Joseph Bixby in King Phillip’s War

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The Great Swamp Battle at King Phillip's fort.

Jotham Bixby’s fourth great grandfather Joseph Bixby was born in the town of Boxford, in the Province of Massachusetts in 1648 and died in 1725. Joseph was married to Sarah Gould on March 29, 1682 and had nine children; Joseph, Sarah, Priscilla, Phebe, John, Mary, Thomas, Hannah and Moses. He was prominent in the town affairs of Boxford, taking his father’s place in the public service. Joseph was inducted into the Rowley Company (representing the small town of Rowley, Massachusetts) of the British militia, and took part in the Narrangansett campaign in King Philip’s War.

There were several causes for King Philip’s war: first, King Philip’s father was killed for breaking previous bonds with the colonists. Second, the colonists created a series of forts and towns and let livestock trample Native American cornfields. Third, Philip was humiliated by a summons to a new peace agreement and a requirement for him to turn in his guns. Fourth, the Native Americans ran out of goods to trade with the colonists. Finally, and perhaps the greatest factor of all, the colonists executed three of King Philip’s men for murder.

Ignoring the summons for a peace agreement, King Philip attacked the colonists. It took the British militia nearly a year to hunt down and kill King Philip utilizing the help of Captain Benjamin Church who used tactics similar to the Native Americans. The war ended shortly thereafter.

Joseph Bixby marched in the Narrangansett campaign that was aimed at hunting down and killing King Philip. During this campaign the militia came upon a fort where King Philip and his tribe were residing and burned it down but, Philip somehow slipped away.

Initially the colonists suffered heavy casualties due to the Native American surprise attacks and the Native Americans being more deadly with their muskets. The colonists had traded weapons to the Native Americans so both sides had similar weapons (musket, knives, clubs and hatchets) with some Native Americans using bows and arrows as well. The Native Americans were quicker and more accurate with their muskets. Over eight hundred colonists were killed and twelve towns burned down during the eighteen months of war. However, casualties were much higher amongst the Native Americans.

–Terry Barber

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