King Philip's War: conflict between Native Americans and English colonists in the New England region during 1675-1676.

A general distrust between the colonists and natives caused King Philip's War. The colonists were rapidly encroaching the Wampanoag and other Native’s lands. Governor William Bradford died in 1657 and Massasoit, leader of the Wampanoag, died in 1660. The personal bonds, which had helped to create a working peace, were gone and tensions grew. The two cultures had vastly difference concepts of land use and different ways of life. The colonists’ livestock continually trampled the Native cornfields. Technically the colonists were legally responsible for this damage, although those laws were not really enforced, especially in remote rural areas like Rehoboth and Taunton. Competition for planting land and hunting and fishing areas also caused a conflict between the two groups. After the fur trade collapsed, many Natives supported themselves by selling their land. Plymouth wanted exclusive purchasing rights from the Wampanoag.

In 1662, the Wampanoag leader Wamsutta was summoned by the Plymouth Court. Major Josiah Winslow and a small force captured Wamsutta. Soon after questioning, Wamsutta became gravely ill and died. The Wampanoag were outraged at his death. Metacom (called Philip by the Colonists), Wamsutta’s brother, succeeded Wamsutta.

There was a skirmish at Swansea. War broke out between Natives and Colonists all the way from New Hampshire to Connecticut. Most Christian Natives remained neutral or sided with the English. The English, however, did not really trust these converted Natives and many of them were put into internment camps. Some Native communities on Cape Cod and the Islands did not participate in the war. Native soldiers fighting on the side of the Colonists eventually helped turn the tide of the war, which ended in 1676 when a Wampanoag fighting with Captain Benjamin Church killed Metacom.

Percentage wise, King Philip’s War was one of the most deadly wars ever fought in the history of America. Over 20% of each side’s forces were killed. It took many years for Plymouth and the other colonies to recover from the damage to property and the human losses. The war also devastated the Native population of New England. Hundreds of Natives who fought alongside Metacom were sold into slavery abroad. Many Native women and children were forced to become servants of the Colonists. Much of the culture of the Wampanoag and other local Natives was destroyed.