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Stedman and Hutchinson, comps. A Library of American Literature:
An Anthology in Eleven Volumes. 1891.
Vols. IX–XI: Literature of the Republic, Part IV., 1861–1889

Subtlety and Courage of the Friendly Indians

By William Hubbard (1621/2–1704)

[From A Narrative of the Troubles with the Indians in New-England. 1677.]

IT is worth noting, what faithfulness and courage some of the Christian Indians with the said Capt. Peirce showed in the light [at Abbot’s Run]. One of them, Amos by name, after the Captain was shot in his leg or thigh, so he was not able to stand any longer, would not leave him, but charging his gun several times, tired stoutly upon the enemy, till he saw that there was no possibility for him to do any further good to Capt. Peirce, nor yet to save himself, if he stayed any longer; therefore he used this policy, perceiving the enemy had all blacked their faces, he also stooping down, pulled out some blacking out of a pouch he carried with him, discolored his face therewith, and, so making himself as like Hobamacko as any of his enemies, he ran among them a little while, and was taken for one of themselves, as if he had been searching for the English, until he had an opportunity to escape away among the bushes; therein imitating the cuttle-fish, which when it is pursued, or in danger, casteth out of its body a thick humor as black as ink, through which it passes away unseen by the pursuer.

It is reported of another of these Cape Indians (friends to the English of Plimouth) that being pursued by one of the enemies, he betook himself to a great rock, where he sheltered himself for a while; at last perceiving that his enemy lay ready with his gun on the other side, to discharge upon him, as soon as he stirred never so little away from the place where he stood; in the issue he thought of this politic stratagem to save himself and destroy his enemy (for as Solomon said of old, “Wisdom is better than Weapons of War”), he took a stick, and hung his hat upon it, and then by degrees gently lifted it up, till he thought it would be seen and so become a fit mark for the other that watched to take aim at him. The other taking it to be his head fired a gun, and shot through the hat; which our Christian Indian perceiving, boldly held up his head and discharged his own gun upon the real head, not the hat of his adversary, whereby he shot him dead upon the place, and so had liberty to march away with the spoils of his enemy.

The like subtle device was used by another of the Cape Indians at the same time, being one of them that went out with Capt. Peirce; for being in like manner pursued by one of Philip’s Indians, as the former was, he nimbly got behind the but-end of a tree newly turned up by the roots, which carried a considerable breadth of the surface of the earth along with it (as is very useful in these parts, where the roots of the trees lie very fleet in the ground) which stood up above the Indian’s height in form of a large shield, only it was somewhat too heavy to be easily wielded or removed; the enemy-Indian lay with his gun ready to shoot him down upon his first deserting his station; but a subtle wit taught our Christian Netop a better device; for, boring a little hole through this his broad shield, he discerned his enemy, who could not so easily discern him; a good musketeer need never desire a fairer mark to shoot at; whereupon discharging his gun, he shot him down: what can be more just than that he should himself be killed, who lay in wait to kill another man?

  • ———Neque enim Lex justior ulla est,
  • Quam necis Artifices arte perire sua.
  • Instances of this nature show the subtility and dexterousness of these natives, if they were improved in feats of arms: and possibly if some of the English had not been too shy in making use of such of them as were well affected to their own interest, they need never have suffered so much from their enemies: it having been found upon late experience that many of them have proved not only faithful, but very serviceable and helpful to the English; they usually proving good seconds, though they have not ordinarily confidence enough to make the first onset.