King Philip's War 1675-1678, (sometimes called the First Indian War, Metacom's War, Metacomet's War, or Metacom's Rebellion) was an armed conflict between Native American inhabitants of present-day New England and English colonists and their Native American allies in 1675–78. The war is named for the main leader of the Native American side, Metacomet, who had adopted the English name "King Philip" in honor of the previously-friendly relations between his father and the original Mayflower Pilgrims. The war continued in the most northern reaches of New England until the signing of the Treaty of Casco Bay in April 1678.

Historical Preview[]

Native American Tribes[]

Metacomet (1636-1676) was the second son of Wampanoag chief Massasoit (c1581-1661), who had coexisted peacefully with the Pilgrims at Plymouth Colony. Metacom succeeded his father in 1662 and reacted against the European settlers' continued encroaching onto Wampanoag lands. At Taunton in 1671, he was humiliated when colonists forced him to sign a new peace agreement that included the surrender of Indian guns.

When officials in Plymouth Colony hanged three Wampanoags in 1675 for the murder of a Christianized Indian, Metacom's alliance launched a united assault on colonial towns throughout the region. Metacom's forces enjoyed initial victories in the first year, but then the Native American alliance began to unravel. By the end of the conflict, the Wampanoags and their Narragansett allies were almost completely destroyed. Metacom anticipated their defeat and returned to his ancestral home at Mt. Hope, where he was killed while walking in the forest.

The war was the single greatest calamity to occur in seventeenth century Puritan New England and is considered by many to be the deadliest war in the history of European settlement in North America in proportion to the population. In the space of little more than a year, twelve of the region's towns were destroyed and many more damaged, the colony's economy was all but ruined, and its population was decimated, losing one-tenth of all men available for military service. More than half of New England's towns were attacked by Native American warriors.

King Philip's War began the development of a greater European-American identity. The colonists' trials, without significant English government support, gave them a group identity separate and distinct from that of subjects of the king.

Start of Conflict[]

The Pokanoket Indians had helped the original pilgrim settlers to survive,[1] under the leadership of Massasoit (c1581-1661). His sons Wamsutta (c1634-1662) and Metacomet (1636-1676) took on the English names of Alexander and Philip, respectively. Alexander became sachem of the Pokanokets on the death of his father, but he died within a year and Philip succeeded him in 1662.

Philip began laying plans to attack the colonists in Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut, and he slowly built a confederation of neighboring Indian tribes. He also gathered muskets and gunpowder for the eventual attack, but only in small numbers in order that the colonists would not be alarmed.[2]

Several Wampanoag men attacked and killed colonists in Swansea, Massachusetts on June 20, 1675, and that began King Philip's War. The Indians laid siege to the town, then destroyed it five days later and killed several more people. A full eclipse of the moon occurred in the New England area on June 27, 1675 (O.S.) (July 7, 1675 N.S.; See Old Style and New Style dates),[3] and various tribes looked at it as a good omen for attacking the colonists.[4] Officials from the Plymouth and Massachusetts Bay colonies responded quickly to the attacks on Swansea; on June 28, they sent a punitive military expedition which destroyed the Wampanoag town at Battle of Mount Hope in Bristol, Rhode Island.


Southern Theater 1675[]

  • 2-4 Aug 1675: Wheeler's Surprise, and the ensuing Siege of Brookfield, was a battle between Nipmuc Indians under Muttawmp, and the English of the Massachusetts Bay Colony under the command of Thomas Wheeler (1610-1676) and Captain Edward Hutchinson, in August 1675 during King Philip's War.[1] The battle consisted of an initial ambush by the Nipmucs on Wheeler's unsuspecting party, followed by an attack on Brookfield, Massachusetts, and the consequent besieging of the remains of the colonial force. While the place where the siege part of the battle took place has always been known (at Ayers' Garrison in West Brookfield), the location of the initial ambush was a subject of extensive controversy among historians in the late nineteenth century.[2]
  • 30 Sept 1675 Springfield, Massachusetts - Major Indian raid. Casualties
  • 19 Oct 1675 Battle of Hatfield - Capt Appleton's Company repels a major assualt by 700-800 indians.

The Great Swamp Fight roadside marker formerly located on Rhode Island Route 2 in West Kingston, Rhode Island

  • 19 Dec 1675: Great Swamp Fight was fought near the village of Kingston, Rhode Island when a combined force of 1000 New England militia included 150 Pequots, struck a swampland garrison fort and inflicted a huge number of Narragansett casualties, including many hundred women and children. The battle has been described as "one of the most brutal and lopsided military encounters in all of New England's history." Since the 1930s, Narragansett and Wampanoag people commemorate the battle annually in a ceremony initiated by Narragansett-Wampanoag scholar Princess Red Wing.

Colonial Towns Raided Spring 1676[]

Indian raids were documented with casualties for the following colonial towns. Over half of the colonial settlements in New England were attacked during this conflict.

Rehoboth Fight of 1676[]

27 Mar 1676 Rehoboth Fight of 1676 or Pierce Battle. Michael Pierce (c1617-1676) led detachment of Plymouth Colony militia into an indian ambush from Over 50 men of the Plymouth Colony militia plus a dozen indian allies were killed by a superior indian force. This force departed from the village green at Rehoboth, Massachusetts the day before.

Southern Theater 1676[]

Battle of Mount Hope[]

Metacomet (King Philip) was killed by a raiding part of colonists and indians when he was tracked down by Captain Benjamin Church and Captain Josiah Standish of the Plymouth Colony militia at Mt. Hope, Rhode Island. Metacomet was shot and killed by an Indian named John Alderman on August 12, 1676. Metacomet's corpse was beheaded, then drawn and quartered, a traditional treatment of criminals in this era. His head was displayed in Plymouth for a generation.

Northern Theater[]

Treaty of Casco Bay[]

The war continued in the most northern reaches of New England until the signing of the Treaty of Casco Bay in April 1678.


Three-County Troop[]

John Gould (1635-1710) served during King Philip's War, in the "Three-County Troop" under the command of Captain Hutchinson and later Captain Wheeler. He was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant and put in command of the Topsfield Company of militia.


See Also[]

  • Pilgrim Hall Museum - King Philip's War Exhibits
  • Category: Conflicts in 1676]]
  • Category: King Philip's War]]
  • Category:Participants of King Philip's War]]
  • Category:Officers of King Philip's War]]
  • Category:Native Americans of King Philip's War]]
  • Category:Casualties of King Philip's War]]
  • Category: Battles of King Philip's War]]

Familypedia Categories:

  • Plymouth Colony Militia Veteran of King Philip's War
  • Massachusetts Colony Militia Veteran of King Philip's War
  • Native American Veteran of King Philip's War
  • Casualty of King Philip's War
  • ^ Mayflower by Nathaniel Philbrick
  • ^
  • ^ Moon Eclipse calculation [1] Accessed December 22, 2011
  • ^ Leach, Douglas Edward; Flintlock and Tomahawk; p. 46; Parnassus Imprints, East Orleans, Massachusetts; 1954; ISBN 0-940160-55-2
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