King Philip's War of 1675: Summary, Results & Timeline

Instructor: Michael Knoedl

Michael teaches high school Social Studies and has a M.S. in Sports Management.

The United States has been involved in many terrible wars. The deadliest war in American history, considering the number of people involved, happened 200 years before the Civil War. Learn here about King Philip's War of 1675.

Relationship with English

The Wampanoag tribe inhabited modern-day eastern Massachusetts and Rhode Island. This tribe welcomed the Pilgrims, showed them how to live off the land, and celebrated the First Thanksgiving with them. Almost 40 years of peace was able to last because Massasoit, sachem of the Wampanoag, wanted the peace after initially being treated well by the Pilgrims. Sachem is the political and military leader of the tribe. Massasoit's son Metacom said 'When the English first came, my father was a great man, and the English, a little child. He constrained other Indians from harming the English. He gave the English corn and showed them how to plant. He let them have 100 times the land that I now have for my own people.'

Relationship Deteriorates

By the time of Massasoit's death in 1660, new leadership had taken over the English. The new leadership was there to claim land as their own and to convert the Indians to Christianity. Massasoit's oldest son, Wamsutta, became great sachem of the Wampanoag but died in 1662, after returning from a meeting with Governor Josiah Winslow of the Plymouth Colony, leaving Metacom to become the great sachem. Metacom did not trust the English as his father and brother did. Metacom, who the English called King Philip, was just 24 years old when he became sachem and was known as more of a fighter than a peacekeeper.

Metacom's Time

By the time Metacom had become sachem, the English population around the Wampanoag's traditional land had exploded to near 50,000. The English claimed the best farmland and hurt the wildlife population by over-hunting. The Wampanoag's farmland had shrunk to the point that many were taking jobs as workers for the English. During this time, Metacom became increasingly resentful of the English presence.

Fueling War

The English had forced Blue Laws, their Puritan code of ethics, on the local Indians. Wampanoags were prosecuted for hunting on the Sabbath, using traditional Indian medicines, and engaging in non-Christian marriages. In January of 1675, a Wampanoag Christian convert named John Sassamon was preaching to the tribe when he was murdered. The English investigated and brought three Wampanoag men to trial by June of 1675. The men were convicted and hanged within the month at Plymouth.

This was the last straw for Metacom. 'Our ancestors' spirits cry to us for revenge,' he proclaimed, 'These people from the unknown world will cut down our groves, spoil our hunting and planting grounds, and drive us and our children from the graves of our fathers.'

King Philip's War

On June 24, 1675, the Wampanoag and their allies burned several English villages.

Indians burned English homes and buildings

While Metacom did spare the families of English that had treated his father and the tribes well, his guerrilla tactics were as brutal as they were effective. In the fall on 1675, the English sent men to gather their crops and grains left over in deserted villages and bring to the fort. They gathered all that was left in wagons and began their return to the fort. The Wampanoag warriors cut down many trees to block the trail and while some English were cutting the trees to clear the path, other English left their rifles on the wagons and scattered to find fruit. The warriors then attacked from all directions, killing 71 English men and capturing the wagons. A brook where the wagons were stopped ran red with blood and earned the name Bloody Brook.

Bloody Brook was a huge victory for the Indians
bloody brook


As winter hit, the Wampanoag and their allied tribes camped near Mount Wachusett, about 50 miles west of Boston. The Wampanoag had always grown extra crops for winter food, but were unable to because of the fighting and constant movement. They also had more people to feed than expected. The English were frustrated and scared of what was to come next from the Wampanoag and their allies.

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