April 24, 2009

Pequot massacre in After the Mayflower

Continuing the discussion of After the Mayflower, the first episode of PBS's We Shall Remain series:

By the 1630s, the English had become a power in the region. They saw the Pequots to the west, in Connecticut, as a rival power. In 1637, a force led by the Massachusetts Bay and Plymouth colonies destroyed the Pequots. They burned an undefended Pequot village at Mystic River, killing 700 men, women, and children. Other Indians, even those that sided with the English, were appalled at the Europeans' savagery.

Some details that After the Mayflower didn't include:

Mystic massacre

The Pequot Massacre:  An Exercise in Seeking Truth From Facts"The outcome of such a war was of course never in doubt. It ended with an attack by John Mason and his men on the last Pequot stronghold, their settlement on the Mystic River. 'We must burn them!' Mason is reported as having shouted, running around with a firebrand and lighting the wigwams. 'Such a dreadful terror let the Almighty fall upon their spirits that they would flee from us and run into the very flames. Thus did the Lord judge the heathen, filling the place with dead bodies,' he reported afterward:

"The surviving Pequots were hunted but could make little haste because of their children, Mason wrote, 'They were literally-run to ground...tramped into the mud and buried in the swamp.' The last of them were shipped to the West Indies as slaves...John Winthrop...governor once more,...[offered]...forty pounds sterling for the scalp of an Indian man, twenty for the scalps of women and children. The name 'Pequot' was officially erased from the map. The Pequot River became the Thames and their town became New London."
Incidentally, my ancestor William Palmer fought in this war under Captain Underhill. (My mother's maiden name was Palmer.) He may have participated in the Mystic River Massacre. Unlike some Newspaper Rock readers, I don't deny that my ancestors were complicit in the onslaught against the Indians.

For more on the subject, see Losing Ground in After the Mayflower and Quality of After the Mayflower.

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