King Philip’s War 1675–1676
In the interim between Thomas Walley’s friendly letter above and the somber proclamation introducing this section, dramatic events moved the colony and Philip’s (Metacomet’s) Wampanoags to the point of open warfare. And again, the unusual absence of Cotton correspondence dating from this pivotal period is maddening, for Cotton was undoubtedly privy to, and instrumental in, some of the critical decisions made by the Plymouth government.
While Cotton had been settling into his Plymouth pulpit, relations between the English of Plymouth Colony and the non-Christian Wampanoag under Philip had worsened. Fearful of rumors that linked the sachem to other Native groups plotting armed resistance, Plymouth authorities had forced a humiliating submission from Philip in 1671. In January 1675, the body of a Christian Indian named John Sassamon was discovered under the ice of Assowampsett Pond, in modern-day Lakeville. Only days before, Sassamon had reportedly informed Gov. Josiah Winslow of an impending attack by Philip’s men. An examination of the body seemed to indicate foul play, and later a Native witness came forward to identify three other Natives as the murderers, at least one of whom had close ties to Philip. For their trial in Plymouth on 1 June, the court established a six-man panel of Natives to advise and (ultimately) concur with the all-English jury’s guilty verdict. The Native men on the panel were almost certainly Christian converts; three of them appear by name in Cotton’s missionary journal. When the court needed “some of the most indifferentest, gravest, and sage Indians” for the job, they undoubtedly turned to Cotton for his recommendations.190 Tw o of the convicted were hanged on 8 June; the third, who received a temporary reprieve, was shot a month later. Soon after, fighting broke out in the western part of the colony, and historians generally credit the controversy surrounding the trial and subsequent executions with inciting the outbreak of King Philip’s War.
Nowhere is Cotton’s role in an inter-colonial network of correspondence more evident than in the letters that follow; the contacts he had made through his ministry now served him well. As the letters clearly show, the rapid flow of events in a war that quickly went seriously wrong for the English left them anxious about loved ones, desperate for news, and searching for explanations for shocking setbacks. Detailed reports of the English disaster at bloody brook near Deerfield reached Cotton in eleven days, reports of the indecisive Great Swamp Fight in nearby Rhode Island, much sooner. The letters below demonstrate a critical element of the process of information sharing in late-seventeenth-century New England: replication. Cotton actively solicited news from colleagues and acquaintances, then transcribed portions of letters, or even letters in their entirety, for transmission. Plymouth’s pastor and his correspondents refer to many letters that have not survived and others that, for whatever reason, did not reach their destinations.
From Flintlock and Tomahawk: New England in King Philip’s War by Douglas Edward Leach. Copyright © 1958 and renewed 1986 by Douglas Edward Leach. Used by permission of W. W. Norton & Company, Inc.
Little more than a month into the war, Cotton and his friends in the ministry were arguing the origins of the conflict. Cotton seems to have been firmly in the camp of providentialists who considered the bloodshed and destruction to be divine judgement for New England’s sins. Cotton complained that the colonists placed “too much confidence in an arm of flesh” and not enough in the arm of the Lord. He viewed the costly English raid at the Great Swamp, which some considered a victory, as “God’s frowne upon the Army,” perhaps in part because of his obvious anxiety for his friend, William Bradford Jr., who was seriously wounded in the engagement. As the war became increasingly nasty, with the summary execution & enslavement of Native prisoners a growing response to vicious raids, Cotton seems to have shared some of Thomas Walley’s disgust at the “severity shewed towards the Squaws that are sent away,” though at the end of the war he would take a part in one of the victors’ more infamous deliberations.
Cotton’s letters show that he did more than merely pass on news during this period. As English communities were destroyed, their people left homeless and families shattered, Cotton was busy with relief efforts to assist the hundreds of refugees who fled the beleaguered western towns. Always mindful of the causes of the war as he construed them, Cotton was also instrumental in introducing the novel practice of renewing church covenants to refresh the faith of church members and encourage new membership. And as is always the case in these letters, Cotton revealed his own family’s concerns.
22 June 1675
Open hostilities between English colonists and Wampanoags loyal to Philip broke out on 20 June 1675, when some of the latter’s young men looted and burned abandoned houses in Swansea. On the 23d, the day after this proclamation was issued, an English youth reportedly shot and killed a Native, and Philip’s followers retaliated the next day, killing or mortally wounding nearly a dozen English men.191
To <MR Co> The Elders Of The [Churches Of] Plymouth
The Councell of this Colony taking into the[ir ser]ious Consideration the awfull hand of God upon us in permitting the heathen to carry it with great in[solenc]y & rage against us, appearing in their great hostile preparations & also some outragious carriages as at all other times soe in spetiall the last Lords day to some of our neighbours at Swanzey to the apparent hazard if not the reall losse of the lives of some already, doe therefore Judge it a solemne duty incumbent upon us all to lay to heart this dispensation of God, & doe therefore commend it to all the Churches, ministers & people of this colony to set apart the 24th day of this instant June, which is the 5th day of this weeke wherein to humble our soules before the Lord for all those sins whereby wee have provoked our good God soe sadly to interrupt our peace & Comforts, & also humbly to seeke his face & favour in the gratious continuance of our peace & priviledges, & that the Lord would be intreated to goe forth with our forces & blesse, succeed & prosper them, delivering them from the hands of his & our enemies, subduing the heathen before them & returning them all in safety to their families & relations againe, & that God would prepare all hearts humbly to submit to his good pleasure concerning u[s & o]urs.
by order of the Councell of w[ar]
Nathaniel Morton Secretary
Plym: June 22 1675
Cotton Family Papers 6:24, Prince Library, Rare Books and Manuscripts, Boston Public Library. The text of the proclamation is in Cotton’s hand, but the salutation, closing and authorizing signature are that of Secretary Morton. Apparently the Council asked Cotton to write the announcement of this emergency day of humiliation, with Morton adding the rest later.
21 July 1675
After the fighting at Swansea, a combined force of Plymouth, Massachusetts, and Native soldiers sealed off the Mount Hope peninsula upon which Philip’s people lived, hoping to contain the conflict. By the time the colonial army made its sweep down the peninsula, however (June 30), the sachem and his followers had withdrawn by boats to Pocasset (modern-day Tiverton, Rhode island), on the eastern shore of Narragansett Bay. The English were then forced to redeploy and hunt for their enemy in the difficult terrain around the Pocasset Swamp.
After my best respects psented to yr selfe & mrs Cotton this is to Certify of my health (blessed be god) though I may say wonderfully pserved by Especiall providence, we ralled forth from roade iland the last weeke with our one192 peopell on the maine as far as Cokset193 & att or returne we found the track of the Enimi we follow it to a great Swampe Entered it but they oute rane us, onli fond194 thire habitations wch we burned and tow old men whome we dispaced.195 tow dayes after we marched agane and found them hid in an hidious Swame,196 we Entred had a hard dispute wth them they shot on all sides att us, we followed home to them beate them of thire place, fired thire wigwams Slew aboute seven of them, they wounded foure of ours and one of our owne men lost by accidentall providence by one of our owne peopell, here we found thire lugage gote divers pots & kitles of thires, then we returned to mount hope to refresh our selfs met wth the bay forces come from Naraganset, then to-gether the last munday197 marched up into the Cuntry, after halfe a days march met wth the Enimi, who Charged upon our Forlorne,198 kiled tow of ours we followed on and in a great Swampe199 we found thire body we Entred in, the bay forces first, Emi200 seing it, betooke them selfs to trees & thickets fired thicke upon us we drafe201 them from thire first station, but sudine the hand of god seemed to be against us we had many slaine and wounded, fife slaine and six wounded & some of them i feare mortall & of these most were Capt Mosles202 men & tow of Capt hinchmans203 men So we retreated to the water side wth or wounded men we toke an old indian in the Swame, who tolds us that Philipe & the Squa Shachem were both thire wth thire men.
Sir this is the Substance of things that hath happenned and what the lord calls us furder to do we are weighting upon hime, desiring to lay or selfs low before hime who will exalt us in his due time, i am a fraid we [. . . .]ow much in or owne strenght, thirefore [is?] th[. . . .]d of providence upon us, we are now gowing to make another garison on pocasset Side towards Roade Iland to keepe the Enmi from thire Corne & the water side wch Capt hinchman hath undertaken, we & the Bay have written home for furder advice, for we are at a stand, the good lord direct us, all our plimoth men are well. I pray remember me to all my frinds Especalli to my deare deare wife & Childen, to home i shall not have now time to write
pase by my speling for i write in great hast
yor sarvant & loving frind
from hount [mount] hope
21 Juli 75
Addressed “For the Revent mr John Cotton att Plimoth Deliver Theses.” Printed, with photographic facsimile, in A Letter from Major William Bradford to the Reverend John Cotton: Written at Mount Hope on July 21, 1675, and containing an Account of the Operations leading up to an unsuccessful Attempt to Capture Metacom alias King Philip the Wampanoag Chieftain (Providence, R.I., 1914). The facsimile shows a tear in the top of the second page obscuring words on the top two lines. The original letter, reported in 1914 to be at the John Carter Brown Library at Rhode Island Brown University, is currently unaccounted for.
25 July 1675
The next few letters from Thomas Walley indicate the impact of the adverse military situation on at least some of the clergy and other settlers of Plymouth Colony, as they struggled to interpret the divine significance of the war’s events.
July 25. 1675.
Reverend Sir And My Dear Ffriend
we are here much engaged to you for yor Love and paines I feare we shall never make due recompense but I have bin forced to put the Lord to reward many of my friends and I trust he will reward yor Love at present I can only returne you hearty thankes. It is a sad and dark Day I feare it may be long, but in the Evening time it will be light and or deliverance may Come when we lest think of it. who is able to give an account of the sin or sins god is now dealing with us for I may say as Jer: 9. 12.204 a discovery of it that might Convince all men were of more worth then the treasures of India if I knew what it were I hope I should doe my duty a Quaker told me it was for my saying in my sermon they were blasphemers and Idolators and for the psecution they have had from us205 but I judg we may as well feare it is or suffering in the publik exercise of theyr false worship which for ought I know is suffered only in this Colloney what ever or reformation is the high places remaine a[nd?] yet the hand of god hath fallen upon us We find in scripture that when there hath bin some publik judgment, there hath bin some peculier work for the magistrate to doe the Lord discover his will I hope they would be ready to doe theyr duty theyr zeale if for god might be a spetiall meanes to turne away gods anger. we have great Cause to be humbled under this mighty hand of god if it should Continue till we Could agree in or humiliations and for a reformation I feare it would last long and Cost deare—there is nothing but mercie Can save us and help us it will be well if the judgment be removed and Gods anger at once otherwise the worst will Come at last we may now Guess why god hath taken away soe many of or worthies of late206 sure it was from the Evill to Come and to make way for this scourge yet I hope there is a remnant left to stand in the Gap who Can prevaile wth god.
Sir I pray you put a Candid Construction upon these hasty lines and give me yor opinion of them I am willing to be Corrected in my judgment—and I allsoe desire you will Continue our intelligencor for we are allwayes longing for yor letters. let us Continue to pray for each other I am
yors in or Deare Lord
Cotton Family Papers 6:25, Prince Library, Rare Books and Manuscripts, Boston Public Library. Addressed “ffor the Reverend and my much esteemed ffriend mr John Cotten Pastour of the Church of christ at Plimoth these dd.” Endorsed “From Mr Walley July, 26: 1675:.”
2 August 1675
Reverend Sir and my dear ffriend
I must still renew my thanks for yor Continued labor of Love god I trust will reward yor kindness to me and preserve us in this Evill day I hope god is bringing down or enemies I have not doubted of theyr fall but they may be brought to ruin and the anger of god not turned away. as to the Causes of gods displeasure with us I know my owne weakness to be such that I dare not adventure to expose my thoughts to publik <view> sensure. though new England hath many sins to be humbled for and to reforme yet I feare gods Controversy with us is for breach of Covt with him there are two sects Eminently guilty those that have pfessed religion and Apostatized have rejected ye Lord and his wayes wch many are totally guilty of and many others that Continue with the churches have Lost theyr zeale for truth and plead for Baal are indulgent to any thing that is against the truth many of the pfane are more orthodox then som pfessors of religion it grieves me to say soe
the other sort that violate the lords Covt are the rising generation that know not the god of theyr fathers but Carry proudly and harken not to the word of the lord and in the best sort of pfessors the love of the world prevailes and they give the world to much Cause to be jealouse of their sincearity which is a greate stumbling block Covetuousness is a mother sin (if I mistake not) among pfessors of religion
we ministers as we have or many sins to be humbled for soe I feare this is one we have bin unwilling to displease some of our Church members and have not bin soe faithfull to god and them as we ought to have bin
as for or honoured magistrates and deputies though I have a high esteeme of them and honor them & obey them yet I feare yet I feare [sic] the old zeale for truth is decayed and truth is not such a jewel as it hath bin the Lord give them one heart and make them valiant for the truth
I am not for Cruelty yet I judg there should at least be a restraint of all publik false worship and the walls of Jerusalem should be built though the times are troublesome for many will think this is not a [season?] to reforme but I feare the displeasure of god more than the displeasure of men for [illeg.] I could trust god with the event.
when you goe to Boston I pray you remember my love to yor relations I am greatly in debt to yor Brother Mather I present my thankes to him for his usefull and seasonable labors and for his love to us wch I Cannot requite and I pray you visit my relations and remember my love to them and give them the letter inclosed. Sir I have many letters to write to the Army we have divers that savour of godliness and theyr letters are Comfortable let us Continue to pray for each other I am in haste but am
yor humbly loving ffriend and Brother in the work of or Lord
Aug: 2. 1675.
I pray you present my hearty love to mr Hull207 to whom I am much engaged
Cotton Family Papers 6:26, Prince Library, Rare Books and Manuscripts, Boston Public Library. Addressed “ffor the Reverend and my much esteemed ffriend mr John Cotten Pastour of the Church of christ in plimoth these present.” Endorsed “From Mr Walley August, 2: 1675:.”
[20 September 1675]
Reverend And Worthy Sir
I have this week received two letters from you208 for wch I returne thanks and see we have still Cause to acknowledg the goodnese of god to a poor sinfull Land if god would reforme us we should have peace and health restored—you have sent to me for my notes upon Jam: 5: 14:209 and truly I am ashamed to send them to you for they are as all that I doe is very imperfect and this being a limited subject there being scarsly any paralel scriptures there is little more in it than a Collection of what others have don my Commen[tators] speak allmost the same thing and all most in the same words I have not time to mend it if I could I pray you Cover my weakness and send my notes againe by mr Hinkly or some other as soon as you Can. as for my Journey to Boston it is spoiled god hath sent me a wife home to me and saves [me] the Labor of a tediouse Journey the Last day of the Last week I Came to a resolve to stay at home and not to look after a wife till the spring the next morning I heard mrs Clark of the Iland was Come to our Towne who had bin motioned by some of my friends the providence of god hath soe ordered it that we are agreed to become one. I have had waighty reasons in [my?] owne opinion moving me to it I desire you will pray that the blessing of god may be with us shee is one of or members and I judg hath escaped the polutions of the place where shee Lives and of wch shee is a weary.210 I pray you present my service to or honoured Governor I give him humble thanks for his Kind invitation and to you for all yor Love with my hearty Love to yor selfe and good mrs Cotton Committing you to the Lord I [illeg.]
yors in or Deare Lord
A Hand Letter I had by [Mr Clark?]
we are like to marry next week pray for us but we invite few excuse mee
Curwen Family Papers, American Antiquarian Society. Addressed “ye Revd & my Truly Loving Friend mr John Cotton Plimouth.” Endorsed “From Mr Walley. 7br 20 Receivd.” Several small holes along right margin and bottom edge.
23 September 1675
By the late summer and fall of 1675, the war had spread far beyond the borders of Plymouth Colony. After burning several towns in the western part of Plymouth, Philip and his followers headed north and west into central Massachusetts. Other Native groups, nursing old grudges against the English and probably inspired by the actions of Philip’s people, began attacking Massachusetts settlements in the Connecticut Valley and on today’s Maine coast.
Boston Sep: 23: 1675:
[Re]verend & Honoured Sir
Mr Hinckley hath written to you soe that I need not write of many things occurring before I came hither. on Sep: 12: the Sabbath, Capt Appleton211 at Dearefeild deserted one of the 3 garrison-houses to goe to meeting at one of the other, only left one man there; in the time of worship the Indians asaulted that house, burnt it, the man in it not heard of since; Capt Appleton did with his Company come upon the backside of the Indians & drave them away. Capt Lathrop212 with about 46 men went to Dearefeild with Carts to fetch away their thresht Corne, wheat etc. In their returne with Carts & people they were set upon by the Indians, Capt Lathrop slaine & all his men, only two, 18 men of Dearefeild slaine also, the Indians cut the bags of wheate in pieces & the beds; Capt Mosley came up to the fight, 2 of his men slaine & 11 wounded, the Indians said to him, come Mosely, come, you seeke Indians, you want Indians, here’s Indians enough for you, Mosely fought them from 11 a clock till the Evening, he had with him about 70 men, he Judged the Enemy were about 1000, Mosely did retreat[.] Major Treat213 with about 100 souldiers & Monheagin Indians214 came up to the fight [&] drave away the Indians, the Monheags did very good [ser] vice & are much commended for it, on the last sabbath [t]hey did bury our dead: About Quaboag215 noe Indians have bin seene these many weekes, only 1 old man was espied among corne, they pursued him, he ran, they overtooke him, he would confesse nothing, they laid him downe, Cornelius, the [D]utch man216 lifting up his sword to cut off his head, the Indian [lif]t up his hand betweene, soe his hand was first cut off [& par]tly his head, the second blow finished the Execution: yesterday newes from the Easterne parts217 that 4 or 5 [. . .] beseiged with the Enemy who were about 500, the townes are Castine[,] Saco, Scarborough, & (I think) Wells, they are in expectation [. . . .] cutt off by the Enemy every houre, & those places are soe [. . . .] that it is very probable they will be destroyed: The I[ndian] Prisoners here are first indicted by the Grand-inquest,218 the [. . . .] Petty-Jury, one is found guilty of Confederacy with the Ene[my] [. . . .] supposed the verdict will this day be the same for all the [. . . .] yesterday one litle John who was accused for shooting [. . .] Stoughton at Taunton,219 was hanged here. noe newes yet [. . . .] Last night here was an Alarm through all this towne & p[. . . .] Country, all the Cause as yet knowne is, that some of Mald[en] [. . .] late discharged a gun: yours are well here. My dearest [. . . .] feverish, I intreat your prayers for her & me & all ours [. . . .] through mercy, is very well. Due Salutations, etc
I am, Sir, yours unfainedly
Cotton Family Papers 6:27, Prince Library, Rare Books and Manuscripts, Boston Public Library. Mutilated on left margin; some words on reverse of letter lost or obscure.
23 September 1675
Stratford Sept: 23. 1675
& sister, yours of ye 26th of August221 I lately received, wrby wee were certified of ye health & welfare of yor selves & yours, wch newes though alwaies welcome, yet had now a double welcome considering what dangers have lately been neer you by ye Indians. my self, wife & children are through ye mercy of god all in good health, & do send hearty salutations according to capacity, to you both, & all yors. I have spoken wth bro: Rossiter222 since my receipt of yours, concerning what you proposed, but he did not apprehend it safe to betrust ye writings of such concernmt wth a person so related, as yt if ye mony be detained from us, may be likely to injoy it himself: he being likewise wholly a stranger to all of us; he yrfore rather inclines to send by some other person. But if in ye mean time Governor Leverit223 will so far gratify you, as to bestow a few lines, in way of perswasion to or aunt, not to detain from ye fatherless, wt she hath over & over under hand acknowledged to be yr due, it may possibly save further trouble both to her, & us. We think long to hear how god hath dealt with sister, in her lying in, wch by yor letter we conclud to be either past, or now present224 I hope you will take ye first opportunity to inform us. I cannot at ye present inlarge, but with hearty Salutations to all friends with you yt shall inquire after us, to desire yor prayers for us, & remain
yor ever Loving brother
Curwen Family Papers, American Antiquarian Society. Addressed “For ye reverent Mr John Cotton, pastor of ye church of christ at Plimouth These deliver.” Endorsed “From Mr Zecha Walker [illeg] 1675.”
18 November 1675
Reverend Sir And My Deare Ffriend
I still returne the poor pay of thanks for yor continued Labor of love which hath bin a great refreshing to mee and others. I am glad it hath pleased god to returne you and yors in safty to yor owne habitation in which place I wish you much of the presence of god. as to the news Concerning or honoured Govr going forth to war225 in regard of his fraile body and our need of him at home I am troubled yet who knows but god will make him a saviour to this poor distressed land set aside his weakness and our need of him I Know noe man fitter for this great servis we must doe what we can to keep him alive and in health by our prayers if god Call him forth his Call will be his warrant. If our enemies be not subdued we shall have noe need of magistrates in a little time we have now need of such [souldiers as] god will bless. I much lament that rash Cruelty of our English toward Innocent Indians.226 I have never heard what those 64 things are that are agreed upon227 for information the good Lord carry [several words illeg.] sir at present I am not very [several words illeg.] messenger is in hast my hearty lo[ve] [illeg.] good mrs Cotten and to all yors [illeg.] prayers for each other that we may have hearts sutable to the times and or worke I am
yors in or deare Lord Jesus
Nov 18 1675
Curwen Family Papers, American Antiquarian Society. Addressed “ffor the Reverend and my much esteemed ffriend Mr John Cotten Pastour of the Church of Christ at Plimouth these dd.” Endorsed “Mr Walley [nove] mber, 18: 1675.” Large stain in lower right quarter.
16 December 1675
Colonial leaders became convinced that the Narragansetts of southwestern Rhode Island were giving aid and comfort to Philip’s people; they grew increasingly fearful these Natives would openly join the Wampanoag leader, throwing their substantial human, material, and strategic resources against the English. There was, and is, no direct evidence that the Narragansetts seriously considered this second possibility, but in the late autumn/early winter of 1675, the English commanders decided to mount a major show of force that turned into a pre-emptive attack on the Narragansett homeland. An inter-colonial force of more than a thousand men made its way to certain rendezvous points, one of which was the Plymouth Colony town of Rehoboth, on Rhode Island’s border. The army’s destination was the little settlement of Wickford, on the western shore of Narragansett Bay.
Rehob: Decembr 16:75
Reverend & Dear Sir:
Hearing of some that were intending towards yor parts I called to mind your faithfull & brotherly remembrance of me at Boston from whence I had the fullest & surest intelligence of the Northern war, which being now Come weest, by my present situation I consider my selfe to have ye oppertunity though not the ability of a retaliation. Decemb. 10 All the forces of mass: & Plim: arived wth us & Billeted amongst us yt night only Capt. Prentice228 & the most of his troope being wth us the night before past over to Providence. Some of Prov: coming over that night brought intelligence of some few wigwams neer them wch might be conveniently surprized that night by a pty sent over or otherwise they escaping would give intelligence to the rest of ye Armies approach. upon wch the Gen ordered Capt. Johnson229 wth as many of his men as he could muster up that night to passe over & possesse himself of the sayd wigwams accordingly he went but ye Indians were escaped a considerable time before as appeared by the snow yt was faln since. Decemb: 11 The army past over from us to Prov: at the Narrow passage upon a raft made of Cannows & bands over them I tooke my leave of the Hond Gen: His chaplins &c only Capt Mosely & his company were to passe over in sloopes to Nar:230 Decemb: 12 The army quartered about Pautuccksett:231 They had intelligence that Pumham232 & his crew were upon Pautuccksett river233 by wch means they addressed thems. to surprize him upon the sabba: day at night but he was gone In their passage thence to Nar: they discovered 30 Indians an howr or 2 before day, & finding them a sleep tooke them wthout the losse of a man. they are reported to be the enemys scout to give them intelligence of the English army—who have given our Eng an account of the place where ye ememy is & their designes upon wch our army tooke their march to mr. Smiths234 & found all well saved from. the enemy wch they were affraid of woud have been consumed by fire before they came this intelligence Mr Ame gave to mr Browne. & mr Browne sent to me, I have as yet no thing of certainty concerning or Coneticot forces, Thus far our God hath been pleased to appear for us, we are eagerly waiting to hear wt god hath further to do wth us, what we may next hear he only knows, my hearts desire is if God hath a blessing for us it may be given us in such a way as no flesh may glory in it selfe but all glory may be given to God thus wth dearest respects from my selfe & wife to yor. s: & yors craving the constant helpe & benefit of yor. prayers I rest
yor. Assured friend Noah Newman
Decembr. 17 A post came from Narrag: through our Towne wth serverall Letters from the army, The news above mentioned about the 30 Indians is not so punctuall as before related. The Late & fmr intelligence you have in ye enclosed as it came by Letter, only the bearer doth credibly informe us that Jere Bulls235 is burnt 22 psons or thereabouts killd & serverall houses of petequamscut fired, which he was an eye witnes too Just before he left the army, The vessell expelled from Boston was not arived and various reports about Coneticote forces
Pray Enquire of Jonathan Barnes236 for a horse that was left wth him by one of yarmouth yt is now in ye army I forget ye mans name but I thincke I mistake not ye place of his living. The horse is a bay horse an ambler wth a halter gall behind his ear & upon his goale. a Roxbury R upon his shoulder he belongs to mr Lamb of Roxbury that marryed mrs Mary alkocke.237 the horse being formerly her fathers, he was unjustly carryed away from these [pts?] & if you Can by any means recover him & send him to ye owner you will do a kindnes to therein to yor friend
Curwen Family Papers, American Antiquarian Society. Addressed “To the Reverend His Dear Freind mr John Cotton Pastor to the church of christ in Plimouth these.” Endorsed “From Mr Newman December, 16: 1675.”
31 December 1675
From Wickford, the colonial army set out to find and destroy the fortified Narragansett village deep in the Great Swamp, in what is now Kingston, Rhode Island. In the “Great Swamp Fight” that ensued on 19 December, the Natives were driven from the village while sustaining great losses and the village was destroyed; however, the English also suffered heavy casualties in the assault, and many subsequently died of mortal wounds. Although badly hurt by the English raid, the Narragansett threat had not been extinguished; in fact, the colonists’ actions transformed the formerly neutral survivors into committed enemies.
Taunton Dec. 31. 75.
Reverend & Dear Sr
This Letter from my Brother Newman238 hath Lyen at my house for a passage ever since Saturday was sevenight: Jam. Hoskins Came since tis true but Called not for it, yet knew a weeke before of my desier to send. I suppose he had forgotten it. we sent a man to R. Island this weeke that we might be informed of the Armye & of or owne men in perticular a list of the slain and wounded I have sent to you & [request?] request you having perused it to thrust it into the Letter I have sent to father Walley. since the ingagemt 19 instant, or Army visited Pumhams Quarters found noe Indians burnt 60 wigwams & returned. It is reported our Generall hath sent a Letter by a skawe239 taken Captive, to the Sachems the Answer we yet hear not. Capt Bradforthe is wounded240 as we formerly heard, but we hope not Mortally. I heard from him [illeg] Night his wound as I heer is in the back, a little under one shoulder, the shaft not got out, but the Surgeon hopes his recovorye I have sent a line or two to his wife & desire yor Care for the Conveyance of it because I know not her Name to distinguish it. My Brother Newman went on tuesday to R Island to visit the wounded I have not heard from him since. one of our men is slain 3 wounded but not mortallye viz Serjt witherell, James bell, Joseph white241 of particulars I have noe more not having yet spoken with the man yt Came. If he bring any information of yours, I will inform it to morrow. It Appears though the Enemie have received Considerable damage yet his power is not yet broken. the Lords hand is yet against us we are not prepared for mercye, pray pray, pray My hearty Salutations to yorselfe & Mirs Cotton farwell Sr
yo r Assured freind
This Letter had come on Saturday but yt the weather hindered
Curwen Family Papers, American Antiquarian Society. Addressed “To ye Reverend his verye good freind Mr John Cotton Pastor of the Ch. of Christ in N. Plimouth these prsent.” Endorsed “[From Mr Shove] December, 31: 1675:” Stain across center fold.
3 January 1676
Plimouth January, 3: 1675:
I desire you to blesse God with me for healing mercy to me & mine: Mr Holmes died, Dec: 24:242 The poore people are desolate, I have many serious thoughts what the meaning of the Providence of God is in his death, I meane espetially as to the season of it; he being one of those who imp[ute] these dreadfull frownes of providence to our dealing [with] the Quakers, & the late publick Fast Dec: 2:243 (which was h[is last] publick worke), except the sabbath after) he said in his sermon he was of the same minde as to that matter as formerly, but he heard not of Gods frowne upon the Army, Jan: 19:244 the newes coming to us but the same houre he dyed: I wish I could heare you prophesy good to this land, I should then beleve these wars may have an end, the Lord fit us for his good pleasure; if wee loose Capt Bradford, wee loose a great part of our glory, & I most of my comfort as to man I beseech you pray earnestly for his life if it be not too late. My selfe & wife salute you & our sister & Cousen Cotton, desiring your prayers for us, I rest,
your Affectionate Brother
many persons & families are here still sick, & deaths renewed.
Mather Papers 2:21, Prince Library, Rare Books and Manuscripts, Boston Public Library. Addressed “These For the Reverend, his Deare Brother, Mr Increase Mather, Teacher of a Church of Christ at Boston.” Endorsed “Br J. C. Jan. 3. 1675/6.”
8 January 1676
Plimouth January, 8: 1675:
In Sat[urd]ay’s hast. I cannot [. . .] transcribe for you Mr Hinckleys letter to the Treasure[r]245 Capt Bradford in a hopeful way to d[o]e well through Gods great mercy, (a sentence I love to write) I know not yet who of ours are slaine or wounded. our forces have had some action since the fort fight: viz, assaulted Pumhams towne,246 burnt 150 wigwams, tooke some corne, but the Indians fled: our Troop was sent to discover whether the Indians remained at the [. . . .] because of your [. . . .] hardly think I shall [. . . .] after the sabbath; many sick at [. . . .] G: Da[ ]ett is dead, old G: [. . . .] his [. . . .] have their wives setled wi[. . . .] men Indians left at Mattake[. . . .] likely to dye) all of us salute you, God [. . . .] soe prayes your Lov[. . . .]
very few of our wounded men [. . .] there will hardly be time [. . . .] the frost, our Southerne force[. . . .] of Sep: 14: or 15: Let God order it [. . . .]
I am, Sir [. . . .] your Bro: by him
Cotton Family Papers 7:1, Prince Library, Rare Books and Manuscripts, Boston Public Library. Letter badly mutilated across middle; lower right-hand portion missing. No signature survives, but the handwriting is that of Cotton.
10 January 1676
Rehoboth. Jan. 10. 75
Reverend & Dear Sir
I last night received yors247 having wth some impatiency waited for an oppertunity to hear from you or send to you; when I tooke my Journey to the Island to visit the wounded wch I heard was come thither I was presented with an oppertunity of going to Narragansett: wch I tooke hold of tho. where I found the Gen: well: & cheerful wth the rest of his attendance: when I was there this enclosed was presented me by a Plimouth man unto wch I [. . . .] refer you for particular intelligence. Att that time they were [. . .] for the return of a Sqaw whom they brought wth them from the fight & [. . .] children: she was sent leaving her children behind to get some understanding of the enemys losse. I am informed she is not returned [the?] reason I know not, since that there hath been an Eng: Scout sent out which broght in 2 Indians, who Informe that the Indians lost 300 of their cheife fighting men in the ingagemt. besides women & childr: & old men. When the English were upon their march towards them all the sachems were together to veiw the fortification then making. but the alarum being given all wthdrew to another place but aquanapin.248 who was shot through his thigh: The body of Indians are drawne off from the ground they fought upon about 6 miles not further from but wide of ye head Quarters of the English. the Indians tell them there are 16 Engl: bodyes amongst the slain of the Indians, most the Indians Dwellings were burnt they render there Condition to be full of streights, & desire of parlying wth the Engl: If with safty. upon wch one of the says Indians was sent to [acquaint?] the sachems wth the Engl: their acceptance of a treaty provided they would come such a time viz Janr 1. wch proving stormy the sachims could not come & after durst not come till they had further order from the English. whereupon [illeg.] that time was prefixt, since wch I hear nothing; a post past by the Last week in wch Mr Dudly was but called not here, the sume of what I here relate I hrd from one that met them upon the rode. more strength went up the Last weeke from the Massachusetts. under the Command of Capt. Brocklebank of Rowley. Capt. Sill of Cambridge. Capt. Wadsworth of Milton.249 Some of their men was tutcht wth the frost by the extreamity of the season & are left behinde at warentum,250 & 2 here, others were very hearty & cheerfull & marcht from us Jan: 8.—I suppose the Number of men lost the last fight will amount to about 70. besides such as any wounded some of whose lives may yet be in suspence. I heard the Last weeke Capt. Sealy251 was dead. I Looke every day & hour for certaine intelligence of things both at ye Iland & Narrag: by some gone from us to visit them. There is of late some losse by fire at Narragan: but I heare it so variously reported, I dare say no thing till I have better information—when I was wth Capt Bradford he was very cheerfull & hopefull, yet much affected wth Mr. Holms his death wch I first brought him the intelligence off; I had the rumor of that mortallity that was in yr parts but not ye distinct account till I received yours. The Lrd humble us under his mighty hand & Sanctifye to us that cup he is causing to passe round amongst us—I desire to blesse God wth you for his mercy to yor family To whom the Lord Continue the same, through the mercy of our God my famiy is in health, & to use an usuell saying of my mother now in heaven The Lord still holds a Course of kindness wth this poore plantation, Not one person being slaine & but one considerably wounded who is in a hopefull way of recovery. oh that we could answer the tender mercy of our God in thankfullnes & fruitfullnes. wherin helpe is wth yor prayers. Thus wth my Loving respects to yor s: yor second selfe & all yors. my wife Saluting you all, wth desier of mutall prayers. I rest
yor Assured freind
Remember my Loving respects to Goodwife Followay6 if living & others inquiring after us.
Curwen Family Papers, American Antiquarian Society. Addressed “To the Reverend His Dear freind Mr John Cotton Pastor to the church of christ in Plimmouth these.” Endorsed “From Mr Newm[an] January, 10: 167.” Small hole in top center.
14 January 1676
This rich and detailed “letter from the front” was apparently compiled from a journal or orderly book. Cotton’s transcription, which immediately follows Oliver’s letter, is much easier to read, as Cotton largely corrected Oliver’s phonetic spellings and added some punctuation and capitalization. For this reason, we do not annotate every dubious word or phase in this letter, but if the reader employs a literal pronunciation of Oliver’s spelling, the meaning likely will become clear.
Narowgansett 14: 11. 1675
[A]nd loving frind yours Cam to hand yesterday in answer to it to ad to what you hav heard I well know not after a tegous253 march in a biter Cold nigt that folowd the sabath 12 10m.254 we hoped our pilot would have led us to pumham by break of day but how it Cam to pass we wer mis led and so mist a good opertunity 13 day 10m we Cam to mr smith, and that day took. 35 prs255 14 of that mo our generall256 went out with hors and foot I with my Company was left to keep garis257 I sent out 30 of my men to scout ab[road] who kiled 2 Indans and brought 4 prisoners on of which was beheaded that Eving our army Cam hom at night kild 7 and brought in 9 more yong and old 15 instant 10m december Cam in john a roug258 with a pretence of peac and was dismist with the arant259 that we might speake with sachems that Eving and was not gon ¼ of an hour befor his Company that lay hid behind a hil kild 2 salem men within a mile of our quarter and wounded a 3rd that [. . . .] and at a hous [. . . .] [ther?] I had 10 men tha kiled 2 of them [illeg.] man [illeg.] instantly Captain mously my selfe and [. . .] gardener of salem260 we wer sent to fetch [in] <Captain> major apltons Company that kept [. . .] mils ½ of and Coming back tha lay behind a ston wal and fired on us in sight of the garison we kild a Captain that kild the sale[m] men and had his Cap on that night tha burnt jery bul’s hous and kild ther 17 yong and old 16 instant 10mo Cam that news 17: instant Cam news that Conetycot forcis wer at petyswamscut kild 4 indans, and took 6 prisoners that day we sold Captain Davenport261 47 indyan yong and old for 80 in mony 18 d we marched to petyswamscut with al our for[ces] only a garison left that night proved a snowy night we lay a thousand in the open fei[ld] that long night covring our [selves] with hay in the moring 19 being Lords day we marched [at?] 5 a Clock in the morning between 12 and 1 we Cam up with the Enymy and had a sore fight f[or] 3 hours we lost that are dead now about 68 and had 150 wounded many of which ar[e] recoverd we [illeg.] that long snowy Cold night [we] had about 18 mils to our Qarter with 210 dead and wounded we lost 8 ded behind the fort we had but 12 dead when we [Cam] from the [swamp] beside the 8 we lost many dyed by the way and as soon as tha wer brought in so that we buryed that [illeg.] being 20 d in on grave 34 and next day 4 and next day 2 next day 2 and non sinc her dyed at road Iland an att petyswamscut 2 lost in the woods and kiled 20 day as we heard sinc som say 2 mor dyed 5 of this number was kiled befor as I have written 19 d by the best intelygenc we have we kild 300 fighting men that 19 day a prisoner that we tooke last 6th day saith 3 [illeg.] and abov 300 weomen and Children we burnt abov 500 houses of ther then al that was ther but 9 with all their Corne that was in baskets, great stor our signall mer[cy] that night not to be forgot was when we drew of with so many dead and wounded that tha did not persue us which the yong men would hav don but the sachems would not Consent tha had but 10p powder left our generall with about 40 lost our way and wandered al that night and Cam [several words illeg.] til 7 a Clock next morng its thought we we[re] within 2 mils of the Enymy againe but god kept us to him be the glory we have kild now and then on sinc and burnt abov 200 wigwams m[ore]262 [several words illegible] we killed 9 last [6th?] day we fetch in their Corn dayly and that undoes them this is as neer as I [last words on page illegible] I read the narrative to my ofisers in [my?] tent who all asented to the truth of it I am tow long only I am wiling to tell you as mch as I can if oppertunyty present [illeg.] bro dexter saith my bro wilyams son [go on?] well from stoningtown last night Cam [illeg.] master treat [. . . .] hear with 350 horse and foot the 27: instant men of the mohegens nor peaquids tha proved very fals fired into the aire and sent word befor tha Cam that tha would do so but got much plunder guns and ketls we shal persue the Enymy then who are fled a great part of what [illeg.] is written was atested by Joshuah tife263 an inglishmen who larned indyn maryed a indan a wampanog who shot 20 times at us in the swamp he was taken att providence 14 instant brought to us 16 instant and after his Confesyn was hanged drawn and Qartered 18 instant a sad wretch he never hear a sermon he said but on this 14 year [so?] his father going to recal him bak sinc [illeg.] ther lost his head and lys unburyed he said he never heard of the Name of Jesus Christ [a line along left margin illegible] Sir I am yr Lo friend
Cotton Family Papers 7:2, Prince Library, Rare Books and Manuscripts, Boston Public Library. The date of this letter is problematic. While the dateline clearly indicates the 14th of January, Oliver’s narrative refers to events occurring as late as the 18th of that month. This apparently led Prince to assume that the dateline was incorrect, for he dated the letter 26 January (see descriptive note to following letter). It seems most likely that Oliver began his narrative on the 14th but, either lacking conveyance or awaiting further events, did not finish it until after the execution of the unfortunate Tifte. Oliver’s handwriting is awful and made more difficult by the condition of the letter: two of the four pages are badly faded, and all margins are mutilated.
14 January 1676 (Cotton’s Transcription)
After a taedious <night> march in a bitter cold night that followed the sabbath, Dec: 12: wee hoped our Pilot would have led us to Pumham by break of day, but soe it came to passe wee were misled & soe mist a good opportunity: Dec: 13: wee came to Mr Smiths, & that day tooke 35 prisoners. Dec: 14: our Generall went out with horse & foot, I with my company was left to keep Garrison, I sent out 30 of my men to scout abroad who killed 2 Indians & brought in 4 prisoners, one of which was beheaded, our Army came home [. . .] night, killed 7 & brought in 9 more young & old: Dec: 15: ca[me] John a Rogue with a pretence of peace & was dismist with [illeg.] Errand that wee might speake with Sachims, that Evening he not being gone ¼ of an houre, his company that lay hid behind a hill killed 2 Salem men within a mile of our quarters & wounded a 3d that he is dead & at a house 3 miles off where I had 10 men they killed 2 of them; Instantly Capt Mosely, myselfe & Capt Gardner were sent to fetch in Major Appletons company that kept 3 miles & ½ off, & coming they lay behind a stone wall & fired on us in sight of the garrison, wee killed the Capt that killed the Salem men & had his cap; on that night they burnt Jery bulls house & killed 17: Dec: 16: came that news. Dec: 17: came newes that connecticutt forces were at Petaquamscutt, killed 4 Indians & tooke 6 prisoners, that day wee sold Capt Davenport 47 Indians young & old for 80 pd in mony. Dec: 18: wee marched to Pettaquamscott with all our forces only a garrison left, that night was very snowy, wee lay a 1000 in the open field that long night: in the morning Dec: 19: Lords day at 5 a clock wee marched betweene 12 & 1 wee came up with the Enemy & had a sore fight 3 hours, wee lost that are now dead about 68 & had 150 wounded many of which are recovered, that long snowy cold night wee had about 18 miles to our quarters, with above 210 dead & wounded, wee left 8 dead in the fort, wee had but 12 dead when wee came from the swamp besides the 8 wee left, many dyed by the way & as soone as they were brought in, soe that Dec: 20: wee buried in a grave 34 & next day 4 & next day 2, next day 2 & none since here; 8 dyed at R: Island, at Petaquamscut, 2 lost in the woods & killed Dec: 20: as wee heard since some say 2 more dyed, by the best Intelligence wee killed 300 fighting men. A prisoner wee tooke [. . . .]50 & above 300 woemen & children, wee burnt above 500 houses; left but 9, burnt all their corne that was in baskets, great store: our signall mercy that night not to be forgotten, viz, that when wee drew off with soe many dead & wounded they did not pursue us which the young men would have done but the Sachems would not consent, they had but 10 pd of powder left. our Gen: with about 40 lost our way & wandered till 7 a clock morning before wee came to our quarters [. . .] thought wee were within 2 miles of the Enemy againe, [. . .] God kept us, to him be the Glory: wee have killed now & then [. . .] since & burnt above 200 wigwams more: wee killed 9 last [ ]day, wee fetch in their corne daily & that undoes them. [Thi]s is as neere as I can a true relation, I read the Narrative to my offcers in my tent who all assent to the truth of it. Monhegins & Pequots prooved very false, fired into the aire & sent word before they came they would doe soe, but got much plunder, guns & kettles; a great part of what is written was attested by Joshua Tifte, who married an Indian a wampanoog, he shot 20 times at us in the swamp, was taken at Providence Jan: 14: brought to us, 16: executed 18: a sad wretch, he never heard a sermon but once this 14 yeares, he never heard of the name of Jesus Christ, his father going to recall him lost his head & lyes unburied.
Cotton Family Papers 7:3, Prince Library, Rare Books and Manuscripts, Boston Public Library. The text is in Cotton’s hand. Prince’s note: “NB On the Top of ye Other page it was wrote by the Same Hand Thus—Narragenset. 26. 11. 1675.” See descriptive note regarding the date of Oliver’s narrative preceding this letter. Additional note in unknown hand: “N.B.—The above is a copy of the preceeding & is by James Oliver.
4 February 1676
Christian Indians, especially in Massachusetts, were generally treated shamefully, facing harassment, lynchings and displacement by fearful or bigoted colonists. Some, as reported below, offered their services in dangerous assignments in exchange for better treatment for themselves or their families.
Plimouth February, 4: 1675 :
From Mr Hinckley I transcribe, dated Jan: 31:264
James an Indian spy (sent hence with one Job265 thought to be lost) came in last Tuseday, he sayes they met with 7 Indians about wanexit,266 they took them & carried them 20 mile crosse connecticutt path northward of Quebaug where were 3 townes, in all 300 fighting men well armed, they threatned to kill them because they were spyes, English brothers, though they had before told them they lived poorly at Dear Island267 had little wood & soe came away; at last they going to one eyed Johns268 wigwam Sagamore of Nashaway & their capt he told this James he was glad to see him he was his freind & a lusty man, had helpt him to kill Mohauks & charged his gun & said he would kill whomsoever should kill him: some of them said he had killed Philips counsellors at mount hope & Philip had hired some to kill him with some others that helpt the English against him: They told them on inquiry, that they durst not goe to Boston & soe knew not what English were gon to Narroganset; they spake of sending him to Philip, he excused it because he was a lusty man and must first goe out & get some English heads to carry with him before he durst goe to Philip: Job & he pretended to goe out ahunting, killed 3 deare quickly & perceiving they were dogged by some other Indians went over a pond & lay in a swamp till before day & when they had prayed together he run away, Job being desirous if he could to get away his children who were carried away with many others as they were gathering corne (of which wee heard heretofore) & were not knowne whither till now; & he would excuse James his running away because the Indians threatened to kill him; he says they have not much corne but store of beife, pork & venison, they within 20 days after the wednesday before intended to fall upon Marlborough, Lancaster, Groton etc Matoonus269 is one of them, other Nipmug, Quabaug & Nashua Indians: A Narroganset brought to them 1English head they shot at him & said they were the English friends all last summer; afterwards 2 messengers with 12 heads craving their asistance, they then accepted them; A messenger to them also from Philip who is with Hadley Indians within halfe a days Journey of fort Albany (this seems to concurre with New York Governours Intelligence)270 the Mohauks help them with Ammunition from Albany; the Mohauks will not (they say) fight with the English; but will fight the Monhegs (the English brothers) in aid of the Narrogansets: The Narrogansets inform Quabaug Indians that they killed 200 <Indians> English, lost but 40 fighting men, 300 old men, woemen & children in the wigwams burnt: one Pepper of Roxbury271 an Englishman with Quabaug Indians being taken when Capt Beeres was slaine; Philip hath 2 more; Peppers master tells him he shall have Liberty to goe home in the spring; Quabaug Indians promise to send 20 to see how it is with the Narrogansets Haecille scripsit.272 He also told G: Paybody that at a farme 5 miles beyond Sudbury, (the man of the house being at Boston for Ammunition) the Indians came & killed his wife & 7 children & 2 lads killed or lost. from Mr Shove I transcribe not, concluding he hath written as largely to you as to me by Will: Mayo.273 These Mutineers & Runnagado’s filled the spirits of people with base prejudice against the Generall, I dread the consequence of soe wicked a frame: Gods Anger burns agst this poore land, what will become of us? craving your prayer for me & mine,
I rest, Sir, yours
Cotton Family Papers 7:4, Prince Library, Rare Books and Manuscripts, Boston Public Library. Addressed “These For the Reverend his much Honored Freind Mr Thomas Walley Pastour of the Church of Christ, at Barnstable.”
16 February 1676
ffeb 16 1675
Reverend And Deare Sir
the Letters that you have favoured me with have bin a refreshing to me in this Sad time. the world grows old and withered and affords little Comfort. I have great Cause to Complaine of my owne heart I want wisdom patience a humble spirit I feare I am vexed rather then grieved at the frowardness and discontents that are among to many at this day the sins that god afflicts us for we are multiplying and adde to them dayly who shall live when god shall deale with us for our transgressions Can we expect that we shall prospor against our enemies when nothing likes us that god doth we please not god neither Can men please us. we Know not the dutys of an inferior state we shall all seek to raigne till Tirants raigne over us. god will certainly humble this Land gods providences seeme to preserve our enemies to be thornes in our sides this news from Lancaster is exceeding Sad274 and should greatly humble us I long to heare how it fares with the rest of that Towne and what the enemie hath don there from theyr first Comming to it for we have uncertaine reports when you see or honoured Generall I pray you present my servis to him I long to heare of his health and hope the Lord will keep up his spirit under all discouragements—we know noe man in the place he hath sustained that Could have preservd his honor in the servis of this Cuntry better then he hath don his for it is difficult to be in a high place in New England. Sir the Last Lords day it was agreed by the Elders and Brethren of or church to set apart 5th day Come seaven nite wch will be the 24th of this month I pray you faile not to be with us it had bin this week but that we desire yor help—the mercie of god to or place is soe greate that it was a dispute whether it should not be kept as a day of thanksgiving but the pvidences of god being mixed I hope we shall endevour to [ ]e them the Lord fitt us my Love to yor selfe and yors
I am yor truly loving ffriend and Brother
Washburn Papers 14:1, Massachusetts Historical Society. Addressed “ffor the Reverend and my much esteemed ffriend Mr John Cotton Pastour of the church of christ at Plimoth these DD.” Endorsed “From Mr Walley, February, 16: 1675:.”
7 March 1676
order of court for a Fast, dated March, 7: 1674/75 for Plimouth Congregation275
[Thoug]h wee have abundant cause to take notice with Thankfullnesse, of the great kin[dness &] mercy of God vouchsafed to us in soe gratious preserving us & soe many of our townes hitherto [in] the midst of many dangers [f]rom those miseries & desolations which our sins have deserved, & also in saving [the] lives of soe man[y of] our souldiers who were greatly hazarded in the Engagements with the enemy & by the blessing of God gave such a check to them, & espetially in the preservation & gratious returne of our honoured Governour & magistrate notwithstanding all threatening appearances of the contrary, for all which expressions of divine favour let praises waite for our God in Sion. yet considering that the Lords hand is still stretched out against us in the war continued betwixt us & the Heathen, who still continue to doe mischeife in sundry places, even to the consuming of habitations, estates & lives of many, & not knowing how neere wee also may be to such deadly dangers, the Lord also contending with us by deadly sicknesse which hath caused divers families to mourne for their awfull bereavments, Divine Providence also threatning us with scarcity of bread, an usuall effect of war, the Governour & Councill doe therefore seriously commend it to all the Congregations in this Colony, to set apart the 29th of this Instant to be solemnely observed as a day of publick Humiliation, wherein to humble our soules before God for all those evills whereby wee have provoked our good God to write such bitter things against us, & to seeke Attonement & Reconciliation with him through Jesus Christ, & that he would please to worke in every one a true spirit of Reformation in their severall relations, & thereby fit us for the mercy of deliverance out of these afflicting troubles, & that the Lord would guide those his servants, whom it doth not eminently concerne, in a right way for the attainement of soe good an end, & that he would in due time restore our peace succeed our armes blesse the labours of our hands & crowne this yeare with his goodnesse, for his names sake.
Nath: Morton Secretary.
Cotton Family Papers 7:5, Prince Library, Rare Books and Manuscripts, Boston Public Library. This copy is entirely in Cotton’s hand, including Morton’s signature.
14 March 1676
Those Native bands fighting the English were growing desperate: short of food, unable to encamp for very long, and with women and children to care for. Nevertheless, they were still quite capable of taking the offensive. In the early morning hours of 21 February 1676, a Native force estimated at 300 to 400 warriors infiltrated “every part of the town” of Medfield, Massachusetts, set fire to houses and outbuildings, and then shot inhabitants and soldiers as they responded to the alarm. Although the town contained about 200 English soldiers and militia, these were scattered in quarters throughout the community and no effective watch had been set. The result was a stinging and embarassing defeat for the English; about forty houses, nearly half of those in the town, were destroyed, and twenty people were killed or wounded. To add insult to injury, the attackers withdrew across the Charles River toward Sherborn and burned the bridge behind them in the face of the tardy pursuit.276
Rehoboth. March. 14. 16756 [sic]
Reverend & Dear Sir
I received yors277 wch should have come (as you say by Goodman Sabin) returning thanks for your remembrance of me therein, desiring to sympathize wth you in the Continuance of those tryalls you are yet under by the prevailing sicknes. As to yor desire of the Hystory of the medfield tragedy as you well call it, I shall give you the Best account I can, The time of it was febru: the 21 being the 2d day in the morning, It seemes probable that the enemy had Logd himselfe secretly in most of their barns, & waited for the first appearance of day, intending to take persons at their first Looking out at their doores in the morning, wch accordingly they did, some troopers Lodging at Ephr: Wiswalls one was killd being one of the first that was killd in the Towne: viz) [sic] one Jackson of Newtowne. The Indians bounc’t at Goodman Dwights house to provoke him to Looke out & when he did Looke out shot him thorugh the shoulder, who is dead since I was their. At widow fishers the ordinary keeper Joshua Fisher her Grandson going out the doore was shot att. the bullet passing through some flesh about his choller bone grazed upon his throat & Left a scar. he stepping backe & raising the house Leift Henery Adams278 stept but over the threshould, & was shot through the windpipe & fell downe dead. Goodman Bowers & his son was Kild Thomas Mason & his son kild, Sergeant Thomas Thurston Lodging at—Brigdstreet & his wife up in the Towne at Seth Smiths she was stricken dead to the enemys apprhension, & a child Layd at Each hand of her dead as they thought they stript her & tooke of her head cloths, she afterward came to her selfe went into the house got a blanket & run to Mr. Wilsons, Though as he told me a frightfull spectacle they not knowing who she was her hair hanging downe & her face covered wth blood.279—her children had both life in them & one was living when I was there she had another daughter shot through both her thighs another carryed captive Samuel Smiths wife being big wth child & another child in her arms was crossing over an open feild to a Garrison house & was over taken by the enemy & Kild, & her child left alive, found standing by its dead mother where they thought it had stood neer an hour when they found her & it—
The sight of this poore people was very astonishing in the morning, fires being Kindled round about them, the enemy numerous & shouting so as the earth seem’d to tremble, & the cry of the terrifyed persons very dreadful oh what a sudden Calamity was this, & what an emblem of the sudn & dreadfull appearance of the great Judge of the world when he shall Come to render vengeance to the wicked, few when they Lay downe thought of such a dolefull morning.
I doubt280 their was too much Confidence in an arm of flesh If there was the Lord hath Let them see what a poore thing flesh is, The souldiers could get into no body for ye resistance of the enemy, the Capts walked up & downe wthout any men Considerable, & yet 3 Capts. In the Towne, viz Capt. Barbar of ye Towne, Capt. Jacobs Capt Oaks.281—There was about 50 houses & barns burnt, of wch about 29 dwelling houses, I cannot give you an exact number of the persons killd nor their names, I askt the Question 2 or 3 times when I was there & Mr Wilson Could not resolve me, he told me they had been in such a distraction he had not injoyned himselfe since, to take or give any exact relation Capt Jacobs told me he Judged there was about 16 dead yt was kild & had dyed since, there was severall wounded that Lay at Mr. Wilsons (viz old More that somtime lived at Mendham, one Bumsted of Boston who [was] thigh broken. Dan clarke of medfild, Ephr: wrights wife who was arm Broken Seargent Thur: wife whose head had been peirct wth one of their Tomheags one of her daughters shot through the thigh & one of her child strucke on the head. yet she sayd all her afflictions was Swallowed up in the Losse of her poore child gone into Captivity. The enemy as Mr Wilson told me he thought was something surprizd, wth their great Guns & such a Number of men wch they percieved was amongst them & therefore gave their watchwords to draw off, their passage away was over Brigstreet bridge wch they fyred, & for awhile encamped on the other side, & from thence past away a writing was found at ye foot of the Bridge wth this impost & Quakere Language Thou English man hath provoked us to anger & wrath & we care not though we have war wth thee this 21 years for there are many of us 300 of wch hath fought wth thee at this time, we have nothing but our lives to loose but thou hast many faire houses cattell & much Good things. this is the summe. they were seen by Boggastow282 people march away. a Company & Carriages of plunder another Company & their Carriages of plunder & in yt order they marched away & were Judged by them to be Numerous more than they themselves give an account. oh that our hearte Could tremble at ye Consideration of these things, It is surely a day of great tryumph wth them; the Lord grant it may be a day of deep humiliation wth us; The last weeke a man kild at Groaton & another Carryed away the man carryed away is old Blood—Mr. Brattle going up to enquire after the army & [assist?] them when at Malburough, by the accidentall discharge of a Gun Mr Ransforths son was Killd & had but time to make his will & wthout sealing it he dyed:—this brings to my mind a nother remarkable providence at Med: Henery Adams, his wife going up into Mr Wilsons Chamber to get some repose after her great losse & there being layd downe upon a bed, a gun went accidentally off below, & shot through the chamber floore & through the bead & her body off wch she dyed wthin 24 hours.283 Thus Sir, being at the end of my paper wth Respects to Mr Bradforth, yor s: Mrs Cotton, wid. fallowell & the rest of my good freinds, Desiring mutuall prayers I rest
Sir yor Assured Freinde
Curwen Family Papers, American Antiquarian Society. Addressed “To The Reverend Mr John Cotton Pastor to the church of christ In Plimouth These.” Endorsed “From mr Newman March, 14: 1676:” In a different hand: “Indn assault.”
27 March 1676
More tragedy awaited the English in this “winter of despair,” and this time it was Plymouth’s turn to suffer. In March 1676, Capt. Michael Pierce of Scituate led a contingent of sixty-five English and twenty Natives from Plymouth Colony on a search-and-destroy mission against Narragansett Indians. The English crossed the Pawtucket River on 26 March about 5 miles north of Providence to attack a band that Pierce had learned was in the vicinity. They encountered a far stronger force than they had expected, probably led by the sachem Canonchet, or Nanuntenoo. The colony soldiers were soon surrounded and very nearly wiped out; fifty-two English, including Pierce, and eleven allied Natives were killed.284
Rehoboth: 27. of the first 76
Reverend & Dear Sr
I received yors Dated the 20 of this Instant285 wherein you gave me a dolefull relat[ion] of what had happened wth you & what a distressing Sab: you had p[. . .] I have now according to the words of yor owne Letter an oppertun[ity] to retaliate yor account wth a Relation of what yesterday Happ[ened] to the great sadning of all our hearts filling us wth an awfull expect[ation] of wt further evills it may be antecedaneous too both respecting our [. . .] & you. upon the 25 of this Instant Capt. Peirce went forth wth a small party of his men & Indians wth him, & upon discovery of the [ene] my fought him wthout damage to himselfe, & Judged that he had Con[sidera]bly damnifyed them. yet he being of no greater force chose rather [to] retreate & goe out ye next morning wth a recrute of men & ac[ording]ly he did taking Pilots from us that were acquainted wth ye ground But it pleased the Soveraigne God so to order it yt they were [. . .] wth a great multitude of the enemy wch hath slaine 52 of [our?] Engl: & 11 Indians—The account of their Names is as follows: From Scituate 18 of wch 15 slaine (viz) Capt: Peirce: [Samuel Russell]286 Benj: Chittington John. Lathrope. Gershom Dodson. Sam Prat Thom: Savery. Joseph Wade Will: Wellcome. Jer: Bastow. John [Ensign] Joseph Cowwen, Joseph Perry John Perry John Rowse
Marshfeild 9 slaine. Tomas Littell John Ems Joseph Whitg John Burroughs Joseph Phillips. Sam: Bump. Jothr Low. [More ___] John Brance. Duxburough 4 slaine. John Sprage. benj: [Soal] Thomas Hunt. Joshua Phobes.—Sandwich 5 slaine. Benj: Nye David Bessey. Caleb. Blacke Job, Gibbs. Stephen Wing.—Barnstable 6 slaine Leiuft Fuller. John Lues Eliezir [Clapp] Sam: Lenurt. Sam. childs Sam. Boreman.—yarmouth. 5 [slaine] John Matthews John Gage Will Gage Hen: Gage Hen: Gold. Estham. 4 slaine, Joseph Nesserfeild: John: Walker John [M___] Nathaniall Williams. of Rehob: slaine 4. John Read. Benj: [. . .] John Fitch Junir. John Meller Junir. & Thomus man is [. . .] returned wth a [sore] wound:—Thus Sir. you have a sad account of the Continuance of Gods displeasure against us yet still I desier [steadfastly] to looke unto him who is not only able but willing to save all such as are fit for his salvation It is a day of ye wickeds tryumph but the sure word of God telles us his Tryumphing is but [. . .] oh that we may not lengthen it out by our sins.—The Lord helps to Joyne Issue in our prayers Instantly & Earnestly for ye healing & helping of our Land, our Extreamity is Gods oppertunity—
Thus wth our dearest respects to yor S:, Mrs Cotton & such sorrowfull freinds as are wth you I rest
yor ever Assured freind Noah Newman
Since the writing of this letter, John Matthews & sam: Linnit are found alive;287
Curwen Family Papers, American Antiquarian Society. Addressed “To the Reverend His Dear Freind Mr John Cotton Pastor to ye church of christ in Plimouth, these.” Endorsed “From Mr Newman March, 27: 1676:” In another hand, “Newman shove Walley <majr. Bradford> capt oliver <Heath> In. Mather. <Nath Mather>. Incr. Mathr. Seabn Cotton [illeg.] <Moodey> Mr Newman Read.” Cotton noted at the bottom of the page, “since the writing of this letter, John Matthews & Sam: Linnit are found alive.” Another note in a modern hand: “An incorrect copy of the within Letter is printed in Mr Dean’s history of Scituate page 122—.” Badly torn along right margin.
1 April 1676
Portso 1. (2.) mo 76
mr jno Cotton
[. . .] & Revd Sr
I recd [several words lost] week wth ye Enclosed, unto wch I have [several words lost] wch yu may please to convey, [. . .] busines wil be don as I have sent him word.—
I thank you for yor Intelligence. I have read it & showed it unto many who have pused it wth great Sympathy, & hope it hath been of some good use. If anything remarkeable of like natr occurr among you for ye future (wch ye Ld in his mercy prvent) your handing it to us wd be matter of great Satisfaction yt wee might know things pticularly & truly. Reports are so many & various yt one knowes nt what to believe we had heard a Report of ye Solemn Tragedy before yors came, but it was nothg: so satisfactory. I may say (as in ye beginng of yors yu doe) hitherto things have been quiet among us ys winter & spring, but what I may send yu in ye Close of my letter (if a speedy Conviance prsent not of wch I am nt certain) is wth ye Lord. The Indians about us are many of ym come in & more coming. theyr words are very good & fair. ye Ld only knows wt is in yr Hearts, thô as yet theyr Actions are not contradictory to yr words so farr as wee know. There is no trusting of ym they often mean worst wn they speak best. wee have no Cause to think or Troubles over, tho some seem to run high in yr Thoughts yt way Or Indians say yt ye Eastern Indians (except those yt are on ye other side of Kennebeck) are like minded wth ymselves, & all for peace wth ye English. There is nothg: new among us. The Burng of Mr Dummrs house at York289 lately I prsume yu have heard of, himselfe ws in or Town ye while It was don by ye Hay-stack wch caught fire (as its thought) from some sparks remaing after burng of some Rubbish to clear ye ground in ye Garden. Hee lost most of wt hee had, all his Library pvisions, beds except one. The Ld help us to watch & pray alwaies yt wee may bee acctd worthy to stand, wn ye son of man shall come. In him I am
yo rs in wt I may
Curwen Family Manuscript Collection, Box 1, Folder 3, American Antiquarian Society. Addressed “To the Revd mr Jno Cotton Pastor of ye Church of xt at Plymmouth prst.” and “For ye Revd John Cotton Plimth.” Endorsed “From Mr Moodey April, 1: 1676:” Mutilation along fold near top of the page and along the right margin.
17 April 1676
Walley seemed more concerned than most about the harsh treatment accorded enemy captives, particularly women and children. In this letter he reveals the damaging effects of English policies and military reverses on the attitudes of the initially supportive Native populations of Cape Cod.
Reverend and Deare Sir
it hath pleased god of Late to visit me with sickness my health is much impaired but the Lord is good and I have Cause to bless him and through his grace submit to his will and waite upon him. I am greatly afflicted in my spirit to see the dainger we are in and the Confusion and Sad disorder that we are fallen into New England must prepare them selves for what yoke the Lord will lay upon them for god will not beare the prid and Stubbornese of this generation there is non to help us in this day of our trouble a pverse spirit is among us by the righteouse judgment of god. that we are soe secure soe Carelese of our owne safty is not only our sin but it is our punishment and what it will <worke for> worke in the end god knows—we had Some hope the Indians with us might have proved faithfull and bin a help to us but they see our weakness and our Confusion and take great notice of the severity shewed towards the Squaws that are sent away290 Some of them much grieved others I feare pvoked they see we Cannot soe easily raise Armes as send away poor Squaws the Country about us is troubled and grieved at this action accounting it very unseasonable and what the effect will be god only knows I Could wish our honored Governor would send for them back and returne them to theyr friends I judg it would be very acceptable to this part of the Cuntry for there is much discontent about it some feare we have payd deare for former Acts of severity and how deare we may yet pay god knows [. . .] now in hast if you Can doe any thing for th[. . . .] of this act you will doe good servis [. . . .] our honored Governor doe [. . . .] Consider our [position?] it will not be thought unreasonable that they should be returned again sir my hearty Love is to you and mrs Cotten I pray you p[ray fo]r me present my Servis to Cap: Bradford
yors in or Lord
April 17 1676
John Davis Papers, Massachusetts Historical Society. Addressed “For ye Revd. & much Hond Friend mr. John Cotton Plimth.” Endorsed “From mr Walley: April: 17: 1676:.” Prince’s note: “about sending Captive squaws out of the Country.”
17 April 1676
Plimouth April: 17: 1676
Reverend & much Honoured Sir
Though I know not this morning of any opportunity of sending to you, yet I am willing to get ready for one. The Enclosed came to my hand on Saturday; Mr Moodey writes to me of a readynesse to pay the 10 pd, & if I might counsell in the matter, I would say that 10 pd in Silver is farre better then 10 pd in goods at Pascataquay; & seeing through my hands letters have had soe speedy a conveyance to & fro, & the buisnesse [sic] is soe ripened for accomplishment, I am willing (presenting my love to G: Hamlin & his wife) to tender my service yet further, if they please to accept it; Intending, God willing, for Boston next Monday by water, I suppose at the Election291 I may meete Mr Moodey there, & if G: Hamlin sends me the Receipts desired, I may then take the money & deliver them to him. if a speedyer way present to attaine the end he will doe well to take it.
For publick newes, Mr Moodey thus writes to me
“The Indians about us are many of them come in & more coming, their words are very good & faire, the Lord only knowes what is in their hearts, though as yet their actions are not contradictory to their words soe farre as wee know, there is noe trusting of them, they often meane worst when they speak best; wee have noe cause to thinke our Troubles over, though some seem to run high in their thoughts that way: our Indians say that the Eastern Indians, (eccept those that are on the other side of Kennebeck) are like minded with themselves & all for peace with the English; Mr Shubael Dummer, Pastour at Yorke, while himselfe was in our towne, his house was casually burnt by the Haystack which caught fire (as its thought) from some sparks remaining after burning some rubbish to clear the ground in the garden, he lost most of what he had all his library, provisions, beds except one.[“] Haecille.
Andover was assaulted at nooneday,292 one man wounded, & cattell driven away: The rumour of souldiers out of o: E: is yet uncertaine: April: 9: on the Sabbath, the Indians beset Belerica round about,293 when they were at meeting as yet noe account of the successe: this to G: Blush fell accidentally into my hands I know not whence it comes. Sir, if you have Dugards Rhetorick,294 pray helpe me to it. worthy Sir, with reference to the transactions of the last weeke, I am exceedingly afflicted to thinke, that wee should soe reele & stagger in our Counsells as drunken men, & that soe pretious a people as Rehoboth should be soe forsaken by us for our owne selfish-interests, if I were in your study alone I would tell you, how much blemish some have gotten for being soe backward to maintaine a garrison at Rehoboth. This morning the Govr (being much incouraged by Capt Bradford & the Treasurer thereunto) hath sent 2 men post to Rehoboth, to signify that if they will come off, an army from us shall guard them, but if they will stay & Judge it necessary for their safety, they shall have from us 40 or 50 men to keepe garrison with them etc295 & truly Sir if your Southerne men shall faile in this, it will be Just matter of reproach to them, however it is resolved, helpe shall be sent them if they accept it: Good newes in Letters from stonington to Boston. on the Lords day, Apr: 9: some connecticutt forces, Capt George Denison296 being cheife, tooke & killed 42 Indians, of which Quanonshet was one, who was taken in that Coat he received at Boston,297 his head is sent to Hartford, his body is burnt; then also was killed one Hostage that run from Hartford, & some cheife counsellors; also 3 sachems & 3 capts were taken & killed neere Patuxet: There was also a fight Apr: 2: by those forces with the Narrogansets, the issue of that I have not a particular account of: Apr: 12: one woman & 2 children were killed at wooburne: At Boston the votes for nomination of Magistrates, for divers old ones run very low; Capt Gookins hath 446 which is but 5 more then major Savage hath who is the last in nomination of the 18: Mr Dudly hath 651: An Indian at Boston who was improoved as a messenger to the Enemy being returned, affirmes that Capt Peirce & his killed scores of the Indians that Sabbath day: I must now conclude this letter having sundry things to transcribe for you, which Just now I received from Boston: our church hath set apart this following wednesday for Humiliation & prayer,298 I am much straitned for time, but my Respect to you obliges me to transcribe the Enclosed: with our service to you presented, & due salutations to all as if particularly named, craving your earnest prayers for us
I rest, Sir yours sincerely devoted in what I may
Cotton Family Papers 7:6, Prince Library, Rare Books and Manuscripts, Boston Public Library. Addressed “These For the Reverend, his much Honoured Friend, Mr Thomas Walley, Pastour of the Church of Christ, at Barnstable.”
19 April 1676
From the beginning of the war, Rehoboth was vulnerable to sudden attack due to its relative remotemess. Rev. Newman’s letter describes a settlement virtually in a state of siege, with a determined corps of colonists grimly refusing to abandon what remains of their community.
Rehoboth. Aprill 19. 76
Reverend & Dear Sr
This day I received yors of the 11 of this instant301 & am glad of an oppertunity by the same post that brought it to returne you this answer; Thanks be to god we have yet the most of our lives given us as a prey though many of our habitations are desolate & in ashes, the losse of wch is not so much to be taken to heart by us as our sins wch occassioned the same. oh that we could truly humble our selves under the mighty hand of God who can & will exalt us in due time; I cannot but often refect upon the patience & long sufferance of our most mercyfull father who made our enemys stay so long for their comissions to do us any harm, & had not our God seen it needfull for us they have never had it to this day; & truly by that disturbance & astonishment that I have seen in some mens spirits since the late tryall I fully discerne wee had need of it, to convince us of our security who were ready to thinke such things would not befall us, but why we should promise our selves such [immunity?] I know not, Nor why that wch our sins hath been so long p[. . .] of, & so visibly drawing on upon us for so long a time should so much startle & astonish us being come I know not; Sundry amongst us upon the desolation [made] by fire began to conclude their was no subsisting, but I have not yet received it that God calls us to a remoovall unlesse we could leave our sins behinde us, wch I se little likelyhood of at present; If it should be the pleasure of God to bring this country universally loe & that the Lord by his providences (having truly humbled us) should unrtake any thing further for a remnant uniting, & yt our spirituall advantage as well as our Temporall might be designed therein this would be more taking wth men then any thing I have heard yet. But for men still to goe about wth this Question Who will show us any Good argues still an old frame. & an aptnes to thinke that if the prsent distresse be but avoided all is well, & I likewise fear a remoovall will involve us in such new cares & hurryes yt we shall forget the Lords Controversy wth us. Our freinds at ye Cape hath made us a motion of drawing downe that way, it was considered by us the last weeke & ye answer returned in the Negative;302 As to yor invitation given me & my family I returne you most hearty thanks & reckon you one of my Dearest freinds with whom I could willingly live & dye, but at the prsent I much respect the publiq interest, The Lord reward you for all yor former kindnes & prsent care & love; if I should not take heart & be incouraged at such a time as this is who should? for I perceive my wealth increaseth & I find more fell into my lap then I can possibly improove. The other day it was disputed by some whether they should give me this one house that I now live in & Now I have more houses given me then I know what to doe wth & many intreaties to use them; If it were not so I have no cause to mistrust the care & faithfullnes of the Lord God of my fathers who hath ever done for me more then I could aske or thinke; In answer to yor desire about our desolation, The 28 of march the Enemy appeared303 early in the morning very numerous & overspread our towne & fell presently to fyring of empty houses & burnt about 35 houses that had familyes belonging to them besides four other vacant houses yt had no inhabitants & Barnes—they also slew one man gone at a distance from his Garrison early in the morning. they killd severall Cattell & burnt much hay they drew aside in the evening & pitcht their camp by the side of ye towne, rose up at day light the next morning tooke their walke over to providence & there did likewise—my great trouble was that not wthstanding all fair warnings wch they had yet things were too much unsettled wth us, so yt they [illeg.] more provision & other treasure especially at Providence then we should have [. . .]ed to have left ym, if we had not been unreasonably secure. Providence though they saw us in a flame incouraged themselves the enemy would steer some other course & by that means exposed a 100 bushels of corn & meal much goods & money to ye enemy wch was all taken away. The buryall of the slaine tooke us 3 days the burden of it lying upon our towne the 3d day we had some from Dedham & Medfeild that afforded their helpe therein ye first day their was 17 English & 3 Indians buryed; The 2d day that I might Expresse my respect to Capt. Peirce & Leift: Fuller who dyed so Honorably I went forth & yt day we buryed 18 English & one Indian; ye 3d day they buryed 7 or 8 Eng: & one Indian since searche hath been made but no more can be found I know not but some may wander & perish in ye woods being strangers. when the Indians were at Provid: they Called to speake wth one [Valentine] Whitman,304 Mr Williams hearing of it called to them & told them if they would parly he would parly wth them, wch they did & he had an hours discourse wth 3 of them, they told him the great God was against us & wth them, & that English men were like Women & that there was [three words crossed out] fifteen hundred of them that had burnt our towne & was burn[ing?] of theirs, he offered himselfe to be instrumentell to procure a treaty between them & ye English, they told him they would say more after a months time & another suggested that they intended to spend a month upon Plimouth Colony for the burning of that.—yesterday one of our Towne being abroad wth a teame alone was shot at but was not hit his oxen one was kild & the oth[er] wounded, he carelessely went forth both alone 3 miles from ye towne & wthout any gun, I hope it will be a conviction to him & others of such prsumption. we are at prsent generally visited wth a sudden & sore cold, the Lord sanctifye it to us & teach us to se how soone he can take us into his owne hand who are ready to thinke If we escape but the enemy we are out of the vaile of danger.
Dear sr Let us have ye benefit of yor prayers that we may be refined [by] our burning & that God would not cease afflicting us till he hath accomplished his good pleasure upon us in making us a people to his praise, Goodman Miles305 whose house barnes & Tan house is burnt & some of his stocke lost returns you wth his wife many thanks for yor kind offer & know not but If oppertunity offer that one of their sons about 14 or 15 years old might come to you & be wth you it might do them a kindness, & if you want a maid servant they have a daughter to dispose of.—Thanks be to God my family are Compet[ant]ly well recovering out of their colds my wife singulerly well contented to stay in the place she is in, & in no wise discouraged from a dependance upon God to cary us & ours thrô such ensuing difficulties as seem to be before is, I account it a very great mercy & canot be sufficiently thankfull for it. Mr M[. . .] is gone to ye Iland & Mr Brownes family is there his pson [two words illeg.] ye Iland & Swanzy, many of the Inhabitants gone & others [line faint, illeg.] cause that I do not write being in such straites of time. I no yor ever to [. . .] of him. I am sorry there is so great a [refection?] upon authority in ye army mooving but I am discouraged the more as to our Conditon, for my hearts desire & prayer to God is yt I may be above all disappointments of that nature, but so much as to be mooved at them, & to looke at all insuffcientcy & uncertainty [. . .] Creature to be most like it selfe. The first day that any English blood was [shed was?] a fast, & my subject was psal. 46. 10306 Be still & know that I am God: wch I desire ever to have in mind for my incouragemt in the worst times—The Good Lord incourage & strengthen all our hearts in himselfe & make us perfect in every good word & worke, hithertoo we have suffered little, I fear there are greater & sore evills behinde the Lord fit us for them, & instruct us by them. Let me hear from you as oft as may be as you shall from us. Thus wth affectionate salutes craving the continuance of mutuall prayers I rest [line illeg.]
I canot but condole yor & our losse in the death of that good old [paster?]307 ye Lrd sanctify such breaches to us.—
Curwen Family Papers, American Antiquarian Society. Addressed “For the Revd & much Respectd Friend mr John Cotton Plimth.” Endorsed “From mr Newman April 19: 1676.” Several small holes along right margin and darkened lines along fold marks.
10 June 1676
During the final stages of the war in southern New England, Native bands, their resources depleted and hungry from months on the run, began trickling back to their homelands in search of food caches and forage in familiar territory. This left them open to detection and attack by English forces, eventually the fate of Philip and his followers themselves.
Plimouth June, 10: 1676:
Reverend & much Honoured in the Lord
Before you were gone out of sight I was ready to set pen to paper to informe you of the newes from Boston Govr to ours: A squaw came into Roxbury & was examined last thursday, she saith Allumps308 with 300 men are at a place neere warwick, called Watchu,& there they plant, they are soe neere that when they goe to gather groundnuts they heare the English dogs bark on wednesday last Capt Henchman spied a considerable party of the enenmy [enemy] about 5 miles from Nashaway, & was very likely to doe them much mischeife, but that 2 of the Indians in a canoe discerned the English, & alarmed the Indians who presently fled, the English pursued them, killed 7, tooke 29 prisoners, (of which 2 were men) much fish, kettles [&] rescued 1 English captive, a boy; the English received not the least hurt, our Indian friends behaved themselves very faithfully & couragiously: Capt Pittymee309 had the barrell of his gun damnifyed, & that was all the damage in this encounter, blessed be God:
one coming from New Yorke put in at Milford, Major Treat told him that the Mowhawks had within 5 weekes killed 70 of the Enemy:310 The Posts from Taunton not yet returned. Deare sir I returne you hearty thanks for your good company, pretious labours, & particular kindnesses to me & mine, the Lord reward you; this hath bin a sad day with my servant, I intreat your prayers for him: wee long to heare of your safe arrivall being sensible that windes were not very advantagious for you: My selfe & wife heartily salute you, craving a constant interest in your prayers; service to [. . .] m[. . . .]ey, [. . .] due remembrances to all friends as if particularly named; I rest, Sir,
your much ingaged friend
[. . .] Sir, forget not my [. . . .]
Cotton Family Papers 7:9, Prince Library, Rare Books and Manuscripts, Boston Public Library. Addressed “These For the Reverend, his much Honoured Friend, Mr Thomas Walley, Pastour of the Church of Christ, at Barnstable.” Some mutilation toward bottom of letter.
26 June 1676
Reverend Sir and my deare friend
yor Last I received for wch I give you thanks as for all others. the engagement311 was propounded to the people Lords day was Seaven[ight] it is was strongly opposed wth weak arguments by one of the Brethren and only one man appeared to joyne wth him my desire was to put it off as you have don but the Chiefe wth us were for doing it upon the day of humiliation and then it was don but I feare by to few for some I suppose absented them selves and others declined it—Good men in or daies doe more to hinder reformation than the pfane (I meane some good men) the reliques of a ridged seperatis dwell wth some wo think to take some other time to see who else will engage we had news the last day of ye week from sea John Huckins312 being a fishing and meeting wth a fishing Boat that the week before the United forces had Killed between 2 and 300 Indians313 we suspend or faith till we heare from you but sure of late god hath given us some tokens of favor for wch we have great Cause to be thankfull I am at present not well and indeed seldom have good health my hearty Love to yor selfe and Good mrs Cotton I Commend you to or good God and rest
yor truly affectionat ffriend
June 26 1676
we hope before Long to heare news from good Capt Bradford
it was well my Letter was inanimate otherwise it might have bin set in ye stocks
Curwen Family Papers, American Antiquarian Society. Addressed “For ye Revd & much Respected friend Mr John Cotton [. . .] Plimth.” Endorsed in a contemporary hand other than Cotton’s “Walley June 26: 1676.” One small hole in letter.
5 July 1676
Rehoboth. 5 Juli 76.
with all my due respects continually remembered unto you, and m’ Cotton i know you looke for a few lines from me, but indeed they must be few att this time, the occurrences of affaires require it. i thanke god we are all in good health except Elcanah Chusman314 whome we left not wel att rood iland, but i procurred a woman who promised me to have a great Care of hime. we have been upon the persute of Philipe, but canot yet find his lurking places, Capt Prent[ice] & forscore horse with wagones are here with us, upon the expedecion we have sent for more forces out of the bay, & also sent a post over to Major Talcot but nether he nor good m’ fish that is wth them would pswade them to come over the river: they were so leaden wth plunder, the Mohegs i meane, the English leave willingly. the last friday above Coweset315 they Slew & toke almost 2 [hundred] men women & children, & the[. . . .] [s]uden: god gracious goeth wth them blessed be his Name, the last Munday in [. . .] [illeg.] they had another fight, for the gunes were heard to providence in all the afternone; the lord stile prosper them if be his blessed will we are at a stand, all the body of Indians are neere us on munday, when we were gone out, feched of many cattle from Ingrams necke, burned 3 or 4 more houses we persued them found where they kiled thiere Cattle, but they when to their quarters about Taunton in a hideous Swampe as we are informed, wee are upon Motion after them the lord direct us & blesse our indevors if it be his blessed will & increase my faith & patience, my helpe is only in hime. Continue to pli the Throne of grace for me that god may be my present helpe in time of need as he hath been, And concernig the disposing of my last wifes children316 i cannot come to a conclusion here if that Mach be reall, if it be of god i will not hinder it; i heare that thiere is Suppli of Corne come in a Charatable worke in deed, from frinds of Coniticut317 the lord be blessed in storing up theire harts & blesse them 7 fold for it. If i have any concernment in it as i have heard my advise to you is that a great part of it be laide saved up that according to need it may be disposed <of to those that have need>, for we know not what need their yet may be: Sir i must break of, you see bi my Scripling; i am in great hast and in deed, the many ocurences are so yt if the lord did not support, i should sinke under them But i trust in the lord who is a god seen in the Mont, my portion for ever & who giveth wisdom to them that aske in faith. give me wisdom & understanding show to god through this great worke, and returne me in saufty to you, to his Name shall be the Everlasting praise. remember me to all frinds, especialy to Elder Chusman to m’ [Secretari?]. I [. . .] where i [heare?] the Burgomasters have degraded, if so i would know, if my other Commander be [degraded?] also:
youre Ever Effeccinate frind
Curwen Family Papers, American Antiquarian Society. Addressed “for his honoured frind m’ John Cotton in Plimouth.” Endorsed “From Major Bradford July, 5: 1676:” Two small holes in the middle.
6 July 1676
Taunton. Jul. 6. 76.
[. . .] deprived of opportunity to write to you by or deputies, it being [. . .] posed upon me to give the Governr an account of the affairs [. . .] which I doubt not you are now better informed by Benj Church [. . .] throughout [rest of line illeg.] am desired to write to you in bahalfe of some[. . . .] [. . .]rne, that they may have a share in the bountye of or brethren [inland?] [. . .] Committed to your trust to dispose of to such as are distressed. Now I Confesse [. . .] that Mendicant spirit that is too visible at this time. yet I must [. . .] saye the Infuence of the warr hath been such upon this place that [. . .] almost awonder they have subsisted as they have. God hath [. . .] been [. . .] in doing for us above or thoughts. the dammage of or crops the loss [. . .] were judged to amount to 1500 bushells of corn, besides or Charges [. . .]ing of Souldiors (which for ought I percieve the people have been very [. . .] or people [. . .] bought by Mr Keiths Account above [. . .] bushells, 40 bushells they had Came from the westward to Rehoboth & [. . .] hath been bought of R. Island. yet the povertye of many [. . . .] to be set on worke for a supplye to preserve the [. . .] of many [. . .] of a supply in your hands were willing to [. . .] Cast themselves upon yor Chartye & have Come without any further [. . .] [n] couragmt & [illeg.] to the number of 20 or more whose distresses are [su]ch that they have neither Corn nor bread nor any thing to buye with [. . .]but I thought that would be too unseemly an obstruction or Imposi[tion] upon one soe charitable: & I doubt not but you finde recievors Enough nearer home. Neverthelesse I have Encouraged a fewe to [. . .]e & present presuming you will afford them some reliefe & if [. . .] finde that you can minister to the reliefe of any more they may [. . .] theire turn afterward. There are noe lesse then five familees in my garrison that Cannot all make up 5 bushels of Corn of any sorts three [. . .] have none at all. by yt you may judge of the straits of manye [. . .] in the place & for some there be that have any to spare that they [. . .] been able to make any rate for me this year (I speak it not [. . .] my selfe in for any share I have bought at Bridewater alreadye [. . .]ing to buye more) for that a reliefe at home they Cannot have, [. . .] [m]ust feele it alreadye. if you Can therefore spare to ye reliefe [. . .] give me an account what you are able to due & I will accordingly [. . .] order for ye Conveyance hither. if you finde my post [in?] ffrancis [. . .] hands you will doe me a great kindnes to [get it?] brought [. . .] Care with bread. News we have not any. I present my Love & re[spects] with my wifes to yourselfe & Mirs Cotton & desiring we may [mu]tually pray each for other & joyntly for or Land, I Remaine, Sr
Your affectionate brother & servt in the Lord
[. . .] Names of those yt are sent to you [. . .] here subscribe [. . .] Phillips his son whose father is slain & Mother a helpless widdowe [. . .]ell Fisher whose familee is very poore [. . . .] Thomas Caswell. William Brigs [. . .] John Gold. Sam. Hoskins. Joseph Graye. Andr Smith [. . .] you may be pleased to Enquier of them yt Come of ye familees & of [. . .] Condition of the place
Upon the tidings of Phillips designe to Assault [. . .] our neighbours are frustrated at present & I am [. . . .] from you first. I intreat you to give [. . . .] [three lines faint, illeg.]
Curwen Family Papers, American Antiquarian Society. Addressed “For ye Revd mr [. . .] Cotton Plimth.”Left margin badly frayed and whole document stained.
18 July 1676
Reverend and Deare ffriend
yor Continued Love Labor and Care multiplies engagements upon me for thankfullness. I hope I am much affected with the greate goodness of god to this poor afflicted Cuntry and that god is pleased to give us any smiles from him selfe. we dayly long to heare from our Army oh that god would pardon theyr sins and ours and make us all humble that good may Come unto us a frame of heart sutable to gods Dealings with us would give assurance of Deliverance but we are (I feare) far from it which Causeth many sad thoughts of heart but god Can <save him> glorify him selfe in Saving an unworthy people. I am glad of the success Ben: Church hath318 it is the good friut of the Coming in of Indians to us those that Come in are Conquered and help to Conquer others—I observe through out the Land where Indians are imploied there hath bin the greatest success if not the only success which is a humbling pvidence of god that we have soe much need of them and Cannot doe our work with out them it should teach us to be wise in our Carriage towards them. as for the Corne that is in yor hand to dispose of I desire mr Hinkly and you will [ ]er it when you are together it is a great merc[ie], that god stirs up the hearts of any to help this poor Cuntry god that raiseth us friends I trust will be our friend to help us in all our difficulties the news from England (if true) is straing the Lord pity his people there I Doubt not but when you have news from our Army you will take the first opportunity to acquainte us with it I pray you present my hearty Love to good mrs Cotton and when you write to Major Bradford present my servis to him I Comitt you to the Lord I pray Dayly for you I beg yors for me I am
yor truly Loving ffriend and Bro: in Christ
July 18th 1676
John Davis Papers, Massachusetts Historical Society. Addressed “To ye Revd. & much Estemed Friend mr John Cotton Plimoth.” Prince’s note[?]: “abt. ye Indns being more successful as to Philip then the English.”
18 July 1676
After my harty salutations to you wth thanks for [. . . .] remembrance by letters to me wch i am not so ab[le] [. . . .] you nor so often as my desire is bec of the th[. . . .] & troubles that attend me, but being now at Taunt[on] [. . .] good to informe you in breefe the lord dealings to[. . . .] been in much Mercy ever since I came forth (blesse[d] [. . . .] it was longer then I thought it would be before we [c]ould beat up Philips quarters, but we had such Cautions given us that he was of great strength & we to weake, but as soune as the Bay forces Came up we March to the place where the Negroe left hime,319 & by the way we cute of Many Scouts of the Enimie & one especally well knowne to be a Notorious villan, caled Ruben a Stoute fellow & one of Philips Champions: & we tooke a prisoner that Carried us through a thicke Swampe directe to Philips residence, but he was fled wth all his compani but thire we cute of Some Stranglars, so we beate down the Necks towards the Sea, and upon Mataposet320 we litt of a parsel of them & thire we tooke aboute 20 or 30 of them by the sea side we incampt all Night, & Marched up the Nex day into the woods, and by the way we toke a prizoner who undertooke to cary us to Philips residence, so he carried us into a hidous swampe where he had been that Morning but he was fled, we psued, Many Miles, killed by the way Many of the Enimy, Neere 15 or 16. Most old persons that was not so able to follow, aboute the after Noune they dispersed them selfs in a plane that we lost thire Maine Tracke the Nex day we persued them againe found thire Tracke, wch led us into a dismale Swame, wch we Entred and about 3 mile in the Swampe we met wth them aboute 3 hundred. but Philipe was parted from that company the day before as we were informed & So we left hime behind, as we judge, but we fell upon that Company, & kiled, & tooke as the Indians guive an account aboute 76 the rest dispersed Every way, thire was kiled as the Indians Informe us tow Cheefe one of Philip’s Brother daughters one of g[re]at accoun[t] amon[g] them & the other a young Shachem of Naragan[set] Qenapins Brother.321 truly Sir I must need say th[. . .] Lord as done Much for us, remembring us in o[ur] [. . . .] Estate <of> his Mercy for Ever indureth [. . . .] of his returning [. . . .] humble peopell [. . . .] the lord in Mercy, for his poore peopele [goe?] on if it be his blessed will, if tis he yt fighteth for us he cane onli bring downe thire stoute harts & if the cheefe knot of them were broken & Philipe taken I hope in the lord Time it will be but we must weight u[pon] the lord who by his one way) & <illeg.> I am pswaded will doe more immediately by his owne power) the war would soone end: and we injoy our former peace: and for that end it is for the peopel of god to continue thiere prayers to hime in faithe, for I am pswaded & do verily beleive that by the Many prayers of his and thire sights & grones, he hears in heaven & will grant for our Mediator sake the returne of his gracious presence to his pore peoplell. we are very much ingaged to the Massachusetts for thire helpe att this time, we being so lowe, and in deed theire Commanders caries exceeding well, and are godly & well accomplised gentle the Indians are a great helpe to us & goe on very courageously the English allwayes backing of them. the lord also as undoubtedly you have heard prospers Coneticute forces, M’ fich was wth them i had not the hapiness to se though they lay wth in 6 miles of us one Night. they tooke 50 guns as was reported going [. . .] besids many killed & taken neere Warwicke.
Most of our forces came to Taunton on Saturday night Capt Brattle & my selfe came in on lord Noone we are now this day Marching out againe, the lord guide us in our way & his gracious presence be stile wth us, help us in your prayers for we have great need of them. Sir heere is divers of Taunton, as you had Information yt have need of sup[ply] of Corne as M’ Shove will informe you, & i shall adde unto it that you Suppli thire needs wth Corne, and also that m’ Shove hime selfe have Some Supply for [he] hath been Much burdened in respect of the war wth [. . .] that have lyen wholly upon [. . .] & hath psent need [. . . .] you be very Carefull [. . . .] come by lose [. . . .] hier men to [. . . .] tend it before [. . . .] to any lose if pos[. . . .] here breake of in [. . . .] have no time to [. . . .] [s]ecretary remember [. . .] to hime. Salu[. . .] Respects to m’ Cotton [. . . .] to m’ Clarke [. . .] returned to you [. . . .]
To my Cousen whittny, my love to my Sone John Bradf[ord]322 [. . . .] & to all frinds, desiring stile to you all properity yor ever Assur[. . .]
Curwen Family Papers, American Antiquarian Society. Addressed “for his Much Respected frind M’ John Cotton Deliver this In Plimoth.” Endorsed “from Major Bradford Received, July 18: 1676:.” Right and bottom margins badly frayed.
19 July 1676
With William Bradford’s colonial forces operating southwesterly out of Taunton and Benjamin Church’s mixed force of English and Native allies probing westward from the Buzzards Bay region, it seemed as though it would be only a matter of time until one of them caught up with Philip’s dwindling band. In fact, after the chastening winter and spring months, English successes probably contributed to a religious revival in the colony, as Cotton describes here. Many of the missing or obliterated words of Bradford’s preceding letter are supplied here by Cotton.
Plimouth July, 19: 1676:
Revd & worthy Sir
Its not forgetfullnesse of you that I have not written to you since saturday,323 but the church setting apart yesterday for solemne Humiliation & renewing our Covenant,324 I could not spare the time from necessary preparation thereunto: through the rich grace of God the worke was solemnely & comfortably carried on, the Lord give us a heart to performe our vowes: I read a paper to the church in full communion containing an acknowledgment of sundry Violations of our covenant & a renewall of our engagement for Reformation, they unanimously manifested their consent by Standing, both brethren & sisters: then a paper was read to the children of the Covenant mentioning sundry of their evills & desires of Reformation, unto which they all in like manner manifested their consent. Sir, I intreat you by the first opportunity to send that History the secretary lent you,325 my Bro: Mather desires earnestly to see it & I would shortly carry it to him.
By Indians I doubt not but you have heard of the successe of our Army, from Major Bradford at Taunton dated July, 17: I transcribe.
“Gods dealing to us have bin in much mercy ever since I came forth (Blessed be his name) it was longer then I thought it would be before wee could beat up Philips quarters, because wee had such cautions given us that he was of great strength, but as soone as the Bay forces came up wee marched to the place where the Negroe left him & by the way wee cut off many scouts of the Enemy & one well knowne to be a notorious Villaine, Reuben, a stout fellow & one of Philips champions, & wee took a prisoner that carried us through a thick swamp directly to Philips residence, but he was fled with all his company, there wee cut off some straglers; then wee beat downe the necks towards the sea, & upon Mattapoysett wee met with a parcell, & tooke about 20 or 30 of them; by the seaside wee encamped all night, & next day marched up into the woods & by the way tooke a prisoner who undertooke to carry us to Phillips residence, he brought us into a hideous swamp where Philip had beene that morning but he was fled, wee pursued many miles, killed by the way <many> of the Enemy, 15 or 16: most old persons that were not soe able to follow, about the afternoone they dispersed themselves in a plaine that wee lost their maine track, the next day we pursued them & found their track which led us into a dismall swamp which wee entred & about 3 mile in the swamp wee met with them about 300, but Philip was parted from that company the day before as wee were informed, & soe wee left him behind as wee Judge, but wee fell upon that Company & killed & tooke about 76, the rest dispersed every way, the Indians informe us that one of Philips Brother’s daughters was then killed, one of great account among them & a young sachem of [Narragansett] Quinnapins Brother. truly I must needs say the Lord hath [done? . . . . kindness?], remembring us in our low estate, for his mercy indures for ever, & I look upon these as smiles & tokens of his returning againe to us if wee can be a humble people & our sins prevent not, the Lord in mercy for his poore people goe on if it to be his blessed will, it is he that fighteth for us he can only bring downe their stout hearts, & if the cheife knot of them were broken & Philip taken the war would soone end & wee enjoy our former peace, I hope in the Lords time it will be, but wee must waite upon the Lord who will worke by his owne way & I am perswaded will doe more immediately by his owne power; & for the end it is for the people of God to continue their prayers to him in faith, for I am perswaded & doe verily believe that by the many prayers of his & their sighs & groanes he heares in heaven & will grant for our mediators sake the returne of his gratious prescence to his poore people: wee are very much ingaged to the Massachusets for their helpe at this time wee being soe low & indeed their commanders carry exceeding well & are godly & well accomplisht Gentlemen; the Indians are a great helpe to us & goe on very couragiously the English alwayes backing of them: Connecticutt forces tooke 50 guns, in their returne home, with the Enemy; most of our forces came to Taunton on saturday night, Capt Brattle & my selfe came in on Lords day noone:” Haecille.
connecticut men tooke 7 guns & killed & tooke many persons in their returne after the 190 of which wee heard before:
on Monday they marched forth, our forces on the East side of the River326 & Massachusets on the west: About 37 captives are coming hither from Taunton, & that wicked Cuinam327 who went among our friends with Major Bradford, but being accused by the murtherers at mr Clarks328 to be an incourager & directour of Totoson in that villany, he was sent for by the Govr & is coming: I cannot but greatly wonder at the Lords pitty & compassion to his poore people manifested in his Late providentiall smiles, ever since this Godly Major went forth & from the time & that the churches have bin thoughtfull about renewing their Covenant, the Lord help us to walke worthy of his goodnesse: my selfe & Dearest present due respects to you, craving your prayers for us, I rest,
Sir, yours in strongest bonds
Ben: Church went on monday night with about 40 English & Indians to seeke for the Enemy about Dartmouth & 8 hogsheads of bread then went hence to Taunton for the Army; this weeke from Taunton 20 men came to me for corne, they carried away 62 Bush: their wants are very great:
our army found an English youth (belonging to the Bay Army) greivously mangled who had been sorely tortured & killed by a squaw on Thursday: 3 more belonging to the Bay taken by the Enemy, not a man of ours killed or wounded, a distinguishing mercy; one bullet touched an Indians belly & at the same grazed on the thigh of an English man but noe damage.
July: 20: The carts returned Last night, in going to Taunton, some of our Indians desiring to separate & to goe by Namasket river, they espied some of the enemy reaping John mortons329 Rye; one of ours run to tell Ben: Church of it, who with most of his still accompanyed the bread, but sent back 3 English who with our Indians killed 1 man, & tooke 3 captives & carried them to Taunton They saw about 20 of the Enemy, & but 1 gun, will: Tuspaquin330 was one
Bridgewater men, July, 19: went out, having seene tracks of Indians, & tooke a squaw & 4 children & killed a man Rob: Badcock, an Indian well knowne to us, & tooke 3 guns & severall kettles & other Indian trade; the English spoiled all their provision, they had 12 Bush: of Roots & had killed an English Beast: the squaw says they are about 80 of which 10 men, & they had a greate debate about coming into the English, but could not agree
Cotton Family Papers 7:10, Prince Library, Rare Books and Manuscripts, Boston Public Library. Addressed “These For the Reverend, his much Honoured Friend, Mr Thomas Walley, Pastour of the Church of christ at Barnstable.”
24 July 1676
Taunton, 24 July, 1676.
I received yours, wherein I take it as an exceeding great kindness to be so open hearted to me. I take it as a friendly acceptation. I am heartily glad of the good successes of any that are instruments of God against your enemies. I am glad of the successes of my Cousin [Church]331 The Lord yet continue it, and give him more and more, and the grand enemy also: I shall in no wise emilate any man. The Lord give him and us, or any that have successes on the Enemy, to be humble, and give God the only praise for his power, goodness, mercy to his poor people, who hath been mightily seen in it, who hath been our only hope, and hath given the enemy into our hands by His especial grace. I now in a good chonscious Answer before God and man I have done my duty and neglected no opportunity to face upon the enemy, and I am verily persuaded that if we should [have] adventured without the Benj332 Forces, we had either been worsted or also lost many men. He had placed himself in such an advantaged place; and I had rather be accounted a slow person or what man may please, Yea, even a coward, than to adventure the loss of any of my soldiers. To have been worsted by the enemy would have been a great discouragement to any. You know the state of thing when I came first out. I should have been glad if any would have tooke it in my roome, and I know there is many that would have managed it better than myself. But now we have many commanders that are very forward and think themselves the only men. We are going forth this day intending Philip’s head-quarters. I shall not put myself out of Breath to get before Ben Church. I shall be caucious, still I cannot outgoe my nature. I will leave the issue with God, but truly, Sir, I see some frowns of God towards our Army, but we are many weake, and strike with strange blows, yea, some of our commanders, Captain Sparrow,333 my lieutenant, but I hope the Lord will forgive them, are returning home with many others, so that we are left as an army. The Lord be our helpe, I am mightily engaged to friends, especially to those that have given me such a large gift. The Lord give it largely into their bosoms. I hope to see you the latter end of the week, if the Lord give me life. Mr. Arnol334 and Mr. Shove presents theire respects to you, and myself to Mrs. Cotton and all friends.
I ever remaine, your asssured
Pray remember me to all my family, whom I hope are well. I have a great desire to see them.
Printed in the Providence Journal, 15 January 1876, with the following explanatory note: “The original letter of Major Bradford was found by the present possessor, Gen. C. C. Van Zandt, among the papers of his great uncle, Hersey Bradford, who was the youngest son of Gov. William Bradford, of this State, the latter being a direct descendant of the Plymouth Bradfords. Gov. Bradford presided as speaker in Rhode Island, more years than any other man, save his great grandson, our late Lieutenant-Governor. The style of writing of this old relic is exceedingly curious, so much so, that it is impossible for any ordinary reader to understand it. This led Hon. Albert G. Greene, late president of the Rhode Island Historical Society (who was the father of Mrs. Van Zandt) to endeavor to make a copy of it. He succeeded, and it is from his copy that the above was taken. . . . The letter is addressed, ‘For his much Respected Friend, Mr. John Cotton. Deliver these In Plimoth.’” The bottom of the Journal article is signed “F. G. H.” The whereabouts of the original, if it is still extant, are unknown; there is no copy at the Rhode Island Historical Society.
3 August 1676
Tanton Aug: 3. 76
Reverend & Dear Sir
I have received severall of yors since I saw you & It hath been no small trouble to me that no returne hath been made but it hath been a time of [ ]ligs hurryes wth us ever since, & oppertunities slipt by me unheard off till too late to improove, the last night I came to Tanton hoping there to have an oppertunity of writing to you, when I came thither I was intertained wth yor Last of July 31.335 Now thought I I shall be chidden by my Good freind & lasht to my worke; but found you still very favourably & charitably treating me; Therein I accord with you in the thanks due to God for the bounty of his servants, the Complaints & indeed the murmurings of some amongst are for ye prsent unexpectedly silenced by such provedentiall supplies as hath been cast in upon us from our freinds about us. some undertooke to prdict a famine to us especially in this place when they saw ye prvalentcy of ye enemy; I am not wthout feares such a scourge may follow, but If it doe God will bring it at a time & by such means as we think least off; The Lrd prepare us for his pleasure I desire we may have a discerning of his goings amongst us both in [way?] of Judgment & mercy; I was ye Last night welcomed when I came [here?] wth ye News of Capt: Chur: victories, the Lord sanctify such successe to him & us, I am very thoughtfull of Gods meaning in it. yet our deliverance seems to sticke in the birth, I fear we are not ready to receive wt God is ready to bestow.—we here received from the westward 140 & odd bushell of Indian 19 bush: of pease—40 of wch went to Tanton; It hath been a great releife to us, the Lrd make us duely thankfull—The dole you speake of that is Coming to me I thankfully accept. & Judge it will Come the best to me from Boston If you Can procure it there & it would doubly accomodate me if it were ground we having no mill. It may be if my mother Flint336 hear of it she will be helpfull therein. pray prsent my service to Major Bradford excuse my not writing to him being in hast. I rejoyce in his prservation & safe arrivall, pray faile not to intreate him to remember my Brother flints earnest desire concerning Jethroe337 (viz) that if he be to be sold he may have him, If he be set fre yt he might be sent to him; I would intreate you If you goe quickly into the bay to certify my Brother Flint wt ye major will doe about him in answer to his desire:—The Coneticot army is now here & undetermined wch way to returne whither directly to Rehoboth or to drive ye necks as they Goe—returne me thanks to Mr Mather, Th: Shep:338 as you have oppertunity for their remembrance of me.—Thus wth due respects to yor s & Good Mrs Cotton returning you thanks for yor. Last kind intertainmt desiring the continuance of mutuall prayers I rest
yors Assuredly in all Love
Curwen Family Papers, American Antiquarian Society. Addressed “For the Revd his Dr Friend Mr John Cotton Plimth.” Two small holes along right margin.