◆   Anno Domini 1637   ◆

In the forepart of this year, the Pequots fell openly upon the English at Connecticut, in the lower parts of the river; and slew sundry of them (as they were at work in the fields), both men & women; to the great terrour of the rest, and went away in great pride, & triumph; with many high threats.1 They also assaulted a fort at the river’s mouth,2 though strong and well defended; and though they did ^not^ there prevail, yet it struck them with much fear, & astonishment; to see their bold attempts, in the face of danger. Which made them in all places to stand upon their guard, and to prepare for resistance. And earnestly to solicit their friends and confederates in the Bay of Massachusetts, to send them speedy aid; for they looked for more forcible assaults. Mr. Vane,3 being then Governour writ from their general Court to them here, to join with them in this war. To which they were cordially willing; But took opportunity to write to them about some former things, as well as present, considerable hereabout.4 The which will best appear in the Governour’s5 answer, which he returned to the same, which I shall here Insert.

Manuscript page 120 [i.e. 220], the beginning of Bradford’s account of the Pequot War in 1637

(Courtesy of the State Library of Massachusetts, Boston, Mass.)

Sir, The Lord having so disposed, as that your Letters to our late Governour6 is fallen to my lot to make answer unto; I could have ^wished^ I might have been at more freedom of time, & thoughts also; that I might have done It more to your, & my own satisfaction. But what shall be wanting now, may be supplied hereafter. For the matters which from yourself, & Council, were propounded, & objected to us; we thought not fit to make them so public as the cognizance of our General Court. But as they have been Considered by those of our 1.7Council;8 this answer we think fit to return unto you. (1) Whereas you signify your willingness to join with us, in this war against the Pequots, though you cannot Engage yourselves, without the consent of your General Court; we acknowledge your good affection towards us (which we never had cause to doubt of) and are willing to attend your full resolution, when it may most seasonably be 2.ripened. (2ly) Whereas you make this war, to be our people’s; and not [221] to concern yourselves, otherwise than by consequence, we do in part, consent to you therein; yet we suppose, that in case of peril, you will not stand upon such terms, as we hope, we should not do towards you; and withal we conceive, that you look at the Pequots, and all other Indians, as a common enemy, who though they ^he^9 may take occasion, of the beginning of his rage, from some one part of the English, yet if he prevail, will surely pursue his advantage, to the rooting out of the whole nation; therefore when we desired your help, we did it not 3.without respect to your own safety, as ours. (3ly) Whereas you desire we should be Engaged to aid you, upon all like occasions; we are persuaded, you do not doubt of it; yet as we now deal with you, as a free people, and at liberty, so as we cannot draw you into this war with us, otherwise than as reason may guide, & provoke you; so we desire we may be at the like freedom, when any occasion may call from ^for^ help from us. And whereas it is objected to us, that we refused to aid you, against the French; we conceive the case was not alike; yet we cannot wholly excuse our failing in that matter.10

4.(4ly) Whereas you object that we began the war, without your privity, & managed it contrary to your advice. The truth is, that our ^first^ Intentions being only against Block Island, and the Enterprise seeming of small difficulty, we did not so much, as consider of taking advice, or looking out for aid abroad. And when we had resolved upon the Pequots, we sent presently, or not long after to you about it; but the answer received, it was not seasonable for us to change ^our^ Counsels, except we had seen, and weighed your grounds, which might have out-weighed our own.

(5ly) For our people’s trading at Kennebec, we assure you (to our knowledge)5. it hath not been by any allowance from us; and what we have provided in this, and like cases, at our last court, Mr. E[dward] W[inslow] can certify you.11

And ^ (6ly)^12 whereas you object to us that we should hold trade, & correspondency6 with the French your Enemies; we answer you are misinformed, for besides some letters which hath passed between our late Governour and them, to which we were privy, we have neither sent, nor Encouraged ours to trade with them, only one vessel, or two, for the better conveyance of our letters, hadx But by this means they did furnish them, & have still continued to do. x licence from our Governour to sail thither.

Diverse other things have been privately objected to us, by our worthy friend, whereunto he received some answer; but most of them concerning the apearance apprehensions of particular discourtesies, or Injuries from some particular persons amongst us; It concerns not us to give any other answer to them, than this; that if the offenders shall be brought forth, in a right way, we shall be ready to do Justice as the case shall require. In the meantime, we desire you to rest assured, that such things are without our privity, and not a little grievous to us.

Now for the joining with us in this war (which Indeed concerns us no otherwise, than it may yourselves, viz. the relieving of our friends, & Christian [222] Brethren, who are now first in the danger[)]. Though you may think us able to make it good without you (as if the Lord please to be with us, we may), yet 3 things we offer to your consideration, which (we conceive) may have some weight with you. (1st) that If we should sink under this burden, your opportunity of seasonable help would be lost in 3 respects. 1. You cannot recover us, or secure yourselves there, with 3 times the charge, & hazard which now ye may. 2ly, The sorrows, which we should lie under (If through your neglect) would much abate of the acceptableness of your help afterwards. 3ly, those of yours, who are now full of courage, and forwardness, would be much damped, and so less able to undergo so great a burden. The (2[nd]) thing is this, that it concerns us much to hasten this war to an end before the end of this summer; otherwise the news of it, will discourage, both your, & our friends from coming to us, next year, with what further hazard, & loss it may expose us unto, yourselves may judge.

The (3[rd]) thing is this, that if the Lord shall please to bless our endeavours, so as we end the war, or put it in a hopeful way without you; It may breed such ill thoughts in our people towards yours, as will be hard to entertain such opinion of your good will towards us, as were fit to be nourished among such neighbours, & brethren as we are. And what Ill consequences may follow, on both sides, wise men may fear, & would rather prevent, than hope to redress. So with my hearty salutations to yourself, and all your Council, and other our good friends with you, I rest,

Boston, the 20[th] of the 3[rd] month,13 1637.

Yours most assured in the Lord,

John Winthrop

In the meantime, the Pequots, especially in the winter before,14 sought to make peace with the Narragansetts, and used very pernicious arguments, to move them thereunto. As that the English were strangers, and began to overspread their country, and would deprive them thereof in time, if they were suffered to grow, & Increase. And if the Narragansetts did assist the English, to subdue them; they did but make way for their own overthrow, for if they were rooted out; the English would soon take occasion to subjugate them. And if they would hearken to them, they should not need to fear the strength of the English, for they would not come to open battle with them; but fire their houses, kill their cattle, and lie in ambush for them as they went abroad upon their occasions; and all this they might easily do, without any or little danger to themselves. The which course being held, they well saw, the English could not long subsist, but they would either be starved with hunger, or be forced to forsake the country; with many of the like things; Insomuch that the Narragansetts were once wavering, and were half-minded to have made peace with them, and joined against the English. But again when they considered, how much wrong they had received from the Pequots, and what an opportunity they now had by the help of the English to right themselves; revenge was so sweet unto them, as it prevailed above all the rest; so as they resolved to join with the English against them, & did. [223]

The court here agreed forwith15 to send 50 men at their own charge; and with as much speed as possibly they could, got them armed, and had made them ready under sufficient leaders; and provided a bark to carry them provisions & tend upon ^them^16 for all occasions;17 But when they were ready to march (with a supply from the Bay) they had word to stay, for the Enemy was as good as vanquished, and there would be no need.

I shall not take upon me, exactly to describe their proceedings in these things, because I expect it will be fully done by themselves, who best know the carriage & circumstances of things;18 I shall therefore but touch them In general. From Connecticut (who were most sensible of the hurt sustained, & the present danger) they set out a party of men, and another party met them from the Bay,19 at the Narragansetts, who were to Join with them; the Narragansetts were earnest to ^be^ gone, before the English were well rested, and refreshed (especially some of them which came last). It should seem their desire was to come upon the Enemy suddenly, ^&^ undiscovered. There was a bark of this place, newly put in there, which was come from Connecticut; Who did Encourage them, to lay hold of the Indians’ forwardness; And to shew as great forwardness as they, for it would encourage them, and expedition might prove to their great advantage. So they went on; and so ordered their march, as the Indians Brought them, to a fort20 of the Enemy’s (In which most of their chief men were), before day; they approached the same with great silence, and surrounded it, both with English, & Indians, that they might not break out; and so assaulted them with great courage, shooting amongst them, and entered the fort with all speed, and those that first entered found sharp resistance, from the enemy who both shot ^at^ & grappled with them; others ran into their houses, & brought out fire, and set them on fire, which soon took in their matts, ^&^ standing close together, with the wind, all was quickly on a flame, and thereby more were burnt to death, than was otherwise slain. It burnt their bowstrings, & made them unserviceable; those that ‘scaped the fire, were slain with the sword, some hewed to pieces, others run through with their rapiers; so as they were quickly dispatched ^and very^ few escaped. It was conceived they thus destroyed about 400 at this time. It was a fearful sight, to see them thus frying in the fire, and the streams of blood quenching the same, and horrible was the stink & scent thereof, but the victory seemed a sweet Sacrifice,21 and they gave the praise thereof to God, who had wrought so wonderfully for them; thus ^to^ Enclose their enemies in their hands; and give them so speedy a victory over so proud, & Insulting an enemy. The Narragansett Indians, all this while stood round about, but aloof off from all danger, & left the whole [224] Execution to the English; except it were the stopping of any that broke away. Insulting over their Enemies in this their ruin, & misery, when they saw them dancing in the flames, calling them by a word in their own language, signifying, “O brave Pequots!” which they used familiarly among themselves in their own praise, in songs of triumph after their victories. After this service was thus happily accomplished, they22 marched to the waterside, where they met with some of their vessels, by which they had refreshing with victuals & other necessaries. But in their march the rest of the Pequots drew into a body, and accosted them, thinking to have some advantage against them by23 reason of a neck of land; but when they saw the English prepare for them, they kept aloof, so as they neither did hurt, nor could receive any. After their refreshing, & repair together for further counsel & directions; they resolved to pursue their victory, and follow the war against the rest, but the Narraganset Indians most of them forsook them, and such of them as they had with them for guides, or otherwise, they found them very cold, and backward in the business, either out of Envy, or that they saw the English would make more profit of the victory, than they were willing they should; or else deprive them of such advantage as themselves desired, by having them become tributaries unto them, or the like.

For the rest of this business I shall only relate the same, as it is in a letter, which came from Mr. Winthrop to the Governour here. As followeth.

Worthy Sir, I received your loving letter, and am much provoked to express my affections towards you, but straitness of time forbids me. For my desire is to acquaint you, with the Lord’s great mercies towards us, in our prevailing against his, & our enemies; that you may rejoice, and praise his name with us. About 80 ^of our men^24 having coasted along towards the Dutch plantation (sometimes by water, but most by land) met here, & there, with some Pequots, whom they slew or took prisoners. 2 sachems they took, & beheaded. And not hearing of Sassacus (the chief sachem) they gave a prisoner his life, to go and find him out. He went and brought them word where he was, but Sassacus suspecting him, to be a spy, after he was gone fled away, with some 20 more, to the Mohawks;25 so our men missed of him. Yet dividing themselves, and ranging up, & down, as the providence of God guided them (for the Indians were all gone, save 3 or 4, And they knew not whither to guide them, or else would not), upon the 13[th]of this month,26 they light upon a great Company of them, viz. 80 strong men, & 200 women, & children, in a small Indian town, fast by a hideous swamp, which they all slipped Into before our men Could get to them. Our Captains were not then come together, but there was Mr. Ludlow, and Captain Mason, with some 10 [225] of their men, & Captain Patrick with some 20 or more of his; who shooting at the Indians, Captain Trask with 50 more came soon in at the noise; then they gave order to surround the swamp, it being about, a mile about, but Lieutenant Davenport, & some 12 more, not hearing that command, fell into the swamp among the Indians; the swamp was so thick with shrub wood, & so boggy withal, that some of them stuck fast, and received many shot; Lieutenant Davenport was dangerously wounded, about his armhole, and another shot in the head, so as fainting, they were in great danger to have been taken by the Indians; but Sargeant Riggs, & Jeffrey27 and 2 or 3 more rescued them, and slew diverse of the Indians, with their swords.28 After they were drawn out, the Indians desired parlay, & were offered (by Thomas Stanton, our Interpretour)29 that if they would come out, and yield themselves, they should have their lives all, that had not their hands in the English blood; whereupon the sachem of the place came forth, and an old man, or 2 & their wives, & children; and after that some other women, & children, and so they spake 2 hours, till it was night, then Thomas Stanton was sent into them again, to call them forth; but they said, they would sell their lives there, and so shot at him so thick, as If he had not cried out, and been presently rescued, they had slain him. Then our men, Cut off a place of the swamp, with their swords, and cooped the Indians into so narrow a compass, as they could easier kill them, through the thickets; so they continued all the night, standing about 12 foot one from another, and the Indians coming close up to our men, shot their arrows so thick, as they pierced their hat brims, & their cloaths sleeves, & stockings, & other parts of their clothes, yet so miraculously, did the ^Lord^30 preserve them, as not one of them, was wounded, save those 3 who rashly went into the swamp. When it was near day, It grew very dark, so as those of them, which were left, dropped away between our men, though they stood but 12 or 14 foot asunder; but were presently discovered, & some killed in the pursuit. Upon searching of the swamp, the next morning, they found 9 slain, & some they pulled up, whom the Indians had buried in the mire; so as they do think, that of all this company, not 20 did escape, for they after found some, who died in their flight, of their wound received. The prisoners were divided, some to those of the river,31 and the rest to us; of these we send the xmale childrenx But they were carried to the West Indies. to Bermuda, by Mr. William Peirce, & the women, & ^maid^32 children, are disposed about in the towns.33 There have been now slain, & taken in all about 700. The rest are dispersed, and the Indians in all quarters so terrified, as all their friends are afraid to receive them.34 2 of the Sachems of Long Island, came to Mr. Stoughton35 and tendered themselves to be tributaries, under our protection. And 2 of the Nipmuc36 Sachems have been with me to seek our friendship. Among the prisoners we have the wife ^& children of^37 Mononotto,38 a woman of a very modest countenance, and behaviour; It was by her mediation, that the39 2 [226] English maids,40 were spared from death, and were kindly used by her; so that I have taken charge of her; one of her first requests was, that the English would not abuse her body, and that her children might not be taken from her. Those which were wounded, were fetched off soon by John Gallop41 who came with his shallop in a happy hour, to bring them victuals, and to carry their wounded men, to the pinnace where our chief Surgeon lay was, with Mr. Wilson,42 being about 8 leagues off. Our people are all in health (the Lord be praised) and although they had marched in their arms, all the day, and had been in fight all the night, yet they professed, they found themselves so fresh as they could willingly have gone to such another business.

This is the substance of that which I received, though I am forced to omit, many considerable circumstances. So being in much straitness of time (the ships being to depart within this 4 days, and in them, the Lord Ley,43 and Mr. Vane), I here break off, and with hearty salutes to, &c., I rest,

The 28[th] of the 5[th] month,44 {1637.}

The captains report,

we have slain 13,

Sachems; but Sassacus,

& Mononotto,45 are yet living.46

Your assured,

John Winthrop

That I may make an end of this matter; This Sassacus (the Pequot’s chief sachem) being fled to the Mohawks,47 they cut off his head, with some other of the chief of them, whether to Satisfy the English, or rather the Narragansetts (who as I have since heard, hired them to do it), or for their own advantage, I well know not; but thus this war took end. The rest of the Pequots were wholly driven from their place, and some of them submitted themselves to the Narragansetts, and lived under them; others of them betook themselves to the Mohegans,48 under Uncas their sachem, with the approbation of the English of Connecticut, under whose protection Uncas lived, and he, and his men had been faithful to them, in this war, & done them very good service. But this did so vex the Narragansetts, that they had not ^the^49 whole sway over them; as they have never ceased plotting, and contriving, how to bring them under, and because they cannot attain their ends, because of the English who have protected them, they have sought to raise a general Conspiracy against the English; as will appear in another place.

They50 had now letters again out of England from Mr. Andrews, & Mr. Beauchamp, that Mr. Sherley neither had, nor would pay them any money, or give them any account; and so with much discontent, desired them here to send them some, much blaming them still, that they had sent all to Mr. Sherley, & none to themselves. Now though they might have Justly referred them to their former answer, and Insisted thereupon, & some wise men counselled them so to do; yet because they believed, that [227] they were really out round sums of money (especially Mr. Andrews) and they had some in their hands, they resolved to send them what beaver theyx had. Mr. Sherley’sx But stayed it till the next year. letters were to this purpose, that as they had left him in the payment of the former bills, so he had told them, he would leave them in this, and believe it, they should find it true? And he was as good as his word, for they could never get penny from him; nor bring him to any account, though Mr. Beauchamp sued him in the Chancery. But they all of them turned their complaints, against them here, where there was least cause, And who had suffered most unjustly, first from Mr. Allerton, & them; in being charged with so much of that, which they never had, nor drunk for;51 and now in paying all, & more than all (as they conceived). And yet still thus ^more^52 demanded, and that with many heavy charges. They now discharged Mr. Sherley from his agency, and forbade him to buy, or send over any more goods for them; and pressed him to come to some end about these things.