Narragansett Campaign and the Great Swamp Fight
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For information on Bigelow and kin jump to soldiers.htm.
Also see King Phillip's War, overview by Bodge.

Most contemporary accounts of these events are base on two letters written by Joseph Dudley and one written by Captain James Oliver. Joseph Dudley served as a chaplain for the army and was also on General Winslow's staff. Captain Oliver was in command of the Third Company if the Massachusetts regiment.

Letter of Joseph Dudley (see below)

May it please your Honor
Mr Smiths 15, 10, 75
I am comanded by the Generall to give your Honnor account of our proceeding since our last frm Pautuxet in the Sabath evening we advanced the whole body from Mr Carpenters with Intent to surprise Ponham & his Party at about 10 or 12 Miles Distance having information by oue Warwick scouts of his seat but the darkness of ye Night Diffucutly of our Passage & unskillfulness of Pilots we passed the whole night & found ourselves at such Distance yet from ym yt we Diverted & Marched to Mr Smiths, found our sloops from Seaconck arrived since which by ye help of Indian Peter by whom your Honnor had the Information formerly of ye number & resolution of ye Naragansetts, we have burned two of their towns viz; Ahmus who is this summer come down amongst them & ye old Queens quarters consisting of about 150 Many of them large wigwams & seized or slayn 50 Persons in all our prisoners being about 40 Concerning whom the generall prayes your advice concerning their transportation and Disposall all which was performed without any loss save a slight wound by an Arrow in Lieut. Wayman's face, the whole body of them we find removed into their great swamp at Canonicus his quarters where we hope with the addition of Connecticut, when arrived we hope to coop them up, this day we Intend the removall or spoyle of yr Corn & hope to Morrow a March toward them, our soldiers being very chearful are forward noywithstanding great Difficulty by weather & otherwise, abovsd Peter whom we have found very faithful will Make us believe yt yr are 3000 fighting Men many unarmed Many well fitted with lances we hope by cutting off their forage to force them to a fayre battle In ye Mean time I have only to present the Genralls humble service to your & to beg you Intense prayers for this so great Concern and remayn your
Honnors Humble Servant Jos: Dudley

Goodale nor Moor arrived we fear want of shot

My humble service to Madam Leveret Brother and Sister Hubbard & Dudley

Amongst our Prisonrs & Slayn we find 10 or 12 Wampanoags

Source-Bodges History, page 192 

Second Letter of Joseph Dudley
Mr Smith's, 21, 10, 1675

May it please your honour

The comming of the Connecticut force to Petaquamscott, and surprisal os six and slaughter of five on Friday night, Saturday we marched towards Petaquamscott, though in snow, and in conjunction about midnight or later, we advanced: Capt. Mosley led the van, after him Massachusetts, and Plimouth and Connecticut in the rear; a tedious march in the snow, without intermission, brought us about two of the clock afternoon, to the entrance of the swamp, by the help of Indian Peter, who dealt faithfully with us; our men, with great courage, entered the swamp about twenty rods; within the cedar swamp we found some hundreds of wigwams, forted in with a breastwork and flankered, and many small blockhouses up and down, round about; they entertained us with a fierce fight, and many thousand shot, for about an hour, when our men valiantly scaled the fort, beat them thence, and from the blockhouses. In which action we lost Capt. Johnson, Capt. Danforth, and Capt. Gardiner, and their lieutenants disabled, Capt. Marshall also slain; Capt Seely, Capt. Mason, disabled, and many other officers, insomuch that, by a fresh assault and recruit powder from their store, the Indians fell on again, recarried and beat us out of, the fort, but by the great resolution and courage of the General and Major, we reinforced, and very hardly entered the fort again, and fired the wigwams, with many living and dead persons in them, great piles of meat and heaps of corn, the ground not permitting burial of their store, were consumed; the number of their dead, we generally suppose the enemy lost at least two hundred men; Capt. Mosely counted in one corner of the fort sixty four men; Capt. Goram reckoned 150 at least; But, O! Sir, mine heart bleeds to give your honor an account of our lost men, but especially our resolute Captains, as by account inclosed, and yet not so many, but we admire there remained any to return, a captive women, well known to Mr. Smith, informing that there were three thousand five hundred men engaging us and about a mile distant a thousand in reserve, to whom if God had so pleased, we had but been a morsel, after so much disablement: she informeth, that one of their sagamores was slain and their powder spent, causing their retreat, and that they are in a distressed condition for food and houses, that one Joshua Tift, an Englishman, is their encourager and conducter. Philip was seen by one, credilbly informing us, under a strong guard.

After our wounds were dressed, we drew up for a march, not able to abide the field in the storm, and weary, about two of the clock, obtained our quarters, with our dead and wounded, only the General, Ministers, and some other persons of the guard, going to head a small swamp, lost our way, and returned again to the evening quarters, a wonder we were not prey to them, and, after at least thirty miles marching up and down, in the morning, recovered our quarters, and had it not been for the arrival of Goodale next morning, the whole camp had perished; The whole army, especially Connecticut, is much disabled and unwilling to march, with tedious storms, and no lodgings, and frozen and swollen limbs, Major Treat importunate to return to at least Stonington; Our dead and wounded are about two hundred, disabled as many; the want of officers, the consideration whereof the Genreal commends to your honer, forbids any action at present, and we fear whether Connecticut will comply, at last, to any action. We are endeavoring, by good keeping and billetting oue men at several quarters, and, if possible removel of our wounded to Rhode Isalnd, to recover the spirit of our soldiers, and shall be diligent to find and understand the removals on other action of the enemy, if God please to give us advantage against them.

As we compleat the account of dead, now in doing, The Council is of the mind, without recruit of men we shall not be able to engage themain body.
I give your honor hearty thanks 

for your kind lines, of which 

I am not worthy 

I am Sir, your honors 

humble servant 

Joseph Dudley 

Since the writing of these lines, the General and Council have jointly concluded to abide on the place, notwithstanding the desire of Connecticut, only entreat that a supply of 200 may be sent us, with supply of commanders; and, whereas we are forced to garrison our quarters with at least one hundred, three hundred men, upon joint account of colonies, will serve, and no less, to effect the design. This is by order of the council.

Blunderbusses, and hand grenadoes, and armour, if it may, and at least two armourers to mend arms.

Source: Bodges History, page 193-194 

Letter of Captain Oliver
Narragansett 26th 11th month 1675

After a tedious march in a bitter cold that followed the Dec. 12th , we hoped our pilot would have led us to Ponham by break of day, but so it came to pass we were misled and so missed a good opportunity. Dec. 13th we came to Mr Smith's, and that day took 35 prisoners. Dec 14th , our General went out with a horse and foot, I with my company was kept to garrison. I sent out 30 of my men to scout abroad, who killed two Indians and brought in 4 prisoners, one of which was beheaded. Our amy came home at night, killed 7 and brought in 9 more, young and old. Dec 15th , came in John, a rogue, with pretense of peace, and was dismissed with this errand, that we might speak with Sachems. That evening, ho not being gone a quarter of an hour, his company that lay hid behind a hill killed two Salem men within a mile from our quarters, and wounded a third that he is dead. And at a house three miles off where I had 10 men, they killed 2 of them. Instantly, Capt. Mosely, myself and Capt Gardner were sent to fetch in Major Appleton's company that kept 3 miles and a half off, and coming, they lay behind a stone wall and fired on us in sight of the garrison. We killed the captain that killed one of the Salem men, and had his cap on. That night they burned Jerry Bull's house, and killed 17. Dec. 16th came that news. Dec 17th came news that Connecticut forces were at Petasquamscot, and had killed 4 Indians and took 6 prisoners. That day we sold Capt. Davenport 47 Indians, young and old for 80l. in money. Dec 18th we marched to Petaquamscot with all our forces, only a garrison left; that night very stormy; we lay, one thousand, in the open field that long night. In the morning, Dec. 19th , Lord's day, at 5 o'clock we marched. Between 12 and 1 we came up with the enemy, and had a sore fight three hours. We lost, that are now dead, about 68, and had 150 wounded, many of which recovered. That long snowy cold night we had about 18 miles to our quarters, with about 210 dead and wounded. We left 8 dead in the fort. We had but 12 dead when we came to the swamp, besides the 8 we left. Many died by the way, and as soon as they we brought in, so that Dec. 20th we buried in a grave 34, next day 4, next day 2, and none since. Eight died at Rhode Island, 1 at Petaquamscot, 2 lost in the woods and killed Dec. 20, as we heard since; some say two more died. By the best intelligence, we killed 300 fighting men; prisoners we took, say 350, and above 300 women and children. We burnt above 500 houses, left but 9, burnt all their corn, that was in baskets, great store. One signal mercy that night, not to be forgotten, viz. That when we drew off, with so many dead and wounded, they did not pursue us, which the young men would have done, but the sachems would not consent; they had but ten pounds of powder let. Our General, with about 40, lost our way, and wandered till 7 o'clock in the morning, before we came to our quarters. We thought we were within 2 miles of the enemy again, but God kept us; to him be the glory. We have killed now and then 1 since, and burnt 200 wigwams more; we killed 9 last Tuesday. We fetch in their corn daily and that undoes them. This is, as nearly as I can, a true relation. I read the narrative to my officers in my tent, who all assent to the truth of it. Mohegans and Pequods proved very false, fired into the air, and sent word before they came they would so, but got much plunder, guns and kettles. A great part of what is written was attested by Joshua Teffe, who married an Indian woman, a Wampanoag. He shot 20 times at us in the swamp, was taken at Providence Jan'y 14, brought to us the 16th, executed the 18th . A sad wretch, he never heard a sermon but once these 14 years. His father, going to recall him lost his head and lies unburied.

Source: Bodges History, pages 174-175 

A list of Major Saml Apleton souldjers yt were slayne & wounded the 19th Decemb. '75, at the Indians fort at Naragansett
In the Company of killed wounded
Major Appleton 4 18 
Capt. Mosely 6
Capt. Oliver 5
Capt. Davenport 4 11 
Capt. Johnson 4
Capt. Gardiner 7 10 
Capt. Prentice 1
31 67
Of the officers, Capts. Davenport, Johnson, and Gardiner were killed, and Lieutenants Upham, Savage, Swain, and Ting were wounded.

Of the Connecticut troops 71 were killed.

Capt. Gallup- 10

Capt. Marshall- 14

Capt. Seeley- 20

Capt. Mason- 9

Capt. Watts- 17

Major Treat is said to have been the last man to have left the fort, commanding the rear guard of the army; and of captains, Gallup, Marshall and Seeley were killed, and Capt. Mason mortally wounded.

Of the Plymouth forces, Major Bradford, commander, and Benjamin Church of the General's staff were severely wounded, and of the soldiers the killed and wounded in both companies were twenty, by best accounts.

The grave of the forty buried at Wickford was marked by a tree called the "grave appletree", which was blown down in tha gale of September, 1815. The wounded were sent in vessels to Rhode Isalnd and well cared for.

The conduct of the Mohegan and Pequod allies is represented by Capt. Oliver as false, they firing in the air, but securing much plunder. I (George Madison Bodge) have found no other notice of their part in the batttle.

Source: Bodges History, pages 190-191 


As organized for the Naragansett Campaign, and mustered at Pettisquamscot, December 19, 1675.

General Josiah Winslow, Governor of Plymouth Colony
General Staff
Daniel Weld, of Salem, Chief Surgeon
Joseph Dudley, of Boston, Chaplain
Benjamin Church, of Little Compton, RI., Aid
Massachusetts Regiment
Samuel Appleton, of Ipswich, Major and Captain of First Company
Regimental Staff
Richard Knott, of Marblehead, Surgeon
Samuel Nowell, of Boston, Chaplain
John Morse, of Ipswich, Commissary
Officers of the Line

First Company: Jeremiah Swain, Lieutenant, Ezekiel Woodward, Sergeant (Acting Ensign)

Second Company: Samuel Mosely, Captain, Perez Savage, Lieutenant

Third Company: James Oliver, Captain, Ephraim Turner, Lieutenant, Peter Bennett, Sergeant (Acting Ensign)

Fourth Company: Isaac Johnson, Captain, Phineas Upham, Lieutenant, Henry Bowen, Ensign

Fifth Company: Nathaniel Davenport, Captain, Edward Tyng, Lieutenant, John Drury, Ensign

Sixth Company: Joseph Gardiner, Captain, William Hawthorne, Lieutenant, Benjamin Sweet, Ensign (promoted Lieutenant), Jeremiah Neal, Sergeant (promoted Ensign)

Cavalry Company ( "Troop"): Thomas Prentice, Captain, John Wyman, Cornet (promoted Lieutenant)

Plymouth Regiment
William Bradford, of Marshfield, Major and Captain of First Company
Regimental Staff
Mathew Fuller, of Barnstable, Surgeon
Thomas Huckins, of Barnstable, Commissary
Officers of the Line

First Company: Robert Barker, of Duxbury, Lieutenant

Second Company: John Gorham, of Barnstable, Captain, John Sparrow, of Eastham, Lieutenant, William Wetherell, Sergeant

Connecticut Regiment
Robert Treat, of Milford, Major
Regimental Staff
Gershom Bulkely, Surgeon
Rev. Nicholas Noyes, Chaplain
Stephen Barrett, Commissary
Officers of the Line
First Company: John Gallop, of Stonington, Captain
Second Company: Samuel Marshall, of Windsor, Captain
Third Company: Nathaniel Seely, of Stratford, Captain
Fourth Company: Thomas Watts, of Hartford, Captain
Fifth Company: John Mason, of Norwich, Captain

To the First and Fifth Connecticut Companies were attached Indian Scouting Companies, numbering seventy-five to each, made up mostly of Indians from the Mohegan and Pequod tribes.

Source: Bodge's History, page 182-183
Subject: Great Swamp Fight

Date: Fri, 19 Oct 2001 18:08:15 -0400
From: "Peter Blood" <  >

I found your Great Swamp Fight page. I was actually looking for the wood carving of Isaac Johnson (an ancestor) when a letter by Joseph DUDLEY caught my
eye. I have an ancestor Joseph DUDLEY. Don't know much about him. I suspect he was born in New Haven Colony in 1643, married Ann ROBINSON in 1670,
and died 1712 (all unconfirmed). Do you know if it is the same guy? Can you suggest a reference for additional info?
Peter Blood
Germantown MD

Modified - 11/03/2001
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