They Cut Off The Finger That Tipped The Scale And Some More
Yarmouth Vanguard, Tuesday, April 18, 1989
We saw last week how Major Richard Waldron had ordered the merchant Henry Lawton and others, among whom was John Laverdure, alias Mellanson, to apprehend Indians from Maine and Cape Sable, which they did, selling them in slavery in the Azores.
It goes without saying that this act of violence irritated in the highest degree the Indians of the coast of Maine and especially those of Cape Sable who had not taken part in any way in King Philip's War. Moreover, they were enraged at the acquittal by the Court of Boston of the perpetrators in this "white savagery". Furthermore, Major Richard Waldron, whom they knew to be the instigator of the whole affair, had not even been brought to justice. Thus the culprits were all the White Men, but more especially so Major Waldron himself. They were to take revenge on the New Englanders by molesting their fishermen, who were more at hand for the Indians of Cape Sable. With regard to Major Waldron, their grudge was not to be satisfied until they would get the best of him, even if it were to take years.
At about the time that the Court in Boston was acquitting the "guilty" malefactors, five fishing vessels from the vicinity of Boston came to anchor in Port La Tour harbour, comprising about 26 persons in all. On July 18, 1677, at dawn, 70 or 80 Indians, protected by a volley of bullets, came on board the vessels, stripped the men of their clothing, tied them up, leaving them on deck until nightfall, when they commanded them to set sail towards Ponobscot River, in Maine (close to Castine). However, the wind having died down, they were not able to leave. A scuffle took place in the evening, when the chief of the Indians lost control completely of himself. The captain of one of the vessels seized the occasion to get a stranglehold on him, throwing him down on the deck, pressing him down with his knee, while "he stuffed his mouth with his hat" To muffle his outrage. At the same time, members of the crew were able to seize some of the Indians, whom they threw overboard; others jumped in their canoes. With regard to the rest, the vessels sailed with them towards Marblehead, Massachusetts, where no doubt they were hung, that which was considered at the time simply as a mere trifle.
Some merchants from Salem, to whom most of the vessels belonged, immediately armed a large ketch, transforming it into a warship, mounted by forty strong and able men, which sailed for southern Nova Scotia. It scanned the coast, scrutinized every port, but to no avail. The Indians, knowing probably of the mighty force that they would have to deal with, went into hiding.
But the war was not over. Even though they were not able to give to the New England fishermen a good licking, the Indians still had in mind the foxy Major Richard Waldron, who always seemed to manage to slip through their fingers, being shielded by his rank in the army. His time was to come, the Indians having the memory of the elephant, especially when it comes to vengeance. Richard Waldron was born in England, around 1609. Still young, he came to New Hampshire, where he was one of the first settlers. He became a merchant and traded quite frequently with the Indians. The Indians despised him for many reasons, especially because they said that he was dishonest. For example, in connection with King Philip's War, he invited one day to come to Dover some 400 of them, apparently as a friendly gesture. But what happened, he made them all prisoners, some being sold as slaves, others executed.
And that is not all. He used to take advantage of the Indians, cheated on them as a merchant. For example, when weighing the material that he sold, the Indians could see him tip the scale with his finger. In buying beaver-skins by weight, he insulted the "intelligent Indians", as says an author, by insisting that his fist weighed just one pound. When they paid him what was due, he would neglect to cross out their accounts. All this, the Indians could not forget.
It took them thirteen or fourteen years to get hold of him. Here is what happened according to an author of the history of Maine, telling about that night he was most cruelly slain. "Two squaws, that fatal night, begged lodgings within the garrison (where was Waldron); and when all was quiet, they opened the gates and gave the signals. In a moment, every apartment was full of Indians, and several rushed towards the door of the room, in which Major Waldron was asleep. Aroused by the noise, he sprang out of bed, though eighty years of age, and drive them through two doors with his sword. Turning back for his pistols, he was stunned by the blow of a hatchet, dragged into the hall, and seated in an elbow chair upon a long table." Then the author keeps on with words I dare not write, but meaning substantially that they started by cutting his finger and then his fist, saying: "This finger or this fist will not be able to tip the scale anymore." With a sharp knife, they gashed his chest with crosses, saying: "Here I cross out my account."
If you think that this is hardly fit to print, what followed, believe it or not, is still more horrifying, of which I will spare the reader.
This has been the most gruesome massacre and the most repulsive and refined cruelty ever told of the Indians. One of the many authors, from whom we hold this story, adds that this is how the Indians exercised their "vindictive justice." This had taken place in the Spring of 1689.