from The War That Made America by Fred AndersonThe frontiers of the central colonies collapsed when the first parties of Delaware, Shawnee, and Mingo warriors left their Ohio village in the company of troupes de la marine and French-allied Indians from the Great Lakes who had gathered at Fort Duquesne. Their descent on the frontiers of Pennsylvania and Virginia reflected a cold calculus of terror, for the goal was the bring anarchy to the backwoods communities that even in time of peace were were fragile, unstable, and intensely localist in orientation. The fifteen hundred frontier farmers whom the raiders killed and the additional thousand whom they took captive during the last months of 1755 served the strategic purpose of terrorizing hundreds of thousands of settlers and creating a massive refugee crisis to which colonial governments were utterly unprepared to respond. . . .According to careful modern estimates, the frontier counties of Virginia, Maryland, and Pennsylvania lost between one-third to one-half of their populations between 1755 and 1758. During that time approximately 4 percent of the area's prewar inhabitants were either killed or taken captive.
There is no doubt that the native people were driven to fury and desperation. Nonetheless, imagine the terror of these lonely settlers. Imagine your own county losing "between one-third to one-half" of its population within a span of three years. Imagine being afraid to let your child go outside, ever. Imagine having no choice but to let him go outside.
More and more I am feeling that this history-reading project may end up taking the form of some kind of historical poem cycle centering on place: perhaps with invented characters, perhaps with actual historical figures. My thoughts keep turning to Ford Madox Ford's The Fifth Queen, a trilogy of novels focusing on Henry VIII's doomed wife Katherine Howard. Everything in the novels is invented, yet none of it is. But of course I don't write novels. I have to work with the materials I (sometimes) know how to use.
Off to Augusta today, to talk about this unfashionable blog. I'll tell everyone you said hello.