A marker to Nine Men's MIsery in present-day Cumberland, Rhode Island. Photo: Waymarking
One Last Victory
By Brian Lightfoot Brown
King Philip's War was winding down as the English colonists were overwhelming the Native forces. In the weeks leading up to March 26, 1676, the surviving Narragansett and their allies, under the leadership of the great Narragansett Sachem Canonchet, were successfully attacking and burning English towns. They continued to evade the persistent soldiers from Plymouth and Massachusetts Bay, but were running low on food, supplies and physical rest.
On March 26, 1676, a colonial force of approximately 60 men and about 20 Natives who aligned themselves with the English, under the command of Captain Michael Pierce, hunted the Narragansett warriors. They caught up to them, but were ambushed by nearly 200-300 Narragansett and Narragansett allies. The battle was fierce and swift as the Narragansett dispatched of the colonial force with relative ease.
Only 10 Englishmen survived the initial battle and they were taken prisoner and 9 of them were tortured and brutally killed in modern day Cumberland, Rhode Island, with one man allowed to survive. The site became known as Nine Men's Misery. It is marked by a stone caim and has been since 1676 and is believed to be the oldest military monument in the United States. It was a heavy defeat for the colonists, but it was the last true victory for the Narragansett.
Just thee days later, the Narragansett burned Providence to the ground. However, a few days after that, the great Sachem Canonchet was captured and put to death for refusing to pledge his allegiance to the colonists. The Narragansett people were officially defeated. But for one day, they had a taste of victory in an attempt to preserve their way of life at the expense of Nine Men's Misery.
Brian Lightfoot Brown is a citizen of the Narragansett Tribe. This opinion is his own.
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