King Philip’s War

Wheeler’s Surprise and the Siege of Brookfield, August 2–4, 1675

King Philip’s War was an armed conflict between the Native Americans of New England and the English colonists that lasted from 1675 to 1678, named after the Wampanoag chief Metacomet, who was known to the English as “King Philip.” It continued in northern New England – primarily Maine – even after Metacomet was killed in 1676, until a treaty was signed at Casco Bay in April of 1678.

Proportionately, it was one of the most devastating wars in the history of North America. More than half of New England’s 90 towns were assaulted by native warriors. For a time in the spring of 1676, it appeared that the entire English population of Massachusetts and Rhode Island might be driven back to a handful of fortified seacoast cities. 1,200 homes were burned, 8,000 cattle lost, and vast stores of foodstuffs destroyed. One in ten soldiers on both sides was injured or killed.

Costly as the war was to the colonists, it virtually exterminated tribal Indian life in southern New England. The New England Confederation then had their way completely clear for white settlement.

The original homestead on our lot in Damariscotta was burned to the ground during this war. The towns of Wiscasset and Damariscotta were depopulated for almost 60 years, the colonists driven off or massacred. There are tomahawk marks on the front door of a house in Damariscotta Mills. An unused portion of the Old County Road between Wiscasset and Sheepscot is lined with cellar holes from abandoned homesteads.

Here are some Josephs ancestors I’ve found who were directly affected by the war. I’m sure there are far, far more.

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