This is the story of God’s sovereignty, goodness, and faithfulness to Mary Rowlandson. She wrote the narrative of her “captivity and restoration.” Until now, it has been private. This is the second, amended and corrected draft of her story. She wants to make her story public so that others, particularly her family and friends, will read and be amazed at the works of the Lord. [This narrative takes place during King Philip’s War.]
At sunrise on February 10, 1675, many Indians with guns attack Rowlandson’s town of Lancaster, Massachusetts. Rowlandson looks outside and sees houses burning and the Indians beginning to take prisoners. She espies one neighbor begging for his life and others being shot down or cruelly murdered. Unmoved by their cries or pleas, the “murderous wretches” continue to burn and destroy everything around them. This is the “dolefulest day” of Rowlandson’s life.
Finally the attackers reach the Rowlandsons’ house, which is located on a hill. Many family members are home and they fight together against the invaders. The house and barn are surrounded by Indians; they begin shooting at the house and those trying to protect it. The attack continues for two hours and several are wounded before the Indians set fire to the main house. Inside, some are fighting for their lives while others are “wallowing in their [own] blood.” The six dogs, which would normally have attacked any Indian who came to the door, are now afraid, and the mothers and children are crying out for help.
Finally Rowlandson and the others have to leave the burning house and are met by tribesmen wielding guns, spears, and hatchets, ready to “devour” them. Immediately Rowlandson’s wounded brother-in-law falls in death and the Indians strip him of his clothes as they continue shooting. One bullet goes through Rowlandson’s side, also hitting the child she is carrying in her arms. Her nephew William’s leg is broken before he is killed. Indians begin to wrench children away from their mothers; seeing this, William’s mother (Rowlandson’s sister) cries out to God, asking Him to let her die, too. As soon as she says it, a bullet strikes her dead.
The Indians promise Rowlandson not to kill her if she will go with them. She had always thought she would rather die than be an Indian captive; however, their fierce weapons change her mind and she agrees to go with them.
Of the thirty-seven people in the house, twenty-four are taken captive, twelve are killed, and one escapes to tell the story. Rowlandson is going to write about each “remove” [journey] she takes with her captors and how God was with them.