King Philip’s War and the Character of Colonial America

In 1675, the Wampanoag chief Metacom (known as Philip), rejected the alliance that his father Massasoit had forged with the New England colonists. Wampanoag and Narragansett raiding parties attacked villages throughout New England, and Governor Josiah Winslow marshaled 1,000 men, one of the largest colonial armies seen up to that time, to fight back. Tensions rose to a fever pitch, and in less than a year nearly half the towns in New England had been attacked, with over a dozen towns destroyed. Plymouth and Rhode Island’s economies were in free-fall, and the Pokanokets and Narragansetts were all but wiped out. Hundreds lost their lives, and the war is widely considered one of the deadliest in Colonial history. Click here for a 90-minute discussion with three authors who wrote about the War.

Author Jason Warren describes the conflict as the Great Narragansett War because he sees their role as critical to both instigating the War and surviving it unscathed as he writes in his book, Connecticut Unscathed.

Author Philip Ranlet, author of Enemies of the Bay Colony, talks about how the War demonstrated a generational shift between the original Pilgrims and the generation that followed who mostly ignored the Indians and had no feelings for them whatsoever.

Michael Tougias, co-author of King Philip’s War, The History and Legacy of America’s Forgotten Conflict,, talked about the many locations throughout western Massachusetts where battle sites from the King Philip War can still be found largely unchanged over the past 350 years.