Captivity of John Fitch – Indian Captivities

Particulars Relating to the Captivity of John Fitch, of Ashby, Mass. Related by Mr. Enos Jones, of Ashburnham.

The town of Lunenburg, in Massachusetts, was incorporated August 1, 1728, and received its name in compliment to George II., who, the preceding year, came to the British throne, and was styled Duke of Lunenburg, having in his German dominions a town of that name. On the 3d of February, 1764, a part of Lunenburg was detached and incorporated as a distinct town by the name of Fitchburg. In 1767, a part of Fitchburg was dis-annexed to aid in forming the town of Ashby. Mr. John Fitch lived on the frontiers of the county, in the tract now included in Ashby. After the commencement of the French and Indian war of 1745, Fitch proposed to the government to keep a garrison, with the aid of three soldiers, who were immediately dispatched to him. Mr. Fitch was a gentleman of much enterprise, and had had considerable dealings with the Indians in peltries, furs, &c., and was generally well known among them. Soon after the breaking out of the war, they determined to make him a prisoner; and in July, 1746-7, they came into the vicinity to the number of about eighty. The inhabitants of the garrison were Fitch, his wife, five children, and the three soldiers. One of these last left the garrison early in the morning of the disaster, on furlough, to visit a house at the distance of three or four miles. Another went out in quest of game. He had not proceeded far when he discovered the Indians crawling in the high grass between him and the garrison. He attempted to return, but was instantly shot down. One soldier only remained with Fitch and his family; and they determined to defend themselves to the best of their power. The soldier, whose name was Jennings, fired several times, when an Indian shot him through the neck, and he fell. Mrs. Fitch regularly loaded the guns for her husband, and they continued to defend themselves for some time; when the Indians informed them that if they would surrender they should have quarter, but if they refused they should perish in the flames of the garrison. After some consultation with his wife, Fitch concluded to surrender. The Indians then burned the garrison; and after committing various mischief in the neighborhood, they took the captive family to Canada. Immediately after the garrison was burnt, Perkins, the soldier on furlough, espied the smoke, and on ascending a hill in the vicinity he could see the ruins.

He immediately gave the alarm, and in the evening nearly a hundred had assembled in arms for the pursuit of the enemy. It being dark, however, they concluded to wait till the following morning, and ere day broke they set out. After proceeding a short distance in the track of the Indians they saw a piece of paper tied to a limb of a tree, which, on examining, they found to be in the handwriting of Fitch, requesting them by no means to pursue him, as the Indians had assured him of safety if they were not pursued; but would destroy him if his friends should attempt his rescue. Upon this the party returned to their homes. At the close of the war Fitch and his family were liberated; and were crossing the Connecticut on their return home, when Mrs. Fitch took cold and died. The rest of the family returned, and Fitch was afterwards married again. Jennings, who was killed in the garrison, was burnt in the flames. The name of the soldier killed without the garrison was Blodget. The third soldier, whose name was Perkins, escaped.

Collection: Indian Captivity Narratives. A collection of first hand Indian captivity narratives from a variety of sources. For a list of sources, please see title page.

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