Captivity Narrative: James Bell

James Bell was captured in 1758 by Delaware Indians. He was a young Indian brave when he ran from his scouting party and fled to Fort Pitt in 1764. Young men who claimed to escape long captivities were typically feared as Indian spies. Below is Bell’s deposition to Captain David Hay.

The deposition, and other papers related to the return and treatment of Indian captives can be found in Volume 15 of the Papers of Colonel Henry Bouquet.

James Bell late a prisoner with the Indians, say he is a Native of Hanover Country and was taken in that county when the French were in possession of this post, he thinks he was fifteen when he was taken but knows not what number of months in a year; that twelve Indians took him, and carried him to an Indian town, where he has remain’d ever since; that last summer they asked him to go to war & that he consented, but was sent back on account of sickness, after having come halfway towards Niagara, That two Indians this summer proposed to come on this communication, as a treaty of peace was on the eve of a conclusion, to steal horses, that after many solicitations he got leave to come with them, that they fell in with the road from this to Ligonier just at the Hill above Loyal Hannon creek, & there in the dusk of the evening the two Indians were endeavouring to take a view of the Fort, when they discovered a woman coming down the hill behind them, that the Indians desired him to question her & ran into the woods, but not before the she had pass’d them, that after crossing the creek and viewing the pasture, looking at the cattle to find where they used to feed, they recrossed into the oat field, where the Indians sat down to rest that one fell fast asleep & the other told him he might walk about to warm his feet, which he pretended to do, but when out of sight he ran to the fort & begged to be received, as he apprehended the Indians might have followed him, and that he has been out seventeen days.