Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

disabled from any farther effort. The plunder acquired by this act of treachery and violence, was shared by the Pequods, and some of their neighbours.

Sassacus and his men were apprehensive, that the English would make war upon them, to avenge

the death of Stone and his companions; and, being imperfectly prepared for such an event, attempted to avert the blow by negociation. Accordingly they sent an ordinary warriour to Boston, with proposals to the Governour of Massachusetts, of peace and reconciliation. The messenger was not received; and was informed, that men of superiour distinction must be employed by the Pequods, if they expected any attention to their propositions. Accordingly, they dispatched two envoys of higher rank, with a present, to accomplish their purpose. The only terms, which they could obtain, were, that they must deliver up the murderers. They replied, that the murderers were all dead, except two; whom they were willing to deliver up, if they should be found guilty. They also offered several other conditions ; particularly to yield their right to Connecticut river, and its neighbourhood, to the English. The treaty was at length ratified upon these terms; and the English agreed to trade with them as friends.

After the treaty was signed, the messengers returned home: but the Pequods never fulfilled any of their engagements. The truth was : they had entered into them, merely because the Dutch, and the Narrhagansetts, were prosecuting a war with them : and they thought it not safe to make new enemies.

In the year 1635, John Oldham, an inhabitant of Dorchester, who had been trading in Connecticut, was murdered in the neighbourhood of Block Island, by some of its Indian inhabitants, together with several of the Narrhagansetts. A Mr. Gallup, who was sailing from Connecticut to Boston, passing by Oldham's vessel, saw a number of Indians on board; and a number of others, going from it in a canoe with a load of English goods. Suspecting the cause, he hailed them; and, receiving no answer, steered immediately for Oldham's vessel. With only one man and two boys, he attacked them so briskly, that he instantly cleared the deck. He then ran upon Oldham's vessel three several times ; and gave it such severe shocks, that six of the Indians at one time, and five at another, leaped overboard, and perished. He then boarded the vessel, bound two of the Indians; took out Oldham's corpse, together with the remaining furniture and goods; and took the vessel in tow. The corpse he buried. The wind, however, soon obliged him to set the vessel adrift; and she was lost. One of the Indians he was obliged to throw overboard; the other he conveyed to Boston. Several of the murderers of Oldham fed to the Pequods; and were protected by them.

The Narrhagansetts early, and sedulously, offered such satisfaction for their share in this treacherous business, as was ultimately accepted by the government of Massachusetts Bay.

In 1636, Capt. Endicot was sent by this government to avenge these injuries upon the Pequods, and the inhabitants of Block Island. This party ravaged Block Island, by destroying the corn, canoes, and weekwams; made an ineffectual effort of a similar nature upon the Pequods; and then returned home, without having accomplished any object of importance.

The Pequods, who before hated the English, now despised them; and began their hostilities with vigour. They attacked Capt. Underhill, and twenty men, destined to reinforce the

garrison at Saybrook, as he was lying in the harbour of New-London; took successively, and tortured several of the men, and killed several others; waylaid the inhabitants of Saybrook, when about their ordinary business ; surrounded the fort with a kind of seige ; and destroyed every thing valuable in its neighbourhood. In the spring of the succeeding year, renewing their attacks with still greater activity, they killed four men at Saybrook, and a fifth in the river. Two others, taken at the same time, they tortured in the most excrutiating manner, till they died. Another party of them killed six men, and three women, at Wethersfield; and captivated two girls. In consequence of these ravages, the Government of Connecticut, although the whole jurisdiction comprised only three towns; Windsor, Hartford, and Wethersfield, determined to attack the Pequods in earnest; and

raised ninety men for this purpose. Massachusetts, at the same time, engaged to send two hundred men, and Plymouth forty, to their assistance. The little army of Connecticut, joined by seventy Mohegans, fell down the river on Wednesday, the 10th of May, under the command of Capt. John Mason: a man, who was both born, and bred, a soldier. The Mohegans were headed by Uncas, a Sachem extensively celebrated in the history of New England. The movement of their little fleet was so slow, that the Mohegans requested to be set on shore. On their march towards Saybrook they fell in with a body of the Pequods, of whom they killed seven, and took one a prisoner. This man, having been concerned in all the treacheries, and murders, of his nation for a length of time, was claimed by Uncas, to be put to death in the Indian manner; and expired under the inflictions of

savage torture.

Mason, although directed to proceed immediately to New-London, judged it best, (and brought his officers into the same opinion,) to sail to Narrhagansett Bay, and secure the friendship, and assistance, of Miantonimoh, or at least his neutrality. He found Miantonimoh disposed, without much reluctance, to coincide with his wishes : but he was hardly induced to believe, that the English Commander was in earnest, in his avowed determination to attack the Pequods. Their number he considered as too small to furnish even a remote prospect of success. However, when he saw Mason resolved to proceed, he sent two hundred of the Narrhagansetts along with him. They marched that day Wednesday, May 24th, to Charlestown ;* and were joined the next morning by almost two hundred more: partly Narrhagansetts; and partly Eastern Nahantics; who boasted much of the gallantry, which they intended to display in fighting the Pequods. But upon approaching nearer to the enemy, and finding Capt. Mason really determined on an attack, a considerable number of them were so disheartened, that they left the army, and returned home.

* In the State of Rhode-Island.

The original design of Mason had been to attack the fort, in which Sassacus himself resided.* The desertion was occasioned by the notification of this purpose to the Indians; all of whom trembled at his formidable name; and seem to have imagined, that no attempt against him could be attended with success. Upon inquiry, Capt. Mason found after a march of three miles further, that he was twelve miles from the spot. At the same time he was assured, that the other fort of the Pequods was near at hand. He determined, therefore, to make this the object of his first assault; and, having ordered his men to rest for the night, and sent out an Indian to reconnoitre, discovered with no small satisfaction, that his enemies had not even suspected bis arrival, but were in a state of perfect security.

About two hours before day, his little army began their march for the expected fortress ; and came in sight of it at day-break. The Indians immediately vanished. Uncas however, and Wequash, a Pequod chief who had suffered several indignities from the imperiousness of Sassacus, at length reappeared ; and apologized for the flight of their followers; alleging, as their excuse, the terror, with which they regarded these enemies. Mason ordered them to collect their countrymen, and encompass the fort at whatever distance they pleased; that they might see whether Englishmen would fight. They obeyed. Mason, with one division of his troops, attempted the Eastern entrance of the palisade: while Underhill, with the other division, marched to the Western. It will be proper to observe, that the fort stood on Mystic river: the boundary between Stonington, and Groton.

The English were discovered by the barking of a dog, when they were within a few rods of the palisade; and, while the Indians were betaking themselves to their arms, poured a general discharge of their muskets through the interstices. Mason, finding the Eastern entrance small, and difficult to be carried, hastened round to the Southern one, which was sufficiently large, and secured only by two small boughs. These he and his Lieutenant instantly removed; and entered the fortress: the men crowding closely behind them. The Pequods fought with great resolution; and, after they had been driven from the open ground, secured themselves in the numerous weekwams, enclosed within the palisade. Hence they annoyed the English incessantly, without being visible. Wearied with this inconvenient and fruitless mode of attack, Mason ordered his men to set the weekwams on fire; and, seizing a brand, became their example. At this moment an Indian pointed an arrow against him; and would have killed him instantly, had not a sergeant, named Davis, cut the bow-string. The fire spread among the dry boughs, and foliage, with which the weekwams were covered, with furious rapidity; and speedily involved them in a general conflagration. The English immediately retired without the fort. The Pequods, following them in order to escape from the flames, were slain by the English, or by their Indian allies; who, having assumed sufficient resolution to become witnesses of the conflict, had formed themselves in a circle without the English.

* This stood not far from the Thames, a few miles above the ferry.

The destruction was very great. Seven only of the Pequods escaped ; and only seven more were made prisoners. Between five and six hundred are supposed to have fallen : of whom one hundred and forty were, in the opinion of Capt. Mason, shot from the top of the palisade, whither they had climbed to avoid the fury of the flames. The English had originally determined not to burn the fort; but, when they found themselves assailed from the weekwams by an enemy, who could neither be met, nor seen, they resorted to this, as a desperate and indispensable measure. When the victory was finished; after some little desultory skirmishing with other parties of the Pequods, who made an appearance of attacking them, but fled as soon as they approached, the English embarked on board their vessels, which providentially came into the harbour just at the time, when the army, wearied by so much excessive fatigue, impatiently wished for their arrival. Within three weeks from the commencement of the expedition, they arrived at Hartford, with the loss of two men killed, and sixteen wounded. Their Indian allies, also, returned to their respective homes.

« AnteriorContinuar »