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room, the Indians took such guns as they found charged, and fell upon them. At this moment, all the powder on board the vessel, in the hurry of sudden alarm, was accidentally exploded. The deck was blown up; but most of the Indians escaping, returned, completed the massacre, and burned the wreck.
Such was the English account of the proceeding. The Pequots had a different story to tell. In October, 1634, Sassacus sent a messenger to the Governor of Massachusetts, to desire friendship and alliance. This man brought two bundles of sticks with him, by which he signified how many beaver and otter skins his master would give, besides a large quantity of wampum. He brought also a small present. The governor received it, and returned a moose coat of the same value; but sent word to Sassacus withal, that a treaty could not be negotiated, unless he would send men proper to negotiate, and enough of them.
Accordingly, but a fortnight afterwards, (though the distance to the Pequot country was a five-days' journey,) two more messengers arrived at Boston, bringing another present of wampum. They were told in answer to their renewed application, that the English would willingly come to amicable terms with Sassacus, but that his men having murdered Captain Stone, he must first surrender up the offend. ers to justice. The messengers readily replied, that the sachem concerned in that transaction had since been killed by the Dutch, and that all the other offenders had died of the small-pox, excepting two. These they presumed Sassacus would surrender, if the guilt were proved upon them. They asserted, that Captain Stone, after entering their river, had taken two of their men, and detained them by force, and made them pilot the vessel up the river. The captain and two of his crew then landed, taking the guides on shore, with their hands still bound behind them. The natives there fell upon and killed them. The vessel, with the remainder of the crew on board, was blown up -they knew not how or wherefore.
This—in the words of the journalist who gives the particulars-was related with so much confidence and gravity, that the English were inclined to believe it, especially as they had no means of proving its falsity. A treaty was concluded on the following terms:
1. The English to have as much land in Connecticut as they needed, provided they would make a settlement there: and the Pequots to render them all the assistance they could.
2. The Pequots to give the English four hundred fathoms of wampum, and forty beaver and thirty otter skins; and to surrender the two murderers whenever they should be sent for.
3. The English were to send a vessel immediately, “ to trade with them as friends, tho' not to defend them," and the Pequots would give them all their “ custom."
The agreement was put in writing, and subscribed by the two mes. sengers with their marks. The chief object proposed by Sassacus in effocting it, appears to have been, not the assistance of the English in his wars, but their commerce in peace. He thought himself competent to fight his own battles, and perhaps would have made no attempt to conciliate even the English, but for having quarrelled with the Dutch of New York, who had hitherto supplied him, and thereby lost their trade as well as incurred their hostility.
Meanwhile, he was at deadly war, as usual, with the Narragansetts. The very next morning alter the treaty was concluded, and while the messengers still tarried in Boston, news came that a party of two or three hundred of the tribe last named had come as far as Neponsett, (the boundary between Milton and Dorchester,) for the purpose of lay. ing wait and killing the Pequots on their way home.' The English immediately despatched a small armed force, to request a visit from the Narragansetts; and two sachems, with about twenty of their men, obeyed the summons. They said they had been hunting round about the country, and came to visit the Indians at Neponsett, according to old custom. However this might be, they showed themselves quite ready to gratisy the English in their requests; and the Pequots were permitted to return home unmolested.
A passage in the Journal of Winthrop, relating to this occasion, illustrates the spirit of Sassacus and his subjects. The Narragansetts were privately told by the governor, that if they should happen to make peace with the Pequots, they should receive a goodly proportion of the wampum just sent. “For the Pequots held it dishonourable to offer them any thing as of themselves, yet were willing we would give it them, and indeed did offer us so much to that end."
Thus matters remained until 1636. During that season one Oldham, an Englishman who had been trading in Connecticut, was murdered by a party of Block-Island Indians; several of whom are said to have taken resuge among the Pequots, and to have been protected by them. On the strength of this fact and this supposition, the Governor of Massachusetts—Mr. Oldham being a Dorchester residentdespatched a force of ninety men, under Captain Endecoit, commissioned (as Mr. Winthrop tells us) to put to death the men of BlockIsland, but to spare the women and children, and bring them away, and take possession of the Island. Thence they were to go to the Pequots, " to demand the murderers of Captain Stone and other Eng. lish, and one thousand fathom of' wampum for damages, &c., and some of their children as hostages, which if they should refuse, they were to obtain it by force.”
The proceedings which ensued upon the attempt to execute these orders ought not to be overlooked. From Block-Island, the English sailed to Pequot harbor. Here an Indian came out to them in a canoe, and demanded who they were, and what they would have in the country of the Pequots. Endecott replied, that he came from the Governor of Massachusetts, to speak with the Pequot sachems. The Indian answering that Sassacus was gone to Long-Island, he was directed to communicate Endecott's message to another sachem. He returned to the shore, and the English meanwhile made a landing. The mes. senger came back, and the Indians began to gather about the English Several hours passed in desultory conterence, until Endecott, growing impatient, announced his commission to the crowd which surrounded him, and at the same time sent word to the sachem, that unless he would come to him or satisfy his demands, he should try forcible measures. The messenger, who had been several times running to and fro between the parties, said that the sachem would come forward if the English would lay down their arms, the Indians also leaving their bows and arrows at a distance.
Endecott was incensed by the proposal, considering it a pretext for gaining time. He therefore bade the Pequots begone, and take care of themselves; they had dared the English to come and fight with then, he said, and now he was ready for the battle. The Pequots withdrew peaceably to a distance. When they were beyond musketshot, " hc marched after them, supposing they would have stood it awhile, as they did to the Dutch,"--but they all fled, letting fly a few arrows among the English, which did no damage. Two of their own number were killed and several more wounded; and the English then marched up to their village, and burned all their wigwams and mats. At night, concludes the historian, they returned to their vessels; and the next day they went ashore on the west side of the river, and burnt all their wigwams and spoiled their canoes in that quarter; and so set sail and came to the Narragansett country. There they landed their men, and on the 14th of 7 ber they came all safe to Boston, which was a marvellous Providence of God, that not a hair fell from the head of any of them, nor any sick nor feeble person among them."
The sequel of the tragedy must be gathered from other authorities. A detachment of Endecott's party was appointed to reinforce the Eng. lish garrison at Saybrook. Lying wind-bound off Pequot harbor, after his departure, a part of these men went on shore to plunder the Pequots, and bring off their corn. Their ravages were interrupted by an attack from these Indians. The skirmish lasted till near evening, and then both parties retired, the English with one man wounded, and the Pequots with a loss unknown. We have given the particulars of this transaction, (according to the English version of course,) because it throws light upon the subsequent relations between Sassacus and the English.
Whatever was the disposition of the Pequots previous to this date, there is no question about them ever afterwards. They determined to extirpate the whites from the limits of Connecticut; and to that gmat object Sassacus now devoted the whole force of his dominions and the entire energies of his soul. The forts and settlements were assaulted in every direction. In October, five of the Saybrook garrison were surprised, as they were carrying home their hay. A week alterwards, the master of a small English vessel was taken and tortured; and several others within the same month. The garrison just mentioned were Bo pressed before winter, (1636–7,) that they were obliged to keep almost wholly within reach of their guns. Their out-houses were razed, and their stacks of hay burned; and so many of the cattle as were not killed, often came in at night with the arrows of the enemy sticking in them. In March, they killed four of the garrison, and at the same time surrounding the fort on all sides, challenged the Eng
lish to come out and fight, mocked them with the groans
and prayers of their dying friends whom they had captured, and boasted they could kill Englishmen“ all one flies.” Nothing but a cannon loaded with grape-shot could keep them from beating the very gates down with their clubs.
Three persons were next killed on the Connecticut river, and nine at Wethersfield. No boat could now pass up or down the river with safety. The roads and fields were every where beset. The settlers could neither hunt, fish, nor cultivate the land, nor travel at home or abroad, but at the peril of life. A constant watch was kept night and day. People went armed to their daily labors, and to public worship; and the church was guarded during divine service. Probably no portion of the first colonists of New England ever suffered so horribly from an Indian warfare, as the Connecticut settlers at this gloomy and fearful period,
Nor was the employment of his own subjects the only measure adopted by Sassacus against his civilised enemy. He knew them too well to despise, however much he detested them. He saw there was need of all the ingenuity of the politician, as well as the prowess of the warrior, to be exercised upon his part; and he therefore entered upon a trial of the arts of diplomacy with the same cunning and cou. rage which were the confidence of his followers in the field of battle. The proposal of alliance, offensive and defensive, which he made to his ancient rival and foe, the chief sachem of the Narragansetts, was a conception worthy of a great and noble soul. And such was the profound skill with which he supported the reasonableness of that policy, that (as we have heretofore seen) Miantonomo himself wavered in his high-minded fidelity to the English cause.
But for the presence and influence of 'Roger Williams, the consummate address of the Pe. quot must have carried his point.
The measures taken by the other colonies, in consequence of the state of things we have been describing, and the minutiæ of the famous expedition of Mason, are too well known to be repeated at length. The contest was not long continued, but it required the most serious efforts on the part of the English; and not only did Massachusetts and Plymouth feel themselves under the necessity of aiding Connecticut in. the suppression of this common and terrible foe, but many of the Narragansetts also were called on to aid, with the Nianticks, the Mohegans and other tribes upon the river.
Sassacus must have felt that the day of restitution and reparation was indeed come upon him for all his ancient victories and spoils. Every people in his neighborhood who had suffered, or expected to suffer, from his pride or his power, now gladly witnessed the onset of a new enemy against him; and large numbers availed themselves of the opportunity to do personal service. Not less than five hundred Indians of various tribes accompanied Mason in his march against the great Pequot fortress. Not a few of them, without doubt, remembered old times as well as Miantonomo himself, though they acted very dif. ferently in consequence.
These gallant allies were so eager to go against the Pequots, that nothing but the van of the army could satisfy them for their own station.
This was in the evening. As the English approached the fortress about day-light, they halted at the foot of a large hill, and Mason sent word for his allies “to come up." After a long time, Uncas and Wequash* alone made their appearance.
" Where is the fort?" in. quired Mason. “On the top of that hill,” answered they. “ And where are the rest of the Indians?”—Uncas said, “ they were behind, exceedingly afraid;" and the most that Mason could induce them to do, was to form a semi-circle at a particularly respectful distance, for the purpose of witnessing the attack of the English upon the enemy's fort, and waylaying such of the Pequots as might escape their hands.
The resistance was manly and desperate, but the whole work of destruction was completed in little more than an hour. The extent and violence of the conflagration kindled by the assailants, the refleca tion of this pyramid of flames upon the forest around, the flashing and roar of arms, the shrieks and yellings of men, women and children within, and the shouts of the allies without, exhibited one of the most awful scenes which the pens of the early historians have described. Seventy wigwams were burnt, and five or six hundred Pequots killed. Parent and child alike, the sanop and squaw, the gray-haired man and the babe, were buried in one promiscuous ruin,
It had been Mason's intention to fall upon both the principal forts of the enemy at once, and finding it impossible, he says, “we were much grieved, chiefly because the greatest and bloodiest sachem there resided, whose name was Sassacus.” The execution of this design would have saved him much subsequent loss and labor. That great warrior was so little discouraged by the horrible havoc already made among his subjects, that immediately on receiving the intelligence he despatched, perhaps led on in person, a reinforcement of three hundred warriors, who pursued the English very closely for a distance of six miles on their march towards Pequot harbor.
But the reception which this body met with from the English drove them to desperation. The whole remaining force of the nation repaired to the strong-hold of Sassacus, and vented all their complaints and grievances upon his head. In their fury they even threatened to destroy him and his family; and perhaps nothing but the entrcaties of his chief counsellors, who still adhered to him in his misfortunes, prevented his being massacred by his own 'subjects in his own fort. A large number deserted him as it was, and took refuge among the
* The author of New England's First Fruits calls this man a famous captain, a proper man of person, and of very grave and sober spirit. He became religious after the Pequot war, lived sometimes among the whites, and then preached to his countrymen until his death, which was occasioned by a dose of poison wherewith some of them repaid him for his labors. A Massachusetis clergyman says of him, in 1643: "He loved Christ, he preached Christ up and down, and then suffered martyrdom for Christ; and when he dyed, gave bis soule to Christ, and his only child to the Eng. lish, rejoycing in this hope, that the child should know more of Christ than its poore father ever did."