God’s Goodness In an Indian Attack

In the 1670s, Wampanoag Indians waged “King Philip’s War” on Puritans and obliterated a dozen towns.Mary Rowlandson was captured during one raid, as described in these edited excerpts from her Narrative of Captivity and Restoration. Mary Rowlandson’s account of being captured by Indians, printed in 1682, went through nearly a dozen editions in two centuries.

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. 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 hallooed, 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. 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.

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 bears, than that moment to end my days.

Hostage’s hopes

Eventually, several men in Boston raised £20 for Mary’s ransom. She describes how, years later, the ordeal still flooded her with joy.

I can remember the time when I used to sleep quietly without working in my thoughts, but now it is otherwise. While all are fast [asleep] about me, my thoughts are upon things past, upon the awful dispensation of the Lord towards us, upon his wonderful power and might in carrying us through so many difficulties, in returning us to safety and suffering none to hurt us.

I remember in the night season, how the other day I was in the midst of thousands of enemies and nothing but death before me. But now we are fed with the finest of the wheat, and with honey out of the rock [Deut. 32:13].

The thoughts of these things, and of the love and goodness of God towards us, make it true of me what David said to himself, Psalm 6:6, I have watered my couch with tears. O the wonderful power of God that mine eyes have seen, affording matter enough for my thoughts to run in, that when others are sleeping, mine eyes are weeping.

By Mary Rowlandson

[Christian History originally published this article in Christian History Issue #41 in 1994]

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