Deerfield — Philip's War
Extracted from "History of the Connecticut Valley in Massachusetts, Volume II," by Louis H. Everts, 1879.
As we have said, the news of the outbreak at Swansea caused no alarm here. The Pocomptucks, scattered over the valley as far as the Connecticut line, were on friendly terms with the English. Their intercourse was intimate and kindly, although they never mingled as equals or had sympathies in common. The inferior race were fully aware of this fact, but realized that contact with the whites had been of great advantage to them by imparting some of the arts of civilization. The iron age had succeeded the long age of stone, and increased their industrial power tenfold. Firearms had enabled them to procure food and furs for traffic with greater ease, and this traffic afforded them comforts before unknown. This tribe looked to the English for protection against the fierce Mohawks, and crowded about the settlements to that end.
It is true that the laws of the colony were irksome to the lords of the forest. It was galling to these sons of freedom to be hedged about by forms or bonds to which they could not give an understanding assent. The unscrupulous pioneer-trader sold them fire-water, and cheated them when under its influence. The white man's cattle trampled down their corn, and reparation was tardy. These things, rankling in their bosoms, came uppermost when artful emissaries of Philip appeared with presents of wampum and goods pillaged from the English, exciting their natural love of revenge and their cupidity. It is not surprising that these children of nature joined that wily chieftain to gratify these feelings.
On the appearance of Philip in the Nipmuck country, and the burning of Brookfield, Aug. 2, 1675, the alarm became general in the Connecticut Valley, but no suspicion was felt of the fidelity of the river Indians, and they were even employed as soldiers against the hostile Nipmucks. Here, however, their treachery was exposed by the Mohicans in the same service, and became so apparent that an attempt was made to disarm a motley collection gathered in a fort at Nonotuck. These, taking the alarm, fled northward, pursued by Capts. Beers and Lothrop, with 100 soldiers. Still intending a parley with the fugitives, the troops marched with little or no precaution, and when they had reached a point about eighty rods south of Wequamps were suddenly fired upon by the savages from an ambush in the swamp on their right. The English, covering themselves with trees, Indian fashion, fought for three hours, when the enemy retreated. Seven whites were killed,—one shot in the back by his fellows,—and two were mortally wounded. The Indians reported a loss of twenty-six. This affair was on the 26th of August, and the first conflict in arms between the English and Indians in the Connecticut Valley.
The settlers at Pocomptuck became fully alive to the fact that the horrors of an Indian war were now upon them. Active preparations were made for defense. Troops from Connecticut were sent here, and three of the strongest houses were garrisoned. The locations of these garrisons can only be guessed, but it will be safe to conclude that one of them was on Meeting-house Hill, at the house of Quintus Stockwell, where the young minister, Mr. Mather, boarded, and the others north and south of this.
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03 Aug 2005