the Weight of such gigantic Woe. 
Ye that would see a piteous wretched King, 
Look on a Father griev d and curs d like me; 
Look on a King whose Sons have died like mine ! 
Then you ll confess that these are dangerous Names, 
And put it in the Power of Fate to curse us ; 
It is on such she shews her highest Spite. 
But I m too far Tis not a Time to grieve 
For private Losses, when the Public calls. 

Enter Tenesco, looking sorrowful. 
What are your Tidings? I have no more Sons. 

255 



PONTEACH : OR THE SAVAGES OF AMERICA 

Ttncsco. But you have Subjects, and regard their Safety. 
The treacherous Priest, intrusted with your Councils, 
Has publish d all, and added his own Falshoods; 
The Chiefs have all revolted from your Cause, 
Patch d up a Peace, and lend their Help no more. 

Pont each. And is this all ? we must defend ourselves, 
Supply the place of Numbers with our Courage, 
And learn to conquer with our very Looks : 
This is a Time that tries the Truth of Valour; 
He shews his Courage that dares stem the Storm, 
And live in spite of Violence and Fate. 
Shall holy Perfidy and seeming Lyes . 
Destroy our Purpose, sink us into Cowards? 

Tenesco. May your Hopes prosper! I ll excite the Troops 
By your Example still to keep the Field. Exit. 

Ponteacb. Tis coming on. Thus Wave succeeds to Wave, 
Till the Storm s spent, then all subsides again 
The Chiefs revolted: My Design betray d: 
May he that trusts a Christian meet the same! 
They have no Faith, no Honesty, no God, 
And cannot merit Confidence from Men. 
Were I alone the boist rous Tempest s Sport, 
I d quickly move my shatter d trembling Bark, 
And follow my departed Sons to Rest. 
But my brave Countrymen, my Friends, my Subjects, 
Demand my Care; I ll not desert the Helm, 
Nor leave a dang rous station in Distress; 
Yes, I will live, in spite of Fate I ll live; 
Was I not Ponteach, was I not a King, 
Such Giant Mischiefs would not gather round me. 
And since I m Ponteacb, since I am a King, 
I ll shew myself Superior to them all; 
I ll rise above this Hurricane of Fate, 
And shew my Courage to the Gods themselves. 

Enter Tenesco, surprised and pausing. 

I am prepar d, be not afraid to tell ; 

You cannot speak what Ponteacb dare not hear. 

Tenesco. Our bravest Troops are slain, the rest pursu d ; 
All is Disorder, Tumult, and Rebellion. 
Those that remain insist on speedy Flight; 

256 



PONTEACH: OR THE SAVAGES OF AMERICA 

You must attend them, or be left alone 

Unto the Fury of a conquering Foe, 

Nor will they long expect your royal Pleasure. 

Ponteacb. Will they desert their King in such an Hour, 
When Pity might induce them to protect him ? 
Kings like the Gods are valued and ador d, 
When Men expect their Bounties in Return, 
Place them in Want, destroy the giving Power, 
All Sacrifices and Regards will cease. 
Go, tell my Friends that I ll attend their Call. 

(rising. Exit Tenesco. 

I will not fear but must obey my Stars: (looking round. 

Ye fertile Fields and glad ning Streams adieu ; 
Ye Fountains that have quench d my scorching Thirst, 
Ye Shades that hid the Sun-beams from my Head, 
Ye Groves and Hills that yielded me the Chace, 
Ye flow ry Meads, and Banks, and bending Trees, 
And thou proud Earth, made drunk with Royal Blood, 
I am no more your Owner and your King. 
But witness for me to your new base Lords, 
That my unconquer d Mind defies them still; 
And though I fly, tis on the Wings of Hope. 
Yes, I will hence where there s no British Foe, 
And wait a Respite from this Storm of Woe ; 
Beget more Sons, fresh Troops collect and arm, 
And other Schemes of future Greatness form ; 
Britons may boast, the Gods may have their Will, 
Ponteacb I am, and shall be Pont each still. 1 (Exit, 



FINIS. 



1 The most severe blow to Pontiac s hopes was, of course, chc successful de 
fence of Detroit and Fr-t Pitt. His hopes were finally crushed by the receipt of 
a letter from M. Neyon, the French commander at Fort des Chartres, td vising 
him to desist from further warfare, as peace had been concluded between France 
and Great Britain. However, unwilling to abandon entirely his project, he made 
an attempt to incite the tr % s along the Mississippi to join in another effort. 
Being unsuccessful in this actempt, he finally made peace at Detroit, August 17, 
1765. In 1769 he attended a drinking carousal at Cahokia, Illinois, where he 
was murdered by a Kaskaskia Indian. Handbook of American Indians, 

257 



INDEX 



Abercrombie, General, 

appoints R. major, 51 

at Fort Edward, 53 

thanks R., 56 

defeat at Ticonderoga, 61 
African service of R., 156 
Allds, William, 79 
Amherst, Sir Jeffrey, 

at Ticonderoga, 65 

St. Francis expedition, 66 

disappoints R., 68 

captures Montreal, 69 

praises R., 70 

Cherokee expedition, 76 

fulfills promise to R., 77 
Blanchard s rangers, 39, 42, 43, 45 
Bloody Run, Battle of, 88 
Bougainville, 61 
Browne, Rev. Arthur, 73, 80 
Browne, Elizabeth, see Rogers, Eliza 
beth 
Carver, Jonathan, I 20 et stj. 

Travels, \ ^ 3 

Chippewa-Sioux peace, 128 
Claus, Daniel, in, 118, 143 
Cohase Meadows, 44 
Concise Account of North America, 96, 

98, 100 

Counterfeiting, R. accused of, 40 
Crown Point, 

expedition against, 4050, 65 

R. at, 60 

capture, 66 
Dalyell, Capt. James, 

enlists with R., 51 

at Lake Champlain, 645 

at Detroit, 83, 86, 88-9 

death, 90 
Declaration of Independence, 164 



Detroit, 70, 86-9 

Indian rising at, 81-3 
Fonda, Gysbert, 93 
Fort Edward, 45, 5 a, 56, 64 

Fort Loudon, 77 

Fort Prince George, 77 

Fort Wentworth, 44 

Fort William Henry, 46, 49 

Frye, Major Joseph, 40, 42 

Gage, General Thomas 

appoints R., 103 

instructions to R., 108 

removes R., 139 

attempted reconciliation, I 56 

on R., 104 
Goddard, 143 
Groesbeck, Stephen, 136 
Haverhill, see Methuen 
Haviland, Colonel, 58 
Howe, Lord, 165, et seq. 
Indians, 

conference at Mackinac, 1 28 

conference at Oswcgo, 1 1 1 

R. s opinion of, 98 

trade, 106 et seq. 

Abenaki, 66 

Algonquin, 8 1 

Cherokee, 76-7 

Chippewa-Sioux peace, 128 

Delaware, 91 

Mohawk, 91 

Ottawa, see Pontiac 

Pennacook, 66 

St. Francis, 66 

Stockbridge, 50 
Isle aux Noix, 70 
Johnson, Sir William, 

Crown Point campaign, 435 

recognizes R., 46-7 



PONTEACH : OR THE SAVAGES OF AMERICA 



Johnson, Sir Willitm, (tontinueJ) 
reprimands R., 92 
Indian trade, 105-9 
instructions to R., 108, 116 
Oswego conference, 1 1 1 
sends Roberts to Mackinac, 1 26 
suspects R., 130 
recommends Roberts, i 50 
on R., 104, 105, 107 
Journals, 48, 59, 96-7, loo, 107 
Lake Champlain, 49, 60, 61, 64 
Lake George, 

campaigns, 45, 46, 62, 65 
land at, refused R., 80 
Lake Mcmphremagog, 68 
London, 94, 146, 149, 171 
Long Island, Battle of, 166 
Mackinac, R. at, 115 et seq. 
Mamaroneck, R. defeated at, 1 66 
Massachusetts General Court, 72 
Merrimac, 34 
Methuen, i 8 et seq. 
Michilimackinac, see Mackinac 
M-mongahela, Valley of, 30 
Montreal, 65, 69-70 

traders support R., 1 1 8 
New Hampshire Assembly, 72, 79 
New Hampshire regiment raised, 42 
New York, grant to R., 47 
Northwest passage, 102 et seq. t 120 

et seq. 

second proposal, 154 
Oswego, conference at, in 
Ponteacb t 101 
Pontiac, 

meets R., 70, 84 
rebellion, 81 
defeats Dalycll, 89 
submission, i i 5 
character, 86 
Portsmouth, 73, 79, 158 
Potter, 

at Mackinac, 1 1 5 
quarrel with R., 134 
accuses R., 135, 136, 139 
Presqu Isle, 70, 87 
Pudney, Joseph, 23, 29 
Putnam, Israel, 51, 64 
Quebec, 169 



Readsboro, Vermont^ 93 
Revolution, 1 56 et seq. 
Roberts, Benjamin, 

Oswego conference, 1 1 1 

first quarrel with R., 113 

at Niagara, 116 

sent to Mackinac, 126, 130 

reports R. s misconduct, 131-2 

break with R., 135-7 

arrested by R., 138-9 

arrested for debt, 143 

at Montreal, 145 

at London, 149 

imprisoned for debt, 153 

character, 1 1 1 et seq. 
Rogers, Elizabeth, 

marriage, 74 

loyalty to R., 80 

goes to Mackinac, iio 

sufferings at Mackinac, 125 

divorce, 172 

Rogers, James (father), 1 8, 23, 28, 33 
Rogers, James (brother), 50, 93 

in Revolution, 168, 171 

assists R., 155 

Rogers, Richard, 48, 50, 56 
Rogers, Robert, 

birth, 17 

boyhood and home, 20, 25 

first military service, 30 

home destroyed, 31 

returns to Lovell s Farm, 32 

at Merrimac, 34 

frontier travels, 35 

accused of counterfeiting, 40 

commissioned by Wentworth, 42 

appointed captain, 43 

builds Fort Wentworth, 44 

ranger, 45 

at Ticonderoga, 46, 48, 56-65 

captain of independent rangcn, 47 

at Crown Point, 48, 56-65 

appointed major, 51 

St. Francis expedition, 66 

on St. Lawrence, 69 

meets Pontiac, 70, 84 

surrender of French posti, 70 

sues for back pay, 72 

at Portsmouth, 73, 79, 158 



260 



PONTEACH : OR THE SAVAGES OF AMERICA 



Rogers, Robert, {continued} 
marriage, 75 
Cherokee expedition, 77 
at Carolinas, 78 
financial troubles, 7980 
refused land at Lake George, 80 
rebellion of Pontiac, 81 
captain of New York company, 82 
at Detroit, 86, 90 
engages in Indian trade, 91, 92 
loses commission, 92 
in London, 94 et seq. 
Northwest passage scheme, 102,120 
commander at Mackinac, 103 et seq. 
Oswego conference, 1 1 1 
first quarrel with Roberts, 1 1 3 
disobeys Johnson, 117 
misconduct at Mackinac, \z^etseq. 
seeks governorship, 127 
break with Roberts, 1 3 5 
suspected of treason, I 36 
impeached, 137 
arrested tor treason, 140 
trial, 142 

second visit to England, 146 et seq. 
imprisoned for debt, 153 
African service, I 56 
in Revolution, 159 et seq. 
arrested as spy, 163-4. 
service with Howe, 165 
defeat at Mamaroneck, 166 
misconduct at Quebec, 169 
flees to England, 171 



death, 172 

character, 104-5 

criticism of works, 97 et seq. 

leadership, 52 

married life, 92 

patriotism, 83 
Rogers Rangers, 

at Ticondcroga, 55 

at Fort Edward, 56, 64 

on Lake Champlain, 60 

attacked by Marin, 64 

at Crown Point, 66 

characteristics, 51 
Rumford, 23, 27, 28, 92 
St. d Estresse, 69 
St. Johns, 69 
St. Lawrence, 69 
Salida, Valley of, 77 
Seven Years War, 39 
Shirley, Governor, 40, 42-3, 47 
Spiessmacher, Captain, 115, 134, 144 
Stark, John, 51, 53-4, 159 
Ticonderoga, 

R. at, 46, 48, 56-65 

Abercrombie defeated at, 61 

capture, 65 

Treason, R. accused of, 136,140,142 
Venanzo, 83 
Washington, George, 37, 39 

on R., 162 

Wentworth, Governor , 35, 39, 42, 44 
Wattockquitchey, 69 
White Plains, Battle of, 167 



261 



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