Item of the Day: A Compendious History of New England (1809)
Full Title: A Compendious History of New England Designed for Schools and Private Families by Jedidiah Morse, D.D. and Elijah Parish, D.D. Second Edition, with Improvements by the Authors. Published at Newburyport, by Thomas & Whipple Sold Wholesale and Retail at their Book-store No. 2 State Street, 1809.
Comet; Philip's War; life and character of captain Church.
The people of New England were surprised by the appearance of a comet, from the 17th of November, 1664, til the 4th of February following. They deemed it ominous (as they afterward did the Aurora Borealis,) of some calamity, which was shortly to befall them.
In the year 1675, a war with the Indians, by the name of Philip's war, broke out, which endangered the existence of the colony. Some doubted whether the Indians would not succeed in the total extirpation of the English. This distressing war lasted more than a year.
This was the first hostile attack from the natives, which had been really alarming to the country. In 1637, the troops of Massachusetts and Connecticut had destroyed the Pequots. In 1643, there were some disturbances with the Narragansets, but matters were settled without shedding blood. In 1646, a plot was formed by Sequasson a sachem near new Haven, to assassinate the magistrates of that colony; but he effected nothing. In 1647, there were some transient difficulties with the Narragansets and Mohegans. The next year, the Narragansets hired the Mohawks to assist them against the Mohegans, but were detected. The following year, some persons were murdered by the Indians at New Haven and Long Island.
In the year 1653, the public mind was agitated, a general panic seized the country, from an apprehension that there was a conspiracy of the Indians through the country to cut off the English. These rumors and terrors of the day appeared, afterward, to have had no just foundation.
In 1657, Alexander, the son of Massasoit, invited the Narragansets to join with him in revolting from the English; general Winslow went with only ten men, and brought him to Plymouth, where, though he was treated very civilly, his vexation and madness threw him into a fever, of which he died. His brother Philip succeeded him, and renewed his covenant with the English in 1662; yet, in 1671, he commenced hostilities against the English, but was soon subdued, and promised never to begin war again, before he had made complaint himself to Plymouth colony. Exception these slight difficulties, for almost forty years the English had enjoyed peace with the Indians.
In 1675, John Sausaman, an Indian whom the English had employed as a missionary to instruct his brethren, informed the governor of Plymouth, that Philip, with several other tribes, was plotting the destruction of the English. Soon after this, Sausaman was found murdered; three Indians were arrested, tried, convicted, and hung for the murder. Philip, now more offended, sent away his women, armed his men, and robbed several houses in the vicinity of his own dwelling. June 24, 1675, the colony observed as a day of humiliation and prayer. As the people of Swanzey were returning from public worship, the Indians, lying in ambush, fired a volley, killed one man and wounded another. Two men, who went for a surgeon, were shot, and at the same time, in another part of the town, six other persons were killed. Immediately, a company of horse and foot, marched from Boston, and another company of foot from Plymouth, and arrived the 28th near Philip's seat; twelve men the same evening reconnoitred his camp, were fired upon, one was killed, and one wounded; the next morning a resolute assault was made, when the savages fled, leaving their camp and their country to the conquerors.
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The enemy soon burnt 32 houses in Springfield. The general court, then sitting in Boston, appointed a committee, who, with the ministers of the vicinity, might suggest what were the sins, which brought these heavy judgments, and what laws could be enacted for the prevention of those sins. Their report was received October 19, and measures were taken to carry the design into effect. The same day, at Hatfield, the new England troops obtained a decisive victory over the enemy. Seven or eight hundred of them assaulted the town, but were repulsed in such a vigorous manner, that they fled in every direction; numbers of them were drowned in attempting to cross the river; others reached the Narraganset country before they rested. The English, on this important day, lost but one man. Those in Narraganset retired to a small piece of dry land, in a great swamp seven miles west of the south ferry that goes over to Newport.
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This was a most distressing time in new England. The war had been raging almost a year; the towns all over the country had been in a constant state of alarm and terror; the enemy appearing in different and distant places at the same moment. The season of planting was at hand; to neglect this service would produce a famine; to call home their troops would be only to invite the enemy to destroy them. Parties must be sent out, garrisons must be manned; the labors of the field must be performed. In this crisis a spirit of prayer was remarkably conspicuous through country. Fervent supplications were offered by the churches of New England.
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Never has New England seen so dismal a period as the war with Philip. About 600 men, the flower of her strength, had fallen in battle, or been murdered by the natives. A great part of the inhabitants were in mourning. There were few families, who had not lost some near relative. In Massachusetts, Plymouth, and Rhode Island, twelve or thirteen towns had been utterly destroyed, and others greatly damaged. About 600 buildings, chiefly dwelling houses, had been burned; a large debt had been contracted, and bast quantities of goods, cattle and other property had been destroyed. About every eleventh family had been burned out, and an eleventh part of the militia through New England had been slain in the war. So costly is the inheritance we have received from our valiant forefathers. The land we sow has been stained with their blood.