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Chapter 9

This webpage reproduces a chapter of
King Philip's War

by
George Ellis and John Morris

Grafton Press,
New York, 1906

The text is in the public domain.

This page has been carefully proofread
and I believe it to be free of errors.
If you find a mistake though,
please let me know!


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Chapter 11
This site is not affiliated with the US Military Academy.

p157 Chapter X

The authors' map of colonial New England in 1675, marking all the most important sites of King Philip's War, may be useful for following along; it opens in its own window.

The wounded of the Massachusetts and Plymouth contingent were sent over to Rhode Island, and the Connecticut wounded to Stonington and New London, but the Connecticut force was so disabled that Major Treat was obliged to withdraw from further operations December 28th, despite the protest of the other officers. Joseph Dudley had already written to Governor Leverett, requesting two or three hundred more men and captains, "blunderbusses, hand grenadoes and armours if it may be, and at least two armourers," and until the arrival of these reinforcements and other supplies the army was tied to its base and incapable of assuming the offensive.1 The Narragansetts had, in the meantime, returned to their ruined fort without molestation and probably secured considerable supplies of corn and fish which had escaped the conflagration.

Four days after the battle the Narragansetts, probably fencing for time, sent ambassadors to ask for terms, a report on the condition of the white forces probably being not the least of their duties. The deep snow and the intense cold following a sudden thaw, held the main body of the army in camp, but scouting parties who were sent out almost daily secured from time to time corn from the Indian barns, and some prisoners. Supplies of p158food, ammunition and clothing were slowly being brought in from Connecticut and Boston by vessels, and the commissioners were organizing reinforcements and urging Connecticut to hurry forward their reorganized companies. On December 27th the ground was again frozen and Captain Prentice marched upon Pumham's village2 (near Warwick) and destroyed one hundred wigwams, but "found never an Indian in any one of them."

Through a captive squaw taken the following day, the Narragansetts were informed that the door to peace would be opened by the surrender of all the Wampanoags who had taken refuge with the Narragansetts, and compliance with such conditions as the authorities deemed necessary to impose. The squaw did not return but there came a messenger returning thanks for the offer of peace and a reply, "It was not we who made war upon the English, but the English upon us without notice."

The return of Canonchet in the spring for the purpose of procuring corn for the spring planting affords strong evidence that the destitution of the Narragansetts at this time was less severe than the English believed, and the p159thaw that allowed Prentice to make his expedition afforded the Indians an opportunity of securing food by raiding the settlers' cattle and reaching their stores of buried corn.

Negotiations continued but each party was suspicious of the good faith of the other. On the fourth of January, 1676, two messengers came to Winslow "to make way, as they declared, for a treaty of peace." They laid the blame of hostilities upon Canonchet, who, they said, had misinformed them as to the terms of the treaty, having told them that the Wampanoags were not to be surrendered until Canonchet's brother, held as a hostage at Hartford, had been delivered up. On the following day a little child, three years old, who had been captured near Warwick was sent in as a peace offering and a few days thereafter a messenger came from the old sachem Ninigret, recalling his friendship for the English and informing them that provisions in the Narragansett camp were scarce; but whatever the wishes of the old man, the power had passed into younger and bolder hands "for that young and insolent Canonchet and Panoquin3 said they would fight it out to the last man rather than they would become the slaves of the English."4

In the meantime the reinforcements raised by the commissioners at Boston had been equipped and the first company under command of Captain Samuel Brocklebank5 set out on the sixth of January, but again the p160winter storms and cold set in, and before they reached Wickford, four days later, sick and disheartened, several of their number had perished from exposure.6

Several scouts going out on the 11th, next day came upon an Indian hiding in one of the Indian corn pits under the leaves, and brought him into camp, "but he would own nothing but what was forced out of his mouth by the twisting of a cord around his head; he was therefore adjudged to die as a Wampanoag," says Hubbard, a naïve confession of torture which he or Mather would have embellished with a page of scriptural quotations if committed by the Indians.

Early the next day (the 12th of January) Canonchet and the sachems sent a request to Winslow for a month's truce for the discussion of a treaty. This request aroused Winslow's indignation and caused him to press more energetically than ever for the return of the reorganized Connecticut forces. It is difficult to agree with Winslow in the matter of these negotiations. He seems throughout obstinate and hot-tempered and unable to make use of his opportunities. It was well known that there existed among the Narragansetts a considerable party, neither uninfluential nor few in numbers, anxious for peace, among them Pessacus and Ninigret, sachem of the Niantics, yet no effort was made to strengthen their influence and divide the enemy, which a little diplomacy could have advanced. Winslow was still to wait two weeks p161before making any forward movement, and when made it was to prove worse than abortive, spreading the war over a larger area.

Four days later a party of Providence settlers under Captain Fenner, pursuing some Indians who had seized their cattle, wounded and brought in Joshua Tift, the renegade Englishman who had joined the Narragansetts.7

Roger Williams, who acted as clerk at Tift's court-martial, records, in a letter to Governor Leverett, Tift's defense.8 he said that twenty-seven days before the battle at the Narragansett fort, the Narragansetts had burned his house, seized his cattle and that he himself had only escaped death by agreeing to become Canonchet's slave. He had been taken to the fort and there held. The Narragansetts had made terms with the Mohegans and Pequots before the battle, and after the capture of the fort the sachem had retired to a swamp not far away. On the departure of the English they sent to ascertain their losses and found ninety-eight dead and forty-eight wounded, and five or six bodies of the English. Their powder was nearly gone. Pessacus was for peace, but Canonchet was determined on war. The sachems were now about ten miles from Smith's and believed the English proposal of a truce a trap to catch them. Philip, he said, had been at Quabaug in December whither the Narragansetts were now retiring, leaving foraging parties and a strong rear guard.

His defense was of no avail, and the judgment of the court soon received vindication from the report of James p162Quanapohit,9 who was told by the Narragansetts that he had killed and wounded several of the English both before and during the battle at the fort. He was hanged and quartered. "A sad wretch, he never heard a sermon but once these fourteen years," wrote Captain Oliver.

While the English were making final preparations for an offensive movement, Canonchet was not idle; houses and barns were burnt and cattle captured and, as late as the 27th when the English were about to march upon him in force, he raided Warwick and despoiled William Carpenter of that place of 200 sheep, 50 cattle and 15 horses.

On January 28th the Connecticut troops to the number of about three hundred, marching from New London by way of Westerly, reached the rendezvous, and reinforcements from Plymouth and Massachusetts brought the strength of the army to over 1,400. Then began what was known as the "hungry march." Winslow moved forward through the Narragansett country burning the wigwams and seizing supplies wherever they were to be found, capturing here and there a few Indian stragglers, the sick and the old, women and children, whose strength had failed them.

p163 At times they came upon the still smoking embers of the Narragansett camp-fires, and twenty-five miles from Warwick found the skeleton heads of sixty horses that had been butchered for food.

Northward through Rhode Island, through Warwick, whose inhabitants abandoned it as the army passed on, through Woodstock in Connecticut into Massachusetts, they pushed their way over frozen streams and swamps or along the exposed uplands, foraging for whatever they could procure. Their camps were pitched in the snow under the shelter of a hill or in the woods, and they warmed their numbed bodies over the open fires. Still they pressed on, footsore, wet and hungry, in pursuit of the Narragansetts ever retreating before them and out of reach until, worn out by the dreary march, reduced to eating their horses and ground nuts for food, Winslow reached Marlboro and there disbanded his forces on the 3d of February, leaving Captain Wadsworth and a company of foot in garrison, whom, soon afterwards, Captain Brocklebank reinforced.

Marlboro was a position of considerable strategic value. It lay on what was called the Connecticut or Bay path, and was the last town of importance until the Connecticut Valley was reached. It served as a base of operations and a rendezvous of the troops from the Bay towns in the movements to and from the valley. A small garrison had been stationed here. Already it had been threatened in the summer and fall of the previous year, and it was believed that it would be the first town to be attacked in the coming spring.

The disbandment of the army which sent the Connecticut troops homeward and most of the Massachusetts contingent p164to Boston, was a blunder of the first magnitude, and, in view of the events of the past few months, astonishing in its disregard of the principles of Indian warfare as taught by events in the valley. The whole frontier toward the east was left at the mercy of the Indians. It was no doubt difficult to procure provisions for so large a force, but the need of a large body to defend the frontier was an imperative necessity which should have been met.

The Indians to the north, informed by a runner of the attack on the Narragansett village, had received the news with suspicion, a messenger bringing in the heads of two Englishmen was shot at and was informed that the Narragansetts had been the friends of the English all summer and they did not trust him. They even debated putting the messenger to death as a spy, but, day by day, fugitives and messengers bearing heads and hands of slaughtered Englishmen came thronging into their camps.10 The Narragansett nation were now among them as allies, and their leaders must have had their hopes raised high by a reinforcement that more than made up the losses of the previous year.

Around Quabaug, in numerous small colonies, were Sagamore Sam, One-Eyed John,11 Matoonas, Mautaump, p165and two or three hundred Quabaugs and Nashaways. Further north, at Wachusett, a favorite camping ground of the Nashaways, was another small settlement, while the main body of the valley tribes, Nonotucks, Pocumtucks, Agawams and Squakheags, had established winter quarters in the vicinity of Northfield and Peskeompscut.

The wanderings of Philip, that will-o'‑the‑wisp of contemporary chroniclers, are now well known. Roger Williams believed he had made a visit to the Narragansetts during the fall, and Joseph Dudley, in a letter to Governor Leverett, stated that he had been seen by many in the thick of the battle at the swamp, but both were mistaken. Philip, with the remnant of his Wampanoags and Pocassets, had spent the late fall and early winter at Quabaug, but late in December, attended by his own followers and a considerable following from the valley tribes, went west toward the Hudson and established winter quarters at Schaghticoke in Van Rensselaer County, some twenty miles northeast of Albany where he was joined by several bands of roving adventurers.

On January 6th Governor Andros wrote to the Governor and Council of Connecticut, "This is to acquaint you that late last night I had intelligence that Philip and four hundred or five hundred fighting men were come within forty or fifty miles of Albany, northeasterly, where they talk of continuing the winter. Philip is sick."12

The report of Andros is confirmed by other testimony, for to Schaghticoke also came Robert Pepper13 and p166James Quanapohit. It is also supported by the less reliable evidence of Thomas Warren14 captured in October and taken to the Indian encampment who, on his return, declared the assembled force, including some 500 French Indians, to have exceeded 2,100 men and that Philip himself with 400 others was then absent; most certainly an exaggeration leading to the belief that he was either ingenuously permitted to see the same warriors several times, or possessed a wild imagination.

This far removal of Philip from the scenes of operations possessed several advantages. It was safe under all ordinary circumstances from attack. It afforded communication with both French and Mohawks and convenient means of access to the Dutch traders from whom he desired to procure supplies of powder, of which the Indians stood in pressing want.

It was openly declared by the New England authorities at the time that the Dutch traders were actively engaged in selling arms and ammunition to Philip, and an acrimonious correspondence took place in respect to the matter between Governor Andros and the Governor and Council of Connecticut, the irascible Governor replying to their reiterated charge January 31st, "I do now plainly see that you look upon it as a signal favor that that bloody war is removed toward us. I cannot omit your great reflection on the Dutch in which you seem to make me an accomplice, for which I pray an explanation, and to name the guilty, there being p167none in this government but his Majesty's subjects which obey all his laws."15

The traders indeed, warned by Andros, refused to sell direct, but the Mohawks, acting as intermediaries, took the furs from Philip's warriors and traded them off as their own, for powder, lead, and guns.16 Philip was also busily engaged in intrigues with both Mohawks and the French, guarding negotiations with the latter carefully from the former.

The Mohawks, it is said, told Philip that they would gladly strike at the Mohegans but would not take up arms against the English. At the same time, according to Andros' letters to the Connecticut Council, they were holding out hopes to the English of an offensive alliance against Philip, a species of double dealing negotiations in which the Iroquois were perfectly at home.

A strange story coms comes down to us to the effect that Philip sought to inflame the rage of the Mohawks against the settlers by himself destroying a party of Mohawk warriors and imputing the outrage to the whites, but that the Mohawks, discovering his treachery, fell upon his force and drove it to the east.17

The most careful research yields no satisfactory evidence of such treachery on Philip's part. It seems, like many other tales, to have been used to color Philip's character. The belief, widespread in New England, that Philip made a visit to Canada during the winter in person, is also unlikely, for a journey to the French and their Indian allies, which could not have been disguised from p168the Mohawks, would have turned them into deadly enemies. There is no doubt however but that Philip sought French aid indirectly. In the fall of the previous year he had met Monsieur Normanville who had been at Boston, and the Frenchman had aroused his hopes by telling him not to burn the best houses as the French would come in the spring with three hundred men and ammunition.18 The promise of the boastful Frenchman was valueless, but Philip's position at Schaghticoke offered exceptional facilities for procuring the aid they were willing to give in supplies of arms and powder.

Throughout the tribes disease had been rife and had cost them more in lives than the warfare of the preceding months,19 but they asked no peace. The old men desired it, but Philip and the young leaders and warriors would not hear of it. The severity of the whites, the numerous executions, the selling of all captives into slavery had had their effect. Peace offered nothing better than punishment, slavery, or complete and humiliating submission to every caprice and pleasure of the English. Rather, said they, "Let us live as long as we can and die like men and not live to be enslaved."

The winter was one of great suffering among all the Indians; the war had prevented the Connecticut Valley tribes from reaping their crops which were even at the best seldom sufficient to supply their wants, and the Wampanoags, driven from their fishing grounds into the Nipmuck country, and bringing few supplies of their own, had added but so many more mouths to feed.

p169 Such was the condition of the hostiles when, in the dead of winter, several thousand Narragansetts, destitute of supplies, poured in upon them. The already slender resources of the Nipmuck tribes were immediately exhausted, and though the trees were bare and the ground deep with snow, raids upon the English villages for the purpose of securing food became imperative.

The garrisons at Chelmsford, Billerica, Groton, Lancaster and Sudbury had all been withdrawn as early as January 11th, and, with the exception of the small garrison at Marlboro under Captain Wadsworth, the whole frontier lay open to attack.

Already on the first of February, a small party of Nipmucks, under Netus, had fallen upon the house of Thomas Eames on the outskirts of Sudbury, and, after burning it, led his family and that of his son into captivity,20 Eames himself being absent in Boston.

The commissioners of the United Colonies were not unmindful of the danger that threatened the western towns, and within a week of the disbanding of Winslow's army, determined to raise a force of six hundred men for an offensive campaign against the Indians at Quabaug and Wachusett. To that end, February 8th, they called upon Massachusetts to fill out her quota and bade the Governor and Council of Connecticut sent Major Treat and a body of Pequots and Mohegans,21 but before the force could be raised the blow fell upon Lancaster.

On the evening of the 9th of February, the people at p170Lancaster, with some fourteen soldiers who had been stationed in the town, as usual assembled in the fortified houses of which there were five in widely separated localities.22 The principal one, that of the Reverend Mr. Rowlandson,23 who was himself absent in Boston for the purpose of securing from the Governor and Council an adequate garrison for the defense of the town, stood in the center.


[image ALT: A neatly tended lawn sloping gently down to a pond; in the center of the photo, a tall, stately, beautifully symmetrical fir tree. It is an early-20c photograph of the Rowlandson garrison near Lancaster, Massachusetts.]

Site of the Rowlandson Garrison

The tree stands upon the spot

Warning of the attack had not been wanting. James Quanapohit had informed the Governor and Council as early as January 24th that the Indians at Quabaug intended to attack the town, and at midnight, February 9th, another Indian spy, Job Kattenait,º a Christian Natick, knocking at Major Gookin's door in Cambridge, in an exhausted condition, having traveled over eighty miles through the wilderness on snowshoes, told him the blow p171was about to fall.24 Gookin immediately sent messengers to Captain Wadsworth at Marlboro, but it was too late.

In the Rowlandson garrison were gathered forty-two, possibly fifty, men and women, who, awakened by the firing of guns and the Indian war cry, rushed to the windows and looked out. The sight that met their eyes was terrifying. Several houses were in flames and the Indians, whose forms could be dimly seen in the gray of the morning, were massacring the inmates with rifles and tomahawks.

Three in one house were knocked on the head, a young man falling on his knees begged for mercy "but they would not hearken to him." Three others trying to reach the garrison were shot down by Indians posted on the roof of a barn, and the sound of other and more distant shots told that the whole settlement was being assaulted.

The inmates of the Rowlandson garrison, barricading the doors and windows, repulsed the first attack;25 the house, however, stood on the slope of a hill and the Indians lying along the crest poured a continuous fire upon it. First one and then others of the defenders were shot down. For two hours they held their own, but the fatal weakness of the house, the covering of the loopholes in the rear by firewood laid up for winter fuel, soon attracted the keen eyes of the Indian warriors. A cart filled with flax, hemp and hay seized from the barn was wheeled to the side and fired. One daring soul sallied out and quenched the flames, but the pile was immediately rekindled. p172The roofs and sides caught fire, the house was enveloped in flames and soon the blazing roof threatened to fall in. Then men, women and children, Mrs. Rowlandson and her children among them, rushed out in the desperate hope of reaching the next garrison, but in vain. A shot passing through Mrs. Rowlandson's side pierced the hands and bowels of the child she carried in her arms.

Thomas Rowlandson,26 her husband's nephew, aged seventeen, was killed, her sister's son was struck down, and Mrs. Henry Kerley,27 wringing her hands in the doorway of the blazing house at the news of her son's death, was instantly killed.

Of the ten or twelve men, only one, Ephraim Roper,28 leaving his wife dead behind him, escaped. The rest were killed and the women and children were seized.

p173 So in midwinter were carried off the survivors of the Rowlandson blockhouse and several other of the townspeople, accompanied by the captured cattle, while Captain Wadsworth with forty men, hurrying along the further bank found the river swollen in flood and the floor of the bridge torn up. He arrived in time to save the other garrisons, the Indians drawing off at his approach, but too late to rescue the captives.

A few days later the town was abandoned, its surviving inhabitants taking refuge in the settlements to the east, and its houses, with the exception of the meeting-house and a garrison, soon fell a prey to the flames.

The diary kept by Mrs. Rowlandson29 in the midst of her wanderings affords us an intimate knowledge of the movements of Philip and of life among the Indians during the winter. It is exceedingly touching in its simplicity and pathos.

Encamped in a deserted house on the hill30 above the town that night, she heard the Indians, glutted with the flesh of the captured cattle, dancing and singing around their camp fires. "My children gone," she wrote, "my relatives and friends gone, there remained to me but one poor wounded babe." The next day they set out. One p174of the Indians carried her wounded child upon a horse, "it went moaning all along." At length she took it in her arms and carried it until her strength failed and she fell. They mounted her upon a horse and at night built a fire and a lean-to for her. At Meameset village she met her daughter and also Robert Pepper, who had been captured at Beer's defeat, and who told her that he had been carried to Albany and had seen Philip.

Her child, badly wounded and lacking medical care, was dying, and "a few days afterwards, about two hours in the night, my sweet babe like a lamb departed this life." The Indians buried it on a hilltop and in the morning showed her the newly-made grave.

She accompanied her masters in their wanderings, sharing their scanty food and at times suffering keen privation. They were often destitute of food and driven to boil the hoofs of the dead horses or procure the marrow from old bones, eking out their fare with ground nuts, the tender buds of trees or a little meal. At times a deer or a bear was killed and the long fast gave place to a gluttonous feast. But the sight of her children, a girl and a lad of sixteen, safe and well treated, consoled her for much misery.

They were constantly moving and covered extensively the country east of the Connecticut. She was sold to Quinnapin31 and his wife Weetamoo, who seem to have p175treated her kindly. She mended the worn clothes of the Indian children and made a shirt for her master's son.

Once, invited to eat with Philip because she made a shirt for his son, she was given a small cake of corn cooked in bear's fat; probably all he had to offer. She offered him her money but he bade her keep it and she bought it some horseflesh therewith.

A Mrs. Joslyn,32 with a small child, and who was about to become a mother, was killed by her captors, but Mrs. Rowlandson and her son and daughter were, in general, treated with kindness, as were most of the other captives.

In connection with the captivity of Mrs. Rowlandson it may be said that one party was as forward in the exercise of cruelty as the other. The torture of Englishmen by the Indians was the exception rather than the rule. The women and children were not tortured and were generally spared if the pursuit pressed not too fast upon their captor's heels. The Indian conqueror never lowered himself to the level of the European soldiery of the time in the sack of captured towns and villages with their carnival of rape and murder.

In all the chronicles of the time the reader find no recorded instance of outrage upon a woman captive or the useless torture of children. "And such was the goodness of God to those poor captive women and children p176that several found so much favor in the sight of their enemies that they were offered no wrong to any of their persons save what they could not help, being in many wants themselves, neither did they offer any uncivil carriage to any of the females, or any attempt the chastity of any of them, either being restricted of God as was Abimeleckº of old, or by some other external cause which withheld them from doing any wrong of that kind."33

The settlers slew without discrimination as to age or sex, and inflicted torture with a stern self-righteousness. The former generation had set an example in the destruction of the women and children in the Pequot fort: the present followed it closely; the next was to burn the Salem witches.

The temper of the age and their belief that they were the people of the new Israel, their foes the old Canaanites and Philistines with new faces, hardened them to mercy. In the books of the Old Testament they sought and found precedents and divine commands in plenty that spoke with the same authority and inspiration for the guidance of their Israel of the new dispensation as to the fate to be meted out to hostile people, as it had for the old. Hence arose more than one instance of bad faith. Hence men, women and children were slaughtered or sold into slavery in the West Indies; Rhode Island alone, to her credit, prohibiting the practice by statute. Hence the exclusion from mercy of the captured sachems at the close of the war and the refusal to recognize in the manly character of men like Canonchet aught but "the obstinate p177and perverse spirit of the heathenish and bloodthirsty blasphemers who made war on God's people."

The same day as the attack on Lancaster a small party of Indians made an attack on Concord,34 in which Abraham and Isaac Shepherd were killed near Nashobah in Concord village while threshing grain in their barn. Apprehensive of danger, says tradition, they placed their sister Mary, a girl about fifteen years old, on a hill a little distance off to watch and forewarn them of the approach of an enemy. She was, however, suddenly surprised and carried captive into the Indian settlements, but, with great heroism, while the Indians were asleep in the night, seized a horse and, taking a saddle from under the head of her Indian keeper, mounted and rode through the forest to her home.

The attacks on Lancaster and Concord were but the beginning of the storm. All was movement among the tribes, and attacks fell thick and fast on towns and solitary farms alike. The course of one particular party, under One-Eyed John, could be clearly traced by a trail of blood southward toward Plymouth colony.

The alarm occasioned by the attack on Lancaster had aroused the authorities to the necessity of dispatching troops to the outlying settlements. Captain Jacob35 and p178Lieutenant Oakes who had been scouring the country between Lancaster and Medfield, were now at the latter place, but their commands, instead of being kept in their entirety, had unwisely been scattered among the different houses. In Medfield, as in many of the small towns, the settlers in their greed for land had taken more than they could possibly cultivate, and large tracts from which the timber had been cut had been allowed to grow up so the houses seemed "as if they were seated in the midst of a heap of bushes."36

During the night of February 21st, the Indians, under One-Eyed John, stealing upon the town, hid themselves in this brush, behind the orchard walls, under the sides of barns and outhouses, in the midst of the settlement itself. Samuel Morse,37 going out to his barn early in the morning to feed his cattle, saw an Indian hiding in the hay. With rare presence of mind he affected ignorance of the intruder's presence, but left the barn immediately, and gathering his family fled to the garrison, beholding on the way his house and barn bursting into flames behind him. Then from all sides came the shots, the yelling of Indians, and the cries of the alarmed settlers. Many of the houses were burning, and soldiers and settlers coming to their doors were shot down on the threshold; eighteen persons in all were killed, others were taken away alive,38 and an old man of near one hundred was p179burned to death in his home. Lieutenant Adams39 of the town was among the slain, and his wife was accidentally killed by the discharge of Captain Jacob's gun, the bullet piercing the floor and passing through her body as she lay sick in bed.40

Soon forty or fifty houses were in flames, but the greater part of the troops and settlers had now reached the garrison house and the cannon of the garrison was roaring the signal of the attack to the people of Dedham.

Before the soldiers in the town could rally the Indians had drawn off across the river to a neighboring hill, burning the bridge behind them, and were roasting an ox in full view of the smoking ruins. The soldiers halted at the bridge where the following notice met their eyes:

"Know by this paper, that the Indians thou hast provoked to wrath and anger will war this 21 years if you will. There are many Indians yet. We come 300 at this time. You must consider the Indians lose nothing but their life. You must lose your fair houses and cattle."41

On the same day as the attack on Medfield, nearly two weeks after the call of the commissioners, the Council of Massachusetts voted to raise one hundred foot and p180seventy-two troopers to fill the quota levied by the commissioners. Major Savage was placed in command. John Whipple42 was made captain of the horse and Captain William Turner of the foot. To this force was added two companies of foot under Captains Moseley and Benjamin Gillam,43 and at Savage's request John Curtice and six friendly Indians as guides,44 among them James Quanapohit and Job Kattananit.º

The rendezvous had been fixed by the commissioners for Quabaug some days before, but it was the first of March before the forces of Connecticut and Massachusetts assembled at Brookfield, Major General Daniel Denison organizing the force, the command of which fell to Savage as ranking officer of the contingent in whose territory operations were to be conducted.45

When the troops reached Quabaug the Indians had withdrawn to a swamp some seventeen miles away. p181"There were" says Mrs. Rowlandson, "many hundred, old and young, some sick and some lame, and many had pappooses on their backs." As Savage pushed on, this camp too was broken up. "They went as if they had gone for their lives, and then made a stop and chose out some of the strongest men and sent them back to hold the English in play. Then, like Jehu, they marched on furiously to the river near Athol." Reaching the river they made rafts of trees, and finally all went over, while the party sent back had played with Savage for two days and led him on a false scent. When he finally struck the trail of the main body they had crossed Miller's River in safety, and the English, standing on the banks, beheld only the smoking ruins of their deserted wigwams.46

It had been the intention of Savage and his commanders to strike at the Indian encampment at Wachusett but, fearful for the towns on the Connecticut, now that the Quabaug Indians had effected a juncture with those who had wintered at Northfield, he turned against the advice of his guides and marched to Hadley.47 He had been completely outmaneuvered.

Even as he left Quabaug, the Indians who had wintered at Wachusett had stolen upon Groton (March 2d), rifling eight or ten houses and carrying away many cattle and hogs. Major Willard and Captain Sill, coming up the next day, saw nothing of them, but on the 9th, freed from the fear of any attack by Savage, they again appeared, and, lurking in the outhouses during the night waited for the settlers to appear in the morning.

p182 They were not disappointed, for at dawn four settlers, escorting two carts, appeared going out to the meadows. Two of the settlers, spying the Indians, made a difficult escape. One of the others was immediately shot down and one taken, and the Indians, setting fire to several houses and barns, apparently withdrew as suddenly as they had come. But on the 13th the lookouts at one of the garrisons48 saw two Indians against the sky line of one of the hills close to the town. Immediately a considerable number of soldiers of Captain Parker's49 company who had been sent to protect the town, sallied out to capture them. It was the old story of an ambush for, as they reached the top of the hill, behind which the Indians had disappeared, a volley was poured into them. One was killed and several wounded, while at the same time another party of Indians was seen making its way into town from the rear. The ambushed pursuers turned and ran for the shelter of a nearby garrison, which they reached in safety, and where, in helplessness, they saw the town burn before their eyes.

A few days later, a wagon laden with household belongings, women and children, and guarded by all the men and by a company of those under Lieutenant Oakes, p183who had been sent to bring them off, might have been seen toiling over the roads to the east. It was the Groton settlers abandoning their homes. Even on the march their enemies struck at them, shooting down two of their number from ambush, but the troops and settlers held fast against the attack and, driving them back, passed on in safety.


The Author's Notes:

1 Dudley's letter to the Governor and Council. Hutchinson's History of Massachusetts, Vol. I, page 302.

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2 The Massachusetts colony, claiming the lands of Shawomet (Warwick), had forbidden the occupation by any person without the permission of the colony, and in order to aid their ally, Pumham, in holding them, built an earthwork or fort, which they garrisoned with an officer and ten soldiers. Tradition locates this fort on the east bank of Warwick Cove and what very plainly indicate its remains may still be seen there. It commanded the entrance to the cove, while in the rear was said to have been an impenetrable marshy thicket to protect it in that direction. This feature has now disappeared and the old earthwork may be reached dry-shod from the track of the electric railway on the east. Pumham's village, it is most likely, was at this point. His domain covered the territory now occupied largely by the town of Warwick, R. I.

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3 Panoquin, usually called Quinapin, was at one time the husband of Weetamoo, Queen of the Pocassets.

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4 Hubbard, Vol. I, page 161.

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5 Captain Samuel Brockelbankº was of Rowley. He was a native of England and born about 1630. He was elected captain of the first company at Rowley, in 1673, and was active in recruiting for the Narragansett campaign. He was killed at Sudbury, April 21, 1676. — Bodge, page 2026.

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6 Old Indian Chronicle (Present State of New England), page 195.

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7 Hubbard, Vol. I, page 162.

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8 Winthrop Papers. Massachusetts Historical Society Collections, Vol. XXXVI, page 307.

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9 "Of the aboriginal possessors of Nashaway (Lancaster), none, unless Sholan, better deserves to be honored among us than that Indian scout, whose courage, skill and fidelity, should have saved the town from the massacre of 1676, James Quanapaug, alias James Wiser, alias Quenepenett, or Quanapohit. This Christian Indian was so well known for his bravery, capacity and friendship for the English that Philip had marked him for martyrdom, and given orders accordingly to some of his lieutenants." — Early Records of Lancaster, by Hon. Henry S. Nourse, pages 99, 100.

See, also, James Quanapohit's Relation. Conn. Archive, War Doc. 35b.

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10 James Quanapohit's Relation.

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11 Monoco, or "One-Eyed John," as he was called by the English because of a defect in his vision, lived near Lancaster. He was active in the attack on that town, principal in the assault on Groton, and on his own word, the destroyer of Medfield. At the close of Philip's war he gave his up, with others, to Major Walderne at Cochecho (Dover), and was sent to Boston and, with Sagamore Sam, Old Jethro and Mautaump, was executed upon the gallows at "the town's end," September 26, 1676. He is known to have had a magnanimous disposition and perhaps no charge can be brought against him that would not comport with his character as an Indian warrior. — Book of the Indians. Old Indian Chronicle.

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12 Connecticut Records, Vol. II, page 397.

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13 Mrs. Rowlandson's Removes.

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14 Probably Thomas Warren, a soldier in Captain Moseley's company. See also The Old Indian Chronicle (Present State of New England), page 226.

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15 Connecticut Records, Vol. II, page 404.

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16 James Quanapohit's Relation. Conn. War, Vol. I, Doc. 35b.

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17 Increase Mather's Brief History, page 168.

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18 James Quanapohit's Relation. Conn. War, Vol. I, Doc. 35b.

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19 Testimony of James the Printer. Increase Mather's Brief History, page 173.

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20 A boy of the family escaped in May and after long wanderings reached the English town. All of the family were subsequently ransomed or found except a little girl.

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21 Connecticut Records, Vol. II, page 409.

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22 See Marvin's History of Lancaster.

In the History of Worcester County, Vol. I, page 600, it is stated that the first garrison was that of Rev. Mr. Rowlandson, located in the center of the town. The next was probably that of John White, situated about twenty rods north of the present railroad station. Then came that of Thomas Sawyer, half a mile south of the Rowlandson garrison, in the center of the settlement of South Lancaster. Then that of John Prescott in Clinton, while the fifth (Wheeler's) was probably in the southwest part of Bolton.

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23 The Rowlandº garrison house was located on the western slope of the hill, on the top of which, now occupied by the cemetery, stood the meetinghouse. The road from Lancaster to the south village passes between these two sites about fifty rods southerly of the iron bridge over the west branch of the Nashaway River. The settlement of Lancaster consisted of farms spread out over a considerable territory, there being nothing in the semblance of a village; but the meetinghouse and the minister's dwelling may be considered the nucleus of the settlement. The exact site of the Rowlandson house is marked by a prominent pine tree, planted there as a means of identification.

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24 Gookin's Christian Indians. American Antiquarian Soc. Coll., Vol. II, page 489.

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25 This account is taken from Mrs. Rowlandson's Narrative.

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26 "Thomas Rowlandson," says John Willard, on page 39 of his History of Lancaster, "was brother to the clergyman," and Mr. Marvin perpetuates this error on pages 96 and 106 of his history of the town. Rev. Joseph Rowlandson had a brother Thomas who lived in Salisbury, and died there in July, 1682. It was his son, Thomas Jr., who perished at Lancaster. Even the careful John Langdon Sibley adopts Willard's error on page 319, Vol. I, of his Harvard Graduates. — Supplement to Early Records of Lancaster, by Hon. Henry S. Nourse, page 17.

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27 Henry Kerley married Elizabeth, daughter of John White and sister of Mrs. Rowlandson, as above related. His wife, his sons, William, aged 17, and Joseph, aged 7, were killed at the attack on the garrison, and a son and three daughters carried into captivity. He was probably in Boston at the time with Rev. Mr. Rowlandson. — Early Records of Lancaster.

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28 Ephraim Roper was, in King William's War, the owner of a garrison house situated on the George Hill road. His father, John Roper, was killed by the Indians March 26, 1676, the day Lancaster was finally abandoned by its inhabitants. Ephraim Roper served as a soldier under Captain Turner and took part in the Fall Fight, May 18, 1676. He was killed at Lancaster during King William's war, in the massacre of September 11, 1697. — Early Records of Lancaster.

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29 Mrs. Mary Rowlandson was the wife of the Rev. Joseph Rowlandson of Lancaster, the first minister there, and daughter of John White of that place. Mrs. Rowlandson is well known to the student of King Philip's war by the diary she kept through the captivity following the destruction of her home February 10, 1676. This she published after her return from captivity and the work has passed through many editions. Rev. Mr. Rowlandson became settled in Wethersfield, Conn., in April, 1677, and died there November 23, 1678. Mrs. Rowlandson was living at that time but the time and place of her death are unknown.

Thayer's Note: Her diary is online in facsimile at Early Canadiana, where the date of her death, however, is given as 1678, a clear error, presumably by confusion with her husband; other online sources give it as January 1710/1711.
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30 George Hill, an elevation about one mile from the Rowlandson house.

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31 Quinnapin was a noble Narragansett by birth, being the son of Coginaquan who was a nephew to Canonicus. He was one of the chiefs who directed the attack on Lancaster, February 10, 1676, and he purchased Mrs. Rowlandson from a Narragansett Indian who had seized her as she came out of the garrison. At this time he was the husband of Weetamoo, the widow of Alexander and Queen of the Pocasset. At the Narragansett Swamp fight he was next in command to Canonchet. He is described as "a young, lusty sachem and a very rogue." — Old Indian Chronicle; also Book of the Indians.

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32 Mrs. Ann Joslyn was the wife of Abraham Joslyn, Jr. Her husband was killed at the Rowlandson garrison fight and her daughter, Beatrice, aged twenty-one months, was killed in captivity. — Early Records of Lancaster.

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33 Hubbard, Vol. I, page 167.

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34 Hubbard, Vol. I, page 223.

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35 Captain John Jacob was born in England about 1630. He resided in South Hingham, and his house was fortified as a garrison by order of the General Court. He served in King Philip's war as a captain and at the Narragansett Swamp fight succeeded Captain Isaac Johnson, who was killed, as commander of the company. He died November 18, 1693, aged about 63 years. His son John, slain by the Indians just back of his father's house near "Glad Tidings Rock," April 19, 1676, was the only person slain by the enemy in Hingham. See History of Hingham, Vol. II, page 372. Soldiers in King Philip's War, by Geo. N. Bodge, page 283.

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36 Hubbard, Vol. I, page 169.

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37 Samuel Morse of Medfield, the son of Joseph, was born January 10, 1640. Died February 28, 1718. — Savage.

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38 John Wilson to Governor Leverett. Massachusetts Archives, Vol. LXVIII, page 134.

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39 Lieutenant Henry Adams was born in England about 1604. He lived first at Braintree in New England, then removed to that part of Dedham which became Medfield, of which place he was the first town clerk. He was of the Artillery Company in 1652, representative in 1659, 1665, and 1674, 1675.º He was a lieutenant in the militia.

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40 Drake's Book of the Indians, Book III, page 37.

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41 Written, it is said, by an Indian apprentice of Samuel Green of Cambridge, known as James the printer, seventeen years old. He afterwards surrendered under the terms of the proclamation of July 8th, and was pardoned. — Gookin's Christian Indians. American Antiquarian Society Collections, Vol. II, page 494.

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42 Captain John Whipple was born in Essex, England, about 1626. He came with his father to Ipswich before 1638. He was appointed cornet of the Ipswich troop before 1675, and captain in 1683 in place of Captain John Appleton. He was lieutenant in Captain Paige's troop at Mount Hope, June, 1675, and was appointed captain of a troop raised for service under Major Savage in March, 1676. He was representative to the General Court in 1674, 1679 and 1683, in which year he died, August 10th.

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43 Captain Benjamin Gillam, born in England in 1634, was of Boston. Savage says, "He was probably master of that ship in which Colonel Cartwright, one of the royal commissioners, was going home in the autumn of 1665, taken by the Dutch, was related by Morton, Mem. 315: Hutchinson, I, 250, and Hubbard, 585." He had command of a company in Philip's war and served under his father-in‑law, Major Thomas Savage. His will, dated March 28, 1681, was probated June 17, 1686. He was buried, says Sewall, June 13, 1685.

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44 Massachusetts Records, Vol. V, page 74.

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45 Hazard, Vol. II, pages 538, 539 (Records of Commanders).

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46 Mrs. Rowlandson's Narrative.

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47 The guides were so maltreated and insulted by Moseley and his men that they returned to Deer Island. — Gookin's Christian Indians.

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48 The village of Groton was protected by four garrison houses, while a fifth is said to have been a mile distant, and its site is at present unknown. A view up the main street of the village covers the location of the four. The first stood near the present high school, the next just north of the townhall, the third on the farther side of James Brook, and the fourth at some little distance beyond.

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49 Captain James Parker was of Woburn in 1640; freeman in 1644. He first removed to Chelmsford and later to Groton. He held the rank of captain and accompanied Major Willard in his relief and reinforcement of the beleaguered garrison at Brookfield. He died in 1701 in his eighty-fourth year. — Savage.


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