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King Philip’s War

King Philip’s War was a huge battle between Native Americans and English settlers in the years 1675-76. It was also called the Great Narragansett War or the First Indian War.

It was one of the bloodiest battles in U.S. history. It was fought in New England, which is an area in the north-east of the USA.

Capture Of King Phillips Fort

Who was King Philip?

Philip King Of Mount Hope By Paul Revere

King Philip was also called Metacom and he was the leader of the indigenous Americans called Wampanoag and Narraganset.

King Philips Seat

His father, Massasoit had kept peace with the English colonisers for decades but when Metacom came to power, he was not happy with the way he and his people were being treated.

He felt the Wampanoag were being humiliated and forced to sign treaties and peace agreements.

In the peace agreement of 1671, the colonisers were trying to force the Wampanoag people to give up all their guns.

Massasoit Great Sachem Of The Wampanoag

Who were the Wampanoag?

The Wampanoag were Algonquian-speaking indigenous North Americans who used to occupy Rhode Island and Massachusetts.

 USA Massachusetts Location Map

The alliance

Metacom made an alliance (union) between the Wampanoag, the Narraganset, the Abenaki, the Nipmuc and the Mohawk people which worked well for a while.

The murder of John Sassamon

After tensions had been building between indigenous Americans and the colonisers, the murder of a man called John Sassamon triggered a huge battle.

Indians Attacking A Garrison House

In 1675, three of Metacom’s warriors were put on trial and found guilty for this murder. Metacom had ordered the murder because he believed John Sassamon was a spy for the colonisers.

By this time, the Native Americans and the colonisers had tense relations for years because they were competing for land claims.

The English were trying to force the Native Americans to change their culture and their habits and were forcing them off the land. Native Americans made a number of raids and the English colonisers retaliated.

Most of the Narragansett remained neutral.

However, a few of them participated in the raids and this meant that the English colonisers attacked them anyway.

The assault

Benjamin Church Father Of American Rangers

In November 1675, Josiah Winslow of Plymouth Colony marched out with troops to Rhode Island.

They burnt abandoned villages on route to their attack, which was supposed to catch the Narragansett by surprise.

Josiah Winslow Was Governor Of Plymouth Colony

The Great Swamp Massacre

The first attack was on the Narragansetts’ main fort, on an island in a frozen storm. This militia was brutal and had overrun the fort in just one day, burning food, homes and supplies of the Narragansetts’ fort.

It is difficult to say how many died in this battle. Many believe that it was over 150 people and a lot  of those were women, children and even the elderly.

The fight back

There were many more retaliations over the course of the year from the Native coalitions. They managed to push back the colonial frontier in Massachusetts Bay, Plymouth and Rhode Island.

Great Swamp Fight Painting

In the end, after all that bloodshed, it still wasn’t enough to defend Native American land and their rights.

Native American opposition in Rhode Island was wiped out and the colony was opened up to new settlers.

It was Connecticut who claimed the majority of the southern part of the colony because they defeated the Narragansetts.


Some native Americans joined forces with Europeans.

By September 1676, colonisers and their Native American allies had destroyed a lot of Native American opposition in southern New England and had killed thousands of their enemies.

Those who were not killed were sold into slavery.

King Philips Death In Miery Swamp On Mount Hope

Quiz Time!

What was King Philip’s other name?

Why was the Treaty in 1671 unfair?

Where did the Wampanoag live?

quiz activity for kids
Which Native American communities joined forces to form an alliance?

What happened in 1675?

Native Americans

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