1637

Troubles between the Indians and the whites arose so early as 1636. John Oldham was murdered on Block Island by a party of Pequot Indians. Vane of Massachusetts sent Endicott to inflict punishment. The Pequots in turn attacked the fort at Saybrook, and in 1637 threatened Wethersfield.
They were planning a union with the Narragansets for the destruction of the English, when Roger Williams informed the Massachusetts colony of their designs and, at the urgent request of the governor and council, hastened to the chief of the Narragansets and dissuaded him from entering into the alliance.

The moment was critical. Captain Mason with about ninety English and seventy Mohegans, under their sachem, Uncas (a sub chief, who with his district, Mohegan, had rebelled against the Pequot sachem, Sassacus), was sent from Hartford down the Connecticut River. Entering the Sound, he sailed past the mouth of the Thames and anchored in Narragansett Bay, at the foot of Tower Hill, near Point Judith. He knew that keen-eyed scouts from the Pequot stronghold on the west bank of the Mystic River, near Groton, had, as his three little ships skirted the shore, been watching him, to give warning of his approach. He therefore resolved to come upon the enemy from an unlooked-for quarter. This plan was directly contrary to his instructions, which required him to land at the mouth of the Thames and attack the fort from the west side. He hoped, marching westward across the country, to take the enemy by surprise on their unprotected rear, while the Indians, trusting in the strength of their fort, as it fronted the west, should believe themselves secure.
Thirteen men had been sent back to the Thames with the vessels. Two hundred Narragansets had joined the expedition, though their sachem, Miantonomoh, thought the English too weak to fight the dreaded Pequots. Mason's enterprise was admirably planned, and he was as fortunate as he was bold and skilful. He divided his men into two parties. One, led by Underhill, climbed the steep ascent on the south side of the Indian village; the other, directed by Mason himself, mounted the northern slope. The garrison was buried in slumber, made more profound by carousals the preceding night. One Indian was heard to cry out "Englishmen" before the volley of musketry from the attacking force told that the white enemy had come. Mason entered a wigwam and fought, as did the others, hand-to-hand with the now awakened and desperate foe. Coming out with a firebrand and exclaiming "We must burn them," he set fire to the wigwam. The flames were quickly carried through the fort by the northeast wind. Underhill from his side applied powder. So rapidly did the flames spread that the English had difficulty in making good their escape, while the Pequots who escaped the sword were doomed to perish by fire. In an hour's time from four hundred to six hundred had fallen, more than half of them women and children. Of the Englishmen two were killed and about twenty wounded. In this dreadful slaughter the Narragansets had little share, for they had shown such fear that Mason had said to Uncas, "Tell them not to fly, but stand at what distance they please and see whether Englishmen will now fight or not."
With the approach of day three hundred Pequots advanced from a second fort intending to fight, but they were struck with horror at the sight of their dead fellow-warriors. Keeping the enemy at bay, the English marched to the vessels, which had arrived at Pequot Harbor, and, placing the wounded on board, continued their march to Saybrook. The remnant of the Pequots sought to escape from the country, moving westward along the Sound. Captain Stoughton, sent with one hundred and twenty Massachusetts men, was guided by the Narragansets to a swamp in which a little band of those hostile savages had hidden. The men were slain, offering Little resistance. The women and children were divided among the Indian allies or sold into slavery by the colonists of Massachusetts Bay.

Mason and Stoughton together sailed from Saybrook along the shore, while Uncas with his men tracked the fugitives by land. At Guilford a Pequot sachem was entrapped, shot, and his head thrust into the crotch of an oak-tree near the harbor, giving the place the name of Sachem's Head.
Near the town of Fairfield a last stand was made by the hunted redskins, in a swamp, to which the English were guided by a renegade Pequot. The tribe with whom the Pequots had taken shelter, also the women and children, were allowed to give themselves up. The men were shot down or broke through and escaped. The wife of Mononotto fell into the hands of the English. This Indian squaw had once shown kindness to two captive girls, and by Winthrop's orders she was kindly treated in return. The Pequots, once so powerful, were well-nigh exterminated. Those taken prisoners were spared only to be held in bondage, Mononotto's wife with the rest. Some were absorbed by the Narragansets, others by the Mohegans, while the settlers of Connecticut, upon whom the war had fallen so heavily, came into possession of the Pequot land.

See also: 1634-1638

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