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Yamasee War / Yamassee War

In 1607, the Spaniards and French invaded Carolina, with a view to annex it to Florida. Governor Johnson had succeeded Governor Moore, and was a more efficient warrior. By his prompt and energetic movements, the assailants were defeated, and the Carolinas became able, in their turn, to attack their invaders, and to make some captures.

About the year 1710, a body of six hundred and fifty German emigrants settled on the Roanoke river, in North Carolina. They were called Palatinates. They had been stripped of their property by the ravages of war in Europe, and by the benevolence of their countrymen had found their way to America. Three thousand of the same class came at once to New York. The settlers on the Roanoke were headed by one Baron Graf. fenried, a Swiss, who called the place where they settled New Bern, in honor of his native city. These colonists were among the best and most worthy citizens who had as yet made their appearance in the United States.

But the savages, whenever their vengeance is aroused, do not discriminate very nicely between good and bad citizens. They fell upon the poor Palatinates in their houses, and butchered one hundred and thirty-seven of them in a single night. The militia rallied, drove them back, and kept them in check till they could send for help to South Carolina.

Governor Craven, of the latter colony, soon despatched, for their relief, a body of six hundred militia and three hundred and seventy friendly Indians, who, attacking the enemy with great energy, killed eight hundred, made one hundred prisoners, and pursued the rest to their own settlements, where, after destroying some six hundred or seven hundred more of them, and burning their huts. they compelled them to make peace. The colonies at the north were also relieved, in March, 1713; but the relief came from a distant quarter. A peace was concluded between France and England. They were not, however, immediately delivered from the depredations of the Indians. They continued their barbarities two years longer, and many hundreds of lives were sacrificed.

There was at this time, at the southern point of the colony of South Carolina, a numerous and powerful tribe of Indians, called Yamasees. These Indians, becoming somehow or other excited, devised a plot to destroy the colony. They had also drawn into their scheme every other tribe of Indians, from Cape Fear to Florida.

On the 15th of April, 1715, about break of day, they came upon the village of Pocotaligo and the plantations around, and murdered, in a very short time, above ninety persons. The news soon reached Port Royal, the nearest village of any considerable size, and a vessel happening to be in the harbor, the inhabitants all went on board, and sailed for Charleston. The Indians came on, and, but for their timely escape, would, no doubt, have massacred the whole of them. A few families on scattered plantations, who had not time to get on board, were all either killed or captured. The tribes in the north, towards North Carolina, also began a work of destruction in that region.

So great was the danger that many began to fear for the safety of Charleston. The governor ordered out every man in the city and neighborhood who was able to bear arms, except the slaves, and even some of the most trusty of these were enrolled; and the most vigor. efforts were made to defend the place, and successfully prosecute the War.

Meanwhile, the Indians on the northern frontier had gained some advantages over the colonists. Captain Barker, with a party of ninety horsemen, had been drawn into an ambush, and many of his men slain. Another party of seventy whites and forty negroes had surrendered and been afterwards murdered. The alarm increasing, Governor Craven sent to Virginia for aid, and even to England. He put the whole country under martial law, and forbade any ships leaving the province. He also ordered bills of credit to be issued to pay the troops, already amounting to twelve hundred men. But he did not act merely upon the defensive.

Governor Craven marched slowly and cautiously against the Yamasees. Arriving at a place called the Saltcatchers, he attacked them in their camp. Here was fought, from behind trees and bushes, one of the most severe and bloody battles which had ever been fought in the provinces, and the issue was for a long time doubtful. The Indians were several times repulsed; but they seemed numerous as grasshoppers in the woods, and fresh bodies of them continually came on to the attack. At last the governor was victorious. He drove them from their camp, and pursued them across the Savannah river, and slew great numbers. The few who survived went to Florida, and joined the Spaniards.

What number of the colonial troops were killed, in this bloody battle, history does not say: Four hundred were slain, in all, during the war. But the defeat of the savages was decisive. Several forts were, indeed, erected on the frontiers against them, but they did not return to molest the settlers any more.




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