Captivity and Restoration of Mrs. Mary Rowlandson



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By Mrs. Mary Rowlandson




The sovereignty and goodness of GOD, together with the faithfulness

of his promises displayed, being a narrative of the captivity and

restoration of Mrs. Mary Rowlandson, commended by her, to all that

desires to know the Lord’s doings to, and dealings with her. Especially

to her dear children and relations. The second Addition [sic] Corrected

and amended. Written by her own hand for her private use, and now made

public at the earnest desire of some friends, and for the benefit of the

afflicted. Deut. 32.39. See now that I, even I am he, and there is no

god with me, I kill and I make alive, I wound and I heal, neither is

there any can deliver out of my hand.



On the tenth of February 1675, came the Indians with great numbers upon

Lancaster: their first coming was about sunrising; hearing the noise

of some guns, we looked out; several houses were burning, and the smoke

ascending to heaven. There were five persons taken in one house; the

father, and the mother and a sucking child, they knocked on the head;

the other two they took and carried away alive. There were two others,

who being out of their garrison upon some occasion were set upon;

one was knocked on the head, the other escaped; another there was who

running along was shot and wounded, and fell down; he begged of them his

life, promising them money (as they told me) but they would not hearken

to him but knocked him in head, and stripped him naked, and split open

his bowels. Another, seeing many of the Indians about his barn, ventured

and went out, but was quickly shot down. There were three others

belonging to the same garrison who were killed; the Indians getting up

upon the roof of the barn, had advantage to shoot down upon them over

their fortification. Thus these murderous wretches went on, burning, and

destroying before them.


At length they came and beset our own house, and quickly it was the

dolefulest day that ever mine eyes saw. The house stood upon the edge of

a hill; some of the Indians got behind the hill, others into the barn,

and others behind anything that could shelter them; from all which

places they shot against the house, so that the bullets seemed to fly

like hail; and quickly they wounded one man among us, then another,

and then a third. About two hours (according to my observation, in that

amazing time) they had been about the house before they prevailed to

fire it (which they did with flax and hemp, which they brought out of

the barn, and there being no defense about the house, only two flankers

at two opposite corners and one of them not finished); they fired it

once and one ventured out and quenched it, but they quickly fired it

again, and that took. Now is the dreadful hour come, that I have often

heard of (in time of war, as it was the case of others), but now mine

eyes see it. Some in our house were fighting for their lives, others

wallowing in their blood, the house on fire over our heads, and the

bloody heathen ready to knock us on the head, if we stirred out. Now

might we hear mothers and children crying out for themselves, and one

another, “Lord, what shall we do?” Then I took my children (and one of

my sisters’, hers) to go forth and leave the house: but as soon as

we came to the door and appeared, the Indians shot so thick that the

bullets rattled against the house, as if one had taken an handful of

stones and threw them, so that we were fain to give back. We had six

stout dogs belonging to our garrison, but none of them would stir,

though another time, if any Indian had come to the door, they were ready

to fly upon him and tear him down. The Lord hereby would make us the

more acknowledge His hand, and to see that our help is always in Him.

But out we must go, the fire increasing, and coming along behind us,

roaring, and the Indians gaping before us with their guns, spears,

and hatchets to devour us. No sooner were we out of the house, but my

brother-in-law (being before wounded, in defending the house, in or near

the throat) fell down dead, whereat the Indians scornfully shouted, and

hallowed, and were presently upon him, stripping off his clothes, the

bullets flying thick, one went through my side, and the same (as would

seem) through the bowels and hand of my dear child in my arms. One of my

elder sisters’ children, named William, had then his leg broken, which

the Indians perceiving, they knocked him on [his] head. Thus were we

butchered by those merciless heathen, standing amazed, with the blood

running down to our heels. My eldest sister being yet in the house, and

seeing those woeful sights, the infidels hauling mothers one way, and

children another, and some wallowing in their blood: and her elder son

telling her that her son William was dead, and myself was wounded, she

said, “And Lord, let me die with them,” which was no sooner said, but

she was struck with a bullet, and fell down dead over the threshold. I

hope she is reaping the fruit of her good labors, being faithful to the

service of God in her place. In her younger years she lay under much

trouble upon spiritual accounts, till it pleased God to make that

precious scripture take hold of her heart, “And he said unto me, my

Grace is sufficient for thee” (2 Corinthians 12.9). More than twenty

years after, I have heard her tell how sweet and comfortable that place

was to her. But to return: the Indians laid hold of us, pulling me one

way, and the children another, and said, “Come go along with us”; I told

them they would kill me: they answered, if I were willing to go along

with them, they would not hurt me.


Oh the doleful sight that now was to behold at this house! “Come, behold

the works of the Lord, what desolations he has made in the earth.” Of

thirty-seven persons who were in this one house, none escaped either

present death, or a bitter captivity, save only one, who might say as

he, “And I only am escaped alone to tell the News” (Job 1.15). There

were twelve killed, some shot, some stabbed with their spears, some

knocked down with their hatchets. When we are in prosperity, Oh the

little that we think of such dreadful sights, and to see our dear

friends, and relations lie bleeding out their heart-blood upon the

ground. There was one who was chopped into the head with a hatchet, and

stripped naked, and yet was crawling up and down. It is a solemn sight

to see so many Christians lying in their blood, some here, and some

there, like a company of sheep torn by wolves, all of them stripped

naked by a company of hell-hounds, roaring, singing, ranting, and

insulting, as if they would have torn our very hearts out; yet the Lord

by His almighty power preserved a number of us from death, for there

were twenty-four of us taken alive and carried captive.


I had often before this said that if the Indians should come, I should

choose rather to be killed by them than taken alive, but when it came

to the trial my mind changed; their glittering weapons so daunted

my spirit, that I chose rather to go along with those (as I may say)

ravenous beasts, than that moment to end my days; and that I may the

better declare what happened to me during that grievous captivity, I

shall particularly speak of the several removes we had up and down the








Now away we must go with those barbarous creatures, with our bodies

wounded and bleeding, and our hearts no less than our bodies. About a

mile we went that night, up upon a hill within sight of the town, where

they intended to lodge. There was hard by a vacant house (deserted by

the English before, for fear of the Indians). I asked them whether I

might not lodge in the house that night, to which they answered, “What,

will you love English men still?” This was the dolefulest night that

ever my eyes saw. Oh the roaring, and singing and dancing, and yelling

of those black creatures in the night, which made the place a lively

resemblance of hell. And as miserable was the waste that was there made

of horses, cattle, sheep, swine, calves, lambs, roasting pigs, and fowl

(which they had plundered in the town), some roasting, some lying and

burning, and some boiling to feed our merciless enemies; who were joyful

enough, though we were disconsolate. To add to the dolefulness of the

former day, and the dismalness of the present night, my thoughts ran

upon my losses and sad bereaved condition. All was gone, my husband

gone (at least separated from me, he being in the Bay; and to add to my

grief, the Indians told me they would kill him as he came homeward), my

children gone, my relations and friends gone, our house and home and all

our comforts–within door and without–all was gone (except my life),

and I knew not but the next moment that might go too. There remained

nothing to me but one poor wounded babe, and it seemed at present

worse than death that it was in such a pitiful condition, bespeaking

compassion, and I had no refreshing for it, nor suitable things to

revive it. Little do many think what is the savageness and brutishness

of this barbarous enemy, Ay, even those that seem to profess more than

others among them, when the English have fallen into their hands.


Those seven that were killed at Lancaster the summer before upon a

Sabbath day, and the one that was afterward killed upon a weekday,

were slain and mangled in a barbarous manner, by one-eyed John, and

Marlborough’s Praying Indians, which Capt. Mosely brought to Boston, as

the Indians told me.







But now, the next morning, I must turn my back upon the town, and travel

with them into the vast and desolate wilderness, I knew not whither.

It is not my tongue, or pen, can express the sorrows of my heart, and

bitterness of my spirit that I had at this departure: but God was with

me in a wonderful manner, carrying me along, and bearing up my spirit,

that it did not quite fail. One of the Indians carried my poor wounded

babe upon a horse; it went moaning all along, “I shall die, I shall

die.” I went on foot after it, with sorrow that cannot be expressed.

At length I took it off the horse, and carried it in my arms till my

strength failed, and I fell down with it. Then they set me upon a horse

with my wounded child in my lap, and there being no furniture upon the

horse’s back, as we were going down a steep hill we both fell over

the horse’s head, at which they, like inhumane creatures, laughed, and

rejoiced to see it, though I thought we should there have ended our

days, as overcome with so many difficulties. But the Lord renewed my

strength still, and carried me along, that I might see more of His

power; yea, so much that I could never have thought of, had I not

experienced it.


After this it quickly began to snow, and when night came on, they

stopped, and now down I must sit in the snow, by a little fire, and a

few boughs behind me, with my sick child in my lap; and calling much for

water, being now (through the wound) fallen into a violent fever. My own

wound also growing so stiff that I could scarce sit down or rise up; yet

so it must be, that I must sit all this cold winter night upon the cold

snowy ground, with my sick child in my arms, looking that every hour

would be the last of its life; and having no Christian friend near me,

either to comfort or help me. Oh, I may see the wonderful power of God,

that my Spirit did not utterly sink under my affliction: still the Lord

upheld me with His gracious and merciful spirit, and we were both alive

to see the light of the next morning.







The morning being come, they prepared to go on their way. One of the

Indians got up upon a horse, and they set me up behind him, with my poor

sick babe in my lap. A very wearisome and tedious day I had of it; what

with my own wound, and my child’s being so exceeding sick, and in a

lamentable condition with her wound. It may be easily judged what a

poor feeble condition we were in, there being not the least crumb of

refreshing that came within either of our mouths from Wednesday night

to Saturday night, except only a little cold water. This day in the

afternoon, about an hour by sun, we came to the place where they

intended, viz. an Indian town, called Wenimesset, northward of Quabaug.

When we were come, Oh the number of pagans (now merciless enemies) that

there came about me, that I may say as David, “I had fainted, unless I

had believed, etc” (Psalm 27.13). The next day was the Sabbath. I then

remembered how careless I had been of God’s holy time; how many Sabbaths

I had lost and misspent, and how evilly I had walked in God’s sight;

which lay so close unto my spirit, that it was easy for me to see how

righteous it was with God to cut off the thread of my life and cast me

out of His presence forever. Yet the Lord still showed mercy to me, and

upheld me; and as He wounded me with one hand, so he healed me with the

other. This day there came to me one Robert Pepper (a man belonging

to Roxbury) who was taken in Captain Beers’s fight, and had been now a

considerable time with the Indians; and up with them almost as far as

Albany, to see King Philip, as he told me, and was now very lately come

into these parts. Hearing, I say, that I was in this Indian town, he

obtained leave to come and see me. He told me he himself was wounded in

the leg at Captain Beer’s fight; and was not able some time to go, but

as they carried him, and as he took oaken leaves and laid to his wound,

and through the blessing of God he was able to travel again. Then I took

oaken leaves and laid to my side, and with the blessing of God it cured

me also; yet before the cure was wrought, I may say, as it is in Psalm

38.5-6 “My wounds stink and are corrupt, I am troubled, I am bowed down

greatly, I go mourning all the day long.” I sat much alone with a poor

wounded child in my lap, which moaned night and day, having nothing

to revive the body, or cheer the spirits of her, but instead of that,

sometimes one Indian would come and tell me one hour that “your master

will knock your child in the head,” and then a second, and then a third,

“your master will quickly knock your child in the head.”


This was the comfort I had from them, miserable comforters are ye all,

as he said. Thus nine days I sat upon my knees, with my babe in my lap,

till my flesh was raw again; my child being even ready to depart this

sorrowful world, they bade me carry it out to another wigwam (I suppose

because they would not be troubled with such spectacles) whither I went

with a very heavy heart, and down I sat with the picture of death in my

lap. About two hours in the night, my sweet babe like a lamb departed

this life on Feb. 18, 1675. It being about six years, and five months

old. It was nine days from the first wounding, in this miserable

condition, without any refreshing of one nature or other, except a

little cold water. I cannot but take notice how at another time I could

not bear to be in the room where any dead person was, but now the case

is changed; I must and could lie down by my dead babe, side by side all

the night after. I have thought since of the wonderful goodness of

God to me in preserving me in the use of my reason and senses in that

distressed time, that I did not use wicked and violent means to end my

own miserable life. In the morning, when they understood that my child

was dead they sent for me home to my master’s wigwam (by my master in

this writing, must be understood Quinnapin, who was a Sagamore, and

married King Philip’s wife’s sister; not that he first took me, but I

was sold to him by another Narragansett Indian, who took me when first I

came out of the garrison). I went to take up my dead child in my arms to

carry it with me, but they bid me let it alone; there was no resisting,

but go I must and leave it. When I had been at my master’s wigwam, I

took the first opportunity I could get to go look after my dead child.

When I came I asked them what they had done with it; then they told me

it was upon the hill. Then they went and showed me where it was, where I

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