Attack on Swansea (1675)

June 20–24, 1675

The Attack on Swansea was a series of raids carried out by Wampanoag warriors on the village of Swansea in Plymouth Colony in June 1675. These attacks started King Philip’s War.

Attack on Swansea, 1675, Miles Garrison House

Photograph of the John Myles Garrison House in Swansea, Massachusetts, circa 1906. Image Source: King Philip’s War by George W. Ellis and John E. Morris., 1906.

What was the Attack on Swansea in 1675?

The Attack on Swansea in June 1675 marked the beginning of King Philip’s War (1675–1678), a conflict between the New England Confederation and Native American Indian tribes united under King Philip of the Wampanoag. Initiated by Wampanoag warriors, the attacks resulted in looting, burning of buildings, and subsequent raids and ambushes carried out against English settlers. The death toll and escalating violence convinced colonial authorities that full-scale war was imminent, leading to the mobilization of militias by the colonies that were members of the New England Confederation.

King Philip, Metacom, King Philip's War, Illustration
This illustration depicts Metacom (King Philip). Image Source: Google Books.

Attack on Swansea Facts

What Happened During the Attack on Swansea, Plymouth in 1675?

The following facts about the Attack on Swansea in 1675 provide a comprehensive overview of the background and history of what is recognized as the first engagement of King Philip’s War. 

Location of Swansea

  • Swansea was a significant English settlement in Plymouth Colony, which had been established by the Pilgrims in 1620, 55 years earlier.
  • Swansea was located on the border between English settlements and Wampanoag tribal lands.
  • The proximity of Swansea to Wampanoag territory made the settlers vulnerable to attacks.

King Philip’s Indian Confederacy

  • Metacom, also known as King Philip, was the sachem — chief — of the Wampanoag Tribe.
  • King Philip organized a confederacy of Native American Indian tribes, intending to carry out raids on English settlements.
  • King Philip was upset over the way the Plymouth colonists treated the Wampanoag and their encroachment on Wampanoag lands.
  • Historical accounts suggest King Philip had been making preparations for a conflict with New England settlers for some time before the Attack on Swansea.

The Attack on Swansea Started on June 20, 1675

  • On June 20, 1675, Wampanoag warriors initiated the attack on Swansea by raiding farms on the outskirts of the village.
  • The outlying farms were destroyed as the Wampanoags looted and set them on fire.
  • The residents of Swansea sought refuge in the town’s garrison houses and sent for assistance from the neighboring settlements.
  • Garrison houses were fortified homes that were intended to keep settlers safe during attacks.

Militia Arrived at Swansea on June 21

  • Militia forces from nearby Bridgewater and Taunton responded to the Swansea Alarm.
  • They arrived in Swansea on June 21, intending to provide support and defend the village against further attacks.
  • However, by the time the reinforcements arrived, the Wampanoag warriors had already departed from the area.

The Wampanoag Returned on June 23

  • According to some accounts, the Wampanoag returned on June 23 and carried out more raids.
  • During these attacks, a Plymouth boy reportedly shot and killed one of the Wampanoag warriors.

Wampanoag Attacks on June 24

  • The following day, June 24, Wampanoag parties launched ambushes on several groups of colonists who had ventured outside of their garrison houses.
  • These coordinated attacks resulted in the deaths of nine English settlers and left two others mortally wounded.
  • The attacks ended when Captain Benjamin Church arrived at the head of a small column of Massachusetts Militia.

The New England Confederation Responds

  • The Attack on Swansea was a turning point for the governments of Plymouth and Massachusetts Bay and their relations with the Wampanoag.
  • Colonial officials interpreted these attacks as evidence the Wampanoag were intent on initiating a full-scale war against the English settlers.
  • Colonial militias were mustered and prepared to engage the Wampanoag.
  • At the time, Plymouth and Massachusetts were part of the New England Confederation, along with Connecticut and New Hampshire.

Why did the Wampanoag Attack Swansea?

  • Despite King Philip’s grievances and preparations for war, historians believe it is unlikely he would have chosen to start the war with an attack on Swansea.
  • Some have speculated that unhappy members of the Wampanoag Tribe may have launched the initial attack on Swansea without permission from King Philip.

Outcome of the Attack on Swansea

  • The attack on Swansea sparked the war, catching both English settlers and King Philip by surprise.
  • This attack escalated tensions and prompted the English colonies to perceive the Wampanoags as hostile, leading the New England Confederation to mobilize the military.

Attack on Swansea Significance

The Attack on Swanse is important to United States history for its role in King Philip’s War. It was the first engagement of the war and forced the New England Confederation to mobilize its forces to protect New England settlers. Ultimately, King Philip’s War was a destructive conflict that took a heavy toll on New England and the tribes that were part of King Philip’s confederacy.

Attack on Swansea APUSH Review

Use the following links and videos to study the King Philip’s War, the New England Confederation, and Colonial America for the AP US History Exam. Also, be sure to look at our Guide to the AP US History Exam.

Attack on Swansea Definition APUSH

The Attack on Swansea was a significant event during King Philip’s War in June 1675. Native American warriors, allied with the Wampanoag leader King Philip, launched a surprise assault on the English settlement of Swansea in Plymouth Colony, Massachusetts. Swansea suffered considerable damage, and several colonists were killed or captured. The attack marked the beginning of widespread violence and conflict throughout New England, known as King Philip’s War.

Account of the Attack on Swansea

The following is taken from King Philip’s War by George William Ellis and John Emery Morris and was published in 1906.

Events Leading to the Attack on Swansea

The events leading up to the Attack on Swansea have been included here, to provide additional context about the incident and to help explain why the Wampanoags may have attacked Swansea. According to King Philip’s War, hostilities around Swansea started as early as June 18. 

  • John Sassamon told Plymouth officials that King Philip was planning to attack English settlements.
  • Sassamon died sometime during the winter of 1674–1675 and was found in the spring of 1675.
  • Plymouth officials accused three Wamponag Indians of murdering him.
  • The Wampanoags were found guilty of murder and sentenced to be hanged.
  • Captain Benjamin Church learned King Philip was preparing an attack.
  • Captain Church warned Plymouth officials, who, in turn, warned Massachusetts officials in Boston.
  • Massachusetts sent commissioners to meet with the Narragansett Tribe, to make sure they did not join King Philip.

Please note that section headings, spacing, and grammatical errors have been corrected to help readers scan the information and understand it.

Captain Benjamin Church
Captain Benjamin Church played a key role in King Philip’s War. Image Source: New York Public Library Digital Collections.

John Sassamon

The least suspicion of intrigue could not long escape the notice of those Indian converts who kept the authorities well-informed of all that went on. There had been living among the Wampanoags at Nemasket, the daughter of whose chief he had married, an Indian convert of Eliot’s, named Sassamon, a Natick, a “cunning and plausible man,” Hubbard calls him.

This man has accompanied Philip to Boston as an interpreter after the death of Alexander and served him for some time thereafter, but having, it is said, to have been found guilty of some offense, had returned to Natick and again professed Christianity.

Associated with Philip on familiar terms, he claimed to have received the sachem’s confidences and betrayed them to the settlers under pledge of secrecy; his life would be in danger, he declared, if his connection with the matter were made known. 

His information (because it had an Indian origin “and one can hardly believe them when they speak truth”) was not at first much regarded, but Philip, learning in advance of a summons, of the charges, made haste to Plymouth to free himself from suspicion, and, having given renewed assurances of his friendly intentions, was allowed to return.

John Sassamon’s Body Found

In the spring of the following year, the dead body of Sassamon was discovered in Assowomset Pond. An Indian named David, having discovered some bruises on the body, suspicions were aroused and an investigation led to the belief that Sassamon had been killed while fishing during the winter and his body thrown under the ice.

Indians Accused of Killing John Sassamon

Three Indians, Tobias, Mattaschunanamoo, and Wampapaquin, Tobias’ son, were arrested on the evidence of an Indian who claimed to have been an eyewitness of the affair.

The Indians claimed that Sassamon had been drowned while fishing and that the marks on his body were caused by contact with the ice. They declared that the informer who claimed to have been an eyewitness, “had gambled away his coat and, on its being returned and payment demanded, he had, in order to escape the debt, accused them of the murder knowing it would please the English and cause them to think him the better Christian.”

Mather, ever on the watch for the marvelous, declared that the body bled afresh when Tobias approached, a sign then and to a much later day credited as a proof of guilt. 

The three Wampanoags were convicted by a white jury to which had been added several friendly Indians, and executed, “and though they were all successfully turned off the ladder at the gallows utterly denying the fact, yet the last of them, hoping to break or slip the rope, did before his going off the ladder again confess that the other Indians did really murder John Sassamon, and that be himself, though no actor in it, was yet a looker-on.”

Wampapaquin was reprieved but shot within the month. No direct proof was produced at the trial to connect Philip with Sassamon’s death, but it was widely believed that it had been decreed, according to Indian law, by Philip and his council, as a punishment for his treachery.

James Brown of Swansea Warns Philip

The authorities held back from all aggressive action, in the belief that such a course would allow the excitement among the warriors time to abate, but as Philip made no attempt to clear himself, James Brown of Swansea, who had been on friendly terms with him, solicited and obtained permission to inform Philip that the Plymouth authorities disclaimed all injurious intentions and urged him to discontinue hostile preparations.

Rhode Island Leaders Meet with King Philip

Rhode Island, alarmed at the state of affairs, made ineffectual attempts to compromise the matter and bring Philip to an agreement. 

Deputy Governor Easton of that colony, and five others, including Samuel Gorton, met Philip and his chiefs at Bristol Neck Point on the 17th of June and proposed that the quarrel and all matters in contention should be arbitrated. 

Wampanoag Grievances and English Assurances

It might be well, was the reply, but that all the English agreed against them. Many square miles of land were taken from them by English arbitrators. They then went on to recite their grievances. 

If they surrendered their arms jealousy might be removed, but the Englishmen would not deliver them again as promised until they had paid a fine. 

They said they had been the first to do good, the English the first to do wrong. 

When the English first came the king’s father was as a great man and the English as a little child.

He constrained other Indians from raiding the English, gave them seed, showed them how to plant and was free to do them good, and let them have one hundred times more land then than now the king had for his own people, but the king’s brother, when he was king, came miserably to die, being forced to court, and, as they judged, poisoned. 

Another grievance: that if twenty of them testify that the English had done them wrong, it was nothing, but if ever one of their worst Indians testified against any Indian or the king, when it pleased the English it was sufficient. 

Englishmen made Indians drunk and cheated them in bargains. 

English cattle and horses increased. The Indians could not keep their corn from being spoiled, they never being used to fences. The English were so eager to sell Indians liquor that most of the Indians spent much in drunkenness and then raided upon the sober Indians, and they did believe often hurt the English cattle, and their king was obliged to sell more land to pay the fines.

The white delegates endeavored to persuade them to lay down their arms and not to make war, for the English were too strong for them. 

They said the English should do to them as they did when they were strong to the English.

The conference broke up without any agreement having been reached. Easton states as his belief that the Indians would have accepted the Governor of New York and an Indian king as arbitrators and that peace might still have been preserved. It is more than doubtful. That the Wampanoags had broken loose from all restraint seems certain. Philip would at any rate have been glad to gain time in order to have procured arms and ammunition and to involve more definitely the other tribes, but in the state of mind of his followers no such course was possible; the pent-up passions of many years, fanned into flame, were past suppression.

Benjamin Church Meets with Awashonks

Captain Benjamin Church of Little Compton, in the territory of the Saconet Indians, attending by invitation of the squaw sachem, Awashonks, a ceremonious dance, June 15th, found on his arrival that it had been given in honor of six ambassadors from Philip, her overlord, to make sure of her co-operation. 

On her explanation of Philip’s overtures, he boldly advised her in their presence to knock them on the head and seek refuge with the English. 

Peter Nunnuit Informs Church that Philip is Preparing for War

Two days later, near Pocasset, he met Peter Nunnuit, who had married Alexander’s widow, Weetamoo. Peter said he had just come from Mount Hope where Philip had been holding a dance in which Indians from all the Wampanoag tribes had participated; that war was certain, and that Philip had been forced to promise the young men “that on the next Lord’s day when the English were gone to meeting, they should level their house and from that time forward kill their cattle.” 

He also told them that Samuel Gorton and James Brown of Swansea were at that time at Mount Hope, and that one of the young warriors wanted to kill Brown, but that Philip prevented it saying that his father had charged him to show kindness to Mr. Brown. 

Church, at the request of Peter, had an interview with Weetamoo, who was nearby and advised her to go over to Rhode Island for security and to send a messenger to the governor immediately. He then hastened with the information he had acquired to Plymouth.

King Philip's War, Site of King Philip's Camp, Mount Hope
1906 photograph of the location of King Philip’s Campsite at Mount Hope. Image Source: King Philip’s War by George W. Ellis and John E. Morris., 1906.

Massachusetts Commissioners Meet with the Narragansett Tribe

On the afternoon of June 21st, Governor Leverett of Massachusetts received a letter from Governor Winslow informing him of the situation. 

It was determined, in view of the attitude of the Wampanoags, to immediately send a commission consisting of Captain Edward Hutchinson, Seth Perry, and William Powers, to the Narragansetts to find out their intentions and to put them on their good behavior. 

Acting upon their instructions they stopped at Providence and induced Roger Williams to accompany them to the chief village of the Narragansetts.

At this conference Pessacus, Canonchet, and Ninigret seem to have assented to the desires of the Massachusetts authorities and promised to be neutral. 

The commissioners departed apparently satisfied with the success of their mission, but Williams, who knew the Indian character well, seems to have been suspicious and, on June 27th, wrote to Winthrop that he believed their friendly answers were empty “words of falsehood and treachery.” 

Pessacus, one of the sachems of the Narragansetts, is said to have confessed to several of the men of Newport, that while his heart sorrowed he could not rule the youth or common people or persuade the chiefs. 

Even before the Massachusetts Commission had started on its journey two houses had been burned by the Wampanoags at Mattapoiset, on June 19th.

Philip Prepares for War and Desires an Alliance with the Nipmucks

Philip, driven to bay and forced into conflict by the passions he now found himself unable to control, could hardly have plunged into the conflict confident of success. He knew the bitter resentment and the desire of his warriors for war. 

The independent tribes of the Nipmucks were ripe for revolt. Initial successes on his part were all that was needed to bring them to his aid, but he knew equally well that sympathy, the sense of common wrongs, and a tentative understanding, were but feeble reeds on which to lean if disaster threatened.

Events had rushed forward faster than his plans or preparations. 

No general conspiracy had been organized; no concerted action arranged for, and as the old Wampanoag Confederacy had fallen into ruins under the pressure of the whites, he could depend with certainty only on his personal following. 

Advantages of the Indians

The Indians, however, did not lack advantages and if once the pent-up fury of the different tribes should be loosed upon the long frontier the contest was certain to be long continued. 

They had become expert in the use of firearms. 

They knew the fording places of the rivers and every trail and were acquainted with the daily habits of the settlers. 

They were adept in a method of warfare admirably suited to the character of the country. 

To turn every cover and position to advantage, to strike quickly, to lie patiently in ambuscades, and to draw off rapidly on the failure of an attack with a fleetness in which the heavily armed settler, unaccustomed to forest warfare, could not compete, were formidable tactics in a broken and wooded country of long distances sparsely settled and traversed only by rough trails.

Attitude of the English Settlers Toward the Indians

The martial spirit which had distinguished the early generation of colonists had ceased to inspire the new generation. 

The very spreading out of the settlements offered a wide-flung and weakly settled frontier to the swift-moving warriors, while the contempt that had grown up among the settlers with respect to the Indians, both from the result of the Pequot War and the long subservience of the race in later dealings, made it certain that for a time at least, over-confidence and lack of military training would lead to catastrophes.

Veteran Soldiers and Defenses of the Settlers

There were among the settlers, however, many traders well acquainted with Indian ways, and if the great mass of the settlers were untrained to warfare, yet there were those among them who had served as under-officers and captains under Cromwell, in the most perfect army the century had seen. 

Material for good soldiers was in abundance, arms, and equipment plentiful, their stockaded towns offered protection and a base of supplies that the Indian villages could not possibly afford. 

Many individual Indians were certain to join them and the whole of the Mohegans would be their effective allies, while the numbers, resources, and character of the population once brought into the field and trained, made the result of a prolonged campaign certain.

The Number of Indians Engaged in King Philip’s War

Tradition had attributed to the Indians engaged in the war, between seven and eight thousand fighting men. The swift movements of the war parties, some of whom were able to cover forty miles a day, made their forces appear far greater than was actually the case, and neither the fears of the settlers nor the reports of friendly Indians desirous of enhancing the value of their services were likely to underestimate the number. 

Their actual number probably did not at most exceed thirty-five hundred. Of these the Wampanoags and their kindred mustered about five hundred; the Nipmucks and the Connecticut River tribes not over eleven hundred; the Abenakis and Tarratines about six hundred; the Narragansetts about one thousand. In addition, there were probably some three hundred scattered warriors, roving Indians, small parties from the northern tribes, and Christian Indians, throwing in their lot with their kindred either from choice or, as occurred in more than one instance, driven into revolt by the harsh treatment of the suspicious settlers.

A Wampanoag is Killed at Swansea

The Wampanoags, in the belief it is said, that the first party to shed blood would be vanquished, had been provoking the settlers by daily outrages to commence hostilities, and on the 18th of June one of a number of Indians was shot and wounded by an irate settler at Swansea.’ 

According to John Easton some Indians at Swansea were seen by an old man and a lad, pilfering from houses whose owners were at church, whereupon the old man bade the young one shoot, and one of the Indians fell but got away. 

Later in the day some of the neighboring Indians came to one of the garrison houses, either Miles’s or Bourne’s, and asked why they had shot the Indian. 

In reply to the English question whether he was dead, the Indian said, “yea,” on which one of the English remarked that “it was no matter.” The other endeavored to convince the Indians that it was but a young man’s idle words, but the Indians, returning no answer, went hastily away.

Benjamin Church Plans for an Attack

Plymouth Colony had already taken precautions in view of the existing conditions. Captain Benjamin Church, at the request of Winslow, had some time before induced the Governor of Rhode Island to provide boats for the patrol of the northern shore in case of an outbreak, and the towns had been warned to be on their guard and prepared to send their contingents into the field at a moment’s notice.

The Attack on Swansea Begins

Now, on the 20th of June, a messenger brought news to Plymouth that the house of Job Winslow at Swansea had been plundered by Indians on the 18th, and that on the 19th several houses, among them that of Hugh Cole, had been burned while the people were attending worship.

Benjamin Church Gathers the Militia

Captain Church was immediately ordered to collect a force of twenty horsemen at Bridgewater and to proceed to Swansea by way of Taunton, which was appointed as the rendezvous of the Plymouth forces.

The troops were already assembling under Majors James Cudworth and William Bradford and Captains Gorham and Fuller when Church marched into the place on the 21st, and the next day the whole force proceeded toward Swansea, Church leading the van with his horsemen and a number of friendly Indians, “and to keep so far before as not to be in sight of the army, and so they did for by the way they killed a deer, flayed, roasted, and eat the most of him before the army came up with them.”

Panic in Plymouth Colony

Panic already reigned among the scattered farmhouses that stretched along the eastern shore, and Major Bradford, with the company from Bridgewater, leaving Swansea on the 23d, marched down to Jared Bourne’s stone house at Mattapoiset where nearly seventy people had collected. 

Everywhere along the march were to be met people flying from their homes, wringing their hands and bewailing their losses. 

Attack on Wanamoiset

A part of the relieving force was dispatched the next day to escort Mr. John Brown, who had acted as guide, to his home at Wanamoiset, with orders to act strictly on the defensive. 

Meeting, on their return, a party from the garrison going out with carts to bring in corn from the deserted and outlying houses, they warned them that the Indians were out in force and urged them not to proceed. 

Confiding in their numbers, however, the foragers continued on their way only to fall into an ambuscade, where, attacked and routed, they were driven back to the garrison with a loss of six killed.

The settlement was abandoned the following week, with the inhabitants seeking refuge on the island of Rhode Island.

Another Attack on Swansea

June 24th was the day appointed by the authorities for humiliation and prayer, and as the settlers of Swansea were returning from service they were fired upon.

One was killed and several wounded. 

Two of the settlers were dispatched for assistance, to Plymouth. They were never to reach it, for the commissioners, Major Savage and Captain Thomas Brattle, who had been sent by Governor Leverett and the council to treat with Philip, on approaching Swansea in the evening, came upon their bodies weltering in blood upon the highway, and turned back to Boston.

Philip Protects Some Settlers

Philip, realizing, it is said, that the first blow, if the warriors took matters into their own hands, would be struck at Swansea and the neighboring towns, ordered no harm should be done to James Brown, Captain Thomas Willet, and James Leonard. 

He also sent word to Hugh Cole, who had befriended him to remove lest it should be out of his power to prevent harm befalling him, and extended protection to two small children because “their father sometime showed me kindness.”

Plymouth and Boston Respond to the Attack on Swansea

The news of the attack reached Plymouth before night and messengers were immediately dispatched to Boston for assistance. Both governments took prompt measures. 

Boston Troops Prepare to March to Swansea

At Boston, the drums were beaten to assemble the companies and in the late afternoon of the 26th, Captain Daniel Henchman with a company of foot, and Captain Thomas Prentice with a troop of horse, set forth. 

The infantry were armed with muskets and long knives fitted with handles to fix in the muzzles, and carried a knapsack, six feet of fuse, a pound of powder, a bandoleer passing under the left arm and containing a dozen or more cylinders holding a measured charge of powder, a bag containing three pounds of bullets and a horn of priming powder. The troopers were equipped with a sword and either two pistols or a carbine. All carried in addition a few articles of wearing apparel, a day’s provisions, and a pound of tobacco.

An Eclipse Darkens the Sky

Prolonging their march well into the evening they were nearing the town of Dedham on the Neponset River, twenty miles from Boston, when the moon was darkened by an eclipse (in Capricorn) “which caused them to halt for a little repose until the moon recovered her light.”

Some among them imagined they discerned in the moon a black spot resembling the scalp of an Indian, others made out the form of an Indian bow, ominous signs, “but both,” writes the chronicler, “might rather have thought of what Marcus Crassus, the Roman general going forth with an army against the Parthians, once wisely replied to a private soldier that would have dissuaded him from marching because of an eclipse of the moon in Capricorn, ‘that he was more afraid of Saggitarius (the archer) than of Capricornus,’ meaning the arrows of the Parthians.”

Samuel Mosely Brings Reinforcements

“When the moon had again borrowed her light,” and the road once more became distinct, they resumed the march, reaching Attleboro, thirty miles from Boston, early in the morning. 

Here they rested until the afternoon when Captain Samuel Moseley, with a rough company of volunteers composed of sailors, privateersmen, and several paroled pirates accompanied by a number of hunting dogs, joined them.

The Boston Troops Arrive at Swansea

The combined force of two hundred and fifty fighting men, besides the teamsters, pushing rapidly on, reached Swansea early in the evening of the 28th and pitched their camp alongside of Major Cudworth, and the Plymouth men near the fortified house of the Rev. Mr. Miles, a Baptist clergyman, which stood a short distance from the bridge leading toward Mount Hope.

Indians Attack the Militia at Swansea

Immediately on the arrival, a dozen of Prentice’s troopers, impatient of delay, under the command of Quartermaster Joseph Belcher and Corporal John Gill, with Captain Church as a volunteer, sallied over the bridge to explore the country beyond. 

Hardly had they cleared the bridge when a party of Indians in ambush poured in a volley upon them, killing William Hammond, a guide, wounding Gill and Belcher, and driving the rest back in confusion to the barricade that had been erected around the house of the Rev. Mr. Miles.

Made confident by this success, a number of Indians the next morning showed themselves at the end of the bridge, shouting derisively, while some, more bold than the rest, even ventured upon the bridge itself. 

The whole force was immediately drawn up and while the infantry advanced toward the bank of the stream, a troop of horse and a party of volunteers under Moseley rushed furiously down the road upon them and drove them off with loss, losing, however, one of their own number, Ensign Savage, wounded, it is said, by the fire from the infantry on the bank.

Thomas Savage Arrives at Swansea

On the evening of the 29th which was spent skirmishing with the Indians, came Major Thomas Savage, accompanied by Captain Paige and sixty horse and as many foot, to take over the command of the Massachusetts forces.

New England Forces Begin the Search for King Philip

The force assembled at Swansea now numbered over five hundred men, and, at noon on the following day, leaving a small guard in the garrison, the little army, with Major Cudworth in command, crossed over the bridge, and, throwing out horsemen on the flanks to prevent an ambuscade, pushed on toward Mount Hope.

Here and there, within the boundaries of the Indian country, they saw groups of empty wigwams and fields of corn, the smoking ruins of what had once been the homes of the settlers, and  “Bibles torn in pieces in defiance of our holy religion,” while ghastly heads and hands stuck upon stakes bore witness to the fate of the occupants. But, while Philip’s wigwam was discovered and the trail of his warriors followed to the shore, not an Indian was to be seen.

Throughout the day the rain had fallen steadily, soaking the troops to the skin, and as evening drew on the Plymouth men, passing over the strait, found shelter on the island of Rhode Island, but Major Savage, with the Massachusetts division, bivouacked in the open fields amid the storm.

Savage Returns to Swansea

With the dawn came rumors that the Indians were in force near Swansea, and Savage, after laying waste the fields of growing corn, hastened back over the route of the day before, but though the force met many Indian dogs deserted by their masters, and saw at times burning dwellings, they came upon no Indians, and the infantry, tired and discouraged, made halt at Swansea.

Prentice Continues the Search

The cavalry, however, under Prentice, proceeded to scour the country towards Seekonk and Rehoboth, but discovering no trace of the enemy finally encamped for the night.

The Militia Skirmish with Indians Near Swansea

The next morning Prentice, having placed a portion of his command under Lieutenant Oakes with orders to march parallel with the main force along another road in order to cover a wider extent of territory, set out on his return to Swansea. 

They had advanced only a short distance when they came in sight of a party of Indians burning a house. 

Prentice was unable to reach them on account of several intervening fences, but Oakes, continuing along the road, charged upon and put them to flight, lulling several, among them Phoebe, one of their leaders, and losing one of his own men, John Druce.

King Philip at Pocasset

Information in the meantime had reached Swansea that Philip had been discovered at Pocasset, but Savage, instead of marching directly toward this point with his whole force, divided his command, sending Henchman and Prentice to scour the woods and swamps along the mainland, while he, with the commands of Captains Paige and Moseley, marched down to Mount Hope. 

No signs of Indians were discovered at Mount Hope, and leaving a party to build a fort, despite the earnest entreaty of Church that the whole force should go over to Pocasset and drive Philip from cover, Savage again returned to Swansea.

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  • Article Title Attack on Swansea (1675)
  • Date June 20–24, 1675
  • Author
  • Keywords Attack on Swansea, Who attacked Swansea, What war did the attack on Swansea start, When did the attack on Swansea happen, Where did the attack on Swansea take place, How did the attack on Swansea affect Colonial America
  • Website Name American History Central
  • Access Date April 18, 2024
  • Publisher R.Squared Communications, LLC
  • Original Published Date
  • Date of Last Update April 3, 2024

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