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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


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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.

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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

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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.

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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

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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.

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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
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