Great Swamp Fight Monument

Posted By on December 13, 2018

Great Swamp Fight Monument

1.5 miles; South Kingstown, RI

I meant to hike Great Swamp Wildlife Management Area today, but by the time I got out of a meeting at URI, it was cold and overcast and I just couldn’t summon any enthusiasm for it. But since I was so close, I decided to see if I could find the Great Swamp Fight Monument, which turned out to be a bit more of a walk than I expected.

Field Dressing

Field Dressing

The road to the monument, called Great Swamp Monument Road, is right off Route 2, and at first it seems as if you’re on someone’s driveway. You’ll see farm equipment and signs warning about slowing down for children. However, it is deer hunting season in Rhode Island, and this particular entrance to the Great Swamp Wildlife Management Area seems to be quite popular with hunters. This was not the most disgusting pile if deer bits I saw—there was a fresh pile of actual entrails right at the gate on the road to the monument. Now call me a squishy liberal snowflake if you must, but it seems to me that dumping a pile of deer viscera right next to someone’s property where they have kids and livestock is kind of rude. I mean, I imagine these piles attract predators? I don’t know hunting etiquette, apparently.

Anyway, once past the deer guts gate, the road, and it is obviously an old road; wide, flat, and level; winds around a bit. I had sort of expected to walk maybe 100 feet, so imagine my surprise when the road just kept going on and on. Then it came to a circular part, and I thought “Ah! I’ve arrived!” But no, you just walk around the circle and back onto more road. And another gate. Sheesh.

The Monument

The Monument

You do eventually come to this lonely spot in the woods. If you go to the Atlas Obscura page about this site, you’ll find that the monument was dedicated in 1906, and… oh, I’ll let AO tell you the story…

It has been estimated that approximately 600 Natives (including women and children) were massacred, as the colonial forces bridged the defensive barricades, burned the wigwams within and drove the natives from the fort. Many of the Natives escaped into the bitterly cold swamp that surrounded them, some eventually died due to their wounds, exposure to the cold and starvation.

The Great Swamp Battle was a crucial turning point in the war. It forced both the neutral Narragansett tribe and the colony of Rhode Island (which also wished to remain neutral) into the war. By the end of March 1676, nearly all of Rhode Island had been set ablaze in retaliation for the Great Swamp Massacre, and nearly all of the colonists that survived the initial Native attacks, retreated to the fortified settlement on Aquidneck Island. The colonial forces eventually killed Canonchet, the chief of the Narragansett, and in August of 1676, ambushed and killed King Philip. The death of Philip ended the war.  The tribes of New England never recovered and it took decades for the devastated settlements in Rhode Island, Plymouth and Massachusetts Bay Colonies to be re-inhabited and to thrive again.

Dedication

Dedication

In 1906, representatives of both the Narragansett and the Colonists came together to dedicate this monument at a spot believed to be the battle site. The rain poured down as three Narragansett women unveiled the inscribed stone, which reads:

“Attacked within their fort upon this island, the Narragansett Indians made their last stand in King Philip’s War and were crushed by the united forces of the Massachusetts Connecticut and Plymouth Colonies in the “Great Swamp Fight,” Sunday, 19 December, 1675. This record was placed by the Rhode Island Society of Colonial Wars, 1906.”

It’s a sad story and a moody site to visit on a cold, overcast December day.

Offerings

Offerings

I kind of felt bad that I didn’t have anything on me to leave as an offering, too.

Read the whole Atlas Obscura page for more info about this spot. As always, click the image above for details about this hike and to download the gps track.

Comments

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: