King Philip’s War

Section 2, Lesson 9

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King Philip’s War (1675-1676)
Metacomet (1639-1676) was the second son of Massasoit, Sachem or Chief of the Wampanoags. Like his father, at first Metacomet was a friend of the English colonists. He traded with the English colonists and took the Christian name “Philip.” He sometimes dressed as a European and bought some clothes in Boston, Massachusetts. Metacomet began to distrust the colonists, after his brother, Wamsutta, the Grand Sachem of the Wampanoags, died a suspicious death after returning from peaceful negotiations with the English. This image is from The History of Philip’s War, Commonly Called the Great Indian War, of 1675 and 1676. The book was by Benjamin Church and was printed circa1825 by Samuel Gardner Drake in Boston, Massachusetts.
The English population of New England increased to approximately 30,000 by 1660 which led to more English settlements along the Atlantic coast and the Connecticut River Valley.
This map titled “A Map of New England,” was created by clergyman and historian William Hubbard (circa 1621-1704) for his book The History of the Indian Wars in New England. The book was published In London and Boston in 1677.
By 1675 there were approximately 90 towns or villages in Massachusetts and the Indians/Native Americans were being pushed from their land.
This miniature room is titled Massachusetts Living Room and Kitchen, 1675-1700. It is of the scale one inche equals one foot and was created circa 1940 by Mrs. James Ward Thorne (1882-1966). It is located in Gallery 11 of the Art Institute of Chicago.
The Wampanoag chief Metacomet (called by the English “King Philip”) retreated with his followers and allies to a swampy area of Massachusetts.
Metacomet (circa 1639-1676) before the war sold land to the English, but decided not to sell land for a period of seven years. The English began to take his land anyway. Some estimates have his Wampanoag tribe having only 300 warriors versus 10,000 English militiamen at the beginning of King Philip’s War. Later in the war, he had thousands of warriors as allies. This image was created by the Boston Silversmith, Paul Revere (1735-1818), for the 1772 edition of The Entertaining History of King Philip’s War by Benjamin Church. This line engraving, colored by hand, is the the Mabel Brady Garvan Collection of the Yale University Art Gallery. It is courtesy of Yale University and Wikimedia Commons.
King Philip (Metacomet) began to gather other Indian allies. They attacked English frontier settlements, then went back into the swamps to hide.
This image probably shows Indians attacking the Haynes Garrison at Sugbury, Massachusetts on April 21, 1676. It shows the Native Americans have set a cart of hay or straw on fire, and are pushing it towards the wooden structure to also set it on fire. The image is titled Indians Attacking a Garrison House, from an Old Wood Engraving, and is courtesy of the Dover Public Library in Dover, New Hampshire.
In what was one of the bloodiest and costliest wars in New England, over half of the English towns were assaulted by Native Americans.
This drawing shows Native Americans attacking Lancaster, Massachusetts on August 22, 1675. Eight of the English inhabitants were killed. The image is titled “Indian Raid in 1675” from the publication History of the town of Lancaster, Massachusetts: From the First Settlement… by Abijah Perkins and Marvin Thomas Sawyer.
A turning point in the war came when the English defeated the Narragansetts at the Battle of Great Swamp.
At the Battle of Great Swamp on November 2, 1675, 1000 colonial militia and their Indian allies attacked a large fort constructed by the Narragansett Indians near Southport, Connecticut. The English won after a fierce fight, and the fort was burned. Some sources believe 300 Narragansetts were killed, and the rest had to attempt to survive in the swamp over the winter. The Narragansetts never fully recovered from this battle. This image is from the Harpers Magazine, published in 1857, and is courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.
As the English colonists became more organized, they gained victories, and many Native Americans began to leave King Philip’s forces.
On July 8, 1675, Captain Benjamin Church, known as the first American “Ranger,” and his 36 men were attacked by approximately 300 Indians at Tiverton, Rhode Island. Church and his men held off the Indians until they were rescued. Forces under Church later killed King Philip. This image is an illustration from “Adventures of the Early Settlers of New England,” in Harper’s New Monthly Magazine, Vol. 15, 1857, page 31.
King Philip and his remaining forces were hunted down, and the war essentially ended with his death.
On August 12, 1676, King Philip was tracked down by colonists and Native Americans led by Captain Benjamin Church at Miery Swamp below Providence, Rhode Island. Philip was shot and killed by an Indian named John Alderman. Philip’s body was beheaded, and he was drawn and quartered. His head was displayed in Plymouth, Massachusetts for twenty years. This image titled “The Death of King Philip” was published in Harper’s Magazine, in 1883.
The English colonists now took much more land from the Native Americans, who had fled to other areas, or who had been sold into slavery.
During King Philip’s War, over 600 English colonists, and 3000 Native Americans died. Many Native Americans were sold as slaves to plantations in Bermuda. The Narragansetts and the Wampanoags were virtually eliminated as organized groups. This image titled “Early American Conflict” was published in the 1800s. It is courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.
The English colonists, who had won the war without much help from the British government, now began to feel more independent, and to slowly think of themselves as Americans.
William Goffe (circa 1605-circa 1679) was born in England, and was the son of a Puritan clergyman. He came to Borston in the summer of 1860, and became a Major-General in 1665. Tradition says that when the town of Hadley, Massachusetts was under attack by Indians on either June 12,1676 or September 1, 1676 (depending on the source), Goffe suddenly appeared among the panicked residents. He took command, and helped them to repulse the Indians. He then disappeared. This image is titled, “Goffe Rallying the Men of Hadley” was created for The Romance and Tragedy of Pioneer Life by Augustus L. Mason. It was published in 1883 by Jones Brothers and Company of Cincinnati, Ohio. The illustration appears on page 133. It is courtesy of the Library of Congress.