Warriors of the Eastern Woodlands: Passaconaway and Kancamagus

PASSACONAWAY        BORN: 1650 – 1679


TRIBE:   Penacook

Kancamagus, whose name means “the fearless one,” was the last sagamore (chief) of the Pennacook Confederacy.  The tribe was located near the Merrimack River in present day New Hampshire. The Penacooks were part of the Wabnaki Confederacy, and they were an Algonquian speaking tribe closely related to the Abnaki and Penobscot.  Kancamagus was the grandson of Passaconaway, the “child of the bear”, who had formed the Penacook confederation of tribes to protect them from, and fight against, the powerful Mohawk tribe.  Passaconaway was known as the “bashaba” – Chief of Chiefs.  He had been though to have magical powers, and was so big as to be viewed as a giant.  He had lived in peace with the English Puritans due to a vision.  Passaconaway had been asked by Massasosit of the Wampanaog tribe to rid the beaches of the Pilgrims when they first arrived.  Passaconaway came there, tried to bring a storm, and failed.  He told Massasoit that he had had a vision where the Great Spirit told him to live in peace with these white people, and so the Penacook became firm friends of the Puritans, as did the Wampanoag.

That peace ended at a later time with King Phillip’s War.  At the end of that war against the New England Colonies, the remaining warriors escaped to near Dover where they joined the local Natives.  A Major Richard Waldron lead a militia of New England colonists to Dover with orders to destroy all the warriors who had escaped.  He did not want to fight, so he used trickery.  Waldron invited the warriors, and some local natives, to participate in a “mock” war just for sport.  They all agreed.  Once the warriors had discharged their weapons, Waldron’s men took them captive.  He marched them back to Boston, and had seven men executed and the rest sold into slavery in the Barbados.   This inflamed the Wabnaki’s and other tribes in the area.

Kancamagus was the war leader that lead the revenge.  They marched to the white settlement at Dover, and in June 1689, he lead a raid on the place, killing a number of settlers and burning the houses.  MAjor Richard Waldron was taken, and he was tortured and then mutilated.  Shortly thereafter, Pamaquid, Maine, suffered the same fate.

Growing weary of the war against the English, Kancamagus moved to Canada near Quebec in 1691.

This was all part of King Williams’ War – or the Second Indian War – 1688 – 1697.


2020-05-11T19:07:00+00:00May 11th, 2020|Uncategorized|