The great war of Seventeenth Century New England, King Philip’s War raged from 1675-1678 with the New England colonists, now numbering about 80,000, and their Mohican and Pequot allies confronting the Wampanoag, Nipmuck, Podunk, Narragansett and Nashaway tribes. The war was savage on both sides, with quarter rarely given.
The conflict began due to the suspicions of the New England colonists that Metacomet, named by them King Philip, Grand Sachem of the Wampanoag Confederacy, was attempting to rally the Indian tribes of New England into a great alliance for war against the whites. John Sassamon, a Christian Indian, graduate of Harvard and an advisor to Metacomet, informed the Governor of Plymouth colony of this plan. Metacomet was brought to trial in Plymouth. Lacking evidence the court merely warned him that further rumors of plots by him could lead to severe consequences for the Wampanoag.
Soon after Sassamon was murdered by some of King Philip’s warriors. Three Wampanoag’s were arrested for the murder, tried by a jury which included six Indian elders, and executed on June 8, 1675. The war began immediately thereafter and spread quickly until it engulfed all of New England. The New England Confederation, consisting of Plymouth, Massachusetts Bay, New Haven and Connecticut colonies formally declared war on September 9, 1675. Initially the colony of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations attempted to stay neutral, but they were drawn into the conflict eventually on the side of the New England Confederation, as the Indian tribes in New England would all eventually participate in the war. The time of neutrality had passed.