Early Indian Wars


THERE were, between the two races, enough for quarreling. Dishonest white men were sure to cheat the ignorant Indians, and the violent among the Indians were as sure to revenge themselves. If an Indian suffered wrong from one white man, he thought he had a right to take vengeance on any man, woman, or child of the white race when he found opportunity.

We have seen how suddenly the Indians massacred the Virginians in 1622. This led to a long war, with many treacheries and cruel surprises on both sides. After some years the Indians were subdued by the Virginians, under the lead of William Claiborne. But in 1644 the old chief Opechankano, who had led in the first massacre, planned a second. He was so old that he could not walk without assistance, and could not see, except when his eyelids were held open. He was carried to the scene of bloodshed. The Indians had by this time secured guns. By a sudden surprise they killed about five hundred white people in a single day. But they paid dearly for their victory, for the colony had grown strong enough to defeat and punish them. They were driven away from their villages. Opechankano was taken prisoner, and, while a captive, was suddenly killed by an infuriated soldier.

The Pe'-quot war in Connecticut grew out of the differences between the Dutch and the English settlers. The English brought back the Indians whom the Pequot tribe had just driven away. The Pequots began the war by killing some English traders. The attempts of the English colonists to conquer the Pequots were at first of no avail. The Indians were light of foot, and got away from men in armor. They continued to seize and torture to death such English as they could catch. In 1637, John Mason, a trained soldier, at the head of a company of Connecticut men, with some from Massachusetts, marched into the Pequot country. At Mystic, Connecticut, just before daybreak, the Connecticut men surrounded the palisaded village of Sassacus, the dreaded Pequot chief. In the first onset Mason set the village on fire. A horrible slaughter followed. Indian men, women, and children, to the number of five or six hundred, were shot down or burned in the village, or in trying to escape. In the war which followed this attack, the whole Pequot tribe was broken up, and the other Indians were so terrified that New England had peace for many years after.

About the same time cruel Indian wars raged between the Dutch of New Netherland (now New York) and the Indians in their neighborhood. At one time the Dutch colony was almost overthrown. There was also a war between the Marylanders and the Sus-que-han'-nah tribe. In 1656 the Virginians suffered a bitter defeat in a battle with the Indians at the place where Richmond now stands. The brook at this place got the name of Bloody Run. In 1675 there broke out in New England the terrible Indian war known ever since as King Philip's War. Philip was the son of Massasoit, the Indian chief who had long been a friend to the Plymouth settlers. Philip was a proud man, and thought that he was not treated with enough respect by the rulers of Plymouth Colony, who acted with imprudent boldness in their dealings with him. He was also irritated because large numbers of his people were converted to the Christian religion, through the labors of John Eliot. These converted people, or " praying Indians," formed themselves into villages, and lived under the government of the Massachusetts colony.

Philip won some successes at first, and Indians of other tribes came to his assistance. Many New England towns were laid in ashes, and hundreds of people were killed or carried away into captivity. The powerful tribe of Narragansetts gave Philip secret aid, and in the winter the white men boldly attacked their stronghold. This was always known as the " Swamp Fight." Hundreds of Indians were slain, and their village burned. The colonists also lost two hundred men in this battle, and the Narragansetts took a terrible revenge by burning houses and killing people in every direction. But after a while the white men learned how to fight the Indians. By degrees Philip's power was broken, as his men were most of them killed or captured. Captain Benjamin Church was the most famous fighter against the Indians in this war. Church's men surrounded Philip in a swamp and killed him. The rest of the Indians were soon subdued. Most of the captive Indians were cruelly sold into slavery in Barbadoes. About the time of Philip's war the Doegs and Susquehannahs were ravaging the Virginia frontier, while the governor of that colony refused to allow any one to march against them. But Nathaniel Bacon, a young man of great spirit, was chosen by the people to lead them, which he did in opposition to the governor's orders. This disobedience led to " Bacon's Rebellion."

All the colonies suffered from Indian wars. The infant settlement in South Carolina was almost ruined by a war with the Indians called Wes'-toes, ten years after the arrival of the first white men, and in the very year that Charleston was settled; that is, in 1680. In 1711 the warlike Tuscaroras [tus-ca-ro'-rahs] ravaged the scattered settlements of North Carolina, putting people to death by horrible tortures. It was only by the help of the Virginians and South Carolinians, and the Yam-as-see' Indians, that the settlers, after two years, finally defeated the Tuscaroras, capturing and sending many hundreds of them to be sold as slaves in the West India Islands.

But in 1715, two years after the close of this war, the Yamassees, who had helped the white people to put down the Tuscaroras, joined with the Spaniards in Florida, and with all the other Indians from Florida to Cape Fear, in an attempt to destroy the colony of South Carolina. There were six or seven thousand Indian warriors in this league, while South Carolina could only muster fifteen hundred white men and two hundred trusty negroes. Governor Craven knew that a single defeat would ruin the colony, so he marched with the utmost caution until he brought on a great battle, and overthrew the Indians. The war lasted about three years.


Website: The History Box.com
Article Name: Early Indian Wars
Researcher/Transcriber Miriam Medina


BIBLIOGRAPHY: A History of the United States and Its People by Edward Eggleston; American Book Company-New York 1899
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