THOMAS HUTCHINSON'S VIEW ON DEATH OF CAPTIVES



In a footnote in The History of the Colony and Province of Massachusets-Bay, Thomas Hutchinson gave his opinion on the deaths of some of the colonists captured during an Amerindian raid on Deerfield. His opinion, as a reflection of one man's thoughts in 1768, would apply equally to those who were killed during the 1677 trek to Canada by the Hatfield captives.

"This [the killing of prisoners] is not mentioned as an instance of savage barbarity. Their own preservation often depends upon their destroying their prisoners. Henry the fifth of England killed in cold blood, the flower of France, when he supposed his own little army to be in danger. The Indians after these onsets, always suspected to be pursued. If they left their grown captives in the woods, they would discover them to the pursuers, if such captives should be found by them. To leave young children to die would be more cruel than to kill them outright. Their barbarities were committed, when they were intoxicated with liquor or enraged with passion. Some of the children who were taken at Deerfield, they drew upon slays; at other times they have been known to carry them in their arms or upon their backs to Canada. This tenderness has occasioned the beginning of an affection which in a few years has been so rivetted, that the parents of the children, who have gone to Canada to seek them, could by no means prevail upon them to leave the Indians and return home." (p. 104)

Reference: Mayo, L.S. 1936. The History of the Colony and Province of Massachusetts-Bay

by Thomas Hutchinson. Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA.