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Nine Men's Misery

The site of Nine Men's Misery in Cumberland

Nine Men's Misery is a site in current day Cumberland, Rhode Island where nine colonists were tortured by the Narragansett Indian tribe during King Philip's War. A stone memorial was constructed in 1676 which is believed to be the oldest veterans memorial in the United States.


On March 26, 1676 during King Philip's War, Captain Michael Pierce led approximately 60 Plymouth Colony troops and 20 Wampanoag Indians in pursuit of Narragansetts who had burned several Rhode Island towns and attacked Plymouth. Pierce's troops caught up with the Narragansett, Wampanoag, Nashaway, Nipmuck, and Podunk fighters, but were ambushed in what is now Central Falls, Rhode Island. Pierce's troops fought the Narragansetts for several hours but were surrounded by a larger force. The battle was one of the biggest defeats of colonial troops during King Philip's War, with nearly all killed, including Captain Pierce and the Wampanoags (exact numbers vary by account). The Narragansetts lost only a handful of warriors.

Nine of the colonists who were among the dead were first taken prisoner, along with a tenth man who survived. These men were tortured to death by the Narragansetts at a site in Cumberland, Rhode Island, currently on the Cumberland Monastery and Library property. The nine dead colonists were buried by English soldiers who found the corpses and created a pile of stones to memorialize the men. This pile is believed to be the oldest veterans' memorial in the United States, and a cairn of stones has continuously marked the site since 1676.

The "Nine Men's Misery" site was disturbed in 1790 by medical students led by one Dr. Bowen looking for the body of one of the dead colonists named Benjamin Bucklin, who was said to be unusually large with a double row of teeth. They were stopped by outraged locals. The site was desecrated several more times until 1928, when the monks who then owned the cemetery built a cemented stone cairn. The cairn and site can still be visited on the monastery grounds.

Pierce's Fight was followed by the burning of Providence three days later, and then the capture and execution of Canonchet, the chief sachem of the Narragansetts. The war was winding down even at the time that Pierce's party was destroyed, and King Philip himself was killed in August.


  • Bicknell, T. (1981). Addresses and poem in commemoration of the Captain Michael Pierce fight, March 26, 1676. Helligso.
  • Burge, Kathleen, "A Haunting Attraction in R.I.," Boston Globe, December 5, 2007.[1]
  • Lepore, J. (1999). The Name of War: King Philip's War and the Origins of American Identity. Vintage.
  • Schultz, E., & Touglas, M. (2000). King Philip's War: History and Legacy of America's Forgotten Conflict. Countryman Press.

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Coordinates: 41°56′22″N 71°24′24″W / 41.93944°N 71.40667°W / 41.93944; -71.40667