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Stedman and Hutchinson, comps. A Library of American Literature:
An Anthology in Eleven Volumes. 1891.
Vols. IX–XI: Literature of the Republic, Part IV., 1861–1889

The Death of King Philip

By Benjamin Church (1639–1718)

[From Entertaining Passages Relating to Philip’s War. 1716.]

CAPTAIN CHURCH being now at Plymouth again, weary and worn, would have gone home to his wife and family; but the government being solicitous to engage him in the service until Philip was slain, and promising him satisfaction and redress for some mistreatment that he had met with, he fixes for another expedition.

He had soon volunteers enough to make up the company he desired, and marched through the woods, until he came to Pocasset. And not seeing or hearing of any of the enemy, they went over the ferry to Rhode Island, to refresh themselves. The Captain, with about half a dozen in his company, took horses and rid about eight miles down the island to Mr. Sanford’s, where he had left his wife. Who no sooner saw him, but fainted with surprise; and by that time she was a little revived, they spied two horsemen coming a great pace. Captain Church told his company, that “Those men (by their riding) come with tidings.” When they came up, they proved to be Major Sanford and Captain Golding. Who immediately asked Captain Church, what he would give to hear some news of Philip? He replied that was what he wanted. They told him, they had rid hard with some hopes of overtaking him, and were now come on purpose to inform him, that there were just now tidings from Mount-hope. An Indian came down from thence (where Philip’s camp now was) on to Sandy point, over against Trip’s, and hallooed, and made signs to be fetched over. And being fetched over, he reported, that he was fled from Philip, “who (said he) has killed my brother just before I came away, for giving some advice that displeased him.” And said, he was fled for fear of meeting with the same his brother had met with. Told them also, that Philip was now in Mount-hope Neck. Captain Church thanked them for their good news, and said he hoped by to-morrow morning to have the rogue’s head. The horses that he and his company came on, standing at the door (for they had not been unsaddled), his wife must content herself with a short visit, when such game was ahead. They immediately mounted, set spurs to their horses, and away.

The two gentlemen that brought him the tidings told him, they would gladly wait upon him to see the event of this expedition. He thanked them, and told them he should be as fond of their company as any men’s; and (in short) they went with him. And they were soon at Trip’s ferry, (with Captain Church’s company) where the deserter was. Who was a fellow of good sense, and told his story handsomely. He offered Captain Church, to pilot him to Philip, and to help to kill him, that he might revenge his brother’s death. Told him, that Philip was now upon a little spot of upland, that was in the south end of the miry swamp, just at the foot of the mount, which was a spot of ground that Captain Church was well acquainted with.

By that time they were got over the ferry, and came near the ground, half the night was spent. The Captain commands a halt, and bringing the company together, he asked Major Sanford’s and Captain Golding’s advice, what method was best to take in making the onset; but they declined giving any advice; telling him, that his great experience and success forbid their taking upon them to give advice. Then Captain Church offered Captain Golding that he should have the honor (if he would please accept of it) to beat up Philip’s headquarters. He accepted the offer and had his allotted number drawn out to him, and the pilot Captain Church’s instructions to him were, to be very careful in his approach to the enemy, and be sure not to show himself, until by daylight they might see and discern their own men from the enemy; told him also, that his custom in the like cases was, to creep with his company, on their bellies, until they came as near as they could; and that as soon as the enemy discovered them, they would cry out, and that was the word for his men to fire and fall on. He directed him, that when the enemy should start and take into the swamp, they should pursue with speed; every man shouting and making what noise he could; for he would give orders to his ambuscade to fire on any that should come silently.

Captain Church, knowing that it was Philip’s custom to be foremost in the flight, went down to the swamp, and gave Captain Williams of Scituate the command of the right wing of the ambush, and placed an Englishman and an Indian together behind such shelters of trees, etc., as he could find, and took care to place them at such distance that none might pass undiscovered between them; charged them to be careful of themselves, and of hurting their friends, and to fire at any that should come silently through the swamp. But it being somewhat farther through the swamp than he was aware of, he wanted men to make up his ambuscade.

Having placed what men he had, he took Major Sanford by the hand, and said, “Sir, I have so placed them that it is scarce possible Philip should escape them.” The same moment a shot whistled over their heads, and then the noise of a gun towards Philip’s camp. Captain Church, at first, thought it might be some gun fired by accident; but, before he could speak, a whole volley followed, which was earlier than he expected. One of Philip’s gang going forth to ease himself, when he had done, looked round him, and Captain Golding thought that the Indian looked right at him, (though probably it was but his conceit); so fired at him; and upon his firing, the whole company that were with him fired upon the enemy’s shelter, before the Indians had time to rise from their sleep, and so over-shot them. But their shelter was open on that side next the swamp, built so on purpose for the convenience of flight on occasion. They were soon in the swamp, and Philip the foremost, who, starting at the first gun, threw his petunk and powderhorn over his head, catched up his gun, and ran as fast as he could scamper, without any more clothes than his small breeches and stockings; and ran directly upon two of Captain Church’s ambush. They let him come fair within shot, and the Englishman’s gun missing fire, he bid the Indian fire away, and he did so to the purpose; sent one musket bullet through his heart, and another not above two inches from it. He fell upon his face in the mud and water, with his gun under him.

By this time the enemy perceived they were waylaid on the east side of the swamp, and tacked short about. One of the enemy, who seemed to be a great, surly old fellow, hallooed with a loud voice, and often called out, “Iootash, Iootash.” Captain Church called to his Indian, Peter, and asked him, who that was that called so? He answered, it was old Annawon, Philip’s great Captain; calling on his soldiers to stand to it, and fight stoutly. Now the enemy finding that place of the swamp which was not ambushed, many of them made their escape in the English tracks.

The man that had shot down Philip ran with all speed to Captain Church, and informed him of his exploit, who commanded him to be silent about it and let no man more know it, until they had driven the swamp clean. But when they had driven the swamp through, and found the enemy had escaped, or, at least, the most of them, and the sun now up, and so the dew gone, that they could not easily track them, the whole company met together at the place where the enemy’s night shelter was, and then Captain Church gave them the news of Philip’s death. Upon which the whole army gave three loud huzzas.

Captain Church ordered his body to be pulled out of the mire on to the upland. So some of Captain Church’s Indians took hold of him by his stockings, and some by his small breeches (being otherwise naked) and drew him through the mud to the upland; and a doleful, great, naked, dirty beast he looked like. Captain Church then said that, forasmuch as he had caused many an Englishman’s body to lie unburied, and rot above ground, not one of his bones should be buried. And, calling his old Indian executioner, bid him behead and quarter him. Accordingly he came with his hatchet and stood over him, but before he struck he made a small speech directing it to Philip, and said, “he had been a very great man, and had made many a man afraid of him, but so big as he was, he would now chop him to pieces.” And so went to work and did as he was ordered.

Philip, having one very remarkable hand, being much scarred, occasioned by the splitting of a pistol in it formerly, Captain Church gave the head and that hand to Alderman, the Indian who shot him, to show to such gentlemen as would bestow gratuities upon him; and accordingly he got many a penny by it.

This being on the last day of the week, the Captain with his company, returned to the island, tarried there until Tuesday; and then went off and ranged through all the woods to Plymouth, and received their premium, which was thirty shillings per head, for the enemies which they had killed or taken, instead of all wages; and Philip’s head went at the same price. Methinks it is scanty reward, and poor encouragement; though it was better than what had been some time before. For this march they received four shillings and sixpence a man, which was all the reward they had, except the honor of killing Philip. This was in the latter end of August, 1676.