Raid on Dover

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Raid on Dover
Part of King William's War
Night Attack of Indians.jpg
Major Waldron defending garrison
Date June 27-28, 1689
Location Dover, New Hampshire
Result French and Wabanaki Confederacy victory
New France
Abenaki (Pennacook and Maliseet[1])
"The Pine Tree flag of New England" New England Colonies
Commanders and leaders
St. Castin; Father Louis-Pierre Thury; Kancamagus (also known as John Hogkin or Hawkins)[2][3] Major Richard Waldron
unknown unknown
Casualties and losses
unknown 23 killed, 29 captured

The Raid on Dover (known as the Cochecho Massacre) happened in Dover, New Hampshire on June 27-28, 1689. Led by Chief Kancamagus, it began King William's War, a series of Indian massacres orchestrated by Jean-Vincent d'Abbadie de Saint-Castin and Father Louis-Pierre Thury.


At the end of King Philip's War, a number of aboriginal natives fleeing the Massachusetts Bay Colony militia took refuge with the Abenaki tribe living in Dover. The militia ordered Major Richard Waldron to attack the natives and turn refugee combatants over to them. Waldron believed he could capture them without a pitched battle and so, on September 7, 1676, invited the natives—about 400 in total, half local and half refugees—to participate in a mock battle against the militia near Cochecho Falls. It was a trick; after the natives discharged their guns, Waldron took them prisoner. He sent both refugee combatants and those locals who violently objected to Boston, where seven or eight were convicted of insurrection and executed. The rest were sold into slavery, most in Barbados. Local Indians were released, but never forgave Waldron for the deception, which violated their rules of honor and hospitality. Waldron was appointed Chief Justice for New Hampshire in 1683.


Major Richard Waldron's torture

Thirteen years passed and settlers believed the incident forgotten, when members of the newly formed Wabanaki Confederacy arrived at Dover. Citizens expressed concern to Waldron, but he told them to "go and plant your pumpkins, and he would take care of the Indians."[4] On June 27, 1689, two native women appeared at each of five garrison houses, asking permission to sleep by the fire, not uncommon in peaceful times. All but one house accepted. In the dark early hours of the next day, the women unfastened the doors, allowing braves who had concealed themselves to enter. The sword-wielding elderly Waldron, once disarmed, was singled out for special torture and mutilation.[5][6] They cut him across the belly with knives, each saying "I cross out my account." Five or six dwelling houses were burned, along with the mills. Fifty-two colonists, a full quarter of the entire population, were captured or slain.[4]

"In one bloody afternoon, a quarter of the colonists in what is now downtown Dover, NH were gone – 23 killed, 29 captured in a revenge attack by native warriors. In one afternoon, 50 years of peaceful co-existence between the Pennacook tribe and European colonists ended. The massacre of 1689 entered the history books ...."[7]


Captives included Waldron's seven-year-old grandchild Sarah Gerrish, daughter of Elizabeth and John Gerrish.[8][9] These were the first recorded British captives that natives abducted and sold in Quebec.[10]

In the following month Pemaquid, Maine, met a similar fate.[11] John Gyles was taken prisoner at Pemaquid and brought back to Dover, where he reported being in the company of captives taken in the earlier Dover raid.[12]


The William Damm Garrison House, built in 1675, survived the raid, and now stands on the grounds of the Woodman Institute Museum. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.