King Philips War, or Metacom's War if you will, was pretty devastating to the Northeast Colonies in the pre-United States - yet even after this the tribes that could have realized that the English and other colonists were a threat never retaliated in any significant way. I know many of the local tribes in the Northeast were already decimated from previous contact with other Europeans but there were plenty of tribes nearby that could have moved in after the peace was settled. Considering that many tribes took land and spoils from others who were weak, a new tribe could have come in and then fought the remaining colonists and probably done significant damage.

This seemed like a great time to take back what was theirs and I often wonder why not. If there are local sources to check please note them, I do live in the Northeast US so I can check but this is something that I have never seem much written on and often interested me.

  • These new tribes moving in would have no reason to attack the colonial settlers. The frictions from living close to the colonialists would not apply to them and they had little to no love for a competing tribe that was just wiped out by fighting the settlers.
    – Oldcat
    Nov 12, 2014 at 23:07

2 Answers 2


The Indians of the North-East had become dependent on the Colonists for supplies of ball and powder for their newly favoured ranged weapon, the flintlock musket. Their supplies of these rarely exceeded a season's worth, and they had failed to stockpile additional reserves in preparation for the war.

Although the initial onslaught had chased the Colonists out of their outlying communities and into their larger towns, the war then became one of attrition in which the hostile Indians could only replenish ammunition through expenditure of the same, rarely making a net gain and never large. The Colonist militias also improved training and adopted the tactic of forming combined-nationality combat teams with their Indian allies.

Further, although the colonist suffered badly in the initial onslaughts, they still outnumbered the indigenous Indian population several times. It is estimated that there were 80,000 Colonists in New England in 1676 compared to only 10,000 Amerinidians (many of whom were friendly), with about 20% of colonists and 25% of Amerinidains being militia/warriors respectively.

This combination of increased combat effectiveness by the colonists, supply depletion for the hostile Amerindians, and being vastly out-numbered, doomed the rebels.


There were several reasons. The first was that most of the LOCAL (to Massachusetts and parts of Connecticut) Indians had either been involved with King Philip, and were defeated, or conversely, had allied with the settlers, and were sharing the spoils of war. The second reason is that most of the damage was done in the initial part of the war against isolated settlements. A result of the war was than many settlements were abandoned, and people moved to major towns, where there were militias on guard.

A third issue might be why Indians from OTHER parts of the country didn't come in and try to drive the settlers out. Transportation (and communications) were poor in those days, and different Indian tribes seldom cooperated between themselves. There was no sense of "Native Americans" taking back "American" land. Most tribes only cared about what was going on within their immediate vicinity (e.g., within a modern American state).

  • 1
    Do you have any sources on this? Most of this I had already thought of, but nothing to check it against.
    – MichaelF
    Oct 31, 2011 at 16:39

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