26 Nov 18
“So long as Earth revolves around the sun
So long as cold and heat, storms and sunshine exist
There will be struggle
Struggle between people and nations”
Adolf Hitler, 1939
“King Philips War,” (1675-78) the first major “Indian War” on the North American Continent.
Indian wars would continue in North America (off and on) for the next two-hundred, plus years.
When Christian religious refugees from England (via Holland) stepped onto Plymouth Rock in present-day MA, it was late December, 1620.
Mayflower passengers, lucky to have survived the harrowing voyage (several didn’t), had been chartered to go to Virginia, but ended-up two-hundred miles up the coast, and too exhausted and low on supplies to go any further.
After scouting the entirety of Cape Cod, Plymouth was selected because it was militarily defensible and had a source of good, spring water.
That first winter was a rough one!
Of the 102 Mayflower passengers, fifty-one died that winter (mostly from starvation and exposure), and the remainder were in extremely poor health with the coming of spring. All would have likely perished, were it not for a fortunate contact!
Only a few Indians had been seen by the Plymouth pioneers. Many had previously populated the area, but plagues had wiped-out most of them.
Europeans had been coming to North America since Columbus in 1492, and probably long before that.
Periodic contact with Europeans had introduced the Indian population to European diseases, which proved universally lethal, eliminating many tribes entirely and reducing the total Indian population to close to nothing in many areas.
So, it was quite a surprise when, in the spring of 1621, an Indian named Squanto, from the local Patuxet Tribe, wandered into the weary Plymouth settlement. Plymouth immigrants were even more startled when Squanto spoke with them in broken English!
Over the previous 120 years, along with European diseases, coastal Indians had also picked-up European languages, mostly English, Dutch, and French.
During the following months, Squanto and other Patuxets quite literally saved the Plymouth colony from extinction, acquainting them with local food sources, local trade routes, the lucrative fur trade, and tricks of local agriculture.
However, Squanto’s mission was not entirely altruistic!
The Patuxet Tribe had been severely marginalized by the more powerful Wampanoags, and they were thus desperately looking for allies, particularly military allies, most specifically military allies with superior technology!
As a result, the Plymouth Colony not only survived, but thrived, as additional boatloads of religious refugees joined them.
Many other (scattered) European settlements grew exponentially over the next fifty years.
Indian Tribes, encountered by newly-arriving Europeans, from Columbus to the Plymouth Colonists, were already involved in continuous, murderous territorial disputes with each other, and had been for as long as anyone could remember.
Of course, similar murderous territorial and religious disputes plagued all of England, Ireland, and Europe too, had for centuries, and were indeed the reason many Europeans departed the Continent (others fleeing creditors, some fleeing arrest, religious refugees, explorers, adventurers, and economic opportunists) and all were now seeking a new life in the “New World!”
Amazingly, friendly relations between European colonists and local Indians continued for nearly fifty years!
But, endless territorial disputes, sometimes mere misunderstandings, flaring into armed confrontations, murders, kidnappings, raids, etc were inevitable, and worsened by the year.
In 1660, Chief Metacomet, of the Wampanoag, succeeded his father. His adopted name was “Philip.” Matacomet’s father enjoyed a warm relationship with colonists, and conferred English names upon his two sons (“Philip” and “Alexander”) as a symbol of friendship and accommodation.
Colonists called the new chief, “King Philip”
King Philip plainly saw his civilization being slowly marginalized by colonists, and concluded that even co-existence, much less integration, of the two cultures was not possible, at least in the short term.
He fought an effective guerrilla-style war with colonists, a military strategy colonists were unprepared to effectively counter. Many colonial villages had to thus be abandoned. During his three-year campaign, numbers of military-age male colonists were so drastically reduced that continued existence of the colonies was in doubt!
This was solely the colonists’ fight. The British had as yet sent no troops!
The tide turned when colonists finally (reluctantly) changed tactics and employed Indian allies to fight King Philip on his own terms.
After three devastating years, King Philip himself was shot and killed. His tenuous alliance thereafter rapidly disintegrated, and “the War was over,” at least in the short term.
French, unlike British, had scant interest in establishing expanding colonies. They were interested mostly in trade and converting Indians to Catholicism, so Indians (in the aftermath of King Philip’s War) gradually gravitated toward an alliance with the French, rather than with the Protestant, land-grabbing British.
Thus France, with the largest land army in Europe, sent no troops to America. The British sent them by the boatload!
This, of course, set the stage for the next series of Wars, starting in the 1700s!
There wasn’t much of an “intermission.”
There never is!
The prepared, innovative, determined, audacious, organized, and well-armed sometimes prevail.
The weak, confused, conflicted, vain, and unready never did, and their progeny died with them.
The “Law of War!”
We had no home front
We had no soft soap
They sent us Playboy
They gave us Bob Hope
We dug in deep
And shot on sight
And prayed to Jesus Christ
With all of our might
They left their childhood
On every acre
And who was wrong?
And who was right?
None of that matters in the thick of the fight!
From “Goodnight Saigon,” written and sung by Billy Joel in 1982