Primary tabs

A Conference Held at Watertown, in the Colony of Massachusetts-Bay


In Council, Saturday, July 13, 1776.

A Message went from the honourable Board to inform the honourable House that the Conference with the Indians would be renewed at three o' clock, P˙ M˙, to which the House returned an answer that they would then attend.

Accordingly, at three o' clock, the Council proceeded to the Meeting-House, and the Indians being come, the Conference was renewed.

PRESIDENT. Brothers of the St˙ John' s and Mickmac Tribes: It gives us pleasure to see you today in health. We hope you have been well entertained at your lodgings, agreeable to our order.

We shall now give an answer to what you said to us yesterday. You told us you prayed to our Saviour Jesus, and wanted a French Priest to assist you in your prayers. We are glad you have such a regard for religion, and are ready to furnish you with a Priest to assist you in your prayers, and teach you the true religion; but we do not know that we can get a French Priest; if one of our Priests


would be agreeable to you, we will endeavour to get you one, and will take care he be a good man.

You told us you wanted a Truck-House. According to your desire last year, we sent to our Truckmaster at Penobscot money to purchase ammunition, provision, and goods, as much of each as we thought sufficient to supply you the last winter, and we wrote you so in our letter to you last October. We hope the Truckmaster supplied you according to our order, which was, to supply you with what you wanted, and take your skins and furs in payment; and that you might be the better accommodated, we also sent a quantity of the same articles to Machias, with orders to our Truckmaster there to supply you. We shall send a further quantity, and order him to let you have the things you want at the same rate they cost us, and allow you for your skins and furs the same price they will fetch in Boston. We hope this will be satisfactory to you.

With respect to the war, we told you yesterday how it began, and mentioned to you some of the cruelties our enemies committed on our people. We shall now mention some more of those cruelties. After the British ships and troops were admitted into Boston as friends, they stopped all the trade of the town, and would not suffer our vessels to come in or go out to supply the town and country as usual. They then, fearing the people of Boston, after such provocation, would rise upon them, told them that if they would deliver up their arms, the inhabitants should be all safe, and no injury offered to them or their property; and that such as inclined to go out of the town should have free liberty to go with all their effects. The town, knowing themselves to be in the power of the troops, and being cut off from all communication with the country, agreed to the proposal, and accordingly delivered up their arms, relying on the promise of the British General, Mr˙ Gage, that he would perform his part of the agreement; but as soon as he had got their arms he broke his faith, and would permit only a part of the people to go, and would not suffer them to take their effects with them. Those that were obliged to remain in the town were insulted and abused by the soldiers, who burnt and destroyed many of their houses, stole a great quantity of their goods, and subjected them to great difficulties and hardships — all directly contrary to the plighted faith of the British General. And afterwards, when the British troops found that General Washington was determined to drive them out of the town, they broke open dwelling-houses and store-houses and took away and destroyed a prodigious quantity of goods, and then, with great precipitation, retreated to their ships, and quitted the town.

Some time before this, they burnt the large town of Charlestown, consisting of several hundred houses, taking away everything valuable they could find there; and several of their ships-of-war went and destroyed a great part of the town of Falmouth, in Casco Bay, burning near two hundred houses there, with many things of value in them. Much other damage they have done, and many other cruelties they have committed. This unjust, inhuman, and cruel treatment has compelled us to take up arms in our defence, and in earnest to engage in a war with them; and all the Colonies on the Continent, through fifteen hundred miles in extent, have joined with us in the war, and are determined to carry it on till we can obtain a peace on just and honourable terms.

We know our cause to be just: we can therefore place our confidence in that Being who is the great Dispenser of Justice, and who will not suffer such inhumanity and breach of faith to go unpunished. We trust that, by His favour, we shall be able to defend ourselves; and we do not desire you, as we told you yesterday, to enter into the war unless you choose it. You then expressed a disposition to engage in it; but we desired you to weigh and consider the matter well before you engaged, and to let us know your mind about it, fully and plainly, after you had so considered it. We shall now attend to what you have to say on this head, and to everything else you have to say.

AMBROSE. We have the same to say today that we said yesterday — that we are your friends and brothers, and will join in the war on your side. You may depend upon it that we will not break our words; we will not lie; all that are here present hear us, and the God of Heaven hears us; and we will engage in the war, for we are brothers. We would not lie to save our right hands. We pledge our faith that


we will do what we promise. We love Boston. It gives us a great deal of concern they were so ill used. We should have been glad to have had the arms of Boston to keep. If we had had the Boston arms, we should have been able to defend ourselves. In case the people of England should come to drive us out of our country, we will give you information of it immediately. We shall be very glad to have proper goods for our furs and skins, and we want them up St˙ John' s River. We are not capable of writing. We can' t convey our mind as we would wish to do. We will pledge our right hands in faith of what we have promised. There are some of us here that are willing to go to war now, and would go to General Washington immediately.

[Upon this, three of them went from their seats into the aisle, and manifested a great desire to go.

These three are Chiefs of different villages, and are willing to go together.]

PRESIDENT. We thank them, and will let them know our minds. By what you said yesterday, and what you say now, it appears to be your disposition and intention to join in the war with us. Do we understand you right? Do you mean to join with us in the war?

AMBROSE. Yes; we are with our hearts ready to join you.

PRESIDENT. You mean not only yourselves particularly, but your Tribes in general.

AMBROSE. It is not in our power to answer now for the whole of our Tribes; but when we go home, we will call together all the young men, and see ho\v many will go to war.

PRESIDENT. How many do your Tribes consist of?

AMBROSE. It is not in our power to tell.

PRESIDENT. You, Ambrose, are of St˙ John' s. How many men are there in your Tribe?

AMBROSE. Sixty men that are able to do duty.

PRESIDENT. How many of your men would be willing to engage in the war?

AMBROSE. It is impossible to tell certainly till we go home and call our men together.

PRESIDENT. Do you think that thirty would engage?

AMBROSE. We can get thirty men to go, and three Captains for certain. This man that is next to me will make one of the thirty that will go with me.

FRANCIS, (of the same Tribe.) I can go and fetch from St˙ John' s twenty men myself. I will return, and bring twenty men with me.

PRESIDENT. How many men, Joseph, would go from your village, and how many does it consist of?

JOSEPH DENAQUARA. Twenty-five would go, and there are fifty in the whole.

PRESIDENT. How many men in your village, Mattahu, and how many would go?

MATTAHU. I can bring ten men, and could bring more, if I wasn' t afraid of the English coming to attack our village while we were gone. We have eighty men.

PRESIDENT. How many men in your village, and how many would go, Battis?

JOHN BATTIS. We can produce fourteen, but must have some to take care of the women and children. We have forty men in our village.

PRESIDENT. I want to know how many men there are in your village, Peter?

PETER ANDRÉ. Sixty men.

PRESIDENT. How many men can your village furnish?

PETER. It is not in my power to answer with certainty, as I am going myself to General Washington directly.

PRESIDENT. Do you think twenty?


PRESIDENT. How many are there in your village, Sebattis?


PRESIDENT. How many would go to war?


PRESIDENT. How many villages are there of the Mickmacs not represented here?

[Here several of them consulted together, and then the answer was given.]


PRESIDENT. How many villages are there represented here?



PRESIDENT. Are the other villages as big as those six?

AMBROSE. Some much bigger.

PRESIDENT. What is the reason that the other six villages did not send delegates as well as those that have sent?

AMBROSE. The reason is, that General Washington' s letter had not reached them. Some of our people went after them, but we have not heard from them.

PRESIDENT. Do you think that the other villages have as friendly a disposition toward us as you have?

AMBROSE. The same. We are all brothers and cousins. We are of the same flesh and blood, and can' t make war or be attacked separately.

PRESIDENT. Would your warriors form a body in conjunction with a number of our people?

AMBROSE. Yes; we are brothers now, and for that reason we would join our hands with yours.

PRESIDENT. From what you now say, we depend that you are hearty to enter into the war with us.

AMBROSE. Yes, we are.

[Hereupon all the Indians came from their seats, and shook hands with the President, in token of their heartiness and sincerity.]

PRESIDENT. We look upon this as an expression of your readiness to join with us in the war, and, accordingly, I shall immediately consult my brothers of both Houses here present, and let you know presently what our determination is.

After consultation with the Council, and with the Speaker and gentlemen of the House of Representatives, the President then proceeded:

PRESIDENT. Brothers: I would now inform you what the General Court have agreed to upon your having signified your readiness to enter with us into the war. They have agreed that a regiment be employed in the Continental service, under the command of General Washington, to consist of five hundred of the Mickmac and St˙ John' s Tribes, and two hundred and fifty of our people with them. These are to form one regiment, to act together. The Field Officers or the chief officers are to be English. The other officers of the regiment to be one-half English, and the other half Indians. With respect to the pay of the officers, it will be determined the next time the Court meets. With respect to the soldiers, both Indian and English, they will have the like pay, viz: forty shillings per month, equal to six dollars and two-thirds; and each of the Indians is to be allowed a rifle shirt, such as the Riflemen have, a blanket, shoes and buckles, or moccasins. You will also have provisions supplied you while in the service.

PRESIDENT. Do you understand perfectly what has been said?

AMBROSE. We understood it exceedingly well.

PRESIDENT. Do you approve of the establishment of such a regiment, consisting of English and Indians?

AMBROSE. We are very glad of it, and we repeat it again, we are very well contented and pleased with it.

PRESIDENT. Brothers, are you well equipped with guns, and all things necessary belonging to a gun?

AMBROSE. We have few or none; nor can we find any knives to buy.

PRESIDENT. How do you hunt without guns?

AMBROSE. We have got guns, but reserve them for our children to hunt with in our absence from home.

PRESIDENT. Those that engage in the service must bring their guns with them. Have you anything further to say at this time?

AMBROSE. We have nothing further to say. All we have said we consider as an oath.

PRESIDENT. The next time we meet together, we will let you know how the regiments are to be regulated.

Then the President drank prosperity to the Indians of the Mickmac and St˙ John' s Tribes, and wished that the friendship now established might continue as long as the sun and moon shall endure, which was pledged by the Indians.

PRESIDENT. We will bid you farewell to night, and will see you again next Tuesday.