SOLDIERS

IN

KING PHILIP'S WAR

Chapter 4, Part IV 

And these are all that I can find credited as guards for this expedition, so that I must leave the discrepancy between the numbers that plainly appear from the Journal credits and other various sources, and the statement of the letter of June 28th, to be filled in by the number of officers, doctors, quartermasters and their attendants, and also allow for some who returned home sick or disabled, or else deserted and received no credit on the books, though reckoned in the statement of the Court. This campaign closed, as concerned Major Savage, when he returned to Boston about July 20th.

Major Savage appears not to have been actively engaged in the war after this campaign until the following February, but in the mean time as an enterprising merchant, a town commissioner, captain of an important company of Boston militia, with charge of its training and the impressment of quotas for active service, the latter a difficult and trying matter, we can see that he was not idle. The situation of affairs in the colonies at the beginning of February, 1675-6, was somewhat as follows: The summer and autumn campaigns in the west had not made any material gain for the English except in experience; the Narraganset campaign had resulted in driving that tribe and the Mount Hope Indians to the north and west; their women, children and old people, that survived the Fort fight, were scattered about amongst the various tribes nearest them; Philip and his fighting men were thus left free to range up and down, overawing the smaller tribes, inciting the stronger to hostility against the colonies; his agents and friends were active in all the tribes; himself with a body of his men had retired as far as the woods above Albany, where they were supplied with abundance of arms and ammunition by the Dutch; as a wanderer and outlaw he had nothing further to lose and everything to gain by the war; the young men of the tribes looked upon him as a great leader, and were eager to follow him; large bodies of Indians were drawn together in various places; most of the Nipmucks, with some Narragansets, were encamped at Wenimesset (now New Braintree); many others from different tribes had gathered about Mount Wachuset; another large encampment was at Squakeag (Northfield) and beyond, whither many of the tribes about Springfield and Hadley had withdrawn. And all these made common cause with Philip, and were in an attitude of warfare. Thus Philip, at bay, and with nearly the whole force of the New England tribes in active sympathy with him, was far more dangerous than at Mount Hope. The English, on the other hand, were weary of the war which they had carried on for seven months, at immense expense of means and men, without apparent gain. The people in the frontier towns were mostly withdrawn into garrisons, their homes broken up, farms laid waste, and they living in constant dread of the lurking enemy. Military skill and bravery could avail but little against the tactics of a skulking foe, who came when and where least expected, nearly always striking those least prepared, applying the torch, shooting from the safe covert of the woods, and, before effective resistance could be offered, vanishing again to the forests. The Indians were intimately acquainted with the habits and plans of the colonists and knew just when to strike and where, while the English knew nothing of their movements except from the friendly Indians, whom they mostly distrusted.

The English had many of these friendly Indians acting as spies and scouts, who circulated quite freely among Philip's allies, and brought intelligence of their plans; but their reports were often received with distrust, and the Council was slow to act upon them, and in many cases their neglect was followed by disaster. One of these spies, James Quannapohit, alias Rumneymarsh, after visiting the Nipmucks at Wenimesset, near Brookfield, brought word to Boston on January 24th, of the intended attack upon Lancaster and other towns, but too little heed was paid to his warning, and so these places were one by one attacked, and several destroyed.

Such was the posture of affairs in February, 1675-6, when Philip was preparing to strike an effectual blow against the colonies. On February 6th, the army returning from the Narraganset country to Boston, was disbanded. On the 8th the Commissioners of the United Colonies voted to raise another army of six hundred men for a campaign in the west. No quota was required from Plymouth. On the 10th Lancaster was attacked by the Nipmucks. On the 15th Mosely and his company were ordered to Sudbury, and about that time Capt. Oakes with his troop was scouting from Lancaster to Medfield, and was at the latter place when it was assaulted on the 21st. On that day the Council voted to raise one hundred foot and seventy-two troopers to fill the Massachusetts quota of the proposed army. Major Savage was captain of this foot company, but when he was commissioned as commander of the Massachusetts troops on the 25th, his lieutenant, Benjamin Gillam, succeeded to that company's command. Capt. John Whipple was appointed to command the troopers, and Capt. William Turner marched out with another company of foot.

John Curtice and six friendly Indians from the Island were to serve as guides. The Massachusetts forces were ordered to march immediately to Brookfield, to join the Connecticut men under Major Treat, and Major General Denison was appointed commander-in-chief of the combined forces, and ordered to Marlborough to direct the movements of the army.

The Massachusetts forces joined those of Connecticut under Major Treat on the 2d or 3d of March at Brookfield, and advanced to attack the Indians at Wenimesset, but the enemy, having intelligence of the design, fled before our troops arrived. Our dragoons, it is said, followed a part of these as far as Paquayag (Athol), where they crossed the river and escaped towards Northfield. Mrs. Rowlandson was with them a captive, in this retreat, and gives an account of the affair. They arrived at Northfield on March the 7th, went up the river and crossed to the west bank, where on the 9th they joined Philip and a large body of Indians encamped there. By this pursuit, and against the earnest advice of the Natick scouts, our army was diverted from the intention of attacking the Indians gathered near Mount Wachuset, and instead marched into Hadley on March 8th. Their coming, however, seems to have been opportune, as the evident design of the large force of Indians gathered near was upon the towns on the river. On the 9th they attacked Westfield with a small force, and on the 14th assaulted Northampton in full force, but were repulsed, Major Treat and the Connecticut forces having entered the town the evening before, and Capt. Turner's company being already stationed there. The further details of this expedition must be deferred to the future accounts of garrisons and the several captains and their companies.

In a letter of March 28th Major Savage gives the Council some account of his movements, of the attack upon the people at Longmeadow, of the withdrawal of the Connecticut forces, of the gathering of large numbers of Indians about Deerfield and Northfield, and the danger threatening those towns. This letter is in the Mass. Archives, vol. 68, page 189.

The following letter of the Council to Major Savage shows something of the closing movements of this campaign, and is copied in full from the original in Mass. Archives, vol. 68, page 191. It is dated 1st April, '76.

Majr Savage, Wee receved your letters by the post dated 28th of march and perceve both by yors and Mr. Nowel's letters that Coneticut forces are drawne of & that by reason of the numerousnes of the enimy (according to yor information) you are not in a capacity to pursue ym, also you intimate ye feares of the people of these townes yt in case you bee drawne of wth yor forces yt they wilbe in danger to be destroyed by the enimy allso wee understand that the townes are unwilling to attend our advise to draw into a narrow compass whereby wee conceved they would have been able to deffend themselves better, but Northampton desires more soldiers to be added to yer former number, they offer to mayntayne all soldiers both for wages and victuall the result of the Council touching this matter is yt wee are willing for present that you leave soldiers to assist those townes not exceeding 150 men choosing such as are fittest for that service and as neare as you can All single men Leaving Capt. Turner in Capt Poole place; with the Rest of the Army we expsly comand you to draw homeward & endeavr in yr returne to visit ye enimy about Backquake & bee careful not to bee Deseved by yer lapwing stratagems: by drawinq you of from yr nest to follow some men; Butt if Majr Treat and the Conetecut forces should returne & yt it be advisable to march after ye enimy to Dearfeld &c. wee leave you to yor liberty to act as you shall judge. Best; but if ye Conetect men returne not or after a returne draw of again,(*) then or expesse order is to bee upon yor march homewards & in yor returne to endevor to visit the enimy as in or past was exprssed; If you should not meet with the enimy then we order you to retreat to Marlborow and wait their for further orders** .

(*)and you are thereby
Incapacitated to further
accn by reason of
ye numerousnes or
flight of ye enimy.
**from them sent in another letter
to him as news by order & both
signed 1st April 76.
E. R. Sec'y,
by ordr

Wee have latle sent Capt. Gravs of Charlestown with about 50 men and 30 horses laden with provisions & Ammunition to Quabauge ordering him to take ye charge of yt Garrison for prsent and to returne ye horses & men wth Srt Ingram, so yt wee wilbe sufficiently recruited wth ammunition at ye fort at Quabauge, touching that Rebuke of God upon Capt Whiple and ye poore people at Springfield it is matter of great shame and humbling to us. The inteligence by the woonded woman of what ye enimy said to her; wee have reason to aprehend much of it is false & yt they have not such numbers at Dearefield neither are the Narragansetts or Nipmucks there; or Reasons are because at this prsent time & before yor letter were dated a great Boddy of Indians and wee conceive they are Narragansetts have done great mischeif at Secuncke and Providence neare Secuncke upon last Lorday Capt Peirce with about 100 English & indians Ingaged with a great body of them about 5 miles from Secunke neare Mr Blackston the consequent of wch fight was yt Peirce was slaine and 51 English more with him & 11 Indians yt Assisted him their escaped of ye whole company not above 7 or 8 English & ye rest the enimy tooke all yr arms and two horse loads with provisions; there was a great body of indians as ye escaped report & environed ym Round Capt. Peirce with a smaler pty had a skirmish with about 50 of them ye day before and did ym mischeife & came of without loss wth [sic] On the same Lord day another party of indians assalted Malborow in ye time of afternone execise they burnt 13 deserted houses & 11 barns at yt time & 3 men were wounded. The towne of Lancaster is wholly deserted Groton can abide no longer yn untill carts bee sent to bring ym wch will bee next weeke, Chelmsford wee feare will bee soone nessecated to do ye like & what Meadfeld and other fronters towns may shortly bee put upon ye Lord know, these things considered you may see the Nessecity of having or Army nearer to us this day wee had intelligence of ye enimies assaulting and burning Providence and Rehobath: They earnestly sent for succor but we have ym not we have now about 700 men out in those westward parts at Marlboroh and or other fronters and wee are at a plunge where to raise more & kepe the heart in any competent safty. Thus committing you to God desiring his presence with & protection over you wee Remaine.

Wee have sent out a single Indian from ye Island to carry A letter to ye enimy aboute redemption of Captives, hee [is] ordered to carry a flag of truce if hee come into your Army let him bee returned in safty.

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