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derives his information concerning the expedition
from Captain Mason, Trumbull and others, says
the start was made on June 5, but other historians
fix the date of the attack on the Pequot fort as
May 26, and we are naturally led to inquire why
Mason delayed so long after reaching and surround-
ing the Niantic fort. They left the place of debar-
kation on Wednesday, May 23, and arrived at the
Niantic fort the next morning, and it does not
appear that they were delayed there.

On arriving at the frontier the same writer tells
us some of the Narragansetts seemed to be seized
with fear and turned back, but Captain Mason
pressed on, and on halting for the night at a point
three miles west of the Paucatuc River, learned of
the location of the two forts of the Pequots, one of
which was on the Pequot or Niantic River and the
other on the Mystic. As the most westerly one
could not be reached before midnight, Mason de-
cided to attack that on the Mystic first, and to camp
at Porter's Rocks a short distance from the fort the
following night and make an assault early in the

Their presence at Porter's Rocks was known to
the occupants of the fort, for at their last camp the


troops could plainly hear the Indians shouting their
defiance. At three o'clock in the morning prepara-
tions for the attack were begun. There were two
entrances to the fort, and the plan of assault in-
volved the entrance of one of these by Captain
Mason with a part of the force and the other by
Captain Underbill with the remainder. Their In-
dian aUies, having been encouraged or restrained
from retreating only by Mason's urgent appeal to
them to stay and see whether the English would
fight or not, formed a circle far in the rear. It is
related that Uncas was present in person at the
attack and when asked how many of the Mohicans
would run, replied ''all but me." (And this turned
out to be true in a sense, for Mason says they all
deserted except Uncas after the fight.)

Mason and Underbill reached their objectives at
almost the same moment, and Underbill entered
without opposition, but when Mason was within a
few feet of his entrance the barking of a dog aroused
the sentry who rushed back shouting "Owanux,
Owanux," the English, the Enghsh. The Indians
were so panic-stricken by the suddenness of the
attack that they offered very little effective resist-
ance, the English immediately coming to close quar-
ters and using swords as well as muskets. Mason
ordered fire-brands applied to the seventy wigwams
within the fortification, and in a very short time the
work of destruction was complete, the whites form-
ing a close inner circle, and the Indians an outer
circle to stop any who succeeded in getting through
the inner line. Captain Mason says between six


and seven hundred Pequot warriors perished in this
attack, one hundred and fifty having come from
the other fort during the night; seven were cap-
tured and seven escaped. It is also said that three
hundred came up from the other fort and attacked
the EngUsh while on their way to the Pequot or
Niantic River where they were to meet their vessels,
but they kept them at bay until the arrival of the
boats. Captain Patrick and his forty men were on
the vessels, and twenty men from Massachusetts
arrived in time to join in the attack on the fort.
This accounts for the presence of Captain Underbill
who was a Massachusetts man. Outside of these
twenty, Mason had no active assistance in the as-
sault, and the entire attacking party consisted of
less than one hundred men, of whom two were killed
and twenty wounded.

Mason then took up his march to Saybrook in-
stead of returning by the boats, no doubt intending
to complete the work he had so auspiciously begun,
and gather in the remnants of the tribe. On the
way to Saybrook they fell in with a '^ people called
Nayanticks, belonging to the Pequot s, who fled to
a swamp for refuge." These were the western Nian-
tics, the eastern branch of the tribe being the people
whom Mason found east of the Paucatuc River, and
some two hundred of whom joined him in the

Mason tells us that the remnant ''fled into several
parts toward Manhatance" (Manhattan?), and two
hundred old men, women and children, who were
found in a swamp near New Haven gave them-


selves up, and the rest were finally rounded up in
a swamp in Fairfield where they were completely
surrounded; but about sixty or seventy broke
through that part of the Une held by Captain
Patrick and escaped; and one hundred and eighty
were captured.

DeForest says that in this flight they passed
through the territory of the Hammonassetts, Quini-
poigs and Wepauwags or Paugussetts, and of course
they would of necessity cross the land of the western
Niantics before coming to any of these.

The men who made this last stand must have
been the occupants of the western fort, who made
their escape after the disastrous defeat of their
tribesmen at the Mystic fort. Sassacus himself
was in the western fort, but abandoned his tribe and,
with twenty men, including one of his brothers and
at least five sachems, sought safety with the Mo-
hawks, probably preferring to take chances with
them, notwithstanding the fact that at some earlier
time he had made war upon them, rather than face
capture at the hands of the Enghsh and their Mo-
hican and Narragansett allies, and the fate that he
knew awaited him if taken by them. He may
have thought that the Mohawks would extend to
him in his humbled position the hospitality of a foe-
man to his fallen enemy. If such was his belief he
miscalculated the Mohawk character, for they put
him and all of his party except one named Minotto,
who escaped by flight, to death and the following
August they sent his scalp with that of his brother
and five sachems to Hartford. It is claimed that


the Mohawks were induced to thus destroy the
party by bribes from the Narragansetts, but what-
ever may have been the impelUng motive, it does
not speak very highly for the Mohawks. If they
did not wish to harbor them through a desire to
avoid conflict with the EngHsh, as neutrals they
might at least have allowed them to pass on or, at
the worst, have turned them over to the whites, not
that the latter course would have helped the Pe-
quots, but it would have placed the responsibility
for their subsequent treatment where it belonged.

And so perished the great Pequot nation and Sas-
sacus its chief. Some historians speak of refugees
scattered here and there, and tell us that some of
them fled to Uncas and some even to their ancient
enemies the eastern Niantics and Narragansetts;
and then go on to say that on October 1, 1638,
there were found to be two hundred men of them,
including the old and feeble and the young and
strong, who were divided as follows : eighty to Mian-
tonomo, twenty to Ninigret and one hundred to
Uncas. They were prohibited from using the name
Pequot and were ordered to assume the name of the
tribe to which they were attached. That this order
was not strictly enforced appears from the fact that
in 1646 two small bodies of them had settled in their
old hunting grounds, one near the Thames and one
near the Paucatuc, where they were known by the
old name. The head of one of these groups was a
Pequot, and of the other, a nephew of Ninigret,
named Cushawashet, but more commonly called
Wequash Cmook and Heran Garrett.


In 1655, the Commissioners of the United Colo-
nies recognized these two bodies and appointed
Garrett governor over the Paucatuc group and Cas-
sassinimon governor of the other group, said then
to be located near New London. This act of the
commissioners was not pleasing to Uncas and he
protested, but they refused to revoke the appoint-
ments, and instead conferred upon the two gover-
nors all royal privileges formerly belonging to
sachems only.

Some historians vary the figures given above in
writing of the distribution of the remnant of the
tribe, and some speak of them as though they were
not refugees, but those who surrendered at New
Haven or were captured at Fairfield, and the ques-
tion naturally arises, if they were not the captives
so taken what did become of the latter? History
does not leave us entirely in the dark on this point,
however, as there is enough written to warrant the
belief that they were distributed as slaves among
the colonists, a fate that certainly befell the women,
some of them being taken to Massachusetts, where,
as we have already seen one ''little young squaw,"
said to be a daughter of Sassacus, was given to Sas-
samon for his services in the war, and afterwards
became his wife. So these two hundred probably
were the scattering refugees; but, if they were, a
simple problem in addition gives us from ten to
twelve hundred Pequot warriors, where Endicott
saw three hundred, and DeForest thinks this was
the total strength of the tribes, twenty-six in num-
ber, under Sassacus, or at least of as many of them


as were with him in this war. Unless these refugees
and the captives taken in the Fairfield swamp were
the same, there were three hundred and eighty, be-
sides the sixty or seventy that escaped and the
twenty who fled with Sassacus, after the fight at the
Mystic fort.

My reason for saying that these two hundred who
were divided were probably actual refugees is that
there appears to have been some sort of treaty or
agreement between the whites and the Narragan-
setts, Niantics and Mohicans at the conclusion of
the war, by which the Indians bound themselves
not to harbor any Pequots, which would preclude
any prior distribution of the captives; and it is
worth noticing at this time that the only tribe that
lived up to this agreement was the Narragansetts
under Canonicus and Miantonomo, whom the whites
subsequently gave up to be murdered by the treach-
erous Uncas.

As early as July, 1637, and this date lends color
to the belief that these two hundred were refugees,
the Massachusetts authorities had a quarrel with
Ninigret concerning the matter, and the Narra-
gansetts told the authorities at Boston that Uncas
was protecting a large number of them; but before
taking up the matter of this revelation, I will refer
briefly to Captain Mason's account of the trouble
the Connecticut authorities had with Ninigret on
the same score. He says that some of the cap-
tives, mark the word, settled at Paucatuc contrary
to agreement, as claimed by the English; and he
was sent against them. When he arrived on the


scene he saw three hundred armed Indians across
the river, having previously been attacked by Nini-
gret's warriors of whom he captured seven.

Otash, Miantonomo's brother, then came up and
said they were Miantonomo's men. Ninigret's men
were defiant, and, when told that the whites had
come to destroy the Pequots because they had not
kept their word, in that they were not to inhabit
there, said the Pequots were good men and they
would fight for them, they would fight Uncas but
not the whites, who were spirits. Mason pressed on
and destroyed crops and wigwams.

Among the Pequots harbored by Ninigret were
two brothers of Sassacus, and a report that he was
about to give his daughter in marriage to one of
them subsequently caused the colonists some anx-
iety. There appear to be some inconsistencies in
Mason's narrative as the men could not well have
been Miantonomo's and Ninigret's unless the former
had some greater authority over the latter than he
seems to have exercised.

To return to Uncas, upon the defeat of the Pe-
quots and the almost complete annihilation of the
tribe, followed by the prohibition of the use of the
name, the Mohicans became the dominant tribe in
the federation and Uncas was their Sachem. De-
Forest says of him he "was selfish, jealous and tyran-
nical." He might have said a great deal more
that is not generally considered complimentary, and
still have been within bounds.

When Wopigwooit was slain by the Dutch, Uncas
laid claim to the Great Chieftaincy, basing his claim


on his own descent and strengthening it by the
royal birth of his wife. He engaged in open war
with Sassacus over the succession; but most of the
tribes of the federation adhered to Sassacus, and
Uncas was defeated and fled to the Narragansetts.
This Hfe of an exile apparently becoming irksome to
him, he sent a humble message to Sassacus begging
permission to return to his people. Sassacus, more
magnanimous than wise in this respect, granted the
desired permission on condition of submission and
good behavior for the future. Uncas, with the du-
plicity, deceit and treachery which marked his
entire career, promised to behave and came back
to the Mohicans.

Apparently this was but the first step towards
the accomplishment of a well-defined purpose to
begin his plottings against Sassacus again, for in a
short time he was once more a fugitive from his
own domain. Again he was pardoned upon his sub-
mission and promise of good behavior, and again
was compelled to flee. On each of these successive
flights to the Narragansett country, some of his
warriors remained, until finally his forces were so re-
duced by these losses that he was no longer danger-
ous, and he was again permitted to return, although
deprived of all of his lands. He then devoted his
entire attention to the hunt, in which two sons of a
sister of Sassacus were his constant companions.
These men, who, as will be seen by reference to Un-
cas' genealogy of the Chiefs of the Pequots, were
cousins of his wife, afterwards quarreled with Sas-
sacus and fled to the Narragansett country where
they remained.


When the Narragansetts informed the authorities
at Boston that Uncas was protecting many Pequot
fugitives, that worthy came to Boston with a
retinue of thirty-seven warriors, bringing a present
of twenty fathoms of wampum for the governor,
which he refused to receive unless some explanation
was made of Uncas' conduct in giving assistance to
the Pequots. When this refusal was communicated
to him he was somewhat perplexed, but only for a
moment, for, Uke the accomphshed liar he was, he
soon recovered his composure and solemnly assured
the authorities that he had no Pequots and that all
those who accompanied him were true Mohicans.

The authorities taking him at his word accepted
his present; Uncas then placed his hand on his
heart, and addressed the governor in these words:
''This heart is not mine. It is yours. I have no
men; they are all yours. Command me any hard
thing and I will do it. I will never believe any
Indian's words against the English. If any Indian
shall kill an Englishman, I will put him to death,
be he ever so dear to me."

On their way back from Boston to their own
country they passed Roger Williams' house; and
one of their party, having become lame, stopped there.
This man was named Wequanmugs, the son of a
Narragansett father and a Mohican mother, and so,
free to travel in the hunting grounds of both tribes.
In a conversation with Mr. Williams he told him
that Miantonomo had only two Pequots, both of
whom had been captured by his warriors and were
not voluntary refugees under his protection; that


the Niantics had about sixty under Wequash Cook,
Ninigret's nephew, who, as we have already seen,
under the name of Herman Garrett was later ap-
pointed governor over them with the dignity of

Williams then inquired if there were any Pequots
in the party that accompanied Uncas to Boston,
to which he replied that there were six and gave
their names, saying at the same time that two of
them had slain Englishmen. Williams, who ap-
parently had not the confidence in Uncas that the
Massachusetts and Connecticut authorities always
manifested, wrote down the names and sent them
to Governor Winthrop with an account of his con-
versation with Wequanmugs. DeForest observes:
"The revelation must have been peculiarly gratify-
ing to Winthrop, as he had given to the sachem a
fine red coat on his departure, and had defrayed his
expenses while he remained in Boston, and furnished
him with provision for his homeward journey, and
dismissed him with a general letter of protection."
This visit of Uncas to Boston was in July, 1638,
three months before the distribution of the two hun-
dred refugees, and while the original agreement be-
tween the whites and the Indians concerning the
harboring of Pequots was in full force.

During the same summer that Uncas made this
visit to Boston, some Pequots who had not sub-
mitted to or taken refuge with any other tribe, but
had remained independent, sent some of their chief
men to Hartford with an offer to give themselves
up to the EngHsh if their lives might be spared.


Both Uncas and Miantonomo were thereupon
summoned to Hartford to confer with the authori-
ties concerning the disposition of this group, as well
as to adjust certain disputes between themselves.
Miantonomo set out with an imposing train com-
posed of his wife and children, several of his sachems
and not less than one hundred and fifty warriors.
Roger Williams and two other Englishmen also ac-
companied him. Before reaching Hartford they
were met by a number of Narragansetts returning
to their own country from Connecticut, who com-
plained that the Pequots and Mohicans had robbed
them; and following close on the heels of this com-
plaint came another from a Nipmuck clan, subject
to the Narragansetts, that they had been plundered
shortly before by a band of six or seven hundred
Indians of these two tribes and their confederates.
They reported that this band of marauders had
spoiled twenty-three fields of corn and robbed three
Narragansetts who were staying with the Nipmucks,
and were then lying in wait for Miantonomo and his
party; and they said that some of the band had
threatened to boil Miantonomo in a kettle.

Miantonomo was not to be deterred by threats
of this character and pressed on, reaching Hartford
in safety, where he proceeded to lay before the
Council these several causes of complaint. Uncas
was not there, having sent a messenger to tell the
authorities that he was too lame to attend. Haynes,
one of the leading men in the Council, and later gov-
ernor of the colony, said this was a very lame ex-
cuse, and sent messengers to request him to make


his appearance. The urgency of this message
seems to have proved a very effective liniment, for
he recovered from his lameness at once and re-
paired to Hartford, bringing with him an Indian
to testify that the party which had been in the
Nipmuck country consisted of only one hundred
and not six or seven, and that they took only a
little corn for roasting and did a few other harmless
things but no damage. This was flatly contradicted
by the Narragansetts, but the council was unable
to decide where the truth lay and dismissed the

This was one of the early instances of the leaning
of the colonial authorities towards Uncas, to which
I have called general attention in a preceding chap-
ter, and of which I may have occasion to cite other
instances. He had broken his promise concerning
the harboring of Pequots. He had lied to Governor
Winthrop about it. He had deliberately attempted
to evade their request to come to Hartford for a
conference with the Council and Miantonomo con-
cerning the disposition of Pequots who had offered
to give themselves up, and to discuss his own dif-
ferences with Miantonomo, and when he did come
finally on second and urgent request, brought one of
his own followers as a witness to meet a charge that
he did not know had been preferred, unless his own
guilty knowledge of its truth was sufficient to make
it certain that the charge would be made; and the
word of this subject of his was taken as against that
of the Narragansetts, and he was found not guilty.

The Magistrates then attempted to effect a recon-


ciliation between the two sachems; and Mian-
tonomo, although the party aggrieved by their
decision, entered into the spirit that prompted their
efforts, and, with the magnanimity that always
marked his character, twice invited Uncas to feast
with him on some venison which his hunters had
brought in. This invitation Uncas sullenly refused,
notwithstanding the urgent request of the magis-
trates that he accept.

Before leaving Hartford, Miantonomo, at a
private conference, gave the council the names of
all the remaining members of the Pequot tribe who
had been guilty of killing Englishmen. A list of
these names was read to Uncas who admitted that
it was correct. Miantonomo then said that of the
remnants of the tribe Canonicus had none; he had
ten or eleven out of the seventy who had submitted
to him, the others never having come in, or having
returned to their old hunting grounds after coming
in; and the rest were either with the Mohicans or
in their ancient territory, which it will readily be
seen amounted to the same thing, as the Pequot
territory naturally became Mohican territory when
the last named tribe gained the ascendency in the
federation. If there is any truth to the charge that
Miantonomo was jealous of the increase of Uncas'
power by the addition of the Pequots, we do not
need to look further for the reason. It was not be-
cause of the allotment of them to the several tribes,
but the fact that Uncas and Ninigret, who was the
sachem of a tribe that had been of the old Mohican
federation, though under Narragansett protection


and living on Narragansett territory, had almost
all of them, no doubt through their own in-
ducement to them to live in their territory; and
Ninigret in the event of hostilities was just as
Ukely to favor Uncas as he was to side with

On the presentation of this last statement as to
the then location of the remaining Pequots, to
Uncas, he attempted to evade the question and the
giving in of any account, saying that he did not
know the names of his Pequots, that he had only
twenty, but that Ninigret and three other Niantic
sachems had many of them. He afterwards ad-
mitted that he had thirty, and was allowed ten
days to bring in their names, and messengers were
dispatched to the Niantic country to secure a list
of the Pequots with them.

It was on the lists thus furnished that the allot-
ment was made on October 1, 1638. From what we
know of Uncas, it requires no great stretching of
our credulity to believe that he might, at that very
time, be protecting many more than he reported,
and Miantonomo, knowing that this was likely to
be the case, had another reason for fearing trouble
on account of his double dealing and deceit, to say
nothing of the tendency on the part of the colonial
authorities to favor Uncas in all matters in con-
troversy between them, which first manifested itself
at the conference to which I have referred and
which continued constantly to the end.

I have already called attention to the hostihty of
these two chiefs and of the complaints lodged with


the authorities by Uncas against Miantonomo dur-
ing the Ufe of the latter, in the chapter devoted to
the last-named chief, as well as to the culmination
of the controversy between them by the death of
Miantonomo on Sachem's Plain; and without re-
peating, I will now proceed to a brief recital of some
of the principal events in which Uncas figured after
he had secured the colonists' consent to the cold-
blooded murder of his rival.

His troubles did not cease upon the removal of
Miantonomo, but rather seemed to increase, the
first fresh outbreak resulting from the claim of the
Narragansetts that he had agreed to release their
chief upon payment of a ransom, a part of which
had been paid when the jealous Mohican, with his
usual treachery, put him to death. We have seen
that the authorities decided this case in favor of
Uncas, but from what has already appeared con-
cerning the character of that chief and of his ma-
chinations and the tendency of the whites to favor
him, it is not difficult for us to believe that this was
one of those judgments based upon pohcy rather
than sound reasoning, with which the history of
that period abounds.

In the fall of 1646, Herman Garrett, who as we

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Online LibraryAlvin Gardner WeeksMassasoit of the Wampanoags; (Volume 1) → online text (page 14 of 18)