Narraganset Expedition of 1675 and the “Great Swamp Fight”

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Tomorrow is the 340th anniversary of the “Great Swamp Fight” of 19 Dec 1675, which took place in South Kingston, Rhode Island during the conflict between the English colonists (and their native allies) and other Native American tribes during King Philip’s War. King Philip’s War was the single greatest calamity to afflict seventeenth-century New England and is considered by many to be the deadliest war in American history, when casualties are compared to the overall population of the time. It is believed that more than half of the 90 settlements in the region had been attacked and a dozen destroyed. The colony’s economy was all but ruined, and both the English and Native populations were decimated, with the English settlers losing one-tenth of all men available for military service. Whole Indian villages were massacred, entire tribes were eradicated, and indigenous refugees fled westward and northward. Thereafter settlers felt free to expand without fear into former Indian territory across southern New England.

My 8th g-grandfather, John Baker (1654-1722) is mentioned in the record of 16 men who banded together as part of the Narraganset Expedition (1675) and fought in the “Great Swamp Fight”, as reported in a book on King Philip’s War by Bodge and a history of Woburn, Massachusetts by Sewell. He was wounded in that battle.  For John’s service in King Philips War, he was given a grant of land in Narragansett Township #4 (now Greenwich, Massachusetts). After the War, he returned to Woburn, Massachusetts and around 1687 he settled in Swansea, Massachusetts.

Another 8th g-grandfather, John Mason (Jr.) (1646-1676) was also involved in the battle, commanding the 5th Company of the Connecticut Regiment under Major (later Governor) Robert Treat.  On 18 Sep 1676 at Norwich, New London, Connecticut, John Mason died of wounds suffered several months earlier in the “Great Swamp Fight”.

Follow the links for more information on the family lines of John Baker and John Mason.

Great Swamp Fight Memorial South Kingston, Rhode Island, was the site of the last stand of the Narragansett Indians in King Philip’s War against the Colonists – In 1906 a rough granite shaft about 20 feet high was erected by the Rhode Island Society of Colonial Wars to commemorate this battle. Around the mound on which the shaft stands are four roughly squared granite markers engraved with the names of the colonies which took part in the encounter and two tablets on opposite sides of the shaft give additional data.

Great Swamp Fight Memorial South Kingston, Rhode Island, was the site of the last stand of the Narragansett Indians in King Philip’s War against the Colonists – In 1906 a rough granite shaft about 20 feet high was erected by the Rhode Island Society of Colonial Wars to commemorate this battle. Around the mound on which the shaft stands are four roughly squared granite markers engraved with the names of the colonies which took part in the encounter and two tablets on opposite sides of the shaft give additional data.

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One comment

  • Orinda Hamon Spence

    Your ancestors were fortunate and lived through that battle. My grandfather, Michael Pierce, believed he could win his fight and instead, lost his life. We generally believe that “cowboys and Indians” took place in the last century, but it seems there were both brave and unhappy things going between the two peoples in t
    he 1600s as well.

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