Bars Fight

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"Bars Fight" is a ballad poem written by Lucy Terry. The ballad is about an attack upon two white families by Native Americans on August 25, 1746. The attack occurred in an area of Deerfield called "The Bars", which was a colonial term for a meadow.[1] The poem was preserved orally until it was published in 1855 in Josiah Gilbert Holland's History of Western Massachusetts.[2][3]

It is considered the oldest known work of literature by an African American[2][4] and is the only known work by Lucy Terry.

Text of the ballad[edit]

The text of the ballad from Holland's History of Western Massachusetts, 1855[3]:

        August 'twas the twenty-fifth,
        Seventeen hundred forty-six;
        The Indians did in ambush lay,
        Some very valient men to slay,
        The names of whom I'll not leave out.
        Samuel Allen like a hero fout,
        And though he was so brave and bold,
        His face no more shall we behold.
        Eleazer Hawks was killed outright,
        Before he had time to fight,—
        Before he did the Indians see,
        Was shot and killed immediately.
        Oliver Amsden he was slain,
        Which caused his friends much grief and pain.
        Simeon Amsden they found dead,
        Not many rods distant from his head.
        Adonijah Gillett we do hear
        Did lose his life which was so dear.
        John Sadler fled across the water,
        And thus escaped the dreadful slaughter.
        Eunice Allen see the Indians coming,
        And hopes to save herself by running,
        And had not her petticoats stopped her,
        The awful creatures had not catched her,
        Nor tommy hawked her on her head,
        And left her on the ground for dead.
        Young Samuel Allen, Oh lack-a-day!
        Was taken and carried to Canada.


  1. ^ Vincent Carretta, ed. (2001). Phillis Wheatley, Complete Writings. New York: Penguin. p. 199. ISBN 9780140424300.
  2. ^ a b Margaret Busby, Daughters of Africa, London: Jonathan Cape, 1992, p. 16–17.
  3. ^ a b Holland, Josiah Gilbert (1855). History of Western Massachusetts: The Counties of Hampden, Hampshire, Franklin, and Berkshire. Embracing an Outline Aspects and Leading Interests, and Separate Histories of Its One Hundred Towns. Vol. II. Springfield, MA: Samuel Bowles and Co. p. 360.
  4. ^ Gates, Henry Louis; Nellie Y. McKay (2003). The Norton Anthology of African American Literature. New York: W. W. Norton & Company. p. 186. ISBN 9780393977783.