Benjamin Church liked Indians and was liked by them. He studied them, admired them, jollied them, dealt fairly with them. He saw in them splendid fighters. They saw in him a splendid captain. He knew all about the Indian’s “savagery,” but he is untouched by the hatred and hysteria which fills the conventional history. This is eye-witness history of the first great Indian War in North America, by the most successful guerrilla captain on the English side. Behind his homespun stories of the Pease Field Fight, the Swamp Fight, the parleys with Queen Awashonks and the pursuit of King Philip lies a collision of cultures which set a pattern for almost all future relations between white men and red men in English America. If he could have foreseen the disappearance of the Indian from every swamp and beach in New England, he would have felt saddened.
This is the story of a warfare of extermination which nobody had planned; a description of sorties, ambushes, providential escapes and breath-taking victories which is written with all the immediacy and simplicity of folk art. Church’s Diary of King Philip’s War is one of the earliest and most graphic of American primitives.
English-born Alan Simpson was educated at Oxford and Harvard and served in the Royal Artillery for five years during World War II. He joined the faculty of the University of Chicago in 1946 where he became Thomas E. Donnelley Professor of History and Dean of the College. He has been President of Vassar College since 1964.
Mary McEldowny Simpson is a graduate of Knox College and Oxford University and the former Associate Editor of the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists.
The Simpsons have a home in Little Compton where Benjamin Church was clearing the first homestead when King Philip’s War began.