The United Colonies of New England, 1643-90

By Harry M. Ward | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XIII
Triumph of Military Expediency

The darkening skies that hovered over the early days of the second Confederacy now burst forth with the savage fury of Indian warfare. King Philip, wryly smarting under his ill treatment from Plymouth Colony, had chosen the day for vengeance. On a quiet Sabbath in June, 1675, Philip's Indians approached the frontier town of Swansea, bordering on the Mount Hope lands of King Philip, and set fire to several English houses. The savages returned three times in the course of a week, each time more emboldened and more lustful for blood. When they were through with their gruesome mission, the settlement was in ruins and the toll was heavy with the mangled bodies of the unfortunate inhabitants. The burning of Swansea set off the most disastrous Indian war in the history of New England.

A Plymouth force, under two former Commissioners of the United Colonies, Majors Cudworth and William Bradford, was immediately dispatched to the area of hostilities. They were soon joined at Swansea by a Massachusetts force. This prompt action was the result of military preparations that had been under way in both colonies. Upon the arrival of further reinforcements from Boston, the English force pushed on to Philip's quarters at Mount Hope, where all that was found were the heads of eight Englishmen raised on poles. The crafty Wampanoag sachem had fled. While the English forces were thus occupied, parties of Philip's Indians fell upon other Plymouth settlements, massacring the inhabitants.1 The uprising of the Wampanoags soon proved to be a contagion. By the end of July, Philip's Indians were allied with the powerful Narragansetts, and a second theater of war had opened in the Connecticut Valley. The traditional allies of the English, the Mohegans, anxious to bring their enemy, the Narragansetts, to terms, reaffirmed their loyalty to the English. They pledged that, in the event of war, they would drive the Narragansetts to "their forts and then they will be in a sutable posture for the English to doe

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