As promised, it is my attention while, telling my tale of the Metacom Saga, to be as accurate as possible in the depiction of events, people, and the and interpretations of the causes of the war that I am accurate and fair to both sides. Although there is, I believe, a definite instigator, both sides do not have clean hands. Each side had complex characters who are torn by their ideologies and cultural identities, and had to come to terms with the ramification that such a bloody war had upon their identities. As I mentioned in my last post, the war forever changed the society of New England from that time period. Some of the damage took decades to recover from, other wounds never healed.
Many of these anecdotal writing we can take as factual because they were collaborated by so many other sources. Sometimes the number of native deaths may be have been exaggerated for the English to promote in their letters, sermons and publications back to England that the Christian faith prevailed, but other military reports would give a more accurate count.
Other depictions that we get of our cast come from autobiographies, which can be self-gratifying. Or past historians who glorify the battles. So, the images that the reader receives in their mind of historical person becomes one based upon legend.
Today I would like to talk about one such character today. His name is Captain Samuel Mosely.
Captain Mosely was one of the main Captains of the militia from the Massachusetts Bay Colony. He was one of two captains who had been called to the task of raising a company of militiamen to join the fight to put down King Philip’s (Metacom’s) rebellion. It is said that within three hours Mosely had raised a troop of 110 men. These men were described as being “Privateers”, servants and boys. Mosely was rumored to have been a retired privateer himself, who had married well into Bostonian gentry. It is argued that this is how he knew how to collect such a group of single men.
Mosely and his men distinguished themselves in battle many times, and were instrumental in tracking renegade Indians down. However, Mosley gained a reputation of being cruel to the Indians indiscriminately. He had even arrested a group of friendly Christian Indians and sent them to Boston to be sold off to slavery in the West Indies. He was known to use hunting dogs to chase escaping natives down, including women, children, the elderly and infirmed.
This vexed the United Colonies leaders. In the beginning of the war they were trying to be conciliatory to sue for peace and bargain for the return of captives. They finally had to ring in his leash. When the tide of war changed in favor of the English, and it was clear that the rebellion was failing, the leadership issued Mosely new orders that granted him more independence.
Mosely was the one military commander that the natives feared. Legend has it that when Mosely and a force of 60 men were preparing to fight a much larger force of natives, the natives were mortified when Mosely removed his wig so that he wouldn’t be encumbered in battle. Some thought that he removed his own scalp before their own eyes, others thought that he revealed that he had two heads. They yelled at the English and pointed.
One reportedly yelled in broken English, “Umph, Umph e no Strawmerre Engishmon, Engishmon got two Hed; if me cut off un Hed, he got anoder…”
The natives then withdrew.
Quite a story. It could never have happened. But…some stories are built from truth. We looking back have to remember that natives are from a different culture. One of the reasons why the conflict occurred was because each party’s culture was so foreign to the other. It is certainly plausible seeing a man remove his wig would be so alien to a Wampanoag, or Nipmuck, or most likely a Narragansett.
I hope that you enjoyed today’s post. It was fun for me. It helps me to pull my thoughts together as I am compiling my notes. I want to get this story right, and due the characters right.
I know that many of the states are beginning to lift their quarantine restrictions. I know that it is Memorial Day Weekend. But, please! Be safe!