Gateway to the Classics: A First Book in American History by Edward Eggleston
A First Book in American History by  Edward Eggleston

Captain Church in Philip's War

The white men had not learned how to fight the Indians, who moved swiftly from place to place, and hid themselves in the darkest swamps. But at last the man was found who could battle with the Indians in their own way. This was Captain Benjamin Church.

Church could not only fight the Indians, but he knew how to make them his friends. One tribe, not far from his home, was under the control of a squaw sachem, or woman chief. Her name was Awashonks. She and Benjamin Church were good friends, and after the war broke out Church tried to go to see her, but some of the Indians of her tribe who were friendly to Philip attacked Church and his men, so that they had to hide behind a fence till a boat came and took them away.


Later in the war, church sent word to Awashonks that he would meet her and four other Indians at a certain place. But the rulers of Plymouth Colony thought it too dangerous for church to go to see the squaw sachem. They would not give him any men for such an expedition.

However, Church went on his own account, with one white man and three Indians. He took some tobacco and a bottle of rum as presents suited to the taste of this Indian queen. Church ventured ashore, leaving his canoe to stand off at a safe distance, so that if he should be killed the men in the canoe might carry the news to the white people. Awashonks and the four Indians met him and thanked him for venturing among them. But soon a great number of warriors, frightfully painted and armed, rose up out of the tall grass and surrounded Captain church. The captain knew that if he showed himself frightened he would be killed.

"Have you not met me to talk about peace?" he said to Awashonks.

"Yes," said Awashonks.

"When people meet to talk of peace they lay down their arms," said Captain Church.

The Indians now began to look surly and to mutter something.

"If you will put aside your guns, that will do," said Church.

The Indian warriors laid down their guns and squatted on the grass. During the discussion some of them grew angry, and one fellow with a wooden tomahawk wished to kill Church, but the others pushed him away. The captain succeeded in making peace with this tribe, who agreed to take the side of the English against Philip.

Awashonks held a war dance after this, and Church attended. The Indians lighted a great bonfire, and moved about it in rings. One of the braves stepped inside the circle and called out the name of one of the tribes fighting on Philip's side against the white people. Then he pulled a firebrand out of the fire to represent that tribe, and he made a show of fighting with the firebrand. Every time the name of a tribe was called, a firebrand was drawn out and attacked in this way.


Fighting a Firebrand

After this ceremony Church could call on as many of these Indians as he wished to help him against Philip. With small bands of these Indians and a few white men Captain Church scoured the woods, capturing a great many Indian prisoners.

From the prisoners that he took, Church chose certain ones and made them soldiers under him. He would say to one of these men: "Come! come! You look wild, and mutter. That doesn't matter. The best soldiers I have got were as wild and surly as you a little while ago. By the time you've been one day with me you'll love me, too, and be as active as any of them."

And it always turned out so. The captain was so jolly, and yet so bold and so successful, that the savage whom he chose to help him would presently do anything for him, even to capturing his own friends.

At last so many of Philip's Indians were taken that Philip himself was fleeing from swamp to swamp to avoid falling into the hands of the white men. But he grew fiercer as he grew more desperate. He killed one of his men for telling him that he ought to make peace with the white men. The brother of the man whom he killed ran away from Philip, and came into the settlement to tell the white people where to find that chief.

Captain Church had just come from chasing Philip to make a short visit to his wife. The poor woman had been so anxious for her husband's safety that she fainted when she saw him. By the time she had recovered the Indian deserter came to tell Church where Philip could be found, and the captain galloped off at once.

Church placed his men near the swamp in which Philip was hidden. The Indians took the alarm and fled. In running away Philip ran straight toward Church's hidden men, and was shot by the very Indian whose brother he had killed. His head was cut off and stuck up over a gatepost at Plymouth. Such was the ugly custom in that day.

Philip's chief captain, Annawon, got away with a considerable number of Indians. Church and half a dozen of his Indian scouts captured an old Indian and a young squaw who belonged to Annawon's party. They made these two walk ahead of them carrying baskets, while Church and his men crept behind them. In this way they got down a steep bank right into the camp of Annawon, whose party was much stronger than Church's. But Church boldly seized the guns of the Indians, which were stacked together.


Indian Woman Carrying Basket

"I am taken," cried Annawon.

"What have you got for supper?" asked Church. "I have come to sup with you."

Annawon ordered the women to hurry up supper, and when it was ready he asked Church whether he would have "horse beef" or "cow beef." Church preferred to eat cow beef.

The captain told his Indians to stand guard while he tried to get a nap. But soon all were fast asleep except Church and Annawon, who lay eying each other. Presently, Annawon got up and walked away. Church moved all the Indians' guns close to himself. He thought that the old chief might have gone for another gun, and he lay down beside the chief's son, so that Annawon could not shoot him without killing his own son.

But Annawon came back with a bundle in his arms. He fell on his knees before Church.

"Great captain," he said, "you have killed Philip and conquered his country. I and my company are the last. This war is ended by you, and therefore these things are yours."

He opened the bundle, which contained Philip's belts of wampum and the red blanket in which Philip dressed on great occasions.


Annawon Opens Philip's Bundle

This ended King Philip's War.

 Table of Contents  |  Index  |  Home  | Previous: King Philip  |  Next: Bacon and His Men
Copyright (c) 2005 - 2023   Yesterday's Classics, LLC. All Rights Reserved.