Recent scholarship has underscored the carnage inflicted by King Philip's War (1675-76). Colonists faced a diverse assortment of Native Americans led by Wampanoag sachem Metacom (whom the colonists referred to as King Philip). In terms of population, King Philip's War was the bloodiest conflict in American history. Fifty-two English towns were attacked, a dozen were destroyed, and more than 2,500 colonists died--perhaps 30% of the English population of New England. At least twice as many Native Americans were killed. Some historians estimate that the combined effects of war, disease, and starvation killed half the Native population of the region. The war left an enduring legacy. Less well known, however, is that while the Puritans did attempt to save the wounded, they were far less successful in their efforts to retrieve and properly inter the dead. Puritan commanders did not always safeguard their men, sometimes leaving them "weltering in their own blood." Concern about casualties was often compromised in the fog of battle. Puritans battled not only the Indians but their own shortcomings in rendering respect to the dead and assistance to the injured. Author Robert Cray is a professor of history at Montclair State University. The author would like to thank Montclair State University for a time release grant under the Faculty Scholarship Incentive Program which made this article possible.
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