King Philip's War (sometimes called the First Indian War, Metacom's War, Metacomet's War, Pometacomet's Rebellion, or Metacom's Rebellion) was an armed conflict in 1675–78 between Indian inhabitants of New England and New England colonists and their Indian allies. The war is named for Metacomet, the Wampanoag chief who adopted the name Philip because of the friendly relations between his father Massasoit and the Mayflower Pilgrims. The war continued in the most northern reaches of New England until the signing of the Treaty of Casco Bay in April 1678.
Massasoit had maintained a long-standing alliance with the colonists. Metacom (c. 1638–1676) was his younger son, and he became tribal chief in 1662 after Massasoit's death. Metacom, however, did not maintain his father's alliance between the Wampanoags and the colonists. The colonists insisted that the peace agreement in 1671 should include the surrender of Indian guns; then three Wampanoags were hanged for murder in Plymouth Colony in 1675 which increased the tensions. Colonial militia and Indian raiding parties spread over Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, and Maine over the next six months. The Narragansetts remained neutral, but several individual Narragansetts participated in raids of colonial strongholds and militia, so colonial leaders deemed the Narragansetts to be in violation of peace treaties. They assembled the largest colonial army that New England had yet mustered, consisting of 1,000 militia and 150 Indian allies, and Governor Josiah Winslow marshaled them to attack the Narragansetts in November 1675. They attacked and burned Indian villages throughout Rhode Island territory, culminating with the attack on the Narragansetts' main fort called the Great Swamp Fight. An estimated 150 Narragansetts were killed, many of them women and children, and the Indian coalition was then taken over by Narragansett sachem Canonchet. They pushed back the colonial frontier in Massachusetts Bay, Plymouth, and Rhode Island colonies, burning towns as they went, including Providence in March 1676. However, the colonial militia overwhelmed the Indian coalition and, by the end of the war, the Wampanoags and their Narragansett allies were almost completely destroyed. Metacom fled to Mount Hope where he was finally killed by the militia.
The war was the greatest calamity to occur in seventeenth-century New England and is considered by many to be the deadliest war in the history of American colonization. In the space of little more than a year, 12 of the region's towns were destroyed and many more were damaged, the economy of Plymouth and Rhode Island Colonies was all but ruined and their population was decimated, losing one-tenth of all men available for military service.:656 More than half of New England's towns were attacked by Indians.
King Philip's War began the development of an independent American identity. The New England colonists faced their enemies without support from any outside government or military, and this gave them a group identity separate and distinct from Britain.
The Pilgrims who arrived on the Mayflower and founded Plymouth Plantation expended great effort forging friendship and peace with the Indians around Cape Cod. They traveled long distances to make peace with Massasoit, chief of the Wampanoag tribe, and Governor William Bradford made a gift of his prized red horse coat upon seeing that the chief admired it. Yet over the next 50 years, frictions and misunderstandings multiplied as wave after wave of Puritans and non-religious "strangers" (fortune-seekers not motivated by religion) kept arriving, often oblivious to the fragile peace carefully woven since the earliest arrivals. By 1675, the early efforts at friendship failed.
King Philip's War joined a list of uprisings and conflicts between various Indian tribes and the French, Dutch, and English colonial settlements of Canada, New York, and New England. These include the Powhatan wars of 1610–14, 1622–32, and 1644–46 in Virginia, the Pequot War of 1637 in Connecticut, the Dutch-Indian war of 1643 along the Hudson River, and the Iroquois Beaver Wars of 1650.
Throughout the Northeast, the Indians had suffered severe population losses as a result of epidemics of smallpox, spotted fever, typhoid, and measles starting in about 1618, two years before the Pilgrims established Plymouth Colony. Plymouth Colony was established in 1620 with significant early help from local Indians, particularly Squanto and Massasoit. Subsequent colonists founded Salem, Boston, and many small towns around Massachusetts Bay between 1628 and 1640, during a time of increased English immigration, as well as towns such as Windsor, Connecticut (est. 1633), Newbury, Massachusetts (est. 1635), Hartford, Connecticut (est. 1636), Springfield, Massachusetts (est. 1636), Northampton, Massachusetts (est. 1654), and Providence, Rhode Island (est. 1636). The colonists progressively expanded throughout the territories of the several Algonquian-speaking tribes in the region. Prior to King Philip's War, tensions fluctuated between Indian tribes and the colonists, but relations were generally peaceful.
The Rhode Island, Plymouth, Massachusetts Bay, Connecticut, and New Haven colonies each developed separate relations with the Wampanoags, Nipmucks, Narragansetts, Mohegans, Pequots, and other tribes of New England, whose territories historically had differing boundaries. Many of the neighboring tribes had been traditional competitors and enemies. As the colonial population increased, the New Englanders expanded their settlements along the region's coastal plain and up the Connecticut River valley. By 1675, they had established a few small towns in the interior between Boston and the Connecticut River settlements.
The Wampanoag tribe under Metacomet's leadership had entered into an agreement with the Plymouth Colony and believed that they could rely on the colony for protection. However, in the decades preceding the war, it became clear to them that the treaty did not mean that the Colonists were not allowed to settle in new territories.
Metacomet became sachem of the Pokanoket and Grand Sachem of the Wampanoag Confederacy in 1662 after the death of his older brother Grand Sachem Wamsutta (called "Alexander" by the colonists), who had succeeded their father Massasoit (d. 1661) as chief. Metacomet was well known to the colonists before his ascension as paramount chief to the Wampanoags, but he distrusted the colonists.
The Plymouth colonists had passed laws making it illegal to have commerce with the Wampanoags. They learned that Wamsutta had sold a parcel of land to Roger Williams, so Governor Josiah Winslow had Wamsutta arrested, even though Wampanoags who lived outside of colonist jurisdiction were not accountable to Plymouth Colony laws. Metacomet began negotiating with the other Algonquian tribes against the Plymouth Colony soon after the death of his father and his brother.
The population of New England colonists totaled about 80,000 people. They lived in 110 towns, of which 64 were in the Massachusetts Bay colony, which then included the southwestern portion of Maine. The towns had about 16,000 men of military age who were almost all part of the militia, as universal training was prevalent in all colonial New England towns. Many towns had built strong garrison houses for defense, and others had stockades enclosing most of the houses. All of these were strengthened as the war progressed. Some poorly populated towns were abandoned if they did not have enough men to defend them.
Each town had local militias based on all eligible men who had to supply their own arms. Only those who were too old, too young, disabled, or clergy were excused from military service. The militias were usually only minimally trained and initially did relatively poorly against the native warriors, until more effective training and tactics could be devised. Joint forces of militia volunteers and volunteer Indian allies were found to be the most effective. The officers were usually elected by popular vote of the militia members. The Indian allies of the colonists numbered about 1,000 from the Mohegans and Praying Indians, with about 200 warriors.
By 1676, the regional Indian population had decreased to about 10,000 (exact numbers are unavailable), largely because of epidemics. These included about 4,000 Narragansetts of western Rhode Island and eastern Connecticut, 2,400 Nipmucks of central and western Massachusetts, and 2,400 combined in the Massachusett and Pawtucket tribes living around Massachusetts Bay and extending northwest to Maine. The Wampanoags and Pokanokets of Plymouth and eastern Rhode Island are thought to have numbered fewer than 1,000. About one in four were considered to be warriors. By then, the Indians had almost universally adopted steel knives, tomahawks, and flintlock muskets as their weapons. The various tribes had no common government. They had distinct cultures and often warred among themselves, although they all spoke related languages from the Algonquian family.
John Sassamon was an Indian convert to Christianity, commonly referred to as a "praying Indian." He played a key role as a "cultural mediator," negotiating with both colonists and Indian while belonging to neither party. He was an early graduate of Harvard College and served as a translator and adviser to Metacomet. He reported to the governor of Plymouth Colony that Metacomet planned to gather allies for Indian attacks on widely dispersed colonial settlements.:221
Metacomet was brought before a public court, where court officials admitted that they had no proof but warned that they would confiscate Wampanoag land and guns if they had any further reports that he was conspiring to start a war. Not long after, Sassamon's body was found in the ice-covered Assawompset Pond, and Plymouth Colony officials arrested three Wampanoags on the testimony of an Indian witness, including one of Metacomet's counselors. A jury that included six Indian elders convicted the men of Sassamon's murder, and they were executed by hanging on June 8, 1675 (O.S.) at Plymouth.
A band of Pokanokets attacked several isolated homesteads in the small Plymouth colony settlement of Swansea on June 20, 1675. They laid siege to the town, then destroyed it five days later and killed several more people. On June 27, 1675, a full eclipse of the moon occurred in the New England area, and various tribes in New England thought it a good omen for attacking the colonists. Officials from the Plymouth and Massachusetts Bay colonies responded quickly to the attacks on Swansea; on June 28, they sent a punitive military expedition that destroyed the Wampanoag town at Mount Hope in Bristol, Rhode Island.
The war quickly spread and soon involved the Podunk and Nipmuck tribes. During the summer of 1675, the Indians attacked at Middleborough and Dartmouth, Massachusetts (July 8), Mendon, Massachusetts (July 14), Brookfield, Massachusetts (August 2), and Lancaster, Massachusetts (August 9). In early September, they attacked Deerfield, Hadley, and Northfield, Massachusetts.
Wheeler's Surprise and the ensuing Siege of Brookfield were fought in August 1675 between Nipmuc Indians under Muttawmp and the colonists of Massachusetts Bay under the command of Thomas Wheeler and Captain Edward Hutchinson. The battle consisted of an initial ambush on August 2, 1675 by the Nipmucs against Wheeler's unsuspecting party. Eight men from Wheeler's company died during the ambush: Zechariah Phillips of Boston, Timothy Farlow of Billerica, Edward Coleborn of Chelmsford, Samuel Smedly of Concord, Shadrach Hapgood of Sudbury, Sergeant Eyres, Sergeant Prichard, and Corporal Coy of Brookfield. Following the ambush was an attack on Brookfield, Massachusetts, and the consequent besieging of the remains of the colonial force. The Nipmuc forces harried the settlers for two days, until they were driven off by a newly arrived force of colonial soldiers under the command of Major Simon Willard. The siege took place at Ayers' Garrison in West Brookfield, but the location of the initial ambush was a subject of extensive controversy among historians in the late nineteenth century.
The New England Confederation comprised the Massachusetts Bay Colony, Plymouth Colony, New Haven Colony, and Connecticut Colony; they declared war on the Indians on September 9, 1675. The Colony of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations tried to remain neutral, but much of the war was fought on Rhode Island soil; Providence and Warwick suffered extensive damage from the Indians.
The next colonial expedition was to recover crops from abandoned fields along the Connecticut River for the coming winter and included almost 100 farmers and militia, plus teamsters to drive the wagons.
The Battle of Bloody Brook was fought on September 12, 1675 between militia from the Massachusetts Bay Colony and a band of Indians led by Nipmuc sachem Muttawmp. The Indians ambushed colonists escorting a train of wagons carrying the harvest from Deerfield to Hadley. They killed at least 40 militia men and 17 teamsters out of a company that included 79 militia.
The Indians next attacked Springfield, Massachusetts on October 5, 1675, the Connecticut River's largest settlement at the time. They burned to the ground nearly all of Springfield's buildings, including the town's grist mill. Most of the Springfielders who escaped unharmed took cover at the house of Miles Morgan, a resident who had constructed one of the settlement's few fortified blockhouses. An Indian servant who worked for Morgan managed to escape and alerted the Massachusetts Bay troops under the command of Major Samuel Appleton, who broke through to Springfield and drove off the attackers.
On November 2, Plymouth Colony governor Josiah Winslow led a combined force of colonial militia against the Narragansett tribe. The Narragansetts had not been directly involved in the war, but they had sheltered many of the Wampanoag fighters, women, and children. Some of their warriors had participated in several Indian attacks. The colonists distrusted the tribe and did not understand the various alliances. As the colonial forces went through Rhode Island, they found and burned several Indian towns which had been abandoned by the Narragansetts, who had retreated to a massive fort in a frozen swamp. The cold weather in December froze the swamp so that it was relatively easy to traverse. The colonial force found the Narragansett fort on December 19, 1675 near present-day South Kingstown, Rhode Island; they attacked in a combined force of Plymouth, Massachusetts, and Connecticut militia numbering about 1,000 men, including about 150 Pequots and Mohican Indian allies. The fierce battle that followed is known as the Great Swamp Fight. It is believed that the militia killed about 600 Narragansetts. They burned the fort (occupying over 5 acres (20,000 m2) of land) and destroyed most of the tribe's winter stores.
Most of the Narragansett warriors escaped into the frozen swamp. The colonists lost many of their officers in this assault; about 70 of their men were killed and nearly 150 more wounded. The rest of the colonial assembled forces returned to their homes, lacking supplies for an extended campaign. The nearby towns in Rhode Island provided care for the wounded until they could return to their homes.
In December 1675, Metacomet established a winter camp in Schaghticoke, New York. His reason for moving into New York has been attributed to a desire to enlist Mohawk aid in the conflict. Though New York was a non-belligerent, Governor Edmund Andros was nonetheless concerned at the arrival of the Wampanoag sachem. Either with Andros' sanction, or of their own accord, the Mohawk - traditional rivals of the Algonquian people - launched a surprise assault against a 500-warrior band under Metacomet's command the following February. The "ruthless" coup de main resulted in the death of between 70 and as many as 460 of the Wampanoag. His forces crippled, Metacomet withdrew to New England, pursued "relentlessly" by Mohawk forces who attacked Algonquian settlements and ambushed their supply parties.
Over the next several months, fear of Mohawk attack led some Wampanoag to surrender to the colonists, and one historian described the decision of the Mohawk to engage Metacomet's forces as "the blow that lost the war for Philip".
Indians attacked and destroyed more settlements throughout the winter of 1675–76 in their effort to annihilate the colonists. Attacks were made at Andover, Bridgewater, Chelmsford, Groton, Lancaster, Marlborough, Medfield, Medford, Portland, Providence, Rehoboth, Scituate, Seekonk, Simsbury, Sudbury, Suffield, Warwick, Weymouth, and Wrentham, including modern-day Norfolk and Plainville. The famous account written and published by Mary Rowlandson after the war gives a colonial captive's perspective on the conflict.
The Lancaster raid in February 1676 was an Indian attack on the community of Lancaster, Massachusetts. Philip led a force of 1,500 Wampanoag, Nipmuc, and Narragansett Indians in a dawn attack on the isolated village, which then included all or part of the neighboring modern communities of Bolton and Clinton. They attacked five fortified houses. The house of the Rev. Joseph Rowlandson was set on fire, and most of its occupants were slaughtered—more than 30 people. Rowlandson's wife Mary was taken prisoner, and afterward wrote a best-selling captivity narrative of her experiences. Many of the community's other houses were destroyed before the Indians retreated northward.
The spring of 1676 marked the high point for the combined tribes when they attacked Plymouth Plantation on March 12. The town withstood the assault, but the Indians had demonstrated their ability to penetrate deep into colonial territory. They attacked three more settlements; Longmeadow (near Springfield), Marlborough, and Simsbury were attacked two weeks later. They killed Captain Pierce and a company of Massachusetts soldiers between Pawtucket and the Blackstone's settlement. Several colonial men were tortured and buried at Nine Men's Misery in Cumberland as part of the Indians' ritual torture of enemies. They also burned the settlement of Providence to the ground on March 29. At the same time, a small band of Indians infiltrated and burned part of Springfield while the militia was away.
The settlements within the modern-day state of Rhode Island became a literal island colony for a time as the settlements at Providence and Warwick were sacked and burned, and the residents were driven to Newport and Portsmouth on Rhode Island. The Connecticut River towns had thousands of acres of cultivated crop land known as the bread basket of New England, but they had to limit their plantings and work in large armed groups for self-protection.:20 Towns such as Springfield, Hatfield, Hadley, and Northampton, Massachusetts fortified themselves, reinforced their militias, and held their ground, though attacked several times. The small towns of Northfield, Deerfield, and several others were abandoned as the surviving settlers retreated to the larger towns. The towns of the Connecticut colony were largely unharmed in the war, although more than 100 Connecticut militia died in their support of the other colonies.
The Attack on Sudbury was fought in Sudbury, Massachusetts on April 21, 1676. The town was surprised by Indian raiders at dawn, but security precautions limited the damage to unoccupied homesteads. Reinforcements that arrived from nearby towns were drawn into ambushes by the Indians; Captain Samuel Wadsworth lost his life and half of a 60-man militia in such an ambush. Afterwards, Indians made their way through much of Sudbury, but they were held off by John Grout and a handful of men until colonial reinforcements arrived to help in the defense.
On May 18, 1676, Captain William Turner of the Massachusetts Militia and a group of about 150 militia volunteers (mostly minimally trained farmers) attacked an Indian fishing camp at Peskeopscut on the Connecticut River, now called Turners Falls, Massachusetts. The colonists killed 100–200 Indians in retaliation for earlier Indian attacks against Deerfield and other settlements and for the colonial losses in the Battle of Bloody Brook. Turner and nearly 40 of the militia were killed during the return from the falls.
The colonists defeated an attack at Hadley on June 12, 1676 with the help of their Mohegan allies, scattering most of the Indian survivors into New Hampshire and farther north. Later that month, a force of 250 Indians was routed near Marlborough, Massachusetts. Combined forces of colonial volunteers and their Indian allies continued to attack, kill, capture, or disperse bands of Narragansetts, Nipmucs, and Wampanoags as they tried to plant crops or return to their traditional locations. The colonists granted amnesty to those who surrendered or who were captured and showed that they had not participated in the conflict. Captives who had participated in attacks on the many settlements were hanged, enslaved, or put to indentured servitude, depending upon the colony involved.
Metacomet's allies began to desert him, and more than 400 had surrendered to the colonists by early July. Metacomet took refuge in the Assowamset Swamp below Providence, and the colonists formed raiding parties of militia and Indian allies. Metacomet was killed by one of these teams when he was tracked down by Captain Benjamin Church and Captain Josiah Standish of the Plymouth Colony militia at Mount Hope in Bristol, Rhode Island. He was shot and killed by an Indian named John Alderman on August 12, 1676.:647 Metacomet's corpse was beheaded, then drawn and quartered, a traditional treatment of criminals in this time period. His head was displayed in Plymouth for a generation.
Captain Church and his soldiers captured Pocasset war chief Anawan on August 28, 1676 at Anawan Rock in Rehoboth, Massachusetts. He was an old man at the time, and a chief captain of Metacomet. His capture marked the final event in King Philip's War, as he was also beheaded.
French interests in Maine originated in the fur trade and the sale of fish, both to France. The French colonies in North America were primarily interested in trade and not in creating large cities. Instead, they preferred to convert the Indian population to Catholicism, or else to limit their contact with the Indians to trade. As English presence increased on the southern coast of Maine, the French Jesuits paid many of the area's tribes for the scalps of Protestant or English settlers, especially the Abenaki. The Jesuits in charge of coordinating with the tribes were located in a small mission town near Norridgewock, Maine and led by Jesuit Father Sébastien Rale. Two other mission towns were established, one based around Castine, Maine (established by Baron de St. Castin) and one on the St. Francis River between New Brunswick and Maine.
The more permanent English settlers moved northward from the colony of Massachusetts Bay, most of them Puritans who were unhappy with the political climate in Massachusetts Bay. Constant friction over many issues became the reason for many Abenaki raids in southern Maine, specifically over the issue of fishing rights for cod. Up until 1675, however, fighting had been limited to minor skirmishes that were more about the destruction of supplies than murder.
What is thought to have been the first action in Maine came when a 25-man militia gathered at Falmouth, Maine in 1675 and sailed to an Indian village, thought to be a part of the Abenaki, with a single sloop towing shallops. The Indians drove them off and took the shallops from them. Later that month, the tribe crossed the Saco River in the captured shallops and attacked the settlement of Winter Harbor. Little damage was caused, and similar raids were conducted against Wells and Falmouth later that year. The ultimate cause leading to war was the ruling by the Massachusetts General Court in 1676 making it illegal to sell firearms, powder, or rounds to the area's tribes. New England tribes had grown dependent on the musket for hunting, and the English colonists' remaining Indian allies switched to the French side. The French encouraged them to raid the English settlements, due to the tension in Europe at the time.
Much of the northern fighting was centered around raids meant to destroy property and infrastructure rather than to kill people. The lack of population on both sides meant that large battles were out of the question initially. For the majority of the war, ship combat mostly involved muskets, and the infantry relied more on melee fighting than guns. Later in the war, reinforcements from southern New England introduced modern and well-equipped ships and infantry, turning the tide permanently. This was also the first time that Colonial Rangers were used, acting as guides and scouts for the main party of militia. Much of the fighting was also conducted on the coast in small boats and ships.
Richard Waldron and Charles Frost led the English colonial forces in the northern region, while Jean-Vincent d'Abbadie de Saint-Castin instructed the tribal chiefs in the Wabanaki Confederacy. Three major campaigns (one each year) were launched by the Indians in 1675, 1676, and 1677, most of which led to a massive colonial response. Waldron sent forces so far north that he attacked the Mi'kmaq in Acadia.
Throughout the campaigns, a Wabanaki leader named Mugg Hegone repeatedly attacked towns such as Black Point (Scarborough), Wells, and Damariscove, building an Indian navy out of the approximately 40 sloops and a dozen 30-ton ships previously armed by militia. Many of Maine's towns were burned, and most of the population left. Maine's fishing industry was completely destroyed by the Wabanaki flotilla. Records from Salem, Maine reported 20 ketches stolen and destroyed in one raid. Mugg Hegone was killed on his third raid on Black Point. With their leader gone, most of the Indian flotilla broke up and was hunted down by New York privateers and Royal Navy vessels.
Colonial responses to raids generally failed in both their objectives and accomplishments. Few Indians were lost, and only two French Jesuits were reported killed. The colonists were much more successful in the later campaigns when they had the advantage in weapons. Their most successful ventures were a surprise attack near Dover, New Hampshire, in which more than 150 Indians were captured, and in the defense of Pemaquid, Maine from the Indian flotilla. One of the most notorious raids was in August 1679 when Indians attacked a settlement at the Sheepscot River near Merrymeeting Bay in Maine. Sir William Phips rescued local settlers by bringing them on board his vessel, abandoning his cargo of lumber. He was financially ruined when the Indians destroyed the shipyard and his intended cargo, although he was recognized as a hero in Boston.
By the end of the war, the Northern Campaigns saw approximately 400 settlers die, Maine's fishing economy gone, and the Indians maintaining power in eastern and northern Maine. There is not an accurate account of the number of Indians who died, but it is thought to be between 100 and 300. The official fighting ended in the northern theater with the Treaty of Casco (1678). Skirmishes continued until Father Rale's War, after which the French left Maine.
The war in southern New England largely ended with Metacomet's death. More than 1,000 colonists and 3,000 Indians had died. More than half of all New England towns were attacked by Indian warriors, and many were completely destroyed. Several Indians were enslaved and transported to Bermuda, including Metacomet's son, and numerous Bermudians today claim ancestry from the Indians exiles. Members of the sachem's extended family were placed among colonists in Rhode Island and eastern Connecticut. Other survivors joined western and northern tribes and refugee communities as captives or tribal members. Some of the Indian refugees returned to southern New England. The Narragansetts, Wampanoags, Podunks, Nipmucks, and several smaller bands were virtually eliminated as organized bands, and even the Mohegans were greatly weakened.
The Colony of Rhode Island was devastated by the war, as its principal city Providence was destroyed. Nevertheless, the Rhode Island legislature issued a formal rebuke to Connecticut Governor John Winthrop on October 26, scarcely six months after the burning of the city—although Winthrop had died. The "official letter" places blame squarely on the United Colonies of New England for causing the war by provoking the Narragansetts.
Sir Edmund Andros had been appointed governor of New York in 1674 by the Duke of York, who claimed that his authority extended as far north as Maine's northern boundary. He negotiated a treaty with some of the northern Indian bands in Maine on April 12, 1678. Metacomet's Pennacook allies had made a separate peace with the colonists as the result of early battles that are sometimes identified as part of King Philip's War. The tribe nevertheless lost members and eventually its identity as the result of the war.
Plymouth Colony lost close to eight percent of its adult male population and a smaller percentage of women and children to Indian warfare or other causes associated with the war.:332 Indian losses were much greater, with about 2,000 men killed or who died of injuries in the war, more than 3,000 dying of sickness or starvation, and another 1,000 Indians sold into slavery and transported to other areas, such as the British-controlled islands in the Caribbean. About 2,000 Indians escaped to other tribes to the north or west; they joined continued Indian attacks from those bases well into the next century. Historians estimate that, as a result of King Philip's War, the Indian population of southern New England was reduced by about 40 to 80 percent.
In northern New England, conflict continued for decades in Maine, New Hampshire, and northern Massachusetts. The five Indian tribes in the region of Acadia created the Wabanaki Confederacy to form a political and military alliance with New France. There were six wars over the next 74 years between New France and New England, along with their respective Indian allies, starting with King William's War in 1689. (See the French and Indian Wars, Father Rale's War, and Father Le Loutre's War.) The conflict in northern New England was largely over the border between New England and Acadia, which New France defined as the Kennebec River in southern Maine. Many colonists from northeastern Maine and Massachusetts temporarily relocated to larger towns in Massachusetts and New Hampshire to avoid Wabanaki raids.
[King Philip] was also known as Metacom, or Pometacom. King Philip may well have been a name that he adopted, as it was common for Natives to take other names. King Philip had on several occasions signed as such and has been referred to by other natives by that name.
Assawompset Pond is a reservoir/pond within the towns of Lakeville and Middleboro, in southeastern Massachusetts. It shares its waters with Long Pond and is openly connected with Pocksha Pond. These lakes provide a source of drinking water to the city of New Bedford, the largest city in southeastern Massachusetts. At almost four square miles, it is the largest natural lake in Massachusetts.
It is known in Wampanoag as Place of the White Stones and is host for the largest alewife (herring) run in the eastern seaboard. In the early spring the Nemasket River runs black with fish heading for the spawning grounds. The area known as Betty's Neck was one of the summer encampments for Native Americans who would traverse the Taunton River and Nemasket River to enter the pond. The Nemasket, being known as Where the fish are, explains the significance as a food source.
The origins of the King Philip's War started with the discovery of John Sassamon's body and the subsequent trial of his suspected murderers. His body was slipped under the ice on the pond and found the following spring. The outcome of the trial sparked the beginning of hostilities.
The pond was dammed in 1894 at the Nemasket River, which raised the water level about five feet.Battle of Bloody Brook
The Battle of Bloody Brook was fought on September 18, 1675 OS (September 28, 1675 NS) between English colonial militia from the Massachusetts Bay Colony and a band of Indians led by the Nipmuc sachem Muttawmp, during King Philip's War. The Indians ambushed colonists escorting a train of wagons carrying the harvest from Deerfield to Hadley, and killed at least 40 militia men and 17 teamsters out of a company that included 79 militia.The Pocumtuc tribe, allied with the Nipmuc, were aggrieved by the Deerfield colonists encroaching on their settlements.Benjamin Church (ranger)
Benjamin Church (c. 1639 – January 17, 1718) was an English colonist in North America. He was a military leader of the historic predecessor of the United States Army Rangers, captain of the first Ranger force in America (1676). Church was commissioned by Josiah Winslow, the Governor of the Plymouth Colony, to form the first ranger company for King Philip's War. He later commanded the company to raid Acadia during King William's and Queen Anne's wars in the early 1700s, as French and English hostilities played out in North America. The two powers were competing for control in colonial territories. He was promoted to major and ended his service at the rank of colonel, as noted on his gravestone.
Church designed his forces to emulate Indian practices of warfare. Toward this end, he worked to adopt Indian techniques of small, flexible forces that used the woods and ground for cover, rather than mounting frontal attacks in military formation. English colonists developed as rangers under the tutelage of their Native American allies. (Until the end of the colonial period, rangers depended on Indians as both allies and teachers.)Church developed a special full-time unit that combined European colonists, selected for their frontier skills, with friendly Indians in order to carry out offensive strikes against hostile Indians and French in difficult terrain. He used such rangers as militia where the normal practices of having troops march and attack in formation were ineffective. His memoirs, Entertaining Passages relating to Philip's War, were published in 1716 and are considered to constitute the first American military manual.Conspiracy Island
Conspiracy Island is a privately owned tidal island situated in the Assonet River off Berkley, Massachusetts.
According to the 2000 census, Conspiracy Island is uninhabited. In very low tides, the island is actually a peninsula, accessible across a sandy stretch of land connecting it to a nearby beach.
A Gazetteer of the State of Massachusetts, published in 1890, describes the history of localities in Massachusetts. In its listing for Berkley, the book states that the island may have received its name from its connection to King Philip, himself the namesake of King Philip's War. Berkley’s history also includes a legend that in 1675 on Conspiracy Island King Phillip formed his confederacy. Also in 1675 Edward Bobbet (Babbitt) returning to his home became the first white man slain by Indians in the area during the King Phillip War.Ellisville, Massachusetts
Ellisville is a village in southeastern Plymouth, Massachusetts, United States. It is located on Cape Cod Bay, and is situated south of Vallerville and north of Cedarville. The neighborhoods within Ellisville include Harlow’s Landing and Eastland Heights. Ellisville Harbor State Park, in the northern part of the village, has a natural harbor and beach.
Ellisville is named after the original owner of the property, Lt. John Ellis, who commanded the town of Sandwich militia. It is believed that he was a victim of an ambush during King Philip's War.Great Swamp Fight
The Great Swamp Fight or the Great Swamp Massacre was a crucial battle fought during King Philip's War between colonial militia of New England and the Narragansett tribe in December 1675. It was fought near the villages of Kingston and West Kingston in the Colony of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations. The combined force of the New England militia included 150 Pequots, and they inflicted a huge number of Narragansett casualties, including many hundred women and children. The battle has been described as "one of the most brutal and lopsided military encounters in all of New England's history." Since the 1930s, Narragansett and Wampanoag people commemorate the battle annually in a ceremony initiated by Narragansett-Wampanoag scholar Princess Red Wing.Josiah Winslow
Josiah Winslow was born in Plymouth Colony about 1628 and died in 1680 in Marshfield, Plymouth Colony. In records of the time, historians also name him Josias Winslow, and modern writers have carried that name forward. He was born one year after the Charter which founded the Massachusetts Bay Colony, bringing over 20,000 English immigrants to New England in the 1630s. Josiah was the Harvard College-educated son of Mayflower passenger and Pilgrim leader Edward Winslow and was Governor from 1673 to 1680. The most significant event during his term in office was King Philip's War, which created great havoc for both the English and Indian populations and changed New England forever. Josiah was the first native born governor of an American Colony.Metacomet
Metacom (1638–1676), also known as Metacomet and by his adopted English name King Philip, was chief to the Wampanoag people and the second son of the sachem Massasoit. He became a chief in 1662 when his brother Wamsutta (or King Alexander) died shortly after their father Massasoit. Wamsutta's widow Weetamoo (d. 1676), sunksqua of the Pocasset, was Metacomet's ally and friend for the rest of her life. Metacomet married Weetamoo's younger sister Wootonekanuske. No one knows how many children they had or what happened to them all. Wootonekanuske and one of their sons were sold to slavery in the West Indies following the defeat of the Native Americans in what became known as King Philip's War.
At the beginning Metacom sought to live in harmony with the colonists. As a sachem, he took the lead in much of his tribes' trade with the colonies. He adopted the European name of Philip, and bought his clothes in Boston, Massachusetts.
But the colonies continued to expand. To the west, the Iroquois Confederation also was fighting against neighboring tribes in the Beaver Wars, pushing them from the west and encroaching on his territory. Finally, in 1671, the colonial leaders of the Plymouth Colony forced major concessions from him. Metacomet surrendered much of his tribe's armament and ammunition, and agreed that they were subject to English law. The encroachment continued until hostilities broke out in 1675. Metacomet led the opponents of the English, with the goal of stopping Puritan expansion.Mount Hope (Rhode Island)
Mount Hope (originally Montaup in Pokanoket language) is a small hill in Bristol, Rhode Island overlooking the part of Narragansett Bay known as Mount Hope Bay. It is the highest point in Bristol County, RI. The 7000 acres that now make up the Town of Bristol in Rhode Island were called the Mt. Hope Lands. The elevation of Mt. Hope summit is 209 feet, and drops sharply to the bay on its eastern side. Mount Hope was the site of a Wampanoag (Pokanoket) village. It is remembered for its role in King Philip's War.Today, Brown University owns 376 acres (1.52 km2) of woodland on Mt. Hope off Tower Street in Bristol. The university's grounds on Mount Hope include King Philip's Seat (or "chair"), a large quartz rock formation where Wampanoag sachem King Philip held meetings. The site of King Philip's death in Misery Swamp is nearby. Mount Hope Farm is also nearby.
The first battle of King Philip's War took place near here in 1675. By the second half of the seventeenth century the English settlers need for land had reduced the land of the Pokanoket to the Mt. Hope Lands. After his father Massasoit died, and then his older brother died, Metacom, now King Philip, began making alliances with other tribes and war soon began. King Philip made nearby Mount Hope his base of operations. "King Philip's Chair," a rocky ledge on the mountain, was a lookout site for enemy ships on Mount Hope Bay. Philip was eventually defeated. The site where Captain Benjamin Church's men killed King Philip in 1676 is located in nearby Misery Swamp.After the conclusion of King Philip's War, the town surrounding Mt. Hope was settled in 1680 as part of the Plymouth Colony. In 1680 all 7000 acres of the Mt. Hope Lands were bought by four Boston businessmen. It became the Town of Bristol, a part of Plymouth Colony. One of the businessmen, Nathaniel Byfield, claimed the 550 acres of Mt. Hope for his own farm. He sold the farm in 1702 to his son-in-law and, in 1744, Byfield's granddaughter, Elizabeth Royall, inherited it. Elizabeth and her husband Isaac built a 2.5 story gambrel roof home. This historic building is still part of the farm, today. Because they were Loyalists, Elizabeth and Isaac fled Bristol during the Revolutionary War and their home and farm were confiscated by the State of Rhode Island.
After the war William Bradford, great-great-grandson of Pilgrim Governor William Bradford, bought Mt. Hope Farm as it was now called. Bradford had been Lt. Governor of Rhode Island, a Senator from Rhode Island and had worked for many years as a public servant. The 1745 house on Mt. Hope Farm is still called The Governor Bradford House. The 127 acre parcel known as Mount Hope Farm is run by the Mount Hope Trust, a non profit, which offers 12 inn rooms to the public. The buildings and grounds are rented for events and a number of community and children's programs are offered.Metacom, a main road in Bristol was named after him, derived from his Wampanoag name Metacomet.
It can be seen as part of the Haffenreffer Museum grounds. Church eventually became an owner of Mount Hope.
Mt. Hope remained a part of Massachusetts until the Crown transferred Bristol to the Rhode Island Colony in 1747.Nine Men's Misery
Nine Men's Misery is a site in current day Cumberland, Rhode Island where nine colonists were tortured by the Narragansett Indian tribe during King Philip's War. A stone memorial was constructed in 1676 which is believed to be the oldest veterans memorial in the United States.Nipmuc
The Nipmuc or Nipmuck people are descendants of the indigenous Algonquian peoples of Nippenet, 'the freshwater pond place', which corresponds to central Massachusetts and immediately adjacent portions of Connecticut and Rhode Island. The tribe were first encountered by Europeans in 1630, when John Acquittamaug arrived with maize to sell to the starving colonists of Boston, Massachusetts.The colonists introduced pathogens, such as smallpox, to which the Native Americans had no prior exposure. They were also exposed to alcohol for the first time, which led to huge numbers of natives succumbing to the effects of alcoholism. With the passage of increasingly harsh laws against Indian culture and religion, the loss of land, legally and illegally, to growing English colonies, many of the Nipmuc joined Metacomet's rebellion in 1675, the results of which were disastrous. Many of the Nipmuc were interned on Deer Island in Boston Harbor and perished, and others were executed or sold into slavery in the West Indies.
The Reverend John Eliot arrived in Boston in 1631 and began an ambitious project to learn the Massachusett language, widely understood throughout New England, convert the Native Americans, and published a Bible and grammar of the language. His efforts, with colonial government backing, established several 'Indian plantations' or 'Praying towns'—predecessors to the Indian Reservation—where the Native Americans were coerced to settle and instructed in English customs, Christianity, but governed and preached to by other Native Americans and in their own dialects. By the 19th century, the Nipmuc were reduced to wards of the state that were administered by state-appointed commissioners. The passage of the Massachusetts Enfranchisement Act of 1869 effectively 'detribalised' the Nipmuc, and the last of the remaining Indian plantation lands were sold. Nipmuc communities continued to survive, and the tribe received state recognition in 1979, but efforts at federal recognition have not yet met with success.Praying town
Praying towns were developed by the Puritans of New England from 1646 to 1675 in an effort to convert the local Native American tribes to Christianity. The Natives who moved into these towns were known as Praying Indians. Before 1674 the villages were the most ambitious Christianization experiment in English colonial America. John Eliot first preached to the Natives in their own tongue in 1646 at Nonantum, meaning "Place of Rejoicing," which is now Newton, Massachusetts. This sermon led to a friendship with Waban, who became the first Native American in Massachusetts to convert to Christianity.Redemption Rock
Redemption Rock is a colonial-era historic site in Princeton, Massachusetts. In 1676, during King Philip's War, the release of Mary Rowlandson (the wife of a Puritan minister) from her Native American captors was negotiated atop a granite ledge. The .25-acre (0.10 ha) parcel upon which the rock stands was acquired by the land conservation non-profit organization The Trustees of Reservations in 1953, and is open to the public.
Rowlandson would later write about her experience in A Narrative of the Captivity and Restoration of Mrs. Mary Rowlandson, considered a seminal work in the American literary genre of captivity narratives.
Redemption Rock is located off Massachusetts Route 140, near Wachusett Mountain.Rehoboth, Massachusetts
Rehoboth is a historic town in Bristol County, Massachusetts, United States. Established in 1643, Rehoboth is one of the oldest towns in Massachusetts. The population was 11,608 at the 2010 census. Rehoboth is a mostly rural, suburban community with many historic sites including 53 historic cemeteries.Siege of Springfield
The Sige of Springfield (October 1675) was a conflict around the colonial settlement of Springfield, Massachusetts during King Philip's War. Springfield was the second and final New England settlement burned to the ground during the war; the first was Providence Plantations. King Philip's War remains, per capita, the bloodiest war in American history.Susannah Sheldon
Susannah Sheldon (born circa 1674) was one of the core accusers during the Salem Witch Trials. eighteen years of age during the time of Salem witch trials. As one of the core group of allegedly afflicted girls, Sheldon made claims of afflictions for the first time during the last week of April 1692.
Susannah Sheldon was the daughter of Rebecca Scadlock and William Sheldon. When Sheldon was a baby, her family was driven out of their home in Saco, Maine by Native Americans during King Philip's War in 1676. The family lived in Salem, Massachuettes during King Philip's War but returned to Saco when peace was established. The family fled Saco once again during King William's War and returned to Salem.Sheldon's elder brother Godfrey died in Maine in July 1690 and her father William died in Salem in December 1691. Having lost their Maine farm, the Sheldon family lived in poverty in Salem after 1691.In April 1692, Sheldon was eighteen years old when she became one of the main accusers in the Salem Witch Trials. Records show that Sheldon testified against eleven witches and filed at least 24 depositions. Sheldon was personally responsible for bringing witchcraft accusations against Salem's wealthiest and most prominent couples, Mary and Philip English. This was Sheldon's first accusation.According to historian Mary Beth Norton, Sheldon likely died unmarried and childless.Thomas Savage (major)
Thomas Savage (1608 - February 14, 1682) was an English soldier and New England colonist and merchant, attaining the rank of major in King Philip's War.Wait Winthrop
Waitstill Winthrop (27 February 1641/1642 – 7 November 1717) was a colonial magistrate, military officer, and politician of New England.Wampanoag
The Wampanoag , also rendered Wôpanâak, are an Native American people in North America. They were a loose confederacy made up of several tribes in the 17th century but today many Wampanoag people are enrolled in two federally recognized tribes: the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe and the Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head in Massachusetts.
The Wampanoag lived in southeastern Massachusetts and Rhode Island in the beginning of the 17th century, at the time of first contact with the English colonists, a territory that included Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket islands. Their population numbered in the thousands due to the richness of the environment and their cultivation of corn, beans, and squash (3,000 Wampanoag lived on Martha's Vineyard alone).
From 1615 to 1619, the Wampanoag suffered an epidemic, long suspected to be smallpox. Modern research, however, has suggested that it may have been leptospirosis, a bacterial infection which can develop into Weil's syndrome. It caused a high fatality rate and decimated the Wampanoag population. Researchers suggest that the losses from the epidemic were so large that English colonists were able to establish their settlements in the Massachusetts Bay Colony more easily. More than 50 years later, King Philip's War (1675–1676) of Indian allies against the English colonists resulted in the death of 40 percent of the surviving tribe. Many male Wampanoag were sold into slavery in Bermuda or the West Indies, and some women and children were enslaved by colonists in New England.
The tribe largely disappeared from historical records after the late 18th century, although its people and descendants persisted. Survivors continued to live in their traditional areas and maintained many aspects of their culture, while absorbing other peoples by marriage and adapting to changing economic and cultural needs in the larger society. The last speakers of the Massachusett language Wôpanâak died more than 100 years ago, although some Wampanoag people have been working on a language revival project since 1993. The project is also working on curriculum and teacher development.
King Philip's War