Sunday, February 20, 2011

King Philip's War: One of the Bloodiest in American History

Above: An artist's conception of King Philip's War


According to Daniel Mandell's new book (page 134), King Philip's War was "the bloodiest war in American history in terms of its proportionate effect on a region." Of an estimated population of 80,000 people, almost 9,000 were killed, two-thirds of them were Native Americans. As Mandell tells it (on page 135), the six thousand Indian deaths resulted from combat, disease, and hunger. Furthermore, another two thousand Indians left New England as refugees; and "about one thousand were sold into slavery and certain death in the West Indies."


So, if we can be callous enough to look at the big picture of all of that misfortune, we might say that the upshot of King Philip's War was that Indians became a significantly smaller and weaker minority in New England in a short amount of time.


Nevertheless, as you have seen elsewhere in this blog, Native communities did survive in various ways. And, just as before, religion played a role. According to Mandell, "Christianity became an even more significant aspect of Indian life" after the disastrous war. He specifically mentions the Mohegans, Niantics, Pequots and Narragansetts who "formed their own churches, and developed a host of talented and famous Native preachers." As you may already know, Mandell has the Brothertown Indians in mind when he makes this statement.

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