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Chapter 15

This webpage reproduces a chapter of
King Philip's War

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.
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Chapter 17
This site is not affiliated with the US Military Academy.

 p266  Chapter XVI

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.

"You have made Philip ready to die, you have made him as poor and miserable as he used to make the English, for you have now killed and taken all his relations, but this bout almost broke his heart," said the Indian prisoners taken in this engagement, to Church.

That the arch enemy, who, in their eyes, more than any other individual, had been instrumental in bringing about this most devastating war, should at last experience the utmost misery and mental torture through his affections, could not fail to be a source of abundant satisfaction to the generation which saw in Philip nothing but a fiend. The old chronicles give us abundance of testimony on this point.

"Philip was forced to leave his treasures, his beloved wife and only son, to the mercy of the English. . . . Such sentence sometime passed upon Cain made him cry out that his punishment was greater than he could bear. This bloody wretch had one week or two more to live, an object of pity, but a spectacle of Divine vengeance, his own followers beginning now to plot against his life."1

"It must be as bitter as death to him to lose his wife and only son, for the Indians are marvelously fond and affectionate towards their children."2

The question as to the disposal of Philip's son and wife — whether they should be executed or sold into slavery —  p267 was widely debated, the clergy (with a few exceptions), proving themselves, as usual, the most relentless of judges. Precedents of severity were diligently searched for in the Scriptures, and duly found. "We humbly conceive that children of notorious traitors, rebels and murderers, especially of such as have been principals and leaders in such horrid villainies, and that against a whole nation, yea, the whole Israel of God, may be involved in the guilt of their parents and may be adjudged to death, as to us seems evident by the scriptural instances of Saul, Achan, and Haman, the children of whom were cut off by the sword of justice for the transgressions of their parents, although concerning some of those children it be manifest that they were not capable of being co-actors therein,"​3 was the grim statement of Rev. Samuel Arnold.

"Philip's son makes me think of Hadad, who was a little child when his father, chief sachem of the Edomites, was killed by Jacob, and had not others fled away with him I am apt to think that David would have taken a course that Hadad should never have proved a scourge to the next generation,"​4 wrote Increase Mather.

But there were some who were inclined to be merciful to Philip's son, and whose hearts were troubled, among them Eliot and Reverend Mr. Keith of Bridgewater, the latter of whom quotes II Chron. xxv.4: "But he slew not their children, but did as written in the law in the Book of Moses, where the Lord commanded, saying, the fathers shall not die for the children, neither shall the children  p268 die for the fathers, but every man shall die for his own sins."

A letter of the Rev. John Cotton, written in the following March, contains the brief statement, "Philip's boy goes now to be sold." Sent to Bermuda or the Spanish Indies the boy and his mother disappear from the pages of history.5

With them vanished the race of Massasoit, the remembrance of whose friendship of forty long years, and their own innocence, should have pleaded for them, and their fate arouses a just indignation at the lack of manly generosity, which could stoop, in all self-righteousness, to such an act of barbarity against this child and his mother.

Weetamoo, flying with a small remnant of her people, took refuge in a dense swamp near Taunton early in August, but an Indian deserter, in order to ingratiate himself with the whites, carried the news to the people of that place on the 6th, and offered to lead a force to the encampment, which he declared was but a few miles distant. Twenty men immediately set out, and, surprising the encampment, took over a score of prisoners, but Weetamoo herself escaped. Attempting to cross the Taunton River near its mouth, on a raft or some pieces of broken wood, and either "tired or spent with rowing, or starved with cold and hunger," her strength failed and her naked body was brought to the shore by tide or current. Some days later, "someone of Taunton finding an Indian squaw in Metapoiset, newly dead, cut off her head, and it happened to be Weetamoo, squaw sachem, her  p269 head,"​6 which, placed on a pole and paraded through Taunton, was greeted by the lamentations of the captive Indians who knew her, crying out that it was their queen's head. "A severe and proud dame she was," says Mrs. Rowlandson, "bestowing every day in dressing herself near as much time as any gentry in the land." Such treatment meted out to the dead body of a white woman would have sent Mather searching the Scriptures for a proper characterization of the barbarity and wickedness of the act.

On the 7th of August, Church again left Plymouth, and, falling in with Tatoson's band, dispersed them, and captured Sam Barrow,​7 who had participated in the massacre of the Clark family. They told him that "because of his inhumane murders and barbarities" the court allowed him no quarter. Stoically asking that he be allowed a whiff or two of tobacco it was given him, and after puffing away a moment or two he told them he was ready,  p270 whereupon one of Church's Indians dashed out his brains with a hatchet. Tatoson escaped the fate of most of his followers and fled with his son, a lad about eight years old, and an old squaw, to Agawom (in Rochester). Here, a short time after, "his son which was the last which was left of his family, fell sick" (and died), and "the wretch reflecting upon the miserable condition he had brought himself unto, his heart became as a stone and he died. The old squaw flung a few leaves and bushes over him and came into Sandwich," where she also died a few days after. Philip's hiding places around Assowomset Pond had now become untenable. Numerous bodies of mounted troops and friendly Indians guarded the fords and trails toward the north and scoured the country in all directions, and Philip, hunted for everywhere, fled southward in the hope, it is said, of reaching the Narragansett country. Church, who had left Plymouth on the 9th, was once again in pursuit, but lost the trail, and at fault as to Philip's whereabouts, after beating the woods around Pocasset, finally ferried his men across the east arm of Narragansett Bay into Rhode Island on the 11th. Leaving them encamped near the landing place, he took horse to Major Sanford's house,​8 some eight miles away, to see his wife, "who no sooner saw him than she fainted with surprise," and by the time she had revived, they espied two horsemen (Major Sanford​9 and Captain  p271 Goulding) riding rapidly up the road. They called out to him, "What would he give to hear some news of Philip?" They had ridden hard in the hope overtaking him, for a Wampanoag had come down from Philip's camp to Sand's Point where, by signals and shouting, he attracted the attention of the English who rowed over and took him off. He told them that a short time previously Philip had killed his brother for giving advice that displeased him, and he had fled in fear of meeting the same fate.

Riding immediately to the camp where the Wampanoag had been taken they found him willing to guide them to Philip's hiding place. The whole force, marching with great rapidity, crossed the water at Bristol Ferry (then called Tripp's Ferry) which was at that time point half a mile wide, and arrived shortly after midnight at their destination, a little upland in the north end of a miry swamp at the foot of Mount Hope. Church gave Captain Goulding​10 command of a military force, with orders, as soon as it was daybreak, to beat up Philip's hiding place and drive him into flight, and bade him pursue, shouting, in order that the Indians who fled silently might  p272 be known as enemies. Captain Williams​11 of Scituate was stationed on one side of the swamp, a soldier and an Indian being placed behind the trees at short intervals so as to cover the trails and paths leading out, with orders to fire at anyone that should come silently through the swamp. Church and Major Sanford then spread the remaining force on the other side and took their stand together. "I have so placed them it is scarce possible Philip should escape them," said Church to his companion. The same moment a shot whistled over their heads, then the noise of a gun towards Philip's camp followed immediately by the sound of a volley.

Goulding and his men, crawling along on their bellies, had advanced cautiously in the gray of the morning, and were close upon the sleeping camp when the captain came suddenly upon an Indian who appeared to be looking full at him. He fired immediately and the camp awoke to life in wild confusion.

Philip, seizing his pouch, gun and powderhorn, plunged at once into the swamp, clad in his small-breeches and moccasins, and running along one of the paths came directly upon Caleb Cook​12 and an Indian named Alderman (not the traitor, as has so often picturesquely been declared), but a subject of Awashonks. Cook's gun hung fire, for the morning air was heavy with mist, but the Indian sent one bullet through the heart and another two inches above it, "where Joab thrust his darts into rebellious Absolom," and Philip fell upon his face in the mud.​a

 p273  The greater part of the Indians escaped, for, perceiving that they were waylaid on the west side of the swamp they tacked short about. One of the enemy who seemed to be a great, surly fellow, shouted with a loud voice and often called out "Iootash, Iootash." In answer to Church's inquiry as to who it was that called out so, Peter (the Saconet) said that it was old Annawon, Philip's great captain, calling on his soldiers to stand to it and fight stoutly. The Indian whose shot had laid the sachem dead in the mire rushed to Church with news, and when the whole force assembled Church informed them of Philip's fate. They greeted the news with cheers, and the friendly Indians, grasping the body by the leggings and small of the breeches, drew it out of the mud to the upland. "A doleful great naked dirty beast he looked like," says Church, and for as much as he had caused many English to lie unburied and rot above ground, not one of his bones shall be buried." An Indian executioner, first addressing the dead Philip to the effect that he had been a very great man and made many a man afraid of him, beheaded and quartered the body in the manner of one executed according to the laws of England, for high treason.​13 Five of his men had fallen with him.

[image ALT: A clearing, no more than four meters across in all, in a deciduous forest. A rectangular stone slab, about a meter long and 50 cm high and 50 cm deep, lies on the edge of it, to the left in this photo. It is an early-20c photograph of the monument marking the place where Metacomet, sachem of the Wampanoags, was killed in 1676.]

The Place of Philip's Death

The monument is placed on the firm land bordering the swamp, but a few rods distant from the spot where he fell

The troops, returning to Plymouth, brought the good tidings that the arch enemy was dead, and received each his four shillings sixpence.

Philip's dismembered body had been hung in quarters  p274 upon four trees, but his head, carried through the streets of Plymouth on the 17th of August, was set upon a pole where it remained for nearly a quarter of a century, and about the year 1700, Dr. Mather, upon an occasion, "took off the jaw from the exposed skull of that blasphemous leviathan," while a hand, given to the Indian, Alderman, and preserved in rum, was shown through the settlements and won for its possessor many a penny. "He, like as Agog, was hewn to pieces before the Lord. So let all thine enemies perish, O Lord."

His history and biography were written by contemporary enemies who regarded him as a Canaanite and themselves as the elect of God. They were manifestly incapable of weighing testimony under such circumstances, nor were they, individually, men from whom cool consideration or an impartial conclusion could be expected. The records and the voluminous correspondence of the time shed abundant light upon the events that led up to the Indian war and those that attended it, and the reader to‑day, far removed from the narrow theological and racial standpoint of the contemporary writers, can lend himself to fairer judgment.

Numerous legends, as little deserving of credence as tales of Philip's cruelty and cowardice, abound; but much has come to light of late years from which we can arrive at some approximation as to his real character. Pride and resentment against the English, and a sullen mistrust of their intentions, must have been as fire in his breast under the nagging tyranny and the proclaimed policy of stamping out the independence of the tribes, and the systematic subversion of his authority by their interference with every tradition and usage of Indian  p275 life. No man with self-respect could defy the sentiment of his own people in such circumstances. As a statesman he had abilities of no small order. A man mean, cowardly and of a weak and treacherous character could never have won the sympathies of these tribes with whom his own people had waged feuds of many generations, and, until near the close of the war when despair seized them, his influence remained strong and respected among the chiefs, and particularly among the Narragansetts.

The weight of evidence is against the idea of a general conspiracy, but Philip undoubtedly negotiated with many of the tribes when it became evident that the conflict could not be averted. As chief of the Wampanoags and an independent sachem, Philip, if he deemed war with the whites the only possible salvation for his race and people, was fully justified in waging it and forming such alliances as should insure its success.

As a warrior and a leader in battle he was probably inferior to Canonchet and several other leaders. He abilities were rather those of an organizer and director. In farsightedness, prudence and tenacity he was undoubtedly superior to all, save possibly Pessacus. Had he been able to win over all the tribes and hold his young men in check until the plan of a simultaneous attack on the outlying settlements could have been arranged, the war would have assumed a far more formidable and dangerous aspect.

The accusations of cowardice frequently made against him are backed by no proof save the indefinite statement that he was seldom recognized in the various conflicts. Of cruelty no specific case has ever been cited, while it is known that several families owed their lives to his  p276 friendship, and while Mrs. Rowlandson wrote bitterly of the Indians in general she mentions Philip not unkindly.

That he was abandoned by so many of his tribe at the last and that there were not found wanting traitors among his own people, does not prove that he was held in contempt or hatred by them, as has often been stated, but that human nature is much the same among all races; and the death agonies of a lost cause breeds traitors and informers anxious to save their own lives and build their fortunes on the ruin of their former comrades. Neither the hero that sentimentalists, nor the fiend that Mather and Hubbard have painted for us, he was, from the Indian standpoint, a patriot. He fought uncompromisingly to the end against a fate that was certain and against a foe, which representing a higher order of civilization than his own had attained, deserved to be victorious. The defeat of his cause and the doom of his people when it came in touch with the European civilization was certain, whether by the quicker means of war or the slower process of decay. The circumstances that led up to the war and its conduct in many particulars were deplorable and were undoubtedly brought on more by the aggressions and petty tyrannies of the English than through any premeditated aggression of the Indians. At the same time it should not be forgotten that the point of view, social, economical and political, of the two races were so completely at variance that a conflict was almost inevitable, and that the colonists, harsh and repellant as their measure undoubtedly was, were more to be excused than their descendants. It was reserved for Andrew Jackson, President of the United States, to set an example of gross breach of faith and cynical violation of treaty rights beyond  p277 anything that can be urged against the New Englanders of Philip's time. Four days after Philip's death, Quinnapin, the Narragansett, who had married Weetamoo after her last husband's apostacy of the Indian cause, was captured, and, being taken to Newport, was tried on the 24th and was shot the next day in company with his brother.

Though resistance had ceased and the disbandment of the forces was already begun, there were other remnants and chiefs to be hunted down, and none so competent as Church with his scouts and Indians to do it. A few days' rest after the destruction of Philip, and Church was again in the field in the pursuit of Annawon, Philip's chief captain, who had escaped from the Mount Hope swamp and was reported to be near Rehoboth. Marching along the shore Church's notice was attracted by some Indians paddling a canoe from Prudence Island toward the promontory on which the town of Bristol now stands. Following them to their destination he captured them that night, and learned that Annawon was encamped in the midst of Squannakonk swamp a few miles north of Mattapoiset.

Church, with a few men, and an Indian who had requested liberty to go out and fetch his father, who, he said, was about four miles away in the swamp with a young squaw, set out at daybreak (August 28th). On reaching the swamp the Indian was sent ahead, while the remainder of the party hid themselves on either side of the path. "Presently they saw an old man coming up with a gun on his shoulder and a young woman following in his track. They let them come between them and then started up and laid hold upon them both." The young woman told Church that she belonged to Annawon's  p278 company, which numbered between fifty and sixty, and the old man, confessing the same, told Church that if he started presently and traveled stoutly he might reach Annawon's camp by sunset. It was just sunset when they at last saw the gleam of camp fires among the trees. The Wampanoags had built their fires at the bottom of a steep and rocky ledge,​14 and the pots and kettles were boiling and meat was roasting on the spits, while their guns, resting against a pole supported by forked sticks, were protected from the weather by a mat.

Church watched them from the top of the ledge, in doubt as to the course to be followed. He asked his captives if they could not get at the camp from the other side, but they answered, no; they had been warned to come over the rock, for anyone entering the camp from the other side would be shot. Finally, sending the old man and the girl down the rock to cover the noise of his own approach, he followed closely. The ruse succeeded and Church, stepping over Annawon's son who lay crouched upon the ground, secured the guns. The young Annawon, discovering him, whipped his blanket over his head and shrunk up in a heap, while the old captain, Annawon, started up and cried welcome. There was no resistance; Annawon, after an ejaculation of surprise and despair, asked them to share his food.

During the night, Church's men, worn out with fatigue,  p279 fell asleep, but the Indians made no attempt to escape. It was full moon and by its light Church watched Annawon pace moodily back and forth. Finally the old chief disappeared in the darkness of the swamp, but returned and, falling on his knees, offered Philip's royal belts of wampum, saying, "You have killed Philip and captured his country, for I believe that I and my company are the last that war against the English, so I suppose the war is ended by your means; these things belong to you."

Throughout the night they conversed in a friendly way, Annawon relating "what mighty success he had had formerly in wars against many nations when he served under Philip's father," and Church promised him his life.

On bringing his prisoners into Plymouth, Church was again requested to take the field for the purpose of effecting the capture of a well-known chief, Tuspaquin,​15 the "Black Sachem," Philip's brother-in‑law, who was reported to be in hiding near by.

The directions given were erroneous, but Church, acting on information furnished by his own spies, and the reports that a large body of Indians were near Lippican doing great damage to the English in killing their cattle, horses and swine, searched them out and finding them "sitting round their fire in the thick brush," crept quietly upon and seized them all. Tuspaquin's wife and children were among the captives, some of whom told him that the sachem had gone down to Pocasset with a party to kill horses. Church said "he would not have him slain for there was a war broke out in the eastern part  p280 of the country and he would have him saved to go with them to fight the eastern Indians."

"The captain's leisure would not serve him to wait until they came in (though the Indians said there might come that night), therefore he thought upon this project: to leave two old squaws upon the place with victuals, and bid them offer Tuspaquin his own life as well as his family's if he would submit himself and bring in the two others with him and they should be his soldiers.16

We will let Hubbard narrate the event and the pretext for the breach of faith that followed. "Within a day or two after, the said Tuspaquin, upon the hopes of being made a captain under Church, came after some of the company and submitted himself in the captain's absence (Church had gone to Boston), and was sent to Plymouth; but upon trial (which was the condition on which his being promised a captain's place under Captain Church did depend) he was found penetrable by the English guns, for he fell down at the first shot, and thereby received the just reward for his wickedness."17

No wonder that Church, on his return, heard with "great grief" and indignation that both Annawon and Tuspaquin, "which were the last of Philip's friends," had been condemned by the court at Plymouth, and had been executed. He had pledged his word for their lives, and his authority to do so was not denied.

The Author's Notes:

1 Hubbard, Vol. I, page 263.

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2 Mather's Brief History, page 189.

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3 Samuel Arnold, pastor of Marshfield, to John Cotton, September, 1676.

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4 Increase Mather to John Cotton, October 30, 1676.

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5 The discussion in regard to the disposal of Philip's wife and son, and the ultimate outcome is to be found in full in Davis' Notes to Morton's New England Memorial. Appendix, page 454.

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6 Mather's Brief History, page 191.

Winanimoo, or Weetamoo, it is supposed was the daughter of Corbitant, sachem of Mattapoiset. In 1651 she was known as Nummumpaum, and was the wife of an Indian called Wecquequinequa, and enjoyed the title of squaw-sachem or "queen" of Pocasset. In 1656 she had become the wife of Massasoit's eldest son, Wamsutta, and called herself Tatapanum. After the death of Alexander, as he was then called, she married Quiquequanchett, and after his departure contracted a matrimonial alliance with Petownonowit, a man of considerable ability but who espoused the cause of the whites in Philip's war while she firmly allied herself to the Indian cause. She abandoned her husband and married Quinnapin, a Narragansett, cousin to Canonchet, chief of that tribe. With him she was present at the destruction of Lancaster and throughout the march which Mrs. Rowlandson accompanied as a captive, and from whose pen we have learned much of Weetamoo. — New England Register, Vol. LIV, page 261.

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7 He was said to have been Totoson's father.

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8 Major Sanford lived about half a mile south of the present Portsmouth line, in what is now Middletown, then Newport.

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9 Major Peleg Sanford was born at Newport, R. I., May 10, 1639. He was appointed captain of a troop of horse July 24, 1667, and became major in 1679 and later lieutenant-colonel. He was deputy to the General Court two years and for eight years assistant. He was general treasurer from 1678 to 1681, and Governor from 1680 to 1683. In 1687 he was member of the council of Sir Edmond Andros. He died in 1701 and his will was proved September 1st of that year. See Austin's Genealogical Dictionary of Rhode Island, page 171.

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10 Captain Roger Goulding was of Newport, R. I. It was he that came with his vessel to the rescue of Captain Church at Punkatees Neck early in the war. Plymouth colony granted him one hundred acres of land on the north side of Saconet as a reward for his helpfulness in the transportation of the military forces across the water. In 1685 he was deputy to the court, and from 1685 to 1691, with the exception of one year, he was "Major for the Island." He died before 1702. See Austin's Genealogical Dictionary of Rhode Island, page 84.

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11 Captain John Williams was of Scituate in 1643. He served in Philip's war in command of a company. He died June 22, 1694, aged seventy. He left no family. — Savage.

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12 II Mass. Hist. Soc. Coll., Vol. IV, page 63.

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13 This account of Philip's surprise and death is taken mainly from Church's narrative. — Entertaining History, pages 42 to 45. The event was made known to the Governor and Council of Connecticut by a letter from Mr. Wm. Jones of New Haven. Connecticut Colony records (Journal of the Council of War), Vol. II, page 471.

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14 Annawon's Rock is located in the town of Rehoboth at the head of the great Squannakonk Swamp. It lies only a few rods south of the Providence and Taunton turnpike at a point about six miles from Taunton. The turnpike crosses the ledge of which this rock forms a part, and through which a cut has been blasted out to make a passage for the electric road. It may easily be reached by trolley from Taunton and Providence.

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15 Tuspaquin was the sachem of Assowompset, and was at the head of the party who in the spring of 1676 so greatly annoyed the towns of Plymouth colony.

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16 Church's Entertaining History, page 52 and 53.

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17 Hubbard, Vol. I, page 275.

Thayer's Note:

a August 12 O.S. (August 22 N.S.), 1676.

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