Nine Men's Misery was a grisly scene of capture, torture, and killing.
The Nine Men's Misery monument marks the place where on March 26, 1676,
nine Rhode Island soldiers, including Benjamin Bucklin, were killed by Native
Americans in King Phillip's War.
King Philip, the chief of the Wampanoag tribe of the
Rhode Island/Massachusetts area of New England, initially succeeded in the
battles with the colonists. One of the most disastrous military battles
for the colonists
was called Pierce's Fight, in which most of the colonial soldiers of Pierce's
command were killed.
A group of nine of the soldiers escaped the
original Indian ambush, but were separately later captured, tortured, and killed.
Benjamin Bucklin was one of the nine who were killed. The nine
bodies were found a day later by a military burial mission working on burying
the remains of those killed the day before. The remains were buried on the
spot on which they were found, a rise of land in a swampy area. Because of the gruesome nature of the
torture indicated by the state of the bodies found by the burial mission,
the site became known locally as the Nine Men's Misery.
The Nine Men's Misery monument in Cumberland, Rhode Island is located in a quiet,
dark, uninviting place in the woods, near a former monastery that now has
been replaced by a public library. The monument—piles of stones cemented
together with a cement pillar next to the stone pile, and adorned with a
plaque—sits on top of a hill in what in 1676 was a swampy area.
(Photo above shows the monument and John Bucklyn, who has
assisted the Society in finding sundry historical Bucklin sites.)
The monument was erected in 1928, by monks living in a nearby monastery. (The monastery burned down in 1950, and
was not rebuilt.) Presumably the monks intended that the pile of cemented stones would stop the
disinterment's (mentioned below) that occurred from time to time.
During the one year Kin Phillip's War of 1675-1676 nearly 4,000
people died. The colonists were seriously concerned that the Indians might
win. The war ended more than a generation of previously harmonious
relationships between colonists and Native Americans. For more on the
war see James Drake's book King Philip's War: Civil War in New England, 1675-1676.
The bodies were dug up
repeatedly over the ensuing years by curious New Englanders. One such disinterment in 1790 resulted in
the medical identification of Benjamin Bucklin. (See text excerpts below.)
PROVIDENCE JOURNAL, James Whitney (Wednesday, January 20, 1886).
"....a strange incident occurred in relation
to the nine men's grave. It was either during, or shortly after the
Revolutionary War. Some Providence gentlemen, led, it is said, by Dr. Bowen,
went up to the place and dug open the grave. They had already stretched three
of the skeletons upon the ground ere they were discovered. When the Cumberland
people found out what was going on, a hue and cry being raised, and the
farmers assembling from all the region round, the cessation of the robbery was
compelled, the disinterment being regarded as a first-class outrage. It is not
said whether the affair took place at night, by the light of lanterns in the
windy forests, but the story is true as it is told, and well illustrates the
peculiar place the tradition has in the minds of the Cumberland people. One
fact was settled by the disinterment, and that was the identity of the men
themselves who were buried. One of the skeletons dug up was of extraordinary
size, and by the fact of it's having a double set of teeth, was recognized as
that of Benjamin Bucklin (Buckland), of Rehoboth. It is assured thus that the
men were from other colonies than that of Providence."
The remarkable skull of Benjamin Bucklin was given to the Rhode Island Historical Society,
during the 19th century, for preservation,
but unfortunately, the Society "lost" the skull sometime in the 20th century.
HISTORY OF ATTLEBOROUGH, John Daggett. Page 115
"…I have seen no notice of this in history, but as to the
main fact there can be no doubt. The bones of these men were disinterred (not
many years ago) by some physician for anatomical purposes, and were found
nearly perfect. But the people in the vicinity insisted upon their being
restored, which was accordingly done. One of the slain was ascertained to be a
Bucklin, of Rehoboth, from the remarkable circumstances of a set of double
front teeth, which he was known to possess."
"….The fact that the medical students, from curiosity or to
verify the tradition, or other motives, did visit the spot and exhume the
bodies, and prove their identity by that of Benjamin Bucklin (or Buckland), of
Rehoboth, from his unusually large frame and "double set of teeth all around,"
has also been substantiated. What is still more remarkable than the discovery
of the letter, the author met a physician soon after the publication of this
history, in 1834, who took pains to state that he had read the account of
"Nine Men's Misery," and was able to testify that it was substantially
correct, as he was one of the "medical gentlemen" present, and aided in the
exhumation and finally examined the bones. Having this statement directly from
his own mouth, it is personal knowledge of the event, so far as this fact
HISTORY OF REHOBOTH, Leonard Bliss. (1836) Page 198.
"Mr. Daggett visited the spot a century and a half after,
talked with the people then living in the neighborhood, and wrote the story.
He describes the spot and the heap of memorial stones piled upon the grave.
This must have been about 1830. Mr. Daggett in his manuscript told of the dis-interment
and about the skull of Bucklin with double teeth, which was then exhumed.
These teeth filled the jaws: there were no "single" teeth In 1866 I myself
visited the spot and saw it exactly as John Daggett described it."
Victor Franko has allowed us to store for
viewing by researchers], a licensed copy of
Victor Franko's book length documentation of the Nine Men's Misery, and also
short novel he wrote based on the events.
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Back to William Bucklin's Biography.
Back to Benjamin Bucklin's Biography.