Sunday, January 22, 2012

King Phillips War

    The bloodiest war in America's history, took place in New England in 1675 thru 1676.
In total twelve hundred homes were burned, eight thousand head of cattle lost,stored food destroyed, more than half of New England's ninety towns were attacked, and between six hundred and eight hundred English settlers died. When compared to the population at that time, the death toll was twice that of the Civil War.
Metacom, leader of the Pokanokets, a tribe within the Wampanoag Indian Federation, was given the nickname of King Philip by the English. He was the son of Massasoit -- the same Massasoit who had helped the Plymouth Pilgrims survive their first winter in the New World.
    Hostility began to develop over the land sales forced on the Native Americans. The English colonists continued making more demands on the Wampanoag,taking away their arms and forcing them to live and abide by English laws without necessarily allowing the same laws to protect the Indians. The last straw seems to have been the killing of some cattle that may have trampled the Wampanoag corn crop, A farmer retaliated by killing an Indian, which set the stage for the uprising.
    Nipmuck Indians, of central Massachusetts, joined forces with Philip's Wampanoags. A successful ambush of soldiers and siege of the town of Brookfield marked the start of the war. The tribes moved on, gathering more warriors to the cause as they successfully attacked and killed Captain Lothrop troops at Deerfield.
    The English blamed the Puritans for bringing God's punishment on the Colonies, the Puritans blamed Quakers and the converted Christian Indians. An ill conceived plan to make a pre-emptive strike resulted in General Winslow , Benjamin Church, and a thousand soldiers from Connecticut, Massachusetts Bay , and Plymouth attacking the then neutral tribe of the Narragansett. Most of the 5oo killed were women and children. One can only imagine the rage and fury of the Narragansett warriors after this Great Swamp Massacre of 1675. The settlers surely saw little hope at that point.
    The towns of Newport and Portsmouth invited the people of Providence and Warwick to take shelter on the Island in the hopes it would allow a better chance of defense. Most of Providence accepted this offer. Preserved in the records of the town are the names of those who have become known as those "that stayed{staid} and went not away:"
    As the Indians approached Providence, Roger Williams made one more effort at peace. The reply was no, but because of Williams' history of kindness towards the Indians they would not harm him. So Williams and the others returned to the house on the hill. On March 29, 1676, Providence lost seventy-two homes, only the hill side house and four others remained after the fire, none of the men named were harmed.
The attacks continued on both sides but in April, 1676 the tide began to turn against King Phillip.
    In August, Benjamin Church captured Philip's wife and nine year old son. The son was sold into slavery to a West Indies Planter. On August 12, 1676, an Indian guide named Alderman, working with the Benjamin Church troops, is said to have shot King Phillip in the chest, thus effectively ending the war. ( TL NOTE Depending on the historian's opinion, Alderman is also referred to as a treacherous member of his own tribe . I must add here another piece I found that is a dreadful statement of the mood of the people--- King Philip's body was "taken and destroyed, and there was he like as Agag was hewed in pieced before the Lord cut into four quarters, and is now hanged up as a monument of revenging Justice, his head being cut off and carried away to Plymouth, his Hands were brought to Boston." In fact, his head remained displayed in Plymouth on a pole until 1700.)

This summary is given to aid in understanding the significance of  my next entry  will be about the Wallens and Abbots. Benjamin Church is my husband's family.

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