Colonial

Indian Victory Spells Their Doom

Part Three of Series

In the previous installments of this series, we saw that the marauding enemy Indians had won a great victory at Sudbury, approaching to within twenty miles of Boston, burning numerous homes as close as present day Weston, confronting numerous army units and town militia, killing over sixty Englishmen, and nearly annihilating the Marlborough soldier garrison.

But when they returned home, despite their success and having lost only a few warriors, their celebration was noticeably absent. Mary Rowlandson, the Lancaster minister’s wife who was captured and held hostage, made the following observation: “… they came home without that rejoicing and triumphing over their victory which they were wont to show at other times; but rather like dogs (as they say) which have lost their ears. Yet I could not perceive that it was for their own loss of men. They said they had not lost above five or six; and I missed none, except in one wigwam. When they went, they acted as if the devil had told them that they should gain the victory; and now they acted as if the devil had told them they should have a fall. Whither it were so or no, I cannot tell, but so it proved, for quickly they began to fall, and so held on that summer, till they came to utter ruin.”

The Sudbury Fight had been the turning point. The English finally realized their true situation, and embraced the use of Praying Indians as allies. The Praying Indian troop at Sudbury had spent the next few days helping to bury the English soldiers. Never again would any English army go forth without help from the friendly natives. Never again would the English suffer the loss of any battle, or fail to achieve any objective.

As for the enemy natives, they had failed to gather any ammunition or food. They had spent their vengeance, but were left worse off than before. Soon, their loose confederation began to splinter. The Narragansetts had already returned to Rhode Island and were soon thereafter decisively defeated. Some from the Nipmucs turned themselves in and others escaped to the north. Armies led by the Praying Indians committed themselves to rooting out the remaining

enemy as far north as Maine. Many enemy Indians were hung or sold into slavery. Although the cleanup activity would continue into 1677, the war was effectively over.

Marlborough, perhaps more than any other town, was in shambles. Landowners began to return in 1677 and the town slowly recovered. An important chapter in our history was over but would never be entirely forgotten. Even today there is buried in Marlborough evidence of those times. One of these I will speak of here, the other in the next section.

George Madison Bodge, in his book Soldiers in King Philip’s War, states that “(Marlborough) being a frontier town … was exposed to attacks from all directions, and being situated upon the road to Connecticut, it had been regarded by the General Court as a point of military advantage, and a fort had been built, and a small garrison was kept there.” In Samuel Drake’s History of Middlesex County, Reverend R.A. Griffin and E.L. Bigelow remarked (in 1880), “On the hill Sligo are the remains of an old stone fort connected with a well of a subterranean passage of about one hundred and fifty feet, which it is conjectured was constructed in view of those early invasions.” 

Sligo Hill off Broad St.  Marlborough, MA

This would have been very near to the old water tower, but where? Are there remnants of the stone water passage still to be found beneath the grounds of Sligo Hill? Remnants that would give certain clues as to the whereabouts of the ancient stone fort that housed the forlorn company that ended its fated story on Green Hill in Sudbury?

Next: The Story of Mt Ward

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