King Philips War

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King Philip’s War (1675-76) is an event that has been largely ignored by the American Public and popular historians. “However, the almost two-year conflict between the colonists and the Native Americans in New England stands as perhaps the most devastating war in this country’s history” (Giersbach, 1). Native American warriors and the opposing English troops fought viciously destroying everything and everyone in their sight. Women and children on both sides were purposely targeted, and many settlements were destroyed. After a year of bloody fighting, Captain Benjamin Church brought a small party of English troops to a swamp at Mount Hope where Metacom was hiding. A Native American ally fighting alongside Benjamin Church named John Alderman killed Metacom for money, thus ending the bitter war. This was the last chance for Indians to control the losses of their native lands in New England vs. the colonists. On a per capita basis, King Philip’s War is one of the bloodiest conflicts in American history. Vicious arguments ignite and fighting began for the next 200 years between the Indians and Colonists. European fishermen carried infectious diseases such as smallpox, typhoid, measles, and spotted fever which causes many deaths to Native Americans around 1618. Massasoit was the sachem, or leader, of the Wampanoag Tribe. Months after the Pilgrims arrived in Plymouth in 1620, Massasoit went to the new colony and offered friendship. He would sign a peace treaty with the English saying that if either side were attacked, that they would show nonaggression and mutual defense. Massasoit helped the colonists in their first winter by giving them food and shelter. This uneasy alliance that the Wampanoag had with the English became harder and harder as the colonists pressured the Indians to sell land. The somewhat friendly peace between the Colonists and Indians would soon end after Massasoit dies in 1962 and Metacom takes over. Metacom was Massasoit’s son and was known by the English as King Philip because of his haughty mannerisms. Metacom felt like he wasn’t treated with the respect he deserved like his father was. As the relationship between he and the Colonists got worse, he began to plan an attack on them. Colonists had successfully converted and educated some of the Indians and these people lived in separate settlements called “Praying Towns.” John Sassamon, a Native American Christian convert and advisor to Metacom, told Plymouth Colony officials about Metacom’s attempts to arrange Native American attacks on widely dispersed colonial settlements. Before these officials could investigate, John was murdered on January 29, 1675. Three Wampanoag Indians were arrested for Sassamon’s death, including one of them being King Philip’s counselor. They were all sentenced to death. “On June 20, possibly without Metacomet’s approval, a group of Wampanoags attacked the village of Swansea. Responding to this raid, Puritan leaders in Boston and Plymouth immediately dispatched as force which burned the Wampanoag town at Mount Hope, RI” (Giersbach, 2). Although Indians planned the first attacks, the war was not begun by Indians. Some Wampanoag Indians killed English-owned cattle causing the farmers to become very angry. “A farmer then retaliated by killing an Indian, setting in motion a native uprising that would eventually threaten to wipe Massachusetts Bay and Plymouth Bay Colonies out of existence” (Tougias, 1). As the Summer continued, the conflict between the Colonists and Indians escalated creating many tribes to join each side in battles. King Philip’s War officially began on June 24, 1675. “King Philip’s War began as a feud between the Wampanoags and Plymouth Colony. It quickly spread, as Indians throughout New England sympathized with the Wampanoags cause” (Cwiklik, 131). The Native American tribes’ allies during this war fighting against the English Colonists were the Nipmuck, the Podunk, the Narragansett, and the...
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