Great Swamp Fight

Great Swamp Fight

The Great Swamp Fight was a crucial battle fought during King Philip's War between the combined colonial militia in New England and the Narragansett tribe.

On November 2 1675, Josiah Winslow led a combined force of over 1000 colonial militia including about 150 Pequot and Mohegan Indians against the Narragansett tribe living around Narragansett Bay. Most of the Narragansett tribe had not yet been directly involved in the war, but they had sheltered many of King Phillip's men, women and children and several of their warriors had reportedly been seen in several Indian raiding parties. The whole tribe was not trusted by the colonists. Several abandoned Narragansett Indian villages were found and burned as the militia marched through the cold winter around Narragansett Bay. The tribe had retreated to a large fort in the center of a swamp near Kingston, Rhode Island.

Led by an Indian guide, on December 16, 1675 on a bitterly cold storm-filled day, the main Narragansett fort near modern South Kingstown, Rhode Island was found and attacked by the colonial militia from Plymouth Colony, Connecticut Colony and Massachusetts Bay Colony. The massive fort occupying about five acres of land and was initially occupied by over a thousand Indians was eventually over run after a fierce fight. The Indian fort was burned, its inhabitants killed or evicted and most of the tribe's winter stores destroyed. It's believed that about 300 Indians were killed (exact figures are unknown) in the fighting. Many of the warriors and their families escaped into the frozen swamp. Facing a winter with little food and shelter, the whole surviving Narragansett tribe was forced out of quasi-neutrality some had tried to maintain in the on going war and joined the fight alongside Philip. The colonists lost many of their officers in this assault and about 70 of their men were killed and nearly 150 more wounded. The dead and wounded colonial militia men were evacuated to the settlements on Aquidneck Island in Narragansett Bay where they were buried or cared for by many of the Rhode Island colonists until they could return to their homes.

The Great Swamp Fight was a critical blow to the Narragansett tribe from which they never fully recovered. [ "Flintlock and Tomahawk--New England in King Philip's War" by Douglas Edward Leach, New York: MacMillan, 1958, pg. 130-132 , ] In April 1676 the Narragansett were completely defeated and their chief, Canonchet, was killed.

Notable Officers

*Josiah Winslow
*Captain James Avery


External links

* [ Great Swamp Fight memorial]
* [ Anglo-Narragansett Relations in the 17th century]

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