King Philip’s War (also known as the First Indian War, Metacom’s War, Metacomet’s War, Pometacomet’s Rebellion, or Metacom’s Rebellion) was an armed conflict in 1675–78 between American Indian inhabitants of the New England region of North America versus New England colonists and their Indian allies.
The war is named for Metacom or Metacomet, the Wampanoag chief who adopted the name Philip because of the friendly relations between his father Massasoit and the Mayflower Pilgrims.
The war continued in the most northern reaches of New England until the signing of the Treaty of Casco Bay in April 1678.
Massasoit had maintained a long-standing alliance with the colonists. Metacom (c. 1638–1676) was his younger son, and he became tribal chief in 1662 after Massasoit’s death.
Metacomet, however, did not maintain his father’s alliance between the Wampanoags and the colonists.
At Taunton, Massachusetts in 1671, the colonists insisted that the peace agreement include the surrender of Indian guns; then three Wampanoags were hanged for murder in Plymouth Colony in 1675.
Metacom’s followers and allies launched a united assault on colonial towns throughout the region. His forces gained some victories in the first year, but then the Indian alliance began to unravel.
By the end of the conflict, the Wampanoags and their Narragansett allies were almost completely destroyed. Metacom fled to his ancestral home at Mt. Hope, where he was finally killed by the colonial militia.
The war was the single greatest calamity to occur in seventeenth-century Puritan New England and is considered by many to be the deadliest war in the history of European settlement in North America in proportion to the population.
In the space of little more than a year, 12 of the region’s towns were destroyed and many more were damaged, the economy of Plymouth and Rhode Island Colonies was all but ruined and their population was decimated, losing one-tenth of all men available for military service.
More than half of New England’s towns were attacked by Indians.
King Philip’s War began the development of an independent American identity. The New England colonists faced their enemies without support from any outside government or military, and this gave them a group identity separate and distinct from Britain.
American Indians around Cape Cod
The Pilgrims who arrived on the Mayflower and founded Plymouth Plantation expended great effort forging friendship and peace with the Indians around Cape Cod.
They traveled long distances to make peace with Massasoit, chief of the Wampanoag tribe, and Governor William Bradford made a gift of his prized red horse coat upon seeing that the chief admired it.
Yet over the next 50 years, frictions and misunderstandings multiplied as wave after wave of Puritans and non-religious fortune-seekers kept arriving, often oblivious to the fragile peace carefully woven since the earliest arrivals.
By 1675, the early efforts at friendship began to fail.
King Philip’s War joined a list of uprisings and conflicts between various Indian tribes and the French, Dutch, and English colonial settlements of what would later become Canada, New York, and New England.
These include the Powhatan wars of 1610–14, 1622–32, and 1644–46 in Virginia, the Pequot War of 1637 in Connecticut, the Dutch-Indian war of 1643 along the Hudson River, and the Iroquois Beaver Wars of 1650.
Plymouth Colony was established in 1620 with significant early help from local Indians, particularly Squanto and Massasoit.
Subsequent colonists founded Salem, Boston, and many small towns around Massachusetts Bay between 1628 and 1640, during a time of increased English immigration, as well as towns such as Windsor, Connecticut (est. 1633), Newbury, Massachusetts (est. 1635), Hartford, Connecticut (est. 1636), Springfield, Massachusetts (est. 1636), Northampton, Massachusetts (est. 1654), and Providence, Rhode Island (est. 1636).
The colonists progressively expanded throughout the territories of the several Algonquian speaking tribes in the region. Prior to King Philip’s War, tensions fluctuated between Indian tribes and the colonists, but relations were generally peaceful.
Rhode Island, Plymouth, Massachusetts Bay, Connecticut, and New Haven colonies
The Rhode Island, Plymouth, Massachusetts Bay, Connecticut, and New Haven colonies each developed separate relations with the Wampanoags, Nipmucks, Narragansetts, Mohegans, Pequots, and other tribes of New England, whose territories historically had differing boundaries.
Many of the neighboring tribes had been traditional competitors and enemies.
As the colonial population increased, the New Englanders expanded their settlements along the region’s coastal plain and up the Connecticut River valley. By 1675, they had established a few small towns in the interior between Boston and the Connecticut River settlements.
The Wampanoag tribe under Metacomet’s leadership had entered into an agreement with the Plymouth Colony and believed that they could rely on the colony for protection.
However, in the decades preceding the war, it became clear to them that the treaty did not mean that the Colonists were not allowed to settle in new territories.
Throughout the Northeast, the Indians had suffered severe population losses as a result of pandemics of smallpox, spotted fever, typhoid, and measles, starting in about 1618, two years before the first colony at Plymouth had been settled.
Metacomet became sachem of the Pokanoket and Grand Sachem of the Wampanoag Confederacy
The Plymouth colonists had passed laws making it illegal to have commerce with the Wampanoags. They learned that Wamsutta had sold a parcel of land to Roger Williams, so Governor Josiah Winslow had Wamsutta arrested, even though Wampanoags who lived outside of colonist jurisdiction were not accountable to Plymouth Colony laws.
Metacomet began negotiating with the other Algonquian tribes against the Plymouth Colony soon after the death of his father and his brother.
Colonial Population of New England
The population of New England colonists totaled about 80,000 people. They lived in 110 towns, of which 64 were in the Massachusetts Bay colony, which then included the southwestern portion of the present state of Maine.
The towns had about 16,000 men of military age who were almost all part of the militia, as universal training was prevalent in all colonial New England towns.
Many towns had built strong garrison houses for defense, and others had stockades enclosing most of the houses. All of these were strengthened as the war progressed.
Some poorly populated towns without enough men to defend them were abandoned.
Each town had local militias, based on all eligible men, who had to supply their own arms. Only those who were too old, too young, disabled, or clergy were excused from military service.
The militias were usually only minimally trained and initially did relatively poorly against the warring Indians, until more effective training and tactics could be devised.
Joint forces of militia volunteers and volunteer Indian allies were found to be the most effective. The officers were usually elected by popular vote of the militia members.
Native American Population in New England
The Indian allies of the colonists numbered about 1,000 from the Mohegans and Praying Indians, with about 200 warriors.
By 1676, the regional Indian population had decreased to about 10,000 (exact numbers are unknown), largely because of epidemics.
These included about 4,000 Narragansetts of western Rhode Island and eastern Connecticut, 2,400 Nipmucks of central and western Massachusetts, and 2,400 combined in the Massachusett and Pawtucket tribes living around Massachusetts Bay and extending northwest to Maine.
The Wampanoags and Pokanokets of Plymouth and eastern Rhode Island are thought to have numbered fewer than 1,000. About one in four were considered to be warriors.
By then, the Indians had almost universally adopted steel knives, tomahawks, and flintlock muskets as their weapons of choice.
The various tribes had no common government. They had distinct cultures and often warred among themselves, although they all spoke related languages from the Algonquian family.
The Metacomet and Sassamon trials
John Sassamon was an Indian convert to Christianity, commonly referred to as a “praying Indian.” He played a key role as a cultural mediator, negotiating with both colonists and Indians while belonging to neither party.
He was an early graduate of Harvard College and served as a translator and adviser to Metacomet. He reported to the governor of Plymouth Colony that Metacomet planned to gather allies for Indian attacks on widely dispersed colonial settlements.
Metacomet was brought before a public court, where court officials admitted that they had no proof, but warned that they would confiscate Wampanoag land and guns if they had any further reports that he was conspiring to start a war.
Not long after, Sassamon’s body was found in the ice-covered Assawompset Pond. There was some dispute at the time as to whether his death was the result of accident or murder.
Plymouth Colony officials arrested three Wampanoags on the testimony of an Indian witness, including one of Metacomet’s counselors, and a jury that included six Indian elders convicted the men of Sassamon’s murder. They were executed by hanging on June 8, 1675 at Plymouth.
Southern theater, 1675
Raid on Swansea
A band of Pokanoket attacked several isolated homesteads in the small Plymouth colony settlement of Swansea on June 20, 1675. They laid siege to the town, then destroyed it five days later and killed several more people.
On June 27, 1675 a full eclipse of the moon occurred in the New England area. Various tribes in New England looked at it as a good omen for attacking the colonists.
Officials from the Plymouth and Massachusetts Bay colonies responded quickly to the attacks on Swansea; on June 28, they sent a punitive military expedition that destroyed the Wampanoag town at Mount Hope (modern Bristol, Rhode Island).
The war quickly spread, and soon involved the Podunk and Nipmuck tribes. During the summer of 1675, the Indians attacked at Middleborough and Dartmouth (July 8), Mendon (July 14), Brookfield (August 2), and Lancaster (August 9). In early September, they attacked Deerfield, Hadley, and Northfield.
Siege of Brookfield
Wheeler’s Surprise and the ensuing Siege of Brookfield were fought in August 1675 between Nipmuc Indians under Muttawmp and the colonists of Massachusetts Bay under the command of Thomas Wheelerand Captain Edward Hutchinson.
The battle consisted of an initial ambush on August 2, 1675 by the Nipmucs against Wheeler’s unsuspecting party. Eight men from Wheeler’s company died during the ambush: Zechariah Phillips of Boston, Timothy Farlow of Billerica, Edward Coleborn of Chelmsford, Samuel Smedly of Concord, Shadrach Hapgood of Sudbury, Sergeant Eyres, Sergeant Prichard, and Corporal Coy of Brookfield.
Following the ambush was an attack on Brookfield, Massachusetts, and the consequent besieging of the remains of the colonial force.
The Nipmuc forces harried the settlers for two days, until they were driven off by a newly arrived force of colonial soldiers under the command of Major Simon Willard.
The siege took place at Ayers’ Garrison in West Brookfield, but the location of the initial ambush was a subject of extensive controversy among historians in the late nineteenth century.
The New England Confederation, comprised the Massachusetts Bay Colony, Plymouth Colony, New Haven Colony, and Connecticut Colony, declared war on the Indians on September 9, 1675.
The Colony of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations tried to remain neutral, but much of the war was fought on Rhode Island soil; Providence and Warwick suffered extensive damage from the Indians.
The next colonial expedition was to recover crops from abandoned fields along the Connecticut River for the coming winter and included almost 100 farmers and militia, plus teamsters to drive the wagons.
Battle of Bloody Brook
The Battle of Bloody Brook was fought on September 12, 1675 between militia from the Massachusetts Bay Colony and a band of Indians led by Nipmuc sachem Muttawmp.
The Indians ambushed colonists escorting a train of wagons carrying the harvest from Deerfield to Hadley. They killed at least 40 militia men and 17 teamsters out of a company that included 79 militia.
Attack on Springfield
The Indians next attacked Springfield, Massachusetts on October 5, 1675, the Connecticut River’s largest settlement at the time. They burned to the ground nearly all of Springfield’s buildings, including the town’s grist mill.
Most of the Springfielders who escaped unharmed took cover at the house of Miles Morgan, a resident who had constructed one of the settlement’s few fortified blockhouses.
An Indian servant who worked for Morgan managed to escape and alerted the Massachusetts Bay troops under the command of Major Samuel Appleton, who broke through to Springfield and drove off the attackers.
Morgan’s sons were famous Indian fighters in the territory. His son Peletiah was killed by Indians in 1675. Springfielders later honored Miles Morgan with a large statue in Court Square.
The Great Swamp Fight
On November 2, Plymouth Colony governor Josiah Winslow led a combined force of colonial militia against the Narragansett tribe. The Narragansetts had not been directly involved in the war, but they had sheltered many of the Wampanoag fighters, women, and children.
Some of their warriors had participated in several Indian attacks. The colonists distrusted the tribe and did not understand the various alliances.
As the colonial forces went through Rhode Island, they found and burned several Indian towns which had been abandoned by the Narragansetts, who had retreated to a massive fort in a frozen swamp.
The cold weather in December froze the swamp so that it was relatively easy to traverse. The colonial force found the Narragansett fort on December 19, 1675 near present-day South Kingstown, Rhode Island.
They attacked in a combined force of Plymouth, Massachusetts, and Connecticut militia numbering about 1,000 men, including about 150 Pequots and Mohican Indian allies.
The fierce battle that followed is known as the Great Swamp Fight. It is believed that the militia killed about 600 Narragansetts. They burned the fort occupying over 5 acres (20,000 m2) of land and destroyed most of the tribe’s winter stores.
Most of the Narragansett warriors escaped into the frozen swamp. The colonists lost many of their officers in this assault; about 70 of their men were killed and nearly 150 more wounded.
The rest of the colonial assembled forces returned to their homes, lacking supplies for an extended campaign. The nearby towns in Rhode Island provided care for the wounded until they could return to their homes.
In December 1675, Metacomet established a winter camp in Schaghticoke, New York. His reason for moving into New York has been attributed to a desire to enlist Mohawk aid in the conflict.
Though New York was a non-belligerent, Governor Edmund Andros was nonetheless concerned at the arrival of the Wampanoag sachem.
Either with Andros’ sanction, or of their own accord, the Mohawk – traditional rivals of the Algonquian people – launched a surprise assault against a 500-warrior band under Metacomet’s command the following February.
This resulted in the death of between 70 to as many as 460 of the Wampanoag.
His forces crippled, Metacomet withdrew to New England, pursued relentlessly by Mohawk forces who attacked Algonquian settlements and ambushed their supply parties.
Over the next several months, fear of Mohawk attack led some Wampanoag to surrender to the colonists, and one historian described the decision of the Mohawk to engage Metacomet’s forces as “the blow that lost the war for Philip”.
The Indian campaign
Indians attacked and destroyed more settlements throughout the winter of 1675–76 in their effort to annihilate the colonists. Attacks were made at Andover, Bridgewater, Chelmsford, Groton, Lancaster, Marlborough, Medfield, Medford, Portland, Providence, Rehoboth, Scituate, Seekonk, Simsbury, Sudbury, Suffield, Warwick, Weymouth, and Wrentham, including modern-day Norfolk and Plainville.
Southern theater, 1676
The Lancaster raid in February 1676 was an Indian attack on the community of Lancaster, Massachusetts. Philip led a force of 1,500 Wampanoag, Nipmuc, and Narragansett Indians in a dawn attack on the isolated village, which then included all or part of the neighboring modern communities of Bolton and Clinton.
They attacked five fortified houses. The house of the Rev. Joseph Rowlandson was set on fire, and most of its occupants were slaughtered—more than 30 people.
Rowlandson’s wife Mary was taken prisoner, and afterward wrote a best-selling captivity narrative of her experiences. Many of the community’s other houses were destroyed before the Indians retreated northward.
The famous account written and published by Mary Rowlandson after the war gives a colonial captive’s perspective on the conflict.
Plymouth Plantation Campaign
The spring of 1676 marked the high point for the combined tribes when they attacked Plymouth Plantation on March 12. The town withstood the assault, but the Indians had demonstrated their ability to penetrate deep into colonial territory.
They attacked three more settlements; Longmeadow (near Springfield), Marlborough, and Simsbury were attacked two weeks later. They killed Captain Pierce and a company of Massachusetts soldiers between Pawtucket and the Blackstone’s settlement.
Several colonial men were tortured and buried at Nine Men’s Misery in Cumberland as part of the Indians’ ritual torture of enemies. They also burned the settlement of Providence to the ground on March 29.
At the same time, a small band of Indians infiltrated and burned part of Springfield while the militia was away.
The settlements within the modern-day state of Rhode Island became a literal island colony for a time as the settlements at Providence and Warwick were sacked and burned, and the residents were driven to Newport and Portsmouth on Rhode Island.
The Connecticut River towns had thousands of acres of cultivated crop land known as the bread basket of New England, but they had to limit their plantings and work in large armed groups for self-protection.
Towns such as Springfield, Hatfield, Hadley, and Northampton, Massachusetts fortified themselves, reinforced their militias, and held their ground, though attacked several times.
The small towns of Northfield, Deerfield, and several others were abandoned as the surviving settlers retreated to the larger towns. The towns of the Connecticut colony were largely unharmed in the war, although more than 100 Connecticut militia died in their support of the other colonies.
Attack on Sudbury
The Attack on Sudbury was fought in Sudbury, Massachusetts on April 21, 1676. The town was surprised by Indian raiders at dawn, but security precautions limited the damage to unoccupied homesteads.
Reinforcements that arrived from nearby towns were drawn into ambushes by the Indians; Captain Samuel Wadsworth lost his life and half of a 60-man militia in such an ambush.
Afterwards, Indians made their way through much of Sudbury, but they were held off by John Grout and a handful of men until colonial reinforcements arrived to help in the defense.
Battle of Turner’s Falls
On May 18, 1676, Captain William Turner of the Massachusetts Militia and a group of about 150 militia volunteers (mostly minimally trained farmers) attacked an Indian fishing camp at Peskeopscut on the Connecticut River, now called Turners Falls, Massachusetts.
The colonists killed 100–200 Indians in retaliation for earlier Indian attacks against Deerfield and other settlements and for the colonial losses in the Battle of Bloody Brook. Turner and nearly 40 of the militia were killed during the return from the falls.
The colonists defeated an attack at Hadley on June 12, 1676 with the help of their Mohegan allies, scattering most of the Indian survivors into New Hampshire and farther north.
Later that month, a force of 250 Indians was routed near Marlborough, Massachusetts. Combined forces of colonial volunteers and their Indian allies continued to attack, kill, capture, or disperse bands of Narragansetts, Nipmucs, and Wampanoags as they tried to plant crops or return to their traditional locations.
The colonists granted amnesty to those who surrendered or who were captured and showed that they had not participated in the conflict. Captives who had participated in attacks on the many settlements were hanged, enslaved, or put to indentured servitude, depending upon the colony involved.
Battle of Mount Hope
Metacomet’s allies began to desert him. By early July, over 400 had surrendered to the colonists, and Metacomet took refuge in the Assowamset Swamp below Providence, close to where the war had started.
The colonists formed raiding parties of militia and Indians. They were allowed to keep the possessions of warring Indians and received a bounty on all captives.
Metacomet was killed by one of these teams when he was tracked down by Captain Benjamin Church and Captain Josiah Standish of the Plymouth Colony militia at Mount Hope in Bristol, Rhode Island. He was shot and killed by an Indian named John Alderman on August 12, 1676.
Metacomet’s corpse was beheaded, then drawn and quartered, a traditional treatment of criminals in this era. His head was displayed in Plymouth for a generation.
On August 28, 1676, Captain Benjamin Church and his group of colonial soldiers captured Anawan, the war chief of the Pocasset people at the site of Anawan Rock in Rehoboth, Massachusetts.
He was an old man at the time, and a chief captain of Metacomet. The capture of Anawan marked the final event in King Philip’s War as he was also beheaded.
French interests in what is now Maine originated in the fur trade and the sale of fish, both to France. The French colonies in early colonial North America were primarily interested in trade and not in creating large cities.
Instead, the French preferred to convert the Indian population to Catholicism or to limit contact just to trade. As English presence increased on the southern coast of Maine, the French Jesuits paid many of the area’s tribes for the scalps of Protestant or English settlers, especially the Abenaki.
The Jesuits in charge of co-ordinating with the tribes were located in a small mission town near Norridgewock, Maine led by Jesuit Father Sébastien Rale.
Two other mission towns were established, one based around what is now Castine (established by Baron de St. Castin) and one on the St. Francis River between present-day New Brunswick and Maine.
The more permanent English settlers emigrated from the colony of Massachusetts Bay, most of them Puritans who were unhappy with the reforms going on at the time.
Constant friction over many issues became the reason for many Abenaki raids in southern Maine, specifically over the issue of fishing rights for cod. Up until 1675, however, fighting had been limited to minor skirmishes that were more about the destruction of supplies than murder.
What is thought to have been the first action in Maine came when a 25-man militia gathered at Falmouth in 1675 and sailed to an Indian village, thought to be a part of the Abenaki, with a single sloop and towing shallops.
The Indians drove them off and took the shallops from them. Later that month, the tribe crossed the Saco River in the captured shallops and attacked the settlement of Winter Harbor.
Little damage was caused, and similar raids were conducted on Wells and Falmouth later that year.
The ultimate cause leading to war was the ruling by the Massachusetts General Court in 1676 making it illegal to sell firearms, powder, or rounds to the area’s tribes.
New England tribes had grown dependent on the musket for hunting, and the English colonists’ remaining Indian allies switched to the French side. The French encouraged the Indians to raid the English settlements, due to the tension in Europe at the time.
Much of the northern fighting was centered around raids meant to destroy property and infrastructure rather than to outright kill. The lack of population on both sides meant that large battles were out of the question initially.
For the majority of the war, ship combat mostly involved muskets, and the infantry would rely more on melee fighting than guns. Later in the war, reinforcements from southern New England introduced modern and well equipped ships and infantry, turning the tide permanently.
This was also the first time that Colonial Rangers were used, acting as guides and scouts for the main party of militia. Much of the fighting was also conducted on the coast in small boats and ships.
Richard Waldron and Charles Frost led the English colonial forces in the northern region, while Jean-Vincent d’Abbadie de Saint-Castin instructed the tribal chiefs in the Wabanaki Confederacy.
Three major campaigns (one each year) were launched by the Indians in 1675, 1676, and 1677, most of which led to a massive colonial response. Waldron sent forces so far north that he attacked the Mi’kmaq in Acadia.
Throughout the campaigns, a Wabanaki leader named Mugg Hegone repeatedly attacked towns such as Black Point (Scarborough), Wells, and Damariscove, building an Indian navy out of the approximately 40 sloops and a dozen 30-ton ships previously armed by militia.
Many of Maine’s towns were burned, and most of the population left. Maine’s fishing industry was completely destroyed by the Wabanaki flotilla. Records from Salem, Maine reported 20 ketches stolen and destroyed in one raid.
Mugg Hegone was eventually killed on his third raid on Black Point (Scarborough). With their leader gone, most of the Indian flotilla broke up and was hunted down by New York privateers and Royal Navy vessels.
Colonial responses to raids generally failed in both their objectives and accomplishments. Few Indians were lost, and only two French Jesuits were reported killed. The colonists were much more successful in the later campaigns when they had the advantage in artillery.
Their most successful ventures were a surprise attack near Dover, New Hampshire, in which over 150 Indians were captured, and the defense of Pemaquid, Maine from the Indian flotilla.
One of the most notorious raids was in August 1679 when Indians attacked a settlement at the Sheepscot River near Merrymeeting Bay in Maine. Sir William Phips rescued local settlers by bringing them on board his vessel, abandoning his cargo of lumber.
He was financially ruined when the Indians destroyed the shipyard and his intended cargo, although he was recognized as a hero in Boston.
By the end of the war, the Northern Campaigns saw approximately 400 settlers die, Maine’s fishing economy gone, and the Indians maintaining power in eastern and northern Maine. There is not an accurate account of the number of Indians who died, but it is thought to be around 100–300.
The official fighting ended in the northern theater with the Treaty of Casco (1678). Skirmishes continued until Father Rale’s War, after which the French left Maine.
After the War
Southern New England
The war in southern New England largely ended with Metacomet’s death. More than 1,000 colonists and 3,000 Indians had died. More than half of all New England villages had been attacked by Indian warriors, and many were completely destroyed.
Several Indians were enslaved and transported to Bermuda, including Metacomet’s son, and numerous Bermudians today claim ancestry from the Indian exiles.
Members of the sachem’s extended family were placed among colonists in Rhode Island and eastern Connecticut. Other survivors joined western and northern tribes and refugee communities as captives or tribal members. Some of the Indian refugees returned to southern New England.
The Narragansetts, Wampanoags, Podunks, Nipmucks, and several smaller bands were virtually eliminated as organized bands, and even the Mohegans were greatly weakened.
Sir Edmund Andros had been appointed governor of New York in 1674 by the Duke of York, who claimed that his authority extended as far north as Maine’s northern boundary. Andros negotiated a treaty with some of the northern Indian bands in Maine on April 12, 1678.
Metacomet’s Pennacook allies had made a separate peace with the colonists as the result of early battles that are sometimes identified as part of King Philip’s War. Indian families were granted one peck of corn annually as compensation for lost lands.
The tribe nevertheless lost members and eventually its identity as the result of the ensuing war.
For a time, King Philip’s War seriously damaged the prospects of most second- and third-generation colonists in New England. But they repaired all the damage, replaced their losses, rebuilt the destroyed towns, and continued to establish new towns within a few years.
The colonists’ successful defense of New England with their own resources brought them to the attention of the British royal government. Before King Philip’s War, the colonies had been generally ignored, thought to be uninteresting and poor English outposts.
The English authorities soon tried to exploit the colonies and their resources for their own gain—beginning with the revocation of the charter of Massachusetts Bay in 1684 (enforced in 1686).
An Anglican church was established in Boston in 1686, ending the Puritan monopoly on religion in Massachusetts.
Connecticut hid their charter inside the cavity of an oak tree in late 1687 when Andros tried to revoke it and take over the militia.
In 1690, Plymouth’s charter was not renewed; its residents were forced into the jurisdiction of Massachusetts. The Colony of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations maintained its charter.
The Massachusetts General Court, the principal elected legislative and judicial body in Massachusetts, was brought under nominal British government control, but all its members except the Royal Governor and a few of his deputies continued to be elected in the various towns, as they had been for 40 years.
The highest levels of government were nominally under British government control, but elected local and representative legislative and judicial bodies continued under control of the colonists.
Only land-owning males could vote for most officials, but their suffrage was both wider and more universal than in nearly all other countries at that time.
New Englanders continued to live in self-governing and mostly self-sufficient towns where they attended the Puritan Congregational churches that they had already established by 1690.
The chief exception to this was Rhode Island, where there was a much wider diversity of faith, including Baptist, Puritan, Quaker, and Jewish congregations.
Plymouth Colony lost close to eight percent of its adult male population and a smaller percentage of women and children to Indian warfare or other causes associated with the war.
Indian losses were much greater, with about 2,000 men killed or who died of injuries in the war, more than 3,000 dying of sickness or starvation, and another 1,000 Indians sold into slavery and transported to other areas, such as the British-controlled islands in the Caribbean.
About 2,000 Indians escaped to other tribes to the north or west; they joined continued Indian attacks from those bases well into the next century. Historians estimate that, as a result of King Philip’s War, the Indian population of southern New England was reduced by about 40 to 80 percent.
The war escalated from a local conflict to involve most of southern New England and reached to other east coast areas as well. The war killed nearly as high a percentage of the Indian population as the plagues of 1616–19.
It is estimated that the Indians of New England made up almost 30 percent of the total regional population, but the Indian population had dropped to less than 15 percent by 1680, five years after the war began.
The settlers incurred an enormous tax burden to pay for the war, which held back the economy of the entire region for many years.
Northern New England
In northern New England, conflict continued for decades in Maine, New Hampshire, and northern Massachusetts.
The five Indian tribes in the region of Acadia created the Wabanaki Confederacy to form a political and military alliance with New France.
There were six wars over the next 74 years between New France and New England, along with their respective Indian allies, starting with King William’s War in 1689.
The conflict in northern New England was largely over the border between New England and Acadia, which New France defined as the Kennebec River in southern Maine.
Many colonists from northeastern Maine and Massachusetts temporarily relocated to larger towns in Massachusetts and New Hampshire to avoid Wabanaki Indian raids.