1637 - THE PEQUOT WAR

In 1633 the English Puritan settlements at Plimoth and Massachusetts Bay Colonies had begun expanding into the rich Connecticut River Valley to accommodate the steady stream of new emigrants from England. Other than the hardship of the journey and the difficulty of building homes in what the Puritans consider a wilderness, only one major obstacle threatened the security of the expanding settlements: the Pequots.

Despite early attempts to reconcile differences, continued confrontations precipitated the first war between Native Americans and English settlers in northeastern America and set the stage for the ultimate domination of the region by Europeans. The War not only involved the Pequots and the English Puritans, but several other Indians tribes, some of which, including the Mohegans, aligned themselves with the English.

Based on archaeological and linguistic evidence, the Pequot and Mohegan Tribes, indian peoples of the Algonquian language group, probably have lived in what is now southeastern Connecticut for several hundred years. Mohegan oral tradition holds that the Mohegan-Pequots, originally the same tribe, migrated into the region some time before contact with Europeans. Anthropological evidence shows that the two groups were very closely related. Just before the outbreak of war with the English, the Mohegans under a sachem named Uncas split from the Pequots and aligned themselves with the English.Mystic Map

At the time of the Pequot War, Pequot strength was concentrated along the Pequot (now Thames) and Mystic Rivers in what is now southeastern Connecticut. Mystic, or Missituk, was the site of the major battle of the War. Under the leadership of Captain John Mason from Connecticut and Captain John Underhill from Massachusetts Bay Colony, English Puritan troops, with the help of Mohegan and Narragansett allies, burned the village and killed the estimated 400-700 Pequots inside.

The battle turned the tide against the Pequots and broke the tribe's resistance. Many Pequots in other villages escaped and hid among other tribes, but most of them were eventually killed or captured and given as slaves to tribes friendly to the English. The English, supported by Uncas' Mohegans, pursued the remaining Pequot resistors until all were either killed or captured and enslaved. After the War, the colonists enslaved survivors and outlawed the name "Pequot."

The story of the Pequot War is an American story, a key element in our colonial history. As noted historian Alden T. Vaughan wrote in his book New England Frontier: Puritans and Indians 1620-1675:

"The effect of the Pequot War was profound. Overnight the balance of power had shifted from the populous but unorganized natives to the English colonies. Henceforth [until King Philip's War] there was no combination of Indian tribes that could seriously threaten the English. The destruction of the Pequots cleared away the only major obstacle to Puritan expansion. And the thoroughness of that destruction made a deep impression on the other tribes."





The Pequot War was fought in 1637. It involved the Pequot Indians and the settlers of the Pilgrim Colony and the Massachusetts Bay Colony. The Pequot were a powerful tribe, their only serious rival the Narragansett

This war was the culmination of numerous conflicts between the colonists and the Indians. There were disputes over property, livestock damaging Indian crops, hunting, the selling of alcohol to Indians, and dishonest traders. Besides these, the Colonists believed that they had a God given right to settle this New World. They saw the Indian as savages who needed to be converted to their way of God. Unfortunately, the colonists felt superior to all Indians even those who became Christian. The Indian was in a difficult situation. He constantly suffered at the hands of the colonists, yet at the same time was growing more dependent on the Colonists trade goods. The Indians were also disturbed at the encroachment of their lands by the colonies.

Two events weakened the Pequots prior to their war with the English. In 1631 the tribe was divided into pro-English and pro-Dutch factions. This problem was not solved when the tribes leader, Wopigwooit, died in that year. Two sub-sachems, Sassacus who was pro-Dutch and Uncas who was pro-English, fought to succeed as the grand sachem. The tribe picked Sassacus. Uncas and his followers continued to quarrel with the pro-Dutch group. Eventually, Uncas and his followers fled to form their own tribe, the Mohegan. The Mohegan became hostile to the Pequots.

The second event that weakened the Pequots was the smallpox epidemic which they suffered in 1633-34. The separation of the Mohegan and the smallpox cost the Pequots almost half of their people.

Pequot Battle Sites

The suffering of the Indians reached a breaking point on July 20, 1636. On that date, the Pequot's killed a dishonest trader, John Oldham. Many settlers demanded that the Pequot's be punished for this transgression. Massachusetts raised a military force under the command of John Endicott. This troop of 90 men landed on Block Island and killed 14 Indians before they burned the village and crops.

Endicott then sailed to Saybrook where they demanded tribute from the Pequot village there. This was the first indication Connecticut had that the Massachusetts Bay Colony was fighting the Pequots. The Pequots managed to flee their village at the approach of the Massachusetts troops who then burned their village. Endicott then left, leaving the Connecticut troops at Fort Saybrook to feel the wrath of the Pequots, who attacked anyone trying to leave the fort.

That winter Pequot sent war belts to many surrounding tribes Both the Narragansett and the Mohegan refused to side with the Pequots. This was due to past aggressions by the Pequots and to the influence of Roger Williams. While the Narragansett, and many smaller tribes, remained netural, the Mohegan sided with the English and fought the Pequots.

On May 26, 1637, a military force under John Mason and John Underhill, attacked the Pequot village located near New Haven, Conn. The village was destroyed and over 500 Indians killed. The Pequot leader, Sassacus, was captured on July 28. Many of Sassacus' tribesmen were captured during the war. The captives were sold in the West Indies as slaves. Sassacus was executed by the Mohawks, a tribe that fought on the side of the English. The few Pequots who were able to escape the English, fled to surrounding Indian tribes and were assimilated. The Pequots, once a powerful Indian nation, was destroyed.

(Ed Note -  This from a reader adds another reasonable discussion:

. . . .  I can  see now that your site has more than one reference to the killing of John Oldham.  The one I referred to was on the "1637 The Pequot War" section.  "The suffering of the Indians reached a breaking point on July 20, 1626.  On that date, the Pequot's killed a dishonest trader, John Oldham."

That statement is simply wrong.  First, it implies that the "suffering of the Indians" resulted in John Oldham's death because he was a "dishonest trader".  The suffering to which the writer refers is a) a terrible plague that killed hundreds of Pequots and b) an intertribal conflict which split the Pequots.  As terrible as the death to plague of hundreds of the tribe may have been, they would have had no way of knowing that it was most probably disease brought by contact with the settlers.  The intertribal conflict had nothing to do with the settlers.  Why take any of that out on John Oldham?

Second,  the Pequots most likely were not the killers of John Oldham, but the Block Island Narragansets.  Finally,  John Oldham was one of the founders of Wethersfield and I have seen no evidence that he was a "dishonest trader".)





CHRONOLOGY OF THE PEQUOT WAR

1630s
Increased Dutch and English migration into Connecticut Valley,Pequot territory. Pequot efforts to oust Dutch kill Indians (probably Narragansetts or a subject tribe) trading at the House of Hope, a Dutch trading post. Dutch retaliate, killing Pequot sachem Tatobam

1634
Captain John Stone killed by western Niantics, a tributary tribe of the Pequots. Circumstances of the attack unclear.

23 October 1634 Pequots send messenger bearing gifts and promises of tribute to Roger Ludlow, deputy governor of
Massachusetts Bay Colony.


7 November 1634 Second Pequot embassy. Massachusetts Bay-Pequot treaty: Pequot negotiators agreeto hand over Stone's murderers to pay indemnity of £250 sterling in wampum to cede Connecticut lands to trade with the English to have disputes with Narragansetts mediated by the English.Pequot council does not ratify the treaty, objecting to the indemnity and arguing that Stone's murderers were all either dead or beyond their reach.


16 June 1636
Jonathan Brewster, trader from Plymouth, conveys message from Uncas, chief of the Mohegans, that the Pequots plan a preemptive strike against the English.


July 1636
Conference at Fort Saybrook of Connecticut and Massachusetts Bay officials with representatives of Western Niantics and Pequots. English colonists reassert demands of 1634 treaty. Sassious, Western Niantic sachem, pledges loyalty and submission to English. John Oldham and crew killed by Narragansetts or a subject tribe off Block Island. Narragansett sachems Canonchet and Miantonomo condemn the murder and offer reparations. Miantonomo leads party to Block Island to exact vengeance. Canonchet and Miantonomo promise not to ally selves with Pequots in any dispute between English and Pequots.


25 August 1636
Captains John Endecott, John Underhill, and William Turner sent to Block Island with 90 men to apprehend killers of Stone and Oldham and to seek reparations or plunder. Most of the population of Block Island had escaped and had left little to plunder.

Underhill Monument Mason Monument Uncas Monument

Monuments to Captain Jon Underhill, Captain John Mason and Mohegan Sachem Uncas

August 1636
Endecott sails troops to Fort Saybrook to punish Pequots. Lieutenant Lion Gardiner protests his actions. Endecott sails to Pequot Harbor at mouth of Pequot (Thames) River. Pequots ask what he wants, and Endecott announces his goal. Pequots request conference. Endecott refuses, demanding that Pequots fight in European-style open battle. Pequots refuse. English troops burn Pequot houses and destroy crops.


Late summer 1636
Pequots attack Fort Saybrook. Siege continues intermittently for months


Late winter 1637
Mason visits fort but does not provide much relief.


Spring 1637
Pequots attempt to persuade Narragansetts to ally with them against the English. English send Roger Williams topersuade Narragansetts to remain neutral.


March 1637
Miantonomo allies Narragansetts with the English, "solemnizing the treaty with a gift of wampum and the severed hand of a Pequot brave" (Axelrod 19).


18 April 1637
Massachusetts General Court authorizes levy to raise funds for anticipated costs of war against Pequots.


April 1637
Saybrook Company sends Underhill to Saybrook with 20 men. Mason reinforces Fort Saybrook. Gardiner, Underhill, and Mason quarrel.


23 April 1637
Attack on settlers working in field near Wethersfield, in retribution for confiscation of land belonging to Sowheag, a sachem. Seven to nine settlers are killed and two girls are taken captive.


Late spring 1637
Colonists become increasingly alarmed. Plymouth, Massachusetts, and Connecticut colonies decide to fight Pequots together.


10 May 1637
Mason leaves Hartford with 90 colonists and 60 Mohegans under Uncas to attack Pequot fort Sassacus, on Pequot Harbor. Some members of the Boston church refuse to join the expedition because John Wilson is the chaplain.


15 May 1637
Mason and Uncas arrive at Saybrook with their troops. Uncas leads 40 warriors into battle against Pequots and Niantics, killing 4-7, taking one prisoner, and leaving one Mohegan wounded. At Fort Saybrook, Mason's men torture the prisoner. Underhill shoots him, ostensibly to end his suffering.


16 May 1637
Underhill places his 19 men under Mason's command. 20 of Mason's men are sent to reinforce Connecticut's other settlements.


18 May 1637
Mason and Underhill's forces embark.

20 May 1637
Mason and Underhill arrive in Narragansett territory.


22-24 May 1637
Mason, Underhill, and Lieutenant Richard Siely confer with Narragansetts. Narragansetts under Miantonomo and Eastern Niantics under Ninigret ally with the English.

A READER'S NOTE REGARDING HIS ANCESTORS: "The correct name of the above lieutenant is Robert Seely, one of the 24 adventurers who founded Wethersfield, not Richard Siely. In fact, Robert was wounded with an arrow to the head (see below). Luckily the wound was not fatal. He went on to help found the New Haven Colony and Huntington L.I. As a descendent, I take great pride in my forebearer's exploits in the New World. In 1636 Robert was appointed by the General Court of CT to take an inventory of the estate of Capt. John Oldhams, who was murdered by the Indians at Block Island, where he had gone to trade; Robert was killed in 1675 in Narragansett during the King Phillips War.





"Further information regarding Robert Seely: In May 1637, Robert was appointed a Lieutenant and was second in command under Captain John Mason in the expedition against the Pequot Indians on the Mystic and Pequot (Thames) Rivers. He was one of the first to enter the fort in the desperate "Fort Fight" on Friday, 26 May 1637. He was severely wounded. Captain Mason says in his report, "Lieutenant Seeley was a valiant soldier. I myself pulled the arrow out of his eyebrow." Robert wore the scar on his brow the rest of his life. Pequot Hill, where the fight took place, is about 8 miles northeast of New London, CT. In June 1637, he was paid 20 shillings per week and 150 bushels of corn by the inhabitants of Wethersfield.

In 1653 and 1654, Robert was appointed as Captain to the New Haven forces under Major Sedgwick and Captain Leverett, English officers, against the New Netherlands, and in Mar 1654, was put in charge of some troops and took part in the seizure of the trading place at "Dutch Point" in Hartford. In June 1654, he was appointed to act against the Dutch. In Jan 1654, he petitioned the Court to pay for his services in the Dutch campaign, but they refused, saying they did not "absolutely require his attendance." Then to "encourage him in any service this way," voted to give him 5 pounds. In Aug 1654, Robert was sent with 12 pounds of powder and 30 pounds of lead as a present to keep peace with the Long Island Indians".

....Roy Seelye, Newington, CT, May 2001


25 May 1637
English and their allies approach Sassacus's Pequot Harbor fort. They decide to attack fort at Mystic instead. English and allies arrive at Mystic at night and make camp.

26 May 1637

Attack on Mystic

English fire a volley at dawn, then storm the fort. Mason enters at northeast, and Underhill enters at southwest. Pequots fight fiercely. Mason abandons plan to seek booty and sets fire to 80 huts housing approximately 800 people (men, women, and children). 600-700 Pequots die in an hour. 7 are taken captive, and 7 escape. Two Englishmen are killed, with 20-40 wounded. English march toward their ships, burning Pequot dwellings along the way.



Late May or early June, 1637
Mason and Underhill's troops unite with Massachusetts troops led by Captain Patrick and Israel Stoughton. Group of Pequots discovered near Connecticut River is surrounded by Narragansetts who pretend to offer protection, enabling the English troops to capture them. Survivors flee, some to Manhattan Island.


July 1637
Stoughton and Mason pursue fugitive Pequots.


13 July 1637
English forces surround Mystic survivors in swamp near New Haven. English offer safe conduct to old men, women achildren and to non-Pequot residents of the swamp. 200 people accept this offer. 80 warriors refuse it and start shooting arrows at English. English soldiers close in on them.


14 July 1637
20-30 Indians (Mason says 60-70) escape in early- morning fog.


Summer 1637
Sassacus and other Pequots seek refuge with neighboring tribes but tribes are intimidated by the English (and in some cases were already unfriendly with the Pequots). Sassacus is refused sanctuary. English receive severed heads of Pequots as tribute from other tribes, including head of Sassacus sent by Mohawks.


21 September 1638
Treaty of Hartford: Survivors of swamp siege divided as slaves among Indian allies: 80 to Uncas and Mohegans, 80 to Miantonomo and Narragansetts, 20 to Ninigret and Niantics No Pequot may inhabit former Pequot territory Name Pequot to be expunged; Pequot slaves must take name of tribes to which they are enslaved.


Fall 1638
Group of Pequots settle at Pawcatuck in violation of treaty. Mason sent with 40 English soldiers and 120 Mohegans under Uncas to clean them out. Narragansetts attack Uncas as he is plundering the wigwams, but refuse to fight the English.


Notes

1.Mason reports that they went with 120 men: "The Council of Massachusetts being informed of their proceedings, sent to speak with Pequots, and had some Treaties with them: But being unsatisfied therewith, sent forth Captain John Endicot Commander in Chief, with Captain Underhill, Captain Turner, and with them one hundred and twenty Men: who were firstly designed on a Service against a People living on Block Island, who were subject to the Narragansett Sachem; they having taken a Bark of one Mr. John Oldham, Murdering him and all his Company:"

2.Axelrod raises questions about this warning: "Moreover, a victory over the Pequots would render the other tribes in the region more pliable: Western Niantics, who lived near the mouth of the Connecticut River and were subject to the Pequots; the Eastern Niantics, whose territory lay east of the Pequots, near the Pawcatuck River, and who were allied with the Narragansetts. Traditional rivals of the Pequots, they would be uneasily wooed to the English cause. A more solid and cordial English-Indian alliance was quickly forged with the Mohegans, really a Pequot splinter group whose leader, Uncas, desired to unseat Sassacus, the feared and mighty sachem of the Pequots proper. Indeed, it is entirely possible Uncas's warning to the colonists, apprising them of Pequot war intentions, was a fabrication meant to provoke combat."

3.Historians suggest a variety of reasons for this change ofplans, ranging from its relative proximity (Mason 26) to a deliberate choice to avoid a battle and instead to have a massacre.





UNCAS

Although born into the Pequot tribe, an American Indian sachem named Uncas (1588?-1683) became leader of the Mohegan tribe. He rebelled against Chief Sassacus (1560?-1637), his father-in-law, and with his followers formed the separate Mohegan branch. Uncas aided the English colonists in the Pequot War of 1637 and fought a series of wars with the Narragansett Indians, whom he defeated in 1643. In 1661, however, he made war on an ally of the English, Chief Massasoit and his Wampanoag tribe, and the English intervened and forced Uncas to relinquish his captives and plunder. Upon the outbreak of King Philip's War in 1675, he was required to turn over his sons as hostages to the English in assurance of his neutrality. A character named Uncas was immortalized in literature in The Last of the Mohicans (1826) by the American writer James Fenimore Cooper.





PEQUOT WAR NARRATIVE

In the very morning of this colonial era of Connecticut, dark cloudsgathered black and threatening, and for awhile a storm impended which seemed ready to sweep the little settlements from the face of the earth in a moment. The fiery Pequods had become jealous of the English because the latter appeared to be on friendly terms with the Mohegans on the west and the Narragansets on the east, the bitter enemies of this warlike tribe.


Over the Pequods, a famous sachem and chief named Sassacus was ruler. He was cool, calculating, treacherous, haughty, fierce and malignant, and lie was the terror of the neighboring tribes. He ruled over twenty-six sagamores or inferior princes, and his domain extended from Narraganset Bay to the Hudson River, and over Long Island. His bravery won the unbounded admiration of his warriors, of whom almost two thousand were always ready to follow him wheresoever he might lead. Seeing the power of the few English in garrison at Saybrook, and dreading the strength and influence of more who would undoubtedly join them, he resolved to exterminate the intruders. By every art of persuasion and menace, he tried to induce the Mohegans and Narragansets to become his allies. The united tribes could put four thousand men on the war-path at one time, while among all the English in the Connecticut Valley, there were not more than two hundred and fifty men capable of bearing arms. How easily might those fierce pagans have annihilated the pale-face Christians!

The Pequods moved cautiously. At first thee were sullen. Then they kidnapped children; and finally they murdered Englishmen found alone in the forests or on the waters, and destroyed or made captive families on the borders of the settlements. It was evident that they intended to exterminate the white people in detail, and terror prevailed throughout the valley. This was heightened by the capture of a Massachusetts trading vessel by the allies of the Pequods on Block Island, killing the commander and plundering the vessel.

The authorities at Boston determined to punish the Pequods and awe them into quietude. For this purpose they sent a small military force, in three vessels, into Long Island Sound. This force killed some Indians on Block Island, burnt their wigwams, broke their canoes in pieces, and cut down their growing corn. Then they went over to the Pequod country on the main, where they made demands which they could not enforce, burnt some wigwams, destroyed crops, and killed a few people. The expedition, weak in numbers and injudiciously conducted, was looked upon with contempt by the savages, and intensified their hatred of the white intruders. They sent ambassadors to the monarch of the Narragansets urging him to join them at once in a war of extermination, declaring, as a powerful plea, that the two races could not live together in the same land, and that the Indians, who would soon be the weaker party, would be scattered and destroyed like leaves in autumn.

At this critical juncture, a deliverer appeared in the person of Roger Williams, a Puritan minister, who had been driven out of Massachusetts by persecution and had taken refuge in the land of the Narragansets, who soon learned to love and respect him. He heard of the proposed alliance and perceived the danger. Unmindful of the cruel wrongs lie had suffered at the hands of his Puritan brethren, he hastened in an open boat on a stormy day, across Narraganset Bay, to the dwelling of Miantonomoh near the site of Newport, on Rhode Island. He was the acting chief sachem of the Narragansets (for his uncle, Canonicus, the chief, was very old), and was revered by them all. There Williams found fierce ambassadors from Sassacus, urging their suit, and at the peril of his life he opposed them with arguments. "Three days and nights," Williams wrote to Major Mason, "my business forced me to lodge and mix with the bloody Pequod ambassadors, whose hands and arms, methought, reeked with the blood of my countrymen, murdered and massacred by them on Connecticut River, and from whom I could not but nightly took for their bloody knives at my own throat, also." Williams prevailed. He not only prevented the alliance, but induced Narraganset chiefs to go to Boston, where they concluded a treaty of peace and alliance with the colonists. So the Pequods were not only compelled to carry on their proposed war alone, but to fight the Narragansets.

This failure did not dishearten the Pequods. They kept the settlements on the Connecticut in a state of constant fear, all the autumn and winter. They plundered and murdered whenever opportunities offered. Barns were fired and cattle were killed by them and the murders were sometimes accompanied by the most horrid atrocities. Finally, a band of a hundred Pequods attacked Wethersfield, killed seven men, a woman and a child, and carried away two girls. They had now slain more than thirty of the English, and the settlers were compelled to choose between flight and destruction, or war and possible salvation. They resolved to fight, having promise of aid from the eastern colonies.

At this time there were in the colonies two brave soldiers who had served in the Netherlands. These were Captains John Mason and John Underhill. The former had taken an active part in military and civil affairs in Massachusetts, and was now in Connecticut. The latter was an eccentric character, and might have been mistaken at one time for a friar and at another for a buffoon. He had been brought to Massachusetts by Governor Winthrop to teach the young colonists military tactics, which it was evident they would need. Under him the authorities of that colony and Plymouth placed two hundred men to aid the Connecticut people in their war.

It was not safe for the settlers in the valley to wait for their allies on the sea-coast. They placed ninety men under Mason, who rendezvoused at Hartford. With twenty of them, the captain hastened to reinforce the garrison at Saybrook. There he found Underhill, who had just arrived with an equal number of men. Mason hurried back, assembled his whole force, and with these and seventy warriors of the Mohegans under Uncas, he marched down to the fort. Uncas was of the royal blood of the Pequods, and had been a petty chief under Sassacus, but was now in open rebellion against his prince, and a fugitive. He gladly joined the English against his enemy, and Captain Mason gladly accepted his services. As the war was begun by the Connecticut people, Captain Mason was regarded and obeyed as the commander-in-chief of the expedition.

It was determined in council to go into the Narraganset country and march upon the rear of the Pequods, where they would least expect an attack. In three pinnaces the expedition sailed eastward. As they passed the Pequod country, those savages concluded that the English had abandoned the Connecticut Valley in despair. It was a fatal mistake and the relaxation which that belief caused ruined them. They had no spies out beyond the Mystic River; and when the expedition landed near Narraganset Bay, Sassacus was rejoicing in a sense of absolute security from harm. So he continued to rejoice while the white people, joined by two hundred Narragansets and as many Niantics - more than five hundred warriors in all, pale and dusky - were marching swiftly and stealthily toward the citadel of his power.

That chief stronghold of Sassacus was on a hill a few miles northward from both New London and Stonington, near the waters of the Mystic River. It was a fort built of palisades, the trunks of trees set firmly in the ground close together, and rising above it ten or twelve feet, with sharpened points. Within this enclosure, which was of circular form, were seventy wigwams covered with matting and thatch and at two points were sallyports or gates of weaker construction, through which Mason and Underhill were destined to force an entrance. When the invaders reached the foot of the hill on which this fort stood, quite undiscovered, and arranged their camp, the sentinels could hear the sounds of noisy revelry among the savages in the fortress, which ceased not before midnight. Then all was still, and the invaders slumbered soundly. At two hours before the dawn on a warm June morning, they were aroused from sleep and arranged in marching order so as to break into the fort at opposite points and take it by surprise. The Indian allies had grown weak in heart, all but the followers of Uncas. They regarded Sassacus as a sort of god, and supposed he was in the fort. So they lagged behind, but formed a cordon in the woods around the fortress to arrest any fugitives who might escape.

In the bright moonlight the little army crept stealthily up the wooded slope, and were on the point of rushing to the attack when the barking of a dog aroused a sentinel and he gave the alarm to the sound sleepers within. Before they were fairly awake, Mason and Underhill burst in the sallyports. The terrified Pequods rushed out of the wigwams, but were driven back by swords and musket-balls, when the tinder-like coverings of the huts were set on fire. Within an hour about seven hundred men, women and children perished in the flames, and by the weapons of the English. The strong, the beautiful, and the innocent were doomed to a common fate with the blood-thirsty and cruel. The door of mercy was shut. Not a dusky human being among the Pequods was allowed to live. When all was over, the pious Captain Mason, who had narrowly escaped death by the arrow of a young warrior, exultingly exclaimed God is over us He laughs his enemies to scorn, making them as a fiery oven. Thus does the Lord judge among the heathen, filling the place with dead bodies. And the equally if not more pious Dr. Mather afterward wrote: "It was supposed that no less than 500 or 600 Pequod souls were brought down to hell that day." Happily a better Christian spirit now prevails

Sassacus was not in the doomed fort, but was at another near Groton, on the Thames, to which point Mason had ordered his vessels to come. As the English were making their wearisome way to the river, three hundred warriors came from the presence of Sassacus to attack them. The savages were soon dispersed. Most of the victors then sailed for the Connecticut, making the air vocal with sacred song. The remainder, with friendly Indians, marched through the wilderness to Hartford to protect the settlements in that vicinity. There warriors and clergymen, Christians and pagans, women and children, gathered in a happy reunion after great peril.

Sassacus sat sullenly and stately in his embowered dwelling, when the remnant of his warriors, who escaped from the citadel, came to tell him of the great disaster. They charged the whole of the misfortunes of the day to his haughtiness and misconduct. Tearing their hair, stamping violently, and with fierce gestures, they threatened to destroy him, and doubtless they would have executed the menace had not the blast of a trumpet startled them. From the head-waters of the Mystic came almost two hundred armed settlers from Massachusetts and Plymouth to seal the doom of the Pequods. The question, Shall we fight or flee? was soon answered at the court of Sassacus for there was little time for deliberation. After a strong and hot debate, it was determined to flee. They set fire to their wigwams and the fort, and with their women and children hurried across the Thames and fled swiftly westward, with the intention of seeking refuge with the Mohawks beyond the Hudson.

The English hotly pursued the Pequods, with despairing Sassacus at their head. As the chase was kept up across the beautiful country bordering on Long Island Sound, a track of desolation was left behind, for wigwams and corn-fields were destroyed, and helpless men, women and children were put to the sword. At last the fugitives took refuge in Sasco Swamp, near Fairfield, where they all surrendered to the English excepting the sachem and a few followers, who escaped to the Mohawks. A blow had been struck which gave peace to New England forty years. A nation had been destroyed in day. But few of the once-powerful Pequods survived the national disaster. The last representative of the pure blood of that race was, probably, Eunice Mauwee, who died at Kent, in Connecticut, about the year 1860, at the age of one hundred years. The proud Sassacus, haughty and insolent in his exile, fell by the hands of an assassin among the people who had opened their arms to receive him; and his scalp was sent to the English, whom he hated and despised. He was the last of his royal line in power excepting Uncas, who now returned to the land of his fathers and became a powerful sachem, renowned in war and peace. He remained a firm friend of the English, and was buried among the graves of his kindred near the falls of the Yantic, in the City of Norwich, where a granite monument, erected by the descendants of his white friends, marks the place of his sepulchre.

1637 Pequot War Bibliography

1637 Links