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The Boy Captives - John Greenleaf Whittier

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The Boy Captives
An Incident of the Indian War of 1695

by John Greenleaf Whittier



THE township of Haverhill, even as late as the close of the
seventeenth century, was a frontier settlement, occupying an
advanced position in the great wilderness, which, unbroken by the
clearing of a white man, extended from the Merrimac River to the
French villages on the St. Francois.  A tract of twelve miles on the
river and three or four northwardly was occupied by scattered
settlers, while in the centre of the town a compact village had
grown up.  In the immediate vicinity there were but few Indians,
and these generally peaceful and inoffensive.  On the breaking out
of the Narragansett War,(1) the inhabitants had erected
fortifications, and taken other measures for defence; but, with the
possible exception of one man who was found slain in the woods in
1676, none of the inhabitants were molested; and it was not until
about the year 1689 that the safety of the settlement was seriously
threatened.  Three persons were killed in that year.  In 1690 six
garrisons were established in different parts of the town, with a
small company of soldiers attached to each.  Two of these houses
are still standing.  They were built of brick, two stories high, with a
single outside door, so small and narrow that but one person could
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