The Battle of Turner’s Falls was fought as a part of King Philip’s War. It was fought between Native Americans and English colonists. The battle is named after Captain William Turner who led the colonist militiamen during the fight. It is also called the Peskeompscut Massacre.
The Battle of Turner’s Falls was fought in May, 1676. King Philip’s War had begun in 1675 and the war was going on when the battle took place.
In 1676, King Philip’s War was going on. Nipmuc was one of the many tribes affected by the war. The Nipmuc had supported the Native Americans against English colonists in the war. They had to pay a heavy price as many of their villages were destroyed by the colonists. Many of the displaced families traveled from south towards north. In the north, at the present-day site of Turner’s Falls in Massachusetts, Native Americans tribes camped along the Connecticut River. This was a fishing camp where warriors and their families gathered various varieties of fish for the winter. It was here that a part of the battle took place.
At one side were the warriors and their families from a number of Native American tribes. At the other side were militiamen from the Massachusetts Bay Colony led by Captain William Turner. The warriors numbered at around 60 to 70 while there were also around 200 women, children and elderly at the Native American camp. The militiamen numbered at around 150.
The Nipmuc had suffered serious losses in the war. In May 1676, they were negotiating peace with the colonists. At the time, the encampment by the Connecticut River was occupied by less than 100 warriors and their families. Some of these warriors raided nearby farms of the colonists and stole some cattle. These cattle were used to feed the warriors and the families. The colonist militiamen under Captain Turner decided to attack the encampment in retaliation.
About 150 militiamen under Captain Turner marched to the fishing encampment. They advanced towards the camp in the cover of the night. When they were close to the camp, they opened fire. A larger number of Native Americans were killed, including women, children and the elderly. For this reason, the battle is also recorded as a massacre. In all, around 100 to 200 Native Americans were killed. Turner and his men were then attacked by the Native Americans warriors. They began a retreat by the warriors pursued them along the retreat and killed nearly 40 militiamen on their return journey.
Captain Turner was killed during an ambush on his way back. The angry Native American warriors later attacked the colonist settlement at Hatfield in retaliation. The attack resulted in the deaths of 5 settlers and the destruction of several properties. The battle was a major setback for the Nimpuc and allied Native Americans.