The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins. — H. L. Mencken

Story of the Thirteen Colonies - Helene Guerber

King Philip's War

At Alexander's death, Philip became chief of his tribe; and thinking the English had poisoned Alexander, he began to plot revenge. After brooding over his wrongs for several years, Philip was accused of planning to attack the colonists. The governor of Plymouth sent word to Philip to come and explain his conduct, but, we are told, the Indian haughtily said to the messenger: "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."

An Indian attack

Still, Philip did come, and promised to keep the peace. But a few years later, he was about to fall upon the colonists unexpectedly, when a praying Indian warned them of their danger. This Indian was murdered by three of Philip's friends, who were found guilty and put to death for the crime. Not long after this, the Indians attacked the colonists at Swansea, as they were walking home from church, and killed all those who could not escape in time to the blockhouse.

As had been agreed beforehand, an alarm was sent right away to Plymouth and Boston, where signal fires were kindled on what is still known as Beacon Hill. An army of colonists hastily obeyed this summons, and set out to attack Philip. But the latter was too quick for them, and managed to escape from his camp at Mount Hope, with about seven hundred Indians.

Small villages and outlying farmhouses were now in constant danger; for the savages, gliding along as noiselessly as snakes, pounced upon the people by day or by night. They forced their way into the houses, killed and scalped the men, carried women and children off into captivity, and left nothing but heaps of smoking ruins behind them.

In the course of this terrible war, several women were carried off with all their children. One child—a tiny babe—annoyed one of the savages by crying, so he killed it in the poor mother's arms. The unhappy woman, too ill to walk as fast as the Indians wished, was also slain; but the rest of her children were sold into captivity. In time, all were rescued, except one little girl, who later married an Indian, and never saw her family again until she was a grandmother.

In the course of King Philip's War, which lasted from 1675 till 1678, forty out of ninety English towns suffered greatly, and thirteen were burned to the ground. Although there were no great battles,—except a swamp fight, in which about one thousand Indians were killed, there were many small engagements, one of the fiercest being that of Bloody Brook, near Deerfield. It seems that, owing to an alarm, the village was deserted, but nearly one hundred men were sent there to save the crops. On their way back, they carelessly laid their guns in a cart, and scattered to eat grapes. The Indians, lurking in the forest in great numbers, took advantage of this to fall upon them unawares, and seizing their weapons, killed all but a few of them.

The Indians treated all their captives cruelly, and often made them suffer horrible tortures. Terrible stories are told of this time, when many died, and but few captives escaped. Once, the savages suddenly broke into a house, and a servant hastily thrust a little child under a big kettle to hide it from them. The little one kept so very quiet that the Indians did not know it was there, and later on it was found unharmed. We are also told that a woman once drove a party of Indians away by flinging ladlefuls of boiling soap at them, which made them flee, shrieking with pain. Another band of Indians, creeping into a house by way of the chimney, were killed on the hearth, one after another, by a mother who thus bravely defended her little ones.

Once, while the people of Hadley were at church, some Indians came sneaking into the village; but they were seen by the king-killer Goffe, who happened to be hiding just then in the minister's house. Rushing out, that white-haired old man gave the alarm, and led the colonists so boldly that the Indians were driven away. But as soon as the danger was over, Goffe again disappeared, and was never seen in public again, although he is said to have died at Hadley a few years later, and to have been buried in the minister's cellar.

All these secret attacks and massacres roused the anger of the colonists, who finally got the better of their savage foes. Philip's wife and son fell into their hands, and we are told that when the Indian chief heard that his child had been sent to the West Indies, to be sold as a slave, he bitterly cried: "My heart breaks! I am ready to die."

Shortly after, the camp where he and his tribe were rapidly starving to death was surrounded by Captain Church's little army. Philip fled, hoping yet to escape; but a bullet from an Indian's gun struck him, and "he fell upon his face in the mud and water, with his gun under him." When his body was found thus, his head was cut off, and set up on a pole in Plymouth, where it was kept for about twenty years. To reward Church for his services to the colony, the settlers gave him Philip's wampum belt, which has always been carefully kept as a great curiosity; and the sword which he handled in King Philip's War can still be seen in the rooms of the Massachusetts Historical Society.


Front Matter

Our Country Long Ago
The Barbarous Indians
The Mounds
Where the Northmen Went
The Northmen in America
Queer Ideas
Prince Henry the Navigator
Youth of Columbus
Columbus and the Queen
"Land! Land!"
Columbus and the Savages
Home Again
Columbus Ill-treated
Death of Columbus
How America Got its Name
The Fountain of Youth
"The Father of Waters"
The French in Canada
French and Spanish Quarrels
The Sky City
Around the World
Nothing but Smoke
Smith's Adventures
The Jamestown Men
Smith Wounded
Pocahontas Visits England
Hudson and the Indians
The Mayflower
Plymouth Rock
The First Thanksgiving
Snake Skin and Bullets
The Beginning of Boston
Stories of Two Ministers
Williams and the Indians
The Quakers
The King-Killers
King Phillip's War
The Beginning of New York
Penn and the Indians
The Catholics in Maryland
The Old Dominion
Bacon's Rebellion
A Journey Inland
The Carolina Pirates
Charter Oak
Salem Witches
Down the Mississippi
La Salle's Adventures
Indians on the Warpath
Two Wars with the French
Washington's Boyhood
Washington's Journey
Washington's First Battle
Stories of Franklin
Braddock's Defeat
Wolfe at Quebec
England and her Colonies
The Stamp Tax
The Anger of the Colonies
The Boston Tea Party
The Minutemen
The Battle of Lexington
Bunker Hill
The Boston Boys
The British leave Boston
Declaration of Independence
A Lady's Way of Helping
Christmas Eve
The Fight at Bennington
Burgoyne's Surrender
Winter at Valley Forge
The Quaker Woman
Putnam's Adventures
Indian Cruelty
Boone in Kentucky
Famous Sea Fights
The "Swamp Fox"
The Poor Soldiers
The Spy
A Traitor's Death
Two Unselfish Women
Surrender of Cornwallis
British Flag hauled down
Washington's Farewell