The Native American Story of Wetamoo
Boy's Book of Indian Warriors, by Edwin L. Sabin
The Story of Wetamoo
When King Philip had planned his war, he well knew that he might depend upon Wetamoo, the squaw sachem of Pocasset.
After the death of the luckless Alexander, Wetamoo married a Pocasset Indian named Petananuit. He was called by the English "Peter Nunnuit." This Peter Nunnuit appears to have been a poor sort of a husband, for he early deserted to the enemy, leaving his wife to fight alone.
Wetamoo was not old. She was in the prime of life, and as an Indian was beautiful. Not counting her faithless husband, only one of her Pocassets had abandoned her. He was that same Alderman who betrayed and killed King Philip.
In the beginning Queen Wetamoo had mustered three hundred warriors. She stuck close to King Philip, and fought in his ranks. She probably was in the fatal Narragansett fort when it was stormed and taken, on December 19, 1675. The English much desired to seize her, for her lands of Pocasset "would more than pay all the charge" of the war. She was considered as being "next unto Philip in respect to the mischief that hath been done."
But she was not taken in the fort among the Narragansetts. She fled with King Philip her brother-in-law, and warred that winter and spring, as he did, against the settlements in Massachusetts.
Truly a warrior queen she was, and so she remained to the last, ever loyal to the losing cause of her grand sachem, and to the memory of Alexander.
With Philip she was driven southward, back toward her home of Pocasset, east of Mount Hope. By the first week in August of 1676, she had only twenty-six men left, out of her three hundred.
Then there came to the colonists at Taunton, which lay up the river Taunton from Pocasset, another deserter, with word that he could lead them to the little Wetamoo camp, not far southward.
Twenty armed English descended upon her, August 6, and easily overcame her camp. She alone escaped, in flight. She had no thought of surrendering herself into slavery.
In making her way to Pocasset, she "attempted," reads the tale, "to get over a river or arm of the sea near by, upon a raft, or some pieces of broken wood; but whether tired and spent with swimming, or starved with cold and hunger, she was found stark naked in Metapoiset [near present Swansea of southern Massachusetts, at the Rhode Island line], not far from the water side, which made some think she was first half drowned; and so ended her wretched life."
No respect was paid to her. Her head was cut off and hoisted upon a pole in the town of Taunton, as revenge for the similar beheading of some English bodies, earlier in the war. When, in Taunton, the Pocasset captives saw the headó"They made a most horrid and diabolical lamentation, crying out that it was their queen's head."
Here let us close the melancholy story of the warrior queen Wetamoo, who as the companion-in-arms of her sachem sought to avenge her husband's death, as well as to save her country from the foreigner. However, Wetamoo and Philip together dragged the once mighty Narragansetts down. This brings to the surface the tale of Canonchet, the big-hearted.
The Story of Wetamoo
This story of Wetamoo is featured in the book entitled Boy's Book of Indian Warriors, by Edwin L. Sabin, Philadelphia, George W. Jacobs & Co. Publishers, 1918
The Story of Wetamoo
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The Story of Wetamoo for Kids
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