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King Philip's War
George Ellis and John Morris

 p. v  Preface

The period marked by the Indian wars of 1675 and 1676, known as King Philip's War, is one of the most interesting and epochal in the early history of the New England colonies.

It was the first great test to which the New England Commonwealths were subjected, and it enforced upon them in blood and fire the necessity of a mutual policy and active co-operation. The lesson that union is strength was learned at that time and was never forgotten. New England after the war, free from fear of any Indian attacks, was able to turn her attention to her own peaceful industrial and political development undisturbed.

However much we must condemn the arbitrary aggressions which drove the Indian tribes into revolt, the historic fact must be accepted that between peoples the fittest only survive, and that as between races ethics rarely exist.

The importance of this conflict in the minds of the early New England people is attested by the great attention paid to it by contemporary New England historians like Mather and Hubbard, and by the voluminous correspondence of the chief men in the colonies.

The correspondence between the Governors and Councils and the commanders in the field in the records and archives of Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut,  p. vi serve as a vast mine for careful exploration of the conflict in almost all its details.

We do not claim for this work that it is an absolutely true history; no absolutely true history is possible on any subject. All the authors claim is that it is the result of a wide and discriminative study of the published and unpublished archives of the New England colonies, and of the contemporary letters found in the Massachusetts and Rhode Island Historical Society collections.

Among other works consulted have been the contemporary accounts of Hubbard, Mather, and the Old Indian Chronicle, Captain Church's Narrative, the Journals of Mrs. Rowlandson and John Easton, Major Gookin's Christian Indians, Wheeler's True Narrative of the Lord's Providence, etc. Liberty has been taken occasionally to abridge involved and verbose quotations.

The authors wish to acknowledge their great indebtedness to the work of Rev. George Bodge, the late Samuel Drake, Sidneyº S. Rider, and the constant courtesy and help of Mr. Albert C. Bates, librarian of the Connecticut Historical Society, and to the authors of many of the valuable town histories.

The narrative and references are the work of Mr. George W. Ellis, while the biographical and local notes have been supplied by Mr. John E. Morris. Acknowledgement is herewith made to many local antiquarians for their co-operation and courtesy.

 p. vii  1

Survey of New England in the year 1675. The course of settlement — social and economic aspects of the English settlements. Topography of the scene of war. The Indian tribes, their customs and divisions.

Intercourse and relations between English and Indians. Irreconcilable points of view. Unsympathetic attitude of the English. Their harsh and high-handed interference. The result of Christian proselytizing. The question of lands of minor importance. Growing estrangement between the races. The Tripartite Treaty. The quarrel between Miantonomah and Uncas. The alliance between Connecticut and Uncas. Attitude of Massachusetts toward Miantonomah. Miantonomah becomes involved in the quarrel between Massachusetts and the Gortonists through the sale of the Shawamut lands. Miantonomah makes war on Uncas and is captured. The commissioners of New England hand over Miantonomah to Uncas to be put to death. A clerico-judicial murder. Confidence in English justice shattered among the tribes.

Alexander, son of Massasoit. His death. Philip becomes sachem of the Wampanoags. Aggressive attitude of Plymouth. Many complaints. A conference at Taunton. Continued suspicions. The interference of Massachusetts. The charges against Philip and his defense. A dangerous situation. The arbitrary aggressiveness of Plymouth continues. The sullen distrust of the Wampanoags. Philip no longer subservient.

Sassamon, Indian convert and informer. His character. He is found dead. Philip's subjects accused of murder. Their declaration as to the evidence. Their trial and execution. Indignation of the  p. viii Wampanoags. Rhode Island's proposal of arbitration. The Indian reply. Captain Church visits Awashonks. Alarming news. The comparative numbers and advantages of the two races. The outbreak at Swansea. The call to arms. The concentration of the Plymouth and Massachusetts forces at Swansea. The first skirmish. The English march toward Mt. Hope. Philip outmaneuvers them and passes over to the eastern shore.

Failure of the campaign. The English become suspicious of the Narragansetts. Invasion of the Narragansett country. A treaty extorted by force. Philip devastates Plymouth colony. The adventures of Captain Church. Concentration of the English forces against Philip. He slips away to the north. The fight at Nipsachick. Energetic measures taken by Connecticut.

The conditions in the Connecticut valley. The embassy of Ephraim Curtis. His adventures. The march of Hutchinson and Wheeler against the Quabaugs. The fatal ambuscade of Winnimisset. The siege of Brookfield. Brookfield relieved by Major Willard. Philip joins the Quabaugs. Brookfield abandoned. The English concentration at Hadley. Attempt to disarm the Nonatucks. Escape of the Nonatucks. Pursuit by Lathrop and Beers. The English ambushed at Wequomps. Revolt of the Pocumtucks at Deerfield. Panic in the valley.

The alarm at Hadley. Legendary appearance of General Goffe, the regicide. Northfield surprised by the Nashaways. Captain Beers sets out from Hadley to the rescue. His inexcusable lack of precautions. He marches into an ambuscade. The last stand. His force wiped out. The survivors reach Hadley. Major Treat with the Connecticut forces to the rescue. He reaches Northfield. His abandonment of Northfield and demoralized retreat. Perilous condition of the English settlements in the Connecticut valley. Conflict of opinions. Captain Lathrop at Deerfield. He sets out with convoy of corn for Hadley. His carelessness. The Battle of Bloody Brook. The annihilation of Lathrop's force. The arrival of Moseleyº and Treat too late. The abandonment of Deerfield. Confusion and demoralization of the English commanders. Depredations of the Indians. Springfield threatened. A warning at the last moment. Springfield attacked  p. ix and burned. Major Pynchon and Captain Appleton to the rescue. Discouragement and gloom. Major Pynchon resigns as commander-in‑chief in the valley. Governor Andros of New York warns Connecticut that Hartford is to be attacked.

Appleton in command. His unavailing marches. No safety without the stockades. The attack on Hatfield. The Indians driven off. Widespread devastation. The English in the valley face famine. Captain Henchman at Mendon. Disastrous failure of the valley campaign through lack of co-operation, hampering commands from the commissioners and the absence of a definite plan of operation. The distressful position of the friendly Indians. Their wigwams plundered, their women and children murdered. Torture of Indian prisoners. Captive women and children sold into slavery by the English. The demand of Major Gookin and Rev. John Eliot for humane treatment. Their lives are threatened. The disbandment of the friendly Indian companies. Its evil consequences. The Narragansetts. They wish to remain neutral. Testimony as to their attitude. The English recognize no neutrality. Their demands. Canonchet's refusal.

Serious searching of heart and conscience. The general court of Massachusetts enumerates the offenses that have incurred the Divine displeasure. Preparations for a campaign against the Narragansetts. A declaration of war. Invasion of the Narragansett country. Concentration of the Massachusetts and Plymouth men at Wickford. They ravage the Narragansett country. The embassy of Stone-layer John. The Narragansetts surprise the garrison house of Jirah Bull, and exterminate the garrison. Arrival of the Connecticut force. A bivouac in the snow. The Narragansett fort. The attack. A fierce conflict. Heavy losses of the English. Their final success. The fort and wigwams fired. An indiscriminate massacre. Serious situation of the English forces. The fort on fire. A blizzard without. The fort abandoned. A night march of eighteen miles in the storm. Terrible suffering. Many of the wounded die. Losses of the Narragansetts heavy, but greatly overestimated by contemporary writers. The destruction of their provisions a serious catastrophe.

Negotiations for peace. Both sides play for time. Arrival of reinforcements. Capture of Tifft, a renegade Englishman. His testimony. His execution. Reconcentration of the English forces. The "Hungry  p. x March." Retreat of the Narragansetts into the Nipmuck country. Sufferings of the English. They reach Marlboro. The army is disbanded. The wanderings of Philip. His movements during the winter definitely known. Acrimonious correspondence between the Council of Connecticut and Governor Andros of New York. The interesting relation of Quanapohit, a Natick spy in the service of the Massachusetts Council. Disease and famine among the Indians. Their condition. Lack of supplies drives them to activity. Fruitless warnings. The surprise of Lancaster. The settlement wiped out. The Rowlandson garrison. A desperate conflict. The captivity of Mrs. Rowlandson. Her adventures. Attack on Medfield. The expedition of Major Savage toward Quabaug and the valley. He is outmaneuvered by the Indians. The abandonment of Groton.

Northampton attacked. Major Savage in the valley. The last great Indian council, all of the tribes represented, takes place at Northfield. Probable plans. They intend to carry the war to the East and draw off the English forces to that quarter in order that they may raise their crops without molestation in the upper valley. It is all but successful. Savage's march to the valley leaves the eastern frontier of the Bay settlements and the country toward Plymouth and Narragansett open to attack. Canonchet sets out to the Narragansett country for seed corn. The Clark garrison near Plymouth exterminated. Weymouth, Providence and Warwick given to the flames. Simsbury, near Hartford, burned. A gloomy day the 26th of March. Marlboro attacked. Captain Peirse of Scituate, with fifty English and a score of friendly Indians, drawn into ambush and annihilated near Seekonk by Canonchet. Savage recalled from the valley, as was hoped for by the Indians. Governor Andros of New York and the Connecticut council. Their correspondence discreditable to both. Negotiations of the Connecticut Council with the valley Indians.

Major Savage leaves the valley. Captain Turner remains with a small force. Canonchet returning from the Narragansett country is surprised by Captain Denison near Lonsdale, R. I. His fight and capture. He is offered his life if he will persuade his people to make peace. His refusal and lofty bearing. Hubbard compares him with Attilius Regulus. His defiance. He is executed and his body barbarously mutilated. His character. Effect of his death upon the Indian cause. Philip leaves the Connecticut valley and joins the bands of the Narragansetts and Nashaways at Wachusett. Operations in Plymouth colony. Massachusetts makes preparations to guard the eastern frontier against an attack from Wachusett. The attack on Sudbury. A relieving force from Concord is exterminated. Captain Wadsworth  p. xi and company, coming from Marlboro, isº lured into an ambuscade and his force decimated. Reinforcements pour in from the bay towns. The Indians withdraw. The lesson of Indian warfare at last grasped. Indian scouts added to the Massachusetts force.

The Council of Massachusetts begins negotiations for peace and the release of English prisoners. Mrs. Rowlandson again. Unexplainable obstinacy and distrust of the Indians. No peace. The captives ransomed against the protest of Philip, who would have held them for hostages. Their release due to Sagamore Sam. The fate of his family. Operations in Plymouth colony. Captain Henchman's expedition. Settlers in the Connecticut valley demand aggressive operations. The Connecticut Council, still negotiating for peace, objects. Condition of the Indians. Their encampments at Turners Falls. Raiding the settlers' cattle. Catching fish and sowing the crops. The escape of John Gilbert and Thomas Reed. Valuable information.

Captain Turner determines to attack the Indians encamped at Turners Falls. Concentration of the English at Hatfield. A long night march. All but discovered. The ruins of Deerfield. A thunderstorm. The Indian camp unguarded. The attack. No quarter. The wigwams fired. Turner's fatal delay. The Indians rally and are reinforced. The English become demoralized. Death of Turner. The retreat to Hatfield. Sudden collapse of Indian resistance. Their lack of resources both in men and supplies. Weakened by privations, disease sweeps them away. Their lack of organization. No individual sacrifices for the general good. Their crops destroyed. They begin to leave the valley. Operations of Captain Brattle. Hatfield attacked. Last rally of the Indians in the valley. They attack Northampton. Henchman and Talcott reach Hadley and Northampton. They march by both sides of the river and destroy the Indian crops.

Major Talcott returns to Connecticut. Henchman marches toward Boston. His operations. He hears that Philip has left Wachusett and has turned again toward the Wampanoag country. Philip's desperate plight. Informed by a renegade Wampanoag of his position, the Massachusetts Council sends information to Captain Brattle to hunt him down. Philip escapes. Major Talcott raids the Narragansett country. He falls in with Saunk Squaw Magnus and her people. No resistance is offered. An indiscriminate massacre. The death of Saunk  p. xii Squaw Magnus and Stone-layer John. Talcott hands over a captive Indian to his Indian allies. Terrible tortures. Captain Church redux. His quarrels with the Plymouth authorities. He goes on a mission to Awashonks, squaw sachem of the Saconets. She tenders her submission. The wanderings of Philip. He endeavors to surprise Bridgewater. The English close in upon him. Despair of the Indians. Massachusetts and Plymouth offer conditional pardon for submission within a fortnight. Piteous petition of Sagamore Sam, Muttaump, and others of the Nipmucks for peace and pardon. It is refused. The death of Pumham. Matoonas betrayed into the hands of the English by Sagamore John. His execution. The activities of Captain Church in hunting down the Wampanoags. Battles in the swamps. Capture of Philip's wife and child.

The grief and despair of Philip over the loss of his wife and child. The controversy as to their disposal. Scriptural precedent sought. The plea of Rev. John Eliot and Reverend Mr. Keith of Bridgewater for mercy and humane treatment. They are finally sold into slavery. The death of the Squaw Sachem Weetamoo. The fate of Totoson. Captain Church renews the pursuit of Philip. An Indian traitor. The death of Philip. His character. The capture of Annawon and the surrender of Tuspaquin. Church promises them their lives. Their execution.

Major Talcott's expedition. The refusal of Governor Andros of New York to surrender the fugitives seeking refuge in New York. The fate of Monoco and old Jethro, Sagamore Sam, and Muttaump. The practical extermination of the Indian tribes. The cost of the war.

The war in Maine. News of the uprising. Settlements along the coast. Tribes inhabiting the district. The first depredations. Attack on the house of Major Philips. Captain Wincoll's victory. Squando. Attack on Salmon Falls. Destruction of Plaisted's force. Indians withdraw to winter quarters. Estimate of losses. Sufferings of the Indians. Armistice. Treaty of peace signed. Broken by Squando. The reason. Attack upon Falmouth. Flight of the inhabitants. Madockawando offended. John Earthy. Temporary peace through his means. Peace terminated through an act of treachery. William Hammond killed. Francis Card captured. Attack and capture of Fort at Arrowsick. Captain Lake killed. Number of casualties. Indians discomfited at  p. xiii Jewell's Island. Foraging on Munjoy's Island. The old stone house. George Felt killed. Gathering at Major Walderne's. Expedition to the East. It proves futile. Attack on Black Point. Desertion of the garrison. Capture of Captain Jocelyn. Futile expedition to Ossipee. Treaty of peace signed at Boston. Outwitted by Mogg. Recovery of Thomas Cobbett from captivity. Another expedition to the eastward. Return of the expedition. Mischief at Wells and York. Expedition under Captain Swett. Battle at Black Point. Failure to enlist the Mohawks. Termination of hostilities. Commission of peace appointed. Articles of agreement. Losses estimated. Cost to the colony.

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Technical Details

Edition Used

The edition transcribed here is that in the Grafton Historical Series, The Grafton Press, 1906 and thus now in the public domain: details here on the copyright law involved.


As almost always, I retyped the text by hand rather than scanning it — not only to minimize errors prior to proofreading, but as an opportunity for me to become intimately familiar with the work, an exercise which I heartily recommend: Qui scribit, bis legit. (Well-meaning attempts to get me to scan text, if success­ful, would merely turn me into some kind of machine: gambit declined.)

This transcription has been minutely proofread. In the table of contents above, the sections are therefore shown on blue backgrounds, indicating that I believe the text of them to be completely errorfree; otherwise the backgrounds would be red. As elsewhere onsite, the header bar at the top of each chapter's webpage will remind you with the same color scheme.

The edition I followed had the usual share of typographical errors; but mostly of inconsistent spellings, not only of Native American but also sometimes of European names. I've let these inconsistencies stand, except for verifiable mistakes (like the embarrassing one in Sidney Rider's name above!) or single outliers against a preponderance of some other spelling, provided they were not quoted from a source text, of course. I marked my corrections, when important (or unavoidable because inside a link), with a bullet like this;º and when trivial, with a dotted underscore like this: as elsewhere on my site, glide your cursor over the bullet or the underscored words to read the variant. Similarly, bullets before measurements provide conversions to metric, e.g., 10 miles.

A small number of odd spellings, curious turns of phrase, seemingly duplicated references, etc. have been marked <!‑‑ sic  in the sourcecode, just to confirm that they were checked. Very occasionally also, Ellis's fondness for commas traduced his meaning: when it did — and only when it did — I corrected the punctuation, usually just by sopping up the excess.

Any other mistakes, please drop me a line, of course: especially if you have a copy of the printed book in front of you.

Pagination and Local Links

For citation and indexing purposes, the pagination is shown in the right margin of the text at the page turns (like at the end of this line); p57  these are also local anchors. Sticklers for total accuracy will of course find the anchor at its exact place in the sourcecode.

In addition, I've inserted a number of other local anchors: whatever links might be required to accommodate the author's own cross-references, as well as a few others for my own purposes. If in turn you have a website and would like to target a link to some specific passage of the text, please let me know: I'll be glad to insert a local anchor there as well.

[image ALT: An oil painting of a man of about 30 years of age, dressed in a loose tunic or shirt exposing some of his chest, and a heavier long cloak; in his left hand he holds a wooden bow, and he wears a large earring in his right ear. He looks straight at us. It is Metacomet, sachem of the Wamapnoags in the 17c, alias 'King Philip', and serves on my site as the icon for the book 'King Philip's War' by Ellis and Morris.]

The icon I use to indicate this subsite is an idealized portrait of Metacomet, sachem of the Wampanoags, known to the English as King Philip, based on the well-known but grossly unflattering woodcut by Paul Revere, that I found at the website of the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe.

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Site updated: 15 Oct 17