Great Swamp Fight painting
Great Swamp Fight painting
Wikipedia (User: Swampyank)
License: CC BY-SA

Great Swamp Fight

Led by an Indian guide, on December 16, 1675 on a bitterly cold storm-filled day, the main Narragansett fort near modern South Kingstown, Rhode Island was found and attacked by the colonial militia from Plymouth Colony, Connecticut Colony and Massachusetts Bay Colony. The massive fort occupying about 5 acres (20,000 m2) of land and was initially occupied by over a thousand Indians was eventually overrun after a fierce fight. The Indian fort was burned, its inhabitants, including women and children, killed or evicted and most of the tribe's winter stores destroyed. It is believed that about 300 Indians were killed (exact figures are unknown) in the fighting. Many of the warriors and their families escaped into the frozen swamp. Facing a winter with little food and shelter, the whole surviving Narragansett tribe was forced out of quasi-neutrality some had tried to maintain in the on-going war and joined the fight alongside Philip. The colonists lost many of their officers in this assault and about 70 of their men were killed and nearly 150 more wounded. The dead and wounded colonial militiamen were evacuated to the settlements on Aquidneck Island in Narragansett Bay where they were buried or cared for by many of the Rhode Island colonists until they could return to their homes.

In the depths of the Great Swamp near Exeter, a 30 ft high shaft of unworked granite stands surrounded by four low stones with their inscriptions nearly eroded. It was here on a frigid December night in 1675 that the forces of the United Colonies and their allies attacked a fortified settlement of Narragansett and Wampanoag Indians.