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"Soldiers in King Philip's War..."
(c) Pocumtuck Valley Memorial Association, Deerfield MA. All rights reserved.
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This account of the "Falls Fight," a massacre of Indians by English settlers from Deerfield and Hatfield, comes from a 1906 history of King Philip's War (1675-76). The interpretation presented here presents Capt. William Turner's actions as justified and reasonable, and for many of the time they seemed so. However, later historians have seen Turner's actions as "amateurish," even reprehensible. The incident came after a long winter where the towns of the mid-Connecticut Valley had suffered a series of raids by Indians without being able to strike back effectively. By early May, they were frenzied with frustration. When they heard that a peaceful encampment of Indians could be found nearby, at Peskeompscut (just across the river from the current site of Turners Falls, Massachusetts), Turner mustered a party of 150 volunteers, "single men, boys, and servants," almost all of whom were entirely untrained in warfare. The encampment was not guarded, and some historians have questioned why. One answer is that by the Indians' cultural standards, the war was over: when they fought, they usually did not fight long-term, sustained wars. At any rate, as the account here attests, the English were able to surprise them and "shot them by the scores." The English killed many women and children in their homes by "pointing their muskets through the wigwam doors." They took no prisoners. The attack did have one point of military significance, not noted here: Turner's men destroyed a forge that could have repaired muskets, and a large quantity of lead for shot. The account was correct in that the massacre tore the heart out of Indian resistance in the Connecticut Valley. Perhaps the loss of so many of their wives and children decisively changed the minds of the survivors, who fled northward to Canada. But many of the survivors of the "Falls Fight" and the other events of King Philip's War lived and remembered from their refuges in Canada. They continued to raid their old home lands for many years after, raids that included the 1704 Deerfield Raid.
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