King Philip's War

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King Philip's War
An artist's rendition of Native Americans attacking a garrison house
Date June 20, 1675 – April 12, 1678
Location Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Maine
Result Southern theatre: Colonial victory
Northern theatre: Native victory
New England pine flag.svg New England Confederation
Commanders and leaders
Metacomet ("King Philip") 
Canonchet, chief of Narragansett 
Awashonks, chief of Sakonnet
Muttawmp, chief of Nipmuck
Gov. Josiah Winslow,
Gov. John Leverett,
Gov. John Winthrop, Jr.,
Captain William Turner,
Captain Benjamin Church
approx. 3,400 approx. 3,500
Casualties and losses
approx. 3,000 [1] approx. 1,000 [2]

King Philip's War, sometimes called the First Indian War, Metacom's War, Metacomet's War, or Metacom's Rebellion,[3] was an armed conflict between Native American inhabitants of present-day New England and English colonists and their Native American allies in 1675–78. The war is named for the main leader of the Native American side, Metacomet, who had adopted the English name "King Philip" in honor of the previously-friendly relations between his father and the original Mayflower Pilgrims.[4] The war continued in the most northern reaches of New England until the signing of the Treaty of Casco Bay in April 1678.[5]

Metacom (c. 1638-1676) was the second son of Wampanoag chief Massasoit, who had coexisted peacefully with the Pilgrims. Metacom succeeded his father in 1662 and reacted against the European settlers' continued encroaching onto Wampanoag lands. At Taunton in 1671, he was humiliated when colonists forced him to sign a new peace agreement that included the surrender of Indian guns. When officials in Plymouth Colony hanged three Wampanoags in 1675 for the murder of a Christianized Indian, Metacom's alliance launched a united assault on colonial towns throughout the region. Metacom's forces enjoyed initial victories in the first year, but then the Native American alliance began to unravel. By the end of the conflict, the Wampanoags and their Narragansett allies were almost completely destroyed. Metacom anticipated their defeat and returned to his ancestral home at Mt. Hope, where he was killed while walking in the forest.

The war was the single greatest calamity to occur in seventeenth century Puritan New England and is considered by many to be the deadliest war in the history of European settlement in North America in proportion to the population.[6] In the space of little more than a year, twelve of the region's towns were destroyed and many more damaged, the colony's economy was all but ruined, and its population was decimated, losing one-tenth of all men available for military service.[7][8] More than half of New England's towns were attacked by Native American warriors.[9]

King Philip's War began the development of a greater European-American identity. The colonists' trials, without significant English government support, gave them a group identity separate and distinct from that of subjects of the king.[10]

Historical context

The Pilgrims who arrived on the Mayflower and founded Plymouth Plantation expended great effort in forging friendship and peace with the Native Americans around Cape Cod. They traveled long distances to make peace with Chief Massasoit, and Governor William Bradford made a gift of his magnificent and prized red horse coat upon seeing that the chief admired it. Chief Massasoit gave his sons English names. 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 the Powhatan wars of 1610–14, 1622–32 and 1644–46[11] in Virginia, the Pequot War of 1637 in Connecticut, the Dutch-Indian war of 1643 along the Hudson River[12] and the Iroquois Beaver Wars of 1650[13] in a list of ongoing uprisings and conflicts between various Native American tribes and the French, Dutch, and English colonial settlements of Canada, New York, and New England.

Plymouth, Massachusetts, was established in 1620 with significant early help from local Native Americans, particularly Squanto and Massasoit, chief of the Wampanoag tribe. Subsequent colonists founded Salem, Boston, and many small towns around Massachusetts Bay between 1628 and 1640, at a time of increased English immigration. With a wave of immigration, and their building of 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 encroached on the traditional territories of the several Algonquian-speaking tribes in the region. Prior to King Philip's War, tensions fluctuated between tribes of Native Americans and the colonists, but relations were generally peaceful.[6]

Twenty thousand colonists settled in New England during the Great Migration. Colonial officials of the Rhode Island, Plymouth, Massachusetts Bay, Connecticut and the New Haven colonies each developed separate relations with the Wampanoag, Nipmuck, Narragansett, Mohegan, Pequot, 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.[citation needed]

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 protect them from English expansion, and land they had lost appeared to be given to rival Christian Indian tribes.[6]

Disease and war

Throughout the Northeast, the Native Americans had suffered severe population losses as a result of pandemics of smallpox, spotted fever, typhoid, and measles, infectious diseases carried by European fishermen, starting in about 1618, two years before the first colony at Plymouth had been settled.[14] Shifting alliances among the different Algonquian peoples, represented by leaders such as Massasoit, Sassacus, Uncas and Ninigret, and the colonial polities negotiated a troubled peace for several decades.[citation needed]

For almost half a century after the colonists' arrival, Massasoit of the Wampanoag had maintained an uneasy alliance with the English to benefit from their trade goods and as a counter-weight to his tribe's traditional enemies, the Pequot, Narragansett, and the Mohegan. Massasoit had to accept colonial incursion into Wampanoag territory as well as English political interference with his tribe.[citation needed] Maintaining good relations with the English became increasingly difficult, as the English colonists continued pressuring the Indians to sell land.[citation needed]

Failure of diplomacy

"King Philip's Seat", a meeting place on Mount Hope (Rhode Island)

Metacomet became sachem of the Pokanoket and Grand Sachem of the Wampanoag Confederacy after the death in 1662 of his older brother, the Grand Sachem Wamsutta (called "Alexander" by the English). The latter had succeeded their father Massasoit (d. 1661) as chief. Well known to the English before his ascension as paramount chief to the Wampanoag, Metacomet distrusted the colonists. Wamsutta had been visiting the Marshfield home of Josiah Winslow, the governor of the Plymouth Colony, for peaceful negotiations, and became ill after being given a "portion of working physic" by a Doctor Fuller.

The Plymouth colonists had put in place laws making it illegal to do commerce with the Wampanoags. When they found out that Wamsutta had sold a parcel of land to Roger Williams, Josiah Winslow, the governor of the Plymouth Colony, had Wamsutta arrested even though Wampanoags that lived outside of colonist jurisdiction were not accountable to Plymouth Colony laws. Wamsutta's wife, Weetamoe, attempted to bring the chief back to Pokanoket. However, on the Taunton River the party saw that the end was near, and after beaching their canoes, Wamsutta died under an oak tree within viewing distance of Mount Hope.[15]

Metacomet began negotiating with the other Algonquian tribes against the Plymouth Colony soon after the deaths of his father Massasoit and his brother Wamsutta. His action was a reaction to the colonists' refusal to stop buying land and establishment of new settlements, combined with Wamsutta / Alexander's suspicious death.[15]


The population of New England immigrants from Europe totaled about 80,000 people. They lived in 110 towns, of which 64 were in the Massachusetts Colony, which then included the southwestern portion of the present state of Maine. The towns had about 16,000 men of military age who were almost all part of the militia—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 without enough men to defend them were abandoned. 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 warring Indians 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.[citation needed] The Indian allies of the colonists—the Mohegans and Praying Indians—numbered about 1,000, with about 200 warriors.[16]

By 1676, the regional Native American population had decreased to about 10,000 Indians (exact numbers are unavailable), largely because of epidemics. These included about 4,000 Narragansett of western Rhode Island and eastern Connecticut; 2,400 Nipmuck of central and western Massachusetts; and 2,400 combined in the Massachusett and Pawtucket tribes, living about Massachusetts Bay and extending northwest to Maine. The Wampanoag and Pokanoket 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 of choice. The various tribes had no common government. They had distinct cultures and often warred among themselves.[17] Despite different cultures they all spoke related languages from the Algonquian family.

The trial

Engraving depicting the colonial assault on the Narragansetts' fort in the Great Swamp Fight in December 1675

John Sassamon, a Native American convert to Christianity, a so-called "praying Indian", played a key role as a "cultural mediator", negotiating with both sides while belonging to neither.[18] An early graduate of Harvard College, he served as a translator and adviser to Metacomet. He reported to the governor of Plymouth Colony that Metacomet planned to gather allies for Native American attacks on widely dispersed colonial settlements.[19]

Metacomet was brought before a public court, where court officials admitted they had no proof, but warned that if they had any further reports against him they would confiscate Wampanoag land and guns.[citation needed] Not long after, Sassamon's body was found in the ice-covered Assawompset Pond. Whether his death was the result of accident, suicide or murder was disputed at the time and since.[citation needed] Plymouth Colony officials arrested three Wampanoag, including one of Metacomet's counselors. On the testimony of a Native American, a jury that included six Indian elders convicted the men of Sassamon's murder. They were executed by hanging on June 8, 1675 (O.S.), at Plymouth. Some Wampanoag believed that both the trial and the court's sentence infringed on Wampanoag sovereignty.[citation needed]

Southern theatre, 1675

Raid on Swansea

In response to the trial and executions, on June 20, 1675 (O.S.) a band of Pokanoket attacked several isolated homesteads in the small Plymouth colony settlement of Swansea.[20] Laying siege to the town, they destroyed it five days later and killed several people. On June 27, 1675 (O.S.) (July 7, 1675 N.S.; See Old Style and New Style dates), a full eclipse of the moon occurred in the New England area.[21] Various tribes in New England looked at it as a good omen for attacking the colonists.[22] 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 (modern Bristol, Rhode Island).

"In 1675 King Philip's war came to Freetown. Either on June 27, 1675, as reported to the Plymouth Court by Shadrach Wilbore, or on April 4, 1675, as stated in a letter by John Freeman, an officer in the war. John Tisdale was killed by Indians. It was reported that three men were slain: John Tisdale, Sr., John Knowles and Samuel Atkins. John Tisdale's house was burned as was the house of his brother-in-law James Walker. John’s gun was carried off by the Indians. The gun was retaken at Rehoboth on Aug 1 1675, where it was found with the body of an Indian who was slain there. The gun was later used as evidence in court. Sarah Walker Tisdale did not outlive her husband by much. She died on Dec 10 1676, in Taunton. John’s estate was settled on March 6, 1677. That same day, three Indians: Timothy Jacked, Massamaquat and Pompachonshe were indicted for the murder of John and the other two men, on the evidence of having John’s gun. Charges against one were dropped for lack of evidence. The other two were deemed probably guilty. All three were sold into slavery, and removed from the country."[23]

The war quickly spread, and soon involved the Podunk and Nipmuck tribes. During the summer of 1675, the Native Americans attacked at Middleborough and Dartmouth (July 8), Mendon (July 14), Brookfield (August 2), and Lancaster (August 9). In early September they attacked Deerfield, Hadley, and Northfield (possibly giving rise to the Angel of Hadley legend).

Siege of Brookfield

Wheeler's Surprise, and the ensuing Siege of Brookfield, was a battle between Nipmuc Indians under Muttawmp, and the English of the Massachusetts Bay Colony under the command of Thomas Wheeler and Captain Edward Hutchinson, in August 1675.[24] The battle consisted of an initial ambush by the Nipmucs on Wheeler's unsuspecting party, followed by an attack on Brookfield, Massachusetts, and the consequent besieging of the remains of the colonial force. While the place where the siege part of the battle took place has always been known (at Ayers' Garrison in West Brookfield), the location of the initial ambush was a subject of extensive controversy among historians in the late nineteenth century.[25]

The New England Confederation, comprising the Massachusetts Bay Colony, Plymouth Colony, New Haven Colony and Connecticut Colony, declared war on the Native Americans on September 9, 1675. The Colony of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, settled mostly by Puritan dissidents, tried to remain mostly neutral, but like the Narragansett they were dragged inexorably into the conflict. The next colonial expedition was to recover crops from abandoned fields along the Connecticut River for the coming winter and included almost 100 farmers/militia plus teamsters to drive the wagons.

Battle of Bloody Brook

The Battle of Bloody Brook was fought on September 12, 1675, between English colonial militia from the Massachusetts Bay Colony and a band of Indians led by the 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.[26][27]

Attack on Springfield

The Indians next attacked on October 5, 1675, against the Connecticut River's largest settlement at the time, Springfield, Massachusetts. 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 Springfield's few fortified blockhouses.[28] An Indian servant who worked for Morgan managed to escape and later alerted the Massachusetts Bay troops under the command of Major Samuel Appleton, who broke through to Springfield and drove off the attackers. Morgan's sons were famous Indian fighters in the territory. His son Peletiah was killed by Indians in 1675. Springfielders later honored Miles Morgan with a large statue in Court Square.[28]

The Great Swamp Fight

On November 2, Plymouth Colony governor Josiah Winslow led a combined force of colonial militia against the Narragansett tribe. The Narragansett had not been directly involved in the war, but they had sheltered many of the Wampanoag women and children. Several of their warriors were reported in several Indian raiding parties. 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 Narragansett, who had retreated to a massive fort in a frozen swamp. The cold weather in December froze the swamp so it was relatively easy to traverse. Led by a guide, "Indian Peter", on a very cold December 19, 1675, the colonial force found the Narragansett fort near present-day South Kingstown, Rhode Island. A combined force of Plymouth, Massachusetts, and Connecticut militia numbering about 1,000 men, including about 150 Pequots and Mohican Indian allies, attacked the Indian fort. The fierce battle that followed is known as the Great Swamp Fight. It is believed that the militia killed about 600 Narragansett. The militia 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 and their families escaped into the frozen swamp. Facing a winter with little food and shelter, the entire surviving Narragansett tribe was forced out of quasi-neutrality and joined the fight. The colonists lost many of their officers in this assault: about 70 of their men were killed and nearly 150 more wounded. Lacking supplies for an extended campaign the rest of the colonial assembled forces returned to their homes. The nearby towns in Rhode Island provided care for the wounded until they could return to their homes.[29]

Native American campaign

Throughout the winter of 1675–76, Native Americans attacked and destroyed more frontier settlements in their effort to expel the English colonists. Attacks were made at Andover, Bridgewater, Chelmsford, Groton, Lancaster, Marlborough, Medfield, Medford, Millis, Portland, Providence, Rehoboth, Scituate, Seekonk, Simsbury, Sudbury, Suffield, Warwick, Weymouth, and Wrentham, including what is 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.[30]

Southern theatre, 1676

Lancaster raid

The Lancaster raid in February 1676 was an attack on the frontier community of Lancaster, Massachusetts, by Metacom. Metacom 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 minister, Rev. Joseph Rowlandson, was set on fire, and most of its occupants (more than 30 people) were slaughtered. 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.

Plymouth Plantation Campaign

Site of "Nine Men's Misery" in Cumberland, Rhode Island, where Captain Pierce's troops were allegedly tortured

The spring of 1676 marked the high point for the combined tribes when, on March 12, they attacked Plymouth Plantation. Though the town withstood the assault, the natives 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[31] and a company of Massachusetts soldiers between Pawtucket and the Blackstone's settlement. Several colonial men were allegedly tortured and buried at Nine Men's Misery in Cumberland, as part of the Native Americans' ritual treatment of enemies. The natives burned the abandoned capital of Providence to the ground on March 29. At the same time, a small band of Native Americans infiltrated and burned part of Springfield while the militia was away.

File:Early American Conflict.jpg
Reprisal by colonists (non-contemporary depiction)

The few hundred colonists of Rhode Island became an island colony for a time as their capital at Providence was sacked and burned and the colonists were driven back to Newport and Portsmouth on Aquidneck Island. The Connecticut River towns with their thousands of acres of cultivated crop land, known as the bread basket of New England, had to manage their crops by limiting their crop lands and working in large armed groups for self-protection.[32]:20 Towns such as Springfield, Hatfield, Hadley and Northampton, Massachusetts, fortified their towns, reinforced their militias and held their ground, though attacked several times. The small towns of Northfield and Deerfield, Massachusetts, and several other small towns, were abandoned as the surviving settlers retreated to the larger towns. The towns of the Connecticut colony escaped largely unharmed in the war, although more than 100 Connecticut militia died in their support of the other colonies.

Colonial and Mohawk Campaigns

The New York Mohawks—an Iroquois tribe, traditional enemies of many of the warring tribes—proceeded to raid isolated groups of Native Americans in Massachusetts, scattering and killing many. Traditional Indian crop-growing areas and fishing places in Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Connecticut were continually attacked by roving New England patrols of combined Colonials and their Native American allies. When found, any Indian crops were destroyed. The Indian tribes had poor luck finding any place to grow enough food or harvest enough migrating fish for the coming winter. Many of the warring Native American tribes drifted north into Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont and Canada. Some drifted west into New York and points farther west to avoid their traditional enemies, the Iroquois.

Attack on Sudbury

The Attack on Sudbury (April 21, 1676) was fought in Sudbury, Massachusetts. 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 were held off by John Grout and a handful of men until colonial reinforcements arrived to help in the defense.

By April 1676 the Narragansett were defeated and their chief, Canonchet, was killed.

Battle of Turner's Falls

At the Battle of Turner's Falls, on May 18, 1676, Captain William Turner of the Massachusetts Militia and a group of about 150 militia volunteers (mostly minimally trained farmers) attacked a large fishing camp of Native Americans at Peskeopscut on the Connecticut River (now called Turners Falls, Massachusetts). The colonists claimed they killed 100–200 Native Americans in retaliation for earlier Indian attacks against Deerfield and other colonist settlements and the colonial losses in the Battle of Bloody Brook. Turner and nearly 40 of the militia were killed during the return from the falls.[33]

With the help of their long-time allies the Mohegans, the colonists defeated an attack at Hadley on June 12, 1676, and scattered most of the Indian survivors into New Hampshire and points farther north. Later that month, a force of 250 Native Americans was routed near Marlborough, Massachusetts. Other forces, often a combined force of colonial volunteers and their Indian allies, continued to attack, kill, capture or disperse bands of Narragansett, Nipmuc, Wampanough, etc. as they tried to plant crops or return to their traditional locations. The colonists granted amnesty to Native Americans from the tribes who surrendered or were captured and showed they had not participated in the conflict. The captured Indian participants whom they knew had participated in attacks on the many settlements were hanged or shipped off to slavery in Bermuda.

Battle of Mount Hope

Metacomet's allies began to desert him. By early July, over 400 had surrendered to the colonists, and Metacomet took refuge in the Assowamset Swamp, below Providence, close to where the war had started. The colonists formed raiding parties of Native Americans and militia. They were allowed to keep the possessions of warring Indians and received a bounty on all captives. Metacomet was killed by one of these teams when he was tracked down by colony-allied Native Americans led by Captain Benjamin Church and Captain Josiah Standish of the Plymouth Colony militia at Mt. Hope, Rhode Island. Metacomet was shot and killed by an Indian named John Alderman on August 12, 1676.[34] Metacomet's corpse was beheaded, then drawn and quartered, a traditional treatment of criminals in this era. His head was displayed in Plymouth for twenty years.[citation needed]

On August 28, 1676, Captain Benjamin Church and his group of colonial soldiers captured Anawan, the war chief of the Pocasset people at the site of Anawan Rock in Rehoboth, Massachusetts. He was an old man at the time, and a chief captain of Metacomet. The capture of Anawan marked the final event in King Philip's War as Anawan was also beheaded.[35]

Northern Theatre

File:Night Attack of Indians.jpg
Native revenge on Richard Waldron for his role in King Philip's War, Dover, New Hampshire (1689)

The northern theatre of King Philip's War (also known as the First Abenaki War) was fought along the New England/Acadia border primarily in present-day Maine. Richard Waldron and Charles Frost led the forces in the northern region, while Jean-Vincent d'Abbadie de Saint-Castin worked with the tribes that would make up the Wabanaki Confederacy. The natives engaged in annual campaigns against the English settlements in 1675, 1676 and 1677. Waldron sent forces so far north that he attacked the Mi'kmaq in Acadia.

Natives attacked a settlement at the Sheepscot River near Merrymeeting Bay in Maine in August 1676. Sir William Phips rescued local settlers by bringing them on board his vessel, abandoning his cargo of lumber. Although he was financially ruined as the Indians destroyed the shipyard and his intended cargo, he was recognized as a hero in Boston.[36]

The fighting ended in the northern theatre with the Treaty of Casco (1678).


The site of King Philip's death in Miery Swamp on Mount Hope (Rhode Island)

Southern New England

The war in the south largely ended with Metacomet's death. More than 1,000 colonists and 3,000 Native Americans had died.[37] Disease caused most of the fatalities for both Native Americans and the New England colonials. More than half of all New England villages were attacked by native warriors, and many were completely destroyed.[38] Several Native Americans were enslaved and transported to Bermuda, included Metacomet's son and, according to Bermudian tradition, his wife. Numerous Bermudians today claim ancestry from the Native American 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.[39] The Narragansett, Wampanoag, Podunk, Nipmuck, and several smaller bands were virtually eliminated as organized bands, and even the Mohegan were greatly weakened.

Sir Edmund Andros, who had been appointed governor of New York in 1674 by the Duke of York who claimed his authority extended as far north a Maine's northern boundary, 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. Native families were granted one peck of corn annually as compensation for lost lands. They fled north. The tribe nevertheless lost members and eventually its identity as the result of the ensuing war.[40]

For a time, King Philip's War seriously damaged the prospects of most second- and third-generation English colonists in New England. But with their successful governments and towns, low death rate, and their extraordinary population growth rate of about 3% a year (doubling every 25 years), they repaired all the damage, replaced their losses, rebuilt the destroyed towns, and continued to establish new towns within a few years. The military defeat of the Native Americans meant that most land in Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Rhode Island was nearly completely open to colonial settlement.

The colonists' successful defense of New England with their own resources brought them to the attention of the British royal government. Before King Philip's War, the colonies had been generally ignored, thought to be uninteresting and poor English outposts. The English authorities soon tried to exploit the colonies and their resources for their own gain—beginning with the revocation of the charter of Massachusetts Bay in 1684 (enforced in 1686). An Anglican church was established in Boston in 1686, ending the Puritan monopoly on religion in Massachusetts. The legend of Connecticut's Charter Oak stems from the belief that a cavity within the tree was used in late 1687 as a hiding place for the colony's charter as Andros tried unsuccessfully to revoke its charter and take over the militia. In 1690, Plymouth's charter was not renewed; its residents were forced into the jurisdiction of Massachusetts. The equally small colony of Rhode Island, with its largely Puritan dissident settlers, maintained its charter, mainly as a counterweight and irritant to Massachusetts. The Massachusetts General Court, the principal elected legislative and judicial body in Massachusetts, was brought under nominal British government control, but all its members except the Royal Governor and a few of his deputies continued to be elected in the various towns, as they had been for 40 years. The highest levels of government were nominally under British government control, but elected local and representative legislative and judicial bodies continued under control of the colonists. Only land-owning males could vote for most officials, but their suffrage was both wider and more universal than in nearly all other countries at that time.

Except in Rhode Island, nearly all layers of government and church life remained "Puritan", and only a few of the wealthiest and socially most distinguished joined the British government-sponsored Anglican church. Most New Englanders continued to live in self-governing and mostly self-sufficient towns, where they attended the Puritan Congregational or dissident churches that they had already established by 1690. As the population increased, new towns, complete with their own churches, militias, etc. were nearly all established by the sons and daughters of the original settlers, and in nearly all cases they were modeled after the original settlements. Few people lived outside of an established town. The many conflicts between the British crown and British Parliament during the next hundred years made self-government not only desirable but relatively easy to continue in New England. The squabbles that the New Englanders had with the British government would eventually lead to Lexington, Concord, and Bunker Hill by 1775. When the British were forced to evacuate Boston in 1776, only a few thousand of the more than 700,000 New Englanders of the time went with them.

Plymouth Colony

In the fourteen months of King Philip's War in the southern theatre 1675–1676, Plymouth Colony lost close to eight percent of its English adult male population and a smaller percentage of women and children to Indian warfare or other causes associated with the war.[41] 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 island 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.[citation needed]

The war escalated from a local conflict to involve most of southern New England and reached to other east coast areas as well. The war killed nearly as high a percentage of the Indian population as the plagues of 1616–19,[42] which had decimated the area and turned whole villages into places of death and desolation.

The colonists won in King Philip's War not only by greater military power, but due to their ability to outlast the Native Americans. The natives typically had less than a years worth of food supplies and no independent access to black powder, steel weapons or tools. The English early on suffered many military defeats and lost hundreds of men, but in the end they won due to better tactics and material support for the war from England, Ireland and other colonies. Before the war it is estimated the native peoples of New England made up almost 30 percent of the total regional population, but by 1680, five years after the war began, the native population had dropped to less than 15 percent.[43]

The settlers incurred an enormous self imposed tax burden to pay for the supplies they bought during the war. The war held back the economy of the entire colonial region for many years to come.[44]

Despite the losses for Native Americans, the English colonists were unable to stop forever the threat of Indian attacks. Before the war English colonists living on the still-wild frontier of the northeast could usually depend on friendly local Indian tribes to help them against other traditional enemy Indian tribes. Well into the next century, settlers in the frontier regions were at risk for occasional Indian attacks. Hundreds more Indians and colonial men, women and children were killed in such raids.

For the next seventy years the French used unfriendly Indian tribes in their conflicts with England. Near the end of King Phillip's War, King James II (a Catholic and devote anti-Puritan) appointed Sir Edmund Andros as governor of the Dominion of New England, a proposed union of all of the New England colonies into a single administrative entity. Before this new government could happen Andros was arrested by the colonists and sent back to England in 1689, after the Glorious Revolution toppled James II. Plymouth Colony became a part of the expanded Province of Massachusetts Bay in 1692 under a new charter issued by James' Protestant successors, William and Mary.[citation needed]

Northern New England

In northern New England, conflict continued for decades in Maine, New Hampshire and northern Massachusetts. In response to King Philip's War, which stemmed from New England expansion onto native land, the five Indian tribes in the region of Acadia created the Wabanaki Confederacy to form a political and military alliance with New France to stop the New England expansion.[45] During the next 74 years, six colonial wars between New France and New England, along with their respective native allies, took place, 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 was over the border between New England and Acadia, which New France defined as the Kennebec River in southern Maine.[46] In response to King Philip's War and King William's War (1689–97), many colonists from northeastern Maine and Massachusetts temporarily relocated to larger towns in Massachusetts and New Hampshire to avoid Wabanaki Indian raids.[5]

See also


  1. "King Philip's War". Retrieved January 8, 2016.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. "King Philip's War". Retrieved January 8, 2016.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. America's Guardian Myths, op-ed by Susan Faludi, September 7, 2007. New York Times. Accessed September 6, 2007.
  4. Lepore, Jill. The Name of War: King Philip's War and the Origins of American Identity, New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1998. Note: 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."
  5. 5.0 5.1 Norton, Mary Beth. In the Devil's Snare: The Salem Witchcraft Crisis of 1692, New York: Vintage Books, 2003, pp. ??
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 Drake, James David (1999). King Philip's War: Civil War in New England, 1675-1676. The University of Massachusetts Press. pp. 1–15. ISBN 1558492240. |access-date= requires |url= (help)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. Philip Gould. "Reinventing Benjamin Church: Virtue, Citizenship and the History of King Philip's War in Early National America," Journal of the Early Republic, No. 16, Winter 1996, p. 656
  8. Schultz, Eric B.; Michael J. Touglas (2000). King Philip's War: The History and Legacy of America's Forgotten Conflict. W.W. Norton and Co.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles> argues that 600 out of the about 80,000 English colonists (1.5%) and 3,000 out of 10,000 Native Americans (30%) lost their lives in the war.
  9. "1675 King Philip's War", The Society of Colonial Wars in the State of Connecticut
  10. Lepore (1998), The Name of War (1999) pp 5-7
  11. Swope, Cynthia, "Chief Opechancanough of the Powhatan Confederacy"
  12. Wick, Steve, "Blood Flows, War Threatens: Violence escalates as a Dutch craftsman is murdered and Indians are massacred", Newsday (archived 2007)
  13. "Beaver Wars", Ohio History Central
  14. Dick McCracken (December 17, 2004). "Epidemics & Pandemics in U.S. 1616 to Present". Archived from the original on January 28, 2006. Unknown parameter |dead-url= ignored (help)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  15. 15.0 15.1 Mount Hope by George Howe (1958) ISBN 0670490814
  16. Exact numbers of Indian allies are unavailable but about 200 warriors are mentioned in different dispatches implying a total population of about 800-1,000.
  17. Herbert L. Osgood, The American Colonies in the Seventeenth Century (1904) 1: 543
  18. Lepore p. 10.
  19. Philbrick, Nathaniel (2006). Mayflower:A Story of Courage, Community, and War. New York: Penguin. p. 221.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  20. Church, Benjamin, 1639-1718. "The history of King Philip's war,". HathiTrust. Retrieved August 12, 2015.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  21. Moon Eclipse calculation [1] Accessed December 22, 2011
  22. Leach, Douglas Edward; Flintlock and Tomahawk; p. 46; Parnassus Imprints, East Orleans, Massachusetts; 1954; ISBN 0-940160-55-2
  23. "Early Families of Taunton, Massachusetts". geni_family_tree. Retrieved August 12, 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  24. Schultz and Tougias, pg. 147
  25. Schultz and Tougias, pg. 151
  26. Schultz, Eric; Tougias, Michael (1999). King Philip's War. Woodstock, VT: The Countryman Press.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  27. "Battle of Bloody Brook", Connecticut River Homepage, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, 1997
  28. 28.0 28.1 "Miles Morgan". Retrieved August 12, 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  29. Leach (1954), Flintlock and Tomahawk, pp. 130–132
  30. The Narrative of the Captivity and the Restoration of Mrs. Mary Rowlandson (1682), City University of New York
  31. "Capt Michael Pierce's Defeat (1615 - 1676) - Find A Grave Memorial". Retrieved August 12, 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  32. Phelps, Noah Amherst (1845). History of Simsbury, Granby, and Canton; from 1642 To 1845. Hartford: Press of Case, Tiffany and Burnham.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  33. Douglas Edward Leach, Flintlock and Tomahawk – New England in King Philip's War, pp. 200–203
  34. Philip Gould. "Reinventing Benjamin Church: Virtue, Citizenship and the History of King Philip's War in Early National America." Journal of the Early Republic, No. 16, Winter 1996. p. 647.
  35. Taken from sign at historic site
  36. Lounsberry, Alice (1941). Sir William Phips. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons., pp. 23–26
  37. "King Philip's War". Retrieved January 8, 2016.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  38. "1675-King Philip's War". Society of Colonial Wars in the State of Connecticut. 2011. Retrieved January 8, 2016.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  39. Spady, James O'Neil. "As if in a Great Darkness: Native American Refugees of the Middle Connecticut River Valley in the Aftermath of King Philip's War: 1677–1697," Historical Journal of Massachusetts, Vol. 23, no. 2 (Summer, 1995), 183–97.
  40. "Seacoast NH History - Colonial Era - Cochecho Massacre". Retrieved August 12, 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  41. Philbrick p. 332.
  42. [2]
  43. Philbrick p. 345.
  44. Philbrick p. 346.
  45. "Wabanaki". Retrieved August 12, 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  46. William Williamson. The History of the State of Maine. Vol. 2. 1832. p. 27; Griffiths, E. From Migrant to Acadian. McGill-Queen's University Press. 2005. p. 61; Campbell, Gary. The Road to Canada: The Grand Communications Route from Saint John to Quebec. Goose Lane Editions and The New Brunswick Heritage Military Project. 2005.p. 21.


Primary sources

  • Easton, John, A Relation of the Indian War, by Mr. Easton, of Rhode Island, 1675 (See link below.)
  • Eliot, John, ”Indian Dialogues”: A Study in Cultural Interaction eds. James P. Rhonda and Henry W. Bowden (Greenwood Press, 1980).
  • Mather, Increase, A Brief History of the Warr with the Indians in New-England (Boston, 1676; London, 1676).
  • ---. Relation of the Troubles Which Have Happened in New England by Reason of the Indians There, from the Year 1614 to the Year 1675 (Kessinger Publishing, [1677] 2003).
  • ---. The History of King Philip's War by the Rev. Increase Mather, D.D.; also, a history of the same war, by the Rev. Cotton Mather, D.D.; to which are added an introduction and notes, by Samuel G. Drake(Boston: Samuel G. Drake, 1862).
  • ---. "Diary", March 1675–December 1676: Together with extracts from another diary by him, 1674–1687 /With introductions and notes, by Samuel A. Green (Cambridge, MA: J. Wilson, [1675–76] 1900).
  • Rowlandson, Mary, The Sovereignty and Goodness of God: with Related Documents (Bedford/St. Martin's Press, 1997).
  • Rowlandson, Mary, The Narrative of the Captivity and the Restoration of Mrs. Mary Rowlandson (1682)online edition
  • "Edward Randolph, the Causes and Results of King Philip's War (1675)"; an early account of the war, available online.

Secondary sources

  • Cave, Alfred A. The Pequot War (Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 1996).
  • Cogley, Richard A. John Eliot's Mission to the Indians before King Philip's War (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1999).
  • Hall, David. Worlds of Wonder, Days of Judgment: Popular Religious Belief in Early New England (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1990).
  • Kawashima, Yasuhide. Igniting King Philip's War: The John Sassamon Murder Trial (Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 2001).
  • Leach, Douglas Edward, Flintlock and Tomahawk: New England in King Philip's War; Parnassus Imprints, East Orleans, Massachusetts; 1954; ISBN 0-940160-55-2
  • Lepore, Jill. The Name of War: King Philip's War and the Origins of American Identity (New York: Vintage Books, 1999).
  • Mandell, Daniel R. King Philip's War: Colonial Expansion, Native Resistance, and the End of Indian Sovereignty (Johns Hopkins University Press; 2010) 176 pages
  • Norton, Mary Beth. "In the Devil's Snare: The Salem Witchcraft Crisis of 1692" (New York: Vintage Books, 2003)
  • Philbrick, Nathaniel. Mayflower: A Story of Courage, Community, and War (Penguin USA, 2006) ISBN 0-670-03760-5
  • Pulsipher, Jenny Hale. Subjects unto the Same King: Indians, English, and the Contest for Authority in Colonial New England (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2005)
  • Schultz, Eric B. and Michael J. Tougias, King Philip's War: The History and Legacy of America's Forgotten Conflict.' New York: W.W. Norton and Co., 2000.
  • Slotkin, Richard and James K. Folsom. So Dreadful a Judgement: Puritan Responses to King Philip's War. (Middletown, CT: Weysleyan University Press, 1978) ISBN 0-8195-5027-2
  • Vaughan, Alden T. New England Frontier: Puritans and Indians, 1620-1675 (1979)
  • Webb, Stephen Saunders. 1676: The End of American Independence (Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University Press, 1995).
  • Zelner, Kyle F. A Rabble in Arms: Massachusetts Towns and Militiamen during King Philip's War (New York: New York University Press, 2009) excerpt and text search

External links