must be exterminated; in open battle the Indians
would be powerless; conscious of their weakness, they could not hope to accomplish their end except by a preconcerted surprise.
The crime was one of savage ferocity; but it was suggested by their situation.
They were timorous and quick of apprehension, and consequently treacherous; for treachery and falsehood are the vices of cowardice.
The attack was prepared with impenetrable secrecy.
To the very last hour the Indians preserved the language of friendship: they borrowed the boats of the English
to attend their own assemblies; on the very morning of the massacre, they were in the houses and at the tables of those whose death they were plotting.
‘Sooner,’ said they, ‘shall the sky fall, than peace be violated on our part.’
At length, on the twenty-second of March, at
mid-day, at one and the same instant of time, the Indians fell upon an unsuspecting population, which was scattered through distant villages, extending one hundred and forty miles, on both sides of the river.
The onset was so sudden, that the blow was not discerned till it fell.
None were spared: children and women, as well as men; the missionary, who had cherished the natives with untiring gentleness; the liberal benefactors, from whom they had received daily kindnesses,—all were murdered with indiscriminate barbarity, and every aggravation of cruelty.
The savages fell upon the dead bodies, as if it had been possible to commit on them a fresh murder.
In one hour three hundred and forty-seven persons were cut off. Yet the carnage was not universal, and Virginia
was saved from so disastrous a grave.1