The King Philip War broke out in today’s Warren on June 20, 1675.

In the 15 years after the Massasoit Ousamequin’s death, his son, Metacomet (later called King Philip), grew more distrustful of the English and eventually led an alliance of tribes into one of the deadliest wars between the native people and the English settlers. The war, known as King Philip’s War, spread well beyond the Pokanoket territory into Connecticut, Massachusetts and Maine and lasted from June of 1675 to August of 1676. (Click on map to enlarge)

 

Angered by the loss of land, liberty and lives, the Pokanoket warriors first attacked just east of the Kickemuit River on the farm of Job Winslow on Sunday, June 20, 1675. While the settlers were in church, they looted several homes, setting two on fire and sending residents to the Myles Garrison and a garrison house off today’s Gardner’s Neck Road in Swansea. Within days, all forty or so of the colonists houses were burned, bringing troops from Taunton and setting off a war that quickly spread.

 

The War, spread as far as Northampton, MA (see map, above), took thousands of English and Native lives and forever changed the relationship between the two groups. Most of the defeated tribal people were either killed or forced to leave their homeland and find new places to live as far away as New York and Maine

  

Because of his friendship with King Philip (above, left), Swansea settler Hugh Cole was warned and managed to escape to Portsmouth before the fighting began. The well that he dug next to his house when he returned after the War can be found today along the Bike Path behind the Kickemuit Middle School on the east side of the Kickemuit River.

 

The War ended with Philip’s slaying at Mt. Hope. Pokanoket warriors who were not killed in the War were sent to Barbados to be sold as slaves. English settlers moved into the remaining land in the Towns of Swansea and Bristol, and their numbers continued to grow. Members of the Pokanoket Tribe have since returned to the area, and over 300 now live in or near their original Sowams homeland.

Click here for a description of the early days of the War written by Lisa Brooks.