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

King Philip's War (Cont)

In spite of their agreement at the council fire at Mount Hope, some bands of Indians began to prowl about the English settlements.

They broke into houses, shot down cattle, and seemed determined to provoke the white men into shedding the first blood. At last an Indian, who had killed some cattle, was wounded at Swanzey.

This was the signal for war. It is said that Philip wept when he heard of it. He was not yet ready for war, and saw what the end must be.

Swanzey was a town of about forty families, and the nearest to Mount Hope. On the twenty-fourth of June, 1675, as the people were coming from meeting, an Englishman was killed, and on the following day several were shot by the Indians.

Troops rallied from the Massachusetts and Connecticut towns. The faithful Mohegans hurried to aid their white brothers, and the combined forces marched to Mount Hope.

Philip fled across the bay to Pocasset, which was a vast marsh, overgrown with hemlocks, and choked by brambles and the mouldering trunks of fallen trees.

The English did not dare to follow him through the deep, black mire.

So they built a fort, and kept up a siege for two weeks, hoping to starve him out of his hiding-place.

But Philip passed, at length, on a raft, over an arm of the sea, and fled to the west. He was pursued by the troops, and lost thirty of his brave followers.

With the fury of despair, the chieftain rallied the Indians of Massachusetts around him, and began to assault the English towns.

He moved swiftly, now here, now there, and was said to be attended by an old witch, who assisted him by her black charms.

An attack was made at Brookfield, and the people fled to the blockhouse.

The Indians set fire to all the houses of the town, and then began a siege on the blockhouse.

They tried in many ways to set it afire. They shot arrows, tipped with burning rags, to the roof. Then they built a very long scaffold, with barrels for wheels, loaded it with hay, and pushed it, flaming, toward the building.

But a rain poured down, which seemed a miracle to the pallid men, women and children, who were fighting for their lives within the fort.

The flames were quenched; the bow-strings were stretched so that the arrows missed their marks; and, before affairs were in fighting shape again, a troop of cavalry, in command of Major Simon Willard, hurried to the rescue of Brookfield, and drove the Indians back, with a heavy loss.

King Philip's War


At Deerfield and at Hadley, the houses were pillaged and burned. Men, women and children were put to death, and scalped in the most horrible manner.

A company of ninety soldiers, with eighteen wagons, went to Deerfield to get a large amount of grain, which had been left behind by the fleeing citizens.

They secured the grain, and as they were fording a little stream, threw their arms into the wagons. In an instant hundreds of bullets and arrows came whizzing from the surrounding thickets.

All the little company were killed but seven, and the stream where they fell is called Bloody Brook to this very day.

Before the Indians could escape, Captain Mosely, who was called the Paleface-with-two-heads, because he hung his wig on a bush while he fought, arrived on the scene, with seventy militia. "Come, Paleface-with-two-heads," they cried.

"You seek Indians? You want Indians? Here are Indians enough for you!" And they brandished aloft the scalp-locks they had taken.

Mostly stationed his men under a shower of arrows, and began the struggle with over a thousand savages. He was beaten back, but was re-enforced by a hundred and sixty Mohegan and English troops, and, rallying his men, beat the enemy back with great loss.

When winter set in, and the forests were no longer a shelter for ambush, the fortunes of Philip seemed on the wane.

He called the remnant of his forces together, and sought aid of his old enemies, the Narragansetts.

Canonchet was now chief of the Narragansetts. He was the son of Miantonomo, whom the Mohegans had slain; and when he saw the foes of his father, set in battle array by the Palefaces, and heard them shouting their triumphs over the now desperate Philip, he resolved to aid that unfortunate king.

So the warriors of Canonchet, dug up the hatchet, painted their faces, and held their war-dance.

They built a great fort in a swamp at Kingston, and within its stout palisades, were five hundred wigwams.

Here the two chiefs united-their forces, and plotted how they might wipe the English from the face of the earth.

In the middle of bleak December, one thousand soldiers, under command of Governor Winslow, started against the fort at Kingston. One night they lay on the ground without shelter, and the next morning, stumbled on through snow three feet deep.

The hands of many were frozen, but on they marched.

When they reached the fort, they found that the only entrance was over a log, guarded by a blockhouse, from which the Indians began to fire.

A few brave men leaped on the log, and were shot down in an instant. Others took their places, and at last, with heavy loss, they reached the entrance. Meanwhile, a weak spot had been found on the other side of the palisade. Some climbed on each other's shoulders and scaled the walls, and so, from many sides, they entered and began the struggle. They fought till sunset, and, under cover of blinding snow, a few hundred warriors escaped.

Then the English set fire to the wigwams, and all within them perished-warriors, old men, women and children.

Cries of horror and rage, resounded from the neighboring forest, when those who had escaped saw the red flames leaping through the village; and, leaving more than a thousand dead behind, they fled through the night, to carry destruction to all the English settlements.

Meanwhile, the Puritans grieved over the part that the praying Indians were taking in these troubles.

There had long been reason to distrust the honesty of some. They painted white wampum black, that they might sell it at double price; they tied otter tails on raccoon skins, and sold the peltry for otter; they shot tame turkeys, and declared they were wild ones.

It was often said, that an Indian back-slider was the very meanest Indian in the world. Because some were so false, the Puritans were inclined to condemn them all, and said their praying should be spelled with an "e." The dear old pastor, Eliot, became very unpopular, because he tried to protect his Christians from punishment: which he thought undeserved.

The noble man now collected his bands together, and exhorted them to hold true to their faith. He did not ask them to take up arms against their own tribes. He said he did not think it right to ask them to do that. He only urged them to remain quietly in their towns.

But ties of blood were stronger than those of faith, and three weeks after the first attack on Swanzey, one whole town of two hundred, deserted to the enemy.

Now the warriors had looked upon the praying Indians as spies. They had not forgotten how Sausamon betrayed Philip to the English.

And so these praying Indians were in ill repute with both red men and white men.

Some seemed to have richly deserved contempt.

One, when he had done all the mischief he could, delivered his father into the hands of the English, that he might save his own life.

Another who, perhaps, remembered when he had been whipped in Puritan fashion, and set in the stocks for misconduct, wore a string of white fingers around his neck, which he had cut from the dead after a battle.

It was no wonder that our forefathers were losing faith in the Indians.