Stedman and Hutchinson, comps. A Library of American Literature: An Anthology in Eleven Volumes. 1891. Vols. III: Colonial Literature, 16071764
The Bloody Harvest of Pawcatuck
By Major John Mason (16001672)
[From A Brief History of the Pequot War. Written about 1670.]
THE PEQUOTS now became a prey to all Indians. Happy were they that could bring in their heads to the English; of which there came almost daily to Windsor, or Hartford. But the Pequots growing weary hereof, sent some of the chief that survived to mediate with the English; offering that if they might but enjoy their lives, they would become the Englishs vassals, to dispose of them as they pleased. Which was granted them. Whereupon Onkos and Myantonimo were sent for, who with the Pequots met at Hartford. The Pequots being demanded, how many of them were then living, answered, about one hundred and eighty, or two hundred. There were then given to Onkos, Sachem of Moheag, eighty; to Myantonimo, Sachem of Narragansett, eighty; and to Nynigrett, twenty, when he should satisfy for a mare of Edward Pomroyes killed by his men. The Pequots were then bound by covenant: That none should inhabit their native country, nor should any of them be called Pequots any more, but Moheags and Narragansetts forever. Shortly after, about forty of them went to Moheag; others went to Long Island; the rest settled at Pawcatuck, a place in Pequot country, contrary to their late covenant and agreement with the English.
Which Connecticut taking into consideration, and well weighing the several inconveniences that might ensue; for the prevention whereof, they sent out forty men under the command of Captain John Mason, to supplant them, by burning their wigwams, and bringing away their corn, except they would desert the place; Onkos with about one hundred of his men in twenty canoes, going also to assist in the service. As we sailed into Pawcatuck Bay we met with three of those Indians, whom we sent to inform the rest with the end of our coming, and also that we desired to speak with some of them. They promised speedily to return us an answer, but never came to us more.
We run our vessel up into a small river, and by reason of flats were forced to land on the west side; their wigwams being on the east just opposite, where we could see the Indians running up and down jeering of us. But we meeting with a narrow place in the river between two rocks, drew up our Indians canoes, and got suddenly over sooner than we were expected or desired; marching immediately up to their wigwams; the Indians being all fled, except some old people that could not.
We were so suddenly upon them that they had not time to convey away their goods. We viewed their corn, whereof there was plenty, it being their time of harvest; and coming down to the water-side to our pinnace with half of Onkoss his men, the rest being plundering the wigwams, we looking towards a hill not far remote, we espied about sixty Indians running towards us; we supposing they were our absent men, the Moheags that were with us not speaking one word, nor moving towards them until the other came within thirty or forty paces of them. Then they ran and met them and fell on pell-mell striking and cutting with bows, hatchets, knives, etc., after their feeble manner. Indeed it did hardly deserve the name of fighting. We then endeavored to get between them and the woods, that so we might prevent their flying; which they perceiving, endeavored speedily to get off under the beach: we made no shot at them, nor any hostile attempt upon them. Only seven of them who were Nynigretts men, were taken. Some of them growing very outrageous, whom we intended to have made shorter by the head, and being about to put it in execution, one Otash, a sachem of Narragansett, brother to Myantonimo, stepping forth, told the captain, They were his brothers men, and that he was a friend to the English, and if he would spare their lives we should have as many murderers heads in lieu of them which should be delivered to the English. We considering that there was no blood shed as yet, and that it tended to peace and mercy, granted his desire; and so delivered them to Onkos to secure them until his engagement was performed, because our prison had been very much pestered with such creatures.
We then drew our bark into a creek, the better to defend her; for there were many hundreds, within five miles, waiting upon us. There we quartered that night. In the morning as soon as it was light there appeared in arms at least three hundred Indians on the other side the creek. Upon which we stood to our arms; which they perceiving, some of them fled, others crept behind the rocks and trees, not one of them to be seen. We then called to them, saying, We desired to speak with them, and that we would down our arms for that end. Whereupon they stood up. We then informed them, That the Pequots had violated their promise with the English, in that they were not there to inhabit, and that we were sent to supplant them. They answered, saying, The Pequots were good men, their friends, and they would fight for them and protect them. At which we were somewhat moved, and told them, It was not far to the head of the creek where we would meet them, and then they might try what they could do in that respect.
They then replied, That they would not fight with Englishmen, for they were Spirits, but would fight with Onkos. We replied, That we thought it was too early for them to fight, but they might take their opportunity; we should be burning wigwams, and carrying corn aboard all that day. And presently beating up our drum, we fired the wigwams in their view. And as we marched, there were two Indians standing upon a hill jeering and reviling of us. Mr. Thomas Stanton, our interpreter, marching at liberty, desired to make a shot at them; the captain demanding of the Indians, What they were? who said, They were murderers; then the said Stanton having leave, let fly, shot one of them through both his thighs; which was to our wonderment, it being at such a vast distance.
We then loaded our bark with corn; and our Indians their canoes, and thirty more which we had taken, with kettles, trays, mats, and other Indian luggage. That night we went all aboard, and set sail homeward. It pleased God in a short time to bring us all in safety to the place of our abode; although we struck and stuck upon a rock. The way and manner how God dealt with us in our delivery was very remarkable; the story would be somewhat long to trouble you with at this time, and therefore I shall forbear.
Thus we may see how the face of God is set against them that do evil, to cut off the remembrance of them from the earth. Our tongue shall talk of thy righteousness all the day long; for they are confounded, they are brought to shame that sought our hurt! Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, who only doth wondrous things; and blessed be his holy name forever! Let the whole earth be filled with his glory! Thus the Lord was pleased to smite our enemies in the hinder parts, and to give us their land for an inheritance. Who remembered us in our low estate, and redeemed us out of our enemies hands. Let us therefore praise the Lord for his goodness and his wonderful works to the children of men!