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to go far from the forts; and when they did so venture, they were often met by the enemy, and usually loss of life or capture was the result.
In 1746, Bridgman's Fort was attacked by twenty Indians, who succeeded in killing two men and taking several prisoners, but were at length repulsed. The next year they made a second attack, demolishing the fort, killing several of its occupants, and taking others into captivity.
After this disaster, most of the settlers of the other forts, being apprehensive of similar attacks, moved their families to the larger settlements at the south of them; and it was well that they did so. Not long after the settlement at Number Four was abandoned by its inhabitants, the fort was attacked by 400 French and Indians. A siege of three days followed; and in that time thousands of balls were poured upon the fort. The little garrison of but thirty men made such a spirited resistance that the enemy finally gave up the siege and returned to Canada. Number Four had lost not a man; but the loss of the enemy must have been considerable.
Captain Hobbs’s Encounter with the Indians. — The scouting parties also often met and held encounters with the Indians, and many times blood was spilled. Many of these encounters were of great interest, perhaps none more so than that of Captain Humphrey Hobbs. He had been ordered to go with forty men from Number Four to Fort Shirley, in the northern part of Massachusetts. The party had halted within the limits of what is now the town of Marlboro and were eating their dinner, when they were surprised by a party of Indians four times outnumbering their own, led by a resolute chief named Sackett. Neither party had any shelter save that of the trees. A hot skirmish ensued, which lasted four hours, when Sackett, finding that his own men were getting the worst of the conflict, ordered a retreat.
Only three of the scouts were killed, but it was impossible to estimate the loss of the enemy. When an Indian fell, his nearest comrade, under cover of the trees and brush, crept stealthily to his body, attached a line to it, and then appeared the ghastly sight of a dead Indian gliding from view into some undergrowth, as if spirited away by invisible hands.
Granting of Townships; Settlements Begun.-In the few years of peace that followed King George's War, Governor Wentworth made grants of fifteen townships within the present limits of Vermont. The first of these was granted in 1749. It was six miles square, and was situated six miles north of the Massachusetts line and twenty miles east of the Hudson River. It was surveyed the same year, but no settlement was made there for more than ten years. This was called Bennington in honor of Benning Wentworth.
The fourteen other grants were east of the mountains, and comprised the greater part of the present Windham County. Settlements were begun, but were of slow growth because of the hostility of the Indians and the breaking out so soon of the French and Indian War, which drove many of the settlers to abandon their homes and seek places of greater safety farther from the frontier. Some of these charters were forfeited because of the inability of the proprietors to clear the required number of acres of land and to fulfil other conditions of the charters; but they were renewed several years after.
Among the settlements started was that of Bellows Falls, where, we are told, the first inhabitants subsisted almost entirely on the salmon and shad that came up the river to that place in great numbers. A second attempt was made to settle Putney, and here a fort was built resembling that of Dummer, only on a smaller scale; and this was garrisoned by New Hampshire troops until peace was restored between the French and English in 1760.
THE FRENCH AND INDIAN WAR--VERMONT AT THE
CLOSE OF THE LONG CONTEST
The French and Indian War (1754–1760).—The French and Indian War, so called, was the fourth and last war and continued for about six years. It consisted of a series of English victories.
The Taking of Fort Bridgman.—In the second year of this war a most disastrous affair took place at Bridgman's Fort, which had been rebuilt on the site of the original fort, was strongly picketed, and was considered to be as secure as any stronghold on the river.
On the day of the disaster all the men of the fort were hoeing corn in a meadow near the banks of the river, while their wives and children had made themselves secure in the fort. Starting for home at sunset, they were attacked by about a dozen Indians; and one of their number, Caleb Howe, was killed.
The Indians then hastened to the fort and rapped at the gate, which the women at once opened to them; for they had heard the firing and thought their own men were in danger and were rushing in from the field. The fort was burned ; and the women and children, numbering fourteen in all, were made prisoners and at first taken to Crown Point. Here they remained about a week, when they were taken down the lake in canoes to Canada. Mrs. Howe, the wife of Caleb Howe and known in his
tory as the
captive," had a sad experience. Her youngest child died on the way, and her remaining six
children were separated from her and from each other. Through the intervention of friends, she and three of her children were redeemed; another was given to the governor of Canada ; and two daughters were placed in a convent. One of these was afterward carried to France, where she married a Frenchman ; the other was subsequently redeemed, Mrs. Howe herself having made the journey to Canada to procure her release.
Taking of Crown Point and Ticonderoga. -Among the important English victories were the taking of Crown Point and Ticonderoga, toward the close of this war. These were positions of great importance, commanding, as they did, the passage from Lake Champlain to Lake George.
After abandoning these forts, the French went down the lake to Isle aux Noix, which is situated at the north