Who attacked who? Myths and the Colonial Militia in the Indian Wars)
There is substantial confusion about hostilities between Native
Americans and English settlers, not just in Essex County, where
in fact the settlers were attacked, but on a larger regional (New
England/ New York) scale. This is due to the fact that, as listed
above, there was ongoing warfare throughout the Seventeenth Century.
Native Americans attacked other Native Americans. English settlers
attacked Native Americans and vice versa. French and Indian allies
attacked English settlers. English and Indian allies attacked
the French. English used the Indians and drove the Dutch out of
New Amsterdam, New Jersey and Delaware.
Before 1620, there was intertribal warfare (Penobscot-Tarrantine
War) in Maine that was bolstered by reinforcements from
the Massachusetts Federation (Pawtucket Tribe only) in support
of the Penobscots. This led later to retaliatory raids by
(related to Eastern Abenaki Mic- Mac and Maliseet Tribes of northeastern
Maine) on the Pawtucket and Agawam (Ipswich) Tribes. Sagamore
John, a Pawtucket Sachem from Lynn, later Mystic (Medford) was
called to engage in the Narragansett Wampanoag War, then
later against the Pequots. By mid 1660’s, there were incursions
from the Mohawks and Iroquois against the Pawtucket/Pennacooks.
It is interesting to know how Native and Non-Native residents
of Essex County found themselves in a fight for their lives far
beyond the bounds of the county during this period. Distance seemed
to be no impediment to whatever the target of opportunity was
at the time. Native Americans were swift and had great endurance
allowing them to travel by land and water 100 miles in two days.
King Philips War started in Wampanoag Country moved west to the
Connecticut River Valley in 1675. The following year the War raged
in Narragansett County, Plymouth County, Central Mass and the
Merrimack Valley. Even after King Philip was killed in Aug.1676
sporadic raids occurred by renegade Indians, many who tried to
blend in with neutral tribes.
Starting late in the 17th century, six separate French-Indian
Wars began with raids in mid-coast and southern Maine, Great Bay
New Hampshire and along the Lower Merrimack River. The French provided
guns and rum to the Eastern Indians to raid English settlements.
The English were more cautious and would not do the same.
return to top
Indian Wars and Raids in 17th CenturyNew England
here for Flash Maps of Indian Wars
1614-1615 Pawtucket - Penobscot-Tarrantine War
- Nanepashemet, Great Sachem of Massachusetts Federation
and Pawtucket Sachem, sends war parties to help Penobscots defeat
Tarrantines. Beshaba, Penobscot Sachem killed.
1619 Tarrantines send 300 warriors to find and
kill Nanepashemet at his Mystic Fort. His family sent off to safe
haven, but his death ends the Massachusetts Federation.
1632 Narragansett "Wampanoag War Canonicus,
Narragansett Tribe Chief calls on Sagamore John, Nanepashemet's
oldest son) and Sagamore Chickataubet (Dorchester)
for an allied force against Wampanoags. Mass. Bay
Colony intervenes before reinforcements arrived, they get redirected
toward the Pequots who were too formidable, and so they returned
1632 Black Will (Poquin) Sachem of Nahant hanged
at Richmond’s Isle, Maine for murder he did not commit,
just because he was Native American.
1633 Tarrantines return to Essex County at Agawam
(Ipswich) and attack camp of Masconomet who was entertaining his
cousins Sagamore John(Chelsea & Mystick) and Sagamore James
(Saugus & Lynn), both who died of smallpox later in December
that year. Sagamore James wife, Wetamoo, daughter of Passaconaway,
Great Sachem of the Pennacooks (southern New Hampshire) was taken
captive and later returned for ransom.
1637 Pequot War (Mystic, Conn. )
Mass. Bay Colony led by Col . John Endicott, (Salem Village) with
assistance from Uncas, Sachem of Mohegan Tribe (Conn.) and native
American scouts, including Massachusetts Sagamore Chickataubet,
defeat the Peqouts at the Mystic (Conn.) Massacre. Narragansetts
were invited to the alliance but Roger Williams discouraged their
participation. This engagement was partly attributed to the death
of two officers on Block Island (R.I.) but more importantly to
gain a foothold in the Conn. River Valley before the Dutch, whose
fur trade was substantially greater in that region.
1669 Mohawk - Pennacook War Wamesit
Indians went against the Mohawks and were badly defeated.
1675 King Philip's War This was
the last great revolt of the Coastal Indians (Wampanoag allied
with Narragansetts (R.I) and Nipmucks (Central Mass.) totally
frustrated with their condition and loss of tribal lands by invasion
of English Settlers. Essex County towns of Andover and
Haverhill and the Salem Fishing fleet were attacked in this war,
along with many other towns of Mass. Bay Colony and Rhode Island
Colony. Many of Essex County town militiamen were impressed into
service as “Indian fighters” in frontier towns such
as Sudbury, Lancaster, Deerfield, Hadley and the Narragansett
Swamp. “Praying Indians” or
“Christian Indian” was pressed into
service as scouts for Mass. Bay Colony, including James Quannapowit,
grandson of Nanepashemet was a signer of the Lynn Deeds. Ironically,
his benefactor of Naumkeag Tribal lands was in fact Sagamore George
No Nose, who out of sheer frustration joined King Philip. He was
the only known Native American from Essex County to fight against
the Colonists in this war. After the War, he got tricked
into a treaty situation at Dover , N.H and was captured and sold
into slavery at Barbados. Rev. John Eliot interceded for the old
Naumkeag Sagamore (George No Nose) and he returned to live out
his life with his sister (James Quannapowit's mother) at Natick
Praying Town. The Essex County Regiment, from Beverly called
the Flower of Essex, lost a company
of 71 men at Deerfield (Muddy Brook a.k.a Bloody Brook under the
command of Capt. Thomas Lathrop.
1689-1697 King William's War (First French Indian
War) Several raids were made on Essex County towns during
this period by non-local Native Americans ( some fugitives from
King Philip's campaign, but primarily Maine tribes allied with the
French). This conflict ended with the Treaty of Ryswick in
1697, but sporadic raids continued for a year thereafter.
Many of Essex County town militiamen were impressed into service
as "Indian fighters" in Maine, which was then a Mass.
Bay Colony jurisdiction. Essex County towns of Andover , Haverhill,
Amesbury, Newbury and Rowley (now Georgetown) were
attacked in this war.
return to top
The Calm Before the Storm
Prior to King Philip’s War, from the Pequot War, 1637 to
1675, almost 40 years, their was significant peaceful coexistence
between Native Americans and English settlers along the coast
of Mass. Bay Colony. By 1640,the “Great Winthrop Immigration”
generated 20,000 English settlers in Mass. Bay Colony.
Due to the decline of Native Americans, falling to disease, population
superiority came quickly for the English. In addition, Wampanoag
Sachem, Massasoit and Pennacook Sachem , Passaconaway committed
themselves to peaceful relations with their new neighbors for
the survival of their people. Mass.Bay Colony’s history
was significantly impacted by this decision by the two most powerful
Native Americans during colonization period.
In the interim, the settlers became nervous and restless with every
rumor of a plan to revolt against the Colony. By, 1642 an order
was given to disarm Passaconaway, who heard of the order and eluded
the militia. However , his son Wannelancit and family were taken
hostage for leverage in negotiations. Passaconaway would not negotiate
until his son and family were returned. There was a period
of mutual support in Essex County between the two cultures. Passaconaway
agreed through his agents to sell off tribal land where his people
were falling to endemic diseases in 1615-1617, 1633, 1642, and 1659.
In the end he had to petition sufficient land for his people to
survive in their own lifestyle, in effect buying back their ancient
right to their land.
return to top