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首页 » 英文名人传记 » Lives of Famous Indian Chiefs » CHAPTER IV. KING PHILIP, OR METACOMET. THE LAST OF THE WAMPANOAGS.
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 The "great and good Massasoit" was gathered to his fathers in the year 1661, but to the last remained firm in his fidelity to the English. Near the close of his life he took his two sons, Wamsutta and Pometaeom, or Metacomet, to Plymouth and requested the Governor in token of friendship to give them English names. They were very bright, attractive young men of fine physical developments. The Governor related to the aged sachem the history of Philip and Alexander, the renowned Kings of Macedon, and gave to Wamsutta, the older, the name of Alexander, the Conqueror of Asia, and to his younger brother the less renowned name of Philip, and by these names they are known in history. The two young chieftains married sisters, the handsome daughters of the sachem of Pocasset. The wife of Alexander was named Wetamoo, who, as we shall see had an eventful life and a sad and untimely death. The wife of Philip had the euphonious name of Wootonekanuske.
Alexander became sachem on the death of his father and was deeply grieved that the English were so rapidly increasing, while his people were decreasing. Moreover his lands were fast slipping away to the possession of the English. Year by year the territory of the Wampanoags had narrowed until they had nothing left they could call their own but the two narrow peninsulas of Bristol and Tiverton on the east coast of Narragansett bay.
There were personal grievances also on both sides. With prosperity came avarice. Unprincipled men flocked to the new settlements which sprang up everywhere; the Indians were despised and often harshly treated; and the forbearance which marked the Pilgrims with the Indians was forgotten. The English were quick to notice a change in the Indians and a less friendly disposition in their young chief.
It was decided to summon Alexander before the Plymouth court to answer charges of plotting against the colony. The sachem refused to come. Upon this, Governor Prince assembled his counselors, and, after deliberation, ordered Major Josiah Winslow, son of Massasoit's old friend, Edward Winslow, to take an armed force, go to Mount Hope and arrest Alexander and bring him to Plymouth. This was accordingly done, and though his rage knew no bounds, he was forced at the muzzle of a gun to march in front of his captors. The indignity offered him crushed his kingly spirit. He was taken alarmingly ill with a burning fever, caused by his fury, grief and humiliation. His warriors, greatly alarmed for the safety of their beloved chieftain, entreated that they might be permitted to take Alexander home. The privilege was granted on condition that the chief's son should be sent to them as a hostage, and the sachem returned as soon as he had recovered.
The warriors, accompanied by Alexander's beautiful queen, Wetamoo, started on the sad journey, bearing their unhappy and suffering chieftain upon a litter on their shoulders. Slowly they traveled until they arrived at Taunton river; there they took to canoes, but had not paddled far before it became evident that their chieftain was dying. Landing, they placed him on a grassy mound under an overshadowing tree. While the stoical warriors gathered around in stern sadness and the faithful and heroic Wetamoo held the head of her dying lord and wiped his clammy brow, his proud spirit departed "for the land of the hereafter."
This event filled the hearts of his people with sullen and vindictive malice, for they believed Alexander to have been poisoned by the English. Wetamoo immediately became the unrelenting foe of the English. She was by birth a princess in another tribe, one of the numerous "squaw sachems" of New England, and able to lead three hundred warriors into the field. All the energies of her soul were aroused to avenge her husband's death.
Alexander was succeeded by his brother Philip, who also became the head of the Pokanoket confederacy, and in a few years, by his superior diplomacy, he held sway over nearly all the tribes of New England. Philip, of Mount Hope, was a man of superior endowments and one of the few Indians acknowledged by all historians to have been truly great. He clearly understood the power of the English and the peril he encountered in measuring arms with them. And yet he also saw that unless the encroachments of the English could be arrested his own race was doomed to destruction. He deliberately made up his mind to avenge his brother's untimely death; to drive the English from the country or perish in the attempt. Had he belonged to the proud Caucasian race, and especially the Anglo-Saxon division of it, he would have been called a patriot; but, belonging to a so-called inferior race, we find that Hubbard and other earlier historians, whenever they had occasion to mention his name, pay him the passing compliment of "caitiff," "hellhound," "fiend," "arch-rebel" and various similar designations of respect and affection. Verily it makes a great difference as to whether it was my bull gored your ox, or vice versa. Philip and his Wampanoags are unlucky enough, like the lion in the fable, to have no painter.
At one time Philip is thought to have been quite interested in the Christian religion, "but," as Abbott says, "apparently foreseeing that with the introduction of Christianity all the peculiarities in manners and customs of Indian life must pass away, he adopted the views of his father, Massasoit, and became bitterly opposed to any change of religion among his people." Mr. Goodkin, speaking of the Wampanoags, says: "There are some that have hopes of the greatest and chiefest sachem, named Philip. Some of his chief men, as I hear, stand well inclined to hear the gospel, and himself is a person of good understanding and knowledge in the best things. I have heard him speak very good words, arguing that his conscience is convicted. But yet, though his will is bound to embrace Jesus Christ, his sensual and carnal lusts are strong bands to hold him fast under Satan's dominion."
Before the war Rev. John Elliot, the great apostle to the Indians, made the most persistent efforts to induce Philip to embrace Christianity. The courtly savage had always received his arguments and persuasions politely, but without other effect. One day he took hold of a button on Elliot's regulation black threadbare coat and said, "I care no more for your religion than I do for that old button. Let me hear no more about it."
The character of Philip is further illustrated by an incident which happened in 1665. At that time he heard that a Christian-Indian named Assasamooyh, whom the colonists called John Gibbs, had spoken disrespectfully of his father, Massasoit. It was not a mere personal insult but a violation of reverence due from a subject to his king, and the offender forfeited his life, according to their code, at the hand of the nearest relative, who thus became the "avenger of blood."
Hearing that Assasamooyh was on the island of Nantucket, Philip took a canoe and went in pursuit. The offender was sitting at the table of one of the colonists when a messenger rushed in breathlessly and informed him that the dreaded avenger was near the door. Assasamooyh had but just time to rush from the house when the enraged chieftain was upon him. From house to house the Indian fled like a frightened deer, closely pursued by Philip with brandished tomahawk, who considered himself but the honored executor of justice. Assasamooyh, however, at length leaped a bank and plunging into a forest eluded his foe. With difficulty the colonists then succeeded in purchasing the life of his intended victim by a very heavy ransom.
The muttering warclouds grew darker and more threatening on the horizon, and while, for a time, there was no open rupture, yet many things, real and imaginary, indicated an impending crisis.
Nelly Jumping Eagle
It is not recorded that the old men dreamed dreams, but young and old appear to have "seen visions." In that superstitious witch-burning age it is not surprising that many of the colonists at this time began to give way to superstitious fears. Among other things it was asserted that a sign of impending evil in the form of an Indian bow was clearly defined against the heavens, and during the eclipse of the moon the figure of an Indian scalp was clearly seen imprinted on its disk. The northern heavens glowed with auroral lights of unusual brilliancy; troops of phantom horsemen were heard to dash through the air; the sighing of the night-wind was like the sound of whistling bullets; and the howling of wolves was fiercer and more constant than usual. These things, the superstitious declared, were warnings that the colonists were about to be severely punished for their sins, among which they named profane swearing, the neglect of bringing up their children in more rigid observances, the licensing of ale houses, and the wearing of long hair by the men and of gay apparel by the women. The more extreme even declared that they were about to be "judged" for not exterminating the Quakers.
Historians have given Philip credit for a grand scheme, conceived with deep foresight and carried on with the most crafty and persevering dissimulation—a scheme to lull the suspicions of the whites by a constant show of friendship, till a general combination of all the Indian tribes could be formed to extirpate them at a single blow. The English meantime felt as if standing over a powder magazine which might explode at any time. They were fully persuaded that a plot was making for their destruction. They felt that something must be done to meet the coming storm or dissipate it before it should burst on their heads.
What confirmed them in this belief was the fact that Philip exerted every effort to accumulate guns and ammunition for his warriors. Unlike Powhatan, he succeeded in obtaining a good supply of the deadly weapons of the English, and even made a great effort to obtain the formula for making gunpowder. His men became expert marksmen and continually practiced athletic exercises, all in pursuit of their common purpose.
In 1671 Philip was discovered to be making warlike preparations and summoned to a conference with the Plymouth government at Taunton. He refused to come unless accompanied by his men. The conference took place in the meeting-house at Taunton. On one side of the house were ranged Philip's fierce looking warriors, attired, painted and armed as for battle. Their long black hair, their eyes glittering with treachery and hate, their fantastic plumes and decorations contrasted strangely with the prim and austere Puritans with plain garb, close-cut hair and solemn countenances as they ranged themselves on the opposite side of the church. The Massachusetts commissioners, three gentlemen, were to sit alone near the altar as umpires. No fair-minded man can fail to admire the character developed by Philip in these arrangements.
Philip alone was the Indian orator and managed his case, which was manifestly a bad one, with such adroitness, that we doubt not Prince Talleyrand himself, the world's most skillful diplomat, would have assigned him a high place among diplomatists. Philip charged the whites with depredations upon his cornfields and denied that he entertained any hostile design; and promptly explained his preparations for war as intended for defense against the Narragansetts. Evidence was at hand, however, to show that he was on terms of more intimate friendship with the Narragansetts at this time than ever before. His plans were by no means perfected and he denied any hostile purposes, signed a new treaty and agreed to surrender all his guns. He is said to have been frightened into this agreement, but his history is written only by his foes. Philip and his warriors immediately gave up their guns, seventy in number, and promised to send in the rest within a given time. It was also agreed in the council that in case of further troubles both parties should submit their complaints to the arbitration of Massachusetts.
This settlement, apparently so important, amounted to nothing. The Indians were ever ready, it is said, to sign any agreement whatever which would extricate them from a momentary difficulty, but such promises were broken as promptly as made on the white man's theory, perhaps, that "all is fair in love and war." Certain it is that Philip, having returned to Mount Hope, sent in no more guns, but was busy as ever gaining resources for war and entering into alliances with other tribes.
At last Philip was notified from Plymouth that unless the arms were given up by September 13, force would be used to compel the act. At the same time messengers were also dispatched to the government of Massachusetts, at Boston, which, it will be remembered, was chosen as umpire to arbitrate between the two contending parties. Philip, shrewd enough to have perceived the jealousy and rivalry between the two colonies, set off at once to Boston, and thus assumed the position of the "law and order" party. With the rarest diplomacy he flattered the Massachusetts colony by certain territorial concessions and made such an adroit statement of his case, representing that Plymouth had encroached on the other colonies by summoning him for trial before her own court, and virtually declaring war without consulting them, that the Bostonians not only refused to help Plymouth at this time but coolly criticised her action as wrong and unwarrantable. They also wrote a letter to Plymouth, assuming that there was perhaps equal blame on both sides, and declaring that there did not appear to be sufficient cause for the Plymouth people to commence hostilities. In their letter they wrote: "We do not understand how Philip hath subjected himself to you. But the treatment you have given him, and your proceedings toward him, do not render him such a subject as that, if there be not at present answering to summons there should presently be a proceeding to hostilities. The sword once drawn and dipped in blood may make him as independent upon you as you are upon him." In short, the Bostonians believed that the whole difficulty arose from the Puritans' "lust for inflicting justice" and might have been avoided.
It was while Philip was at Boston that Josselyn, the English traveler, saw him. "The roytelet of the Pokanokets," he informs us, "had a coat on and buskins set thick with beads in pleasant wild work, and a broad belt of the same. His accoutrements were valued at twenty pounds. . . . Their beads are their money; of these there are two sorts, blue beads and white beads; the first is their gold, the last their silver. These they work out of certain shells, so cunningly that neither Jew nor devil can counterfeit."
Philip, bent on gaining further time for his plans and preparations, signed a new treaty, in which he confessed himself the author of the troubles and stipulated to pay a hundred pounds "in such things as he had" as an indemnity for the expense to which he had subjected the colony. Furthermore, he covenanted to deliver "five wolves' heads if he could get them, or as many as he could procure until they came to five wolves' heads yearly."
Three years now passed of strained intercourse and suspicious peace. This interval was used by the sachem to concert a most elaborate plan for the extermination of the English. Ancient enmities were forgotten. All the New England tribes except the Mohegans and the remnant of the Pequots were united in a great confederacy, of which Philip was to be the chief. The Narragansetts alone agreed to furnish four thousand warriors. Other tribes were to furnish their hundreds or their thousands, according to their strength. Hostilities were to commence in the spring of 1676 by a simultaneous assault upon all the settlements, so as to prevent aid being sent from one part of the country to another.
As Philip's deep laid plans approached maturity he became more independent and bold in his demeanor. The Governor of Massachusetts, becoming convinced that a dreadful conspiracy was in progress, sent an ambassador to Philip demanding an explanation of these threatening appearances, and desiring another treaty of peace and friendship. The proud sachem haughtily replied to the ambassador: "Your Governor is but a subject of King Charles of England. I shall not treat with a subject. I shall only treat with the King, my brother. When he comes I am ready."
Just before the outbreak John Borden, a Rhode Island man and a great friend of Philip, tried to dissuade him from war. His reply is remarkable: "The English who came first to this country were but a handful of people, forlorn, poor and distressed. My father did all in his power to serve them. Others came. Their numbers increased. My father's counselors were alarmed. They urged him to destroy the English before they became strong enough to give law to the Indians and take away their country. My father was also the father to the English. He remained their friend. Experience shows that his counselors were right. The English disarmed my people. They tried them by their own laws, and assessed damages my people could not pay. Sometimes the cattle of the English would come into the corn-fields of my people, for they did not make fences like the English. I must then be seized and confined till I sold another tract of my country for damages and costs. Thus tract after tract is gone. But a small part of the dominion of my ancestors remains. I am determined not to live till I have no country."
"This," says a writer, "is a declaration of war more striking in its origin, more true in its statements, than any with which we are acquainted. It is the mournful summary of accumulated wrongs that cry aloud for battle, not for revenge alone, but for the very existence of the oppressed. It is the sad note of preparation sounded by a royal leader that summons to their last conflict the aboriginal lords of New England."
The burning words were followed by burning deeds. Though still unprepared for war, the pent-up fury of his warriors could hardly be restrained. They became very insolent and boastful, and would actually sharpen their knives and tomahawks upon the door-sills of the colonists, talking in mysterious phrase of the great deeds they were about to perform.
One of the most intelligent of Elliot's converts was John Sassamon, who had acquired considerable education, and had become quite an efficient agent in Christian missions to the Indians. He was also a great help to Elliot in translating the Bible and other books into the Indian language. He lived in semi-civilized style upon Assawompset Neck, with his family, including a very pretty daughter, whom he called Assowetough, but who was called by the Puritans the less sonorous name of Betty. The noted place in Middleborough now called Betty's Neck is immortalized by the charms of Assowetough. Sassamon, though sustaining the most intimate and friendly relations with the English, was a subject of King Philip, and became his private secretary.
Soon after this Sassamon became acquainted with Philip's conspiracy in all its appalling extent and magnitude of design. He at once repaired to Plymouth and informed the Governor of his discovery, but enjoined the strictest secrecy respecting his communication, assuring the Governor that should the Indians learn that he had betrayed them his life would be the inevitable forfeit. Sassamon soon after resigned his position as Philip's secretary, and returning to Middleborough, resumed his employment as teacher and preacher to the Indians.
By some unknown means Philip learned that he had been betrayed by Sassamon, and early in the spring of 1675, Sassamon was suddenly missing. Suspicion immediately arose that he had been murdered either by Philip or some of his friends. After a search the body was found beneath the ice of Assawompset pond, in Middleborough. The murderers, hoping to escape suspicion, left his hat and gun upon the ice, that it might be supposed he had drowned himself or fallen in by accident; but upon an examination of the body it appeared that his neck had been broken, "which," says Dr. Mather, "is one Indian way of murdering." Three Indians were arrested and put upon trial at Plymouth, in June, before a jury composed of eight Englishmen and four Indians. In that superstitious age the colonists were but too ready to believe anything and everything which supported a charge against Philip. The leader of the three Indians arrested was Tobias, one of Philip's councilors. Dr. Increase Mather says of him: "When Tobias came near the dead body, it fell a bleeding on fresh, as if it had been newly slain, albeit it was buried a considerable time before that."
Matters looked very black for Tobias, and blacker still when a convenient Indian, one Patuekson, was found who, from a neighboring hill, claimed to have witnessed the death of Sassamon, at the hands of Tobias and the others. Patuekson had not dared to tell what he had seen before this, because of fears for his own life.
The three men were all convicted and hung. Philip was highly exasperated when he heard of the execution. He did not deny their agency in the affair, but contended that "the English had nothing to do with one Indian's killing another." To make matters worse, Philip was apprehensive that he also might be kidnapped and hung, as indeed was contemplated, as we learn from a letter written by Governor Winslow, July 4, 1675, in which he says: "I do solemnly protest, we know not anything from us which might have put Philip upon these motions, nor have heard that he pretends to suffer any wrong from us, save only that we had killed some Indians, and intended to send for himself for the murder of John Sassamon." We are curious to know what more provocation the good Governor would deem necessary before Philip would have a just "casus beli."
The murder of Sassamon precipitated the conflict. At that time Philip was training his forces, but had not fully matured his plans. The Narragansetts, who had entered into the plot and were to furnish four thousand warriors, were not yet ready. But Philip could no longer restrain the vindictive spirit of his young Wampanoag warriors, who were roused to a frenzy, and immediately commenced a series of the most intolerable annoyances, shooting the cattle, frightening the women and children, and insulting wayfarers wherever they could find them. According to Abbott, "The Indians had imbibed the superstitious notion, which had probably been taught them by John Sassamon, that the party which should commence the war and shed the first blood would be defeated. They therefore wished, by violence and insult, to provoke the English to strike the first blow." Nor had they long to wait. On Sunday, June 20, 1675, a party of eight Indians, bent on mischief, entered the little settlement of Swanzey, ransacked a house while the settlers were at church and shot the peaceful cattle pasturing on the green. Becoming very much exasperated at the attempt of the Indians to force an entrance into his house, a settler fired at and wounded one of the savages, who went sullenly away with bloody threats. The first blood was now shed, and the drama of war was opened. In view of the alarming state of affairs, messengers were dispatched to Boston and Plymouth. Thursday, the 24th, was appointed as a day of fasting and prayer.
On that day the village wore the stillness of a Sabbath. The pious people were returning with thoughtful faces from the log church. The rough street, filled with stumps, wound past the cabins with their little clearings, and through the noonday shadows of the primeval forest. Suddenly there were two sharp reports, two puffs of smoke, and two manly forms lay prostrate, one of them dead. The English were dumb with horror. Two who were dispatched for a "chirurgeon" were shot dead in the road, at the same time red flames burst through the roofs of a dozen cabins.
Leaving their slain where they had fallen, sixteen men and fifty-four women and children fled to a large house, where they prepared to fight for their lives. In another part of the town six others were killed and their bodies shockingly mutilated in attempting to reach this place of safety. One story is recorded of a servant girl in a cabin, who hid two little children under a large brass kettle, fired at an Indian entering the house, and, failing to kill him, beat him off by throwing a shovelful of live coals in his face, so that he was found in the woods dead from his wounds. As the terrible news quickly spread through the colonies, little companies of men were soon raised. The people besieged in the strong house at Swanzey were relieved, and soon a force of more than a hundred men was collected at that ill-fated village. An expedition was sent to attack Philip at Mount Hope; but that wily sachem, fearing a trap and seeing how untenable the little peninsula was for successful defense, had withdrawn his entire force and taken a strong strategic position in the midst of the great Pocasset swamp, where he was finally located by Captain Church and his men.
King Phillip
In the meantime the Massachusetts troops had marched into the Narragansett country, and with great show of force concluded a treaty with the Narragansetts, which they faithfully observed while the colonists were in sight. The united forces then marched on Philip, still intrenched in the great swamp. The colonists, knowing the intellectual supremacy of King Philip as the commanding genius of the war, determined to kill or capture him, and offered large rewards for his head.
After the English were led into an ambush and fifteen of them killed, they concluded that, as three sides of the swamp were surrounded by water, they had only to closely guard the land side, and Philip would be starved out and forced to surrender, as the Indians had but a limited store of provisions. So they built a fort and kept guard for thirteen days.
But Philip and his warriors had been busy constructing rafts and canoes, and one dark night he floated all his fighting men, numbering some two hundred, across the river, and continued his flight far away into the unknown and almost unexplored wilderness of the interior of Massachusetts. Wetamoo, the widow of his brother Alexander, who was ever at Philip's side, together with some of her warriors, escaped with him. He left a hundred starving women and children in the swamps, who surrendered themselves the next morning to the English.
Philip had now penetrated the Wilderness and effected his escape beyond the reach of his foes. He had the boundless forest around him for his refuge, with the opportunity of emerging at his leisure upon any point of attack along the New England frontier he might choose. Brookfield, an exposed settlement of twenty families, was the first to suffer. Twenty horsemen coming to its defense, were ambushed in a deep gully, and eleven killed. Emboldened by this success, three hundred Indians, yelling like fiends and brandishing their bloody weapons, rushed into the settlement. The terrified people gathered for defense in the strongest house, from the loopholes and windows of which they saw the torch applied to their homes. In an hour every cabin, with all its household furniture, most of it brought from England, was a heap of smoldering embers.
The Indians now surrounded the house in which the people were gathered. Inside, feather beds were fastened to the walls for protection. Outside the Indians exerted their utmost ingenuity for two days to fire the building; They wrapped around their arrows hemp dipped in oil, and setting them on fire, shot them on the dry, inflammable roof. Several times the building was in a blaze, but by great effort the inmates extinguished it. One night a fire was built against the very door, but the colonists rushed out to a near-by well and procured water to quench it.
When the ammunition of the colonists was running low, and they were exhausted by two days and as many nights of incessant conflict, and ready to despair, the Indians made a last desperate effort to fire the building. Filling a cart with hemp, flax and the resinous boughs of fir and pine, fastening to the tongue a succession of long poles, they set the whole contents on fire and pushed it against the garrison house, whose walls were as dry as tinder.
But at that critical instant, when all hope was gone. Major Willard, of Boston, with forty-eight dragoons, charged through the Indians, scattering them right and left, and entered the garrison. The burning cart was rolled away from the building, and a providential shower aided in extinguishing the flames which had been kindled.
The savages, after firing a few volleys into the fortress, sullenly retired. During this remarkable siege, one white man was killed and many wounded, while the Indians' loss was about eighty killed.
It is said that Major Willard, who thus rescued the people of Brookfield from a cruel death, suffered military censure and disgrace for having gone there instead of remaining at Hadley, where there were no Indians.
The fate of Brookfield was also meted out to Hatfield, Deerfield, Northfield and Springfield, while North Hampton, Worcester and Hadley, though lacking the name, became "battlefields."
A curious incident is recorded in connection with the Indians attack on Hadley, which occurred on Sabbath morning of September 1, while the people were attending public worship. This town had three companies organized for defense, but the suddenness of the attack caused the people to become panic-stricken; they were about to fly in the wildest confusion, like sheep assailed by wolves. Suddenly a stranger of large size, commanding appearance, loud voice and flowing, gray hair and beard, appeared in their midst with a rallying cry and drawn sword. His strange military aspect, and authoritative manner, quickly inspired all with courage. They fought with desperate valor under his leadership, and after a bloody battle the savages were defeated and driven away. The people of Hadley now turned to look for their deliverer, but he had disappeared, as suddenly as he had come, and was never seen again. They firmly believed him to have been the angel of the Lord, and so it passed into the traditions of the place. Years afterward it was discovered that the stranger was William Goffe, one of Cromwell's major-generals, and one of the judges who signed the death warrant of Charles I., called by the royalists "regicides." Many of these judges were executed when Charles II. became King. Three of them—Gen. William Goffe, his father-in-law, Gen. Edward Whalley, and Col. John Dixwell, fled to America on board the same ship that brought the first news of the restoration of the monarchy. They arrived in Boston July, 1660, and made their abode at Cambridge. Soon after this a fencing-master erected a platform on the Boston Common and dared any man to fight him with swords. Goffe, armed with a huge cheese covered with a cloth for a shield, and a mop filled with muddy water, appeared before the champion, who immediately made a thrust at his antagonist. Goffe caught and held the fencing-master's sword in the cheese and besmeared him with the mud in his mop. The enraged fencing-master caught up a broadsword, when Goffe cried, "Hold! I have hitherto played with you; if you attack me. I will surely kill you." The alarmed champion dropped his sword and exclaimed, "Who can you be? You must be either Goffe, or Whalley, or the devil, for there are no other persons who could beat me."
Feeling insecure at Cambridge, for Charles II. offered large rewards for their arrest, and sent officers to take them, the "regicides" fled to New Haven, where the Rev. Mr. Davenport and the citizens generally did what they could to protect them. Learning that their pursuers were near, they hid in caves, in clefts of the rocks, in mills and other obscure places, where their friends supplied their wants. Pastor Davenport preached a sermon on the text, "Hide the outcasts; betray not him that wandereth." The sermon had the desired effect, and the officers returned without capturing the regicides.
Finally, in 1664, they went to Hadley, Massachusetts, where they remained in absolute seclusion, in the house of Rev. Mr. Russell, during a period of about fifteen years.
Dixwell was with Whalley and Goffe most of the time until they died—the former in 1678 and the latter in 1679—and were buried at New Haven, where the colonel lived the latter part of his life under an assumed name. He, too, died and was buried at New Haven. In the burying-ground in the rear of the Central Church, small stones with brief inscriptions mark the graves of the three "regicides."
This in brief is the true story of the "Angel of the Lord, who delivered Hadley." Soon after this Hadley became the headquarters of the colonists' army. Quite a large force was assembled there, and most of the inhabitants of the adjoining towns fled to this place for protection.
There were three thousand bushels of corn stored in the garrison house at Deerfield, fifteen miles above Hadley, on the western side of the river. On the 18th of September, 1675, Captain Lothrop, with a force of one hundred men, soldiers and teamsters, was sent to bring this corn to Hadley. Nothing occurred until they had loaded their wagons and were on the return trip. Not an Indian had been seen; but all the time the lurking foe had been watching their movements, and plotting their destruction. All went well until they reached the banks of a beautiful little stream. It was a bright autumnal day. Grape-vines festooned the gigantic forest trees, and purple clusters, ripe and luscious, hung in profusion among the boughs. Captain Lothrop was so unsuspicious of danger that he allowed many of his men to throw their guns into the carts and to stroll about gathering grapes.
The critical moment arrived, and the English being in the midst of the ambush, a thousand Indians sprang up from their concealment, as if by magic, and poured a deadly fire upon the straggling column. Then, with exultant yells, they rushed from every quarter to close assault. The English were taken entirely by surprise, and being scattered in a long line of march, could only resort to the Indian mode of fighting, each one from behind a tree. But they were entirely surrounded and overpowered. Some, in their dismay, leaped into the branches of the trees, hoping thus to escape observation. The savages, with shouts of derision, mocked them for a time, and then killed them.
But eight escaped to tell of the awful tragedy. Ninety young men of the very flower of Essex county were thus slaughtered. The little stream running through the south part of Deerfield, on whose banks this dreadful tragedy occurred, has since been known as Bloody Brook, from the fact that the water was discolored as a result of this slaughter. Captain Mosely heard the firing at Deerfield, only five miles distant, and immediately marched to their rescue, but got there too late. He and his seventy men, however, fell upon the Indians with undaunted courage. Keeping his men in solid phalanx he broke through the lines of the savages, again and again cutting down all in sight, but losing heavily every minute. Aided by the swamp, the forest, and overwhelming numbers, the Indians maintained the fight with much fierceness for six hours, and in the end Mosely and his men would probably have shared the same fate as those for whom they thus imperiled their lives, had not reinforcements arrived at the critical moment, consisting of one hundred and sixty friendly Mohegan Indians under the command of Major Treat. These fresh troops fell vigorously upon the foe, and the savages fled, leaving ninety-six of their number dead. Philip himself is said to have commanded in this bloody fight, and his men, though defeated in the end, were greatly encouraged and emboldened.
The two captains, Mosely and Treat, encamped near by in an open space, and attended to the burial of the dead the following day. They were deposited in two pits, the colonists in one and the Indians in the other. A slab has been placed over the mound which covers the slain, and a marble monument now marks the spot where this battle was fought.
Up to this time the colonists had acted independently of each other, but it dawned upon them at last that their only hope of avoiding utter destruction lay in union. Accordingly commissioners were appointed from Massachusetts, Plymouth and Connecticut, to form a confederation, and plan for a concerted effort, with not less than a thousand troops. This number was quickly raised, and being augmented by one hundred and fifty Mohegan Indians from Connecticut, was placed under the command of Col. Josiah Winslow, of Plymouth.
Meantime the Narragansetts annulled the treaty they had been forced to make with the colonists. Their chief, Canonchet, not only received Philip and his Wampanoags, but aided them in constructing a strong fortification in an immense swamp, near what is now South Kingston, Rhode Island. It was on high ground near the center of the swamp, including several acres. The walls were an impenetrable hedge, with palisades and breast-works. Here they constructed five hundred log houses, almost bulletproof. The only entrance was by means of a bridge, over deep water, consisting of the trunk of a large tree, along which persons were forced to walk in single file. As this bridge was also flanked by a blockhouse, the whole plan of the place was an admirable proof of Philip's genius for war. Three thousand warriors under the command of Philip and Canonchet soon assembled at this rendezvous, where they were attacked by the colonists on the morning of December 19, having been guided to the fallen tree by a treacherous Narragansett Indian.
As the English rushed to cross this narrow bridge, they were instantly cut down by Philip's sharpshooters. Others promptly took their places only to share their fate. In a few moments six captains and a large number of their men were dead or struggling in the ditch. A few crossed the tree and reached the enclosure, only to fall pierced by the balls of the savages within.
At last, Captain Church, the hero of this war, with thirty picked men, forced an entrance into the fort at a point in the rear, not so strongly defended. In a moment they were supported by hundreds more. Once within the enclosure the real struggle was but commenced. The shrieks of the savages mingled with the roar of musketry. "It was," as Augustus Lynch Mason says, "the great struggle of New England. On the one hand fought three thousand Indian warriors, inspired by every feeling of patriotism, hatred, revenge, the sense of oppression, and love for their families. They fought for their native land. On the other were the colonists, the offspring of an age of intolerance and fanaticism, of war and revolution. Exiled from their native land, these men of iron had wrought out for themselves rude homes in the wilderness. Unless they could maintain their settlements in New England against the savages there was no place under the bending sky where they might live in liberty and peace. The inhospitable earth would disown her children. So they fought, nerved by the thought of wife and child, by the memory of the past, by the hopes of the future."
The conflict raged for three hours without decisive results, but with great slaughter on both sides. The English could not be driven from the fort, nor could they dislodge the Indians. At last the ammunition of the savages ran low, and above the tumult was heard the shout of Captain Church crying, "Fire the wig-wams!" The order was obeyed, and to the din of battle was added the thunderous roar of flames mingled with the shrieks and wailings of old men, women and children, as they were roasted alive in the fiery furnaces. Quarter was neither asked nor given, as the combatants fought like demons, contending for every foot of ground. When night came on, with a heavy snow-storm, the savages retreated to the smoky depths of the swamp, where many perished with the cold.
The English were left in possession of the charred fort, but it was a dearly bought victory. Since daybreak the colonists had marched sixteen miles and fought this terrible battle without food or rest. Nor did they stop when the victory was won, but hastily collecting their dead and disabled, they placed them on quickly improvised litters, and wearily trudged away into the forest on the return march. As they slowly stumbled over the rough places, or plowed their way through the deep snow, bearing their slain, many a brave comrade sank by the way to rise no more. In this decisive battle a thousand warriors were killed and hundreds more were captured. Besides the non-combatants, nearly all the wounded perished in the flames. The pride of the Narragansetts perished in a day, but eighty English soldiers, including six captains, were killed, and one hundred and fifty others wounded. Those of the Indians who escaped, led by Philip, again repaired to the Nipmucks. With the opening of spring the war was renewed with more violence than ever. With the decline of their fortunes, the Indians grew desperate, and swept the frontier with resistless fury. Lancaster, Medfield, Groton and Marlboro were laid in ashes. Weymouth, within twenty miles of Boston, met the same fate. On every hand were seen traces of murder and rapine. But the end was near at hand; the resources of the savages were wasted and their number daily decreasing.
In April, Canonchet, the great sachem of the Narragansetts, and, next to Philip, the master spirit of the war, was captured on the banks of the Blackstone. The English offered to spare his life if he would bring about a treaty of peace. But the suggestion was scornfully rejected. It was Canonchet who, when the English demanded that he should surrender some of Philip's men, who were with him on a former occasion, replied, "Not a Wampanoag nor the paring of a Wampanoag's nail shall be delivered up." When told that he must die he made this memorable answer: "I like it well; I shall die before my heart is soft, or I have said anything unworthy of myself." Because he had refused to violate the laws of hospitality by surrendering his friends to certain death or slavery, his father had been murdered, his warriors slain by the hundred, his women and children burned alive in the wigwams of the fort. Yet for all this he uttered not a word of reproach. Scorning to save his life by the submission of his people to such conquerors, he calmly folded his arms across his kingly breast, and with head erect and eye that never quailed, received the fatal bullets in his heart. In all the lore of chivalry and war their cannot be found a more heroic soul.
King Phillip Rejecting Elliot
Like his father, Miantonomo, Canonchet (or Nannutemo, as he is sometimes called) was a friend to the heroic Roger Williams, who tried to dissuade him from becoming an ally to Philip. Mr. Williams now seventy-seven years of age, told him that "Massachusetts could raise ten thousand men, and even were the Indians to destroy them all, Old England could send over an equal number every year until the Indians were conquered." To which the noble young chief proudly and generously replied: "Let them come, we shall be ready for them; but as for you, Brother Williams, you are a good man; you have been kind to us many years; not a hair of your head shall be touched." And when the town of Providence was nearly destroyed by the Indians, it was Canonchet who gave orders that the person and property of Roger Williams should be spared, and he was obeyed. And yet there are those who think the Indian is devoid of gratitude.
The death of Canonchet, his most formidable ally, had a very depressing effect on Philip, and marked the beginning of the end, for their friendship was like that of David and Jonathan, strongest in adversity. Other influences were also at work which were surely undermining the power of Philip. Having had their stores of corn and other provision destroyed by the English, and being prevented from planting more by the desolation of war, his warriors were forced to a diet almost entirely of meat. This caused many to fall a prey to disease. Moreover, the allied tribes began to murmur in open discontent and rebellion, saying that Philip had promised them easy victories and much plunder, but instead they had gained nothing by this war but hardship, suffering and the hatred of the English. Nothing succeeds like success, but it is also true that nothing fails like failure.
Captain Church was made commander-in-chief of all the forces, with full power to conduct the war in his own way. He abandoned the English method of warfare and fought the Indians with their own methods. Offers of peace were made to all who were discerning enough to see that their cause was hopeless, and various bands of Indians began to lay down their arms, only to take them up again as allies to the colonists.
Queen Awashonks, and her Saconet tribe, numbering about three hundred warriors, deserted him, and fought under the command of Church to the end of the war.
It is said that Philip never smiled again when he heard of this desertion, for he knew his doom was sealed.
But Wetamoo (Alexander's beautiful widow, who was also the squaw sachem or queen of the Pocasset tribe) and her warriors, remained faithful to his waning fortunes. At the beginning of the war, Wetamoo, flushed with hope, had marched to the conflict at the head of three hundred warriors. She and her men were always in the thickest of the fight, and her forces had been reduced to a dejected and despairing band of but twenty-six followers.
A deserting Indian came to Taunton and offered to conduct the English to a spot on the river where Wetamoo and her surviving warriors were in hiding. Twenty English armed themselves and followed him to a place called Gardner's Neck, near Swanzey, where they surprised and captured every one but Wetamoo herself. The heroic queen, too proud to be captured, knowing it meant slavery, instantly threw off all her clothing and seizing a broken piece of wood she plunged into the stream. But, weakened by famine and exhaustion, her nerveless arm failed her and she sank to the bottom of the stream. Soon after her body, like a bronze statue of marvelous symmetry, was found washed ashore. The English immediately cut off her head and set it upon a pole in one of the streets of Taunton, a trophy ghastly, bloody and revolting. Many of her subjects were in Taunton as captives, and when they saw the features of their beloved queen, they filled the air with shrieks and lamentations.
The situation of Philip had now become desperate. The indefatigable Captain Church followed hard after him and tracked him through every covert and hiding place. On the 1st of August he came up with him and killed and took one hundred and thirty of his men. Philip again had a narrow escape and fled so precipitately that his wampum belt, covered with beads, and silver, the ensign of his princedom, fell into the hands of the English, who also captured his wife and only son, young Metacomet, both of whom were doomed to slavery and shipped to the West Indies. His cup of misfortune was now filled to the brim. "My heart breaks," said he in the agony of his grief, "now I am ready to die."
Philip now began, like Saul of old, when earth was leaving him, to look to the powers beyond it, and applied to his magicians and sorcerers, who, on consulting their oracles, assured him that no Englishman should ever kill him, as indeed many had tried to do, and so far had failed. This was a vague consolation, yet it seems to have given him, for a while, a confidence in his destiny, and he took his last stand in the middle of a dense and almost inaccessible swamp just south of Mount Hope, his old home, where he had spent the only happy years of his eventful life. It was a fit retreat for a despairing man, being one of those waste and dismal places hid by cypress and other trees of dense foliage, that spread their gloomy shades over the treacherous shallows and pools beneath.
In the few dry parts oaks and pines grew, and, between them a brushwood so thick that man or beast could hardly penetrate; on the long, rich grass of these parts wild cattle fed, unassailed by the hand of man, save when they ventured beyond the confines of the swamp. There were wolves, deer and other wild animals, and wilder men, it was said, were seen here, supposed to have been the children of some of the Indians who had either been lost or left here, and had thus grown up like denizens of this wild, dismal swamp. Here, on a little spot of upland, the battled chieftain gathered his little band around him, and, like a lion at bay, made his last stand.
In this extremity, an Indian proposed to seek peace with the English; the haughty monarch instantly laid him dead at his feet, as a punishment for his temerity and as a warning to others. But this act led to his own undoing. The brother of this murdered Indian, named Alderman, indignant at such severity, deserted to the English, and offered to guide them to the swamp where Philip was secreted. Church and his men gladly accepted the offer, and immediately followed the traitor to the place and surrounded the Indians.
The night before his death it is said that Philip, "like him of the army of Midian," had been dreaming that he was fallen into the hands of the English; he awoke in alarm and told it to his men and advised them to fly for their lives, for he believed it would come to pass. Now, just as he was telling his dream, he was startled by the first shot fired by one of the English, who had surrounded his camp. Seizing his gun and powder horn he fled at full speed in a direction guarded by an Englishman and the traitor, Alderman. The Englishman took deliberate aim at him when he was only a few yards away, but the powder was damp and the gun missed fire, as if in fulfilment of the oracle. It was now the Indian's turn, and a sharp report rang through the forest and two bullets, for the gun was double charged, passed almost directly through the heart of the heroic warrior. For an instant the majestic frame of the chieftain quivered from the shock, and then he fell heavily and stone dead in the mud and water of the swamp.
The traitorous Indian ran eagerly to inform Captain Church that he had shot King Philip, and Church, by a prearranged signal, called his soldiers together and informed them of the death of their formidable foe. The corpse was dragged out of the swamp, as if it had been the carcass of a wild beast, to where the ground was dry. Captain Church then said: "Forasmuch as he has caused many an Englishman's body to lie unburied and to rot above the ground, not one of his bones shall be buried." Accordingly, an old Indian executioner was ordered to cut off his head and quarter his body, which was immediately done. Philip had a mutilated hand, caused by the bursting of a pistol; this hand was given to Alderman, who shot him, as his share of the spoil. Captain Church informs us that Alderman preserved it in rum and carried it around the country as a show, "and accordingly he got many a penny by exhibiting it." The head was sent to Plymouth, where it was set up on a gibbet and exposed for twenty years, while the four quarters of the body were nailed to as many trees, a terrible exhibition of the barbarism of that age.
"Such," said Edward Everett, "was the fate of Philip. He had fought a relentless war, but he fought for his native land, for the mound that covered the bones of his parents; he fought for his squaw and papoose; no—I will not defraud them of the sacred names which our hearts understand—he fought for his wife and child."
Philip, of Mount Hope, was certainly one of the most illustrious savages upon the North American continent. The interposition of Providence alone seems to have prevented him from exterminating the whole English race of New England. Though his character has been described only by those who were exasperated against him to the very highest degree, still it is evident that he possessed many of the noblest qualities which can embellish any character.
Mrs. Rowlandson, who was captured by the Indians at the time Lancaster was destroyed, met King Philip on several occasions and received only kind usage at his hands. She says in her narrative: "Then I went to see King Philip" (who was not present at the attack of Lancaster), "and he bade me come in and sit down, and asked me whether I would smoke, a usual compliment, now-a-days, among saints and sinners, but this no ways suited me. During my abode in this place, Philip spoke to me to make a shirt for his boy, for which he gave me a shilling. Afterward he asked me to make a cap for his boy, for which he invited me to dinner. I went, and he gave me a pancake, about as big as two fingers; it was made of parched wheat, beaten, and fried in bear's grease, but I thought I never tasted pleasanter meat in my life." She met Philip again at the rendezvous near Mount Wachusett. Kindly, and with the courtesy of a polished gentleman, he took the hand of the unhappy captive and said "In two more weeks you shall be your own mistress again," In the last talk she had with Philip, he said to her, with a smile on his face: "Would you like to hear some good news? I have a pleasant word for you. You are to go home to-morrow," and she did.
That magnanimity and gratitude were prominent characteristics of this great chieftain is shown by his treatment of the Leonard family, who resided at Taunton and erected the first forge which was established in the English colonies. Though living at Mount Hope, Philip had a favorite summer resort at Fowling Pond, near Taunton, and thus became acquainted with the Leonards, who treated him and his warriors with uniform kindness, repairing their guns, and supplying them with such tools as the Indians highly prized. "Philip," says Abbott, "had become exceedingly attached to this family, and in gratitude, at the commencement of the war, had given the strictest orders that the Indians should never molest or injure a Leonard. Apprehending that in a general assault upon the town his friends, the Leonards, might be exposed to danger, he spread the shield of his generous protection over the whole place." Thus the Leonard family did for Taunton what the family of Lot were unable to do for Sodom. The Indians were often seen near, and in large numbers, but it was spared the fate of thirteen other towns, some of them larger than Taunton.
"His mode of making war," says Francis Baylies, "was secret and terrible. He seemed like a demon of destruction hurling his bolts in darkness. With cautious and noiseless steps, and shrouded by the deep shade of midnight, he glided from the gloomy depths of the woods. He stole on the villages and settlements of New England, like the pestilence, unseen and unheard. His dreadful agency was felt when the yells of his followers roused his victims from their slumbers, and when the flames of their blazing habitations glared upon their eyes. His pathway could be traced by the horrible desolation of its progress, by its crimson print upon the snows and the sands, by smoke and fire, by houses in ruins, by the shrieks of women, the wailing of infants, and the groans of the wounded and dying. Well indeed might he have been called the 'terror of New England.' Yet in no instance did he transcend the usages of Indian warfare."
Though the generality of the Indians were often inhuman, yet it does not appear that Philip was personally vindictive. His enmity was national, not individual. Nor is there any evidence that Philip ever ordered a captive to be tortured, while it is undeniable that the English, in several instances, surrendered their captives to the horrid barbarities of their savage allies.
As Abbott well says, "We must remember that the Indians have no chroniclers of their wrongs, and yet the colonial historians furnish us with abundant incidental evidence that outrages were perpetrated by individuals of the colonists, which were sufficient to drive any people mad. No one can now contemplate the doom of Metacomet, the last of an illustrious line, but with emotions of sadness."
            "Even that he lived is for his conqueror's tongue,
             By foes alone his death-song must be sung.
             No chronicles but theirs shall tell
                His mournful doom to future times,
             May these upon his virtues dwell.
                And his fate forget his crimes!"
Philip's war was not only the most serious conflict which New England ever sustained against the savages, but the most fatal to the aborigines themselves. The great tribe of the Narragansetts, of old, the leading tribe of New England, was almost entirely exterminated; hardly a hundred warriors remained. The last chief of either tribe capable of leading the Indians to battle had fallen. Philip's son was sent to Bermuda and sold as a slave. The war cost the colonies half a million of dollars, and the lives of about six hundred men, the flower of the population. Thirteen towns and six hundred houses were burned, and there was hardly a family in the country that had not occasion to mourn the death of a relative.


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