I have always said about my family that one had to at least tolerate, if not embrace three things to survive: science fiction, gaming and history. My husband and I are history geeks, and we raised our children the same way.
One of the nice things about living here in New England is all the history here. Ideas from where I visit come fast and furious, it sometimes feels like I have ADD; look here, look over there, ooooh isn't this new thing interesting. Right now I have several history projects on the burner. One of those projects has King Philip's War at it's core. I am in my third year of research.
If Korea is this nation's "forgotten war," King Philip's War has gotten lost in an deep tunnel, inside a cavern, wrapped in lead, stuff in a Faraday Cage, and dropped to the bottom of a deep memory hole. If people, who don't live in New England remember their history book mentioning this war at all, it's in the "Oh gawd can't we hurry up and get to something relatatable like the Revolution" first weeks of the school year part. It's sad that we haven't engaged teens to see the revelancy of those times and that war, especially since the echos have rippled through time and can still be heard in events today.
"King Philip," is actually the name the English gave to Metacom (Metacomet), second son of Massasoit Ousamequin, the sachem of the Wampanoag, who saved the Pilgrims from starving their first winter in 1620. In 1621 Massasoit negotiated a treaty with the English. While this treaty did keep the peace, through the years that followed the peace was increasingly difficult to keep.
The arguments and complaints against the English were plentiful; they wanted more land, their numbers kept increasing, and their presence diminished the game available. The English farmers let their pigs roam free, and those "free range" pigs often raided the Native American food stores. Sachem Ousamequin had to walk a balance beam keeping the peace between two peoples and two different cultures. Sometimes it was easy, just sell land to the English. Other times it was very hard.
One such occasion was when John Woodcock, who established a small settlement on the "Bay Path" (a foot path Native Americans used to traverse through present day Massachusetts and Rhode Island), "entered" a Native American's home took property and kidnapped a child, in payment for a debt he believed owed him.
He was fined by the English 40 shillings and sentence to the stocks.
When the Great Sachem (Massasoit means "Great Sachem") Ousamequin of the Wampanoag, and the Wampanoag Confederacy, died around 1660/1661, his first son, Wamsutta, became sachem.
Accounts differ as to who requested the English names from Plymouth Colony for Ousamequin's sons. Some accounts say that Ousamequin himself requested them to signal a willingness to get along with the English. Other accounts say that it was Wamsutta, when he became Massasoit who requested them, to better able himself and his siblings to move between both societies more easily. Whomever requested them "massasoit" became "king." Wamsutta took the name "Alexander" and Metacom, his brother, took the name "Philip."
Taking an English name didn't seem to help much, as [King] Alexander Pokanoket, was still a"pagan Indian." The "other." He soon fell under suspicion for his land dealings.
To answer questions about those dealings, the English, under command of Major Josiah Winslow, captured Wamsutta around Halifax, Massachusetts and took him by force to Duxbury, MA and then on to Marshfield, MA for questioning/interrogation about a rumored Indian Upraising. (On modern day roads the walk takes 6 hours and covers 18 miles) From Marshfield he went to settlements in the Massachusetts Bay Colony (wikipedia says it was Salem), but fell ill and return to his home in current Swansea, Massachusetts/Bristol, Rhode Island area (Mt. Hope) - (Where in N.E., so you can see the location)
Before he was able to reach to his home, Wamsutta died. The Wampanoag's believe he was poisoned by the English, and with this turn of events Metacom, Philip, at about the age of 25 became sachem/massasoit/king.
From almost the very beginning Philip/Metacom had problems. He was convinced that the English murdered his brother, and his own people had even more complaints about the English; that their number was increasing, that they did not respect the Wampanoag's or any First Nation's values/traditions/culture, that more of their livestock were wandering free and getting into food stores, there was even less game, the English now held more land than the Wampanoags, and some felt that they are not only being cheated on the sale of land but on every deal with the English, including the English Justice system.
In 1667 Philip was accused of plotting with the Dutch and the French to go to war with them against the English. He protested his innocence and the peace was kept. Then in 1671 an English colonist informed Plymouth that the Wampanoags and the Narragansetts were preparing for war against the English. Whether they were or not is modernity's guess. This time King Philip, is summond to Taunton, Massachusetts, by Plymouth authorities. There they pressured him to sign the "Taunton Agreement." (doc)
The "Taunton Agreement" was a humiliation. In it King Philip confesses his plan to attack the English, the Wampanoags "ancient" friends, and to give up their arms.
Whereas my Father, my Brother, and my self, have formally submitted ourselves and our People unto the Kings Majesty of England, and to the Colony of New Plimouth, by solemn Covenant under our Hand; but I having of late through my Indiscretion, and the Naughtiness of my Heart, violated and broken this my Covenant with my Friends, by taking up Arms, with evil intent against them, and that groundlessly; I being now deeply sensible of my Unfaithfulness and Folly, so desire at this Time solemnly to renew my Covenant with my ancient Friends, my Fathers Friends above mentioned, and do desire that this may testify to the World against me if ever I shall again fail in my Faithfulness towards them (that I have now, and at all Times found so kind to me) or any other of the English Colonies; and as a real Pledge of my true Intentions for the Future to be Faithful and Friendly, I do freely engage to resign up unto the Government of New Plimouth, all my English Arms, to be kept by them for their Security, so long as they shall see Reason. For true Performance of the Premises, I have hereunto set my Hand, together with the Rest of my Council.King Philip entered Taunton a free man and left a subject of the crown. He "agreed" to give up not only the weapons they were carrying when they entered Taunton, but also the arsenal of his people. Due to another signed agreement, King Philip was to deliver those weapons by September or face heavy fines.
- Taunton Agreement
The humiliation only served to sew more distrust among the Wampanoags and the English each building up their own weapons caches. Then in January 1675 the match was lit that would set fire to the whole kindling pile of New England-First Nation relations.
Christianized Native American John Sassamon went to visit Governor Josiah Winslow to warn him him that, again, the Wampanoags were planning on waging war against the English. Since his was a "Praying Indian" he had acted as liaison between cultures and between King Philip and the Plymouth authorities. Just days before, however, under questions of duplicity, King Philip had dismissed Sassamon from his service.
After his visit with Winslow, Sassamon's body was found under the ice near his home. Three Wampanoags were charged with his murder. In what was seen by many, then and now, as a show trial, the three Native Americans were found guilty and hanged.
One of the bloodiest wars in American History began June 1675, six months after the death of Sassamon. Days after the verdict and execution. The war raged all over New England, from present day Maine, New Hampshire and Massachusetts to Rhode Island and Connecticut too. The combatants were the Wampanoags, Nipmucks, Podunks, Narragansetts, Nashaways, Mohegans, Pequots, Abenaki and the New England Confederation(English Colonists).
Metacom was killed on August 12, 1676 by by a group of rangers led by Captain Benjamin Church, in what is now Bristol, Rhode Island. Church's next target was Metacom's war leader Sachem Anawan.
Anawan was not with Metacom and Church began looking for him, patrolling what is now Bristol, Rhode Island, Church captured several groups of Wampanoags and learned that Anawan and about 50 men, women and children were hold up in a swamp in what is now Rehoboth, MA.
They were on the run and hiding in what might be described as a great outcropping of conglomerate rock in the shape of a "C". Three sides of the rock are protected from major encroachment by a swamp. The fourth side, the back of the "C" is steep.
The walls of the "C" are probably over 15 feet high.
It was here that Captain Benjamin Church found them, silently scaling and then descending the rock face surprising Anawan. The Sachem, under promised of amnesty surrendered for the for the good of his people. He may have known that the promise meant little and would be broken. In a scenario that would repeat itself time and again the English promised amnesty but then executed the high ranking Native American. Anawan was executed.
It was here that I met up with history Saturday. I had been wanting to go to Anawan Rock, the place that Anawan surrendered for a long time. Saturday just seemed the time to do it.
The site is not well marked, which is why I missed it the other times I went looking. That great sign is inside the parking area. Out on Route 44 there is just little sign.
I got out of the car and began taking pictures, only to find out that I had forgotten to replace the memory card, so the camera was useless. I placed it and my purse in the trunk of my car and pressed on without it.
I had, here-to-fore, not seen many pictures of the rock, sort of knowing that it wouldn't do it justice or give perspective I also hadn't viewed any videos on the subject. Why? I don't know, it never crossed my mind. The videos below are what I found yesterday. I really didn't know what to expect as I walked down the gravel path. I saw one tree that had been carved with people's initials, and recalled that I had read about this in one of my books.
Very quickly, even for me, I came upon the "back" of the rock, where a bench sits and the gravel path ends. It was my intention to circumambulate it so I had to decide which way to go. I chose left. It was alternately hard and easy. I mused at how I hadn't planned this too well, trekking this rough path in my Birkenstocks.
However with acknowledging my bad choice of footwear came a spark of an idea, an explanation to a difference in modern historical opinion. Some historians argue that this isn't the correct rock because they can scale it easily where Church said it was difficult. This may have everything to do with footwear. Was the buckled shoe the Puritans of the 1600s wore a good shoe with good traction? Especially for scaling a rock in the dark stealthily? Our modern footwear may be better at that job then what was worn in days of old.
The poor choices of clothing didn't end with my feet, I was also wearing a broadcloth dress that came to mid calf, with nothing else on my legs. And I didn't have any insect replant with me. I was walking though plants and inches from the swamp - okay so I did this on a spur of the moment, I wasn't really thinking this through, the spirit moved me, sort of thing. I was going to get eaten up by mosquitoes.
I took small breaks to gather my breath in the humidity and to listen and feel the place. I was alone, and I liked it that way.
A few more steps and I was beginning to loose sight of the "entry area." An overwhelming sense of foreboding came over me, and I began to think that doing this alone may not have been the such a great idea, I could be putting myself in danger. The same rock that Anawon had chosen to hide his people and keep them safe could hide anything that could befall me.
I decided to press on and as quickly as the feeling came over me, it left.
It was a valid observation, but I dismissed it as just reacting to what I knew happened here. I smiled to myself thinking that someone might think I was sensitive to the emotions left at this place.
A few more steps and I felt tremendous sorrow. It was so quick and overwhelming that I put my hand on my chest. Now it was either or, take your pick. I was either reacting to my knowledge or something paranormal was going on. I walked on.
I said to myself "all I am looking for is the encampment spot" and just as I said it I stepped onto that spot. My eyes slowly scanned the area, as I took it all in. Though not a good defensible position, on the run, it was a great hiding spot.
Something moved in me and I whispered "I'm sorry."
I don't know why, I couldn't and can't explain it. The place, though no lives were lost here, felt sacred.
As I walked the area I imagined Anawan and his people, I marveled at how so many could stay in the spot. I noticed the life of the area, he plants, the, fungi, the birds and what had been throughout my walk a noticeable absence of mosquitoes, well of much bug life. Not in the quantity you'd expect in a swamp.
When I reached the other edge of the "C" to start going back it was hard to miss all the graffiti, the initial carved trees, and some rock painting. It reminded me of one of my mother's sayings whenever she saw this kind vandalism:
Fools names, and also faces, can often be found in public places.But I realized that none of them would achieve the immortality that these people had, whether we, or I, knew their names or not.
This time in a stronger but still quiet voice I said "I'm sorry" again, and walked around the other side of the magnificent "pudding rock."
To me, this war and this ending marks the real beginning of the codification of the removal and extermination of the First Nations, the Native American. While some Native Americans were allowed to remain in New England, many were chased out, hunted and killed or were enslaved. Several hundred including Metacom's wife and son, were sold as slaves headed to Bermuda. Even the friendly "Praying Indians" weren't spared.
It also was the beginning of a pattern of humiliations, and war that repeated itself over and over again.
I finished walking around the rock. Then sitting on the bench I debated whether I should come back with my camera, though I am glad I didn't have it. It would have been a distraction. I quietly walked to my car, and drove away, still feeling the sacredness of the site.
As I said I hadn't seen any videos of the site before Sunday. I originally chose this one so you could see the little sign on Rt. 44 marking the spot. Paranormal explanations and sites are kind of common place in New England.
Oh and no, I wasn't eaten by mosquitos. In fact I didn't collect any bites at all.
King Philip's War: The History and Legacy of America's Forgotten Conflict
by Eric B. Schultz and Mike Tougias
(Excellent book to find sites of the war)