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Colonial and State Records of North Carolina
Letter from Alexander Spotswood to the Board of Trade of Great Britain
Spotswood, Alexander, 1676-1740
October 15, 1711
Volume 01, Pages 810-813

[B. P. R. O. B. T. Virginia. Vol. 13. O. 104.]

15th October 1711

My Lords,

After what I writt to your Lordships the 28th of July last of the success of my endeavours in quieting the Commotions in North Carolina, I was in hopes I should not have had occasion to trouble your Lordships again, with the affairs of that unhappy Country; but a more dismall and unexpected accident happening there lately I think it my duty to give your Lordships the following account of it together with my proceedings thereupon.

On the 22d of last month some Towns of the Tuscaruro Indians, and other nations bordering on Carolina made an Incursion upon the head of Neuse and Pamplico Rivers in that Province, without any previous Declaration of War, or show of Discontent, and having divided themselves into Partys, at sun rise (which was their signal) begun a barbrous massacre, on the inhabitants of the Frontier plantations, killing without distinction of age or sex about sixty English, and upwards of that number of Swiss and Palatines, besides a great many left dangerously wounded: the Baron de Graffenried Chief of the Swiss and Palatine settlement there is also fallen into their hands, and carry'd away prisoner; since which they have continued their ravages, in burning those plantations, and others deserted by the Inhabitants for fear of the like cruelty's. The Governor Mr Hyde has raised what men he can, to oppose the further

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invasion of the Heathen and protect the rest of the Country: but that spirit of disobedience to which they have been long accustomed still prevails so much that he can hardly persuade them to unite for their common safety. I will not affirm that the invitation given those Savages, some time ago by Colo Cary and his Party, to cutt off their fellow subjects (tho that heavy charge is proved by divers testimonys and firmly believed in Carolina) has been the only occasion of this Tragedy, yet it appears very reasonable to believe that the Indians have been greatly encouraged in this attempt, by the unnatural Divisions and Animositys among the Inhabitants, and I very much fear their mutinous and cowardly behaviour in some late skirmishes, will embolden the Indians to continue their insolencies.

Upon the first Advice of this unhappy event I sent out Detachments of our Militia to prevent our Tributary Indians from joining with those Savages, and understanding that the greater part of the Tuscaruros had refused to be concerned with the rest of their Nation in this bloody execution, I have sent to them and the other neighbouring Indians to meet me next week on our Frontiers, in order to a Treaty, and as they stand in some awe of this Government, both from the opinion they have of our strength, and their apprehensions of the loss of our Trade upon a Rupture I hope at this Conference to work so far on their fears and interest as at least to preserve their friendship, if not to engage their assistance for the destruction of those Assassins There is very little temptation for any man to enter upon an Indian war, nor much however to be got by encountering a people, more like wild beasts than men: but if war be the only means left us to secure her Majesty's people and Territorys from the Heathen, I don't doubt but our Assembly (which is to meet the 7th of the next month) will take such Resolutions as become them to provide for the effectual prosecution of it. But whatever Air I may give the matter to the Indians, I must not conceal from your Lordsps the incapacity of this Country for an offensive or defensive war. Our Militia are in a manner wholly destitute of Ammunition, and as ill provided with arms that are usefull, and unless her Majesty will be pleased to send in a supply of both to be ready against an emergency, I fear I shall not be able to sustain any considerable attack of an Enemy.

Upon the apprehensions we had this summer of the French squadron (which is said to be now in the West Indies) I made a shift to raise four Forts, and run some Lines for the defence of our chief rivers, and to mount about 70 pieces of Canon not finding at my arrival such a thing as either Parapet, Pallisade or one single piece of Ordnance mounted

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throughout the whole Government. I endeavoured to make our last Assembly sensible of the naked Condition of their Country, but the expence appearing to them then, much more immediate than the Danger, they were easily influenced by their low circumstances to deferr the consideration thereof however I prevailed on them to revive in the mean while a former Law made for the defence of the country in times of danger, and by virtue of that Law I have carryed on the above mentioned works during the late alarm; Notwithstanding I have been mightily embarassed by a sett of Quakers, who broach doctrines so monstrous as their brethren in England have never own'd, nor indeed can be suffered in any Government, they have not only refused to work themselves, or suffer any of their servants to be imployed, in the Fortifications, but affirm, that their consciences will not permitt them to contribute in any manner of way to the defence of the Country, even so much as trusting the Government for provisions to support those that do work, tho' at the same time they say, that being obliged by their religion to feed their Enemy's, if the French should come hither and want provisions they must in conscience supply them. As this opinion of theirs is quite different from their practice in Carolina, where they were the most active in taking arms to putt down that Government (tho they now fly again to the pretence of Conscience to be excused from assisting against the Indians) I have thought it necessary to put the Laws of this Country in execution against that sect of people, which impower me to imploy all persons as I shall see fitt for the defence of the Country in times of danger, and imposes fines and penaltys on their disobedience; I doubt not they will sufficiently exclaim against me on this occasion and perhaps their brethren in England who keep a joint stock (as tis said) to to prosecute the Quarrells of all that sect, may think fitt to attack me; but I am persuaded I shall not incur my Sovereign's displeasure so long as I act by the Rule of Law, and it is absolutely necessary to discourage such dangerous opinions, as would render the safety of this Government precarious, since every one that is either lagg or cowardly would make use of the pretence of Conscience to excuse himself from working or fighting when there is greatest need of his service and I fear the Quakers would find too many proselytes on such occasions.

As soon as I was informed of this fatal accident in Carolina I prohibited all Trade from this Country with the Indians finding they were better provided with ammunition than we ourselves, and had the Government of Carolina made the same step when this Country had a dispute with those very Indians, about a murder committed here some years ago, It is

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very probable they might have been more cautious of falling upon any of her Majesty's plantations when they found we espoused one another's quarrels but the tameness of this Government in passing over that affair, and the constant supplys they received from Carolina of powder, shott and other necessarys, notwithstanding the representations of this Government, made them believe we were under distinct sovereigns as well as Governors and that we would no more assist Carolina than they us. I have also sent to demand the releasement of the Baron de Graftenried who by our advices was still alive but supposed only reserved for a more solemn execution, to be tomahawked and tortured at their first publick War Dances.

I am with all due respect,
My Lords
Your Lordships
Most dutifull and most
obedient humble servant

Virginia October 15th 1711.


Recd 29th Novr 1711.
Read 29th Novr 1711.