The Saga of Paul Dudley

INTRODUCTION

At the beginning of the 1700’s, the Abenaki Indians had been doing the bidding of the French. Acadia (modern day Maine) was completely under Abenaki control. They held the passes through the northern wilderness. So long as the Abenaki were in the interest of the French, they protected the French settlements along the St. Lawrence River.

More recently, however, the Abenaki were considering holding talks with the British at Boston. They had seen the easy conquest of Port Royal by the British and had experienced several successful raids on Abenaki villages with considerable losses. Therefore, they feared the British on the one hand and they were attracted to their trade on the other. Six of their chiefs were invited to sign a truce with the commissioners of Massachusetts. When the French learned of this invitation they were filled with alarm. The French relied on the Abenaki to fight their battles.

Presents were sent from Quebec to all of the Abenaki missions. They were assured that French soldiers would join their war parties. There was one thing that would be indispensable. A blow must be struck that would encourage and excite the Abenaki. Many of them had no part in considering the truce. Those Abenaki were still keen for British blood. A deputation of their chiefs told the governor at Quebec, they would fight the British even if they must head their arrows with the bones of beasts. Guns, powder and lead were given to them in abundance. The Jesuits of the various missions urged their converts to take to the war path. 

At that time, the only British villages east of the Piscataqua River were those of Wells, York and Kittery. A hundred and fifty Abenaki were joined by another band from the Kennebec. It was January when they made their way along the frozen streams on their snow-shoes. After they had marched a month through the solitudes of the forest, they neared their destination, the frontier settlement of York. In the afternoon of the 1st of January, they encamped at the foot of a Mount Agamenticus.  The British village lay in sight. It was a collection of scattered houses along the banks of the river Agamenticus and the shore of the adjacent sea. Five or more of these houses were built for defense. They were owned and occupied by families like the other houses.  Near the sea stood the unprotected house of the minister of the town, William Dudley. The villagers didn’t fear a raid during the winter months from the French and Indians. They considered the wilderness impassable due to the snow.

The warriors lay shivering all night in the forest not daring to make fires. In the morning a heavy snow began to fall. They began to move forward when they heard the sound of an axe.