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power of the English from merely patriotic motives, it was clear that an essential step towards the attainment of this object, and especially towards a hostile union of all the tribes, must be the death of Uncas and the suppression of his tribe. Other causes of hostility will be considered hereafter.
But be the reasoning of the sachem what it might, his measures were of a character not to be mistaken. Great efforts were made for a general co-operation of the tribes, especially in Connecticut. They were observed to be collecting arms and ammunition, and to be making a general preparation for war. The colonists thought themselves obliged to keep guard and watch every night from sunset to sunrise, and to protect their inhabitants from town to town, and even from one place to another in the same neighborhood.
Meanwhile Miantonomo is said to have hired a Pequot, subject to Uncas, to kill him. The assassin made an attempt in the spring of 1643. He shot Uncas through the arm, and then fled to the Narra. gansetts, reporting through the Indian towns that he had killed him. When it was understood, however, that the wound was not fatal, the Pequot circulated a rumor that Uncas had purposely cut his own arm with a flint, and then charged the Pequot with shooting him. But Miantonomo soon after going to Boston in company with the refugee, the governor and magistrates, on examination, found clear evidence that the latter was guilty of the crime with which he was charged. They proposed sending him to Uncas to be punished; but Miantonomo pleaded that he might be suffered to return with himself, and gave them to understand, it is said, that he would send him to Uncas. He took occasion to exculpate himself of all blame in the affair, and con. vinced them so completely that his requests were granted. Two days afterwards he killed the Pequot with his own hand.
About the same time an event took place in another direction, under circumstances which strongly indicated the same authorship. Sequas. sen, a sachem on the Connecticut river, killed a principal Indian of the Mohegan tribe, and waylaid Uncas himself as he was going down the river, and shot several arrows at him. Uncas complained to the governor and court of the colony, who took great pains to settle the affair, but without success. He was finally induced to accept of one of Sequassen's Indians, to be given up as an equivalent for the murdered man; but Sequassen would not consent to submission or con. cession of any kind. He insisted upon fighting. Uncas accepted his challenge, and invaded his territory; and Sequassen was defeated, with the loss of many of his wigwams burned and his men killed.
As the conquered suchem was nearly allied to Miantonomo, and upon intimate terms with him, it was generally believed that he acted from his instigation, and with the promise of his assistance in case of necessity. He even expressed openly his reliance on the aid of Mian. tonomo.
The Narragansett chief was not a man to desert his ally or to retreat from his foe. Having hostily matured a plan of campaign, it was the next object to strike the intended blow with the most possible
effect, and that implied the least possible notice. He raised an army of between five hundred and one thousand•men, and marched towards the Mohegan territory. The spies of Uncas discovered their approach, and gave him intelligence. The enemy was already near, and Uncas was unprepared; but he hastily rallied four or five hundred of his men, and telling them that the enemy must by no means be suffered to surprise them in their villages, marched out to meet him forthwith. At the distance of three or four miles the two armies encountered each other upon a large plain. Meanwhile Uncas, who found himself obliged to rely more upon stratagem than strength, had acquainted his warriors on the march with a plan which he now proceeded to put in exccution.
He desired a parley, and the two armies halted in the face of each other. Then advancing in the front of his men, he addressed Miantonomo: “You have a number of stout men with you, and so have I
It is a great pity that such brave warriors should be killed in a private quarrel between us only. Come on, then, like a man, as you profess to be, and let us fight it out. If
me, my men shall be yours; if I kill you, your men shall be mine.” Miantonomo saw his advantage too clearly to accept such a proposal. “My warriors,” said he, have come a long way to fight, and they shall fight." The reply was anticipated, and it was scarcely uttered when Uncas fell to the ground. His men discharged over him a shower of arrows upon the Narragansetts, and then following up the surprise without a moment's interval, rushed upon them furiously with a hideous yell, and soon put them to flight.
The pursuit was sustained with a ferocious cagerness. The enemy were chased down rocks and precipices, like the doe flying from the huntsman. About thirty were slain, and a much greater number wounded. Miantonomo was exceedingly pressed. Some of the bravest men of Uncas at length came up with him, but not daring actually to skirmish with him, or preferring to leave that honor to their leader, they contrived to impede his flight by twitching bin back, and then passed him, Uncas now came up, and rushing forward like a lion greedy of his prey, he seized him by the shoulder. The Narragansett saw his fate was decided. Uncas was a man of immense strength, and his warriors were thick around him. He stopped, sai down sullenly, and spake not a word. Uncas gave the Indian whoop, and called up a party of his men, who gathered about the royal captive and gazed at him. He still continued moody and speechless. Some of his sachems were slain before his eyes, but he moved not a muscle. “Why do you not speak?” inquired Uncas, at length; “had you taken me, I should have besought you for my life.” But the Narragansett was too proud to ask such a boon of his enemy, and especially of his rival. Uncas, however, spared his life for the present, and returned in grcat triumph to Mohegan, leading along with him the splendid living evidence of his victory.
The notorious Samuel Gorton having purchased lands of Miantonomo under the jurisdiction of Plymouth and Massachusetts, and expecting to be vindicated by him in his claims against those colonies and against other Indian tribes, he immediately sent word to Uncas to give up his prisoner, and threatened him with the vengeance of the colonies if he refused a compliance. ' But Uncas shrewdly bethought himself of a safer course. He carried his prisoner to Hartford, and asked advice of the governor and magistrates. There being no open war between the Narragapsetts and English, these authorities were unwilling to interfere in the casc, and they recommended a reference of the whole affair to the commissioners of the United Colonies at their next meeting in September. Meanwhile Miantonomo had recovered his speech. He probably expected better treatment with the English than with Uncas, and he now earnestly pleaded to be committed to their custody. Uncas consented to leave him at Hartford, but insisted on having him kept as his prisoner.
At the meeting of the commissioners, the whole affair was laid before them. In their opinion it was fully proved that Miantonomo had made attempts against the life of Uncas, by all the means and measures heretofore alluded to, and by poison and sorcery besides; that he had murdered the Pequot assassin with his own hand, instead of giving bim up to justice; that he was the author of a general plot among the Indian tribes against the colonies; and that he had moreover gone so far as to engage the aid of the Mohawks, who were now within a day's journey of the English settlements, waiting only for Miantonomo's release to serve him according to his pleasure.
" These things being duly weighed and considered,” say the commissioners in their report, "we apparently see that Vncas cannot be safe while Myantonomo lives, but that either by secret treachery or open force his life will still be in danger. Wherefore we thinke he may justly putt such a false and blood-thirsty enemie to death, but in his owne jurisdiccon, not in the English plantacons; and advising that in the manner of his death all mercy and moderacon be shewed, contrary to the practice of the Indians, who exercise tortures and cruelty; and Vncas haveing hitherto shewed himself a friend to the English, and in this craveing their advice, if the Nanohiggansetts Indians or others shall unjustly assault Vncas for this execucon, vpon notice and request, the English promise to assist and protect him, as farr as they may, against such vyolence.”
'The commissioners further directed that Uncas should immediately be sent for to Hartford, with some of his trustiest men, and informed of the sentence passed upon his captive. He was then to take him into the nearest part of his own territory, and there put him to death in the presence of certain discreet English persons who were to accom. pany them, “and see the execucon for our more full satisfaccon, and that the English meddle not with the head or body at all.” The Hartford government was subsequently to furnish Uncas with forces enough to defend him against all his enemies.
These directions were promptly obeyed. Uncas made his appear. ance at Hartford, received his prisoner, and marched off with him to the very spot where the capture had happened. At the instant they
arrived on the ground, a Mohegan who marched behind Miantonomo split his head with a hatchet, killing him at a single stroke, so that he was probably unacquainted with the mode of his execution. Tradition says that Uncas cut out a piece of his shoulder, and ate it in savage triumph. “ He said it was the sweetest meat he ever eat-it made his heart strong.” The royal victim was buried, by the conqueror's order, at the place of his death, and a great heap or pillar was erected over his grave. The field of battle, situated in the eastem part of the town of Norwich, is called the Sachem's Plain to this day.
THE PEQUOT TRIBE--THEIR FIRST CHIEF-SACHEM KNOWN TO THE
The Pequots, or Pequods, inhabited that part of the southern coast of New England which is now comprehended within the limits of Connecticut. They are said to have been originally an inland tribe, and to have gained possession, by mere force of arms, of the fine territory which they occupied at the date of their first acquaintance with the English. They were in the meridian of their glory and power about forty years previous to that period, and were then the most considerable tribe in New England, mustering as many as four thousand bowmen. Their principal settlements were now about New London and Groton; the former of which was their chief harbor, and called by their own name. The Nipmuck Indians, on their north, were still tributary to them. So also were a part of the Long Islanders, and inost of the Indians on the Connecticut river. The Narragansetts alone of the neighboring tribes had been able to oppose them with suc. cess, and against that nation they waged an implacable and almost perpetual war.
The first great sachem of the Pequots known to the English was lekoath, from whom they probably derived the national name. He appears to have been a great warrior. He was going on conquering and to conquer, when the earliest settlements of the English were made upon the Massachusetts coast. Tribe after tribe retrcated before him as he advanced, till his terrible myrmidons were at length in a situas tion to locate themselves at their ease on the best soil, and beneath the most genial skies of New England.
As early as 1631, Waghinacut, a sachem of one of the expelled or subjected tribes just mentioned, travelled across the wilderness to Boston; and attended by a Massachusetts Sagamore, and one Jack Straw (an Indian who had formerly lived with Sir Walter Raleigh in Eng* land,) made application for the alliance or assistance of the Massachusetts government against Pekoath. He gave a glowing description of his native land; and promised, if some of the English would go there and settlc, that he would supply them with corn, and pay them eighty beaver skins yearly. This proposition being rejected, he desired that at least two men might be permitted to accompany him, with the view of examining the country. He showed great anxiety to effect that object, but to no purpose; the governor suspected some stratagem, and politely dismissed his visiter with the compliment of a good dinner at his own table,*
The successor of Pekoath, and the last as well as the first great sachem of his tribe known personally to the whites, was Sassacus, a warrior of high renown, who, when the English commenced their settlements in Connecticut, soon after the transaction last mentioned, had no fewer than twenty-six sachems or war-captains under his do. minion, and could at that time muster, at the smallest calculation, seven hundred bowmen. The site of his principal fortress and residence was on a most beautiful eminence in the town of Groton, commanding one of the best prospects of the Sound and the adjacent coun. try which can be found upon the coast. Another strong-hold was a little farther eastward, near Mystic river; and this also was finely situated upon a verdant swell of land, gradually descending towards the south and southeast.
Sassacus, and his warlike Pequots, are almost the only American chieftain and tribe who, in the light of history, seem to have been from the outset disposed to inveterate hostility against all foreigners. They were, as, Trumbull observes, men of great and independent spirits; and had conquered and governed the nations around them without control. They viewed the English especially, as not only strangers but mere intruders, without right or pretence of right to the country, who had nevertheless taken the liberty to make settlements and build forts in their very neighborhood, without asking their consent and even to restore the Indian kings whom they had subjected, to their former lands and authority. Under these circumstances, it is no matter of wonder, that the whites had scarcely located themselves. within the bounds of Connecticut, when " that great, spirited and warlike nation, the Pequots, began to murder and plunder them, and to wound and kill their cattle.”
And yet-setting aside the general offence committed, or at least by Sassacus understood to be committed, in the act of making settlements without leavemit does not clearly appear whether the first par. ticular provocation was given on the one side or the other. It is only known, that in the summer of 1633, one Captain Stone, on a voyage from Maine to Virginia, put into the mouth of the Connecticut river, and was there murdered by the natives, with all his crew. Three of them, who went ashore to kill fowl, were first surprised and despatched. A sachem, with some of his men, then came aboard, and staid with Cap. tain Stone in his cabin until the latter fell asleep. The sachem then knocked him on the head; and his crew being at this time in the cook's
* Winthrop's Journal. Waghinacut persevered, however, and succeeded. He went to Plymouth, and Governor Winslow sent out a party, at bis suggestion, who are understood to have been the first discoverer's of Connecticut river and the adjacent parts.