History of King Philip's War

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The purpose of this booklet is not to tell a complete story of the Indian war, but rather to make a brief resume of the warlike activities which took place within the territory to which this story relates and the activities of King Philip as the leader of the Pokanoket Nation and the Indians who exercised leadership in the Pocasset and Sakonnet tribes, including Squaw Sachem's
Weetamoe and Awashonks and their subjects.
1. Chapter V
King Philip ' s War
It is not my purpose in this chapter to tell a complete story of the Indian war, but rather t o
make a brief resume of the warlike activities which took place within the territory to which thi s
story relates and the activities of King Philip as the leader of the Pokonoket nation and of th e
Indians who exercised leadership in the Pocasset and Sakonet tribes, including Squaw Sachem s
Weetamoe and Awashonks and their subjects . Even here I shall not attempt to include all
that is generally known about them, but to be rather exhaustive in the researches I have per-
sonally made.
The Indian war of 1675 interrupted the building of homes upon thos e
lands which had been purchased from the natives along the shores of
Narragansett Bay. While lands along the Providence River and on th e
island of Rhode Island had been occupied by the colonists for almost tw o
score years and dwellings there were numerous, and while lands on th e
easterly shore of Narragansett Bay lying northerly of the falls river an d
south of Tiverton had been allotted to the proposed settlers, there had been
very limited building operations in these sections . The land lying betwee n
the falls river and the southerly line of Tiverton and the vast hinterlan d
extending to the Lakeville Ponds, as well as the Mount Hope lands an d
much territory to the west of the Taunton River as far northerly as the nort h
line of Berkley, was still in the possession and control of the Indians an d
their ownership continued to the end of hostilities, at which time theselands
came into the possession of Plymouth Colony and many were sold to pa y
the debts of the war .
There is a tendency among historians to treat this Indian war as a n
unjust war of persecution and conquest, and instances have been cited
where the white man acquired land by improper means but no such infer-
ence can be drawn from the treatment accorded to King Philip and hi s
lands by the Colony of Plymouth which had a co-extensive territorial limi t
with those of his Indian nation . Plymouth Colony always maintained a
fair and just attitude toward individual and tribal Indian rights . While
individual wrongful acts on both sides can, of course, be cited, Indian mis -
deeds were more frequently ignored and less severely punished in Plymout h
Colony than those which were committed by the white men . The Indians ,
including Philip himself (Volume V, page 24) had become frequent liti-
gants as petitioners in the Plymouth Courts and records show that the y
invariably received justice . (Many instances of this character I have re-
ferred to specifically in another chapter .)
The first mortality of the Indian war which is recorded in the Plymout h
Colony records occurred on the banks of the fall river stream when Thoma s
Layton was killed there on June 24, 1675 (Volume X, p . 364) .11 He was a
Portsmouth man and he and his brother George were both signers of the
original compact there in 1639 . He had been at various times an oversee r
of the poor, assessor, constable and commissioner but as he is not mentione d
in Portsmouth records for several years prior to his death, it is believed tha t
he had settled upon Plymouth lands and probably in Dartmouth when in
1652 those lands were bought. We find that an Isaac Layton and a Joh n
Layton are referred to in the colony records relating to Dartmouth, th e
former as a proprietor and the latter for not attending public worshi p
(Vol. V, 169) . (John Layton was ordered to mend his ways or depart . )
Out of a total of twelve Indian tribes which were component parts o f
the Pokonoket nation, headed by Sachem Philip, only three (the Pocassets ,
Sakonets and Wampanoags) took part in the war, and these three tribe s
were the most remote from Plymouth. Philip had been pampered by th e
Bay colony, had been prejudiced by his brother's widow (Squa Weetamoe )
and had listened to old Anawan, until he felt obliged to resort to massacr e
to uphold his prestige. He saw that a large majority of his tribes ha d
adopted the new civilization, saw their improved social condition, thei r
easier lives, and at the same time knew that his authority and power were
waning. Although he had adopted a certain measure of civilization himsel f
(including the keeping of swine, see Portsmouth record of June 7, 1669 )
the praying Indians no longer recognized him as supreme, his winter lif e
in the wigwam was severe when compared with the adopted home-life o f
Indian servants in the white men's houses, and he felt peeved, felt the
ultimate end of his nation in world progress, and knew that it must be me t
either by acceptance or war . Bad counsel pushed him into the contes t
which he himself knew would most likely mean his banishment or death .
Citations referring only to "vol . etc." refer to the "Records of Plymouth Colony" which were published b y
the State of Massachusetts in 1855 .
He entered the war in violation of his tribal treaties and contrary to hi s
promises, brought massacre upon those who had risked their own lives t o
restrain his tribal enemies from eliminating his own nation .
Philip 's first act as sachem was to complain about the relationshi p
existing between Weetamoe and the Narragansetts . In this instance the
Plymouth Court was palliative, for while advising Weetamoe to dismis s
the Indians who were entertained by her "to Philip's offense", the Cour t
also suggested that "unkindness be buried and that they live in peace and
love" . Almost immediately thereafter Philip began to claim further com-
pensation for the lands which his elder brother and father had sold, and
a series of readjustments followed ; he was given eleven pounds in good s
"to continue peace and friendship" on account of a disputed boundar yline
at New Meadows Neck (in Barrington, R . I.) ; he was given ten pounds
to prevent any claim of his " in marking out the bounds of Acushena an d
Coaxet (Dartmouth, which also included the present city of New Bedford) .
In July, 1664 the town of Plymouth offered him a " gratuity" for his " satis -
faction, reward and encouragement " if he would confirm their title in the
Puncatest lands . 3 (This was the land concerning which Weetamoe had
filed complaint in 1662 .) Although the extension of the colony line s
alarmed him, he evidently preferred money to his lands for in 1664 h e
sold Mattapoiset, which was in the Pocasset territory and was the ancestral
home of Corbitant, his daughter Weetamoe and of his own wife Woo-
tonekamuske, to William Brenton of Newport. His wife joined in this deed .
The Pilgrims seemed to have always been conciliatory to Philip' s
demands, but when in June 1669 he put several swine on Hog Island ,
which was claimed by the "Antinomians" of Rhode Island to be a part o f
Portsmouth, and which Massasoit had deeded away to one Richard Smith,
the town brusquely informed him that he was intruding on the town' s
rights and directed him to "forthwith remove said swine " .
On August 6, 1662 it having been brought to Philip ' s attention that he
was suspected of some plot against the English, he appeared before th e
Court at Plymouth, and " earnestly desiring a continuance of amity an d
friendship" he signed articles indicating a continuance of the former treaty .
He offered one of his brothers as a hostage until his fealty could be proved ,
but this offer was declined. His principal chieftains executed the treaty .
2 This was not an unusual thing for Indians to do
. Pumham joined in the sale of portions of Warwick t o
Rev. Samuel Gorton " agreeably to the laws and usages of the Indians", yet he subsequently claimed owner -
ship. Drake III . 71 .
.Town-Bk1 Pl 3 .
4 Portsmouth, p. 149.
He seemed to rely upon the Plymouth Courts to enforce his rights . In
March 1663 he complained about certain inhabitants of Rehoboth fo r
felling some of his swamp timber, and Captain Willet made a satisfactor y
Nothing further occurred to mar the friendly relationship betwee n
Philip and the Plymouth colonists until he had been a sachem for fiv e
years . In the spring of 1667 one of his captains reported to Plymouth tha t
Philip had told his men that he was willing to join with either the French
or Dutch settlements against the English in order to enrich his warriors wit h
their lands and goods . Although little credence was placed on such India n
rumors, the Court set out to ascertain the facts and a party of prominen t
colonial officials was sent to bring Philip and his captain to a conference .
The captain reaffirmed his statement and Philip denied it, alleging that
Ninigret had hired his captain to spread the rumor.
On June 4, 16676 Philip came before the Court and produced a letter
from a Narragansett sachem which tended to corroborate his statemen t
about Ninigret, but the Court being suspicious of the letter sent two arm y
officers to Narragansett who caused the sachem to be brought before the
Warwick Court . Upon examination he denied that he had written an y
letter concerning Ninigret. Roger Williams also spoke favorably of Nini-
gret so that the Plymouth Court, in view of the fact that Philip was presen t
and still continued his professions of love and faithfulness, concluded tha t
Philip's tongue "had been running out" but judged it better to keep a
. eye over him and to continue terms of "love and amity" Philip
continued to appeal to the Court and in October 1668 he demanded justic e
against one Franci sWat concerning a gun and some swine. The select-
men of Taunton furnished relief .
In 1671 Philip appeared in Boston and misrepresented certain fact s
concerning the Plymouth Court ; and reports increasing as to his entertain -
ment of strange Indians, he was asked to appear before the Septembe r
Court. Philip failed to appear and went to Boston and made further com-
plaint there, whereupon the Massachusetts authorities tendering their ai d
to adjust the matter, it was arranged to have a joint conference in Plymout h
on September 24, 1671 . A fair and deliberate hearing was then had, Phili p
being present with interpreters . The conference lasted till September 29 .
6 Ply. Col. Vol . 4. p. 151 .
6 Ply. Col. Vol . 4, p. 164.
7 Ply. Col. Book IV, p . 166 (July 2nd, 1667 . )
8 Ply. Col. Book V . p . 6.
It was found, in accord with PhiIip ' s admission, that he had refused to
have a right understanding of the matters in dispute and that he had har-
bored and abetted strange vagabond Indians, professed enemies of the
English, who had left their own sachem .
Even after this the terms of the old treaty rights were continued an d
Philip often relied on the Plymouth Court for aid in his tribal administration .
On September 20, 1672 Philip accepted a reference by the Court to settl e
the boundary of lands concerning which several Indians had made com -
plaint. The Court records reveal that Philip said he "wished to be helpful " .
On October 29, 1672 it appearing to the Court that Philip owed eighty -
three pounds to Harvey and Richmond of Taunton, the Court adjusted the
matter by, arranging with Philip that upon the assignment of these claim s
and the payment of an additional sum, he would convey certain lands t o
the town of Taunton in cancellation of the debt and purchase .
Between 1672 and 1675 rumors of hostile activity among the Indian s
increased . Gookin says that one of the Indian chiefs named "Walcut
disclosed a hostile rumor, as did John Sassamon, an educated prayin g
Indian who had become a scribe to Philip and (afterwards deserting him
. Sassamon verified the fact that a n)hadsetlupon rNmasket
uprising was being planned .
Mather says that this information was not much regarded because " one
could hardly believe the Indians when they did speak the truth " , to whic h
Drake adds that " scarcely any one could be found who would allow tha t
an Indian could be faithful or honest in any affair " . It seems that, althoug h
secrecy was enjoined, Philip came to know what Sassamon had disclosed ,
decreed that he had thus forfeited his life and ordered him to be killed .
Early in 1675 Sassamon's body was found in the ice of Assawamset Pond
in Lakeville, with his neck broken. Three Indians were tried for the murder
and after conviction by a jury of mixed English and Indians, all of who m
concurred in the verdict, they were executed . One of them named Tobias ,
who had been a counsellor of Philip, confessed . When Benjamin Churc h
met Weetamoe and Benjamin 9 (or Peter) in Pocasset, Peter told Churc h
that Philip had said he was guilty of contriving Sassamon ' s death, and
that he expected to be called to Plymouth for examination about it ; also
that, in order to prevent his young men from killing the messengers wh o
came to him from Plymouth, he had promised that on the next Lord's Da y
9 Church calls him " Peter " Nunnuit. Drake calls him Petananuet. Probably Peter and Benjamin were
the same person, so Weetamoe may have had only one husband between 1663 and 1675 . (Church. p. 27.
and Drake 11I . p . 3. )
10 Church, p. 27.
they might rifle the English houses and thereafter kill their cattle .
The Plymouth colony records indicate that the war began exactly a s
Peter had forewarned, hence we assume the accuracy of his information .
The Plymouth record s show events as follows :
1675, June 14 (June 24 n . s.) Brown, one of the messengers fro m
Plymouth to Philip could get no reply from Philip to the colony ' s
amicable . letter.
June 20 (June 30 n . s.) (Sunday) sundry houses were burned .
24 (July 4 n . s.) Thomas Layton was slain at the falls river .
25 (July 5 n . s .) sundry persons in Swansea were slain.
It is to be noted that this all happened at places within or adjoinin g
the Pocasset territory .
While these events were transpiring between Philip an dPlymouth
colony, at least some of the vagabond Indians who had left their sache m
at Narragansett, had left their Assonet Neck homes, and were living i n
Weetamoe 's Pocasset tribe. These were the very Indians concerning whom
Philip had complained against Weetamoe, and the very ones who, in
conjunction with the hostile faction of the Narragansett tribe, were urgin g
Philip to his doom . This is evidenced by a certificate which I find recorde d
under date of April 27, 1673 in Vol . 12 page 242 of the Plymouth records .
The lands that were included in the Freema n ' s deed executed by Weetamoe
in 1659 extended northerly as far as Stacey ' s creek on the westerly side o f
Assonet neck. Next northerly of this bound was a strip of land borderin g
on the Taunton River, which was in the possession of one Piowant (a n
Indian), and ran up along the " Dighton Rock " section to the southerly
bound of Taunton . This certificate was designed to establish the boundar y
line of the colonial lands and was signed by Weetamoe, by her husban d
Benjamin and by four other Indians, one of whom was " Quanowin " . Such
deeds were usually signed by Indian captains as an indication of thei r
assent to the action of their chieftain, and there is no known Indian wit h
name similar to Quanowin, except Quanopin, who became the next an d
last consort of Weetamoe.13 He was a Narragansett of the "royal" house,
was at least ten years younger than Weetamoe, and was leader of the war -
like faction of the Narragansett nation ; he is referred to as a "younglusty
sachem and a very rogue", and had three squaws, Weetamoe being th e
11 Church, p. 29.
12 See Ply. Col. Vol . X, p. 362 et. seq. (Report to the Commissioners of the United Colonies, mad e
in Nov. 1675) .
13 Drake says (page 161) that according to Indian laws, if a wife deserts her husband another may take her .
1 4 Sachems pp . 74, 87 . His name was spelled in almost every possible way (See Drake's Book Ill, p . 51) .
second . Quanopin's absence from the Narragansett country is accounte d
for not only because Canonicus and Ninigret of the peace party were i n
power, but also because he was a fugitive from justice from Rhode Island .
As early as 1671 he had harbored and refused to deliver up to the constabl e
of Prudence Island an Indian who had there been guilty of a feloniou s
assault, and having on account of his connivance been committed for tria l
to the jail at Newport, he and one John Carr had broken the prison an d
got over to Narragansett, whence Quanopin " gave out threatening to do
mischief to the English " and prepared to fight and to draw other Indian s
into his conspiracy, whereupon the Rhode Island Assembly resolved tha t
the Warwick assistants demand from "Mosup and Ninecraft" that the y
apprehend said Carr and Quanopin and deliver them up to his Majestie s
officers. Quanopin was not apprehended, by reason of his escape fro m
Narragansett, and this is doubtless the time when he went into the Wam-
panoag territory, and began the mischief he had threatened .
After the breaking out of the war, and upon the first approach of th e
colonial troops into Swansea, Philip and his forces withdrew to Mt . Hope
and thence crossing over to Tiverton and entering the Pocasset swamp, 16
joined forces with the warriors of Weetamoe . After this they outman-
oeuvered the English forces who thought them surrounded, and circlin g
through the swamp they came out to the Taunton river (about August 10th ,
1675 N. S.), probably through the Mowry trail, substantially at the lin e
which now marks the boundary between Fall River and Freetown . After
crossing the river Philip and Weetamoe separated, he and his army pro-
ceeding northwesterly through Rehoboth17 into the Nipmunk country, while
Weetamoe proceeded to Shawomet, known also as Warwick, in the Narra-
gansett country . 18 There is no record which places Quanopin with her a t
15 For this record I acknowledge the cordial assistance of Mr . Lloyd M. Mayer. of the Newport Historical
Society. (See R. I. Col . Records 1664-1677, pages 295 and 420) .
16 It is said that in the "swamp fight" a brother of Philip who had been educated at Harvard College
was killed, and that, when leaving the swamp approximately 100 men, children and infirm persons were lef t
behind. (Church p. 50 note) .
17 While crossing Seekonk plain, Weetamoe 's army was discovered by an English force under Re
Noah Newman, and at daybreak her camp at Nipsachick, R . I . was attacked and plundered, but Philip ' s
fighting men executed a counter attack in which there was considerable loss of life . The combined forces of
Weetamoe and Philip numbered 250 men, but with the withdrawal of Weetamoe . desertions, etc. only 40
warriors reached Quabaug with Philip, about August 15 n . s . (See Hutchinson's Hist. of Mass . Vol. 1 ,
page 293 ; Ellis & Morris, p. 80. Drake p . 214) .
18 The contest over tribal supremacy at Shawomet had caused much strife . Pumham, the local sachem
had maintained his independence even against Samuel Gorton who claimed title under deed given to him i n
1643 by Miantunnomoh. During the dispute Pumham had stabbed a rival claimant and Uncas had becom e
involved . It was here that the bitterness between Uncas and Miantunnomoh germinated . The Commissioners
of the United Colonies endeavored to settle the trouble in 1649 by decree that although it had heretofore bee n
a part of Massasoit 's domain yet henceforth it should be a part of Massachusetts . The Pockonockets continued
to have such a large following among the Warwick chieftains that in 1653 Roger Williams called the attentio n
of Massachusetts to the "wretched state" of Warwick. Pumham was one of the first to follow Weetamo e
and Philip into the war. (See Drake, bk . Ill, ch. V.) .
that time, but historians agree that at this time her consorting with thi s
"lusty outlaw " began, and they also agree that throughout the campaig n
Quanopin maintained separate living quarters for each of his thre e
squaws . 19 That they had servants is indicated by the fact that Mrs .
Rowlandson was the servant of Weetamoe, she having been "purchased "
by Quanopin for that purpose.
In his flight to the Nipmunk country Philip had as a definite objectiv e
the Quabaug territory (North Brookfield) because the tribes there ha d
also previously been tributary to his father . It would seem that when in
1659 Alexander and Philip took over the chief sachemship of the Poko-
noket nation upon the alleged death of their father Massasoit (then spoke n
of in all the records as Ousamequin or Wassamequin), he was not in fac t
deceased, but troubles having developed at Quabaug in 1661 he was en-
gaged there in a war with Uncas. 20 It is likely that he deceased at Quabau g
about that time, for Mr. John Mason then wrote a letter to the Massachusett s
magistrates in behalf of Uncas, indicating that there had been a disput e
between Wesamequin and Onopequin (his deadly enemy), the latter a
Quabaug native, as to who was the overlord of the Quabaug tribe and tha t
" Alexander, sachem of Sowamsett challenged the Quabaug Indians t o
belong to him and had warred against Uncas on that account " .
The Massachusetts magistrates as peacemakers ordered Uncas to mak e
" remuneration " and it seems that Uncas in some measure complied ; that
" the old peaceable Ousamequin, put up with the result without avenging
his wrongs, " and that Alexander, being involved in troubles at home ,
ceased to follow up his quarrel with Uncas . It is extremely likely that afte r
Massasoit 's death, a friendly sachem (not improbably one of his sons )
was at the head of the Quabaug tribe, that they were unfriendly to Unca s
and so at heart anti-English. Philip knew that in his flight thence, he wa s
reaching friends, as his emissaries and his example had already induce d
them to begin hostilities, So also Weetamoe had in her flight from Pocasse t
the definite objective of reaching the Narragansett territory and the war-
like friends of Quanopin who resided near Warwick .
By the end of October, due largely to the influence of Weetamo e
(See Chapin' s Sachems, p . 78) the Narragansett war party was in ful l
control of that nation, whereupon Canonchet the leader of the party issue d
his famous defiance to the English refusing to surrender the Wampanoa g
refugees, and various massacres occurred until the English army invade d
19 Sachems p. 88.
20 See Drake. hook II, p. 101 . and the documents there collected .
the country, and the " Great Swamp fight (near Kingston, R . I.) took place.
Here Quanopin was the second in command and thereafter Canonche t
remained behind in charge of his defeated warriors while Quanopin an d
Weetamoe with their forces proceeded northerly in January and joine d
the Wampanoags at Quabaug . This was prior to Philip ' s return from
the Mohawk country .
Toward the end of the war Philip had visited the Mohawk country an d
urged that nation to join in the war and to exchange wampum for powder .
In his first quest he was not only unsuccessful but vengeance was inflicte d
upon his army because he ordered the murder of a few straggling Mohawk s
under circumstances calculated to lead the warriors to believe that th e
crime was committed by the English. One of the men who had bee n
attacked lived to tell the correct version and so Philip 's cunning frustrate d
his own plans and forced him back upon his supporting body of warrior s
at the Connecticut river near South Vernon, Vt . Such deceitful practice s
on the part of Philip led him into disrepute among his supporters .21 It is
to be remembered that at Sakonet, while urging Awashonks to join hi s
forces, he threatened her that he would "kill the English cattle and burn
their houses" under circumstances which would cause the English to believ e
the acts were committed by her unless she joined his forces . (Church, p . 25) .
At a prior time Philip had untruthfully told Awashonks that the English
were getting together a great army to invade his territory . 22
When Philip returned from his trip to the Mohawk country and re -
joined Canonchet ; Weetamoe and Quanopin, they knew that their powe r
was waning and that some extraordinary effort was needed to stem it s
collapse . Even while he was on the return journey the command of hi s
army had vested in Quanopin, under whom on February 20, 1676 n . s.
Lancaster was sacked. Then Mrs. Rowlandson was captured and he r
narrative furnishes much to enlighten the closing events of our story, fo r
(although captured by another chief) she was sold to Quanopin and use d
as co-servant with an Indian maid for Weetamoe . On March 1, 1676, a
great council of war was held by the Indians, and it was then that Canonchet
and Philip first met (Palfrey II, p . 85) ; they discussed the all importan t
questions of "Supplies" . There had been such need of supplies tha t
Canonchet, then a leader in the Nipmuck country, returned to the Paw-
tucket river for seed corn (Church, p . 107) . On March 8th, 1676 when
Philip rejoined his. confederates, Mrs. Rowlandson as an occupant of the
21 See Increase Mather's Brief History p . 108.
22 Church p . 23 .
same camp wrote of the event. That Philip had no part in the Lancaste r
attack and that it was deliberately planned from Quabaug is evidenced by
the fact that James Wiser, an Indian convert, employed as an Englis h
scout notified the magistrates on February 4, 1676 n . s. that the Indian s
23would fall on the English settlements in twenty days .
The Sudbury fight took place on April 28th, 1676 n . s. and Mrs . Row-
landson says that although it was hailed as a great Indian victory the Indian s
returned home without that rejoicing and triumph which they were won t
to show at other times .24 To restore their morale a great wigwam was buil t
preparatory to a war dance, and on the following Sunday the dance wa s
carried on by eight of them, of whom Quanopin and Weetamoe were two .
"He was dressed in his Holland shirt with great laces sewed at the tail o f
it, with silver buttons, white stockings, his garters hung round with shillings
and girdles of wampum on his head and shoulders . She had a jersey coat,
covered with girdles of wampum from the loins upward, her arms fro m
elbows to hands covered with bracelets, handfuls of necklaces about he r
neck and several sorts of jewels in her ears — with fine red stockings, whit e
shoes and her hair powdered and her face painted red, that was alway s
before black. Two others sang and knocked on a kettle for music . They
kept hopping up and down, with a kettle of water in the midst (upo n
embers) to drink of when they were dry and they held on till almost night ,
throwing out wampum to the standers by ".
Philip did not participate in the dance nor in the negotiations for Mrs .
Rowlandson' s release which began after the dance . He refused to atten d
the "General Court" (as they called it) but Quanopin promised to releas e
her if he could have "one pint of liquors" in addition to the ransom . After
promising the release before three witnesses, as was required by the English.
he was furnished the Iiquor, and became drunk . Mrs. Rowlandson says
he was the first Indian she saw drunk during her captivity, but it was no t
a new experience for Quanopin, since Roger Williams describes his father
as a "poor beast (always drunk) ", and Chapin says that Quanopin too k
after his father and was one of the few sachems who were accustomed t o
get drunk (Sachems pp 68 and 89) .
.2R3oSwelandts'Mrivpenx .
Mrs. Rowlandson says (p . 56) they were "unstable and like madmen" .—."little more trust to them
than to the master they served", so reduced by hunger that they would pick up old bones, scald them till th e
vermin came out, then boil them, drink the liquor, pound the bones in a mortar and eat them, with horses gut s
and ears, dogs, skunks, rattle snakes and the very bark of trees .
After the inception of the war the praying Indians, professing fidelity to the English, secretly supplie d
powder and shot to the warriors . A letter from Mary Pray (from Providence) (see publication of Dec. 29. 1923
by the Rhode Island Society of Colonial Wars) complains of their doings in this respect and says (see page 24 )
"there is no trusting them they are so subtle to deceive
It is now generally recognized that this change of policy from warfar e
to barter, accompanied, by the failing of Phili p' s attempt to secure Mohawk
aid, and the hardships which the Indians were enduring, led to dissensio n
in their ranks . The Nipmucks who were bearing the brunt of the wa r
wavered in their allegiance and then withdrew from their alliance wit h
Quanopin and Philip, who in their turn withdrew into their own countr y
as the war entered upon its final stage. Parleying with the English is sai d
by Drake to have been "detestable to Philip" (book III, p . 88) , but it is
better to infer, that had Philip been a bold and commanding leader h e
would not have refused to attend the council meetings or slyly tried t o
secure a gift for himself from Mrs . Rowlandson for "speaking a good word
for her", when he had already been over-ruled . The drunken debauch of
Quanopin which Mrs . Rowlandson describes on page 65 of her narrative,
the fact that such a man was in control of the councils, and the vacillatin g
attitude of all the sachems must have been a controlling reason why the
Nipmucks should repudiate their confederates, who had brought so man y
hardships upon them and so little gain.
Whether the withdrawal of Weetamoe and Philip into their ow n
country was due to fear resulting from an assault made upon them by the
Mohawks who had attacked Philip's force and killed about fifty of the m
in June, as stated in Hubbard's Indian Wars at page 239 ; or whether it
was due to their precarious supply of crops and stores, or to the attitude
of the Nipmucks, it is true that there was a collapse of Indian power an d
that at the end of June Philip and the Narragansetts had gone "to thei r
own places" to do what mischief they could to the English there . (See
Ellis & Morris, p . 236 ; see Daniel Henchma n's letter in Hubbard's Indian
Wars at Page 237 ; see Drake book III, p . 88) .
As to the events which took place in Plymouth Colony after the retur n
of Philip and Quanopin we are again indebted to Church's "Indian Wars".
When Church came upon the Indian army near Fairhaven, his scout s
informed him (Church p . 103) that part of the army belonged to Philip
and part to Quanopin ; that both of them were about two miles off in a
great cedar swamp which was full of Indians from one end to the other .
After the attack upon Bridgewater the Indians retreated across the Taunton
river over a tree which they had felled, and there Philip ' s uncle was shot
(Church p . 110) . The next morning (Sunday, July 30, 1676) Churc h
came across Philip and his family, and Philip escaped by leaping from a
tree down the bank on the other side of the river (Church p . 110) . He left
his wife and nine year old son behind and they were captured . Hubbard
says that Philip had cut off his hair in order that his identity might no t
be known .
Quanopin and his Narragansetts were with Philip in this retreat, bu t
after crossing the Taunton river Quanopin remained with the warrior s
while Philip had "fled away in a great fright when the first English gu n
was fired " (Church p. 111) . The next day Church caught up with the
women and children of the retreating force . These had been left in the
rear by Philip, and acted as a guard against his surprise . During the night
Captain Church manoeuvered around the women so as to come upon th e
main Indian body at day break, but Philip had sent two scouts back upo n
his own track to see if " he was dogged " and when Church came upo n
these scouts they made such a noise that Philip fled into the swamp " leaving
his kettles boiling and his meat on the spits, roasting" .
After this desultory warfare, Philip returned to Mount Hope with onl y
ten of his original followers, but with a few other confederates, amon g
whom were two Puncatest Indians named Alderman .25 Philip killed one
of the Alderman brothers because of a difference in matters of state 26 and
the other in revenge, deserting, informed Captain Church of Philip ' s where -
abouts and offered to assist in his capture, whereupon on August 12t h
Philip was shot at Mount Hope by this same Alderman while he wa s
attempting to escape from his encampment .
Captain Church, knowing of Philip' s timidity and believing that if a n
attack was made upon his front Philip would be the first to escape by th e
rear, posted an Englishman (Caleb Cook) with Alderman in ambush a t
the edge of the swamp and Philip was killed in his attempt to escape i n
the exact way in which Captain Church had anticipated, i .e. he had
"catched up his gun, thrown his powderhorn over his head and ran into
the ambush with no more clothes than his small breeches and stocking s
only to fall on his face in the mud and water, with his gun under him an d
a bullet through his heart" .
Weetamoe had returned to Mattapoiset (Gardner ' s Neck) , 27 where
her warriors (now reduced to twenty-six men) were, attacked by a force o f
colonists and all of them except Weetamoe were captured . She attempte d
to cross the Taunton river on her way to the falls river upon a small raf t
made from pieces of broken wood, and becoming either tired and spen t
with swimming or starved with cold and hunger, she was found drowned .
25 Drake III, pp . 35 and 36.
Churc,p 26 .
27 There was another Mattapoiset which was then a part of Rochester, Mass .
'With the fall of Weetamoe and her warriors the Pocasset tribe o f
Indians was decimated. None remained except a few aged men and a fe w
women and children and these were placed by the colonists in an India n
Reservation .
Quanopin was captured on August 16th, 1676 and was turned over t o
the Rhode Island authorities . The records show that at a court martial
held in Newport for the months of August and September 1676, at th e
impeachment of Edmund Calverly, Attorney General, Quanopin admitte d
"that he was in arms against the English nation at the Swamp fight, a t
the burning and destroying of Pettacomscutt, at the assaulting of Carpen-
ter' s garrison at Pawtuxet, and at Nashaway . Quanopin did not then deny
the statement of his brother that he was a commander in the war and wa s
the second man in command in the Narragansett country, next to Nenanan-
tenentt (alias Conanchet) . He was adjudged guilty, ordered to be sho t
at 1 A; M. on August 26, 1676 and the sentence was executed .
There is something to be admired in the character of many of thes e
chieftains . Nanuntenos (alias Canonchet) was justly aggrieved at the con -
duct of the Massachusetts magistrates in their consistent support of the
unscrupulous Uncas, who by cajolery had led them to interfere with the
activities of his father Miantonomi whereby his capture was effected an d
his execution approved (Drake II, 49 and 66) . His was a manly act, when
captured after an energetic campaign and condemned to death, he answere d
"I like it well : I shall die before my heart is soft, or I shall have said any -
thing unworthy". So too his cousin Quanopin, though by inheritance
the son of a drunkard, was bold and fearless, his conduct at the "Swamp
Fight" showed courage and poise, and his planning and conduct of the
various sieges showed the capacity of a warrior . 'We would criticise his
maintenance of a harem on the fighting line and his becoming drunk at
the critical stage of the war, but confronted with death he was as fearles s
as was his cousin .
As to Weetamoe, she had great capacity along the lines of her chose n
effort : she was a queen who on account of her personal charms demande d
and received obedience from her chieftains ; she was true to her inheritance
in the belief that her tribal destiny was inconsistent with English supremacy ,
as well as in her father 's belief that there were many inconveniences in a
single marital alliance . She was supremely active and she enforced her
convictions to the utmost of her power, sacrificing her health and comfor t
28 Church . p. 108 . See also Hubbard. II . p. 60 .
to remain with her army and at the crisis by leading the dance which wa s
designed to prevent its disintegration . That her warriors were ever tru e
is shown by the fact that at the end they fought to the death that she alon e
might escape . Even if we disagree with her tenets, we must agree tha t
she was a heroine, and that in this terrible Indian war, although her belief s
were wrong, her conduct and that of the Pocasset tribe, including, of course ,
Quanopin as its supreme field commander, were shining features .
A fair inference from the facts which I have referred to must as clearl y
lead to a far different conclusion with reference to sachem Philip . The
name "king" or any heroic phrase is not fairly applicable to him or to hi s
aims ; he began his reign with the bright example of his father and elder
brother before him, his first act being to request aid from the English i n
causing the hostile Narragansett warriors, who were disseminating anti -
English doctrines within his territory, to be removed . Whether this request
was truthful or hypocritical there is no evidence that Philip ever resisted
their influences or sought to enforce their removal ; he at once married into
the hostile Pocasset camp ; he began to complain of the lessening of his
territory, yet was ever ready to confirm old sales and to make new ones .
He complained of wrongs, yet was so fairly treated in Plymouth that he
petitioned that Court for the enforcement of his rights, and he receive d
justice. As to his character and policy we must adopt not the historica l
opinions of writers whose conclusions would prove, without clear evidence ,
that their forefathers were more corrupt and unfair than they ; but rather
the opinions of those who know their own integrity and who realize tha t
their virtues are not so much self-acquired as they are tendencies inherite d
from their ancestors. Therefore we should incline, in the absence of definit e
proof to the contrary, to the opinions of such historians as Palfrey, wh o
discusses those matters in Vol . II at page 184 and seq . of his History of
New England, 1873, and such as Goodwin, who completed his estimabl e
"Pilgrim Republic" in 1879 . (seep. 544 et seq.) . These men were delving ,
for the truth, -- they say that " Philip' s outbreak was prompted by the vin-
dictiveness and caprice of an unreasoning and cruel barbarian" . No portion
of his country had been appropriated by the strangers except after th e
payment of just consideration . Their Indian civilization had been enriche d
by access to conveniences hitherto unknown . The war arose because th e
idle Indians demanded support without effort . It was not planned as a
redress for grievances, as is evidenced by the fact that no comprehensive
plan of campaign had been made. When Philip entered the Pocasse t
swamp from Mount Hope only thirty of his men had guns, and as he left
the swamp " his powder was almost spent" . His warriors had no store of
clothing or provisions . That the Narragansetts should plot against the
English was at no time unlikely, but they would never have yielded su-
premacy in any war to Philip, nor did they so yield it . They craftily and
cunningly used Philip as the "cat's paw", as a name under which Quano-
pin, Weetamoe and Canonchet, the real king-makers, sought to carry ou t
their warlike aims . In his own council Philip's wavering and vacillatin g
temperament was used to involve him in reprisals which resulted in a wa r
when no war was by him primarily intended . An Indian sachem was
supposed to express and carry out not his own will but the will of the counci l
over which he presided . Philip apparently hoped he could avoid puttin g
this will into effect . He hesitated but when reluctantly drawn in he coul d
not withdraw, he was doomed if there should be a failure, and no on e
realized that fact better than he . The real Philip was a man who clung t o
savage life and heathen superstitions ; without mental discipline or restrain t
he had shown aptitude for little except falsehood and treachery ; Goodwi n
says that "a person of his coarseness, ignorance, inexperience in war, inbre d
indolence and purposelessness could not spring into a great character" ,
"that he is not known to have been personally present or to have taken activ e
part in any one of the fights of the war" . When we add to these opinions the
fact that he was such a coward as to disguise his person to escape iden-
tification; to place his women and children between himself and danger ,
and to run to his death, abandoning to their fate chieftains such as Anawa n
and Tispaquin (see Palfrey, II, 173) and to seek his own safety rather tha n
the welfare of those who had served under his father and had pledge d
their lives to him, we complete the picture of a chieftain who is some time s
spoken of as a "king".