Massasoit: A Story of the Indians of New England - Alma H. Burton

Weetamoe and Annawon

Disaster came swiftly upon Philip after the death of Canonchet. Many deserted from his standard. At last one hundred and fifty of his own people were taken, among whom was his own wife, Wookanuske, and his only child, the pride and joy of his heart, for whose sake he had fought against such desperate odds.

"My heart is broken," said Philip, "I am ready to die." With a few faithful followers he returned to Mount Hope, where the graves of his forefathers were.

Weetamoe attempted to follow him. Of all her three hundred braves, only twenty-six were left, and these were pursued by the militia, and cut down to a man. The wretched queen, in crossing the Taunton on a raft, was drowned, and her body was washed ashore. She had followed Philip in all his fortunes, breathing vengeance upon the white men for the death of her husband, Alexander.

The ghastly head of the Indian queen was set up on a pole in Taunton, and many Indian captives wept when they beheld it there.

But still Philip was defiant, and when one of his warriors advised surrender, he struck him dead at his feet.

Then a brother of the slain warrior led Captain Church and his men, through a secret trail, to Mount Hope. They arrived at midnight, and rested on their arms.

At dawn, when the Indians saw the sentinels, they knew they were betrayed, and rushed from their hiding-places. As Philip ran, he was shot through the heart by an Indian, and fell forward in the waters of a marsh. One of his companions, a surly old fellow, hallooed with a loud voice, Jotash! Jootash!"  It was Annawon, the great captain, calling to his men to fight hardy, as they fled through the swamps.

Philip's head was brought to Plymouth and set up on a pole.

King Philip's War


Some say that Wookanuske and her son were sold as slaves, and lived, under the lash, on a rice plantation in Barbadoes. Others say they were put on board a vessel in Boston Bay, bound for the West Indies. They sailed past Cape Cod, and ploughed through the waters between Buzzard's Bay and the islands once under the sway of Philip. As the gallant ship skirted the coast of Rhode Island, the proud Wookanuske stood on deck with her boy. She gazed with wistful eyes at the high, white flint rock of Mount Hope, where she so often stood with Philip, and the past rose up before her like some horrid dream.

As night came on, she folded the boy to her bosom. "Pometicum beckons us to the Land of Shadows," she whispered. "The great Spirit is calling us to the Happy Hunting Grounds beyond the setting sun;" and silently and swiftly they passed over the side of the vessel into the waves below.

If neither of these stories be true, we know there was only sorrow and despair for the heritage of the grandchild of the great chief, Massasoit.

The aged Annawon was now sachem of the hostile Indians.

He had followed Philip's fortunes to the last, and, when his chief was slain, escaped from Mount Hope with sixty followers, and took refuge in a swamp near Rehoboth. Captain Church surrounded the swamp, and kept up a siege for several days. The soldiers dared not penetrate the gloom among the hemlocks, where their foes were lurking. Church suspected that food was carried to the fugitives by some hidden path, and set guards to watch. At last an old Indian and his daughter were seen paddling across Palmer river. They hid the boat in the bushes, and, with heavy baskets on their backs, moved cautiously toward the swamp where Annawon was concealed.

They were arrested, and forced to confess that a path led to the sachem's camp. Then Captain Church told the Indian that he should guide him to the spot. "I am your slave since my life is in your hands," replied the old man, and led the soldiers into the secret path. It was a long journey. Church suspected treachery, and held his gun ready to fire open the guide.

At last, the old man led the captain to the edge of a rocky precipice. There, far below, he saw the camp. There were the bark huts, the blazing fires where the meats were roasting on spits, the squaws busy pounding corn, the firearms near the foot of the rock, covered with mats to keep them dry.

Annawon, with his son, lay on the ground near the guns, and the other warriors were scattered about at a distance, some idly talking, and others fast asleep. Church noted well the situation, and then drew back to consult with his captives.

"No one could enter or leave the swamp except by the precipice," the Indians said.

Then it was arranged that the old man and his daughter should go in advance, and enter the camp in the usual way. Church and his men followed. They marched in single file down the steep-path, clutching at the tufts of grass and roots of shrubs that grew in the clefts of the rocks.

It was a moment of great risk. If the old man yonder, with the basket on his back, should give some sign to the Indians below, all would be lost.

The little band of white men crept down the trail, drawing nearer, every moment, to victory or death.

They reached the bottom. Church seized the stack of arms and covered the chief with his gun. Annawon sprang up, cried "Howan!"  and fell back on his couch. His son covered his head in the blankets.

Without weapons they could do nothing. All the warriors surrendered.

"I have come to eat supper with you," said Church.

The chief called the squaws to prepare a meal for their guests. " The two leaders supped together. Then Church stationed guards about the camp, and lay down near the chief. But neither slept. The moonlight poured its soft light upon the sleeping warriors, and spread a mantle of silver over the high cliffs which towered above the hemlocks at their base. No word was spoken. Hours passed, but still the leaders lay with eyes wide open. Church thought he could not make himself understood, and his interpreter was sound asleep.

At last Annawon arose, and silently left the camp. He was gone so long that Captain Church grew frightened, and prepared for the worst. He collected the arms, and lay down close to the chief's son, so that arrows might not reach him without first passing over the body of the boy.

But soon after, Annawon returned. He bore a bundle in his hands, and sat down near the captain. Then he unrolled the wrappings of skin, and showed the treasures of the dead chief, Philip.

There was a broad belt embroidered in the shapes of birds, beasts and flowers, with black and white wampum, and a smaller belt edged with moose hair, and finished with stars on the ends; two glazed powder horns, and a red blanket.

Annawon laid these things by the side of Captain Church.

"These you have now," he said, in good English. "There is no Indian now in all the Land of the Bays who is worthy to keep them."

The rest of the night was spent in talking. The old chief told of the exploits of Philip, and of Massasoit, in wars with other tribes, but was careful to avoid all mention of the troubles with the white men.

The following morning, the whole band was taken to Taunton, and Annawon was put to death. And thus King Philip's war came to an end.

New England had lost six hundred men. Thirteen towns were destroyed, and forty others had been the place of fire and death. Fair women and little children had perished, and aching hearts were in every home.

The remnants of the Indian tribes wandered as exiles to the North and to the West, where, along the lakes and the great rivers, their great Algonquin kinsmen dwelt.

Many years after, longing to behold their old hunting-grounds, and moved by a hate which never slept, they guided French war parties to lay waste again the fair fields of the English.