|Lincoln/Net||Prairie Fire||Illinois During the Civil War||Illinois During the Gilded Age||Mark Twain's Mississippi||Back to Digitization Projects||Contact Us|
Schoolcraft, Henry Rowe.. History of the Indian Tribes of the United States: Their Present Condition and Prospects, and a Sketch of Their Ancient Status. Volume 6. . Philadelphia: Lippincott, Grambo and Co, 1857. [format: book; image], [genre: government document; report]. Permission: Northern Illinois University
Whilst a foreign power held sway over the entire territory bordering New England on the west and south, facilities were offered for the escape of Indian marauders into that province; and the impression prevailed, whether well or ill founded, cannot be determined, that such persons received countenance from the Dutch authorities, or, at least, that the Indians under their jurisdiction, received and sheltered the aboriginal fugitives. 180 But this state of affairs ceased, after the province was taken by the English, in 1664, twenty years after the close of the Pequot war. The British flag then waved in triumph from the utmost boundaries of New England to those of Florida. It was an unquestionable fact that, when the Pequot war terminated, in 1644, many of this indomitable tribe, after escaping from the massacre at Fairfield, sought shelter in the territory of the Mohawks. Some individuals of it, also, as well as of the Nanticokes, appear to have been incorporated with the Scoharie band of the Mohawks; but, by far the greater number, were permitted to locate themselves on a branch of the North river, called Scaghticoke, 181 in a valley equally as fertile as it was beautiful, which was granted to them by the authorities of Albany. 182 These
fugitives, among whom were some other fragments of the sea-coast Algonquins, never resumed their original tribal appellation, but settled down under the government of the Iroquois cantons, who sheltered the remnants of the despoiled and conquered tribes. Delegates from these Indians attended some of the Mohawk councils, but they retained none of their former independent character, and were not much respected. Some years after the establishment of the English supremacy in New York, the entire Scaghticoke band precipitately fled, and located themselves under the protection of the French, at Missisqui bay, on the northern waters of Lake Champlain. To this course they were impelled by one or other of several reasons; either because less countenance was shown them by the New York authorities, on account of the repeated complaints of the Connecticut colonists; or that the whites infringed too much on the land assigned them; or that the Canadian authorities, who were in communication, and sympathy with them, exercised a persuasive influence; or, it is more probable, that they feared the New Yorkers were about to avenge the wrongs inflicted on the Connecticut settlers.
At the period when the English and Celtic elements of population were introduced into New York, there were, as there had been previously, but two Indian powers contending for the sovereignty in this colony, the Algonquin and the Iroquois. 183 The Algonquins, divided into numerous bands, under local names, had, from an early date, occupied the valley of the Hudson, below the site of Albany; and the right bank of that river, as high up, at least, as the influx of the Wallkill, was occupied by the second totemic class of the Lenno Lenapees, 184 who bore the name of Munsees, the various tribes of which, known as the Raritans, Sanhikans, &c., covered the entire surface of New Jersey. On the right banks of the Hudson were the Mohicans proper, known under the tribal appellations of Wappengers, Tappensees, and Wequa-esgecks, and other bands of the Westchester Algonquins. These latter extended their possessions into the boundaries of Connecticut. The Manhattans were the band residing on the island of the same name, and the Long Island tribes, descriptively called Sewan-akies, 185 or shell-land bands, were known by the generic name of Metoacs. Nearly every prominent bay, island, or channel, of which the great bay of New York is the recipient, possessed its local name, derived often from that of a tribe, and often from geographical features.
In the middle and western parts of the State, between the Tawasentha valley of Albany county, and the Niagara river, resided the Iroquois, consisting of the five tribes of the Mohawks, Oneidas, Onondagas, Cayugas, and Senecas, who, after the formation of their confederacy, filled by far the most important position in the history of the North American, or, to be more precise, Vesperic 186 Indians. According to some authorities, this league had been formed but a short time anterior to the discovery of
the Hudson river. 187 Others, among whom is the Indian annalist, Cusic, whose chronology is not, however, reliable, aver that the date of the confederacy is far more ancient. 188 From all accounts, during the first half century after the settlement of Virginia, the Algonquins were the most numerous in population along the sea coasts, and for more than a century and a half, in the interior. This numerical supremacy continued until the European population, crossing the Alleghenies, passed the great lake basins, and scattered freely over the Mississippi Valley. Agreeably to Colden, 189 the supremacy of the Algonquins had, in more ancient times, been acknowledged, not only as hunters and warriors, but also in manners and arts. This early development, however, had evidently declined before the foot of the white man trod these shores; and it is certain that, so far as it related to policy and warlike achievements, it had passed away before the era of the Dutch, and long before the English became identified with New York history. These assertions are deducible from the fact, that the Algonquins, both of the Hudson and of the Delaware rivers, had been conquered by the Iroquois, and were then in a state of vassalage to that confederacy, either paying tribute, or deprived of the sovereign right of ceding lands. 190 When the latter power was attempted to be exercised, some forty years after the advent of Penn, the unmercifully severe and contemptuous rebuke, and insolence, of Canissatego may be cited, to show that the power of their club and tomahawk was ready to enforce their ancient potency. 191
About ten years previous to the conquest of New York by the English, say in 1653, the Seneca Iroquois, with the aid of the other tribes of the league, began a war against the Eries, as well as against the neuter nation of the Niagara river, and their allies, the Andastes of the Erie shore. When Le Moyne first visited Onondaga in 1655, this war against the Eries was then in progress. Cusic denominates them the Cat Nation, meaning the wild-cat, as the domestic animal was probably unknown. They were evidently affiliated in language with themselves. No one can peruse the writings of the missionary fathers, and not perceive this. The following account of the origin of this war against the Neuter Nation, is furnished by Cusic: Delegates from a northern nation, with whom the
The early French writers call this tribe the Neuter Nation, owing to their apparently pacific character. This name, however, is not derived from the Indian, and has only served to mystify modern inquirers, as no such nation of neuters can be found in any position, except solely in the area occupied by the Eries, on the Niagara. The name
by which the Senecas designate the Eries, is Kahqua. The Andastes occupied the shores of Lake Erie. As previously denoted, they were Susquehannocks.
The war, fiery, short, and bloody, resulted in the overthrow of the Eries and their allies, and produced their subsequent incorporation into other tribes, or expulsion from the country. From this time, the tribal name of Erie, as, in a prior case, with the Pequots, disappears from history. Mr. Evans, in his map and memoir, published at Philadelphia, in 1755, avers that the refugee Eries took shelter in the Ohio valley, whence they eventually crossed the Onosiota, 192 or Alleghany chain, to rejoin kindred tribes. Mr. Jefferson repeats this fact in his Notes on Virginia, in 1780. The evidence that these fugitive Eries are the brave and indomitable people known to us as Catabas, has been elsewhere produced. 193
To conciliate the Iroquois, who were thus rapidly raising themselves to a position of power and influence among the Indians of the colonies, became immediately a measure of English policy, and to secure this result, the most wise and prudent steps were taken. The fur trade, which had been established upon a firm and satisfactory basis by the Dutch, was continued; and the bonds of friendship with the Iroquois cemented by an offensive and defensive alliance. Their enemies became the enemies of the English, and the friends of the former the friends of the latter. Thus, the Iroquois were constituted the defenders of the territory of western New York, against the French. If the latter could succeed in driving them from, or acquiring their forests, western New York would be added to New France; if they failed, it was a gem in the British crown. Who can read the details of an hundred years' sanguinary contests, without perceiving that it was the undying vigilance, the unerring accuracy of their geographical knowledge of the wilderness, and the manly bravery of the Iroquois, which, up to the year 1775, preserved western New York to the English crown.
The annexed map, Plate VII., published at Amsterdam, in 1659, denotes the position of the several tribes, who occupied Manhatania, on the transfer of the Dutch authority in New York to the English.
Chapter II. The War with Philip, of Pokanoket.
While the English were making themselves acquainted with the character, positions, and wants of the Indians of New York, the causes of discord between the New England tribes and the colonists still continued; but, like a smouldering fire, they were, as much as possible, concealed from public view. The severity with which the Pequots were treated, secured the peace of the country for some thirty years; though at no time during this period could the colonists relax their vigilance for one moment. The war between the Mohicans and Narragansetts, under Uncas and Miontonimo, demonstrated to the tribes that, however fiercely discord and war might rage among themselves, the great and vital objects of the colonists were not retarded, but rather promoted, by the extinction of the petty Indian sovereignties.
At length, in 1675, those smothered discords burst forth into a flame. Massachusetts having been, in truth, the mother of the British colonies in the north, she now became the principal object against which the long pent-up wrath of the aborigines was directed. The majority of her sea-coast and inland tribes, had, indeed, yielded to the influences of civilization and gospel teachings, and had engaged in the pursuits of agriculture, but in her assemblies of neophytes, there were disciples of the native Indian priesthood, who sometimes maintained their view of the questions at issue with great boldness. The larger part of the Indian population of the interior, and towards the south, southwest, and west, hated a life of labour, as also the gospel, and secretly banded together to make another combined effort for the extinction and expulsion of the English. This combination was headed by the Pokanokets, whose council-fires burned on Mount Hope.
It has been previously stated that this tribe had very extensive affiliations with the principal Indian families of the country. They were the leading tribe of the Pokanoket Bashabary, a kind of aboriginal hereditary presidency. 194 The benevolent Massasoit held this office at the period of the landing of the Plymouth colony, and both he and
his descendants were, up to the close of the war, deemed the legitimate sovereigns, and possessing power to alienate laud. Massasoit, who, by his equanimity and conservative character, had maintained a good understanding with the colonists, died in 1662, and was succeeded, at alternate periods, by his sons Popquit and Metakom; or, according to the researches of Mr. Drake, 195 more correctly, Pometakom. The colonial court, at one of its sittings, gave them the names of Alexander and Philip, in compliment to their martial bearing. Alexander, who possessed a high spirit, ruled but a short time, dying of a fever suddenly contracted while on a visit to the Plymouth colony. Pometakom, who was better known as King Philip, succeeded him. He was a man who, if we can place any reliance on the prints of the time, inclined to the middle size, was not over five feet nine or ten inches; had a large and finely-developed head, and possessed great resolution, activity and powers of endurance. He may be regarded as the true representative of the Indian hunter. He was familiar with every foot of ground between Mount Hope and Massachusetts Bay; had witnessed the foundation and rise of the colonies; was well known to the colonists, and they to him; loved the independence of savage life and rule; took great pride in his ancestry; loved the old Indian rites, and retained in his service a numerous priesthood, or body of prophets, sagamores, and powwows; daemonology and idolatry, magic and soothsaying, being regarded by him as the religion of his ancestors. He loved hunting and fishing and despised the life of labor recommended to him. He may be said to have detested civilization in all its forms, and to have abhorred the doctrines of Christianity. At the head of his Bashabary, he ruled both civil and priestly chiefs; by his office he was, in fact, a supreme chief of chiefs. Such appears to be the meaning of the term BASHABA.
During twelve years Philip had been a silent observer of the growth of New England. Twenty years had elapsed since the close of the native war between the Narragansetts and Mohicans, of which the colonists had been passive, though deeply interested, spectators, merely employing their influence with the tribes to keep them at peace with the colonies and with each other. For several years prior to the breaking out of the Pokanoket war, Philip had been regarded with suspicion, and a close eye was kept on his subtle political movements. It appeared evident that, in addition to his authority amongst the eight or ten tribes who acknowledged his supremacy, his influence was also exerted among the Narragansetts, his immediate neighbors on the south, whose possessions extended northwardly to those of the Pennacooks of the river Merrimac, and of other tribes of the Pawtuckets.
Philip's plan for uniting all the border Indians in a general war against the colonies, is supposed to have been revealed by a friendly Christian Indian, called Sausaman. For this act he was made to pay the forfeit of his life, by three emissaries of Philip.
While fishing on a pond through an orifice in the ice, he was approached without suspicion, by his foes, who knocked him on the head, and then thrust his body through the opening.
The Pequot war was but the struggle of a single tribe, in which, though the sympathies of other tribes were, more or less, enlisted, they took no active part. But the plot of Philip had been maturely deliberated upon, and had received the sanction of all the Indian councils, both political and religious, in which the native feeling of repugnance to the whites prevailed, fully comprehending, as they did, that the leading objects of the colonists were to force the arts of civilization, and the teachings of Christianity, on the Indians. Wherever the Indians were assembled for moral instruction, every argument was adduced to impress them with the importance of the practice of virtue, industry, and temperance; and to inculcate the doctrines of the Christian faith. To the number of willing listeners, who had been gathered into separate but small isolated congregations, under the name of "praying Indians," during these forty years, no truths were more acceptable; on the contrary, to the pagan portion, who were, by far, the largest number among the tribes, these truths were like so many sharp goads to the Indian heart. The Indian powwows gnashed their teeth while listening to the English preachers declaring such truths, which, as it were, with gigantic strength, overthrew the entire system of the Indian meda-theology and wigwam political necromancy.
It is estimated that, in 1673, the entire white population of New England was 120,000 souls, of whom 16,000 were capable of bearing arms. 196 About this time, Massachusetts alone mustered twelve troops of cavalry, comprising sixty men each, who were armed, and stationed at various points, to punish any sudden aggressions. The white population had, within forty years, spread from its original nucleus at Plymouth, more than 100 miles westward, and, in some places, the same distance to the north. But owing to this very expansion, it presented, on every frontier, a broken, unconnected line, continually subject to the depredations of the hostile Indians. At these exposed points in the line of the advancing settlements, every man was the daily guardian of his own life, untiring vigilance being the only guaranty of safety.
Chapter III. Philip Developed his Plot: His Attacks on the Weak Frontier Line of the New England Colonies.
It was these settlements, weakened by their geographical position, though strengthened by the energy of character innate in their inhabitants, that Philip plotted to destroy. It was his design that the onslaught should have taken place on the same day, and that the war-cry should have been simultaneously raised, from the shores of the Piscataqua to the steeps of Mount Hope. Had such a combination been effected in the days of Sassacus, the hopes of the New England colonies might have been extinguished in blood. But the revelations of Sausaman had placed the colonists on their guard. Battles and experience had made them familiar with the Indian mode of warfare, and had taught them that sleepless watchfulness and caution are essential to the prosperity of settlements bordering on Indian frontiers. They numbered among them several men, noted for their skill and tact in repelling the Indians in their guerilla warfare. Every settler was, in fact, on the alert; fire-arms were kept in every family. The assumed tranquil air, and calm manner, of the Indian, in his ordinary visits, his studied secresy, and his deep deception, were closely observed, and the horrid cruelty of the Indians was well known to all, both young and old.
The Indian has lost America through discord, procrastination, and deliberation, without decision; action being postponed from time to time, and period to period, until it became, in effect, a dream of something to be done, something that it was pleasing to the natives to deliberate upon, to think about, to powwow over. There have occurred a few striking exceptions in the course of their history, and these are precisely the cases which developed extraordinary men. Two of these exceptions have already been mentioned; the one was Uncas, who determined to divide the ancient Pequot sovereignty, and to range himself under the banner of the English; the other was Sassacus, who, finding his affairs in a desperate condition, after the flower of his forces had been consumed by what was, clearly, the result of a mere accident (Mason never having premeditated that tragical and revolting sacrifice), determined instantly to forsake his country, and flee to the west. A third instance of decision, conjoined with ability to combine the power of united action, and, probably, the most remarkable of the three, in point of intellectual vigor, was that of Pometacom, whose acts we are about to narrate.
To qualify himself for his great effort against the New England colonies, and to relieve his men from domestic cares, he sent his own family, and all the women and children of his nation, into the country of his friends and neighbors, the Narragansetts. Canonchet, the son of Miontonimo, who had been the reigning sachem since the death of his father, by this course involved himself deeply with the colonies, and it ultimately cost him his life; for the colonists could now no longer doubt, that the Narragansetts not only sympathized deeply with Philip, but had acceded to his plans. They, therefore, organized a strong force against this tribe, and, after the capture of Canonchet, in a conflict, which occurred near Sekonk, the tribe succumbed, and formed a new treaty with their conquerors. Canonchet himself was sent to the Mohicans, under Uncas, and by them executed.
Political wisdom is of very slow growth among the Indians. Having no records, tradition performs its duty very defectively; much being forgotten, disbelieved, or imperfectly understood; and, where the ruling passions are so strong, as they are in all the tribes, that they all take one direction only, namely, hatred to the whites, imagination obtains the mastery over facts. These inferences regarding the race are forced upon us by the notorious fact, that past experience exercises but little influence over their future actions, and none whatever on the present of their history. Had Canonchet reflected that the fate of his father Miontonimo had been the result of the supposed or real hostility of the Narragansetts to the colonists, he would have avoided the offence of allowing his territory to become a shelter for the refugee Pokanokets; and the renowned sachem of the latter might have foreseen that the fate of Sassacus, incurred by opposing himself openly to the colonists, was likely to presage his own destiny. They knew nothing, it is true, of English history, except what had occurred before their own eyes; but, had they been cognisant of even more, they could have formed no other conclusion, than that a class of stern men, who had abandoned their homes and country, in support of deeply cherished opinions, would not be easily hurled back, or driven into the Atlantic, by a wild and undisciplined horde of savage hunters.
Philip had endeavored to lull suspicion by keeping up his communications with the central powers of the colonies, particularly by two personal visits to Plymouth, in 1662 and 1671, during which time he renewed the fealty, first pledged by his father Massasoit. After the disclosure made by Sausaman, his intentions could no longer be concealed; and, when it became known that he had abandoned his ancestral seat, at Mount Hope, and sent the women and children to a place of safety, it was supposed, and with truth, that he was ranging up and down among the tribes, like some eastern Mongol chief, in the central plains of Asia, arousing his followers, and exciting in them a desire for war, blood, and plunder. The tragedy soon opened along the entire line of the New England frontiers, and was, indeed, much the severest ordeal the New England colonies passed through.
Philip's energies appeared to be almost superhuman, for it was either his voice which
animated, or his hand which directed every attack. The war commenced near Mount Hope, on the 24th of June, 1675. A party of Philip's warriors, being sent to the English settlement at Mattapoisett, Swanzey, they plundered the houses, and killed some of the cattle. In this foray, an Indian being shot, the others rushed forward, and murdered eight or nine of the English. Intelligence of the affray was quickly spread, and the Plymouth and Massachusetts colonies immediately sent troops into the field. Within four days thereafter, one company of horse and two of infantry were on the spot. Several skirmishes ensued, and a few Indians, as well as English, were killed. The force of the latter being soon recruited, they proceeded to Mount Hope, which was found to be deserted, and the enemy to have fled. The dragoons, while reconnoitering the vicinity, discovered a small party of Indians, and killed four or five of the number. The troops then received orders to march into the country of the Narragansetts, to bring them to an account, but were met with many professions of a desire for peace. Negotiations having been opened, the Narragansetts signed a treaty, binding themselves "as far as was in their power," to oppose Philip. At this time, a price was placed on Philip's head, delivered "dead or alive."
Meantime, Church had penetrated Pocasset Neck, where he found and engaged some straggling parties; but, not meeting with the success he desired, he soon after returned to the same locality, with fifty men. Dividing these, for the purpose of more effectually pursuing the search, Fuller led one party towards the open bay, while Church, with the other, penetrated the interior, where, encountering the enemy in force, he was driven back. Fuller was also attacked by superior numbers, and, after reaching the shore, both parties were only saved from destruction by the fortunate proximity of a Rhode Island sloop. As soon as the English force could be concentrated, another expedition was sent to Pocasset, and several desultory engagements resulted in the killing of fourteen or fifteen Indians. On the arrival of the entire allied force, Philip, after some slight skirmishing, retired to that favorite natural fortress of the Indians a swamp. With the approach of night, the English retired; but, being reinforced the following day by 100 men, and observing that Philip occupied a narrow peninsula, seven miles in length, having an impenetrable swamp in the interior, they resolved to cut off his communications, and starve him out. The chief, seeing his critical position, took advantage of a dark night, and, constructing rafts of timber, escaped across the Assonet, or Taunton river, to his allies, the Nipmucks, an erratic tribe, whose segregated bands occupied a large area of territory. When, the following morning, it was discovered that Philip had fled, the allies hotly pursued him, and, tracing his trail, by the aid of the Mohicans, they overtook him at night, and captured thirty of his warriors; the wily chief, with the rest of his force, succeeding in making good their escape. Philip had fled to the quarter where he had the greatest number of allies. His plan, apparently, was, if defeated in New England, to retire toward the territory occupied by the Baron de Castine, an influential trader, or Indian factor, who resided in
Maine, had intermarried with the Penobscots, and sympathized with the effort of Philip, with whom he is said, by all the authorities of that period, to have been in league. There is no doubt of his friendship for, and alliance with, the Pennacooks, and their affiliated bands of the Merrimac, extending northward to the Penobscot, Canada, and Acadia, where an adverse political element existed. France was regarded by the aborigines, in all respects, as the friend of the Indian race; and the destruction of the English colonies was truly as much of an object to the French, as it ever could have been considered by Philip. The Indians acting under Philip had been, without doubt, supplied with fire-arms and ammunition from the commercial depot of the Baron de Castine; and the powerful effect of this species of aid and sympathy, connected with the fact, that many years had been spent by Philip in maturing his plans, accords very well with the energy of character, secresy of purpose, and power of combination, which all writers have ascribed to him, and goes far towards relieving the war, in which he engaged with the colonies, of the desperate character of some of its general features.
In after years, when the Pennacooks, and the Indians generally, of southern New Hampshire, fled to the north, and allied themselves with the Abinakies, it was this very French influence upon which they relied. After a few years spent in various employments in the west, subsequent to the year 1689, Sebastian Rasle established himself at Norridgwock, on the Kennebec, when this illicit connection with the New England Indians became more fully apparent. The fugitive Indians were encouraged in their hostility to the English, and became expert in the use of fire-arms, which, at that era, had entirely superseded bows and arrows. Returning in detached parties, like hyenas in search of prey, they fell upon the people of the new and isolated settlements, from whose precincts they had previously fled, with the exterminating knife and tomahawk, marking their course with scenes of arson and murder, which are heart-rending, and horrible to contemplate.
But, to return to the Baron de Castine; it is affirmed that he was a French nobleman of distinction, a colonel in the king's body guard, and a man noted for his intrigue, as well as his enterprise, who had formed an alliance with the Abinakies and other Indians of this part of the country, the object of which was to impede the progress of the colonies of Plymouth, Massachusetts, and other parts of New England. He had married, and had living with him, at one time, six Indian wives. Several Roman Catholic priests also resided with him in his palace, which formed a sort of aboriginal court, and was located on the eastern bank of the Penobscot, near its mouth, where the present town of Castine, in Maine, now stands. By these means, as well as by his genius and enterprize, he had acquired a vast influence over the natives; not only furnishing them with, but also instructing them in the use of, fire-arms. He began his career among the Penobscots in 1661, and followed it up with such success that,
at the commencement of Philip's war, the knowledge of the use of gunpowder and fire-arms was universal among the Indians. 197
It must not, however, be forgotten that Philip, independently of his expectations from the sympathy of the French, was actuated by his own natural antipathies in his attempt to drive the English out of New England, and that, when he abandoned Mount Hope, he threw himself among his Indian friends and allies, with the purpose of inciting them to make incessant attacks on the settlements. To do this effectually, it was necessary to surprise them in detail. Places known to be in the occupancy of the militia were avoided, unless when a small force could be suddenly attacked by a larger one. The Indians have seldom been willing to meet a large regular force in the field; they prefer the guerilla system, which is pursued in the same manner in Oregon, at the present day, as it was in New England 180 years since.
Chapter IV. Philip Carries the War into the Plymouth Colony. It Assumes a Wider and More Sanguinary Aspect. The Narragansetts are Involved in the Conspiracy.
After Philip's flight from Pocasset, the war assumed a fiercer character. Five or six laborers were waylaid and killed in a field in Mendon; Middleborough and Dartmouth, in the Plymouth plantations, were attacked; no agricultural labor could be pursued; every clump of bushes hid an enemy, and every fence and wall served as an ambuscade. The Nipmucks who had, heretofore, occupied a doubtful position, now commenced open hostilities, spreading the alarm westward. At Lancaster, a man and his wife were killed on the Lord's day; a boy, tending sheep, in Marlborough, was fired at; non-combatant Indians were arrested and committed for trial; and no Indian was safe, or free from the suspicion of treachery, no matter how good his conduct had previously been, except those of the communities of praying Indians, who were also closely watched. A short time subsequent to the alarm at Lancaster, a detachment of soldiers was sent out to make reconnoissances as far as Hadley.
The authorities at Boston, still entertaining the idea that the Nipmucks could be restrained by negotiation, the latter agreed to meet commissioners at Brookfield; but it proved to be a mere ruse on the part of the Indians. The officers sent thither were accompanied by twenty horsemen, and were joined on the route by a considerable number of the citizen soldiery. Finding no Indians at Brookfield, they marched four or five miles further, to a narrow defile, flanked by a swamp, where 300 Indians rose from an ambuscade, and poured upon them a heavy fire. Eight of the men were killed by the first discharge, and the commander, as well as several others, wounded. They then retreated to Brookfield, whither they were pursued by the Indians, who set the town on fire in several places. The inhabitants retired to a log-house, slightly fortified, where they defended themselves. The Indians surrounded it, keeping up an incessant fire, and attempted to burn it by discharging blazing arrows upon it, and by thrusting combustibles against it, placed on the ends of long poles. They then filled a cart with hemp, and, setting it on fire, backed it up to the house. Had this effort succeeded, seventy men, women, and children, who were huddled together within, would have
been roasted alive; but, fortunately, a shower of rain, which fell at this moment, extinguished the flames. The Indians were eventually frightened off by the reported arrival of reinforcements, which they supposed to be very large, from their being preceded by a drove of frightened cattle. Only one man was killed, and one wounded, in this tumultuary siege.
The affair was scarcely over, when four separate bodies of troops, under different commanders, reached Brookfield. But the Indians had fled westward, effecting a union with the Poemtucks, at Deerfield and at Northfield. Being pursued in that direction, a battle was fought near Sugar-loaf Hill, in which ten English, and twenty-six Indians fell; the rest of the Indians then joined Philip's forces. Hadley was now occupied by the troops, the natives in the vicinity having begun to show a hostile disposition, and to menace the towns above it in the Connecticut valley. On the 1st of September (1675), they attacked Deerfield, burned several dwellings to ashes, and killed one man. Nine or ten men were killed by them in the woods, at Northfield, two or three days subsequently. The day after the latter occurrence, a reinforcement of thirty-six mounted infantry, with a convoy of provisions for the garrison at Northfield, fell into an Indian ambuscade within two miles of their destination; Beers, the commander, with sixteen men, being killed, and the baggage and wounded captured by the enemy.
On the 18th of September, a force of eighty men, convoying a train of teams, loaded with grain, left Deerfield, to proceed to Hadley; but, while passing through a dense forest, in the vicinity of a place now called Muddy Brook, some seven hundred Indians, who had been screened from view by the bushes of a morass, rushed furiously upon them. The troops, being thrown into complete confusion, broke their ranks, and attempted to fight the enemy, from behind trees, in their own customary manner. But it was to no purpose; they suffered an utter and most appalling defeat; Lathrop and ninety men, including the teamsters, being slain. The firing being heard at Deerfield, four or five miles distant, a reinforcement was hurried forward, but did not reach the scene until after the close of the action, when the victors were engaged in stripping the dead, and mangling their bodies. Rushing on boldly, without breaking their ranks, they drove the enemy from the field, killing many, and compelling the survivors to seek safety in flight. The loss of the Indians, in the several actions fought on this day, is reported to have been quite heavy.
It is to be inferred that, in these systematic attacks, Philip himself was either the leader, or the inciting spirit of the Indians. Throughout a large extent of country, the Indians were actuated by one motive and one policy; for, like his own fabled Hobbamok, Philip appeared to be ubiquitous, shifting his position with inconceivable rapidity, from one point to another. From information subsequently obtained, he is believed to have led the attack at Muddy Brook. The following day, he displayed his forces, in numbers, on the west banks of the Connecticut, at Deerfield, which was garrisoned by only
twenty-seven men. This circumstance led to the abandonment of that post, as being too distant to secure proper support, and it was soon after destroyed by the enemy.
Emboldened by these successes, the Indians, in the vicinity of Springfield, attacked that town, killed an officer and one man, who were out reconnoitering, and burned twenty-two dwelling-houses, together with a valuable library, as also twenty-five barns, including their contents; a loss which reduced the inhabitants to great straits during the winter.
Flushed with his triumphs, Philip ascended the valley, with the determination of attacking the English headquarters. On the 19th of October, he appeared, with seven or eight hundred warriors, near the town of Hatfield, and, having cut off several scouting parties in the woods, made a rapid attack on the town, from various quarters. It was defended with great resolution, having been reinforced a short time previous, and, after a severe contest, Philip was compelled to withdraw his forces. This he effected during the night, not without some confusion, as he was encumbered with his dead and wounded. He also lost some of his guns in the river. He succeeded, however, in firing several dwellings, which were consumed, and in driving off a number of cattle and sheep belonging to the colonists.
Autumn now drawing to a close, it became necessary for the large mass of the Indians to disperse to places where they could readily obtain their wonted supplies. Philip had determined to pass the winter with the Narragansetts; but, in a short time, his guerilla parties were kept busy on the waters of the Connecticut. Late in October, some unprotected teams, near Northampton, were attacked; three men were killed in a meadow near that town; and the Indians attempted to burn a mill. Three men were also killed between Springfield and Westfield, and four houses burned at the latter place. Other depredations were committed at Longmeadows, and, likewise, at Springfield.
While the knife, club, gun, and incendiary brand were thus actively wielded on the waters of the Connecticut, Philip's warriors were busy in the east and south-east. Two separate companies of militia marched from Boston and Cambridge, to repress Indian hostilities at Mendon, Groton, and other places. In effecting this, several encounters occurred, in one of which, an officer, named Curtiss, and one soldier fell. A considerable quantity of corn was destroyed, and one poor captive was released.
Prior to the last-mentioned action, an affair occurred at Wrentham. One of the colonists, having one evening discovered a party of Indians on their march, silently followed their trail, and saw them encamp near a precipice. Returning, and giving immediate notice of his observations, thirteen men accompanied him to the spot, where they concealed themselves until the Indians arose at daybreak, when they fired upon them, and, driving them over the precipice, killed twenty-four. The rest effected their escape.
Chapter V. The Ccolonists March to the Relief of the Frontiers. They Wage War Against the Narragansetts, Who are Defeated in a Stongly Fortified Position.
WITHOUT the details being given, it is impossible to conceive the harassing nature of this war. The English were ever on the alert, ever vigilant, active, brave, and enterprising. They were ready, at a moment's warning, to pursue the enemy, and retaliate his attacks; and, whenever they suffered defeat, it was owing to their impulsive bravery, and a disposition to underrate and despise their enemy. This induced them to make rash movements, in which they frequently neglected the ordinary rules of military caution. Bodies of men were suddenly aroused and inarched boldly into the forests and defiles, without sending out scouts to ascertain the position of the foe. Besides, it always required a large force to watch a smaller one, when the latter were secreted in the woods, ready to spring upon them when least expected.
Indian history demonstates that, in this guerilla warfare, the advantage is, generally, at first on the side of the natives, who are more intimately acquainted with the local geography, as well as with the natural resources of a wilderness country, and, also, with their own capacity for endurance; which circumstances generally determine their mode of attack and defence. Solid columns of men, encumbered with heavy baggage and a commissariat, when marching through a forest, must, necessarily, progress slowly. They soon become fatigued, and harassed by their encumbrances, while the light-footed Indians dart around them, and before them, like the hawk toying with its prey, until a suitable opportunity occurs for them to strike. If it be merely a war of skirmishes and surprises, these are their favorite and, generally, successful modes of attack. Another error, committed by the whites, in this war, was the employment of a multiplicity of separate commanders, frequently exercising discordant powers, and wanting in unity of action.
The good sense of the commissioners of the New England colonies, now confederated for defence, convinced the country of this. The war had been in progress scarcely three fourths of a year, during which time many valuable lives had been lost by Indian ambuscades, and a large amount of property had been destroyed. Although the settlers were kept in a state of perpetual alarm, no effective blow had been struck;
nothing, in fact, had been done to subdue the daring spirit of the Indians, and their entire force was still in motion. In a council held at Boston, it was determined, therefore, to adopt more general and effective measures for the prosecution of the ensuing campaign. Agreeably to a scale then established, Massachusetts colony was directed to furnish 527 men; Plymouth colony, 158; and Connecticut, which now included the New Haven colony, 315; making a total force of 1000 men.
It was subsequently determined to fit out a separate expedition against the Narragansetts, whose hostility to the colonies, and complicity with Philip, could no longer be doubted. They were designated as the first object of attack. One thousand men were also mustered for this service, officered by experienced captains, and placed under the command of Josiah Winslow. Advanced as the season was, this force was marched in separate bodies through Seekonk and Providence, and over Patuxent river to Wickford, the place of rendezvous. On the route a system of wanton destruction of person and property was followed up, it being their design to make the Indians feel the effects of the war. The latter, being apprized of the movement, burned Pettiquanscott, killing fifteen of the inhabitants, and concentrated their forces on an elevation, several acres in extent, surrounded on all sides by a swamp a position located in the existing township of South Kingston, Rhode Island.
At this place they had fortified themselves by a formidable structure of palisades, surrounded by a close hedge curtain, or rude abattis, leaving but one passage to it, which led across a brook, and was formed of a single log, elevated four or five feet above the surface of the water. At another point of the fortification was a low gap, closed by a log four or five feet high, which could be scaled. Close by was a blockhouse, to defend and enfilade this weak point. The whole work was ingeniously constructed, and well adapted to the Indian mode of defence. The authorities do not mention that Philip was present, but there appears to be no doubt that he had given every aid in his power to his allies. It was a death struggle for the Narragansetts, and their fate would determine his; for they were far superior in numbers.
By the destruction of Pettiquanscott and its little garrison, the troops composing Winslow's army, who had expected to take up their quarters there, were deprived of all shelter. They had no tents, and were, consequently, obliged to pass a very uncomfortable night in the open air. It was late in December, and bitter cold, with snow on the ground. On the next day (19th) Winslow put his army in motion at an early hour, as they had sixteen miles to march, through deep snow. At one o'clock in the afternoon, guided by an Indian, they reached the vicinity of the swamp, where a party of the enemy had been stationed as a corps of observation. They were immediately attacked, but fled to their citadel. A detachment, comprising four companies, immediately rushed through the swamp, at a venture, and accidentally reached the log-gap, which they began to scale; but they were compelled to fall back before the destructive fire from the Indian block-house. They were reinforced by two other companies, when,
pressing gallantly forward, in the face of a severe fire, they scaled the log sally-port, and entered the fort, maintaining themselves in their position under a terrible fire.
While victory thus hung in suspense, the remainder of the army succeeded in crossing the swamp, and entered the works at the same gap, after which the contest was maintained with great obstinacy, during three hours. The Indians had constructed coverts in such a manner that the place could only be taken in detail. 198 Driven from one covert after another, the Indians kept up a galling fire, most resolutely contesting every inch of ground. At length they were compelled to abandon the fort, and effect their retreat by the log-gate, across the narrow bridge, which, though well adapted to them, must have proved a difficult feat to the English. During the contest it was observed that a large body of the Indians had assembled behind a certain part of the fort, whence they kept up a most annoying fire. Captain Church, the aid of General Winslow, having the command of a volunteer company, led them out against these Indian flankers, whom he silenced or dispersed, when, charging again with great gallantry, he re-entered the fort through the oft-contested gap, driving the Indians before him. He encountered them on every side, hunted from their coverts, and falling fast before the English musketry. The Narragansetts finally gave up the struggle and fled into the wilderness.
Six hundred lodges were found in this fortified enclosure. Being the winter season, and placing great reliance on the strength of their position, as well as on the long established custom of suspending operations during the winter months, the Narragansetts had conveyed their women and children to this place for shelter. It has been stated, and there is no reasonable doubt of the fact, that some of the most bold, daring, and reckless of the English officers, had been formerly sea-captains, and, probably, buccaneers, in the West Indies. Nothing short of the diabolical spirit, innate in men of that class, could have suggested the cruel scene that followed the flight of the warriors. The wigwams, containing the aged and superannuated, the wounded, who were unable to escape, and about 300 women and children, were set on fire. The miserable inmates ran shrieking in every direction, as the flames advanced; but there being no chance for flight, they were all consumed in this inhuman holocaust. This was not only an act of most barbarous cruelty, in General Winslow, but was also a mistaken policy.
The Indians who escaped took shelter in a swamp, near by, where they passed the night in the snow, and where many of their number died from exposure, and the want of both fire and food. The Narragansetts afterwards asserted that they lost about 700 warriors at the fort, besides 300, who subsequently died of their wounds. The entire number assembled at the fort has been computed at 4000; and, if we allow but five persons only to a lodge, it would sum up a total of 800 families.
The conflagration of the lodges, after the Indian warriors had fled, was not merely unnecessary, cruel, and inhuman, but it was also an unwise measure on the part of General Winslow; for the Indian wigwams might have afforded shelter during the night for the wounded and exhausted soldiery. But the English were themselves driven out by the flames, and were compelled to retrace their way through a severe snow storm, carrying with them many of their dead and wounded. The intensity of the cold, added to the pangs of hunger, occasioned the death of many of the latter, whom ordinary care might have saved. They reached the desolate site of Pettiquamscott after midnight, and, the following day, thirty-four of their number were buried at that place, in one grave. Many were severely frost-bitten, and 400 were so much disabled as to be unfit for duty. Had the Indians rallied and attacked them at Pettiquamscott, not over 400 of the army could have handled a gun or a sword. Two hundred of the English were killed in the storming of the fort, including eight captains and several subalterns.
This severe blow crippled the power of the Narragansetts, but did not humble them. On the contrary, the survivors cherished the most intense hatred against the English, from this period becoming the open and fearless allies of Philip; and the majority of them, under Canonchet, a short time subsequently, joined the Nipmucks, and Philip's allies, near Deerfield and Northfield. Driven from their villages and their country, they turned their backs on their once happy homes, with a feeling akin to that which had, at a prior period, animated Sassacus. It might naturally be supposed that many of them must have suffered greatly from want of food; but the forests were still filled with game, and they also frequently seized the cattle which were straying about, on the borders of the settlements. Early in February, they made a descent upon Lancaster, and captured forty-two persons; and a short time thereafter, they killed twenty of the inhabitants of Medford, at the same time burning half the town. Seven or eight buildings shared the same fate in Weymouth. On the 13th of March, four fortified houses were reduced to ashes in Groton; a few days later, Warwick, in Rhode Island, was burned; and, before the close of the month, the largest portion of the town of Maryborough was likewise consumed.
The Indians had been taught the efficacy of fire by their bitter experience at Kingston fort, and they soon became expert in using it against the English. The torch was now their most potent weapon. This novel mode of warfare created such a panic, that a large force was kept on the alert, both day and night. Before the depredations could be checked in one direction, they were duplicated at another, and, frequently, distant point. Captain Pierce, of Scituate, and fifty men, together with twenty Cape Cod Indians, were suddenly attacked on the Patuxent, and almost entirely annihilated. Two days subsequently, forty dwelling houses and thirty barns were burned at Rehoboth, Rhode Island. Eleven persons were killed, and their bodies consumed, in the flames of one house, at Plymouth. Chelmsford, Andover, and Marlborough suffered
by the torch early in April, and Sudbury experienced the next visitation. On this occasion a party of colonists, who pursued the Indians, were all waylaid and killed.
The Indian army which committed these depredations numbered some five hundred men. Finding that they were not closely pursued, after their attack upon Sudbury, they encamped in the neighboring forest. Meantime, a force of fifty men, under Captain Wadsworth, who were marching to protect other towns, learning that a body of Indians was concealed in the woods near Sudbury, determined to find them. Seeing a small number of the enemy returning, they instantly started in pursuit of them, and were thus led into an ambush, from which the entire force of the Indians issued, and commenced a fierce attack. Flight being out of the question, the English fought bravely, and finally gained an eminence. But nothing could withstand such numerical odds, and Wadsworth and all his command were killed, not a man escaping. The same day, a provision-train was attacked in Brookfield, and three men killed, or captured. The ire of the Indians was next directed against the old Plymouth colony, which they probably hated on account of its having been the nucleus of the colonists. Nineteen buildings were burned at Scituate, seventeen at Bridgewater, and eleven houses and five barns in Plymouth itself. A short time subsequently, several buildings were consumed at Namansket, in old Middleborough. Very few persons were killed in these depredations; but the Indian fire-brand was constantly in operation against every isolated house, or unguarded village. Their marauding parties stealthily traversed miles of territory every night; and no man could step out into his field to look at his farm or stock, without incurring the danger of being pierced by the swiftwinged arrow, or the unerring ball of a savage foe. The hills and valleys of New England resounded anew with the terrible war-whoop.
Chapter VI. Capture and Death of Canonchet. Overthrow of the Narragansetts.
WHILE the eastern townships presented a scene of universal devastation, the English inhabitants on the western borders experienced but little disturbance from the Indians. But, when the latter were driven from the eastern section, they commenced a series of attacks, by night and by day, on the scattered settlements of the west. To repress these outrages, Massachusetts and Plymouth sent a considerable force into that quarter.
After the storming of his principal fort, in the swamp of South Kingston, Canonchet, the reigning chieftain of the Narragansetts, fled to another intricate position; but there is no evidence that defeat had humbled him. His grandfather, Canonicus, had been the ruling chief of his tribe, and had sold Aquidnec, now Rhode Island, to the English. His son, Miontonimo, equally noted for his politic character and personal bravery, had acted a distinguished part in the war which followed the overthrow of the Pequots. Canonicus, himself, could look back to no period of the Narragansett history, which did not afford him cause for pride. Though the Narragansetts may not have defeated the tribes of the Dighton Hock League, 199 who had, at an early period, occupied parts of New England, probably Maine, they had, at least, been confederated with the great magician and warrior, Mong, 200 who drove them from the banks of the Assonet. Whatever course the reflections of Canonchet took, he appears only to have been hardened in feeling, and more than ever incited to hatred of the English, by the contest with Winslow.
As spring advanced, he issued from his place of retreat, and, accompanied by a party, came to Seekonk to procure seed-corn for planting. This movement was revealed by two Indian females who were captured, and who also informed the colonists that his place of refuge was on Black river. The army of Massachusetts, which happened to be in the vicinity at the time, proceeded to make search for him, and succeeded in finding some of his party. They then immediately scattered, with the view of intercepting him, each squad taking different routes. Canonchet had adopted a similar policy, dividing his followers into separate parties. He was accidentally seen by a
person who recognised him, and hotly pursued. The sachem, in order to expedite his flight, threw off his laced coat and wampum belt, and would have escaped, had he not made a false step and fell into the water, wetting his gun. A swift-footed Pequot, who was in the English army, immediately seized and held him, until some of the soldiers arrived. He was desired to indicate his submission, but refused, maintaining, both in his air and manner, a proud, unconquered aspect, and disdaining to make any answers compromising his honor.
He was taken, under a strong guard, to Stonington, where he was allowed the formality of a trial. This local tribunal condemned him to be shot, which sentence was executed by the Mohicans and Pequots.
With Canonchet the Narragansett power in reality expired. The Narragansett nation had, doubtless, produced greater chiefs than the last named, but none who had possessed a higher or a firmer sense of his power and authority, or who had entertained a greater repugnance to the influx of the English race. Canonicus dreaded the approach of the foreign race; but he saw some advantages in that commerce, which supplied a market for what the natives could most easily procure, and furnished them with articles of which they stood in great need. These circumstances, coupled with the influence of Roger Williams, induced him to adopt a conservative course, and to prevent his tribe from committing hostile acts. His son, Miontonimo, was greatly his superior, both in mental and personal endowments; but he possessed a fiery, ungovernable spirit. Impatient under the pressure of wrongs he could not redress, he was too eager to avenge injuries received from his kinsmen, the Mohicans, by a sudden, impulsive movement, the object of which might have been attained by more deliberation. His unjustifiable death, on Sachem's Plain, is not so remarkable as an act of savage cruelty, as it is of English casuistry. An Indian hand was made to strike the executionary blow, which Indian clemency, or diplomacy, had withheld. Canonchet, also, fell by the same questionable system.
Chapter VII. Philip Renews the War with Success, but is Finally Forced to Take Shelter with His Chief Captain, Annawon, in an Oasis of a Morass, in Pocasset. Final Overthrow of the Bashabary of Pokanoket
WINTER is not usually a season of warfare among the forest Indians, who can be traced in the snow, and cannot camp without fires; but where the plunder of barns and cattle is at hand to afford them sustenance, the rule is violated. Philip resolved that neither cold nor hunger should stay his onset; he had engaged in a death-struggle with New England, and, it may truly be said, that she never had so energetic and desperate an Indian enemy to cope with.
After the capture of Canonchet, the party which had been led by him fled in the direction of Deerfield and Northfield, in which vicinity Philip's Indians had been, for some time, collected, committing depredations on the inhabitants. Philip made this part of the country his head-quarters, and, agreeably to accounts then current, he had received countenance from the French in Canada, who had sent, and continued to send, Indian marauding parties into this part of the Connecticut valley. He had, himself, visited Canada, and he purposed, in case of final defeat, to retire into that province. A Natic Indian who had been sent out as a spy, reported that Philip had visited Albany, to obtain assistance from the Mohawks. The Mohawks might have been inclined to aid him, but for a piece of treachery which unexpectedly came to light. Philip's men had killed a few Mohawk hunters, on their hunting-grounds in the Connecticut valley, and the chief had adroitly laid the blame on the English. But, one of the men, supposed to be dead, had recovered, and revealed the true state of the case.
It soon became evident that Philip entertained no idea of giving up the contest, but was preparing to carry on the campaign of 1676 with renewed vigor. As the spring advanced, his central position appeared to be at, or about Turner's Falls, on the Connecticut; a noted locality for the catching of shad, and other species of fish abounding in this river. At Longmeadow, on the 26th of March, an armed cavalcade, while proceeding to church, was attacked, and two men killed and a number wounded. On another similar occasion, two women and their children became so much frightened that they fell from their horses, and were dragged by the Indians into a swamp.
These, and many other affairs of a similar character, in which men were killed on both sides, rendered it clear that Philip's main force harbored in this vicinity, and thither, therefore, the English troops were marched, corps after corps, both horse and foot, under approved leaders, until the force swelled to a considerable number. The Indians were camped around the falls on both banks, in detached bodies, and were also congregated on its cliffs and on the neighboring islands. As the English force in this quarter was not, at this time, very numerous, the Indians were not in much fear, and consequently became careless. Two captives, who had escaped, reported this supineness and described their position. About 160 mounted men marched for the falls under Captain Turner, whose gallantry was commemorated by giving to them his name They were joined by militia from Springfield and Northampton, and then led by skilful guides to within half a mile of the spot, where Turner dismounted his men and fastened his horses, leaving a small guard to protect them. Having been previously joined by parties under the command of Holyoke and Lyman, the whole force proceeded with silence and caution toward the Indian camp. Daylight had not yet dawned, and the enemy, deeming themselves secure, kept no watch. They were yet asleep, and scattered around at several points, mostly above the falls, where the river poured, at one leap, over a precipice of forty feet. A well-directed fire gave them the first indication that the detested English shouting Mohawks 201 were upon them. Seizing their arms, they fought distractedly. A large number of them leaped into their canoes to cross the river; some of which, having no paddles, were soon swept over the falls, and all who were in them, with one exception, drowned. It is estimated that the entire loss of the Indians was 300 warriors. One hundred and forty were swept over the falls, but one of whom was saved. Those who succeeded in escaping across the river, joined the others in their flight. It was a complete surprise and a disastrous defeat. The slaughter was so great, that 100 dead were counted on the field.
After their flight, the Indians again rallied, crossed below the falls, and attacked the guard which had been left with the horses. An Indian captive reported that Philip had arrived with a reinforcement of 1000 men. This news produced a panic, and a separation of the English forces. A thickly-wooded morass flanked the left banks of the falls, extending nearly to Green river. Those who retreated by this route were subjected to repeated attacks, and one of the parties, which attempted to cross it, was entirely cut off, the men taken prisoners, and burnt at the stake. Turner beat back the party which attacked his camp, remounted his horses and vigorously pursued the enemy, who, dividing as he advanced, closed in behind, and pursued him in turn. He fell, pierced by a bullet, while crossing Green river. Holyoke, who had killed five men with his own hand, now assumed the command, and crossing the plains and Deerfield
river, he entered that town, closely pressed by the Indians. In this retreat he lost thirty-eight men.
This action, however, was the turning point of the war. The Indians, who were thrice the number of their assailants, had been posted in a country where they could obtain ready subsistence, and keep the surrounding territory in alarm by their secret attacks. Believing themselves invincible, they had at last become careless, and, when they least expected it, had been surprised by a comparatively small force, a large number killed, and the rest dispersed. They had never before experienced so decided an overthrow, and, notwithstanding they rallied and fought desperately, the dreaded combination was broken up, and was never afterwards re-formed.
After this affair, Philip, who had during many months made this place his headquarters, determined, it appears, to retreat towards the north. This chief, the various authorities state, had kept himself somewhat in retirement after a price had been placed upon his head. In the course of a few years, he had seen Sassacus, Miontonimo, and Canonchet, fall, certainly the two former, without manifesting much sympathy for their fate, denying them the aid which he now needed himself. He had also seen the colonies spread, instead of diminish. Whether he meditated the practicability of striking another blow at the settlements, after the action at Turner's Falls, or had relinquished the idea of a retreat to Canada, through the territory of the great Iroquois nation, and across the waters of Lake Champlain, is not known. He never again, however, attained to the power he had once possessed, and his fortune and influence appear to have henceforth deserted him. But, though his warlike prospects and his fate were now hopelessly obscured, he was not sensible of it, and he determined to retaliate the assault which had occasioned him so much loss, and wreak his vengeance on the settlements; several hundred warriors being still at his command.
The action at Turner's Falls occurred on the 18th of May. On the 30th of the same month, 600 Indians attacked Hatfield with great fury, burned twelve buildings, assaulted several palisaded dwellings, and killed a number of the inhabitants; but the latter being reinforced from Hadley, succeeded in saving the town from complete destruction, and in driving the Indians out of it. The loss of the colonists was five men, and that of the Indians twenty-five. The latter, in their retreat, drove off a large number of sheep and cattle.
Early on the morning of the 12th of June, the Indians assaulted Hadley with their entire force, reported at 700 warriors. An ambuscade was formed by them, at night, at one end of the town, into which they endeavored to decoy the inhabitants the following day. Not succeeding in this, they secured possession of a house, which afforded them shelter during the assault, and also fired a barn. They were, at length, repulsed with but little loss. In this action the concealed regicide, General Goff, appeared among the colonists like an apparition, marshalling the forces in the hottest of the conflict, and, after it was over, again retired to his place of concealment.
Philip next turned his attention to Plymouth, the old thorn which rankled in his heart. To this quarter he repaired personally, at the head of a large force, and harassed the surrounding settlements by his marauding attacks, but effected nothing of importance. It had the effect, however, of inducing the colonists to send fresh troops into the field, who were animated with the warmest zeal against their common enemy. Distinguished among these, was the veteran Captain Benjamin Church, who was indefatigable in scouring the country, destroying the lodges of the Indians, capturing their women and children, and killing their warriors. He spread the terror of his name far and wide. The hunted bashaba and sachem, although he had no longer a fixed point at which to convene his council, and could not count upon a place where his person would be safe, still maintained a haughty mien, and evinced no signs of submission, but, on the contrary, a persevering spirit of hostility and hatred.
While Church was in Rhode Island, Pometakom was driven from his covert like a hunted lion; his wife, children, and others of his household, being surprised and killed. The chief himself, however, escaped, and fled from place to place. At length, the brother of an Indian whom Philip had unjustly killed, brought intelligence that the haughty Pokanoket had taken refuge in a swamp, located on Mount Hope neck. Church proceeded to the peninsula with a number of volunteers, and a party of friendly Indians, guided by the informer. They crossed the Taunton, or Assonet river, in perfect secresy, and reached the swamp after nightfall. Church then formed his men in segments of a circle, in open order, and marched them upon the swamp, as radii to a centre. Having placed a friendly Indian, alternately, next to a white man, he issued orders to fire on any person who attempted to escape through the closing circle. They waited for daybreak in intense anxiety and profound silence. A small select party, under Golding, was detailed to advance and rouse up the Pokanoket chief. While these arrangements were being perfected, and the attacking party was still behind, a shot whistled over Church's head, followed by a volley, fired by a party of Indians sent out by Philip. Daylight had now appeared. The report of guns attracted the attention of the chief, and, seizing his petunk, 202 powder-horn, and gun, he started immediately to sustain his advanced party. An Englishman, not knowing the man, levelled his piece at him on a venture, but it missed fire. The Indians followed Philip in files. The same man again discharged his musket at him, sending two balls through his body, and laying him dead on the spot. Ignorant of the fate of the chief, an Indian voice was heard, thundering through the swamp, "Iootosh! Iootosh! Onward! Onward!" which cry proceeded from Annawon, Philip's principal war captain, who was urging his men to maintain their ground. The result was a bloody conflict, in which the Indians fought like tigers. Church finally made a determined charge through the
oasis, with all his force, killing 130 men; but Annawon, 203 with about sixty followers, escaped.
The death of Philip was, in effect, the termination of a war which had threatened the very existence of the colonies; for, although the Pokanokets had been the prime instigators of it, the powerful tribe of the Narragansetts, and other auxiliaries, one after another, had joined the league; and, although scarcely two years had elapsed since the commencement of the war, the entire Indian power of the country was openly or secretly enlisted on the side of the Mount Hope sachem. Notwithstanding his rooted hatred of the whites, and of the whole scheme of civilization, it cannot be doubted that he was a man who took a comprehensive view of his position, and of the destiny of the New England tribes; much less can it be questioned that he possessed great energy of character, persuasive powers suited to enlisting the sympathy of the Indians, and very considerable skill in planning, as well as daring in carrying his projects into effect. Gookin calls him "a person of good understanding and knowledge in the best things." 204 We may lament that such energies were misapplied, but we cannot withhold our respect for the man who, though lacking the motives that lead Christian martyrs to the stake, and civilized heroes to the "imminent deadly breach," was yet capable of combining all the military strength and political wisdom of his country, and placing the colonies in decidedly the greatest peril through which they ever passed.
Chapter VIII. The Merrimac Valley, and Abinaki Tribes.
AT the period of the first settlement of New England by the English, the principal Indian powers located in that territory, were, the Pokanokets, under Massasoit; the Narragansetts, under Canonicus; the Pequot-Algonquins of Connecticut; and the Merrimack, or Pennacook, bashabary of Amoskeag. Each of these comprised several subordinate tribes, bearing separate names, and, although bound, by both lingual and tribal affinities, to the central tribal government, yet yielding obedience to it in the ordinary loose manner of the local Indian tribes. Each of these tribal circles was ruled by its particular chief, who, although he arrogated to himself the powers and immunities of hereditary descent, yet exercised no absolute controlling influence, beyond what the popular voice allowed him. The colonists were not long in ascertaining who were the principal rulers, nor in taking the necessary measures to conciliate them.
Their mode of treating with the Indians was, to assert that the sovereignty and fee simple of the soil were vested in the English crown; but yet to acknowledge the possessory right of the aborigines, by presents, or by purchase, in order to conciliate the local chiefs. When collisions were occasioned by disputed boundaries, or by questions of trade, they were adjusted in councils of both parties. No difficulties of any general moment occurred until the origination of the Pequot war. The bloody feud between the Mohicans, under Uncas, and the Narragansetts, under Miontonimo, was a consequence of the Pequot outbreak. The colonies endeavored, as much as possible, to abstain from any participation in this struggle; but in a very short time they became involved in open warfare with the Narragansetts. It could not be supposed that the Pokanokets or Wampanoags, who, under the benevolent Massasoit, had lived in amity with the English for such a lengthy period, could sit calmly by, and see a foreign people, whose manners, customs, and opinions differed so widely from their own, attain the possession of power, and spread over their country, without experiencing feelings of jealousy and animosity. The impatient spirit which Alexander evinced during his short reign, and the more deliberate, secret, and crafty policy of Philip, developed this latent Indian feeling. These events have, however, been previously related in detail.
The Merrimack tribes, among whom the Pennacooks appear to have held the highest position, had located the seat of their government at the Amoskeag Falls, a name denoting the abundance of beaver on that stream. The ruling sachem was Passaconaway, a celebrated magician, a distinguished war captain, an eloquent speaker, and a wise ruler. Few aboriginal chiefs ever surpassed him in mental or magisterial qualifications. For a long period, he prudently maintained friendly relations with the Massachusetts and New Hampshire colonies; and his interviews with John Eliot denote that he possessed a mind, capable of grasping and comprehending the truths of religion. It is manifest that his most earnest desires were, to make the vicinity of his beloved Amoskeag his home in old age, and that his bones should be deposited on one of the beautiful islands in the Merrimack. But the spirit of aggression frustrated his wishes. There was a strong prejudice in the English mind against the natives, which brought the colonists and the Merrimacks into collision in many different ways. Injury was retaliated by injury, and blood was avenged by blood. Murders were followed by wars, in which the English were invariably successful, and, finally, Passaconaway and his Pennacooks were driven from their homes. New Hampshire and Maine, from the Merrimack to the Penobscot, were drenched with Indian, as well as English blood. The time will arrive, when the history of these sanguinary strifes will become a fruitful theme for the pen of the author, and the pencil of the artist; and then the bold and heroic men, whose lot it was to act the part of their country's defenders in these perilous scenes, will receive their due meed of praise. The deeds of valor enacted at Kennebec, Norridgewock, Castine,
The Abinaqui tribe also acted an important part in the Indian history of Maine and New Hampshire. This word is of French origin, and is too vague for any ethnological purpose, being the mere translation of the Indian term for Eastlander. 207 The language of this people designates their Algonquin lineage, the latter being distinguished by some orthographical peculiarities, the principle of which is the use of the letter r. The early colonists called them Tarranteens; 208 but, among the Iroquois, they were known by the name of Onagunga. 209
About 1692, while the colonies were contending with the refractory tribes on their western borders, Sebastian Rasle, a Jesuit missionary from Quebec, who had previously visited some of the western tribes, made his appearance among the Abinakies. He located himself at Norridgewock, and earnestly devoted his attention to the task of teaching them the truths of Christianity. It must be remembered, that the French
residents in Canada aimed to construct an empire in America, by obtaining influence amongst the Indian tribes, east, west, north, and south, which might be turned to political account in the hour of emergency. To a great extent, the new system of instruction, introduced by Rasle, had not only a religious character, but also a powerful political tendency. The people of New England and New York, nay, of all the colonies, deemed it such; and numerous and protracted negotiations between the colonists and the tribes, as well as between the respective authorities of the two countries, were the consequence. Every movement was, either in reality, or was conceived to be, the result of Canadian jealousy of the British colonies, or of British animosity against Canada. If the Indians committed a murder, or perpetrated a massacre, it was alleged that the French authorities had incited them to the act, or countenanced them in its performance. Squadrons of ships sailed from England to avenge these reported injuries, and, for a long period, the country, from the mouth of the St. Lawrence to that of the Mississippi, was the battle-ground of the contending nations.
This position of affairs caused Rasle to be regarded by the colonists as a partisan. Throughout New England, his labors were deemed to be directed toward perverting the Indians, and implanting in their minds the seeds of error, and of hatred to the colonies. He was cited before the authorities of Boston; but the negotiations only resulted in mutual misapprehension, and ended in vituperation. The Catholics and Protestants were so directly at variance with each other, and so many worthy men and women had been slain by the tomahawk and the scalping-knife, that the colonies determined, by a coup de main, to rid themselves of what they considered the grand exciting cause of all their evils. With the caution and celerity, resulting from long practice in Indian wars, they marched a body of troops to the site of Norridgewock, and made a descent upon the village. The Indians were roughly handled in an engagement, which took place on the green, were driven thence to their wigwams, and cut down wherever discovered. Among the rest, Rasle was slain, while boldly defending his flock. His chapel was burned, and the village entirely destroyed.
Schoolcraft, Henry Rowe.. History of the Indian Tribes of the United States: Their Present Condition and Prospects, and a Sketch of Their Ancient Status. Volume 6. . Philadelphia: Lippincott, Grambo and Co, 1857. [format: book; image], [genre: government document; report]. Permission: Northern Illinois University
Persistent link to this document: http://lincoln.lib.niu.edu/file.php?file=schoolcraft6.html