Nine Men’s Misery

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Have you heard the story of Nine Men’s Misery? Few, but some locals have. The tale is an example of how bloody and brutal that author Russell Bourne has described as ‘The Red King’s Rebellion’ was. The conflict devastated both sides. For the settlers, it would affect them for decades. No one would venture the twenty mile boundary into the destroyed frontier settlements to rebuild for ten years. As for the other side, the English had vanquished an entire culture in blood and enslavement.

The settlers lived in constant fear because a war party could return. After rebuilding their homes and replanting their crops, they were ever fearful of the savagery similar to what occurred on March 26, 1676.

On this date, the English suffered one of the bloodiest losses of the war. It was so vicious that many towns of the United Colonies began refusing their men to fill the ranks of the militias. Smaller villages claimed that the war had already cost the lives of all of their men.

A war party comprising 300-500 warriors commanded by the sachem Canonchet had boldly run amuck the countryside, engaging the Plymouth Colony in a guerilla campaign, then slipping back into Rhode Island where they attacked and burned several homes.

A force comprising sixty-three men from Plymouth and twenty friendly Wampanoag under the Command of sixty-year-old Captain Michael Pierce departed Rehoboth in pursuit. Pierce was one of the principal commanders of the war, much like Benjamin Church. He was present at the Great Swamp Massacre, in command of troops from Plymouth Colony in December 1675. Relying upon his experience, they tasked Pierce to hunt the marauders down.

Having received intelligence that they were sighted near the town Seekonk, Pierce directed his search into that direction and then crossed into the Rhode Island Colony. After sometime Pierce reached where he believed that he had caught up with Canonchet’s in the Pawtucket area. As they reached a point above the Pawtucket Falls on the Blackstone River, his scouts spotted four or five warriors that appeared to spy them and then dart into cover. Pierce ordered an immediate pursuit.

When they followed the Indians into a ravine, the indians stopped as if they were injured. As Pierce approached, Canonchet’s full force of three hundred men befell them. With the ravine and trees behind them, and the river in front of them, Pierce and his men held and made their defense. Canonchet pressed them, but keeping the English in place.

Then Canonchet began to retreat. Slowly pulling back as they fired their weapons from cover behind the trees. Seeing this as their chance for escape, Pierce, with fifty-five surviving English and only ten Wampanoag left, left their cover and crossed the river to make a dash for safety and cover on the opposite bank.

Pierce and his men had retreated down river a scant distance downriver when their path was suddenly obstructed by another sizeable force of Narragansetts. The English turned to reverse direction, but they found that Canonchet had pushed forward to block them in a flanking position. They had fallen for Canonchet’s feint again. Pierce ordered his men back into the woods in the cover of the trees and into a ring, prepared to fight desperately to the end. The natives did not always kill. They had shown mercy many times by taking hostages to barter for food and blankets.

Such was not the fate for Pierce and his men. A great cry came from all who surrounded the ring of English, and a mass rushed in. By English account, the enemy surrounded and swarmed Pierce and his men. The desperate fight lasted for two hours as Pierce’s force bravely defended themselves until only ten remained. Canonchet took these men prisoner.

Nine of the prisoners were taken a distance away to where the Indians may have had a base camp. Here they were gruesomely tortured before they killed them. There is no account of the tenth man’s fate.

The remains of these nine colonists were buried together where they fell. This gravesite exists today on the lands of the Cumberland Monastery in Cumberland, Rhode Island. At this monastery, there are several unmarked paths in the woods. One can get a map of the trails from the Cumberland Library’s website. The trails are not marked, so you need this map to locate the gravesite.

In 1928, the Monks placed a memorial at the site. This site is also popular with lovers of the paranormal. The site and the surrounding trails are reported to be haunted.

Hometown Inspiration

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When I was a boy, one fact that I learned while my grandfather was undergoing his research was that there was an Indian war in New England. This surprised me because I thought that only wars with natives were with cowboys and soldiers out in the Wild West. It shocked me to learn that the war was with the English the settlers. It shocked me to learn that a battle had taken place not even four miles from my house, and that one of my ancestors, Samuel Brocklebank, had died in this battle.

Many years later, when I had given up my career in the tech industry because of health issues, I found myself at a crossroads. Here I was, starting over, and I did not know which direction my life would lead me. I then decided that I would become a writer, and I already knew that I wanted to tell my ancestor’s story.

The more that I researched the battle, the more did I realize its significance. Sudbury signified the last native victory in the war. Although it was a tactical victory, it did nothing for their cause.The settlers abandoned their homes as the natives burned and destroyed everything in their wake. Despite the natives’ victory, it was not complete.From that point on, Philip’s fortune would change. The English would strengthen their defenses, change their tactics, and use their native allies to hunt Philip and his warriors down.

I decided that I would do the story a disservice if I only focused on this one battle. It is only one episode in the greater story. It cannot explain to the reader the causes of the war. The complete story needed to be told. As I continued my research, I learned the complexity of the causes of the war, and realized that the war took place of several theaters, and that there several points of view with multiple characters, one book was becoming several books. So, now I here I am, having created a saga, and I need to keep this an open world. Meaning, that although I have a finite timeline of the story, I must keep the story itself flexible. I cannot say that the Metacom Saga will be a trilogy or longer. I also can’t drag the story out or it will bore the reader.

It is fascinating that I have wanted to tell this story since I was ten years old. I would tell anybody about this who would listen. Now, I have to bring it to life.

Osamequin: The Father

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The purpose of my writing the series called ‘The Metacom Saga’ is to give a true historical account of the events that occurred during a little known and very misunderstood conflict. This was a golden age. They considered the land to be a land of primeval darkness, to reclaim from sin in the name of God. They considered this to be the “Frontier”.

This war will have many names: The Metacom War, Metacomet’s War, The First Indian War, Metacom’s Rebellion and, most is most commonly known as ‘The King Philip’s War.’ Experts have accepted this struggle per capita to be the bloodiest conflict in America’s history. This is a significant statement.

The war started and ended with Metacom (Philip). Before I can examine Philip, I must first take a step back and look to his father, the Great Sachem Massasoit, and the Pilgrims’ first encounter with the Pakanoket/Wampanoag people. This introduction is so important that the opening chapters of ‘A City On The Hill’ will set the scene of our story and plant the seeds for the reader that might explain why, after only fifty years of friendship, would Philip set New England ablaze with blood.

Massasoit, also known as Osamequin, was in desperate need. During the years of 1616-1619 disease brought by European travelers decimated his people. Thousands died, and they forced the survivors to abandon the area. Massaoit’s power of leadership had been so damaged from this disease, that the Narragansetts in the West came and conquered the Wampanoags. They forced Massasoit to pay a yearly tribute.

Massasoit unsure of what to do with these strange pale men with hair on their faces, needed to make a choice that could have great ramifications for his people; and prophetically it did. Other English have come to his territory for fish and sassafras for nearly a hundred years. All prior encounters had not ended well. These English, however, did not seem to be like the others they have encountered. They have brought their women and children. Their party is small. If he were to make these English his friends and help them survive, they will have established goodwill for when other English come. Massasoit’s gamble works. He has his ally. He achieved his promised protection from the stronger tribes, such as the Pequot and Narragansett. And he made a friend with whom he has built a relationship of goodwill and trade. There were some bumps in the beginning, and and a few along the way; yet these Pilgrims gained his trust.

Massasoit was not a pushover. He was a proud and strong leader. He knew what he what was necessary for his people’s benefit… even it meant to subject himself to embarrassment so that his people may live. He knows how to pick his battles. We don’t see Massasoit’s prowess in battle, but we see his skill at diplomacy. However, Massasoit would not have known that by making this alliance, and helping Plymouth to learn how to survive, he was planting the seed that would bring his people to ruin.

If these settlers were only religious pilgrims seeking a new home, there would be no reason for him to fear. However, to help finance the voyage, the Pilgrims signed a contract with a group of investors that would require the Pilgrims to earn their passage. The agreement required the Pilgrims to work six days a week and develop the land seek new resources that could be profitable. The partners would also require that a number the passenger list would include several of their people and their families, who would represent the investors’ interests. The Pilgrims’ had already given these outsiders a name. They called them “The Strangers”. This was no longer a religious voyage. These investors wanted “the strangers” to keep an eye on their investment speculate the greatest wealth of the New World—Land, minerals and gold!

Massasoit had five children. Wamsutta, the oldest. Metacom, the protagonist of our story. And two daughters who history only has a record of the English names that either they had taken or had been given: Amie and Sarah. For fifty-five years Massasoit remained a friend to the Pilgrims. Most of the original friendships had passed away and replaced with a new generation of leaders who were more progressive toward change and expansion. The new magistrates wanted land. But they there was an issue. They had an Indian problem.

Massasoit had outlived many of his English friends, especially Edward Winslow; with whom he was very close. Long ago, they intended the agreement to provide assurances that was fair toward both parties. Both the Pilgrims and the Wampanoag found themselves in a weakened state, and they needed each other to strengthen one another. Although each culture was unique, they respected each other’s authority. By working together, they mutually became stronger. As new settlers arrived, the colonies wanted to have a legal and government system that was more like the system back home.

As the original generation of settlers and their native friends died of old age, a new generation came into power that was more progressive toward changing to the terms of the original agreements. They had established magistrate law that was very difficult for Massoit and the other tribes to understand. Few understood what was said in court. They could not understand or read the language. Somehow, the English got possession of more land. Massasoit did everything in his power to keep the peace, even going so far as selling land to the English. He knew how dangerous the English were.

In 1660, at seventy-nine, Massasoit sent for his sons Wamsutta and Metacom. He was ill, and he knew that his time was coming to join his forefathers. Massasoit told the brothers that the people will look to them for leadership. He named Wamsutta as his successor. Wamsutta was not chosen because he was the oldest brother. Wamsutta had grown witnessing much of his father’s interactions with the English. He was present during negotiations. When he became of age he sat in on powwows to discuss important matters with the elders and sachems to other Algonquin tribes. Occasionally, Wamsutta would act on his father’s behalf. Massasoit had groomed his son for this role.

Massaoit turned to the younger brother and charged him to be his brother’s right-hand man. To always be at his side and support his decisions. He finally warned the brothers to always keep peace with the English. He told the brothers of the Pequot War, and of how terrible were the English capabilities. He asked them to swear to him they would do this.

Within days, the great sachem would pass away.

In previous posts, I have spent a fair amount of effort to dispel the myths surrounding the establishment of one of what we have learned to be the “birth” of our nation. Some stories have no substantiation. There are also details that we have been taught that aren’t “quite” true or may have been embellished or whitewashed.

Massasoit was a bridge between two cultures. This was a tremendous task. He led his people through difficult times, and he knew when it was time to fight and when it was time to make peace. He demonstrated incredible restraint. We owe him a great debt for his wisdom and sacrifice.

Massasoit is also owed an apology for the betrayal to come.

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The Mayflower…Fact vs. Fiction

The Metacom Saga is a retelling of the King Philip’s War that occurred in the New England colonies in the years between 1675 and 1677. The characters were actual people who experienced actual events. The causes that led to the war were many and complex. I need to discern what happened, how it happened, and if it really happened. To do this, it is necessary to investigate and separate what is fact, and what is myth.

In writing the first installment of my series, I am devoting some time to the early years of the New England colonies to help establish the setting of the events surrounding the native Indian’s earliest dealings with the English before the breakdown of relations and the eventual outbreak of the war.

I am reading about the first settlers, the Pilgrims, who made the journey from England as religious separatists to escape prosecution and abuse and establish a settlement where they would be free to live and worship in peace. I am of course referring to the voyage of the Mayflower. The landing at Plymouth Rock. The establishment of the Plymouth plantation. And everybody are friends with the Indians, and they have a big feast which we now celebrate as Thanksgiving.

Well, let me tell you! The Pilgrims did not have an easy voyage. There were originally two vessels carrying passengers and supplies. The second ship was called the Speedwell. The original plan was to depart England when the season was favorable and arrive in Virginia at the mouth of the Hudson River, where they had received permission by The Company of Merchant Adventurers. These were the investors who paid for most of the expenses of the voyage in return for work from the land in the new settlement.

There were many delays. The two ships departed on August 5, but had to turn around because the Speedwell had sprung a leak and needed repairs. They decided it that the ship was to be sold. The Pilgrims lost valuable supplies, and it forced many of the congregation to return to Holland.

William Bradford, one of the Pilgrims, wrote that captain of the Speedwell was a “cunning and deceitful man”. Some historians have surmised that the Dutch had bribed the captain of to keep the English out of Virginia. Some argue this captain was doing everything and anything to avoid a voyage across the Atlantic during an unfavorable season that would cause them to arrive shortly before winter.

The Mayflower finally departed in September. The seas were treacherous. They ran low on supplies. They consumed sizeable amounts of beer because it was of better quality than the water on board full of disease. During one horrendous storm Christopher Jones, the ship captain knew that the ship would not reach Virginia. He decided to head North to an area of land John Smith had mapped that in 1605. This land was known as Cape Cod. His passengers and crew were sick with disease, and they needed to make landfall.

On November 9, 1620, they spotted land. Captain Jones tried to steer the ship South and make for Virginia, but because of the winter seas and the shoals, it forced him to reverse course and return to the Cape. Despite what tradition says, the Pilgrims did not land at Plymouth Rock. Rather, they made landfall on the outside eastern edge near the head of the curve of the Cape where the current town of Provincetown is located.

An expedition set ashore to explore. They discovered artificial mounds which contained graves and stores of corn and beans. This was their first interaction with the locals, the Nausets. First impressions did not go well because of the apparent stealing of food and desecration of graves.

The expedition of thirty-four men returned to the Mayflower, and Captain Jones raised anchor and sailed into the Cape Cod bay which offered them better protection from the winter winds, and avoided future conflict with the Nausets. After exploring the coast, they found a safe harbor where they could lay anchor and begin building their settlement in the spring. It was during this expedition ashore that we assume that Plymouth Rock is discovered.

The passengers and crew remained onboard the ship in New Plymouth Harbor for the rest of the winter, where they suffered with disease. When spring of 1621 arrived, only fifty-three of the original one-hundred and two passengers, and half of the crew had survived. On March 21, 1621, the Pilgrims finally disembark.

So, the Pilgrims set shore and discovered Plymouth Rock. But as the commercialized tale of Thanksgiving has been told over the years, we had lost the roundabout trip that it took to get to Plymouth Harbor. The story of our forefathers looting food and rummaging through Indian graves would not be a popular subject. So, that becomes excluded in our tale.

How many of you knew about a second ship? How many of you knew of a Dutch conspiracy?

In the story of Thanksgiving, they teach us that Chief Massasoit and the Wampanoag tribe help the new settlement to learn how to plant and grow crops. They taught the Pilgrims how to harvest food from the sea. They taught them how to survive. As a child, I always pictured a big banquet. I never knew how few survived the winter.

This first generation of English truly relied upon their native neighbors. They formed a close bond. For fifty years two cultures worked together. But only one generation later, new leaders forsake this bond and old friendships. Resulting in a war that nearly wipes out both sides.

Wessaguset

I have been observing a Facebook group dedicated to the Descendants of the Mayflower. Several of the members of this group were discussing the current movement of how monuments are being torn down. Even the historic state park will change its name to Patuxet- the original Wampanoag name for the site.

https://tinyurl.com/y37hntwy

One person said, “You can’t change history! History is history! We may not agree with it, but you can’t wipe it away!”

Another member in her argument cited an article written by Professor Maureen Moakley in the Providence Journal (https://tinyurl.com/yyr7cha6)

Moakley states:

“The basic outline of the story is familiar. More than 100 years after Columbus, the English Puritans arrived at Cape Cod, coming ashore onto the Native American territory, filching their corn reserves and other tools and artifacts. After a brutal winter aboard the Mayflower, a fragile contingent began to build a settlement at Plymouth. The Wampanoag tribe could have easily wiped them out, but instead engaged with the settlers. By the following fall in 1621, they participated in a mutual harvest gathering that is the basis of our Thanksgiving celebration.

Shortly thereafter, Roger Williams, exiled from Massachusetts in 1636, arrived in Providence and was greeted by the Narragansetts. They, too, easily could have destroyed his settlement but instead offered assistance and comity. Decades later, when war broke out between settlers from all over New England and the several regional tribes, the Narragansetts chose to remain neutral. They hunkered down in the Great Swamp until it was raided by the likes of Miles Standish and his followers, who brutally killed women and children and drove remaining survivors into servitude and slavery.”

WHOA! WHOA! WHOA! HOLD IT! HOLD IT! HOLD IT!

I can see where Professor Moakley is trying to make her point about colonist travesties by citing the example of the Great Swamp Fight of December 19, 1675, during which an English force marched through the snow, led by a captured Narragansett Indian to the Narragansetts fortified winter fort. This prisoner showed the English force of 1,000 militiamen and 150 Pequot warriors the weak points of the defenses, and how to enter the fort. Under the cover of darkness, the English unleashed their attack. It took two attempts for the full force of the English to enter the camp. Having broke through the defenses, the English set fire to the fort and went to wigwam to wigwam and killed everyone.

At the end of the battle, the camp and fort were ablaze. Most of the Narragansetts’ winter stores destroyed. 97 warriors lay dead. But what was even more tragic was that hundreds of women, children and elderly non-combatants were dead and another 300 captured. The remaining warriors and Philip and his followers slipped away into the swamp.

Did Myles Standish take part in this battle? Absolutely not! Although Standish’s son, Josiah, fought in the King Philip’s War under the command of Benjamin Church, Myles did not. In fact, Myles had died in 1656 while in retirement in Duxbury, Massachusetts.

Now, I am not dismissing Standish. He was a military man. There is no evidence that he ever murdered women or children. However, Standish had a brutal side. Standish would step into the role of soldier when needed, even if people would not agree with his methods.

Thomas Weston, a wealthy merchant from London, did not believe in being tied down by women and children. He did not follow the Puritan views of Plymouth and was at odds with the Pilgrims. He believed in profit. So, he recruited 60 able-bodied men to establish his own colony; and he got his own land patent to establish trade. In May 1622, the first group of men arrived in Plymouth and then travelled about 25 miles North and chose a site that the Natives called Wessagusset (present day Weymouth, Massachusetts).

More settlers arrived, but by the end of 1622 the colony was failing to thrive. They did not know how to farm, fish or hunt. The settlers were starving. Plymouth sent Standish as leader of a rescue party that brought struggling community 26 hogsheads (each a 64 gallon barrel) of corn as a relief. John Saunders took control of Wessagusett.

The corn did not last long. As supplies once again ran out, and settlers starved to death, Saunders sent word to Plymouth and asked the magistrates if he could take corn from the Indians by force. Plymouth denied his request. Indians began sending word to Plymouth, accusing the settlers of Wessagusset of stealing. This caused great tension in the region, forcing Plymouth to divert attention away from valuable work in the fields and focus on improving the defenses of the colony. Soon their food stores were running low.

Both Plymouth and Wessagusset organized a joint trading expedition with the Indians for corn, which they split with the proceeds. Unfortunately, they could only barter with labor, clothes, and other needed supplies. The Indians reportedly caught one settler stealing, and the Wessagusset leadership hanged the man, hoping to satisfy the insult. One legend states that the leadership had executed the wrong man. On top of this, it didn’t seem to placate the natives. It was only one of a list of growing grievances. To add to this, as tensions continued to escalate over the winter, the neighboring Indians moved into land nearby to Wessagusset. This caused the colonists to fear that an attack was imminent.

One colonist named Phineas Pratt made a run for Plymouth, pursued by angry natives, to sound the alarm. He arrived on March 24th 1623. Pratt met with Governor Bradford and the town councilmen and gave his report. But it seems that actions were already in motion.

The Pokanoket sachem Massasoit had been grievously ill and was on his death bed. Edward Winslow had travelled the 60 miles to care for his sick friend and brought him back to health. There had been a period of mistrust between Massasoit and the Pilgrims concerning the issue with Squanto. But as Winslow had saved his life, Massasoit warned Winslow of impending danger.

He told Winslow that there wasa plot by surrounding Indian tribes against the colonies of Wessaguset and Plymouth. Winslow rushed home to give the alarm and Standish was dispatched to Wessaguset with a small force, arriving on March 26.

There are varying reports. But one version tells the story where Standish had invited several of the principal Indian leaders to Wessaguset under possible false peaceful pretenses. Under the guise of trade, he lured the natives into a closed building. These Indians included Wituwamut, Wituwamut’s teenagebrother,r and the sachem Pecksuot.

For Standish, it was already personal. He had a grudge with Wituwamut for insulting him. Months earlier, during another trading mission, Wituwamut had poked fun at him in his armor by saying, “I have killed white men, both French and English, here are their knives to prove it.”

During the negotiations, it is said that Wituwamut teased Standish about his 5’5 height by saying, “You are a great captain, but you are a little man, though I am no sachem, I am of great strength and courage.”

Standish did not react but invited his guests into a building for lunch where the door was locked. Once, inside, Standish grabbed Pecksuot’s own knife and drove it into his chest, while others killed Wituwamut and his brother. Outside, upon hearing the commotion the accompanying warriors reacted and a fight ensued. Five settlers were killed before the five warriors and another elderly sachem by the name of Obtakiest lay dead. The deed done, Standish beheaded Wituwamut, and mounted his head on a pike and brought it back to Plymouth as a trophy. A reminder to anyone that the English were no one to cross.

This was a rash act shocked both the settlers of Wessaguset and Plymouth. It was one thing to protect settlement from an invading force. But to perform such a brutal act was viewed as overkill. They knew that such an act could have lastingrepercussionss. Wessaguset, the weaker colony, was afraid that they would receive the brunt of the natives’ wrath, and that they did. Several months later, they were attacked and the settlement was abandoned. A number of settlers were captured and tortured. Others escaped North to Maine or returned to London.

Because of the massacre at Wessaguset, Plymouth’s trade with the Indian tribes was affected for years. It would not be until the time that Boston and the establishment of the Massachusetts Bay Colony would the English and their superior numbers and become the leading power prior to the Pequot War that trade would recover.

The Myth of Squanto

I just love throwing curveballs at you!

As with many stories in history, the truth become white-washed, embellished and facts lost to antiquity. It then becomes the historian’s task to hunt for the truth through the discovery of contemporary testimony and records. By scrutinizing over these “facts”, one can then separate the fact from the fiction.

One such myth is that of Squanto. Squanto, as stories tell us, was a young Indian who had come into contact with English fishermen, who then brought him back to England on their return trip. While in England, they showed Squanto many marvelous places and things, and Squanto learned how to speak English. After spending several years in England, Squanto returned to America where he told the great chiefs of the wonders he had seen.

When the natives saw how the Pilgrims struggled, the great Sachem Massasoit wished to offer the Pilgrims his friendship. Massasoit sent Squanto as an ambassador to Plymouth, where he greeted them with the words, “Welcome, English!”

After speaking with the Pilgrims, Squanto told them that Massasoit was the ruling leader of the New England. If the English wanted peace, they must negotiate with him. They agreed that Squanto would return to his sachem and return.

As promised, Squanto returned with Massasoit and acted as interpreter as the Pilgrims and the sachem met and came to a peace agreement between them.

That is not… quite how it happened.

Squanto, or Tisquantum, was born around the year 1585. He belonged to the Patuxet tribe. The Patuxet village existed in the very location that the Pilgrims established their settlement. The area was heavily populated. And they cultivated the land.

In 1605, when Frenchman Samuel Champlain mapped the region, that he could see many wigwams on the shore and planted crops from his ship in the harbor; and he reflected this on the rudimentary map that he drew.

In 1611, Captain Edward Harlow abducted several Indians and brought them back to Europe. One of these natives was named Epenow. Epenow was unusually tall and muscular compared to a typical European. Harlow showed Epenow around the streets of England and Spain to make money.

Epenow saw enormous cities with tall buildings cramped together. He learned English so he may speak with the gentry. All of this so that Harlow could add coin to his purse. This was a lesson that did not slip past Epenow. He told his keepers that there was a mine back at Martha’s Vineyard, where there was a great hoard of gold waiting for the taking. They mounted an expedition to return to the shores of America. But when the ship came to within swimming distance, Epenow jumped overboard and swam ashore, escaping his captors. Epenow will become an important character later in our story.

Three years later, in 1614, when John Adams of Pocahontas fame came to explore the area with several vessels, one of the ship captains took it upon himself to capture as many Indians as he could fill his cargo hold to sell them as slaves. Historians believe that Squanto was one of these prisoners. Adams was furious with this Captain Thomas Hunt because he knew what it would do with future English-native relations. Unfortunately, this became a regular occurrence and would sow the seeds of mistrust for years.

While he was in captivity Squanto traveled to England, Spain and Newfoundland. He learned English and made himself most useful as an interpreter back in America. He found himself in the service of the explorer Thomas Dermer, a mariner from Maine. When Dermer wished to explore the Cape Cod area, he learned that Squanto was from that area So, Squanto became his guide.

In 1619, five years after his abduction, Squanto was returning home to Patuxet. During the years of 1616-1619, the area was decimated by a pestilence that historians believe may have been the smallpox brought by European fishermen or explorers who had come ashore. It had wiped the entire village of Patuxet out. Squanto was speechless with what had befell his home.

Squanto then brought Dermer and his party inland to another village called Nemasket. Squanto learned that not all of his people had perished. They had escaped here. He even found that some of his relatives survived. Squanto then planned to find favor with the Great Sachem Massasoit by bringing the English to him to build an alliance. He had learned that since the great plague, Massasoit had lost much of his power and the Narragansetts had become the ruling power in the area. Massasoit had to endure the shame of becoming subject to the Narragansetts and pay tribute every year. If he could help broker an alliance and help Massasoit regain power, perhaps he could return to Patuxet with his tribe and become a sachem himself—perhaps one day becoming as powerful as Massasoit himself.

Squanto escorted Dermer the day’s travel to Massasoit’s village, believed to be Sowams in present day Warren, Rhode Island. It pleased Massasoit to meet Dermer and the English. Squanto was correct in his estimation of Massasoit’s plight with the Narragansetts. If the Pokanoket could find a powerful ally, Massasoit would welcome them. Massasoit freed a French prisoner who, apparently, was one of a few survivors of a shipwreck from 1615. The Indians acted out their revenge for actions by other Europeans. They murdered the rest of the crew except for a few survivors. Dermer and Massasoit parted in friendship; and his freedom returned to him, Squanto returned to Nemasket.

Dermer then set sail for Martha’s Vineyard where he met another sachem who, as fate would have it, was our friend Epenow. Because of his newfound notoriety from his travels overseas, and knowledge of the English language that allowed him to communicate with the fishermen and explorers that traveled to his island, he had become the leader of his tribe. After speaking with Epenow, Dermer negotiated the release of a second French castaway, and then sailed to Virginia.

When he returned the following Summer, he did not receive a friend’s welcome. A few months prior in the Spring, an English ship had sailed into the Narragansett Bay and enticed a group of Massasoit’s people onboard. It is possible that the Englishmen tried to abduct them too into slavery they fought back. Whatever happened, the English shot everyone of them in cold-blood, and dumped them overboard. Massasoit was furious! These English to whom he had pledged his allegiance betrayed him! Had Squanto not intervened, they would have killed Dermer.

When Dermer landed on Martha’s Vineyard, Epenow ordered an attack. Dermer, Squanto and one other Englishman survived.

Epenow did not trust Squanto. He himself knowing English, he felt that Squanto was dangerous. He believed that Squanto could say that he knew what the English were saying, when he was lying and plotting for himself, or for the English.

We will see later a similar issue in our story of the Metacom Saga.

Massasoit also did not trust Squanto. It is unknown if Epenow acted on his own, or if Massasoit gave the command. Squanto was handed over to Massasoit as a prisoner.

A few months later, in November 1620, the Mayflower is sighted off of Provincetown Harbor. Massasoit hears of the Pilgrim’s encounter with the Nausets. He has the Mayflower observed as it sails about Cape Cod Bay until it anchors off the shore from the remains of Patuxet. They observed the Pilgrims as they build their settlement. They observed that they are doing poorly with the winter weather.

By February 1621, the Indians are no longer hiding. The Pilgrims regularly see the natives standing on top of hills, or in the trees, or across the bay. By this time, deaths were occurring daily. By the end of the Winter, only 52 of the original 102 in the party lived. The Pilgrims did their best to hide their diminished numbers and hid their dead.

Massasoit agonized over his decision. They differed from the other white-faced, bearded men from the past. They did not seem to come to kill his people or steal them away. They brought their women and children. They were vulnerable. What was their purpose here? They were here to stay. What was he to do with them?

Massasoit called a Powwow with his elders and shamans to decide the matter.

Squanto, saw an opportunity to improve his situation. He offered to be an interpreter. He advised Massasoit to not make the English his enemy. He told Massoit that the English could help the Pokanoket break free from the bonds of the Narragansetts and be a valuable ally against any future attack.

He warned of the power of their weapons. He warned that if Massasoit were to attack and kill them, many more English would come and seek revenge, reminding the sachem that his people are weak and so few after the great sickness that depleted so many of their numbers. Squanto then added that the English also had great magic — that they could inflict disease upon their enemies. Knowing that Massasoit’s people had just suffered a large loss, and that it was probably even rumored that the white men brought the disease, Squanto gambled that this would sway Massasoit.

The gamble worked. Massasoit decided that he would meet the English at Patuxet. But he still did not trust Squanto.

It so happened that there was another sachem from Maine who was visiting Massasoit’s camp. He had learned some English from some English sailors and traders who frequented his area. Massasoit sent this man to go to the Plymouth settlement.

On March 16, 1621, they sounded the alarm. A lone Indian appeared atop Watson Hill, outside the stockade. This Indian differed from the others. Instead of keeping his distance, he confidentially crossed the brook and strolled into the settlement. The Pilgrims stared in amazement until someone stood in his path. With a smile, he saluted.

AND THEN… come the famous words. “Welcome, English!”

This was Samoset.

With his broken English, Samoset explained to them that where they settled used to be Patuxet. He said that it used to be a sizeable area, settled by many people with many fields. Samoset explained to them how the great sickness killed the people. He then told them Patuxet was part of Pokanoket land, and that Massasoit was their leader. Samoset said that he would return to Massasoit, and that there was another Indian that spoke even better English than he did. The Pilgrims agreed to the meeting, and Samoset set out the following morning.

Four days later, Samoset returned with four other Indians. Squanto was one of them. They reported that Massasoit and his brother, Quadequina, were nearby. An hour later, Massasoit and a large entourage of warriors were standing on top of Watson Hill, waiting.

They sent a delegation out to meet him. And the rest, as they say, is history. Squanto played a pivotal role in the first negotiations. He also remained at Plymouth for twenty months as a liaison between the Pilgrims and the Pakanokets.

Was the Mayflower First?

Earlier this week I posted a piece that confirmed and debunked some facts about how the ‘Mayflower’ made the historic journey to New England and establish a permanent colony. As Pilgrims, they leave England for religious freedom. With the help of their guide, who learned English from English sailors, Squanto acts as an interpreter between his chief and these strangers. This chief is Massasoit of the Pokanoket tribe. Massasoit, never having met these people with pale skin and hairy faces, befriends the Pilgrims and his people provide aid by teaching them how to grow corn, and how to gather the bounty of the ocean. We have taught our children in the past that following the first harvest all gathered at a glorious feast which later becomes our modern day Thanksgiving. The year is 1620.

True or False?

When the Mayflower anchored off the shores of Cape Cod in November 1620, no other English or other European power had sailed as far North as New England. False.

According to author, Nathaniel Philbrick in his book, ‘Voyage, Community, And War’, the earliest recorded visit occurred in 1524, near present day New Port, Rhode Island.

For many years, European fishermen had been making the trek across the Atlantic to fish off the coast of Maine and Cape Cod Bay. This is how Cape Cod received its name. By 1602 English explorers, like Bartholomew Gosnold travelled to map the area and harvest sassafras that could produce medicine for certain diseases.

In 1605, having created conflict Gosnold and other needed to leave.

In 1611 an English Captain captured a half dozen natives and brought them back to Europe as slaves. We believe one such prisoner to be Squanto, who would later return and play a role in future negotiations between the two cultures, having learned the English language during his travels. But his true motives have come into question.

In 1614, Captain John Smith, from the story of Pocahontas, explored the area of Cape Cod drew a very detailed map, which highlighted the locations of all potential areas for successful settlement. Smith almost became a member of the expedition, but there was a dispute with over the size of his fee. It is unfortunate because he had extensive knowledge of the area and had dealt with natives before. Instead, they agreed that Smith would sell them a copy of his map.

It was during Smith’s voyage in 1614 that another Englishman captain had the entire cargo hold filled for the slave trade. Smith was furious and knew how this action would affect all future relationships and interactions.

A year later, in 1615, a French ship wrecked off Cape Cod, and the natives killed all the survivors, except a few. They men were kept alive as slaves. It is said that even Massasoit received one prisoner to become a servant.

It would seem that Massasoit and his people had interacted with Europeans before. This interaction would have recently occurred. One can see that the seeds of mistrust had already been planted than surmised — potentially leading up to the King Phillip’s War.

If this is true? Why was Massasoit so quick to provide aid?

That is a post for another day.

If you want a good read, I recommend Mayflower: Voyage, Community, War by Nathaniel Philbrick

https://tinyurl.com/y9mlhsla

A Lesson From Granddaddy

I was going through my Twitter account today and tried to thank my new followers for joining my network. I don’t want to be stuffy and impersonal, accumulate followers, and never interact with them. I intend to be personable and approachable.

I feel that the skill of networking to be helpful to build a successful career. For this reason, I use social networking to contact other authors, historians, and individuals within the publishing industry that I can approach at any hour for advice, a merry laugh, and learn by sitting back and observe.

I apply this same method to my LinkedIn account.

This is not a novel concept. Some of you, if not all of you, have used social networking in a job search, a quest for a reliable editor or cover artist, to find an agent or publisher to contact, or follow a favorite author, poet, or artist. But, I want to share with you where I received this lesson.

As a boy, I witnessed my grandmother’s fight with cancer. To pass the time, my grandfather researched the family history. My grandfather traced the family back to one of the oldest colonial families in Massachusetts that settled in Essex and Rowley in 1641.

During his search in to the family history, he discovered that one of our ancestors had died in the defense of the town of Sudbury on April 21, 1676 during the King Philip’s War. This Indian attack was three miles away from the house. This moment, standing in my grandfather’s study, is when my love for history began. Thirty-three years later, I would decide to write what would become The Metacom Saga.

I am tearing up as I am writing this. Austin Harrison taught me what it means to be a man. I developed not only my love for history from my grandfather. He was my father-figure. He was a smart man. He was one developer of radar that was developed for the bombers during World War II. Grandaddy was an innovator of television when it was in its infancy. This man taught me my work ethic, and he taught me the importance of family. He and my grandmother were blessed with eight children, and over the years my grandfather would become the gentle and kind patriarch of an extensive family.

He and I became very close as I helped him tend to the extensive property and sell the Christmas trees. He would give me the shoulder to shoulder time that a boy needed. Not once did he speak to me in anger, but showed by example, even when didn’t realize I was watching and learning.

During my grandmother’s last days, my grandfather rarely left his wife’s side. What I observed was that Mr. Harrison made it a point to ask the name of every nurse and hospice worker that cared for my grandmother as shifts and schedules changed. He would thank each person for every minor thing that they did to make my grandmother comfortable.

Many years later, when my mother’s illness had taken a similar spiral, she was placed on life support. The decision was suddenly placed upon my brother and I to turn the support off. There were three different choices of treatment. No matter what the path taken, she would still At this point she was brain dead. Do we keep her alive, or do we let her go?

My brother and I agonized for hours as the decision was debated and family were called to come say their goodbyes.

As the hospital staff worked to keep my mother comfortable, I made it a point to thank each one. My aunt picked up on it. The ‘thank you’ that affected me the most came at the moment that I spoke the words on behalf of the family that we felt that it was best to remove the life support.

I stepped out to cry. I had to keep it together long enough to decide. I had to be strong for my grandfather, who even surrounded by family, seemed so broken. I needed the release.

As I paced in the hall outside of the room, the junior doctor who had been attending to my mother. Earlier I had noticed her back out of the room as she deferred to the senior physician. She seemed to be emotionally affected. My mother must have been one of her first patients that she lost.

I spoke to her as she passed, and it surprised her that I addressed her by her first name. I had observed her full name on her security badge during one time she checked my mother’s chart. She said that she was sorry for my loss, but I interrupted her, addressing her by name, I thanked her for everything that she had done. Nodding, she tearfully turned and continued down the hall.

This post has somewhat taken a slight detour than I intended. But I think I have still made my point. From this personal story could you find the Easter Egg? What was I doing?

I WAS NETWORKING.

What is a Historical Novelist?

I have been many things in my lengthy career since I graduated from Marietta College in 1995. Goodness! I just dated myself! I am turning fifty in February!

I have worked a wide range of jobs in my lengthy work history. I have sold tires. I had been a software trainer. I had worked Information Technology. I have been an English teacher. I have been a salesman. I even had a job as a debt collector. Oh, I hated that job!

Now, when I come into contact with people I haven’t seen in a while, or I meet somebody new, I am asked the same questions as I shake their hand, or I am talking to them over the phone.:

“So, where did you end up landing?”

“What do you do for work?”

They expect that I have a position that they associate me with from the past, or they assume is a typical professional job.

“I am writer.” I responded.

I am then asked, “What kind of writer are you?” Not only do I respond that I am a novelist, but I am a ‘Historical Novelist’. I then I have to explain to them how that is different or not different from a novelist.

WHAT IS A HISTORICAL NOVELIST?

Stories written in this genre are beyond the solitary usage of flash backs. Flash backs can be necessary because they can be used to advance the plot. And that is precisely what the setting of a historical novel does. It acts as a backdrop in which the characters exist. The reader must be able to identify with the characters with their own feelings.

I am coming at from a theater background. I must have performed in close to twenty plays. It did not matter when the or where the play took place. It was the performers’ task to ‘become’ those characters and whisk the audience away from their seats. They identify with the characters. It breaks the fourth wall.

A performance of one of Shakespear’s plays is a prime example. The story takes place during a unique time period. They introduce the audience to a group of characters, and they kind of get an idea of plot. If an untrained reader were to read a play in the original text with no footnotes, their eyes would bug out! It’s a bloody poem!

Actors train today to combine the lines of the play together into more understandable sentences. The audience can now listen to the fancy language and adjust their point of reference to better understand the language and then build that relationship with the characters. The plot can now move forward.

Setting means nothing. I have seen performances where they have modernized the set and costumes, but nothing has changed with the language of the play itself. Instead of Fifteenth Century garb, they dress the characters in World War I era British uniforms. The audience were not affected at all.

That is the challenge for a historical novelist. I still write fiction with the same purpose as any other novelist. The rub is have to make them believable enough to the reader enough that they can identify with them in present time.

The Metacom Saga is a historical retelling of the King Philip’s War. The war nearly wiped out an entire race of people. After the war, it took decades for the colonies to recover. There are similarities to the King Philip’s War and the recent events that have been occurring around the county.

They fought the war to defend a people’s culture. Unfortunately, it led to violence. The two sides were too different culturally. One side was more concerned to explain the war as being punishment for their sin, rather than actually looking at how they were treating the other party.

That was four hundred years ago.

As I have watched the news, I have seen thousands of protestors of different races, ages, sexes, sexual orientation march under a common banner, and calling out for change. And change is coming!

I have tried to keep this short. Many of my followers are writers, so they already know where I am coming from. But, I am also developing a network with actual readers. I have built a following for the Metacom Saga. I hope that this was useful.

The Angel of Hadley

Three hundred forty-four years ago, on June 12, 1676, natives from the area of the Connecticut River Valley attack the poorly defended town of Hadley, Massachusetts. When any salvation seemed beyond hope, the story is told that a mysterious elderly gentleman appeared in their midst. Not only did he rally the residents, but he took it upon himself to put himself in command. He directed where to direct fire, where to shift their defense, as the natives changed their strategy (including multi-pronged attacks). The attack foiled, the natives withdrew. The smell of gunpowder and smoke thick in the air. The town’s savior disappeared. Years later, the nineteenth-century author Nathaniel Hawthorne would later name him the “Gray Champion”.

Now, here is why I adore history! To some people, history is a stuffy subject—a collection of dates to memorize.  But history can be a mystery.  History can be as fun as the most exciting treasure hunt. In our story, after research and study, they have proposed that the Angel of Hadley is General William Goffe.

Who was William Goffe?

During the period surrounding the time when the Puritans departed England to settle in the New World, England was shifting into a period of change and unrest. These resulted in a series of civil wars on how England, Scotland and Ireland were to be governed. The two warring parties were the Parliamentarians and the Royalists.

In 1649, the Parliamentarians seized control and tried King Charles I, and executed him on January 30, 1649. Both Goffe and Edward Whalley were two of the fifty-nine signatories on the King’s order of death.  Oliver Cromwell defeated the Crown Prince Charles II’s bid to regain the throne in the Battle of Worcester on September 3, 1651.  Charles fled to mainland Europe.

After the war, Cromwell became a dominant political figure became the Lord Protector of England, unifying the British Isles under his rule (1653-1658). 

After Cromwell’s death, and a brief period of rule by his son, Richard, the English political government was in crisis and the monarchy was restored.

Goffe and his father-n-law knew that with the return of the monarchy, the parties involved in the regicide of the previous king would be punished with a swift hand.  On May 4, 1660 — four days before Charles II returned to power, the decision was made for Goffe and Whalley to make their escape.  Knowing that their future was uncertain, the men left England under the names of Shepardson and Richardson on the ship Prudent Mary.

The fugitives arrived in Boston, Massachusetts, on July 27.  Other prominent Puritans welcomed them.  They visited the home of Charles Chauncy. Future Governor John Leverett was a Parliamentary Army Officer during the war and was the colony’s agent in England. He may have been the pair’s primary contact.  Goffe and Whalley had dinner at the home of Daniel Gookin, a fellow passenger on the Prudent Mary.

Daniel plays a vital role in our later story as he becomes a major proponent converting native Indians to Christianity. Working with Rev. John Eliot, he becomes the Superintendent of all praying Indian villages.

Goffe and Whalley settle across the Charles River in the village of Cambridge.  Here, Boston is close by, and yet they could receive fair warning should the King’s agents arrive in the Boston Port.

On September 22, the King issue’s a proclamation to arrest Goffe and Whalley.  Just as the King’s agents set sail for Boston to deliver dispatches, compatriots to Goffe and Whalley book separate passage to race and warn their friends.  On November 30, the Act of Indemnity from Parliament, not the writ, arrives.  The Act granted pardon to, but not all, who had acted against the crown during the Civil Wars.

On February 25, 1661, deciding to no longer place their friends in risk harboring fugitives, and risk capture, the two move on to New Haven, Connecticut.  Here, they arrive on March 7 at the home of Reverend John Davenport, founder of the colony.  The writ for their capture arrives in Boston on March 8.  Governor Endicott had welcomed Goffe and Whalley at their arrival and had turned a blind eye. He issues a warrant knowing that the pair has already slipped out of Massachusetts.

By April 30, word had come to New Haven about the writ for arrest.  They issued a similar warrant.  What’s worse, they learned that that there is a pair of agents, Kellond and Kirk, who have warrants for their arrests.  These warrants grant Kellond and Kirk the power to search the colonies of New Haven, Connecticut, and even the freedom to search the Dutch colony of Manhattan.

They move Goffe and Whalley to the home of Colonel William Jones.  Colonel Jones was a powerful supporter for the pair, as he was Oliver Cromwell’s brother-in-law, and another veteran from the Civil Wars. Jones was also a passenger on the Prudent Mary.  They stayed with Jones until May 11.  Jones helping them move from house to house.

Kellond and Kirk arrive in New Haven on May 13.  Apart from acting as agents for Goffe and Whalley’s capture, the royalists were promised sizeable rewards by their King.  They would not give up their charge.

From May 15 until June 21, Goffe and Whalley hide in a cave.  In the seventeenth century, New England was experiencing what today’s scientists call a “Mini-ice age”.  In severe weather, the two would stay at a nearby home.  Intel from their supporters reported that the King’s agents had travelled to Manhattan to direct their search.

During Kellond and Kirk’s search, offering sizeable rewards, they learned that the fugitives had been in New Haven, and had been seen in Davenport’s home. The two interrogated Davenport, demanding that he divulge where the pair were hiding.  They threatened to take action against him.

Upon hearing news of this and no longer wishing to put any of their friends or supporters at risk, Goffe and Whalley decide that the jig was up and that it was time to turn themselves in.  They return to New Haven.  Once they arrive, they reveal themselves long enough to draw Kellond and Kirk off Davenport and deflect any future suspicion from him.  They then revealed themselves to Deputy Governor Leete to surrender.  Leete, however, refused to take them into custody and urged them to go back into hiding.  Returning to the cave, the men remained there from June 24 until August 19.

The pair spent the next two years in Milford, hidden in the home of Micah Tomkins.  Legend has it that Tomkins had the house built for the purpose.  Goffe and Whalley lived in a cellar hidden underneath the family spinning room. 

In 1664, the men had received word through their network that royal commissioners were traveling from Boston to Manhattan.  They also commissioned them to search a residence.  Since the wording of the commission named the subjects of the search as mentioned in “High Treason”, the fugitives assumed that they were the target.  They returned to the cave, but could not remain there, because an Indian hunting party discovered them.  Once again, they had to go on the move, and go to where the King’s agents wouldn’t look for them. This meant the frontier.

On October 13, they made for Hadley.

So…..

Was General Goffe the Angel of Hadley?

This is what we know.  Increase Mather was a prominent religious leader of the Massachusetts Colony.  He is known to have acted as an intermediary for Goff’s letter’s home to his family and supporters.  Mather is also famous for writing a contemporary history of the King Philip’s War.  Mather could have received some account of the fight in a letter from Goffe.  It was Major John Talcott’s men who arrived in time to help fight off the Pocumtucks Indians.  And it is with Talcott’s own brother-in-law, Reverend John Russell, who was supposed to have been sheltering Goffe.  Massachusetts Governor Leverett, a friend to Goffe, is known to have visited Hadley during the time would have lived there.  The age of our “Champion” is about right.  Born in 1605, Goffe would have been seventy-one years old at the time of the Hadley Fight.

Although there is no specific historical source that cites that Goffe was present at the Hadley fight on June 12, 1676, I view that it more likely it was him. And through the efforts of many influential colonial religious, political, military, and a network of Puritan supporters went to magnificent effort to cover-up Goffe’s involvement and protect his concealment.

Today in Hadley you can find a memorial stone at 102 Russell Street, near Whalley Street, commemorating where Reverend Russell’s house once stood.