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him.

The route which they had followed along the shore
was so circuitous that they estimated that they had
reached a point eighty miles from Plymouth. The
wind was contrary and their progress was slow. When
they reached Cummaquit they put in ashore for water.
Here they found Tyanough, who, having returned by
land, had reached the place before them. The oblig-
ing chief took their water cask upon his own shoulders
and led them a long distance through the dark to a
spring of not very sweet water. The shallop was
anchored near the shore. The Indian women, in



150 MILES STANDISH.

manifestation of their 'good will, sang and danced upon
the beach, clasping hands.

Again they set sail, still encountering contrary
winds, but at length they reached their home in safety.
Soon after their return, they learned that the defeat
of Massasoit was more disastrous than had at first
been reported. It seems that a portion of the Indians
were much opposed to any friendly relations with the
white men, and wished for the extermination of the
colony. An Indian by the name of Hobbomak, who
was chief of one of the minor tribes, had now strongly
allied himself to the English. Consequently he and
Squantum were peculiarly obnoxious to those of the
savages who remained unfriendly.

One of Massasoit's petty chieftains, named Corbi-
tant, led the hostile party. He was an audacious, in-
solent fellow, residing in the present town of Middle-
borough, at a point on the Namasket River just above
the bridge, which passes from the Green to the Four
Corners, on the Plymouth road. This man endeavored
to excite a revolt against Massasoit, assailing the Pil-
grims with the most opprobrious language, and storm-
ing at the peace which had been made with them by
Massasoit and the tribes on the Cape. It seemed
also that he was entering into an alliance with the
Narraganset Indians against Massasoit and the Pil-
grims.



KXPLORING TOURS. 151

Hobbomak was a war captain among the Wam-
panoags, and was greatly beloved by Massasoit. With
Squantum he set out on a journey to visit Massasoit,
with inquiries and words of cheer from the Pilgrims.
They were intercepted on their way by Corbitant,
and both captured. Hobbomak, being a very power-
ful man, broke away and escaped. The next day,
breathless and terrified, he reached Plymouth, report-
ing what had happened. On their journey they had
entered a wigwam at Namasket, when suddenly the
hut was surrounded by a band of armed savages.
Corbitant himself, brandishing a knife, approached
Squantum to kill him, saying, "When Squantum is
dead the English will have lost their tongue." Just
then Hobbomak escaped, and, outrunning his pur-
suers, reached Plymouth, not knowing the fate of his
companion.

These were sad tidings, indicating that a very
perilous storm was gathering. Governor Bradford
immediately assembled all the men of the colony to
decide what was to be done. After earnest prayer
and deliberation, they were united in the opinion that,
should they suffer their friends and allies to be thus
assailed with impunity, none of the Indians, however
kindly disposed, would dare to enter into friendly re-
lations with them. They therefore resolved to send
ten men, one-half of their whole number, under Cap-



152 MILES STANDISH.

tain Standish, with Hobbomak as their guide, to seize
Corbitant and avenge the outrage. Never did a
heroic little band set out upon a more chivalric adven-
ture.

The morning of the I4th of August was dark and
stormy. Regardless of wind and rain Captain Stand-
ish led his valiant companions in single file through
the narrow and dripping paths of the forest. It was
late in the afternoon when they reached a secluded
spot within four miles of Namasket. Here they con-
cealed themselves that they might suddenly fall upon
their foe in the darkness of night. Cautiously Cap-
tain Standish, who was alike prudent and intrepid,
led his band. Every man received minute instruc-
tions as to the part he was to perform. The night
was so dark, with clouds and driving rain, that they
could hardly see a hand's breadth before them. They
lost their way, and after groping for some time in the
tangled thickets, happily again found their trail. It
was after midnight when, wet and weary, they arrived
within sight of the glimmering fires of Namasket.
After silently refreshing themselves from their knap-
sacks they crept along to the large wigwam, where
they supposed that Corbitant, surrounded by several
of his warriors, was sleeping. The darkness of the
night and the wailings of the storm caused even the
wary Indians to be deaf to their approach.



EXPLORING TOURS. 153

"At a signal, two muskets were fired to terrify
the savages, and Captain Standish, with three or four
men, rushed into the hut. The ground floor, dimly
lighted by some dying embers, was covered with
sleeping Indians, men, women, and children. A
scene of indescribable consternation and confusion
ensued. Through Hobbomak, Captain Standish or-
dered every Indian to remain in the wigwam, assuring
them that he had come for Corbitant, the murderer
of Squantum, and that, if he were not there, no one
else should be injured.

" But the savages, terrified by the midnight sur-
prise, and by the report of the muskets, were bereft
of reason. Many of them endeavored to escape, and
were severely wounded by the Pilgrims in their at-
tempts to stop them. - The Indian boys, seeing that
the Indian women were not molested, ran around,
frantically exclaiming, ' I am a girl ! I am a girl ! '

" At last order was restored, and it was found that
Corbitant was not there, but that he had gone off,
with all his train, and that Squantum was not killed.
A bright fire was now kindled, that the hut might be
carefully searched. Its blaze illuminated one of the
wildest of imaginable scenes. The wigwam, spacious
and rudely constructed of boughs, mats and bark;
the affrighted savages, men, women and children, in
their picturesque dress and undress, a few with ghastly



154 MILES STANDISH.

wounds, faint and bleeding ; the bold colonists, in
their European dress and armor ; the fire blazing in
the centre of the hut, all combined to present a scene
such as few eyes have ever witnessed." *

By this time all the inmates of the adjoining wig-
wams were aroused. Hobbomak, in the darkness,
climbed to the top of the wigwam and shouted aloud
for Squantum. In his response to his well-known
voice," Squantum soon appeared. Captain Standish
deprived all the Indian warriors of their bows and ar-
rows, and having established a watch, sought such
repose as they could find until morning.

Many of these Indians were friendly to the Eng-
lish, and they, with the earliest light of the morning,
gathered around Captain Standish. The hostile In-
dians, who belonged to the faction of Corbitant, fled
during the night. It seemed, however, that a major-
ity were disposed to be friendly, for a large group
gathered around Captain Standish, with pledges of
their good will. He addressed them in words of con-
ciliation, and yet of firmness, assuring them that,
though Corbitant had for the present escaped, if he
continued his hostility he could find no retreat from
the avenging hand of the white man. He also assured
them that if the Narragansets continued their as-

* Abbott's Life of King Philip.



EXPLORING TOURS. 155

saults upon Massasoit or upon any ol his subjects,
the white men would punish them by the utter over-
throw of their tribe. He expressed much regret that
any of the Indians had been wounded, but told them
that it was their own fault, as he had assured them
that they should not be harmed if they would remain
in the hut. He also offered to take home with him
any who were wounded, that they might be carefully
nursed. Two of the wounded availed themselves of
this offer. The surgeon of the Pilgrim company, Mr.
Samuel Fuller, tenderly cared for them.

Captain Standish led his triumphant little band
back, accompanied by Squantum, and many other
friendly Indians. The heroic achievement taught the
friendly Indians that they could rely upon the protec-
tion of the white men, and was a loud warning to
those who -were disposed to be hostile. The enter-
prise occupied but two days. As the result of this
adventure, many Sachems sent in the expression of
their desire to enter into a friendly alliance with the
Pilgrims. Corbitant himself was frightened by such
an exhibition of energy, and by his own narrow es-
cape. He sought reconciliation through the interces-
sion of Massasoit, and subsequently signed a treaty
of submission and friendship. Even Canonicus, the
hostile and warlike chief of the Narragansets, sent
an embassy to Plymouth, not improbably as spies, but



156 MILES STANDISH.

with the professed object of treating for peace. The
friendship of Massasoit, and his influence over 'the
chiefs of the smaller tribes, contributed much to this
happy result.

The Blue Hills of Milton were then called Mount
Massachusetts. Many rumors had reached the colo-
nists that the tribes residing in that vicinity, about
forty miles north from Plymouth, were very unfriend-
ly, had uttered many threats, and were preparing for
hostile measures. The Pilgrims decided to send an
expedition to that region, to establish, if possible,
friendly relations with the natives, and they also
wished to examine the country.

Captain Miles Standish was, of course, the one to
be entrusted with the command of the important en-
terprise. He took a party in the shallop, of nine of
the colonists, and three Indians, as interpreters, one
of whom was Squantum. They set sail at midnight,
in consequence of the favoring tide. It was Tuesday
morning, the i8th of September, O. S. A gentle
southerly breeze pressed their sails, and they glided
over a smooth sea until they reached a point which
they estimated to be about sixty miles from the port
which they had left. As they had been informed that
the tribes were numerous and warlike, as well as un-
friendly, and it was a mild autumnal night, Captain
Standish did not deem it prudent to land, but they all
remained until morning in the boat.



EXPLORING TOURS. 157

They had entered a bay, which was doubtless
Boston harbor, and anchored but a short distance
from a cliff, which some have supposed to have been
Copp's Hill, at the north end of Boston. This cliff
rose about fifty feet from the water, and presented a
precipitous front on the seaward shore.

The next morning they put in for the shore and
landed. * Here they found quite a quantity of lob-
sters which the savages had collected", but for some
unknown reason had left. Captain Standish, with
characteristic prudence, left three men to guard the
shallop, and stationed two as sentinels, in a com-
manding position on the shore, to give warning of any
appearance of danger. Then, with characteristic en-
terprise and courage, taking four men with him, and
an Indian as guide and interpreter, he entered one of
the well-trodden trails of the forest and pressed for-
ward in search of the habitations of the Indians. It
was a bold deed ; for, though they had guns, a hun-
dred Indian warriors, shooting their barbed arrows
from behind trees, would soon lay them all weltering
in blood.

They had not gone far before they met an Indian
woman who, it seems, owned some of the lobsters,

* Mr. Drake, in his History of Boston, supposes that the "cliff"
alluded to must have been that pile of rocks now called " the chapel,"
in Quincy Bay.



158 MILES STANDISH.

and was going to the shore to get them. But the
colonists had feasted upon the savory food. They
paid the woman, however, abundantly, to her entire
satisfaction. She informed them that the small tribe
to which she belonged, and whose chieftain's name
was Obbatinewat, resided in a village a little farther
along the coast. They therefore sent Squan-tum
forward to the Indian village to inform Obbatinewat
that the Pilgrims were coming to make him a friendly
visit. Captain Standish returned to the shallop to
continue their voyage to the settlement.

It required but a short sail. The Indian chief
and his people, being prepared for their coming, re-
ceived them kindly. It is a remarkable fact that the
chief of the Massachusett tribe, probably the most
powerful tribe then in these borders, was a woman
a squaw. Upon the death of her husband, Nanepash-
emet, she had been recognized as his successor.
She was known as the Squaw Sachem, and was at
war with Obbatinewat. Captain Standish offered his
services to promote reconciliation. This was cer-
tainly magnaminious, for according to the principles
of selfish worldly policy, it would have seemed ex-
pedient to keep the tribes warring against each other,
thus to prevent their combining against the Pilgrims,
and thus enabling the Pilgrims to retain what is called
the balance of power. But Miles Standish, a straight-



EXPLORING TOURS. 159

forward, honest man, scorned all such arts of expe-
diency.

Obbatinewat resided near the bottom of the inner
Massachusetts Bay. He was ever trembling in view
of the incursions of a powerful tribe of Indians, who
resided on the Kennebec, the Penobscot, and other
rivers of Maine. They came in great numbers in time
of harvest, robbing them of their corn and committing
all manner of savage outrages.

Very gladly Obbatinewat, who seems to have been
an amiable, peace-loving man, availed himself of the
friendly offer of Captain Standish, and, with some of
his people, accompanied him in the shallop across the
harbor, it is supposed from Quincy to what is now
Charlestown, to visit the squaw sachem. Mr. Wins-
low describes the visit in the following words :

" Again we crossed the bay, which is very large,
and hath at least fifty islands in it ; but the certain
number is not known to the inhabitants. Night it
was before we came to that side of the bay where this
people were. On shore the savages went, but found
nobody. That night also we rode at anchor aboard
the shallop.

" On the morrow we went ashore, all but two men,
and marched, in arms, up in the country. Having
gone three miles we came to a place where corn had
been newly gathered, a house pulled down, and the



l6o MILES STANDISH.

peopie gone. A mile from hence Nanepashemet,
their king, in his lifetime, had lived. His house was
not like others : but a scaffold was largely built with
poles and planks, some six feet from the ground, and
the house upon that, being situated on the top of a
hill.

"Not far from here, in a bottom, we came to a
fort, built by their deceased king ; the manner thus :
There were poles, some thirty or forty feet long, stuck
in the ground as thick as they could be set one by
another. With these they enclosed a ring, some
thirty or forty feet long. A trench, breast-high, was
digged on each side. One way there was to go into
it with a bridge. In the midst of this palisade stood
the frame of a house, wherein, being dead, he lay
buried.

About a mile from here we came to such another,
but seated on the top of a hill. Here Nanepashemet
was killed ; none dwelling in it since the time of his
death. At this place we staid, and sent for two sav-
ages to look for the inhabitants, and to inform them
of our ends in coming, that they might not be fearful
of us. Within a mile of this place they found the
women of the place together, with their corn on heaps,
whither we supposed them to have fled for fear of us ;
and the more, because in divers places they had newly
pulled down their houses, and for haste, in one place,



EXPLORING TOURS. l6l

had left some of their corn, covered with a mat, and
nobody with it.

" With much fear they entertained us, at first ;
but seeing our gentle carriage towards them, they
took heart, and entertained us in the best manner
they could, boiling cod and such other things as they
had for us. At length, with much sending for, came
one of their men, shaking and trembling for fear.
But when he saw we intended them no hurt, but came
to truck, he promised us his skins also. Of him we
inquired for their queen. It seemed that she was far
from thence. At least we could not see her.

" Here Squantum would have had us rifle the sav-
age women, and take their skins and all such things
as might be serviceable for us ; for, said he, they are
a bad people, and have often threatened you. But
our answer was, ' Were they never so bad, we would
not wrong them, or give them any just occasion
against us. For their words we little weighed them ;
but if they once attempted any thing against us, then
we would deal far worse than he desired."

Having passed the day thus pleasantly, they re-
turned to the shallop. Nearly all the women accom-
panied them. The Indians had quite a quantity of
beaver skins, from which very comfortable garments
were made. The Pilgrims were eager to purchase
these skins, and the Indian women were so eager to



1 62 MILES STANDISH.

obtain, in exchange for them, such articles as the
English had to dispose of, that we are told " they sold
their coats from their backs, and tied boughs about
them, but with great shamefacedness, for indeed
they are more modest than some of our English
women are."

The savages reported that there were two rivers
emptying into the bay, the Mystic and the Charles.
The Pilgrims, however, saw but one, and they had not
time to explore even that. They saw evidences that
most of the islands in the harbor had been inhabited,
having been cleared, and prepared for corn from end
to end. But they were now desolate, the plague hav-
ing swept the whole of their populations into the
grave. The food of the exploring party becoming
scarce, and there being a bright moon and a fair wind,
they set sail in the evening, and by noon of the next
day, Saturday, September 22d, they reached home,
having been absent four days. Mr. Winslow was one
of the party, and it is supposed that he wrote the ac-
count from which we have quoted.

The adventurers brought back so glowing a report
of the harbor, with its beautiful and fertile islands,
the rivers and the rich soil, that the colonists quite
regretted that they had not found that spot for their
settlement. " The country of the Massachusetts,"
said they, " is the paradise of all those parts, for here



EXPLORING TOURS. 163

are many isles, all planted with corn, groves, mulber-
ries and savage gardens.

The summer had passed away with the Pilgrims
very pleasantly and prosperously. Friendly relations
had been established with the Indians, and a lucrative
traffic opened in valuable furs. There had been no
want of provisions. Fishing had been successful,
furnishing them with an abundant supply of cod and
bass. Water fowl, such as ducks and wild geese,
abounded, and the forests were filled with deer and
turkeys. In the autumn they gathered in a fine har-
vest of corn, and though they had no mills to grind
it, by hand-pounding they converted it into meal, with
which they made very palatable cakes. Thus amply
supplied with food, they made their houses more tight
and comfortable, and gathered their fuel for the win-
ter fires. They wrote home such glowing letters of
their prosperity, that very many others were inspired
with the desire to join them. One of these letters,
written by Edward Winslow, will be given in the next
chapter.



CHAPTER VIII.

Menaces of Famine and War.

Arrival of the Fortune. Object of the Pilgrims in their Emigration.
Character of the New-Comers. Mr. Winslow's Letter. The
First Thanksgiving. Advice to Emigrants. Christmas Anec-
dote. Alarming Rumor. The Narragansets. Curious Declara-
tion of War. The Defiance. Fortifying the Village. The Meet-
ing in Council and the Result. The Alarm. The Shallop Re-
called.

Early in July of this year, 1621, the Fortune, a
small vessel of but fifty-five tons, which they called a
ship, sailed from London for the colony. There were
thirty-five passengers on board, many of whom appear
to have been mere adventurers, emigrating to the
New World through restlessness, curiosity, or love
of gain. The men of this party outnumbered the de-
vout Pilgrims who were still living at Plymouth. Thus
an influence was introduced to the colony quite ad-
verse to the religious element which had hitherto
pervaded it. In Mr. Robert Cushman's " Relation of
the Reasons for Emigrating from England to Amer-
ica," he writes :

" And first, seeing we daily pray for the conver-
sion of the heathen, we must consider whether there
be not some ordinary means and course for us to take



MENACES OF FAMINE AND WAR. 1 6$

to convert them ; or whether prayer for them be only
referred to God's extraordinary work from Heaven.
Now it seemeth unto me that we ought also to en-
deavor and use the means to convert them. And the
means cannot be used unless we go to them or they
come to us. To us they cannot come. Our land is
full. To them we may go. Their land is empty.
This then is sufficient reason to prove our going
thither to live, lawful."

The reckless men on board the Fortune, suppos-
ing that they should find an ample supply of every-
thing in the New World, took with them scarcely
provisions enough to last during the voyage. Con-
trary winds so retarded their progress that they did
not clear the English channel until the end of August.
It was not until the Qth of November that, in almost
a famishing condition, they cast anchor in the harbor
at the extremity of Cape Cod. Mr. Cushman, who
had been left behind by the abandonment of the
Speedwell, was with this party. The Fortune en-
tered Plymouth harbor on the 23d of November. The
Pilgrims were, of course, very happy to welcome such
a re-enforcement from home. They were not then
aware of the uncongenial elements of which it was
composed. Mr. Bradford, in his account of this event,
writes :

" Most of them were lusty young men, and many



1 66 MILES STANDISH.

of them wild enough, who little considered whither or
about what they went, till they came into the harbor
at Cape Cod, and there saw nothing but a naked and
barren place.

" They then began to think what would become
of them if the people here were dead, or cut off by
the Indians. They then began to consult upon some
speeches that some of the seamen had cast out, to
take the sails from the yards lest the ship should get
away and leave them there. But the master, hearing
of it, gave them good words, and told them that if
anything but well should have befallen the people
here, he hoped he had victuals enough to carry them
to Virginia ; and that while he had a bit they should
have their parts ; which gave them good satisfaction."

These men were landed at Plymouth in a state of
great destitution. Of the thirty-five thus added to
the colony twenty-seven were men. The remainder
were women and children. Some of these men con-
stituted a valuable addition to the colony ; but others
of them were utterly worthless. They brought with
them no food, no furniture, no domestic utensils, no
extra clothing ; and, worst of all, no habits of industry
or established principles of industry.

The Fortune remained at Plymouth but about a
fortnight, and on the I3th of December commenced
her return voyage. She took back, as freight, various



MENACES OF FAMINE AND WAR. 167

kinds of timber, sassafras, and beaver skins. The
estimated value of her cargo was about two thousand
five hundred dollars. We may mention, in passing,
that England was then at war with France. The For-
tune, when near the coast of England, was captured
by a French cruiser, relieved of her cargo, and sent
home.

It will be remembered that there were but seven
families composing the colony at the time of the arri-
val of the Fortune. The Governor disposed of these
destitute and half famished new-comers, in these fam-
ilies, as best he could. The Pilgrims had, before this
arrival, an ample supply of food for the winter. But
upon this unexpected doubling of their number of
hungry mouths, it was found, upon careful examina-
tisn, that their food was quite inadequate to meet their
wants until another harvest. The fishing season was
over ; the summer game was gone ; the harvest was
all gathered in. There could be no more addition to
their supply of provisions for many months. There
could be nothing obtained from the Indians. The
thoughtless creatures would themselves be hungry
before another summer should come. Under these
circumstances the Pilgrims, quite to their dismay,
found it necessary to put the colony upon half allow-
ance of food.

Before the arrival of the Fortune they were rejoic-


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Online LibraryJohn S. C. (John Stevens Cabot) AbbottMiles Standish, the Puritan captain .. → online text (page 9 of 21)