Attack on Brookfield

Ipswich, the Brookfield Massacre and King Philip’s War

In May 1660, a group of colonists moved from Ipswich to the Indian town Quaboag in Western Massachusetts, which they renamed Brookfield. Indian attacks known as “King Philip’s War” resulted in the destruction of Brookfield and the deaths of a dozen settlers on August 2, 1675. English soldiers accompanied by Mohegan allies were eventually able to break the siege at Brookfield, with casualties on both sides. Hatfield, Deerfield and Northfield were attacked in September, and Springfield was burned on October 5th.

The leader of the Indian attacks was Metacomet (aka Metacom) leader of the Pokanoket tribe, known by the English as King Philip, who led a bloody uprising of Wampanoag, Nipmuck, Pocumtuck and Narragansett tribes that lasted over a year and destroying twelve frontier towns, the bloodiest war, per capita, in North American history.

King Philip
Metacomet, known by the settlers as “King Philip.”

In January of 1675, John Sassamon, a Christian Native-American, told Plymouth’s governor, Josiah Winslow, that King Philip was planning an attack against the colonists. Later that month Sassamon was found dead and three Wampanoags were arrested, tried and executed them at Plymouth plantation on June 8. On June 20, Pokanoket warriors looted and set fire to homes in Swansea, then attacked residents returning from church. Officials from Plymouth and Boston responded on June 28 with a military expedition that destroyed the Wampanoag town at Mount Hope (modern Bristol, Rhode Island). The destruction of their village enraged the Narragansett and brought them into into the conflict. Philip escaped but the women and children of the village were sold into slavery by the English.

Ipswich settlers of Brookfield

William Prichard arrived in the colony in 1630 and settled in Ipswich in 1649. In the summer of 1660. By 1675 he was a selectman of Brookfield and serving as Sergeant in the military. On August 2, 1675, Sergeant Prichard, Corporal Coy, and Sergeant Ayres, were slain in an ambush at Braintree. William Pritchard’s son was outside the garrison at Brookfield when the attack began and was slain by the Indians. They cut off his head, tossed it about like a ball in sight of the settlers, and then set on a pole against his dead father’s house.

John Ayres Sr. was a prominent Ipswich resident who promoted the settlement in Quaboag. He also was killed in the ambush by the Indians in New Braintree the same day as the Brookfield massacre. His wife Susannah Ayres survived the attack at Brookfield and moved back to Ipswich with her six sons and one daughter.

Daniel Hovey and his wife Abigail joined the new town in 1668 accompanied by their five younger children, Thomas aged 20, James 18, Joseph 15, Abigail 13, and Nathaniel 11. Their older children, Daniel Jr. and John remained in Ipswich. Daniel Hovey moved again to Hadley and returned to Ipswich after the massacre.

Metacomet’s forces attacked the settlement at Brookfield and tried to set it on fire.

In the early moments of that siege, Daniel’s son James was overtaken and killed by the Indians somewhere near his house. His wife Priscilla and their children took refuge in a tavern surrounded by hundreds of hostile Nipmucs, who tried unsuccessfully to burn it. After three days Major Simon Willard arrived with 46 troops, and they chased off the attackers. James Hovey was buried with the eleven other victims, and the traumatized survivors returned to Ipswich or dispersed to other better-protected communities along the Massachusetts frontier.

After the attack on Brookfield, Priscilla took her three children to join James’ brother Daniel Hovey in Hadley. She left her eldest son also named Daniel in Hadley to be raised and educated by James’ other brother Thomas. The widow returned to Ipswich with her daughter Priscilla and the infant, James Jr. She filed an inventory of the estate in March 16, 1676 and received a small stipend as a war widow from the General Court of Ipswich. James’ death was officially listed as a military casualty.

John Warner and his father William Warner were among the first settlers in the Ipswich Colony, arriving in 1635. The father died in Ipswich in 1648. John Warner married Priscilla, daughter of Mark Symonds of Ipswich where they continued to live for about twenty years. In 1670, he sold to John Woodam his property in Ipswich, consisting of his dwelling house, barn, orchard, and 7 acres of upland “which formerly was part of my father Warner’s meadow in Ipswich.” and he and Priscilla moved to Brookfield. He was one of three men there who arranged the transfer of land with the Indians, built the first house in the new town and is referred to as the “Father of Brookfield”. John and Priscilla survived the attack and retreated with their younger children to Hadley, MA to join their oldest son Mark Warner. Priscilla died in 1688 and John died in 1692.

Map of King Philip's War

King Philip’s War

The following excerpts are from Ipswich in the Massachusetts Bay Colony by Thomas Franklin Waters (with additional information added):

Since the year 1653, there had been no fear of Indian assaults. The settlers went to work in the fields, or assembled for public worship, and journeys were made over the lonely roads through the forests without suspicion of danger. But, at last, there were signs of an approaching rupture in the peaceful relations between the English and the Indians.

A chief of commanding influence, Metacun, the son of Massasoit, known commonly by his English name, Philip, dwelt at Mount Hope, near the present town of Bristol, Rhode Island. He had sold his tribal lands so extensively, that his people began to feel the pressure of civilization. The settlers had dealt unfairly in many instances in their traffic with the natives. They had deprived them of their arms, on pretence of treachery, and had occupied their lands without purchase.

Brooding over his wrongs, Philip organized a plot for the extermination of his dangerous neighbors. It was discovered by a Christian Indian, who reported it to the authorities of Plymouth Colony. Philip condemned the informer to death, and he was slain in January, 1674. Three Indians were brought to trial for the crime and sentenced to death. Two of them were executed in June, 1675, and Philip began at once to plan for his revenge.

On the 24th of June, 1675, the first blow was struck. The town of Swansea in the Plymouth colony was attacked and eight or nine of the English were slain. A foot company under Captain Daniel Henchman and Captain Thomas Prentice with a troop of horse were dispatched from Boston toward Mount Hope on the 26th. The state of affairs was critical and with true Puritan reverence, the 29th of June was set apart as a day of humiliation and prayer. The troops met the enemy near Swansea and some lives were lost on both sides.

It soon became evident that a general Indian uprising was imminent. On the 14th of July, Mendon, about 36 miles from Boston and within the bounds of the Massachusetts Colony, was assailed and four or five of the settlers were killed.

Attack on Brookfield during King Philip's War

In May 1660, a group of colonists moved from Ipswich to the Indian town Quaboag in Western Massachusetts, which they renamed Brookfield. Indian attacks resulted in the destruction of Brookfield and the deaths of a dozen settlers on August 2, 1675. The full horrors of an Indian war were revealed in the bloody affair at Brookfield. Captain Edward Hutchinson, accompanied by his troopers, and some of the men of Brookfield went to the place agreed on with the Indians for a conference, near the town of Brookfield, and not meeting them there, pushed on to find them. In a narrow defile, shut in by a rocky hill on one side and a swamp on the other, they were suddenly fired on, and in the short, sharp fight that followed eight were slain.

Retreating to the town, they made their stand in the garrison house. The Indians assailed them hotly with loud yells. One young man, the son of William Pritchard, who had been slain in the morning, was killed while venturing away from the garrison. They cut off his head, tossed it about in plain sight of the beleaguered settlers, and then set it on a pole against the door of his father’s house. The Indians endeavored repeatedly to burn the garrison house, and, after several unsuccessful attempts, were just completing a long cart filled with combustibles, and provided with poles, with which they could push it against the house. A providential shower wet the kindling wood so thoroughly that it would not burn readily.

The news of this affair must have caused many a panic in Ipswich. The plantation six miles square, near Quabaug Ponds, had been granted by the General Court in 1660 to some persons of Ipswich, if twenty families and an approved minister be there in three years. In 1667, on the 15th of May, the Court voted that the time be extended for a year from the next midsummer, as only six or seven families had settled there. John Warner and William Pritchard removed from Ipswich to the new settlement in the year it was granted, and Captain John Ayres was a resident there in 1672. Sergeant Prichard, Corporal Coy, and Sergeant Ayres, were slain in an ambush at Braintree. The tale of the tragic death of Ayres and the Pritchards, and the sufferings of their families in the garrison house made the war vivid, real and terrible.

History of the Indian Wars i New England by Rev. William Hubbard

The Essex regiment was commanded by Major Denison. The Ipswich company had for its officers, Denison as Captain, Samuel Appleton as Lieutenant and Thomas Burnham as Ensign. The first Essex troop, recruited in Salem and vicinity, and the second Essex troop, which was composed of Ipswich and Newbury men, were also attached to this regiment. Upon the breaking out of the war, Denison had been appointed commander-in-chief of the Massachusetts troops. In the latter part of July a levy of troops had been made in Essex County and immediately after the disaster at Brookfield, Captain Lathrop of Salem was sent with a company from Salem and the neighboring; towns, including some from Ipswich. Captain Beers also marched from Watertown with his command. The troops gathered at Brookfield and Hadley, but no body of Indians was discovered. Many towns were threatened and the soldiers were kept on the move.

With the beginning of September, the war was pressed most vigorously along the Connecticut River. On the first of that month, Deerfield was burned and one man killed. Two or three days later, the Indians attacked Squakeag, now Northfield, where they killed nine or ten of the people. The next day Captain Beers, with thirty-six men, marched to relieve the garrison at Squakeag, not hearing of the disaster of the day before, and was ambushed by a large number of Indians. He made a brave defence, but after a valiant fight, he and about twenty of his men were slain.

Rev. William Hubbard, in his History of the Indian Wars, remarks, in this connection:

“Here the barbarous villains showed their insolent Rage and Cruelty, more than ever before, cutting off the Heads of some of the Slain, and fixing them upon Poles near the Highway; and not only so, but one was found with a Chain hooked into his under Jaw, and so hung up on the Bow of a Tree (’tis feared he was hung up alive) by which Means they thought to daunt and discourage any that might come to their Relief, and also to terrify those that should be Spectators with the Beholding so sad an object; insomuch that Major Treat with his Company, going up two days after, to fetch of the Residue of the Garrison, were solemnly affected with that doleful Sight, which made them make the more Haste to bring down the Garrison, not waiting for any Opportunity to take Revenge upon the Enemy, having but a hundred with him, too few for such a purpose. Captain Appleton going up after him, met him coming down, and would willingly have persuaded them to have turned back, to see if they could have made any Spoil upon the Enemy; but the greatest Part advised to the Contrary, so that they were all forced to return with what they could carry away leaving the Rest for a Booty to the Enemy, who shall ere long pay a sad Reckoning for their Robberies and Cruelties, in the Time appointed.”

Col. Samuel Appleton is buried at the Old North Burying Ground in Ipswich

Samuel Appleton

Captain Samuel Appleton had taken the field with his company about the first of September, and he and his Ipswich soldiers had a gruesome beginning of their warfare, marching over the road lined with the dismembered bodies of their fellow soldiers, and the smoking ruins of the farms. The troops were distributed at garrisons at Northampton, Hatfield, Deerfield and Hadley. Captain Appleton was stationed at Deerfield and arrived there about the tenth of September. On the 17th of August, Gen. Denison sent orders from Boston to Major Richard Waldron to proceed to Pennicook (Concord), “supposed to be the rendezvous of ye enemy where you may expect to meet Capt. Mosely, who is ordered thither.” He instructed him to take a surgeon with him, and informed him that the main body of the soldiers was at Hadley.

Battle of Bloody Brook
The Battle of Bloody Brook was fought on September 18, 1675 between English colonial militia from the Massachusetts Bay Colony and a band of Indians led by the Nipmuc sachem Muttawmp. The Indians ambushed colonists escorting a train of wagons carrying the harvest from Deerfield to Hadley during King Philip’s War. They killed at least 40 militia men and 17 teamsters out of a company that included 79 militia. Image from “Pioneers in the settlement of America” by William A. Crafts

Bloody Brook

On Sunday the 12th of September, the soldiers and settlers at Deerfield gathered for worship in the stockade. Returning, the north garrison was ambushed with the loss of one man captured. Appleton rallied his men and attacked them and drove them off, but the north fort had been plundered and set on fire, and much of the settlers’ stock stolen. As he had not force enough to guard the forts and engage in offensive operations, the Indians still hung round insultingly and burned two more houses. A storm prevented action that night, but the next night a party of volunteers, with a few from Hadley, and some of Lathrop’s men came up to the relief of the town.

On the 14th, the united forces under Appleton marched to Pine Hill. Spies had doubtless reported the arrival of reinforcements, and the Indians had all fled. It was decided that Deerfield should be abandoned, and as there was a large amount of corn already threshed, it was loaded on carts and Captain Lathrop was detailed to guard the teams on their way to Hadley. No Indians were known to be in the neighborhood. The Ipswich Historian, Rev. Hubbard wrote, “Upon September 18, “that most fatal Day, the Saddest that ever befell New England, as the Company were marching along with the Carts never apprehending Danger so near, were suddenly set upon, and almost all cut off (not above seven or eight escaping).”

The number of the slain, including Captain Lathrop, as reported by Rev. John Russell of Hadley in a letter written shortly afterward, was seventy-one. Only a few escaped. Among the dead, were several Ipswich men, Thomas Hobbs, Caleb Kimball, John Littlehale, Thomas Manning, Thomas Mentor, and Jacob Wainwright. They were all buried in a single grave near the place where they fell. Rev. Mr. Hubbard narrates:

“As Captain Mosely came upon the Indians in the Morning, he found them stripping the Slain, amongst whom was one Robert Dutch of Ipswich, having been sorely wounded by a Bullet that grazed to his Skull, and then mauled by the Indian Hatchets, was left for dead by the savages, and stript by them of all but his skin; yet when Captain Mosely came near, he almost miraculously, as one raised from the Dead, came towards the English, to their no small Amazement, by whom being received and clothed, he was carried off to the next Garrison, and is living and in perfect Health at this Day.”

Massachusetts Native American tribes in King Philip's War

Battle at Hadley

Captain Appleton and his Ipswich company were stationed at Hadley, and his value as a military leader was becoming more and more evident to the Council of the Col ony. Instructions were sent to Captain Wayte: “It is ordered that there be a commission issued forth to Capt. Samuel Appleton to command a foot Company of 100 men In the service of ye country. On the 5th of October, Captain Mosely wrote from Hadley, “Major Pinchon is gone with Capt. Appleton with a company of above 190 soldiers. They hurried to Springfield but found the town in flames, and the Indians already fled. Major Pynchon’s grist mills, Rev. Mr. Glover’s Parsonage with his valuable library, and nearly all the buildings were destroyed.” Rev. John Russell wrote a letter which described the disaster, and lamented that Hadley would be the next to drink the bitter cup.

Captain Samuel Appleton was Commander in chief at the headquarters at Hadley. The position to which he was called was full of difficulty. The Indians had ravaged the country so sorely and had inflicted such terrible losses upon the forces sent against them, that a general feeling of discouragement prevailed. On the 19th of October, an attack was made upon Hatfield, but Appleton had foreseen the danger and provided for it. Mr. Hubbard gives a vivid narrative of the fight:

“According to the good Providence of Almighty God, Major Treat was newly returned to Northampton, Captain Mosely and Captain Poole were then garrisoning the said Hatfield, and Captain Appleton quartering at Hadley, when on the sudden seven or eight hundred of the Enemy came upon the Town in all Quarters, having first killed or taken two or three Scouts belonging to the Town, and seven more belonging to Captain Mosely his company. But they were so well entertained on all hands where they attempted to break in upon the Town, that they found it too hot for them, by the Resolution of the English instantly beaten off, without doing much harm. Captain Appleton’s Sergeant was mortally wounded just by his side, another bullet passing through his own hair, by that whisper telling him that Death was very near but did no other harm.”

Major Appleton led a two-hour attack against Metacom’s fighters in Springfield which resulted in the first setback by the Indians. This was the first decisive defeat inflicted upon the Indians. Col. Appleton began the distribution of the Massachusetts troops among the exposed towns. Twenty-nine soldiers under Captain Aaron Cooke were stationed at Westfield. Twenty-nine were sent to Springfield under command of Major Pynchon, Lieut. Clarke and twenty-six men. 197 were left at Northampton, thirty at Hadley commanded by Captain Jonathan Poole, and thirty-six at Hatfield.

Return to Ipswich

Having made this provision for the defense of the frontier towns, Major Appleton marched home, probably about November 24th. A feeling of comfortable security filled the town, when the Major and his soldiers returned. A few weeks before, the Indians had appeared at Salisbury, and General Denison marched thither with his troops. The outposts at Topsfield and Andover were greatly alarmed at seeing Indians.

“It is hardly imaginable,” Denison wrote from Ipswich on the 28th of October, “the panic and fear that is upon our upland plantations, and scattered places, respecting their habitations.” The General Court on October 13th had ordered a guard of two men, appointed by General Denison or the chief commander of the town of Ipswich, to keep watch at Deputy Governor Symonds’s Argilla farm, as it was “so remote from neighbours, and he so much necessitated to be on the country’s service.”

No doubt the distracted people slept more soundly, and gathered hope and strength. But the interval of calm was short. Scarcely had Appleton and his men returned from their campaign, when they were summoned into the field for a united assault upon the Narragansett Indians in their stronghold.

The Great Swamp Fight

Major Appleton marched away on the eighth of December as the whole Massachusetts force mustered on Dedham Plain on the ninth. There were five companies, commanded by Captains Mosely, Gardner, Davenport, Oliver and Johnson, beside the company of which Major Appleton was Captain. Major Appleton led his force on that winter’s day, December 9th, a long march of twenty-seven miles to “Woodcoks” now Attleboro, and another day brought them to Seekonk. On December 14th, as his scouts had brought in some Indians, he led his troops, foot and horse, on a detour into the Indian country, and burned a hundred and fifty wigwams, killed seven of the enemy and brought in eight prisoners. As the army advanced, several of the soldiers, straggling from their companies, were slain by roving bands of Indians.

By the 18th of December, the Connecticut and Plymouth soldiers had joined the Massachusetts regiment, and as provisions were scarce and the cold was sharp, an advance was made at once. A heavy snowstorm came on. There was no shelter for officers or common soldiers, and after a long and trying march, they lay down in the snow, “finding no other defense all that Night, save the open air, nor other covering than a cold and moist fleece of snow.” At daylight the march was resumed.

Rev. Mr. Hubbard, recording the substance of many conversations with the Major and his men, informs us that “They marched from the break of the next day, December 19th till one of the Clock in the Afternoon, without either Fire to warm them, or Respite to take any Food save what they could chew on their March.” They wallowed through snow, two or three feet deep, with many frostbitten in their hands and feet, fourteen or fifteen miles to the edge of a swamp, where their Indian guides affirmed the Narragansetts had their stronghold. Captain Mosely and Captain Davenport led the vanguard, Captain Gardner and Captain Johnson followed, Major Appleton and Captain Oliver brought up the rear of the Massachusetts force. The Plymouth soldiers with General Winslow marched in the center, and the Connecticut men under Major Treat formed the rear guard of the little army.

assault on the Narragansetts' fort in the Great Swamp Fight in December 1675
Depiction of the colonial assault on the Narragansetts’ fort in the Great Swamp Fight in December 1675

Notwithstanding the hardships of their march, the soldiers rushed impetuously into the swamp, without waiting the word of command, and pursued the Indians, who had shown themselves to the fort, which had been built on an island, and strongly defended with an impassable palisade of logs, stuck upright, and a dense hedge. The Indians held their ground with great determination, but after several hours of sharp fighting, their wigwams were set on fire, and they were put to rout with great slaughter. It was a dearly bought victory. Three of the six Massachusetts Captains, Davenport, Gardner and Johnson, and three Connecticut captains lay dead, and many officers and men were wounded.

The short winter day was spent before the battle was done, and as the Indian fort was deemed an unsafe camp, the desperate alternative remained of marching back to the nearest settlement, full fifteen or sixteen miles, after night had fallen. Bearing their dead, and helping the wounded, the survivors struggled back. The horrors of that night march pass imagination. Many of the wounded perished by the way, and the strongest were completely spent before a safe shelter was reached. Four of Major Appleton’s soldiers were killed, Samuel Taylor of Ipswich, Isaac Ellery of Gloucester, Daniel Rolfe of Newbury and Samuel Tyler of Rowley. Eighteen were wounded, including John Denison, George Timson, and Thomas Dow of Ipswich.

It is believed that up to 150 Indian inhabitants, many of them women, children, and the elderly, were killed or burned alive, while others fled across the swamp and died from exposure. Seventy of the Colonial forces died, and many more wounded. A second body of recruits was sent to Major Appleton a little later. Provisions were scant, and men and horses were sorely pinched with hunger. Many of the horses were killed and eaten and the campaign was long remembered as the Hungry March.

The soldiers arrived home early in February, and Major Appleton seems to have retired from active service. Within a week after their return, the weary soldiers, scarcely restored from the exhausting ordeal of the Hungry March, were again in the field. Alarming reports had come of the disaster at Lancaster, where Nipmucs from Nashaway staged an attack, led by the sachem Monoco. Redfield was soon burned, and on February 25th, Weymouth was partly destroyed. In March, Groton was surprised and burnt, and the inhabitants fled in terror, abandoning the settlement. Wrentham was abandoned in similar fashion. The Indians moved rapidly from point to point; small parties appeared suddenly in the most unexpected localities, killing a man or two, and then disappearing, “skulking up and down in swamps and holes, to assault any that occasionally looked never so little into the woods.”

The towns in the Connecticut Valley were panic struck. A new army was immediately ordered, and fresh levies of foot and horse soldiers were ordered by the General Court on the 21st of February. Cornet John Whipple of Ipswich, who had already served with honor in the earlier campaigns, was made Captain of the new troop of horse, and Major General Denison was ordered to Marlborough to dispose the soldiers gathered there under the several captains, and take charge of the campaign. Captain Brocklebank of Rowley was placed in command of the Marlborough garrison.

Depiction of the attack on Sudbury during King Philip's War
Depiction of the attack on Sudbury

Attack on Sudbury

Alarming reports were soon brought to Ipswich of the approach of marauding bands. General Denison was at home, and his letter of the 19th of March to Secretary Rawson reveals a time of alarm and nervous apprehension of an attack, in which his presence must have been a source of great comfort to the community. But the hours wore on, no alarm was given, and gradually confidence returned to the distressed town. The fortification was around the meeting-house, and one of the garrison houses was near the River. Every able-bodied man was trained and disciplined. Every family was anxious. Meanwhile the men at the front were eager for release. Spring was at hand and the planting of their fields required their presence.

On April 21st, the neighboring town of Sudbury was surprised. Captain Wadsworth was sent from Boston with fifty soldiers to relieve the Marlborough garrison. They made a hurried march of twenty-five miles, reaching Marlborough at night. Finding that the enemy was at Sudbury ten miles away, without allowing themselves time for rest, they hastened thither, with Captain Brocklebank and some of the garrison, accompanying them. Near Sudbury, they met a small body of Indians, who withdrew at their approach and lured them into the woods. There a great body assailed them. The weary soldiers made a brave defense, but they were hopelessly outnumbered. Captain Wadsworth fell, and Captain Brocklebank, whom Mr. Hubbard characterizes as “a choice spirited Man, much lamented by the Town of Rowley, to which he belonged.” More than thirty soldiers, it is believed, were slain, as they were making their retreat from the hilltop, where they had made a brave stand for four hours. This was the last great tragedy of the War. Later operations against the Indians were uniformly successful.

Death of King Philip

Death of King Phillip

On August 12, 1676, Philip’s secret headquarters in Mount Hope near Bristol Rhode Island was discovered. Captain Church had been informed of Philip’s secret hideout by one of his warriors whose brother was killed by Philip for offering to negotiate with the English. Philip was slain along and his wife and children taken captive and sold into slavery in the West Indies. Five of his warriors died by his side while the others escaped through the woods. In Plymouth, King Philip’s body was drawn and quartered and his head was publicly displayed on a stake.

The Eastern War

Many of the Indians, who had been scattered by the successful tactics on the Connecticut, made their way to the Indian tribes in the neighborhood of Casco Bay, and incited them to rise against the white men. Hostilities began there in September, 1676, and attacks were soon made on Oyster River and Durham, N. H., and Exeter. An old man was shot down on the road to Hampton. York suffered on the 26th of September, and the whole country about the Piscataqua was in alarm. Men, women and little children were killed and scalped, houses and barns burned, and cattle driven away.

Mr. Hubbard gives a distressing account of the outrages committed by the Indians in the neighborhood of the Kennebec river. The whole country was a scene of desolation, houses burned, crops destroyed, and many lives lost. Early in October, the alarming tidings came that the settlement at Cape Neddick had been burned. Major Appleton was dispatched to the Eastward under orders, dated October 19th, to take charge of all the forces. He seems to have declined this responsibility, as the order was rescinded.

Mugg’s visit to Ipswich

A vigorous march was made to Ossipee, where it was reported there was a great gathering of Indians. The confrontations spread into a series of battles in Maine known as the Eastern War. On October 12, 1676 about 100 Indian warriors made an assault on an English settlement at Black Point near Portland, Maine and took a number of captives. A couple of weeks later an Arosagunticook chief named Mugg Hegon visited General Dennison in Piscataqua (Portsmouth) and declared that the Indians were desirous of peace. Mugg was taken, perhaps forcibly, to Boston for negotiations with a promise of safe passage, and on Nov. 6 he concluded a treaty with the English for the Eastern Indians.

While Mugg was away however, a force was sent to attack the Indians at their winter quarters. The fortification was burned but the Indians managed to escape. Among the captives in the first attack was the son of Harvard-educated Rev. Thomas Cobbett of Ipswich.

The pastor was not universally popular. A former parishioner claimed he “had as leave to hear a dog bark as to hear Mr. Cobbett preach” and Luke Perkins who lived near the wharf was whipped for saying the minister was “more fit to be in a hog sty than in a pulpit”. You can imagine the townspeople’s surprise when the ship carrying Mugg arrived at the Ipswich wharf, allowing Mugg to visit Rev. Cobbet at his home on East Street to negotiate a ransom for his son. The deal was struck, and when Mugg returned to Maine the young Cobbett was soon released in exchange for a coat as ransom to the Sagamore who was holding him. Mugg proposed to the English that he be allowed to go into the wilderness to bring back the captives, promising to return with them within four days. The vessels awaited his reappearance in vain.

An expedition was dispatched to the East under Major Walderne early in February, but it accomplished little and arrived back in Boston on the 11th of March. When Mugg heard about the attack during his absence, and knowing that his own people felt he had betrayed them, he rejoined the war and resumed hostilities in April. Again came the call for soldiers and again the dauntless men of Ipswich had their place in the little army that was hurried to the front. The enemy was close at hand in Wells, York, and Portsmouth, but the decisive event of the campaign happened at Black Point, where Captain Lovett’s company was led into an ambush and he and about forty of his command were slain. Mugg was killed at the reestablished garrison at Black Point on May 16, 1677, the place his forces had captured the preceding year, after conducting a second attack against the English. (read William Hubbard’s different version of this story)

General Denison

Daniel Denison grave at the Old North Burying Ground in Ipswich
The tomb of Daniel Denison at the Old North Burying Ground

The contribution of Ipswich to the army was notable. General Denison was the commander-in-chief of all the forces of the Colony. Major Appleton brought the first campaign to a victorious close, and by his decisive repulse of the Indians at Hatfield and elsewhere saved not only the Connecticut towns from destruction, but delivered the Colony from their invasions. His services in the Narragansett winter campaign were of great value.

The danger came no nearer to Ipswich. Peace settled gradually upon the community wearied and worn with so many alarms. The strain upon the life of the Colony had been intense. The financial burden of equipping troops, maintaining them in the field, and meeting losses occasioned by the burning of houses and of whole towns was most oppressive. The drain upon the young life was exhausting. Scarcely a family could have escaped the anxiety due to the presence of some member in the field, or the grief over his death.

Ipswich soldiers in King Philip’s War

The following list of names has been compiled, which may be presumed to be substantially correct. Nathaniel Adams, Simon Adams, Alexander Alhor, Thomas Andrews, Richard Bidford, Job Bishop, Samuel Bishop, Christopher Bolles, Thomas Bray, Richard Briar, Josiah Briggs, John Browne, James Burbee, Andrew Burley, James Burnam, Thomas Burns, Samuel Chapman, John Chub, Josiah Clark, Isaac Cumins, Philemon Deane, John Denison, Thomas Dennis, Thomas Dow, Robert Dutch, John Edwards, Nathaniel Emerson, Peter Emons, Jonathan Fantum, Thomas Faussee, Ephraim Fellows, Isaac Fellows, Joseph Fellows, Abram Fitz, James Foord, Thomas French, Samuel Giddings, John Gilbert, Amos Gourdine, Simon Grow, Thomas Hobbs, William Hodgskin, Israeli Hunewell, Samuel Hunt, Jr., Samuel Itigols, Joseph Jacobs, Richard Jacobs, Thomas Jaques, Jeremiah Jewett, Joseph Jewett, Thomas Killom, Caleb Kimball, Abraham Knowlton, John Knowlton, John Lambert, Nathaniel Lampson, Richard Lewis, John Leyton, John Line, John Littlehale, Nathaniel Lord, Jolin Lovel, Jonathan Lummus, Peter Lurvey, Thomas Manning, Joseph Marshall, Thomas Meritor, Edward Neland, Benjamin Newman, Thomas Newman, Zaccheus Newmarsh, Richard Pasmore, Samuel Peirce, John Pengry, Aaron Pengry, John Pengry, Moses Pengry, Isaac Perkins, John Perkins, Samuel Perkins, Andrew Peters, Thomas Philips, Samuel Pipin, Samuel Pooler, Edmond Potter, John Potter, Richard Prior, Joseph Proctor, William Quarles, Daniel Ringe, Nathaniel Rogers, Israh Ross, Ariel Saddler, Joseph Safford, Thomas Scott, Samuel Smith, Thomas Smith, Thomas Sparks, Samuel Stevens, George Stimson, Seth Story, William Story, Samuel Taylor, John Thomas, Jonathan Wade, Thomas Wade, Uzall Warden. Francis Wainwright, Jacob Wainwright, Thomas Wayte, Benjamin Webster, John Whipple, Nathaniel Wood, Francis Young, and Lewis Zachariah.

Treatment of the Indians

In the treatment of the Indians, there was an excess of virulent hate that is painful, though not surprising. Allowance must be made for the natural hatred roused by the craft and cruelties of the Indians, and their ingratitude for kind treatment, yet a fair-minded man like Major Ciookin found much to blame in the unrighteous dealings of the English with “the inferior race.” Two hundred were captured by craft at Dover, though no crime was proved against them, and sold into slavery. King Philip’s son, a lad of tender years was sent to Barbadoes as a slave. Twenty shillings bounty was offered for every Indian scalp and forty shillings for every prisoner in the Eastern campaign. Captain Mosely captured an Indian woman early in the war, and in the postscript of his letter to the Governor, he wrote: “This aforesaid Indian was ordered to be torn in pieces by Dogs and she was so dealt withal.”

Wampanoag Praying Indians
John Eliot with the Wampanoag Praying Indians

The Praying Indians

In 1646, the General Court of Massachusetts passed an “Act for the Propagation of the Gospel amongst the Indians.” Christian Indian towns were established in Eastern and Central Massachusetts, including Littleton, Chelmsford, Grafton, Marlborough, Hopkinton, Canton, Mendon and Natick, serving as a barrier between the Colonists and local tribes. At the beginning of King Philip’s War, Praying Indians offered their service as scouts to the English in Massachusetts but were generally confined to their villages. An Order for their removal was passed in October 1675, and 500 Christian Indians were confined to Deer island in Boston Harbor. When they were released in 1676, only 167 had survived. After the war, in 1677 the General Court of Massachusetts disbanded 10 of the original 14 towns and placed the rest under English supervision.

Daniel Gookin was a missionary to the Nipmuck Indians who he claimed were wrongly persecuted by Colonial forces. In his letter, Historical Account of the Doings and Sufferings of the Christian Indians in New England in the Years 1675-1677 he accuses the New England colonists as overcome by a “spirit of enmity and hatred” for not realising that they were subjugating those who had “proved so faithful to the English interest.”

The war had terrible consequences for both sides. Thousands of Algonquians were killed and hundreds were sold into slavery, resulting in the end of the Algonquian world.

References and further reading:

Legend of Heartbreak Hill, Ipswich MA The Legend of Heartbreak Hill - "In Ipswich town, not far from the sea, rises a hill which the people call Heartbreak Hill, and its history is an old, old legend known to all."… Continue reading The Legend of Heartbreak Hill
Map of Indian Lands by Sidney Perley Joseph English: Loyalty and Survival in the Life of a Colonial Native Scout - Joseph English, a descendant of Sagamore Masconomet, served as a scout for the Colonial forces and participated in land transactions with Essex County communities. Benjamin Webster used archival documents to construct this narrative of his life.… Continue reading Joseph English: Loyalty and Survival in the Life of a Colonial Native Scout
A Mortal Sickness Among the Indians The Great Dying 1616-1619, “By God’s visitation, a wonderful plague” - An estimated 18,000,000 Native Americans lived in North America before the 17th Century. The arrival of 102 Pilgrims aboard the Mayflower at Plymouth in 1620 and the settlements by the Puritans a decade later were accompanied by the demise of the native population of North America.… Continue reading The Great Dying 1616-1619, “By God’s visitation, a wonderful plague”
The Ipswich discovery of PaleoIndian artifacts at Bull Brook The Bull Brook Paleo-Indian Discovery - in the early 1950's, a group of young amateur archeologists men discovered one of the largest Paleo-Indian sites in North America along the banks of Bull Brook and the Egypt River in Ipswich, with over 6,000 artifacts uncovered.… Continue reading The Bull Brook Paleo-Indian Discovery
Emma Safford, Ipswich MA Emma Jane Mitchell Safford - Emma Jane Mitchell Safford was a descendant of Massasoit, Sachem of the Wampanoag. Her daughter, also Emma, tried to help her relatives regain land taken from them on the reservation.… Continue reading Emma Jane Mitchell Safford
Attack on Brookfield Ipswich, the Brookfield Massacre and King Philip’s War - In 1660, a group of Ipswich families settled in Quaboag which they renamed Brookfield. Indian attacks in 1675 resulted in its destruction.… Continue reading Ipswich, the Brookfield Massacre and King Philip’s War
Discovery of native American shell heap on Treadwell’s Island, 1882 - In1882, a shell heap on the shore of Treadwell's Island was observed to contain nearly two quarts of human bones, broken into short pieces.… Continue reading Discovery of native American shell heap on Treadwell’s Island, 1882
Winthrop fleet ships PTSD in the Massachusetts Bay Colony - The Great Migration brought nearly 14,000 Puritan settlers, unprepared for the hardships and trauma that awaited them. Building a new society in the wilderness induced transgenerational post-traumatic stress and mass conversion disorder, culminating in the Salem Witch Trials.… Continue reading PTSD in the Massachusetts Bay Colony
The Bones of Masconomet - On March 6, 1659 a young man named Robert Cross dug up the remains of the Agawam chief Masconomet, and carried his skull on a pole through Ipswich streets, an act for which Cross was imprisoned, sent to the stocks, then returned to prison until a fine was paid.… Continue reading The Bones of Masconomet

5 thoughts on “Ipswich, the Brookfield Massacre and King Philip’s War”

  1. What a fabulous and informative read! Thanks, I was able to find some information of my ancestors.
    Viola Watroba

  2. I didn’t know any of this. It seems I’m here only by chance. James Hovey, the 18 year old who didn’t make it into the tavern at Brookfield to shelter with his wife and children, but was killed along with 10 others, was the brother of my direct ancestor, John Hovey, who had stayed in Ipswich.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s