Thursday, September 5, 2019

Captured By Indians! The True Story Of The Capture Of John S. Quackenbush

Tradition says a tragedy was enacted at Sandy Hill more than a century ago, some incidents of which remind us of the story of Capt. John Smith and Pocahontas. The time of the tragedy was during the old French War, and the chief actor was a young Albanian, son of Sybrant Quackenbush.

The young man was betrothed to a maiden of the same city; the marriage day was fixed, and preparations for the nuptials were nearly completed when he was impressed into the military service as a wagoner, and required to convey a load of provisions from Albany to Ft. William Henry at the head of Lake George up-state New York). He had passed Ft. Edward with an escort of sixteen men under Lieut. McGinnis of New Hampshire and was making his way through the gloomy forest at the bend of the Hudson when they were attacked, overpowered and disarmed by a party of French Indians under the famous partisan Marin. The prisoners were taken to the trunk of a fallen tree and seated upon it in a row.

The captors then started toward Ft. Edward, leaving the helpless captives strongly bound with green withes, in charge of two or three stalwart warriors and their squaws. In the course of an hour the party returned. Young Quackenbush was seated at one end of the log, and Lieut. McGinnis next him. The savages held a brief consultation, and then one of them with a glittering tomahawk went to the end of the log opposite Quackenbush and deliberately sank his weapon in the brain of the nearest soldier. He fell dead upon the ground.

The second shared a like fate, then the third and so on until all were slain but McGinnis and Quackenbush. The tomahawk was raised to cleave the skull of the former when he threw himself suddenly backward from the log and attempted to break his bonds. In an instant a dozen tomahawks gleamed over his head. For a while he defended himself with his heels, lying upon his back, but after being severely hewn with their hatchets, he was killed by a blow. Quackenbush alone remained of the seventeen.

As the fatal steel was about to fall upon his head, the arm of the savage executioner was arrested by a squaw, 'who exclaimed, "You shan't kill him; he's no fighter; he's my dog." He was spared and unbound, and staggering under a pack of plunder almost too heavy for him to sustain, he was marched toward Canada a prisoner, the Indians bearing the scalps of his murdered fellow-captives as trophies.

They went down Lake Champlain in canoes, and at the first Indian village, after reaching its foot, he was compelled to run the gauntlet between rows of savage men armed with clubs. In this terrible ordeal he was severely wounded. His Indian mistress then took him to her wigwam, bound up his wounds and carefully nursed him until he was fully recovered.

The Governor of Canada ransomed him, took him to Montreal, and there he was employed as a weaver. He obtained the Governor's permission to write to his parents concerning his fate.

The letter was carried by an Indian as near Ft. Edward as he dared approach, when he placed it in a split stick near a frequented path in the forest. It was found, was conveyed to Albany and gave great joy to his friends. He remained in Canada three years, when he returned, married his affianced, and died in Washington County, 1820.

Source: Adriana Suydam Quackenbush, The Quackenbush Family In Holland And America Published by Quackenbush & Co., Paterson, New Jersey 1909.

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