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Information That You Must Know About the Pequot War

Batul Nafisa Baxamusa Apr 23, 2019
The Pequot war was an armed conflict between the indigenous people and the settlers of New England. The following post will help you uncover the past.
There was a time in history when people from the civilized world were on a quest to discover new "worlds". The indigenous people were labeled as savages by those who were, so-called, civilized.
If these savages did not extend a "hand of friendship", the New Settlers would become determined to wipe off the opposition by hook or crook. The way of the New Settlers was, 'our way, and no other way.'
The Pequot were not happy to share their land with the European settlers. They worked aggressively to control and hold their land. The control of fur trade led to a series of tensions between the Pequot and the New Settlers.

The Beginning of the End

The Connecticut river (and the land around it) was regarded as their territory by the Pequot tribe. They had an agreement with the Dutch settlers, which included a promise that the riverine trade will not be interfered into by the indigenous group.
However, the Pequot took over a boat from a white man, and sailed it up the harbor. During this time, another white man, John Gallup, who was sailing by the river, fired on the Indians. Moreover, he rammed his boat into theirs that made many Indians jump out, however, some were taken as captives.
The news of this encounter spread, and Governor Henry Vane of Massachusetts sent 90 men to teach the Pequots a lesson for capturing the boat. But, these men attacked the Narragansett Indians, by mistake. They killed all the people they could find of the tribe.
This made the Pequot tribe even more powerful, owing to the fact as they were now joined by the angered Narragansett Indians, in order to drive out the white men.
This alliance, however, did not last long as Roger Williams, the founder of the Rhode Islands, managed to dissuade the Narragansett from taking such a step. Thus, the Pequot were left alone in their fight against the settlers.
The Pequot then attacked families in isolated areas and slaughtered them. They waited to see the reaction of the settlers. But, they saw no retaliation whatsoever, perhaps because the New Settlers were panicking. So, they called Massachusetts for help. Captain John Mason was sent over to get rid of the Pequot uprising.
Mason was a hardened soldier who headed a force of 80 white men, and roped in over a hundred Mohicans at Fort Saybrook. He even managed to get the Narragansett to join him, and fight the Pequot.
They rowed down the Narragansett Bay, and soon found the stockade of twelve-foot posts that surrounded the Pequot tents. These tents, also known as the tipis, were laid over an acre of land in what is now known as Groton, Connecticut.
Jason and his men split into two groups, and surrounded the Pequot tribe from all sides. The men arrived undiscovered and as luck would have it, the warriors who defended the tribe were absent. The Pequot people were relaxed by their false belief that their rivals had retreated to the east.
In the dead of the night, when the people of the tribe were sleeping, Mason and his men attacked. They were shot at by Mason and his men, and some were butchered by the Narragansett and the Mohicans. Soon, some of the members assembled to fight the attack, Mason saw defeat.
However, he began to burn the tipis, which led to panic among the tribe. Those who were not burned by fire, were then slaughtered by Mason's men. Most of the dead were women and children, and over 700 to 1,000 Pequot people were killed on that bloody night.
Soon, Mason made a hasty retreat to the boats. During this rush, he came face-to-face with a strong war party of 300 Pequot men. However, they were soon distracted by the smoke that came from their burning village. Mason suffered a loss of only two men after this battle, and 20 were injured. His native allies were, however, perished completely.

The Aftermath

The Pequots were broken after the loss of life and land. They could not cultivate crops, and had to help from their native allies. This made the tribe to break into small bands and flee for their lives. Owing to their division, they became more vulnerable to attacks, and many of their people, especially the women and children, were taken as slaves.
The English were not satisfied with their victory over the Mystic river, and wanted Sassacus, the Pequot grand sachem. At the end of June, Mason was joined by Thomas Staughton, who came with 120 men, and went on to capture Sassacus. Mason, Staughton, and the Mohegan followed a slow-moving band of Pequots to their destination.
If any Pequot, captured en route, offered any resistance, his head would be smashed and placed on a tree as a warning. Finally, they managed to catch up with Sassacus at Sasqua, a Pequannock village near Fairfeild, Connecticut.
The Pequot retreated to a hidden fort, and after negotiations, 200 Pequannock men, women, and children were allowed to leave. The Pequot refused to surrender, but Sassacus, along with 80 warriors managed to break free. However, 180 were captured and some more were killed.
Sassacus and his men fled to west New York and had to turn to their old enemies for help. The Mohawk had not forgotten the past, and the minute the Pequot reached their village, they were attacked before even being allowed to speak. The Mohawk cut off Sassacus's head, and sent it to Hartford as a gesture of friendship with the English.
The remaining Pequots turned to the Mahican in the Schaghticoke village. However, they were soon hunted down as they had no refuge. The General Court in Hartford had imposed a heavy fine on all those providing refuge to the Pequot. Most of them were killed, and the remaining sachems had to surrender.
In 1637, only about half of the 3,000 Pequot were known to be alive. The Pequot were dismembered under the peace treaty signed in Hartford in the September of 1638. The 180 captured Pequots were distributed as slaves. 80 went to the Mohegan, 80 to the Narragansett, and 20 to the Eastern Niantic.
Of the other 80 captured by the English, 30 were executed, and the women and children were sent as slaves to Bermuda and the West Indies. Others were made 'servants' to the New England households till their death.
The remaining 1,000 Pequot were added to the Mohegan tribe. This made them the most powerful tribe, owing to which, they defeated the Narragansett in 1644.
The Pequot lived a harsh life under the Mohegan. They had been separated into small groups, and were not allowed to call themselves as the Pequot. The English demanded an annual payment of wampum from the Mohegans for sparing the lives of the Pequot people in their tribe. This made them a burden over the Mohegan, and were made to work really hard.
In 1655, their state was so bad that the English were forced to move them to eastern Connecticut. Here, they became the Mashantucket or western Pequot, and lived at the reserve at Ledyard (1666). The eastern Pequot or Pawcatuck lived at the reservation at Lantern Hill (1683).
This separation was a boon for the tribe, but they were obliged to help the Mohegan during times of war. They helped the Mohegan capture the Narragansett sachem, Canonchet, during the King Philip's War in 1675-76.


✦ The war began in the 1630s, with the colonization of English and Dutch over the Pequot territory of the Connecticut valley.

✦ It led to many tensions between the groups, and finally to a war that destroyed the tribe. The war ended in 1638 with the Treaty of Hartford.
✦ Many Pequot people moved away from their confines and by 1910, only 66 of them remained.

✦ It is said that currently their population is about 1,000 people.

✦ In 1856, Connecticut sold off their 600 acres of reservation land without permission. The Pequot filed a lawsuit against this deal, and were given US$ 700,000 as settlement.
✦ They received Federal recognition in 1983, and they opened a highly successful gambling casino in 1992. This has made the tribe the wealthiest group of the Native Americans in the United States.