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"Fuller's stout little party began its operation with all the efficiency of an army from Gilbert and Sullivan."
--Douglas Edward Leach, Flintlock And Tomahawk

If you read these lines in the mentioned source, you might feel that Captain Matthew Fuller was a real bumbler on this occasion, which was the commencement of what is known as "The Pocasset Campaign" of King Philip's war.

Bristol, RI area

The conflict itself was just beginning to unfold.  Plymouth Colony forces had just run Philip and his followers out of the Mount Hope area (Bristol, RI) where a fort was subsequently to be built. Captain Matthew Fuller and some of his men were assigned to pursue Philip into that part of the colony called Pocasset (currently the Tiverton, RI area) where it was assumed Philip had fled.

Lieutenant (later Captain) Benjamin Church accompanied Fuller on this expedition.  Church's previous experience and good rapport with the Pocasset-area natives would be useful, especially if a diplomatic end to the hostilities could be reached.

Captain Fuller confided to Church that he thought the expedition might be too strenuous.  Fuller was born about 1609, so he was certainly in his senior years in 1675. Church reassured Captain Fuller, saying for his part, he would much rather try and catch up with Philip or some of the Pocasset area natives he was trying to enlist, than stay behind and assist with the construction of the fort.  The two men, with a party of about 40, set out from Aquidneck Island under cover of darkness. The plan was to be ready at Pocasset around daybreak in order to suprise some of the natives.

Church relates that the reason they were discovered was because some members of the party were "troubled with the epidemical plague of lust after tobacco, must needs strike fire to smoke it." The fire attracted a sentry party of the Indians, who flew off to alert their companions. The Fuller/Church party split up in pursuit, found nothing, and met again at a predetermined rendezvous, disappointed and discouraged. 

Church stated that there was nothing more to do at that point but go ahead and have breakfast. This was not accomplished either. The person who had been put in charge of breakfast provisions forgot all of it--the supplies were still back on Aquidneck. Church had a few cakes with him, however, and split them up among the men.

After the slim breakfast, Church suggested to Fuller that the party should split again, with Church's group going inland in pursuit, and Fuller's group to explore the shore.  This was done, and after a day which included some small skirmishes with natives, Fuller and his half of the party was transported back to the island.

"First Muster" (Massachusetts Military History)

Church went on that day to his own adventures, including an altercation with a nest of rattlesnakes. A diplomatic end to the conflict was not to be.  As the events of these two days reached its climax, Church and his half of the men were under siege on the shore, fighting Indians, their backs to the water.  A sloop belonging to a Captain Golding, at first also under enemy fire, eventually was able to rescue them by sending forth a drifting canoe. Two men at a time got into the canoe, laid down, and managed to get themselves to the sloop. The canoe would then be sent out again to retrieve two more persons.  Eventually, all were safe.

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