Lucy Terry (c.1730-1821)

August, ‘twas the twenty-fifth,
Seventeen hundred forty-six,
The Indians did in ambush lay,
Some very valiant 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 Gillet, we do hear,
Did lose his life which was so dear.
John Saddler fled across the water
And so 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,
And tommy hawked her on the head,
And left her on the ground for dead.
Young Samuel Allen, Oh, lack-a-day!
Was taken and carried to Canada.


This is the first known work of literature by an African American and is the only surviving poem by Lucy Terry. It chronicles an attack on two white families by Indians in the "bars" (a colonial term for meadows) of Deerfield, Massachusetts on August 25, 1746. The poem was preserved orally until it was finally published in 1855.

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