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the English from New England ground could satisfy him. To accomplish this purpose, he sought to reduce the number of his foes by treaty. He could even humble his proud spirit so far as to solicit an alliance offensive and defensive with his old enemies, the Narragansets. Every argument was used to induce their chiefs to accept his proffered friendship, and engage in the war. “Behold,” said his embassadors to Canonicus, in their own figurative language, “behold the all-grasping violence of these white strangers! They come over the mighty waters from a far distant island, and, without leave, take possession of our country before our eyes. They are fast overspreading your lands. Your tributaries have already yielded to their sway. They are occupying the soil which your valor has conquered. If suffered to increase, they will build towns on the
honored dead, and your living will not find space whereon to spread their blankets. They are already before and behind you—assist them to subdue
and your destruction is certain. Look ye toward where the sun shews himself in the sky of the morning; and the red men between you and the strangers have become little children, and the bosom of Canonicus is stripped bare to the bullets of the white warriors. Look ye toward where he hides himself behind yonder hills ; and between Canonicus and the stranger there is nothing but the tomahawks of Sassacus and his warriors. His death is your death. Harken ye, therefore, to the words of his voice. Fear not the white strangers—we will not brave them in open battle—but we will burn their houses—we will kill their cattle-we will waylay their steps not a man shall stir abroad that falls not by the arrow of the red warrior; and thus shall the white strangers die of hunger, or forsake our country."
This stirring appeal was addressed to ears not altogether deaf. Canonicus and Miantonomi hesitated—wavered. They detested the Pequots--but they felt the truth of their appeal; and the balance was already inclining to their favor, when the interference of Roger Williams turned the scales ultimately to the side of the Whites.
When Williams first became acquainted with the Narraganset chiefs, (which was shortly before this period,) his reception by Canonicus was cold and distrustful. He charged the English with spreading the plague among his people—with having menaced them with violence, and with aiming at his life in particular. But his conduct in a short time changed ; and both he and Miantonomi soon became the warm-hearted friends and benefactors of the poor persecuted wanderer and his associates. I need not mention the large tract of
country which, through Williams, we inherit as the princely gift of Canonicus and Miantonomi. It is sufficient for my present purpose to say, that Williams had even now acquired their unlimited confidence. As soon as he heard of the overtures made by the Pequots to the Narragansets, he made the governor of Massachusetts acquainted with them, and was thereupon commissioned by him to use his influence to defeat the attempted league. He accordingly proceeded to the Narraganset council, and in the presence of the Pequot embassadors, and at the hazard of his life, volunteered his advice to Canonicus and Miantonomi, and by argument, persuasion, and entreaty, defeated the negotiations of Sassacus.
Through Williams the governor of Massachusetts, at the same time, requested Miantonomi to do him the honor of a visit, and that chief immediately proceeded to Boston, attended by twenty sanops. He gave notice of his approach, and the governor sent a corps of musketeers to meet him at Roxbury, and they escorted him into town. was received with great respect. The magistrates, the chief, and his attendants, dined together in the same hall, and much ceremony was observed in the subsequent negotiations.
The principal provisions of the treaty then concluded were, that neither party should make peace with the Pequots without consulting the other. The Narragansets were not to harbor the Pequots. They were to deliver up murderers and fugitives. The English were to notify them when they marched against the enemy, and the Narragansets, on their part, merely engaged to send guides. The treaty being concluded, the party dined together, as at first. They then took a formal leave of each other, and the sachem was escorted out of town, and dismissed with a volley of musketry. Miantonomi confirmed this treaty, early in the spring following, by a present of wampum, and the Narragansets were faithful to it in every particular. Miantonomi subsequently had frequent conversations with Williams, as to the mode of prosecuting the war ; and on one of these occasions, both he and his counsellors expressed a desire, whatever might be done with the Pequot warriors, that their women and children might be spared. I mention this that, in the sequel, a comparison might be drawn between them and their white allies.
In the meantime Sassacus was prosecuting the war in true barbarian style, and with unremitting vigor. He was firmly bent on extirpating the Whites from Connecticut. Every garrison-every settlement was attacked. The inhabitants were cut off whilst engaged in the culture of the field-captives were taken and tortured. The garrison at Saybrook were so pressed that they dared not go beyond the reach of their guns. Their out-houses were razed, their stacks of hay burnt, and their cattle killed. In March, 1637, four of the garrison were slain the fort was surrounded-its defenders were challenged to battle, and mocked with the dying groans of their friends. Indeed, the assailants would have beaten down the gates with their war-clubs, had they not been kept at bay by the discharge of a cannon loaded with grape shot. Life was everywhere periled—on road, river, or field.
Arms were in the hands of every man and boy, by night and by day, at the altar and by the fireside. Men, women, and children, were on the constant watch, and trembling at every unwonted sound. Indeed, Sassacus seemed to be realizing, unaided, all that he expected to perform with the assistance of the Narragansets. But the tide of success had now risen to its height, and the sun of Pequot glory was about to set forever. The whites on all sides began to shoulder their muskets—the tomakawks of the Narragansets and those of the rebel Mohegans were rising around them, and the tribes that they had vanquished began to whet the scalping knife, and tread the maddening war dance with a firmer foot. Sassacus saw the gathering of the tempest, and sought shelter with his warriors in his two strong fortresses near the mouth of Pequot river. Of these two fortresses, one was situated on a commanding eminence, between what was called Pequot harbor (New London) and Mistic river. This fortress was occupied by Sassacus, with between three and four hundred warriors and their families. The other fortress, called Mistic, likewise crowned a commanding height in the neighborhood of the river of that name, a few miles east of Fort Griswold.
In this, likewise, from three to four hundred warriors sought shelter. These, together with their aged fathers and mothers, and their wives and children, occupied about seventy wigwams, covered with mats, and all standing closely together within the hedge and palisade, which constituted the walls of the fortress.
Uncas had been watching the progress of events, and, when the Narragansets threw themselves into the scale of the Whites, his course was no longer doubtful. He joined Captain John Mason, who commanded about seventy English at Hartford. On the 10th of May, the united forces sailed from Hartford, on their expedition against the Pequot fortresses. They were joined on their way by a part of the garrison at Saybrook. These, and the forces from Plymouth and Massachusetts, were to concentrate in the Narraganset country; but neither the troops from Plymouth nor Massachusetts were at the point of concentration when Mason arrived. His forces, however, were eager for the contest, particularly his Indian allies, and he thought it imprudent to delay. He gave notice to Miantonomi of his arrival, and the chief, in compliance with the treaty, furnished him with guides. He did not lead his own forces under Mason, nor in company with Uncas, his implacable enemy; but he allowed his subjects to volunteer. Three or four hundred followed the English ; but, it would seem by the result, more for the purpose of being spectators of the battle, than of participating in it.
It was on the night of the 26th May, 1637, that the combined forces of Indians and English approached Fort Mistic. The Pequots, as was their custom when not in an enemy's country, trusted to the reports of their scouts. Those warriors, who sallied forth in the morning in quest of game, reconnoitered the country around the encampment, and if they saw no unaccustomed marks in the thickets, no impress of hostile foot on the turf, and espied no strange smoke or fire in the distant horizon, they deemed that no enemy was near, and all fearlessly trusted themselves to repose, without a single sentinel to watch over their slumbers. It was now midnight—and the warrior had danced his last round at the war-dance-the gray-haired veteran had told the last tale of his heroic youth-infancy, always inoffensive, had been hushed to slumber in the bosom of maternal affection-and through all the lodges there now reigned the unbroken slumber of the midnight hour.
It was at this moment that the English were concerting their destruction. They approached the fort in profound silence at two points, and finally surrounded it with three circles of armed men. First, the English looked through the palisades armed with muskets; next were the Mohegans, with their tomahawks, scalping knives, and shortened lances; and lastly, and at a still greater distance, stood the Narraganset volunteers. There was no chance for escape now left, and a body of the English rushed on the entrance of the fort. The first alarm was given by the bark of a watch-dog-this was followed
“ Awanux! Awanux !” Wild alarm and confusion instantly spread through all the lodges ; men, women and children poured forth—they were met by a blaze of musketry. Warriors grasped their arms and ran desperately on their assailants-they were hewed down with the sword—they were run through with rapiers they were shot down, or they were beaten to the earth by the twohanded sway of the clubbed musket. Some attempted to escape from the fortress; but, if any passed beyond the circle of muskets and swords, they were cut to pieces by tomahawks and scalping knives.
by the cry,
In the mean time showers of balls were piercing the crowds, from which there came the frequent shriek of woman and child. at this moment of desperation seek for shelter in their lodges, a brand was applied to the dry matting that covered them—the breeze wafted the blaze from lodge to lodge, and in an instant the whole mass of their combustible shelters shot up in one pyramid of fire, canopied by a dark red cloud of smoke, and surrounded by the sombre gloom of the forest. The wild yell of despair burst from the breasts of the fiercest warriors when they saw their wives and children rush shrieking from the burning mass, their garments, their hair, and their flesh on fire; one moment more, and they themselves were the victims. The encircling palisade rose in flames; their bowstrings scorched, snapped short, and those not disabled were now disarmed ; and all yielded themselves to their fate. With the groans and the shrieks of the sufferers, now came mingled the shouts and taunts of the victors—English, Mohegan and Narraganset. Whilst their blood was quenching the flames that their bodies were feeding, the stench—but I must stop short-the description is growing too horrible. It is enough to say that the shrieks of agony died away upon the ear, as body after body was converted to brands and ashes, until all was silent. In the short space of one hour nearly half the strength of the Pequot nation had been annihilated; seven only escaped, and seven only were taken prisoners. The work of destruction having been thus finished, the victors commenced their retreat.
The flames of Mistic that night shed an ominous glare on the fortress occupied by Sassacus, and all that now remained of the Pequots. The sight was big with meaning; the dreadful reality, however, soon reached his ears, and at the head of his warriors he went forth in pursuit of the
my. He came up with him; but what could he do with bows and arrows against the discipline and musketry of the English ? He was repulsed with loss; he abandoned the pursuit, and his forces turned back to cast one maddening glance on the scene of massacre. The Pequots there searched in vain the yet smouldering relics of the dead, for some remnant of parent, child, brother, sister or friend. They mourned piteously; they beat their breasts and tore their hair, till their feelings, wrought up to the highest pitch of despair and madness, sought, for the want of other object, to vent themselves by violence on the grand sachem himself-on him, whom his people now accused as the cause of their misfortune—him, who failed to avenge the dead whilst the foe were yet within reach. They followed him to his remaining fortress near Pequot harbor, and would have torn him