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Indians of New York. The fort was then destroyed, and Sassacus himself, with seventy or eighty of his best men, retreated towards the river Hudson.
To kill or capture him was now the main object of the war; and the Pequots were pursued westward, two captured sachems having had their lives spared on condition of guiding the English in the surprisal of their royal master. The enemy were at last overtaken, and a great battle took place in a swamp in Fairfield, where nearly two hundred Pequots were taken prisoners, besides killed and wounded. Seven hundred, it was computed, had now been destroyed in the course of the war. As Mason expresses himself, they were become “a prey to all Indians, and happy were they that could bring in their heads to the English–of which there came almost daily to Windsor or Hartford.” So Winthrop writes late in the summer of 1637,—“The Indians about still send in many Pequots’ heads and hands from Long Island and other places," &c.
But Sassacus was not destined to fall by the hands of the English, although thirteen of his war-captains had already been slain, and he was himself driven from swamp to swamp, by night and day, until life was hardly worthy of an effort to preserve it. Even his own inen were scoking his life,--to such extremities were they compelled by fear of the English. One Pequot, whose liberty was granted him on condition of finding and betraying Sassacus, finally succeeded in the search. He came up with him in one of his solitary retreats, but finding his design suspected, and wanting the courage necessary for attacking a warrior whom even his Narragansett enemies had described as “all one god,” he left him in the night, and returned to the English.
The sachem was at last obliged to abandon his country. Taking with him five hundred pounds of wampum, and attended by several of his best war-captains and bravest men, he sought a refuge among the Mohawks. These savages wanted the magnanimity to shelter, or even spare, a formidable rival, now brought within their power by his misfortunes. He was surprised and slain by a party of them, and most of the faithful companions who still followed his solitary wanderings were partakers with him of the same miserable fate. The scalp of Sassacus was sent to Connecticut in the fall, and a lock of it soon after carried to Boston, “as a rare sight,” says Trumbull, and a sure demonstration of the death of a mortal enemy.
Thus perished the last great sachem of the Pequots; and thus was that proud and warlike nation itself, with the exception of a small remnant, swept from the face of the earth. The case requires but brief comment. However this tribe and their chieftain might have been predisposed to treat the English, and however they did treat their Indian neighbors, they commenced their intercourse with the whites, ostensibly, at least, in a manner as friendly and honorable as it independent. Previous to the treaty, indeed, complaints had grown out of the murder of Stone; but the English had no evidence at all in that case, while the evidence of the Pequots was, according to their own acknow. ledgment, cogent, if not conclusive, in support of their innocence.
We may add, that it was confirmed by what is known incidentally of the character of Stone. Governor Winthrop, speaking of his arrival at Boston in June, 1633, on board of a small vessel loaded with “corn and salt,” adds, that “the Governor of Plymouth sent Captain Standish to prosecute against him for piracy.” The particulars of the accusation need not be stated, for only a few months after this we find the same person mentioned as charged with an infamous crime, "and though it appeared he was in drink, and no act to be proved, yet it was thought fit he should abide his trial,” &c. He was fined a hundred pounds, and expelled the Massachusetts jurisdiction.
As to the next proceeding recorded the expedition of the English in 1635_-we have only to remark: 1, That the demand of one thousand fathoms of wampum, with no justifiable nor even alleged reason for it, was an imposition and an insult. 2, The English should at least have taken time to see Sassacus himself, his subjects having no more authority than disposition to treat without him. 3, The Eng. lish, with no apparent provocation, not only insulted but assaulted the Pequots, merely to see if they would show fight,” and then burnt their towns and boats, not a hair of their own heads being meanwhile injured, and Sassacus himself being still absent.
With such inducement the chieftain began a war of extermination, and then indeed it became necessary that one of the two nations at issue should be completely disabled. No civilised reader entertains a doubt as to the result which, under such an alternative, was most to be desired. But he may nevertheless have his opinion respecting the moral propriety, as well as the state policy, of the measures which brought on that horrible nccessity. Let the whole truth, then, be exposed. If it shall be found (as we believe it must be) that under the influence of strong and sincere though fatal excitement, a rashness of the civilised party was the ultimate cause of the ruin of the savage, let that injustice be acknowledged, though it should be with shame and tears. Let it be atoned for, as far as it may be, in the only way now possible, by the candid judgment of posterity and his tory upon the merits and the misfortunes of both.
THE INDIAN TRIBES or VIRGINIA AT THE DATE OF THE JAMESTOWN SETTLEMENT-THE POWHATAN CONFEDERACY-RECEPTION OF CAPTAIN SMITH BY POWHATAN-INTERPOSITION OF POCAHONTAS IN IIS FAVOR.
At the date of the first permanent settlement effected within the limits of Virginia, and for an unknown period previous to that date, the country from the sea-coast to the Allegany, and from the most southern waters of James river to Patuxent river, (now in the State of Maryland,) was occupied by three principal native nations. Each of these nations was a confederacy of larger or smaller tribes, and each tribe was subdivided into towns, families or clans, who lived together. * The three general names by which these communities have been ordinarily known are the Mannahoacks, the Monacans, and the Pow. hatans.
Of these, the two former might be called highland or mountain Indians. They all lived upon the banks of the various small streams which water the hilly country between the falls of the Atlantic rivers and the Alleghany ridge. The Mannahoacks consisted of eight tribes, five of which were located between the Potomac and Rappahannoc, and three between the last named river and the York. Of the five tribes of the Monacans, two were between the York and James, and three extended southward from the James to the boundaries of Caro. lina. The most powerful respectively of the eight and of the fivethe Mannahoacks and the Monacans, properly so called—seem to have given their own names to the entire nation or confederacy of which they were members. The former tribe occupied chiefly whay are now Stafford and Spotsylvania counties. The latter resided upon James river above the falls.
The Powhatan nation inhabited the lowland tract, extending laterally from the ocean to the falls of the rivers, and from Carolina on the south to the Patuxent on the north. This comprised a much larger number of tribes than either of the others. As many as ten of them (including the Tauxenents, whose chief residence was about Mount Vernon) were settled between the Potomac and Rappahannoc.t Five others extended between the Rappahannoc and York, eight between the York and James, and five between the James and the borders of Carolina. Beside these, the Accohannocks and Accomacks, on what is called the castern shore, (of Chesapeake bay,) have also been con. sidered a part of this nation.
The territory occupied by the whole of this great confederacy, south of the Potomac, comprehended about 8,000 square miles. Smith tells us in his history that, within sixty miles of Jamestown, were 5,000 natives, of whom 1,500 were warriors. Mr. Jefferson has computed the whole number of lowhatan warriors at 2,400, which, according to the proportions between Smith's estimates (being three to ten), would give an entire population of 8,000, or one to each square mile.
This calculation is probably quite moderate enough. It would leave an average of less than one hundred warriors to each of the thirty tribes. But we find it recorded by an early writer, that three hundred appeared under an Indian chieftain in one body at one time, and seven hundred at another, all of whom were apparently of his own tribe. The Chickahominics alone had between three hundred and four hundred fighting men. The Nansamonds and Chesapeakes
* Jefferson's Notes on Virginia. The author has apparently intended to use the word family in its most enlarged sense.
# Both these rivers have derived their names from the tribes originally seitled on them. The former have been commonly called the Patowa mekes.
showed on one occasion a force of four hundred. And when Smith ascended the Potomac in June, 1608, though he saw no inhabitants for the first thirty miles, he had scarcely entered “a little bayed creeke towards Onawmanient (now Nominy), when he found all the woods round about layd with ambuscadoes to the number of three or four thousand savages, so strangely paynted, grimmed and disguised, shouting, yelling and crying, as so many spirits from hell could not have showed more terrible.”
It is well known that the valiant captain was wont to express his opinions in strong terms, but he has rarely been detected in any great inaccuracy. And the circumstances of this case are in his favor; for it has been truly remarked, that the Powhatan confederacy inhabited a country upon which nature bad bestowed singular advantages. Unlike the natives of' more northern regions, they suffered little from cold, and less from famine. Their settlements were mostly on the banks of James, Elizabeth, Nansamond, York, and Chickahominy rivers, all which abounded with the most delicious fish and fowl. In his Potomac expedition, Smith met with “that aboundance of fish, lying so thicke with their heads above the water, as for want of nets (our barge driving amongst them) we attempted to catch them with a frying-pan." And though the captain naturally enough concluded, alter some trials, that this was a poor instrument for his purpose, he persists in adding, that “neither better fish, more plentie, nor more varietie for small fish, had any of vs euer scene in any place so swimming in the water--but they were not to be caught with frying-pans.” He found the stingrays in such abundance among the reeds at the mouth of the Rappa hannoc, that he amused himself by nailing them to the ground with his sword; "and thus," he observes, “we tooke more in owne loure than we could eate in a day.”
Vast quantities of corn, too, yearly rewarded even the simple agriculture of the Indians, bestowed as it was upon the best portions of a generous soil. “Great heapes” of it were seen at Kekoughtan, "and then they brought him venison, turkies, wild fowle, bread, and what else they had.” In none of his captivities, or his visits among the natives, did the captain ever suffer from want of food, and he often brought off his boat and his men laden with plenty. The Nansamonds gave him 400 baskets-full at one time. The Chickahominies, though they complained extremely of their own wants, yet straughted” him with a hundred bushels. The woods furnished another inexhaustible supply both of fruits and game; so that, on the whole, it is very easy to believe that a considerably greater population than Mr. Jefferson's estimate supposes might have subsisted, without much difficulty, on the soil they are known to have occupied. “And now the winter (of 1607–8) approaching,” we are informed in another passage, “the rivers became so covered with swans, geese, duckes and cranes, that we daily feasted with good bread, Virginia pease, putchamins,* and
* A species of indigenous plum, which is elsewhere described as growing to a considerable height, with fruit like a medlar, first green, then
pumpions, fish, fowle, and diverse sorts of wild beasts, so fat as we could eate them, so that none of our Tuftaffaty humorists desired to go for England.”. On one occasion, when Smith undertook an exploring tour into the interior late in the season, a violent storm obliged him and his men to keep Christmas among the savages. “And we were never more merry," he relates, “nor fed on more plenty of good oysters, fish, flesh, wild fowle, and good bread, nor ever had better fires in England.” In a peaceful interval of a few months which occurred during the next season, the Indians are said to have brought into Jamestown more than a hundred deer and other beasts daily for several weeks.
It is evident, at least, that the Powhatan confederacy must have been among the most numerous on the continent. It was warlike, too, and though the situation of the Monacans and Mannahoacks among the hills of the back country protected them in some measure, yet nothing but a union of these two nations could assure them of security against their more powerful neighbors on the coast.
The Powhatans proper, who gave their own appellation to the confederacy of which they were leading members, were located in what is now Henrico county, on the banks of the James river, and at the distance of about two days' journey from the English settlement at its mouth. The principal chief, or emperor, as the old historians style him, of the thirty tribes of the nation, was found by the first colonists residing with these Indians, and is believed to have been one of their number by birth. Ilis proper name was Wahunsonacook. Ile had that of Powhatan, by which he has been generally designated, from the town so called, which was the chief seat and metropolis of his hereditary dominions. This town is described as pleasantly situated on a hill. It consisted of twelve houses, in front of which were three islets in the river, not far from what in modern times has been called Mayo's plantation, and a little below the spot where Richmond now stands. It was considered by the English both the strongest and pleasantest place in the whole country, and was consequently named Nonsuch, it seems, about two years after the settlement at Jamestown, when it was purchased of the emperor by Smith. “The place is very pleasant,” says the captain in his history, “and strong by nature, and about it are many corn-fields."
The occasion of the first acquaintance which the colonists had with Powbatan was as follows: The adventurous and ambitious spirit of Smith had prompted him to make several journeys and voyages along the Virginia coast, and into the interior of the country. Within a few months after the settlement of Jamestown, among other tribes he discovered the Chickahominies, and procured a large quantity of provision from them at a time when the colonists were in great need of it.
But with the idle and unruly in the colony, this good fortune served only to produce murmuring. They complained of his having done so
yellow, and red when ripe. “If it be not ripe, it will draw a man's mouth awry with much torment. If ripe, it is delicious as an apricot.”