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The Sudbury Fight, 1676: A Decisive Native American Victory in King Philip's War

The Sudbury Fight, 1676: A Decisive Native American Victory in King Philip's War

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On April 21st 1676 CE, a company of eighty Massachusetts militiamen fought to the death against a Native American army five hundred strong in one of the climactic battles of King Philip's War.

Sudbury Fight

The Sudbury Fight (April 21, 1676) was a battle of King Philip's War, fought in what is today Sudbury and Wayland, Massachusetts, when approximately five hundred Wampanoag, Nipmuc, and Narragansett Native Americans raided the frontier settlement of Sudbury in Massachusetts Bay Colony. Disparate companies of English militiamen from nearby settlements marched to the town's defense, two of which were drawn into Native ambushes and suffered heavy losses. The battle was the last major Native American victory in King Philip's War before their final defeat in southern New England in August 1676.

Town of Sudbury, Massachusetts

A. The Original Town of Sudbury Was Founded in 1639

  1. The original Town of Sudbury was founded (incorporated) over 360 years ago in 1639.

    The first permanent Colonial settlements in Sudbury took place in 1638.

    Repeated contact with European explorers, fur traders and fishermen in the 1500s and early 1600s caused multiple epidemics of smallpox and other European diseases in Native American tribes living in what we now call New England.

    Prior to 1500 these European diseases did not exist in the area we call New England.

  • One example is the Grinding Stone pictured and described in the "Historic Sudbury Trail" on the Town of Sudbury web site.

    The Sudbury land occupied by the Sudbury settlers was purchased from a local Native American man named Cato (also spelled Karte) individually or with his brothers.

  • Note that the Massachusetts Bay Colony did NOT include large areas of the present State of MA such as the Plymouth Colony (now the present MA Counties of Plymouth, Bristol, and Barnstable).

    "INLAND" means above the flow of tide waters from the Atlantic Ocean.

  • The FIRST (1635) was the original Town of Concord, then and now the immediate northern neighbor of Sudbury, and the SECOND (1636) was the original Town of Dedham.

    There was no possibility of escape by ship if needed

    The original Town of Sudbury also included most of the present Towns of Wayland and of Maynard.

    It is important to note that the very earliest occupied settlements and that central feature of a "Puritan Village", the earliest church/meeting house, were on lands in the eastern part of the original Town of Sudbury that are within the present Town of Wayland.

    The earliest church/meeting house was built in 1643 at the site of the present North Cemetery of the Town of Wayland.

    North Cemetery is located on the northeast side of Old Sudbury Road (Route 27) about halfway between the traffic light at Wayland Center and the bridge over the Sudbury River.

  • The river was harder to cross during much of the year in 1639 than is today's usually placid Sudbury River whose flow is controlled by upstream and downstream dams.

    The area within the original Town of Watertown extended west to the eastern border of the original Town of Sudbury.

  • The original Town of Watertown was much larger in area than the present Town of Watertown and also included the present Towns of Weston (the immediate eastern neighbor of Wayland) and Waltham.

    Several of the first settlers of the original Town of Sudbury had lived in or near Sudbury, Suffolk, England.

B. King Philip's War and the "Sudbury Fight"

  1. King Philip's War was one of the MOST SIGNIFICANT wars ever fought in North America.

    This short war lasted in southern New England from June 1675 to August 1676.

    Regain control of their former lands

    Their population was greatly reduced which opened up even more land for new Colonial settlements.

    This change started in New England and over time spread to other Colonies.

    Burning hundreds of living, defenseless Native American women, children, and elderly men to death at a time

  • The total (Native American + English Colonial) per capita death rate in this SHORT war was about TWENTY times HIGHER than that of the U. S. Civil War, the second worst American war by this measure.

    Over half of the roughly one hundred Towns within New England were damaged or destroyed.

  • At this point the original Town of Sudbury became a frontier Town, and the part of the Town west of the Sudbury River (i. e., the present Towns of Sudbury and Maynard) was most exposed to harm.

    The battles resulting from that attack are called the "Sudbury Fight".

    Almost all deaths of English Colonial soldiers and civilians happened WEST of the river.

  • The Sudbury militia plus soldiers from other Towns were able to fight off the Native American attackers and drive them out of the area east of the river.
  • At this point in time the hostile Native American forces completely controlled the battlefield west of the river, and they probably could have killed many more Colonial soldiers and civilians if they had continued their attacks after dark.

    However, some historians have speculated that the primary mission of the hostile Native American forces in their attack on the original Town of Sudbury was to acquire much needed supplies of food, weapons, ammunition, and gunpowder and to totally destroy the Town so that they could more easily attack coastal Towns where even larger stores of these items could be acquired.

  • If the "Sudbury Fight" played a major role in causing this turning point in the war, then the "Sudbury Fight" was very important.

C. Sudbury Residents Played a Key Role in the U. S. Revolutionary War

  1. In 1776 the Town of Sudbury became part of the new State of Massachusetts (MA) in the newly constituted United States of America (U. S. A.).

  • They were very active in the battles that took place on 19 April 1775, and two of them were killed in action on that day.

    See The Sudbury Companies of Militia and Minute for an overview and pictures (click each picture for a larger version).

    The population within the Town boundaries of 1775 was 2160, which was higher than many other Towns outside of Boston in what would become the State of Massachusetts

  • Even elderly men served the first Sudbury war death was an eighty-year-old man on 19 April 1775.

D. The Original Town of Sudbury Had a Larger Area

  1. The 24.7 square mile area of the present Town of Sudbury is MUCH LESS than the area of the original Town of Sudbury in 1650.

    The area of original Town of Sudbury included most of the area within the present Towns of Wayland and Maynard and all of the area within the present Town of Sudbury.

    A major subtraction of land in 1780 when what is now the Town of Wayland split off

    Three large grants were made to the Town in 1638, 1640, and 1649.

  • In addition, it usually took many years to properly survey and adjust boundaries of land grants due to difficult topography, hostile Native Americans, lack of proper equipment, disputes between Towns, etc.

    This triangle of land was immediately northwest of what is now called the Assabet River in what is now the Town of Maynard.

    The NEW Town of East Sudbury included the 3.3 square mile addition made in 1721.

    Most of this 12 square mile area was east of the Sudbury River.

  • Pelham Island is the site of a 400 acre land grant made to Herbert Pelham and his father-in-law Mr. Walgrave in 1639.

    The rest of the new Town of Maynard was formed from about 2.1 square miles of land immediately northwest of the Assabet River annexed from the Town of Stow.

  • This 2.1 square mile area included the roughly 0.4 square mile area triangle of land transferred from Sudbury to Stow in 1730.

E. The Splitting Off of East Sudbury (later Wayland) in 1780

  1. As noted in the section just above, the NEW Town of East Sudbury was formed in 1780 from lands in the eastern portion of the post-1730 Town of Sudbury.

    Many early Towns in the Massachusetts Bay and Plymouth Colonies originally had an area MUCH LARGER than the area of present Town of the same name.

    The General Court normally granted permission for the formation of the NEW Town if:

    The residents of the area making the petition agreed to meet certain requirements laid out by the General Court

    The higher average wealth level of the east siders caused the east side of Town to have a higher total assessment than the west side.

  • Also, the rules of the General Court placed the pre-split Town records with the OLD Town, using the same logic.

    If the 1714 petition by the residents of the west side of the original Town of Sudbury had been approved by the General Court, then the residents of the east side (now the Town of Wayland) would have:

    Continued to live in a Town named "Sudbury"

    In favor of the position advocated by the WEST siders during several years leading up to 1714

    The short run (higher taxes) and

    She died at age 91 in 2003.

F. Sudbury Had a TenFold Growth in Population over the Past Sixty Years

  1. This section describes only the present Town of Sudbury.

    Sudbury's population roughly TRIPLED in the 1950s and then roughly DOUBLED in the 1960s.

    Sudbury was a mostly rural community with many small farms until about 1940.

    Click Pictures to go to the Town page

G. Sudbury Today

  1. This section describes only the present Town of Sudbury.

  • It can be reached by setting the destination coordinates in your GPS navigation device to 42.38256° north latitude and 71.41245° west longitude.

H. Sources of Information about the History of Sudbury

  1. Some information is available on the Internet.

    Town records date from the founding of the original Town of Sudbury in 1639 and are described as being the most detailed and complete of any early Town in all of the American Colonies.

    The History of Sudbury, Massachusetts 1638-1889 , Alfred Sereno Hudson, 660 pages, The Town of Sudbury, 1889 (republished by the Sudbury Press in 1968), has no index

  • Indexes: A. S. Hudson's History of Sudbury, Massachusetts 1638-1889 & The Annals of Sudbury, Wayland and Maynard, Middlesex County, Massachusetts , 119 pages, edited by George D. Max, Chief Indexer: Forrest D. Bradshaw, Sudbury Historical Society, 1983

I. The Special Meaning of the Word "Town" in the State of Massachusetts

  1. In the Massachusetts Bay Colony the word "Town" defined:

    First, an area within certain boundaries

    In fact some MA "Towns" contain only rural areas.

    "Cities" are entities that used to be "Towns" but have received permission from the State to use a different form of government (which is more appropriate to entities with higher populations).

    Repeatedly click the "+ (Plus)" sign in the Adobe viewer menu to zoom in on a particular area.

The Sudbury Fight: Turning point of the War

In the annals of American history there are a few battles that are considered to be central to a war itself, battles which may have turned the tide of the war or, perhaps, ensured its victory. Just such a battle was the Sudbury Fight during King Philip’s War. That it was fought in a time where there were no photographs or magazine illustrations, no newspaper reports or media coverage, no historically minded writers or poets does not in my mind diminish its importance to the great American drama.

Without a doubt, the Sudbury Fight, though a crushing loss to the colonists, served to turn on the proverbial lights for the colony. It made the colonists aware of their terrible position, made them aware of their dependence on the Praying Indians, gave them a troop of martyrs to rally around, and otherwise motivated the colonists to put aside self interest and conduct a proper war.

The Sudbury Fight was certainly about Sudbury, but just as certainly it was also about Marlborough. In April of 1675, the hostilities began with the demolition of Marlborough and on the fateful day of that battle, an important skirmish most probably was fought on Marlborough soil and the entire Marlborough soldier garrison was fated to be cut to pieces in the concluding confrontation. Here is how it all happened.

Mary Rowlandsand, wife of the Lancaster minister, was captured by the Nipmucs on February 10, 1676 and remained with them for eleven weeks. We learn from her ‘captivity story’ that the Indians conducted an involved ritual before departing for Marlborough and Sudbury from Mount Wachusett. The spirits assured them of a great victory. The Indians were badly in need of food, provisions, weapons, and ammunition. They were led by Muttawmp, sachem of Menemeset. King Philip (Metacom) may have been there, but was certainly not in a leadership role. There were estimated to be about five hundred warriors, but Daniel Gookin says that women may have also participated to give the impression of greater numbers.

On April 18 and 19, a large band of Indians came to Marlborough and laid waste to whatever remained. This destruction was far greater than on March 26. All but a few buildings in the town, including one of the four garrisons, were destroyed. Any wandering cattle were also killed. According to Gookin, there were forty-seven homesteads in Marlborough at the start of the war. About two thirds of these were destroyed in the April attack. Those in the garrisons had learned from experience never to confront Indians during these raids, as there were always many more Indians waiting in ambush than one could see. The Indians only attacked when they had a clear numerical advantage, and they had learned from experience to avoid attacking a garrison directly, if it could be avoided. Marlborough was not the main target.

The English and allied responders included the Sudbury Residents (about eighty), a small contingent from Concord (twelve), Captain Wadsworth and his troop from Marlborough (fifty-seventy), and Captain Brocklebank and his small troop, also from Marlborough with Wadsworth (no more than ten). Other participants included Captain Cowell who came from Brookfield through Marlborough with a ‘troop of horse’ (eighteen), the Watertown militia (about forty), and Captain Prentice from Charles­town with a ‘ply of horse’ troopers. Captain Hunt­ing came from Charlestown and arrived late with a troop of Praying Indians. The total English presence was no more than two-hundred-fifty men, but their forces were badly fragmented and many of them did not see action. Wadsworth and Brocklebank faced the largest part of the Indian force.

On April 18-19, Marlborough was attacked and burned. On April 20, Captain Wadsworth came from Milton with about seventy men to finally replace the small Garrison remaining with Brocklebank. On April 21, in the early morning, Indians to the east of the Sudbury River attacked buildings as far as present day Weston. Garrisons in the area did not respond for fear of ambush.

At about 600 AM, the Indians attacked the relatively isolated Garrison of Deacon Haynes on what is now Water Row in Sudbury, just to the west of the Sudbury River.

Until about 1:00 PM the Indians sustained the attack and tried to burn the garrison, but with no success. At the time, Sudbury was located primarily in present day Wayland. Few townspeople lived to the west of the river. The Indians controlled the bridge over the river thus preventing the Sudbury and Watertown militia from responding. The Haynes Garrison site continues to be maintained on Water Row, just a short distance from Old Sudbury Rd. Well worth a short visit.

King Philip&rsquos War: 1675

Raid on Swansea: A band of Pokanoket attacked several isolated homesteads in the small Plymouth colony settlement of Swansea on June 20, 1675. They laid siege to the town, then destroyed it five days later and killed several more people.

On June 27, 1675, a full eclipse of the moon occurred in the New England area. Various tribes in New England looked at it as a good omen for attacking the colonists.

Officials from the Plymouth and Massachusetts Bay colonies responded quickly to the attacks on Swansea on June 28, they sent a punitive military expedition that destroyed the Wampanoag town at Mount Hope.

Siege of Brookfield: The battle consisted of an initial ambush on August 2, 1675, by the Nipmucs against Wheeler&rsquos unsuspecting party. Following the ambush was an attack on Brookfield, Massachusetts, and the consequent besieging of the remains of the colonial force. The Nipmuc forces held the settlers for two days until reinforcements arrived and drove them away.

Battle of Bloody Brook: A battle between the Massachusetts Bay Colony militia and a band of Nipmuc Indians where the militia was ambushed by the Indians while escorting a train of wagons carrying the harvest.

Springfield: The next target was Springfield, Massachusetts which was the largest settlement on the Connecticut River. The Indians burned most of Springfield&rsquos buildings to the ground and caused the settlers to take cover in the house of Miles Morgan. One of the Indian servants escaped past the Indians and alerted the Massachusetts Bay militia. The militia managed to drive off the Indians.

The Great Swamp Fight: Plymouth Colony governor Josiah Winslow led a combined force of colonial militia against the Narragansett tribe. Due to the cold winter, the Narragansett had retreated to a fort in the frozen swamp. The 1,000 militia and their Indian allies attacked the fort.

It is believed that the militia killed about 600 Narragansetts. They burned the fort, occupying over 5 acres and destroyed most of the tribe&rsquos winter stores.

Mohawk Indian Attack: Metacomet established a winter camp in New York. His reason for moving into New York has been attributed to a desire to enlist Mohawk aid in the conflict. The Mohawk launched a surprise assault against a 500-warrior band under Metacomet&rsquos command the following February.

The attack resulted in the death of between 70 to as many as 460 of the Wampanoag. His forces crippled, Metacomet withdrew to New England, pursued by Mohawk forces who attacked Algonquian settlements and ambushed their supply parties.

The Battle

Native forces infiltrated Sudbury during the night and attacked at dawn, burning houses and barns, as well as killing “several persons,” according to Puritan historian William Hubbard. Many English residents of Sudbury (most of whom lived on the east bank of the Sudbury River, in present-day Wayland) abandoned their homes and sought refuge in the town’s fortified garrison houses. The Natives besieged the Haynes garrison house on Water Row Road all morning but faced a stout defence from the English civilians within. At one point the Natives rolled a flaming cart full of flax downhill toward the garrison, only for the contraption to hit a rock and spill over before doing any damage. The Haynes garrison held throughout the battle, though authors George Ellis and John Morris have speculated that the siege was a feint meant to draw English reinforcements to the area.

“Hearing the alarm,” about a dozen men of Concord marched to Sudbury’s defence. They were ambushed and massacred within full view of the defenders of the Haynes garrison. Only one of the Concord men escaped with his life, and the dead were buried in a mass grave just east of Old Town Bridge in Wayland.

Flushed with victory, Native forces crossed the river and set about pillaging the central settlement of Sudbury. Shortly before noon, English militiamen from Watertown under the command of Captain Hugh Mason arrived and successfully repelled the raiding party.

As Mason took back control of the town, Captain Wadsworth approached from the west with about seventy men, his numbers bolstered by Captain Samuel Brocklebank’s garrison at Marlborough. Wadsworth’s men had rested only briefly in Marlborough before their march back east to defend Sudbury they were hungry, exhausted, and completely ignorant of their enemy’s position. A mile from town, Wadsworth’s men spotted about a hundred armed Natives darting off into the woods. Believing that “these they might easily deal with,” the militia set off in pursuit.

The Natives led the militia to the low ground between Goodman’s Hill and Green Hill in present-day Sudbury, where they sprang an ambush, surrounding the small English force. Wadsworth fought his way to the summit of Green Hill, ordering his men to form a square, and repulsed multiple Native charges. The fighting went on all afternoon. The Watertown militia and two companies of English cavalry repeatedly attempted to rescue Wadsworth, but ultimately failed to break the Native envelopment and were forced to retreat.

Native warriors then set fire to the dry brush of the hill, choking Wadsworth’s beleaguered company with smoke. In a panic, the English broke and ran. Half the militiamen were killed in the rout, including Wadsworth and Brocklebank. The survivors fled south toward the Goodenow garrison house on Boston Post Road, where Mason’s company and the cavalry were regrouping. Thirteen or fourteen militiamen also took refuge in the fortified Noyes grist mill until they were eventually rescued.

According to Increase Mather, the Natives took “five or six of the English alive” and “stripped them naked, and caused them to run the gauntlet, whipping them after a cruel and bloody manner, and then threw hot ashes upon them cut the flesh of their legs, and put fire into their wounds, delighting to see the miserable torments of wretched creatures.” Hubbard also claims English captives were tortured, but Mary Rowlandson, a captive of the sachem Weetamoo who was present in the Native camp during the battle, makes no mention of it in her memoirs.

Supplemental Reading (online / offline resources)

  1. King Philip's War, by George M. Bodge (Leominster, MA: 1896)
  2. Tracy, Cyrus M., and Henry Wheatland. Standard History of Essex County, Massachusetts, Embracing a History of the County from Its First Settlement to the Present Time, with a History and Description of Its Towns and Cities. The Most Historic County of America. Boston: C.F. Jewett &, 1878. Print. Digital copy available at: http://homepages.rootsweb.ancestry.com/

Nineteenth-Century Wars

At the Battle of Tippecanoe in 1811, Shawnee Chief Tecumseh formed a coalition to slow the flow of settlers into Illinois and Indiana. Territorial Governor William Henry Harrison led a force of soldiers and militia to destroy the Shawnee’s village but agreed to a temporary cease-fire. Tecumseh’s brother, “The Prophet,” ignored the cease-fire and attacked. Harrison prevailed, however, and the Shawnee retreated north.

The War of 1812 was fought between Britain and the United States and their respective Indian allies. Tecumseh’s defeat at the Battle of Tippecanoe led him to support the British. At the Battle of Thames (one of many battles in the War of 1812) along the Thames River in Ontario, British troops and Tecumseh’s coalition were outnumbered and easily defeated again. Tecumseh died in the battle, leading many Indians to abandon the British cause.

By 1814, pro-American Creeks (Lower Creeks) and Creeks who resented Americans (Upper Creeks) were fighting a civil war. At the Battle of Horseshoe Bend in Alabama on March 27, American militia fought alongside Lower Creeks to defeat Upper Creeks. The battle ended with the signing of the Treaty of Fort Jackson and the Creeks ceding almost two million acres of land.

Things Have Changed

On April 21, 1676, somewhere between 500 and 1,500 Indian warriors made their closest approach to Boston during what became known as the Sudbury Fight. It happened during Kings Philip's War of 1675-6, the bloodiest settler-Indian conflict in American history, as measured by the percentage of the male population killed or wounded (THC wrote of the origin, course and memory of the war in the post Bloody Brook). King Philip (native name Metcomet), lived near the Rhode Island/Massachusetts border and an incident involving him triggered the war.

(Map from King Philip's War by George Ellis & John Morris (1906) via U of Chicago.)

By the late winter of 1675-6, Indian attacks had forced the abandonment of the towns of central Massachusetts. Settlers in the Connecticut River Valley towns were huddled closely in several towns for protection and small settlements in Rhode Island, Connecticut, New Hampshire and Maine had come under attack.

In March a meeting of Indian warriors at Mt Wachusetts (see map above) resulted in a decision to attack settlements to the east in the direction of Boston, with Sudbury being the immediate objective (reportedly after rejecting an attack on Concord). Marlboro, Groton and Lancaster were quickly overrun and burned and by the evening of April 20, the warriors were on the outskirts of Sudbury.

At the time, the boundaries of Sudbury were different than they are today, also embracing current-day Wayland as well as Maynard to the northwest. Most of the town's populace was located on the east side of the Sudbury River, in what is now Wayland. Eastern Massachusetts has been densely settled for more than two centuries, but in the latter part of the 17th century, it was on the frontier. Beyond the new town of Marlboro, immediately to the west of Sudbury, there were only scattered settlements in the midst of the woodlands until you reached the Connecticut Valley towns.

All of the frontier towns like Sudbury and Marlboro depended upon local militia for protection against Indian raids from the western wilderness and also upon "garrison" houses selected homesteads strengthened for protection, well-provisioned to withstand sieges and with guns and powder available to which families could flee in times of trouble. There were six garrison houses in Sudbury.

On April 21, there were about 200 defenders of the Sudbury settlement. About 80 local militia along with several columns of militia from other towns were in the area that day.

The action opened with an early morning attack by the Indians on the garrison houses as well as a crossing of the Sudbury River and the burning of some homes in the eastern part of town. The primary target was the Haynes Garrison house, just west of the river, where the siege began at 6 am.

(screenshot from slideshare an excellent presentation on King Philip's War in Marlboro, worth looking at, it can be found here)

Stationed in Marlboro was a company of about 70 under the command of Captain Samuel Wadsworth. While most of the settlement had already been burned, Wadsworth's company was stationed at one of the garrison houses to which he had march through Sudbury without being aware of the gathering force of Indians. Upon hiring firing, Wadsworth took about 50 of his men and began marching towards Sudbury. On another road between Sudbury and Marlboro, a company of 18 mounted men under Captain Edward Cowell was ambushed, with four of his men killed before the Indians withdrew and he cautiously made his way into Sudbury.

Meanwhile, another company of about 40 from Watertown under Captain Hugh Mason mustered and began marching west to Sudbury's relief upon getting the alarm. As they pushed into Sudbury they found the Indians on their front withdrawing.

The siege at Haynes Garrison house continued into early afternoon, with constant shooting and unsuccessful attempts by the Indians to set the house afire. At one point, those in the house watched in horror as 12 Concord men, moving south along the river to help those in Sudbury were ambushed, with only one escaping. Early afternoon saw the end of the garrison house siege as the Indians withdrew.

It was only later in the day that the reasons for the Indian withdrawals became clear Wadsworth's company had fallen into yet another ambush and his force was big enough that all of the Indians in the area were needed to annihilate it. Taking up a position on Green Hill near the Sudbury/Marlboro border, Wadsworth's men waged a desperate struggle that afternoon.

Samuel Wadsworth was already an experienced combat captain in the war. He came from a distinguished family, arriving in Boston, as a two-year old, with his father Christopher aboard The Lion in 1632. Christopher's older brother, William Wadsworth, arrived on the same ship and went on to become one of the founders of Hartford, Connecticut. Young Samuel grew up in Duxbury, near Plymouth, before moving to Milton, southwest of Boston in 1656. There, he and his wife Abagail raised eight children (five surviving into adulthood) on their 300 acre farm. One of his sons, Benjamin, six years old in 1676, went on to become President of Harvard College from 1725 to 1737. Wadsworth House at Harvard, built for Benjamin in 1726, still exists as the second oldest building at the University and served as George Washington's first headquarters when he arrived to take command of the Continental Army in July 1776.

Despite his experience, Wadsworth did not survive the battle - nor did 28 of his soldiers. The survivors were able to break out of the encirclement and seek refuge in the garrison houses. Little is known of the details of the struggle on Green Hill. This account is from the 1906 book by Ellis and Morris on the war:

(Wadsworth monument on Green Hill from U of Chicago page on Ellis & Morris book)

That evening about 125 people - Sudbury families and surviving militia - huddled in the garrison houses on the west side of the river, anticipating a further Indian onslaught the next day. But with dawn nothing happened. The Indians had withdrawn to the west.

The Sudbury Fight was a tactical victory for King Philip's warriors. They had successfully conducted three ambushes - on Cowell and Wadsworth's commands as well as on the Concord men, and destroyed much of Sudbury west of the river. Fifty two militia were dead, while Indian losses may have been as few as four to six. Why the withdrawal occurred remains unknown, but King Philip never resumed the offensive, the initiative quickly moved to the colonials, and the war was over by the end of the year.

THC has always been interested in the events of the Sudbury Fight. From 1973 to 1975 he lived in Sudbury and the foundations of the Haynes Garrison house were still visible along Water Row, adjacent to the river. The Haynes Garrison House stood until 1876 this engraving is from a history of Sudbury (found via Along The King's Highway). He and Mrs THC revisited the site earlier this year and took these photos:

Ipswich, the Brookfield Massacre and King Philip’s War

In May 1660, a group of colonists moved from Ipswich to the Indian town Quaboag in Western Massachusetts, which they renamed Brookfield. Indian attacks known as “King Philip’s War” resulted in the destruction of Brookfield and the deaths of a dozen settlers on August 2, 1675. English soldiers accompanied by Mohegan allies were eventually able to break the siege at Brookfield, with casualties on both sides. Hatfield, Deerfield and Northfield were attacked in September, and Springfield was burned on October 5th.

The leader of the Indian attacks was Metacomet (aka Metacom) leader of the Pokanoket tribe, known by the English as King Philip, who led a bloody uprising of Wampanoag, Nipmuck, Pocumtuck and Narragansett tribes that lasted over a year and destroying twelve frontier towns, the bloodiest war, per capita, in North American history.

In January of 1675, John Sassamon, a Christian Native-American, told Plymouth’s governor, Josiah Winslow, that King Philip was planning an attack against the colonists. Later that month Sassamon was found dead and three Wampanoags were arrested, tried and executed them at Plymouth plantation on June 8. On June 20, Pokanoket warriors looted and set fire to homes in Swansea, then attacked residents returning from church. Officials from Plymouth and Boston responded on June 28 with a military expedition that destroyed the Wampanoag town at Mount Hope (modern Bristol, Rhode Island). The destruction of their village enraged the Narragansett and brought them into into the conflict. Philip escaped but the women and children of the village were sold into slavery by the English.

Ipswich settlers of Brookfield

William Prichard arrived in the colony in 1630 and settled in Ipswich in 1649. In the summer of 1660. By 1675 he was a selectman of Brookfield and serving as Sergeant in the military. On August 2, 1675, Sergeant Prichard, Corporal Coy, and Sergeant Ayres, were slain in an ambush at Braintree. William Pritchard’s son was outside the garrison at Brookfield when the attack began and was slain by the Indians. They cut off his head, tossed it about like a ball in sight of the settlers, and then set on a pole against his dead father’s house.

John Ayres Sr. was a prominent Ipswich resident who promoted the settlement in Quaboag. He also was killed in the ambush by the Indians in New Braintree the same day as the Brookfield massacre. His wife Susannah Ayres survived the attack at Brookfield and moved back to Ipswich with her six sons and one daughter.

Daniel Hovey and his wife Abigail joined the new town in 1668 accompanied by their five younger children, Thomas aged 20, James 18, Joseph 15, Abigail 13, and Nathaniel 11. Their older children, Daniel Jr. and John remained in Ipswich. Daniel Hovey moved again to Hadley and returned to Ipswich after the massacre.

Metacomet’s forces attacked the settlement at Brookfield and tried to set it on fire.

In the early moments of that siege, Daniel’s son James was overtaken and killed by the Indians somewhere near his house. His wife Priscilla and their children took refuge in a tavern surrounded by hundreds of hostile Nipmucs, who tried unsuccessfully to burn it. After three days Major Simon Willard arrived with 46 troops, and they chased off the attackers. James Hovey was buried with the eleven other victims, and the traumatized survivors returned to Ipswich or dispersed to other better-protected communities along the Massachusetts frontier.

After the attack on Brookfield, Priscilla took her three children to join James’ brother Daniel Hovey in Hadley. She left her eldest son also named Daniel in Hadley to be raised and educated by James’ other brother Thomas. The widow returned to Ipswich with her daughter Priscilla and the infant, James Jr. She filed an inventory of the estate in March 16, 1676 and received a small stipend as a war widow from the General Court of Ipswich. James’ death was officially listed as a military casualty.

John Warner and his father William Warner were among the first settlers in the Ipswich Colony, arriving in 1635. The father died in Ipswich in 1648. John Warner married Priscilla, daughter of Mark Symonds of Ipswich where they continued to live for about twenty years. In 1670, he sold to John Woodam his property in Ipswich, consisting of his dwelling house, barn, orchard, and 7 acres of upland “which formerly was part of my father Warner’s meadow in Ipswich.” and he and Priscilla moved to Brookfield. He was one of three men there who arranged the transfer of land with the Indians, built the first house in the new town and is referred to as the “Father of Brookfield”. John and Priscilla survived the attack and retreated with their younger children to Hadley, MA to join their oldest son Mark Warner. Priscilla died in 1688 and John died in 1692.

King Philip’s War

The following excerpts are from Ipswich in the Massachusetts Bay Colony by Thomas Franklin Waters (with additional information added):

Since the year 1653, there had been no fear of Indian assaults. The settlers went to work in the fields, or assembled for public worship, and journeys were made over the lonely roads through the forests without suspicion of danger. But, at last, there were signs of an approaching rupture in the peaceful relations between the English and the Indians.

A chief of commanding influence, Metacun, the son of Massasoit, known commonly by his English name, Philip, dwelt at Mount Hope, near the present town of Bristol, Rhode Island. He had sold his tribal lands so extensively, that his people began to feel the pressure of civilization. The settlers had dealt unfairly in many instances in their traffic with the natives. They had deprived them of their arms, on pretence of treachery, and had occupied their lands without purchase.

Brooding over his wrongs, Philip organized a plot for the extermination of his dangerous neighbors. It was discovered by a Christian Indian, who reported it to the authorities of Plymouth Colony. Philip condemned the informer to death, and he was slain in January, 1674. Three Indians were brought to trial for the crime and sentenced to death. Two of them were executed in June, 1675, and Philip began at once to plan for his revenge.

On the 24th of June, 1675, the first blow was struck. The town of Swansea in the Plymouth colony was attacked and eight or nine of the English were slain. A foot company under Captain Daniel Henchman and Captain Thomas Prentice with a troop of horse were dispatched from Boston toward Mount Hope on the 26th. The state of affairs was critical and with true Puritan reverence, the 29th of June was set apart as a day of humiliation and prayer. The troops met the enemy near Swansea and some lives were lost on both sides.

It soon became evident that a general Indian uprising was imminent. On the 14th of July, Mendon, about 36 miles from Boston and within the bounds of the Massachusetts Colony, was assailed and four or five of the settlers were killed.

In May 1660, a group of colonists moved from Ipswich to the Indian town Quaboag in Western Massachusetts, which they renamed Brookfield. Indian attacks resulted in the destruction of Brookfield and the deaths of a dozen settlers on August 2, 1675. The full horrors of an Indian war were revealed in the bloody affair at Brookfield. Captain Edward Hutchinson, accompanied by his troopers, and some of the men of Brookfield went to the place agreed on with the Indians for a conference, near the town of Brookfield, and not meeting them there, pushed on to find them. In a narrow defile, shut in by a rocky hill on one side and a swamp on the other, they were suddenly fired on, and in the short, sharp fight that followed eight were slain.

Retreating to the town, they made their stand in the garrison house. The Indians assailed them hotly with loud yells. One young man, the son of William Pritchard, who had been slain in the morning, was killed while venturing away from the garrison. They cut off his head, tossed it about in plain sight of the beleaguered settlers, and then set it on a pole against the door of his father’s house. The Indians endeavored repeatedly to burn the garrison house, and, after several unsuccessful attempts, were just completing a long cart filled with combustibles, and provided with poles, with which they could push it against the house. A providential shower wet the kindling wood so thoroughly that it would not burn readily.

The news of this affair must have caused many a panic in Ipswich. The plantation six miles square, near Quabaug Ponds, had been granted by the General Court in 1660 to some persons of Ipswich, if twenty families and an approved minister be there in three years. In 1667, on the 15th of May, the Court voted that the time be extended for a year from the next midsummer, as only six or seven families had settled there. John Warner and William Pritchard removed from Ipswich to the new settlement in the year it was granted, and Captain John Ayres was a resident there in 1672. Sergeant Prichard, Corporal Coy, and Sergeant Ayres, were slain in an ambush at Braintree. The tale of the tragic death of Ayres and the Pritchards, and the sufferings of their families in the garrison house made the war vivid, real and terrible.

The Essex regiment was commanded by Major Denison. The Ipswich company had for its officers, Denison as Captain, Samuel Appleton as Lieutenant and Thomas Burnham as Ensign. The first Essex troop, recruited in Salem and vicinity, and the second Essex troop, which was composed of Ipswich and Newbury men, were also attached to this regiment. Upon the breaking out of the war, Denison had been appointed commander-in-chief of the Massachusetts troops. In the latter part of July a levy of troops had been made in Essex County and immediately after the disaster at Brookfield, Captain Lathrop of Salem was sent with a company from Salem and the neighboring towns, including some from Ipswich. Captain Beers also marched from Watertown with his command. The troops gathered at Brookfield and Hadley, but no body of Indians was discovered. Many towns were threatened and the soldiers were kept on the move.

With the beginning of September, the war was pressed most vigorously along the Connecticut River. On the first of that month, Deerfield was burned and one man killed. Two or three days later, the Indians attacked Squakeag, now Northfield, where they killed nine or ten of the people. The next day Captain Beers, with thirty-six men, marched to relieve the garrison at Squakeag, not hearing of the disaster of the day before, and was ambushed by a large number of Indians. He made a brave defence, but after a valiant fight, he and about twenty of his men were slain.

Rev. William Hubbard, in his History of the Indian Wars, remarks, in this connection:

“Here the barbarous villains showed their insolent Rage and Cruelty, more than ever before, cutting off the Heads of some of the Slain, and fixing them upon Poles near the Highway and not only so, but one was found with a Chain hooked into his under Jaw, and so hung up on the Bow of a Tree (’tis feared he was hung up alive) by which Means they thought to daunt and discourage any that might come to their Relief, and also to terrify those that should be Spectators with the Beholding so sad an object insomuch that Major Treat with his Company, going up two days after, to fetch of the Residue of the Garrison, were solemnly affected with that doleful Sight, which made them make the more Haste to bring down the Garrison, not waiting for any Opportunity to take Revenge upon the Enemy, having but a hundred with him, too few for such a purpose. Captain Appleton going up after him, met him coming down, and would willingly have persuaded them to have turned back, to see if they could have made any Spoil upon the Enemy but the greatest Part advised to the Contrary, so that they were all forced to return with what they could carry away leaving the Rest for a Booty to the Enemy, who shall ere long pay a sad Reckoning for their Robberies and Cruelties, in the Time appointed.”

Samuel Appleton

Captain Samuel Appleton had taken the field with his company about the first of September, and he and his Ipswich soldiers had a gruesome beginning of their warfare, marching over the road lined with the dismembered bodies of their fellow soldiers, and the smoking ruins of the farms. The troops were distributed at garrisons at Northampton, Hatfield, Deerfield and Hadley. Captain Appleton was stationed at Deerfield and arrived there about the tenth of September. On the 17th of August, Gen. Denison sent orders from Boston to Major Richard Waldron to proceed to Pennicook (Concord), “supposed to be the rendezvous of ye enemy where you may expect to meet Capt. Mosely, who is ordered thither.” He instructed him to take a surgeon with him, and informed him that the main body of the soldiers was at Hadley.

The Battle of Bloody Brook was fought on September 18, 1675 between English colonial militia from the Massachusetts Bay Colony and a band of Indians led by the Nipmuc sachem Muttawmp. The Indians ambushed colonists escorting a train of wagons carrying the harvest from Deerfield to Hadley during King Philip’s War. They killed at least 40 militia men and 17 teamsters out of a company that included 79 militia. Image from “Pioneers in the settlement of America” by William A. Crafts

Bloody Brook

On Sunday the 12th of September, the soldiers and settlers at Deerfield gathered for worship in the stockade. Returning, the north garrison was ambushed with the loss of one man captured. Appleton rallied his men and attacked them and drove them off, but the north fort had been plundered and set on fire, and much of the settlers’ stock stolen. As he had not force enough to guard the forts and engage in offensive operations, the Indians still hung round insultingly and burned two more houses. A storm prevented action that night, but the next night a party of volunteers, with a few from Hadley, and some of Lathrop’s men came up to the relief of the town.

On the 14th, the united forces under Appleton marched to Pine Hill. Spies had doubtless reported the arrival of reinforcements, and the Indians had all fled. It was decided that Deerfield should be abandoned, and as there was a large amount of corn already threshed, it was loaded on carts and Captain Lathrop was detailed to guard the teams on their way to Hadley. No Indians were known to be in the neighborhood. The Ipswich Historian, Rev. Hubbard wrote, “Upon September 18, “that most fatal Day, the Saddest that ever befell New England, as the Company were marching along with the Carts never apprehending Danger so near, were suddenly set upon, and almost all cut off (not above seven or eight escaping).”

The number of the slain, including Captain Lathrop, as reported by Rev. John Russell of Hadley in a letter written shortly afterward, was seventy-one. Only a few escaped. Among the dead, were several Ipswich men, Thomas Hobbs, Caleb Kimball, John Littlehale, Thomas Manning, Thomas Mentor, and Jacob Wainwright. They were all buried in a single grave near the place where they fell. Rev. Mr. Hubbard narrates:

“As Captain Mosely came upon the Indians in the Morning, he found them stripping the Slain, amongst whom was one Robert Dutch of Ipswich, having been sorely wounded by a Bullet that grazed to his Skull, and then mauled by the Indian Hatchets, was left for dead by the savages, and stript by them of all but his skin yet when Captain Mosely came near, he almost miraculously, as one raised from the Dead, came towards the English, to their no small Amazement, by whom being received and clothed, he was carried off to the next Garrison, and is living and in perfect Health at this Day.”

Battle at Hadley

Captain Appleton and his Ipswich company were stationed at Hadley, and his value as a military leader was becoming more and more evident to the Council of the Col ony. Instructions were sent to Captain Wayte: “It is ordered that there be a commission issued forth to Capt. Samuel Appleton to command a foot Company of 100 men In the service of ye country. On the 5th of October, Captain Mosely wrote from Hadley, “Major Pinchon is gone with Capt. Appleton with a company of above 190 soldiers. They hurried to Springfield but found the town in flames, and the Indians already fled. Major Pynchon’s grist mills, Rev. Mr. Glover’s Parsonage with his valuable library, and nearly all the buildings were destroyed.” Rev. John Russell wrote a letter which described the disaster, and lamented that Hadley would be the next to drink the bitter cup.

Captain Samuel Appleton was Commander in chief at the headquarters at Hadley. The position to which he was called was full of difficulty. The Indians had ravaged the country so sorely and had inflicted such terrible losses upon the forces sent against them, that a general feeling of discouragement prevailed. On the 19th of October, an attack was made upon Hatfield, but Appleton had foreseen the danger and provided for it. Mr. Hubbard gives a vivid narrative of the fight:

“According to the good Providence of Almighty God, Major Treat was newly returned to Northampton, Captain Mosely and Captain Poole were then garrisoning the said Hatfield, and Captain Appleton quartering at Hadley, when on the sudden seven or eight hundred of the Enemy came upon the Town in all Quarters, having first killed or taken two or three Scouts belonging to the Town, and seven more belonging to Captain Mosely his company. But they were so well entertained on all hands where they attempted to break in upon the Town, that they found it too hot for them, by the Resolution of the English instantly beaten off, without doing much harm. Captain Appleton’s Sergeant was mortally wounded just by his side, another bullet passing through his own hair, by that whisper telling him that Death was very near but did no other harm.”

Major Appleton led a two-hour attack against Metacom’s fighters in Springfield which resulted in the first setback by the Indians. This was the first decisive defeat inflicted upon the Indians. Col. Appleton began the distribution of the Massachusetts troops among the exposed towns. Twenty-nine soldiers under Captain Aaron Cooke were stationed at Westfield. Twenty-nine were sent to Springfield under command of Major Pynchon, Lieut. Clarke and twenty-six men. 197 were left at Northampton, thirty at Hadley commanded by Captain Jonathan Poole, and thirty-six at Hatfield.

Return to Ipswich

Having made this provision for the defense of the frontier towns, Major Appleton marched home, probably about November 24th. A feeling of comfortable security filled the town, when the Major and his soldiers returned. A few weeks before, the Indians had appeared at Salisbury, and General Denison marched thither with his troops. The outposts at Topsfield and Andover were greatly alarmed at seeing Indians.

“It is hardly imaginable,” Denison wrote from Ipswich on the 28th of October, “the panic and fear that is upon our upland plantations, and scattered places, respecting their habitations.” The General Court on October 13th had ordered a guard of two men, appointed by General Denison or the chief commander of the town of Ipswich, to keep watch at Deputy Governor Symonds’s Argilla farm, as it was “so remote from neighbours, and he so much necessitated to be on the country’s service.”

No doubt the distracted people slept more soundly, and gathered hope and strength. But the interval of calm was short. Scarcely had Appleton and his men returned from their campaign, when they were summoned into the field for a united assault upon the Narragansett Indians in their stronghold.

The Great Swamp Fight

Major Appleton marched away on the eighth of December as the whole Massachusetts force mustered on Dedham Plain on the ninth. There were five companies, commanded by Captains Mosely, Gardner, Davenport, Oliver and Johnson, beside the company of which Major Appleton was Captain. Major Appleton led his force on that winter’s day, December 9th, a long march of twenty-seven miles to “Woodcoks” now Attleboro, and another day brought them to Seekonk. On December 14th, as his scouts had brought in some Indians, he led his troops, foot and horse, on a detour into the Indian country, and burned a hundred and fifty wigwams, killed seven of the enemy and brought in eight prisoners. As the army advanced, several of the soldiers, straggling from their companies, were slain by roving bands of Indians.

By the 18th of December, the Connecticut and Plymouth soldiers had joined the Massachusetts regiment, and as provisions were scarce and the cold was sharp, an advance was made at once. A heavy snowstorm came on. There was no shelter for officers or common soldiers, and after a long and trying march, they lay down in the snow, “finding no other defense all that Night, save the open air, nor other covering than a cold and moist fleece of snow.” At daylight the march was resumed.

Rev. Mr. Hubbard, recording the substance of many conversations with the Major and his men, informs us that “They marched from the break of the next day, December 19th till one of the Clock in the Afternoon, without either Fire to warm them, or Respite to take any Food save what they could chew on their March.” They wallowed through snow, two or three feet deep, with many frostbitten in their hands and feet, fourteen or fifteen miles to the edge of a swamp, where their Indian guides affirmed the Narragansetts had their stronghold. Captain Mosely and Captain Davenport led the vanguard, Captain Gardner and Captain Johnson followed, Major Appleton and Captain Oliver brought up the rear of the Massachusetts force. The Plymouth soldiers with General Winslow marched in the center, and the Connecticut men under Major Treat formed the rear guard of the little army.

Depiction of the colonial assault on the Narragansetts’ fort in the Great Swamp Fight in December 1675

Notwithstanding the hardships of their march, the soldiers rushed impetuously into the swamp, without waiting the word of command, and pursued the Indians, who had shown themselves to the fort, which had been built on an island, and strongly defended with an impassable palisade of logs, stuck upright, and a dense hedge. The Indians held their ground with great determination, but after several hours of sharp fighting, their wigwams were set on fire, and they were put to rout with great slaughter. It was a dearly bought victory. Three of the six Massachusetts Captains, Davenport, Gardner and Johnson, and three Connecticut captains lay dead, and many officers and men were wounded.

The short winter day was spent before the battle was done, and as the Indian fort was deemed an unsafe camp, the desperate alternative remained of marching back to the nearest settlement, full fifteen or sixteen miles, after night had fallen. Bearing their dead, and helping the wounded, the survivors struggled back. The horrors of that night march pass imagination. Many of the wounded perished by the way, and the strongest were completely spent before a safe shelter was reached. Four of Major Appleton’s soldiers were killed, Samuel Taylor of Ipswich, Isaac Ellery of Gloucester, Daniel Rolfe of Newbury and Samuel Tyler of Rowley. Eighteen were wounded, including John Denison, George Timson, and Thomas Dow of Ipswich.

It is believed that up to 150 Indian inhabitants, many of them women, children, and the elderly, were killed or burned alive, while others fled across the swamp and died from exposure. Seventy of the Colonial forces died, and many more wounded. A second body of recruits was sent to Major Appleton a little later. Provisions were scant, and men and horses were sorely pinched with hunger. Many of the horses were killed and eaten and the campaign was long remembered as the Hungry March.

The soldiers arrived home early in February, and Major Appleton seems to have retired from active service. Within a week after their return, the weary soldiers, scarcely restored from the exhausting ordeal of the Hungry March, were again in the field. Alarming reports had come of the disaster at Lancaster, where Nipmucs from Nashaway staged an attack, led by the sachem Monoco. Redfield was soon burned, and on February 25th, Weymouth was partly destroyed. In March, Groton was surprised and burnt, and the inhabitants fled in terror, abandoning the settlement. Wrentham was abandoned in similar fashion. The Indians moved rapidly from point to point small parties appeared suddenly in the most unexpected localities, killing a man or two, and then disappearing, “skulking up and down in swamps and holes, to assault any that occasionally looked never so little into the woods.”

The towns in the Connecticut Valley were panic struck. A new army was immediately ordered, and fresh levies of foot and horse soldiers were ordered by the General Court on the 21st of February. Cornet John Whipple of Ipswich, who had already served with honor in the earlier campaigns, was made Captain of the new troop of horse, and Major General Denison was ordered to Marlborough to dispose the soldiers gathered there under the several captains, and take charge of the campaign. Captain Brocklebank of Rowley was placed in command of the Marlborough garrison.

Attack on Sudbury

Alarming reports were soon brought to Ipswich of the approach of marauding bands. General Denison was at home, and his letter of the 19th of March to Secretary Rawson reveals a time of alarm and nervous apprehension of an attack, in which his presence must have been a source of great comfort to the community. But the hours wore on, no alarm was given, and gradually confidence returned to the distressed town. The fortification was around the meeting-house, and one of the garrison houses was near the River. Every able-bodied man was trained and disciplined. Every family was anxious. Meanwhile the men at the front were eager for release. Spring was at hand and the planting of their fields required their presence.

On April 21st, the neighboring town of Sudbury was surprised. Captain Wadsworth was sent from Boston with fifty soldiers to relieve the Marlborough garrison. They made a hurried march of twenty-five miles, reaching Marlborough at night. Finding that the enemy was at Sudbury ten miles away, without allowing themselves time for rest, they hastened thither, with Captain Brocklebank and some of the garrison, accompanying them. Near Sudbury, they met a small body of Indians, who withdrew at their approach and lured them into the woods. There a great body assailed them. The weary soldiers made a brave defense, but they were hopelessly outnumbered. Captain Wadsworth fell, and Captain Brocklebank, whom Mr. Hubbard characterizes as “a choice spirited Man, much lamented by the Town of Rowley, to which he belonged.” More than thirty soldiers, it is believed, were slain, as they were making their retreat from the hilltop, where they had made a brave stand for four hours. This was the last great tragedy of the War. Later operations against the Indians were uniformly successful.

Death of King Philip

On August 12, 1676, Philip’s secret headquarters in Mount Hope near Bristol Rhode Island was discovered. Captain Church had been informed of Philip’s secret hideout by one of his warriors whose brother was killed by Philip for offering to negotiate with the English. Philip was slain along and his wife and children taken captive and sold into slavery in the West Indies. Five of his warriors died by his side while the others escaped through the woods. In Plymouth, King Philip’s body was drawn and quartered and his head was publicly displayed on a stake.

The Eastern War

Many of the Indians, who had been scattered by the successful tactics on the Connecticut, made their way to the Indian tribes in the neighborhood of Casco Bay, and incited them to rise against the white men. Hostilities began there in September, 1676, and attacks were soon made on Oyster River and Durham, N. H., and Exeter. An old man was shot down on the road to Hampton. York suffered on the 26th of September, and the whole country about the Piscataqua was in alarm. Men, women and little children were killed and scalped, houses and barns burned, and cattle driven away.

Mr. Hubbard gives a distressing account of the outrages committed by the Indians in the neighborhood of the Kennebec river. The whole country was a scene of desolation, houses burned, crops destroyed, and many lives lost. Early in October, the alarming tidings came that the settlement at Cape Neddick had been burned. Major Appleton was dispatched to the Eastward under orders, dated October 19th, to take charge of all the forces. He seems to have declined this responsibility, as the order was rescinded.

Mugg’s visit to Ipswich

A vigorous march was made to Ossipee, where it was reported there was a great gathering of Indians. The confrontations spread into a series of battles in Maine known as the Eastern War. On October 12, 1676 about 100 Indian warriors made an assault on an English settlement at Black Point near Portland, Maine and took a number of captives. A couple of weeks later an Arosagunticook chief named Mugg Hegon visited General Dennison in Piscataqua (Portsmouth) and declared that the Indians were desirous of peace. Mugg was taken, perhaps forcibly, to Boston for negotiations with a promise of safe passage, and on Nov. 6 he concluded a treaty with the English for the Eastern Indians.

While Mugg was away however, a force was sent to attack the Indians at their winter quarters. The fortification was burned but the Indians managed to escape. Among the captives in the first attack was the son of Harvard-educated Rev. Thomas Cobbett of Ipswich.

The pastor was not universally popular. A former parishioner claimed he “had as leave to hear a dog bark as to hear Mr. Cobbett preach” and Luke Perkins who lived near the wharf was whipped for saying the minister was “more fit to be in a hog sty than in a pulpit”. You can imagine the townspeople’s surprise when the ship carrying Mugg arrived at the Ipswich wharf, allowing Mugg to visit Rev. Cobbet at his home on East Street to negotiate a ransom for his son. The deal was struck, and when Mugg returned to Maine the young Cobbett was soon released in exchange for a coat as ransom to the Sagamore who was holding him. Mugg proposed to the English that he be allowed to go into the wilderness to bring back the captives, promising to return with them within four days. The vessels awaited his reappearance in vain.

An expedition was dispatched to the East under Major Walderne early in February, but it accomplished little and arrived back in Boston on the 11th of March. When Mugg heard about the attack during his absence, and knowing that his own people felt he had betrayed them, he rejoined the war and resumed hostilities in April. Again came the call for soldiers and again the dauntless men of Ipswich had their place in the little army that was hurried to the front. The enemy was close at hand in Wells, York, and Portsmouth, but the decisive event of the campaign happened at Black Point, where Captain Lovett’s company was led into an ambush and he and about forty of his command were slain. Mugg was killed at the reestablished garrison at Black Point on May 16, 1677, the place his forces had captured the preceding year, after conducting a second attack against the English. (read William Hubbard’s different version of this story)

General Denison

The contribution of Ipswich to the army was notable. General Denison was the commander-in-chief of all the forces of the Colony. Major Appleton brought the first campaign to a victorious close, and by his decisive repulse of the Indians at Hatfield and elsewhere saved not only the Connecticut towns from destruction, but delivered the Colony from their invasions. His services in the Narragansett winter campaign were of great value.

The danger came no nearer to Ipswich. Peace settled gradually upon the community wearied and worn with so many alarms. The strain upon the life of the Colony had been intense. The financial burden of equipping troops, maintaining them in the field, and meeting losses occasioned by the burning of houses and of whole towns was most oppressive. The drain upon the young life was exhausting. Scarcely a family could have escaped the anxiety due to the presence of some member in the field, or the grief over his death.

Ipswich soldiers in King Philip’s War

The following list of names has been compiled, which may be presumed to be substantially correct. Nathaniel Adams, Simon Adams, Alexander Alhor, Thomas Andrews, Richard Bidford, Job Bishop, Samuel Bishop, Christopher Bolles, Thomas Bray, Richard Briar, Josiah Briggs, John Browne, James Burbee, Andrew Burley, James Burnam, Thomas Burns, Samuel Chapman, John Chub, Josiah Clark, Isaac Cumins, Philemon Deane, John Denison, Thomas Dennis, Thomas Dow, Robert Dutch, John Edwards, Nathaniel Emerson, Peter Emons, Jonathan Fantum, Thomas Faussee, Ephraim Fellows, Isaac Fellows, Joseph Fellows, Abram Fitz, James Foord, Thomas French, Samuel Giddings, John Gilbert, Amos Gourdine, Simon Grow, Thomas Hobbs, William Hodgskin, Israeli Hunewell, Samuel Hunt, Jr., Samuel Itigols, Joseph Jacobs, Richard Jacobs, Thomas Jaques, Jeremiah Jewett, Joseph Jewett, Thomas Killom, Caleb Kimball, Abraham Knowlton, John Knowlton, John Lambert, Nathaniel Lampson, Richard Lewis, John Leyton, John Line, John Littlehale, Nathaniel Lord, Jolin Lovel, Jonathan Lummus, Peter Lurvey, Thomas Manning, Joseph Marshall, Thomas Meritor, Edward Neland, Benjamin Newman, Thomas Newman, Zaccheus Newmarsh, Richard Pasmore, Samuel Peirce, John Pengry, Aaron Pengry, John Pengry, Moses Pengry, Isaac Perkins, John Perkins, Samuel Perkins, Andrew Peters, Thomas Philips, Samuel Pipin, Samuel Pooler, Edmond Potter, John Potter, Richard Prior, Joseph Proctor, William Quarles, Daniel Ringe, Nathaniel Rogers, Israh Ross, Ariel Saddler, Joseph Safford, Thomas Scott, Samuel Smith, Thomas Smith, Thomas Sparks, Samuel Stevens, George Stimson, Seth Story, William Story, Samuel Taylor, John Thomas, Jonathan Wade, Thomas Wade, Uzall Warden. Francis Wainwright, Jacob Wainwright, Thomas Wayte, Benjamin Webster, John Whipple, Nathaniel Wood, Francis Young, and Lewis Zachariah.

Treatment of the Indians

In the treatment of the Indians, there was an excess of virulent hate that is painful, though not surprising. Allowance must be made for the natural hatred roused by the craft and cruelties of the Indians, and their ingratitude for kind treatment, yet a fair-minded man like Major Ciookin found much to blame in the unrighteous dealings of the English with “the inferior race.” Two hundred were captured by craft at Dover, though no crime was proved against them, and sold into slavery. King Philip’s son, a lad of tender years was sent to Barbadoes as a slave. Twenty shillings bounty was offered for every Indian scalp and forty shillings for every prisoner in the Eastern campaign. Captain Mosely captured an Indian woman early in the war, and in the postscript of his letter to the Governor, he wrote: “This aforesaid Indian was ordered to be torn in pieces by Dogs and she was so dealt withal.”

The Praying Indians

In 1646, the General Court of Massachusetts passed an “Act for the Propagation of the Gospel amongst the Indians.” Christian Indian towns were established in Eastern and Central Massachusetts, including Littleton, Chelmsford, Grafton, Marlborough, Hopkinton, Canton, Mendon and Natick, serving as a barrier between the Colonists and local tribes. At the beginning of King Philip’s War, Praying Indians offered their service as scouts to the English in Massachusetts but were generally confined to their villages. An Order for their removal was passed in October 1675, and 500 Christian Indians were confined to Deer island in Boston Harbor. When they were released in 1676, only 167 had survived. After the war, in 1677 the General Court of Massachusetts disbanded 10 of the original 14 towns and placed the rest under English supervision.

Daniel Gookin was a missionary to the Nipmuck Indians who he claimed were wrongly persecuted by Colonial forces. In his letter, Historical Account of the Doings and Sufferings of the Christian Indians in New England in the Years 1675-1677 he accuses the New England colonists as overcome by a “spirit of enmity and hatred” for not realising that they were subjugating those who had “proved so faithful to the English interest.”

The war had terrible consequences for both sides. Thousands of Algonquians were killed and hundreds were sold into slavery, resulting in the end of the Algonquian world.

References and further reading:

    by Thomas Franklin Waters by William M. Hubbard Ellis and Morris by J. H. Temple by George M. Bodge by John Stevens Cabot by Henry Trumbull, Mrs. Johnson (Susannah Willard), Zadock Steele

The Legend of Heartbreak Hill - "In Ipswich town, not far from the sea, rises a hill which the people call Heartbreak Hill, and its history is an old, old legend known to all." The Great Dying 1616-1619, “By God’s visitation, a wonderful plague” - An estimated 18,000,000 Native Americans lived in North America before the 17th Century. The arrival of 102 Pilgrims aboard the Mayflower at Plymouth in 1620 and the settlements by the Puritans a decade later were accompanied by the demise of the native population of North America. Who Were the Agawam Indians, Really? - It’s hard for people to change their stories—so embedded in deep time and official canon, even when there is a better explanation or a closer truth. I hope it will be possible to change public knowledge about the Native Americans who lived here and get closer to the truth.

The Amazing Story of Hannah Duston, March 14, 1697 - Hannah Duston was born in Ipswich in 1657 while her mother was visiting her relatives the Shatswells. A bronze statue in Haverhill honors her daring escape, killing and scalping a dozen Abanaki captors.

The Bull Brook Paleo-Indian Discovery - in the early 1950's, a group of young amateur archeologists men discovered one of the largest Paleo-Indian sites in North America along the banks of Bull Brook and the Egypt River in Ipswich, with over 6,000 artifacts uncovered.

Emma Jane Mitchell Safford - Emma Jane Mitchell Safford was a descendant of Massasoit, Sachem of the Wampanoag. Her daughter, also Emma, tried to help her relatives regain land taken from them on the reservation.

Ipswich, the Brookfield Massacre and King Philip’s War - In 1660, a group of Ipswich families settled in Quaboag which they renamed Brookfield. Indian attacks in 1675 resulted in its destruction.

Living Descendants of the Native Americans of Agawam - Descendants of the Pawtucket are living in Abenaki, Pequaket, Penobscot, and Micmac communities today in Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, and Nova Scotia. The Tragedy of the Wilderness: The Colonists and Indian Land, Part 4 - Native Americans and settlers managed to impoverish themselves through overexploitation of the wider environment. At the same time, they both also selectively protected species, custom-designed habitats for them, and practiced common-sense conservation of trees, soil, fish stocks, and water

“Brought to Civility” — The Colonists and Indian Land, Part 2 - The idea of private property was alien to Native Americans, but the practice of private ownership apparently was not a feature of colonial life either. Discovery of native American shell heap on Treadwell’s Island, 1882 - In1882, a shell heap on the shore of Treadwell's Island was observed to contain nearly two quarts of human bones, broken into short pieces. Native American Influence on English Fashions - In contact situations in the early 17th century, Europeans were quick to grasp the essential humanity of Native Americans and admired their appearance and physical fitness. Soon, upper-class English wore American feathers and furs, Native Americans prized English woven fabrics and garments, especially tailored shirts.

PTSD in the Massachusetts Bay Colony - The Great Migration brought nearly 14,000 Puritan settlers, unprepared for the hardships and trauma that awaited them. Building a new society in the wilderness induced transgenerational post-traumatic stress and mass conversion disorder, culminating in the Salem Witch Trials.

The Bones of Masconomet - On March 6, 1659 a young man named Robert Cross dug up the remains of the Agawam chief Masconomet, and carried his skull on a pole through Ipswich streets, an act for which Cross was imprisoned, sent to the stocks, then returned to prison until a fine was paid. Ancient Prejudice against “the Indians” Persists in Essex County Today - Beneath broad acceptance of Indian rights and benign admiration for aspects of Native culture lies inherited hostility toward Native people. Unrecognized, it has gone unchallenged, but locally I have found it evident in these six ways. Disorder in the Corn Fields: The Colonists and Indian Land, Part 3 - Today, vestiges of the Commons survive here as city parks or conservation lands, such as the South Green in Ipswich, and public gardens, such as Boston Common.

“That we may avoid the least scrupulo of intrusion” – The Colonists and Indian Land, Part I - More than the concepts of sovereignty and private property, the commodification of nature in the service of mercantile capitalism was the crux of the problem.

Manitou in Context - The creator power was regarded as the equal of other powers in the skyworld and the underworld, but it is Kitanitowit’s Gitchi Manitou that ascended to prominence under the influence of Christianity. Of all the great spirits, it most resembled the Christian God and was transformed accordingly during the Contact Period.

Watch the video: King Philips War (May 2022).


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  3. Warren

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