Massachusetts – 1676 Battle of Wissatinnewag-Peskeompskut (Great Falls): Building on Community Commitments to Remember, Honor, and Protect

A cluster of about a dozen small pink flags, with a single flag in the foreground, are at the center of mostly small, second-growth trees, brown oak leaves are scattered across the ground.
Pink flags mark where recovered English musket balls were surveyed in 2019.

University of Connecticut

Recipient: Town of Montague

Amount: $83,300.00

As the weather turned warm in the spring of 1676, a coalition of Algonquian tribes gathered around the village of Wissantinnewag, close to the Peskeompskut (the Connecticut River’s Great Falls), to fish and to plant corn for the coming year. For nearly a year, the conflict that New England colonists called King Philip’s War, raged through Native homelands and English settlements. Many Native nations who had once been rivals allied to resist the colonists’ threats to their way of life, including settlements on their lands, damage to their crops by livestock, and missionizing. The Native coalition had gathered at Peskeompskut for refuge and respite from the bloody conflagration, but on May 19, 1676, colonial militia attacked their haven in retaliation for assaults on English settlements earlier in the war. Native warriors mounted a strong counterattack, forcing the English to withdraw, and inflicted heavy casualties on the retreating militia through a series of ambushes over the course of six miles. The Native coalition-maintained control of the village and fertile lands in the Connecticut Valley, but at great cost: hundreds of villagers, mostly non-combatants, lay dead at Wissantinnewag.

With support from a 2022 Preservation Planning Grant from the National Park Service’s American Battlefield Protection Program, the Town of Montague will continue its partnership with four federally and state-recognized tribes and historic commissions from five local municipalities to conduct a third phase of archeological investigations of the Wissantinnewag-Peskeompskut/Great Falls site. The fieldwork will explore additional combat actions. By mapping the full extent of the conflict and filling out the story of events, the Town and its partners seek to expand awareness of the significance of this largely unaltered conflict site and welcome local landowners to join the communities’ commitment to reconciliation through preservation of Wissantinnewag-Peskeompskut.

Preservation Planning Grants are the American Battlefield Protection Program's broadest and most inclusive grant program, promoting the stewardship of battlefields and sites of armed conflict on American soil. In addition, the program administers three other grants: Battlefield Land Acquisition Grants, the newly authorized Battlefield Restoration and Battlefield Interpretation grant programs. This financial assistance generates community-driven stewardship of historic resources at the state, tribal and local levels.

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Check out the American Battlefield Protection Program's website for more information about various grant offerings and eligibility.

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Part of a series of articles titled 2022 Preservation Planning Grants Highlights.

Last updated: March 3, 2023