Historical Accounts of the Death of William Hammond and Surrounding Events - June, 1675

From: The History of Warren, RI From the Earliest Times: With Particular Notices of Massasoit and His Family,by G. M. Fessenden (Providence 1845), pp. 69-72. [Footnotes have been omitted]

"On Saturday, June 26, a company of infantry, under Captain Daniel Henchman, and a company of mounted troops under Captain Thomas Prentice, left Boston for Mount Hope. Captain Mosely, of Boston, also raised a large company of volunteers who left soon after. --On Monday, June 28, the above named three companies arrived together at 'Mr. Miles' house 'within a quarter mile of the bridge leading into Philip's lands.' Here they joined the forces from Plymouth which had previously been quartered in various parts of Swanzea, but which were now drawn together into a smaller compass. The same day twelve of Capt. Prentice's troops passed over the bridge, and were attacked by the Indians, who killed one of the English, named William Hammond. Previously to this, the Indians had boldly approached, and shot two sentinels on duty at Miles' Garrison.

On Tuesday, June 29th, nine or ten Indians showed themselves near the garrison, upon which the horsemen and Mosely's volunteers pursued them for a mile and a quarter beyond the bridge, where they killed five or six of the Indians, and then returned to head quarters. --In consequence of this
disastrous charge, Philip became alarmed, and in the following night, he with all his men, left Mount Hope Neck in their canoes, and passed over Taunton River to Pocasset.

On Wednesday, June 30th, the whole English forces marched down Mount Hope Neck towards Philip's abode. At the distance of 'a mile and a half' from Miles' bridge, they came to some houses newly burned. They also noticed a Bible newly torn, and the leaves scattered about. 'Two
or three miles further on, at the narrow of the Neck,' they saw the heads of eight Englishmen, stuck up on poles near the highway. These they took down and buried. Proceeding 'two miles further,' they found 'empty wigwams and many things scattered up and down, arguing the hasty flight of the owners.' For a 'half mile further on,' they passed through fields of stately corn, and came to Philip's own wigwam. 'Two miles further, they came to the sea-side,' and Captain Cudworth, with some of the Plymouth forces, passed over to Rhode-Island.

Major Savage and his command rested all through a rainy night in the open field. On the morning of Thursday, July 1, Major Savage's command returned to head quarters at Mr. Miles' house. On their way, they met many stray dogs without masters. On Friday, July 2, the troops scoured the country north of Miles' bridge, and killed four or five of the enemy. On Saturday, July 3, Capt. Mosely and his troops, with Capt. Page and his dragoons, again traversed Mount Hope Neck, to make sure of the departure of the enemy. On Sunday, July 4, Captain Cudworth returned from Rhode-Island to the garrison, having left forty men under the command of Captain Church,
to build a fort on Mount Hope Neck. [footnote omitted regarding location of the fort] On Monday, July 5, Capt. Hutchinson arrived from Boston, with new orders, and on the next day, July 6, all the troops except Captain Cudworth and his command started for Narragansett to treat with that tribe,
in order to prevent their taking part with Philip."

From: Flintlock and Tomahawk, New England in King Philip's War,by Douglas Edward Leach (East Orleans, Massachusetts 1958), pp. 51-52. [Footnotes have been omitted]

"The Massachusetts troops had scarcely arrived at the Miles garrison house and taken note of their surroundings before some of them began to wonder where the hostile redskins were. About a dozen of Captain Prentice's men, guided more by enthusiasm than by sense, wanted to demonstrate their military prowess without further delay, and gained permission from their superior to make a foray into enemy territory behind the bridge. Benjamin Church, who was probably already chafing at Cudworth's cautious leadership, readily agreed to accompany them. The whole army watched with interest as the little party of hot-bloods on horseback trotted out of the camp and headed toward the bridge. Apparently they intended to go some distance into the peninsula, for they took with them as a guide a Rehoboth man, William Hammond.

The troopers found their Indians soon enough. No sooner had they crossed the bridge than a small group of Philip's warriors, hidden in ambush, sent a volley of bullets whistling through their ranks. The guide, Hammond, was hit in a vital spot, and slumped helpless in his saddle. Quartermaster Joseph Belcher was shot in the leg, while his horse was killed under him. Corporal John Gill felt a bullet smack into his body, but was relieved to find that his tough outer jacket plus a thick layer of paper which he wore beneath it had saved him from anything worse than a bruise. The rest of the startled and confused troopers, their martial ardor somewhat cooled by this unexpected turn of events, galloped back to safer ground, while the hundreds of soldiers around the garrison house stood open-mouthed at the sight.

The fullest account of what happened next is found in Church's own memoirs of the war, an account which makes Church himself the hero of the occasion. As he recalled the episode many years later, only he and Gill remained undaunted by the sudden volley from ambush, and seeing the plight of the badly wounded Hammond, they urged the troopers to return to the rescue. Most of the troopers, however, now seemed hesitant about moving even one yard nearer the enemy. Finally Corporal Gill and one other, together with Church, managed to reach their wounded companion, sling him across the back of Gill's horse, and carry him back to the English lines. Hammond's wound, unfortunately, was a fatal one. Still not satisfied, Church, who had remained in the danger zone alone, stormed and shouted for the army to come over and pursue the enemy; but the troops were not ready to move into combat on such short notice, and they continued to stand and stare. The disdainful Church thereupon rode back into the camp, convinced that he was in the company of fools and cowards. Perhaps the Indians thought so too."

From: Discourse Delivered at the Dedication of the New Church Edifice of the Baptist Church and Society, in Warren, R.I. May 6, 1845, by Josiah P. Tustin, Pastor (Providence 1845), pp. 94-97. [Footnotes have been omitted]

"Roused by the recollections of ancient glory, and stung with the consciousness of failing strength, Philip resolved to employ is mighty genius in combining all the powerful tribes of New-England Indians, in striking one exterminating blow, which should sweep from the land, all the colonies of strangers, who had dotted their hunting grounds with harvest fields, and farm houses, and thriving towns, and aspiring churches.

Some of his warriors, burning with impatience for the attack before the time appointed by Philip for the general onset, had already betrayed his design by committing depredations on the settlement in Swanzea, while the Baptist Church and Congregation were assembled for worship, on Sabbath, the 20th of June, 1675. The government of Plymouth speedily made preparations to protect the defenceless inhabitants, who lived in this vicinity, and several military companies were at one called out from Plymouth and Boston, and at the same time the people were requested by the government to observe the following Thursday as a day of fasting and prayer. While the Swanzea Church had been observing the day as requested, returning from their place of worship, they were surprised by the Indians, and several of them were killed, among whom was Eldad Kingsley, one of the first constituent members of the church. The people of Swanzea and Rehoboth were soon collected into garrisoned houses: and on the following Monday, June 28, the forces arriving from Plymouth and Boston, they entrenched themselves in the mansion house of Mr. Miles, which stood about fifty rods west of the bridge, which still bears his name. The next day the troops returning over the bridge, marched down the eastward side of the Warren river, towards Mount Hope, finding on their way the head of eight Englishmen, whom the Indians had murdered, set upon poles by the side of the road, at a spot about one mile east of this place. Marching on to Mount Hope, they found that Philip had fled to the east side of Taunton River: But nothing daunted, they attacked his warriors in the fastnesses wherever they found them; and collecting all their forces together, they crossed the Bay into the Narragansett Country, and by a series of well concerted attacks, they carried fire and sword into every wigwam; and striking blow after blow, at almost every point at once, in a short time; they left nothing but a few scattered relics of the once powerful tribes of the Wampanoags and the Narragansetts. Philip, hunted down like a stricken deer, at last fell a victim to the treachery of one of his own people and thus sunk the last of a noble race, whose melancholy fate would even now have been almost forgotten and unwept forever, but for the imperishable interest associated with his memory, but the brilliant genius of Irving. "With heroic qualities and bold achievements, that would have graced a civilized warrior, and have rendered him the theme of the poet and the historian: he lived a wanderer and a fugitive in his native land, and wen down, like a lonely bark, foundering amid darkness and tempest - without a pitying eye to weep his fall, or a friendly hand to record his struggle.' "

From: Plymouth Colony, Its History and People, 1620-1691, by Eugene Aubrey Stratton, FASG (Salt Lake City 1986), p. 111 [Footnotes omitted.]

"Vital records sent to Plymouth my Nicholas Tanner, Swansea Town Clerk, showed that nine males were buried at Swansea on 24 [sic] June: Gershom Cobb, Joseph Lewis, John Salsbury, John Jones, John Fall, Nehemiah Allen, Robert Jones, William Lohun, and William Salsbury (a tenth, William Hamon, was killed later, and buried on 29 June)."

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