This volume draws together an unusually rich body of original sources that tell the story of the 1704 French and Indian attack on Deerfield, Massachusetts, from different vantage points. Texts range from one of the most famous early American captivity narratives, John Williams’s The Redeemed Captive, to the records of French soldiers and clerics, to little-known Abenaki and Mohawk stories of the raid that emerged out of their communities’ oral traditions. Evan Haefeli and Kevin Sweeney provide a general introduction, extensive annotations, and headnotes to each text.
Although the oft-reprinted Redeemed Captive stands at the core of this collection, it is juxtaposed to less familiar accounts of captivity composed by other Deerfield residents: Quentin Stockwell, Daniel Belding, Joseph Petty, Joseph Kellogg, and the teenaged Stephen Williams. Presented in their original form, before clerical editors revised and embellished their content to highlight religious themes, these stories challenge long-standing assumptions about classic Puritan captivity narratives.
The inclusion of three Abenaki and Mohawk narratives of the Deerfield raid is equally noteworthy, offering a rare opportunity not only to compare captors’ and captives’ accounts of the same experiences, but to do so with reference to different Native oral traditions. Similarly, the memoirs of French military officers and an excerpt from the Jesuit Relations illuminate the motivations behind the attack and offer fresh insights into the complexities of French-Indian alliances.
Taken together, the stories collected in this volume, framed by the editors’ introduction and the assessments of two Native scholars, Taiaiake Alfred and Marge Bruchac, allow readers to reconstruct the history of the Deerfield raid from multiple points of view and, in so doing, to explore the interplay of culture and memory that shapes our understanding of the past.