Графични страници
PDF файл
ePub

chapter xiv.

1673.

1670.

1671. April 13.

1675.

June 24.

increase of the settlements around them, and the progressive curtailment of their limits, aroused their jealousy. They were galled, also, by the feudal superiority, similar to that of Massachusetts over her dependent tribes, claimed by Plymouth on the strength of certain alleged former submissions. None felt this assumption more keenly than Pometacom, head chief of the Wampanoags, better known among the colonists as King Philip of Mount Hope, nephew and successor of that Massasoit who had welcomed the Pilgrims to Plymouth. Suspected of hostile designs, he had been compelled to deliver up his fire-arms, and to enter into certain stipulations. These stipulations he was accused of not fulfilling; and nothing but the interposition of the Massachusetts magistrates, to whom Philip appealed, prevented Plymouth from making war upon him. He was sentenced instead to pay a heavy fine, and to acknowledge the unconditional supremacy of that colony. A praying Indian, who had been educated at Cambridge and employed as a teacher, upon some misdemeanor had fled to Philip, who took him into service as a sort of secretary. Being persuaded to return again to his former employment, this Indian accused Philip anew of being engaged in a secret hostile plot. In accordance with Indian ideas, the treacherous informer was waylaid and killed. Three of Philip's men, suspected of having killed him, were arrested by the Plymouth authorities, and, in accordance with English ideas, were tried for murder by a jury half English, half Indians, convicted upon very slender evidence, and hanged. Philip retaliated by plundering the houses nearest Mount Hope. Presently he attacked Swanzey, and killed several of the inhabitants. Plymouth took measures for raising a military force. The neighboring colonies were sent to for assistance. Thus, by the impulse of suspicion on the one side and chAPTER passion on the other, New England became suddenly en- gaged in a war very disastrous to the colonists, and ut- 1675. terly ruinous to the native tribes. The lust of gain, in spite of all laws to prevent it, had partially furnished the Indians with fire-arms, and they were now far more formidable enemies than they had been in the days of the Pequods. Of this the colonists hardly seem to have thought. Now, as then, confident of their superiority, and comparing themselves to the Lord's chosen people driving the heathen out of the land, they rushed eagerly into the contest, without a single effort at the preservation of peace. Indeed, their pretensions hardly admitted of it. Philip was denounced as a rebel in arms against his lawful superiors, with whom it would be folly and weakness to treat on any terms short of absolute submission.

A body of volunteers, horse and foot, raised in Massachusetts, marched under Major Savage, four days after June 28. the attack on Swanzey, to join the Plymouth forces. After one or two slight skirmishes, they penetrated to the Wampanoag villages at Mount Hope, but found them empty and deserted. Philip and his warriors, conscious of their inferiority, had abandoned their homes. If the Narragansets, on the opposite side of the bay, did not openly join the Wampanoags, they would, at least, be likely to afford shelter to their women and children. The troops were therefore ordered into the Narraganset country, accompanied by commissioners to demand assurances of peaceful intentions, and a promise to deliver up all fugitive enemies of the colonists—pledges which the Narragansets felt themselves constrained to give.

Arrived at Taunton on their return from the Narraganset country, news came that Philip and his warriors

chapTER had been discovered by Church, of Plymouth colony, col

1675.

July 16.

July 24.
Aug. 2.

Sept. 1.

lected in a great swamp at Pocasset, now Tiverton, the
southern district of the Wampanoag country, whence
small parties sallied forth to burn and plunder the neigh-
boring settlements. After a march of eighteen miles,
having reached the designated spot, the soldiers found
there a hundred wigwams lately built, but empty and de-
serted, the Indians having retired deep into the swamp.
The colonists followed; but the ground was soft; the
thicket was difficult to penetrate; the companies were
soon thrown into disorder. Each man fired at every bush
he saw shake, thinking an Indian might lay concealed
behind it, and several were thus wounded by their own
friends. When night came on, the assailants retired with
the loss of sixteen men. The swamp continued to be
watched and guarded, but Philip broke through, not with-
out some loss, and escaped into the country of the Nip-
mucks, in the interior of Massachusetts. That tribe had
already commenced hostilities by attacking Mendon.
They waylaid and killed Captain Hutchinson, a son of
the famous Mrs. Hutchinson, and sixteen out of a party
of twenty sent from Boston to Brookfield to parley with
them. Attacking Brookfield itself, they burned it, ex-
cept one fortified house. The inhabitants were saved
by Major Willard, who, on information of their danger,
came with a troop of horse from Lancaster, thirty miles
through the woods, to their rescue. A body of troops
presently arrived from the eastward, and were stationed
for some time at Brookfield. -
The colonists now found that by driving Philip to ex-
tremity they had roused a host of unexpected enemies.
The River Indians, anticipating an intended attack upon
them, joined the assailants. Deerfield and Northfield,
the northernmost towns on the Connecticut River, set-

tled within a few years past, were attacked, and sev- colors eral of the inhabitants killed and wounded. Captain —Beers, sent from Hadley to their relief with a convoy of 1675. provisions, was surprised near Northfield and slain, with *** twenty of his men. Northfield was abandoned, and burned by the Indians.

“The English at first,” says Gookin, “thought easily to chastise the insolent doings and murderous practice of the heathen ; but it was found another manner of thing than was expected; for our men could see no enemy to shoot at, but yet felt their bullets out of the thick bushes where they lay in ambush. The English wanted not courage or resolution, but could not discover nor find an enemy to fight with, yet were galled by the enemy.” In the arts of ambush and surprise, with which the Indians were so familiar, the colonists were without practice. It is to the want of this experience, purchased at a very dear rate in the course of the war, that we must ascribe the numerous surprises and defeats from which the colonists suffered at its commencement.

Driven to the necessity of defensive warfare, those in command on the river determined to establish a magazine and garrison at Hadley. Captain Lathrop, who had been dispatched from the eastward to the assistance of the river towns, was sent with eighty men, the flower of the youth of Essex county, to guard the wagons intended to convey to Hadley three thousand bushels of unthreshed wheat, the produce of the fertile Deerfield meadows. Just before arriving at Deerfield, near a small stream still known as Bloody Brook, under the shadow of the abrupt conical Sugar Loaf, the southern termination of the Deerfield mountain, Lathrop fell into an am- Sept. 18. bush, and, after a brave resistance, perished there with all his company. Captain Moseley, stationed at Deer

[graphic]

chapTER field, marched to his assistance, but arrived too late to

1675.

Oct. 19.

help him. That town, also, was abandoned, and burned
by the Indians. Springfield, about the same time, was
set on fire, but was partially saved by the arrival of
Major Treat with aid from Connecticut. Hatfield,
now the frontier town on the north, was vigorously at-
tacked, but the garrison succeeded in repelling the as-
sailants. - *
Meanwhile, hostilities were spreading; the Indians on
the Merrimac began to attack the towns in their vicin-
ity; and the whole of Massachusetts was soon in the ut-
most alarm. Except in the immediate neighborhood of
Boston, the country still remained an immense forest,
dotted by a few openings. The frontier settlements
could not be defended against a foe familiar with locali-
ties, scattered in small parties, skillful in concealment,
and watching with patience for some unguarded or fa-
vorable moment. Those settlements were mostly broken
up, and the inhabitants, retiring toward Boston, spread
every where dread and intense hatred of “the bloody
heathen.” . Even the praying Indians, and the small de-
pendent and tributary tribes, became objects of suspicion
and terror. They had been employed at first as scouts
and auxiliaries, and to good advantage; but some few,
less confirmed in the faith, having deserted to the en-
emy, the whole body of them were denounced as traitors.
Eliot the apostle, and Gookin, superintendent of the sub-
ject Indians, exposed themselves to insults, and even to
danger, by their efforts to stem this headlong fury, to
which several of the magistrates opposed but a feeble re-
sistance. Troops were sent to break up the praying
villages at Mendon, Grafton, and others in that quarter.
The Natick Indians, “those poor despised sheep of
Christ,” as Gookin affectionately calls them, were hur-

« ПредишнаНапред »