As presented by EotAW, it may seem that the colonial period in North America was nothing but a string of massacres. Well, that’s not true. There were also plagues, whippings, and outright warfare. But then, after the Revolution, everything got better.
Regardless, on this day in 1704, French troops and their Native allies sacked the town of Deerfield, Massachusetts, among the most harrowing episodes of Queen Anne’s War. The attackers killed close to 50 villagers and forced those who survived, more than 100 others, to make a forced march to Quebec. Many of the captives were later ransomed or returned to Massachusetts. But several of them, most famously Eunice Williams, chose to live out there lives in Indian country. Williams’s father, Deerfield’s minister, John Williams, published a memoir of the ordeal, The Redeemed Captive Returning to Zion.
There have been other books about the Deerfield raid and its aftermath. John Demos’s controversial and weird experiment with narrative, The Unredeemed Captive, of course. Also, Evan Haefeli and Kevin Sweeney’s Captors and Captives. And I’m pretty sure that Historiann is working on something as well. But since we’re in front of our computers, I thought I’d draw your attention to this site, which is the best effort I know of to bring a subject so fraught with cultural politics as this one to the interweb. Rather than trying to create a unified narrative of the event and its context, the historians who worked on the site used multiple perspectives to tell the story. The result is pretty impressive, I think. But I’m not sure. Because my judgement is clouded by what I know: the literature on public history and collective memory. So take a look and let me know what you think.
[Update: Historiann comes through with a very interesting reply to this post.]