Narrative of the Pequot War
by John Mason
Source: Primary Source Documents
MASON'S NARRATIVE. 31
one Hour's space was their impregnable Fort with themselves utterly Destroyed, to the Number of six or seven Hundred, as some of themselves confessed. There were only seven taken captive, and about seven escaped.*
Of the English, there were two Slain outright, and about twenty Wounded: Some Fainted by reason of the sharpness of the Weather, it being a cool Morning, and the want of such Comforts and Necessaries as were needful in such a Case; especially our Chyrurgeon 8 was much wanting, whom we left with our Barks in Narragansett Bay, who had Order there to remain until the Night before our intended Assault.
And thereupon grew many Difficulties: Our Provision and Munition near spent; we in the enemies Country, who did fax exceed us in Number, being much enraged: all our Indians, except Onkos, deserting us; our Pinnaces at a great distance from us, and when they would come we were uncertain.
But as we were consulting what Course to take, it pleased God to discover our Vessels to us before a fair Gale of Wind, sailing into Pequot Harbour, to our great Rejoycing.
We had no sooner discovered our Vessels, but immediately came up the Enemy from the other Fort; Three Hundred or more as we conceived. The Captain lead out a file or two of Men to Skirmish with them, chiefly to try what temper they were of, who put them to a
* The place of the Fort being called Mistick, this Fight was called Mistick Fight: And Mr. Increase Mather, from a Manuscript he met with, tells us; It was on Friday, May 26. 1637, a memorable Day!
8 This surgeon, whose name was Pell, had been attached to Saybrook Fort, and was sent on the expedition by Gardener.
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stand: we being much encouraged thereat, presently prepared to March towards our Vessels: Four or Five of our Men were so wounded that they must be carried with the Arms of twenty more. We also being faint, were constrained to put four to one Man, with the Arms of the rest that were wounded to others; so that we had not above forty Men free: at length we hired several Indians, who eased us of that Burthen, in carrying of our wounded Men. And Marching about one quarter of a Mile; the Enemy coming up to the Place where the Fort was, and beholding what was done, stamped and tore the Hair from their Heads: And after a little space, came mounting down the Hill upon us, in a full career, as if they would over run us; But when they came within Shot, the Rear faced about, giving Fire upon them: Some of them being Shot, made the rest more wary: Yet they held on running to and fro, and shooting their Arrows at Random. There was at the Foot of the Hill a small Brook, where we rested and refreshed our selves, having by that time taught them a little more Manners than to disturb us.
We then Marched on towards Pequot Harbour; and falling upon several Wigwams, burnt them: The Enemy still following us in the Rear, which was to windward, though to little purpose; yet some of them lay in Ambush behind Rocks and Trees, often shooting at us, yet through Mercy touched not one of us; And as we came to any Swamp or Thicket, we made some Shot to clear the Passage. Some of them fell with our Shot; and probably more might, but for want of Munition; But when any of them fell, our Indians would give a great Shout, and then would they take so much Cour-
MASON'S NARRATIVE. 33
age as to fetch their Heads. And thus we continued, until we came within two Miles of Pequot Harbour; where the Enemy gathered together and left us; we Marching on to the Top of an Hill adjoining to the Harbour, with our Colours flying; having left our Drum at the Place of our Rendezvous the Night before: We seeing our Vessels there Riding at Anchor, to our great Rejoycing, and came to the Water-Side, we there sat down in Quiet.
Captain Patrick being Arrived there with our Vessels, who as we were informed was sent with Forty Men by the Massachusetts Colony, upon some Service against the Block Islanders; Who coming to the Shore in our Shallop with all his Company, as he said to Rescue us, supposing we were pursued, though there did not appear any the least sign of Such a Thing.
But we could not prevail with Him by any Means to put his Men ashore, that so we might carry our Wounded Men a Board; although it was our own Boat in which he was: We were very much Troubled; but knew not how to help our selves. At length we were fetched a Board to the great Rejoycing of our Friends.
Shorty after our coming a Board, there fell out a great Contest between Captain Underhill and Capt. Patrick: Captain Underhill claiming an Interest in the Bark where Captain Patrick was, which indeed was Underhill's Right; The Contest grew to a great Heighth. At length we propounded, that if Patrick would Ride there with that Bark in Contention, and secure the Narragansett Indians, it being also the Place of Rendezvous to those Vessels that were expected from Massachuset, until we Transported our
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Wounded Men to Saybrook five Leagues distant; then we would immediately return our Pink to convey the Narragansetts home: The which Captain Patrick seemed very readily to accept.
Capt. Underhill soon after set sail in one of our Barks for Saybrook: But before he was out of Sight; Captain Patrick signified by Writing, that he could not attend that Service, but he must wait for the Bay Vessels at Saybrook, wishing us, having the Honour of that Service to compleat it, by securing the Narragansett Indians; which at first seemed very Difficult, if not Impossible: For our Pink could not receive them, and to march by Land was very Dangerous; it being near twenty Miles in the Enemies Country, our Numbers being much weakened, we were then about twenty Men; the rest we had sent home for fear of the Pequots Invasion. But absolutely neccesitated to March by Land, we hasted ashore, with our Indians and small Numbers. Captain Patrick seeing what we intended, came ashore also with his Men; although in truth we did not desire or delight in his Company, and so we plainly told him: However he would and did March a long with us.
About the midway between that and Saybrook, we fell upon a People called Nayanticks, belonging to the Pequots, who fled to a Swamp for Refuge: They hearing or espying of us, fled: we pursued them a while by the Track as long as they kept together: But being much spent with former Travel, and the Sabbath drawing on, it being about Two or Three of the Clock on the Saturday in the Afternoon; we leaving our Pursuit, hasted towards Saybrook, about Sun set we
MASON'S NARRATIVE. 35
Arrived at Connecticut River Side; being nobly Entertained by Lieutenant Gardner with many great Guns: But were forced there to Quarter that Night: On the Morrow we were all fetched over to Saybrook, receiving many Courtesies from Lieut. Gardner.
And when we had taken Order for the safe Conduct of the Narragansett Indians, we repaired to the Place of our Abode: where we were Entertained with great Triumph and Rejoycing and Praising God for his Goodness to us, in succeeding our weak Endeavours, in Crowning us with Success, and restoring of us with so little Loss. Thus was God seen in the Mount, Crushing his proud Enemies and the Enemies of his People: They who were ere while a Terror to all that were round about them, who resolved to Destroy all the English and to Root their very Name out of this Country, should by such weak Means, even Seventy seven (there being no more at the Fort) bring the Mischief they plotted, and the Violence they offered and exercised, upon their own Heads in a Moment: burning them up in the fire of his Wrath, and dunging the Ground with their Flesh: It was the Lord's Doings, and it is marvellous in our Eyes! It is He that hath made his Work wonderful, and therefore ought to be remembred.
Immediately the whole Body of Pequots repaired to that Fort where Sessacous the Chief Sachem did reside; charging him that he was the only Cause of all the Troubles that had befallen them; and therefore they would Destroy both him and his: But by the Intreaty of their Counsellors they Spared his Life; and consulting what Course to take, concluded there was
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no abiding any longer in their Country, and so resolved to fly into several Parts. The greatest Body of them went towards Manhatance:* And passing over Connecticut, they met with three English Men in a Shallop going for Saybrook whom they slew: The English Fought very stoutly, as themselves confessed, Wounding many of the Enemy.
About a Fortnight after our Return home, which was about one Mouth after the Fight at Mistick, there Arrived in Pequot River several Vessels from the Massachusetts, Captain Israel Stoughton being Commander in Chief; and with him about One hundred and twenty Men; being sent by that Colony to pursue the War against the Pequots: The Enemy being all fled before they came, except some few Straglers, who were surprised by the Moheags and others of the Indians, and by them delivered to the Massachusetts Soldiers.
Connecticut Colony being informed hereof, sent forthwith forty Men, Captain Mason being Chief Commander; with some other Gent, to meet those of the Massachusetts, to consider what was necessary to be attended respecting the future: Who meeting with them of the Massachusetts in Pequot Harbour; after some time of consultation, concluded to pursue those Pequots that were fled towards Manhatance, and so forthwith Marched after them, discovering several Places where they Rendezvoused and lodged not far distant from their several Removes; making but little haste, by reason of their Children, and want of Provision; being forced to dig for Clams, and to procure
* I suppose this the same which is sometimes called Manhatan or Manhatoes; which is since called New York.
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such other things as the Wilderness afforded: Our Vessels sailing along by the Shore. In about the space of three Days we all Arrived at New Haven Harbour, then called Quinnypiag. And seeing a great Smoak in the Woods not far distant, we supposing some of the Pequots our Enemies might be there; we hastened ashore, but quickly discovered them to be Connecticut Indians. Then we returned aboard our Vessels, where we stayed some short time, having sent a Pequot Captive upon discovery, we named him Luz; who brought us Tydings of the Enemy, which proved true: so faithful was he to us, though against his own Nation. Such was the Terror of the English upon them; that a Moheage Indian named Jack Eatow going ashore at that time, met with three Pequots, took two of them and brought them aboard.
We then hastened our march towards the Place where the Enemy was: And coming into a Corn Field, several of the English espyed some Indians, who fled from them: They pursued them; and coming to the Top of an Hill, saw several Wigwams just opposite, only a Swamp intervening, which was almost divided in two Parts. Sergeant Palmer hastening with about twelve Men who were under his Command to surround the smaller Part of the Swamp, that so He might prevent the Indians flying; Ensign Danport,* Sergeant Jeffries &c, entering the Swamp, intended to have gone to the Wigwams, were there set upon by several Indians, who in all probability were deterred by Sergeant Palmer. In this Skirmish the English slew but few;
* It should be Davenport, who was afterwards Captain of the Castle in Boston Harbour.
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two or three of themselves were Wounded: The rest of the English coming up, the Swamp was Surrounded.
Our Council being called, and the Question propounded, How we should proceed, Captain Patrick advised that we should cut down the Swamp; there being many Indian Hatchets taken, Captain Traske concurring with him; but was opposed by others: Then we must pallizado the Swamp; which was also opposed: Then they would have a Hedge made like those of Gotham; all which was judged by some almost impossible, and to no purpose, and that for several Reasons, and therefore strongly opposed. But some others advised to force the Swamp, having time enough, it being about three of the Clock in the Afternoon: But that being opposed, it was then propounded to draw up our Men close to the Swamp, which would much have lessened the Circumference; and with all to fill up the open Passages with Bushes, that so we might secure them until the Morning, and then we might consider further about it. But neither of these would pass; so different were our Apprehensions; which was very grievous to some of us, who concluded the Indians would make an Escape in the Night, as easily they might and did: We keeping at a great distance, what better could be expected? Yet Captain Mason took Order that the Narrow in the Swamp should be cut through; which did much shorten our Leaguer. It was resolutely performed by Serjeant Davis.
We being loth to destroy Women and Children, as also the Indians belonging to that Place; whereupon Mr. Tho. Stanton a Man well acquainted with Indian Language and Manners, offered his Service to go into
MASON'S NARRATIVE. 39
the Swamp and treat with them: To which we were somewhat backward, by reason of some Hazard and Danger he might be exposed unto: But his importunity prevailed: Who going to them, did in a short time return to us, with near Two Hundred old Men, Women and Children; who delivered themselves, to the Mercy of the English. And so Night drawing on, we beleaguered them as strongly as we could. About half an Hour before Day, the Indians that were in the Swamp attempted to break through Captain Patrick's Quarters; but were beaten back several times; they making a great Noise, as their Manner is at such Times, it sounded round about our Leaguer: Whereupon Captain Mason sent Sergeant Stares to inquire into the Cause, and also to assist if need required; Capt. Traske coming also in to their Assistance: But the Tumult growings to a very great Heighth, we raised our Siege; and Marching up to the Place, at a Turning of the Swamp the Indiana were forcing out upon us; but we sent them back by our small Shot.
We waiting a little for a second Attempt; the Indians in the mean time facing about, pressed violently upon Captain Patrick, breaking through his Quarters, and so escaped. They were about sixty or seventy as we were informed. We afterwards searched the Swamp, and found but few Slain. The Captives we took were about One Hundred and Eighty; whom we divided, intending to keep them as Servants, but they could not endure that Yoke; few of them continuing any considerable time with their masters.
Thus did the Lord scatter his Enemies with his strong Arm! The Pequots now became a Prey to all
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Indians. Happy were they that could bring in their Heads to the English: Of which there came almost daily to
Winsor, or Hartford. But the Pequots growing weary hereof, sent some of the Chief that survived to mediate with the
English; offering that If they might but enjoy their Lives, they would become the English Vassals, to dispose of them
as they pleased. Which was granted them. Whereupon Onkos and Myantonimo were sent for; who with the Pequots
met at Hartford. The Pequots being demanded, how many of them were then living? Answered, about One Hundred
and Eighty, or two Hundred. There were then given to Onkos, Sachem of Monheag, Eighty; to Myantonimo, Sachem
of Narragansett, Eighty; and to Nynigrett,* Twenty, when he should satisfy for a Mare of Edward Pomroye's killed by
his Men. The Pequots were then bound by Covenant, That none should inhabit their native Country, nor should any
of them be called Pequots any more, but Moheags and Narragansetts forever. Shortly after, about Forty of them
went to Moheag; others went to Long Island; the rest settled at Pawcatuck, a Place in Pequot Country, contrary to
their late Covenant and Agreement with the English.
Which Connecticut taking into Consideration, and well weighing the several Inconveniences that might ensue; for the Prevention whereof, they sent out forty Men under the command of Captain John Mason, to supplant them, by burning their Wigwams and bringing away their Corn, except they would desert the Place: Onkos with about One Hundred of his Men in
* He was usually called Ninnicraft.
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twenty Canoes, going also to assist in the Service. As we sailed into Pawcatuck-Bay We met with three of those Indians, whom we sent to inform the rest with the end of our coming, and also that we desired to speak with some of them: They promised speedily to return us an Answer, but never came to us more.
We ran our Vessel up into a small River, and by reason of Flatts were forced to land on the West Side; their Wigwams being on the East just opposite, where we could see the Indians running up and down Jeering of us. But we meeting with a narrow place in the River between two rocks, drew up our Indians Canoes, and got suddenly over sooner than we were expected or desired; Marching immediately up to their Wigwams; the Indians being all fled, except some old People that could not.
We were so suddenly upon them that they had not time to convey away their Goods: We viewed their Corn, whereof there was Plenty, it being their time of Harvest: And coming down to the Water Side to our Pinnace with half of Onkos's his Men, the rest being plundering the Wigwams; we looking towards a Hill not far remote, we espyed about sixty Indians running towards us; we supposing they were our absent Men, the Moheags that were with us not speaking one word, nor moving towards them until the other came within thirty or forty paces of them; then they ran and met them and fell on pell mell striking and cutting with Bows, Hatchets, Knives, &c. after their feeble Manner: Indeed it did hardly deserve the Name of Fighting. We then endeavoured to get between them and the Woods, that so we might prevent their flying;
42 HISTORY OF THE PEQUOT WAR.
which they perceiving, endeavoured speedily to get off under the beach: we made no Shot at them, nor any hostile Attempt upon them. Only seven of them who were Nynigrett's Men, were taken. Some of them growing very outrageous, whom We intended to have made shorter by the Head; and being about to put it in Execution; one Otash a Sachem of Narragansett, Brother to Myantonimo stepping forth, told the Captain, They were his Brother's Men, and that he was a Friend to the English, and if he would spare their Lives we should have as many Murtherer's Heads in lieu of them which should be delivered to the English. We considering that there was no Blood shed as yet, and that it tended to Peace and Mercy, granted his Desire; and so delivered them to Onkos to secure them until his Engagement was performed, because our Prison had been very much pestered with such Creatures.
We then drew our Bark into a Creek, the better to defend her; for there were many Hundreds, within five Miles waiting upon us. There we Quartered that Night: In the Morning as soon as it was Light there appeared in Arms at least Three Hundred Indians on the other Side the Creek: Upon which we stood to our Arms; which they perceiving, some of them fled, others crept behind the Rocks and Trees, not one of them to be seen. We then called to them, saying, We desired to speak with them, and that we would down our Arms for that end: Whereupon they stood up: We then informed them, That the Pequots had violated their Promise with the English, in that they were not there to inhabit, and that we were sent to supplant them:
MASON'S NARRATIVE. 43
They answered saying, The Pequots were good Men, their Friends, and they would Fight for them, and protect them: At which we were somewhat moved, and told them, It was not far to the Head of the Creek where we would meet them, and then they might try what they could do in that Respect.
They then replied, That they would not Fight with English Men, for they were Spirits, but would Fight with Onkos. We replyed, That we thought it was too early for them to Fight, but they might take their opportunity; we should be burning Wigwams, and carrying Corn aboard all that Day. And presently beating up our Drum, we Fired the Wigwams in their View: And as we Marched, there were two Indians standing upon a Hill jeering and reviling of us: Mr. Thomas Stanton our Interpreter, Marching at Liberty, desired to make a Shot at them; the Captain demanding of the Indians. What they were? Who said, They were Murtherers: Then the said Stanton having leave, let fly, Shot one of them through both his Thighs; which was to our Wonderment, it being at such a vast distance.
We then loaded our Bark with Corn; and our Indians their Canoes: And thirty more which we had taken, with Kittles, Trays, Mats, and other Indian Luggage, That Night we went all aboard, and set Sail homeward: It pleased God in a short Time to bring us all in safety to the Place of our Abode; although we strook and stuck upon a Rock. The Way and Manner how God dealt with us in our Delivery was very Remarkable; The Story would be somewhat long to trouble you with at this time; and therefore I shall forbear.
44 HISTORY OF THE PEQUOT WAR.
Thus we may see, How the Face of God is set against them that do Evil, to cut off the Remembrance of them from the Earth. Our Tongue shall talk of thy Righteousness all the Day long; for they are confounded, they are brought to Shame that sought our Hurt! Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, who only doth wondrous Things; and blessed be his holy Name for ever: Let the whole Earth be filled with his Glory! Thus the Lord was pleased to smite our Enemies in the hinder Parts, and to give us their Land for an Inheritance: Who remembred us in our low Estate, and redeemed us out of our Enemies Hands: Let us therefore praise the Lord for his Goodness and his wonderful Works to the Children of Men!
I shall add a Word or two by way of Coment.
OUR Commons were very short, there being a general scarcity throughout the Colony of all sorts of Provision, it being upon our first Arrival at the Place. We had but one Pint of strong Liquors among us in our whole March, but what the Wilderness afforded; (the Bottle of Liquor being in my Hand.) and when it was empty, the very smelling to the Bottle would presently recover such as Fainted away, which happened by the extremity of the Heat: And thus we Marched on in an uncoath and unknown Path to the English, though much frequented by Indians. And was not the Finger
MASON'S NARRATIVE. 45
of God in all this? By his special Providence to lead us along in the Way we should go: Nay though we knew not where their Forts were, how far it was to them, nor the Way that led to them, but by what we had from our Indian Guides; whom we could not confide in, but looked at them as uncertain: And yet notwithstanding all our Doubts, we should be brought on the very fittest Season; nay and which is yet more, that we should be carried in our March among a treacherous and perfidious People, yea in our allodgment so near the Enemy, all Night in so populous a Country, and not the least notice of us; seemeth somewhat strange, and more than ordinary: Nay that we should come to their very Doors: What shall I say: God was pleased to hide us in the Hollow of his Hand; I still remember a Speech of Mr. Hooker at our going aboard; That they should be Bread for us. And thus when the Lord turned the Captivity of his People, and turned the Wheel upon their Enemies; we were like Men in a Dream; then was our Mouth filled with Laughter, and our Tongues with Singing; thus we may say the Lord hath done great Things for us among the Heathen, whereof we are glad. Praise ye the Lord!
I shall mention two or three special Providences that God was pleased to vouchsafe to Particular Men; viz. two Men, being one Man's Servants, namely, John Dier and Thomas Stiles, were both of them Shot in the Knots of their Handkerchiefs, being about their Necks, and received no Hurt. Lieutenant Seeley was Shot in the Eyebrow with a flat headed Arrow, the Point turning downwards: I pulled it out myself.
46 HISTORY OF THE PEQUOT WAR.
Lieutenant Bull had an Arrow Shot into a hard piece of Cheese, having no other Defence: Which may verify the old Saying, A little Armour would serve if a Man knew where to place it. Many such Providences happened; some respecting my self; but since there is none that Witness to them, I shall forbear to mention them.
The Year ensuing, the Colony being in extream Want of Provision, many giving twelve Shillings for one Bushel of Indian Corn; the Court of Connecticut imploying Captain Mason, Mr. William Wadsworth and Deacon Stebbin, to try what Providence would afford, for their Relief in this great Straight: Who notwithstanding some discouragement they met with from some English, went to a Place called Pocomtuck:* where they procured so much Corn at reasonable Rates, that the Indians brought down to Hartford and Windsor, Fifty Canoes laden with Corn at one time. Never was the like known to this Day! So although the Lord was pleased to shew his People hard Things; yet did he execute Judgment for the Oppressed, and gave Food to the Hungry. O let us meditate on the Great Works of God: Ascribing all Blessing and Praise to his Great Name, for all his Great Goodness and Salvation! Amen, Amen.
* Since called Deerfield.
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This page was last updated September 15, 2000.