Deerfield Invasion

February 29, 1704
Raid of Deerfield, Massachusetts in Queen Anne’s War

The colonists in the tiny frontier settlement of Deerfield, Massachusetts in 1704 were aware of surrounding danger. The French and British were fighting Queen Anne’s War for control of the continent. Deerfield, under British rule, was in danger of attack by the French. As a precaution, the town folk stayed within the town’s palisade, a tall wooden fence enclosing the area. But they did not expect an attack in the middle of winter. On February 29, 1704, between 200 and 300 French soldiers and their Native American allies surprised and raided Deerfield. The results for the townspeople were disastrous.

Deerfield quickly fell to its invaders. Some Fifty English men, women, and children were killed and more than 100 residents were driven on a forced march through heavy snows to Canada. Deerfield’s minister, the Reverend John Williams, his wife and five children, were among the captives. Approximately Twenty of the prisoners died along the way. Mrs. Williams was one of them. The minister, however, survived the trip. After more than a year as a prisoner of war, he and nearly 60 other captives returned to Massachusetts. But some stayed, joining either Native American or French society.

Reverend Williams memorialized his Canadian experience in a book, The Redeemed Captive Returning to Zion, first printed in 1707. In it, he tells his story and that of his family and parishioners. Although four of his children returned home with him, his daughter, Eunice Williams, remained in Canada, joining the Mohawk tribe. She took the name A’ongote, which means “She (was) taken and placed (as a member of their tribe),” and in early 1713, she married a Native American man. In 1713, Queen Anne’s War ended. France and England did not do battle in America again until the French and Indian War of 1754. The people of Deerfield could rebuild their town and, for a while, rest easy.