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Lesson 5
When Is a Fight a Massacre? The Bloody Brook Massacre and Falls Fight

Subject Areas
• U.S. History - Colonial America and the New Nation
• U.S. History- Native Americans

Upper elementary & middle school

Learning Objectives
After completing these activities, students will be able to:
• Describe what occurred during each attack
• Identify examples of biased reporting
• Explain why the reports do not agree on factual information, such as numbers killed, etc.
• Provide examples of different points of view
• Explain the connotations surrounding the term massacre

• Primary document analysis
• Observing and describing
• Interpreting written information
• Comparing and contrasting
• Making inferences
• Thinking critically
• Expressing opinions

Time Required
One to two class periods

In this lesson, students study reports written through time about these two attacks, focusing on the consequences of the attacks and evidence of bias in the reports. They will analyze report sources and begin to understand the concept of bias and point of view in written historical records.

Guiding Question
When is it right to label an attack a massacre?

image of Bloody Brook monument

Monument to Bloody Brook in South Deerfield, MA


image of Falls Fight monument

Monument to Captian William Turner, leader of English soldiers at the Falls Fight in Turners Falls, MA

Preparing to Teach
1. Go to the Assault on Peskeompskut (also known as the Falls Fight) scene on the 1704 website. Read about this attack and the Bloody Brook attack (discussed on the English tab). Be sure to read the Overview tab, the English tab, and the Wobanaki tab.

2. Go to the American Centuries website (www.americancenturies.mass.edu) to access the curriculum titled: The Lessons of 1704 - Lesson #4, Problems and Events Leading Up to the Attack on 1704. Print all of the readings and worksheets for Activity 2:

Bloody Brook Massacre

• The Redeemed Captive Returning to Zion, pgs. 99-101
• The History of Deerfield, Vol. I, pgs. 100-103
• Soldiers in King Philip's War

Falls Fight
• The Redeemed Captive Returning to Zion, pgs. 104-106
• The History of Deerfield, Vol. I, pgs. 155-157
• Soldiers in King Philip's War, pg. 37
• The History of Philip's War

• Battle Summary Sheets - Falls Fight, pgs. 1 & 2
• Battle Summary Sheets - Bloody Brook, pgs. 1 & 2

Teaching the Lesson

1. Direct students to go to the 1704 website and examine the Assault on Peskeompskut (also known as the Falls Fight) scene and read about this attack. They should then read about the Bloody Brook Massacre on the English tab. Finally, they should also read the Overview tab and the Wobanaki tab.

2. Divide students into small groups and assign half the groups to study the Bloody Brook Massacre, and the other half to study the Falls Fight. Distribute the readings listed above to the appropriate groups.

3. Tell students they will be gathering information about the two attacks in small groups, using primary and secondary sources. Explain that the groups should divide up the readings so that each student has at least one. Each student should skim his/her readings and highlight information about:

• How the battles were carried out (who did what and when)
• What the results of the battles were (e.g. how many people died or were wounded)
• The language used to describe the attacks and the attackers

4. Distribute the appropriate Battle Summary Worksheet for each student to complete.

5. Hold a class discussion to review findings. During the discussion, help students understand the connotation of words like "fight" and "massacre." Also, note that there are discrepancies in the numbers of attackers, those who died, etc. This issue is addressed in the 1704 Teachers' Guide lesson Numbers That Don't Add Up. Ask:

a. Why are there discrepancies in the numbers of attackers, those who died, etc.?
b. In the Bloody Brook Massacre, how are the victims viewed?
c. In the Falls Fight, how are the victims viewed?
d. Compare the words that describe the victims and attackers in each case. Which show more negative language? Why?
e. The attack at Bloody Brook has been known over the years as a "massacre," and the attack at the "Falls" has been known as a "fight." Which attack had more victims? Which attack resulted in more deaths? In each attack, did either victim group fight back?
f. In a dictionary, look up the definitions for "fight" and "massacre."
g. Should either attack be called a "massacre"? Why or why not?

Suggested answers to the Student Activity Sheet.

From the Explanations Menu of this website:

  • Who Owns History?, by Barry O'Connell

New England Outpost, by Richard Melvoin


This lesson was adapted from one by Charlene Galenski and Kathy Klaes, teachers at Deerfield Elementary School in Deerfield, MA.


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