Narrative of the Pequot War, by Lion Gardiner (1660) - Part 2

Narrative of the Pequot War,
by Lion Gardiner

(Part 2)


would give him two horses that had been there a great while. So I sent the Shallop, with Mr. Steven Winthrop, Sergeant Tille [Tilly], (whom we called afterward Sergeant Kettle, because he put the kettle on his head,) and Thomas Hurlbut and three men more, charging them that they should ride in the middle of the river, and not go ashore until they had done all their trade, and that Mr. Steven Winthrop should stand in the hold of the boat, having their guns by them, and swords by their sides, the other four to be, two in the fore cuddie, and two in aft, being armed in like manner, that so they out of the loop-holes might clear the boat, if they were by the Pequits assaulted; and that they should let but one canoe come aboard at once, with no more but four Indians in her, and when she had traded then another, and that they should lie no longer there than one day, and at night to go out of the river; and if they brought the two horses, to take them in at a clear piece of land at the mouth of the River, two of them go ashore to help the horses in, and the rest stand ready with their guns in their hands, if need were, to defend them from the Pequits, for I durst not trust them. So they went and found but little trade, and they having forgotten what I charged them, Thomas Hurlbut and one more went ashore to boil the kettle, and Thomas Hurlbut stepping into the Sachem's wigwam, not far from the shore, enquiring for the horses, the Indians went out of the wigwam, and Wincumbone, his mother's sister, was then the great Pequit Sachem's wife, who made signs to him that he should be gone, for they would cut off his head; which, when he perceived, he drew his sword


and ran to the others, and got aboard, and immediately came abundance of Indians to the water-side and called them to come ashore, but they immediately set sail and came home, and this caused me to keep watch and ward, for I saw they plotted our destruction. And suddenly after came Capt. Endecott, Capt. Turner, and Capt. Undrill [Underhill], with a company of soldiers, well fitted, to Seabrook and made that place their rendezvous or seat of war, and that to my great grief, for, said I, you come hither to raise these wasps about my ears, and then you will take wing and flee away; but when I had seen their commission I wondered, and made many allegations against the manner of it, but go they did to Pequit, and as they came without acquainting any of us in the River with it, so they went against our will, for I knew that I should lose our corn-field; then I entreated them to hear what I would say to them, which was this: Sirs, Seeing you will go, I pray you, if you don't load your Barks with Pequits, load them with corn, for that is now gathered with them, and dry, ready to put into their barns, and both you and we have need of it, and I will send my shallop and hire this Dutchman's boat, there present, to go with you, and if you cannot attain your end of the Pequits, yet you may load your barks with corn, which will be welcome to Boston and to me: But they said they had no bags to load them with, then said I, here is three dozen of new bags, you shall have thirty of them, and my shallop to carry them, and six of them my men shall use themselves, for I will with the Dutchmen send twelve men well provided; and I de-


sired them to divide the men into three parts, viz. two parts to stand without the corn, and to defend the other one third part, that carried the corn to the water-side, till they have loaded what they can. And the men there in arms, when the rest are aboard, shall in order go aboard, the rest that are aboard shall with their arms clear the shore, if the Pequits do assault them in the rear, and then, when the General shall display his colours, all to set sail together. To this motion they all agreed, and I put the three dozen of bags aboard my shallop, and away they went, and demanded the Pequit Sachem to come into parley. But it was returned for answer, that he was from home, 'but within three hours he would come; and so from three to six, and thence to nine, there came none. But the Indians came without arms to our men, in great numbers, and they talked with my men, whom they knew; but in the end, at a word given, they all on a sudden ran away from our men, as they stood in rank and file, and not an Indian more was to be seen: and all this while before, they carried all their stuff away, and thus was that great parley ended. Then they displayed their colours, and beat their drums, burnt some wigwams and some heaps of corn, and my men carried as much aboard as they could, but the army went aboard, leaving my men ashore, which ought to have marched aboard first. But they all set sail, and my men were pursued by the Indians, and they hurt some of the Indians, and two of them came home wounded. The Bay-men killed not a man, save that one Kichomiquim [Cutshamequin], an Indian Sachem of the Bay, killed a Pequit; and thus began the war be-


tween the Indians and us in these parts. So my men being come home, and having brought a pretty quantity of corn with them, they informed me (both Dutch and English) of all passages. I was glad of the corn. After this I immediately took men and went to our corn-field, to gather our corn, appointing others to come about with the shallop and fetch it, and left five lusty men in the strong-house, with long guns, which house I had built for the defence of the corn. Now these men not regarding the charge I had given them, three of them went a mile from the house a fowling; and having loaded themselves with fowl they returned. But the Pequits let them pass first, till they had loaded themselves, but at their return they arose out of their ambush, and shot them all three; one of them escaped through the corn, shot through the leg, the other two they tormented. Then the next day I sent the shallop to fetch the five men, and the rest of the corn that was broken down, and they found but three, as is above said, and when they had gotten that they left the rest; and as soon as they were gone a little way from shore, they saw the house on fire. Now so soon as the boat came home, and brought us this bad news, old Mr. Michell was very urgent with me to lend him the boat to fetch hay home from the Six-mile Island, but I told him they were too few men, for his four men could but carry the hay aboard, and one must stand in the boat to defend them, and they must have two more at the foot of the Rock with their guns, to keep the Indians from running down upon them. And in the first place, before they carry any of the cocks of hay, to scour the meadow with


their three dogs,-to march all abreast from the lower end up to the Rock and if they found the meadow clear, then to load their hay; but this was also neglected, for they all went ashore and fell to carrying off their hay, and the Indians presently rose out of the long grass, and killed three, and took the brother of Mr. Michell, who is the minister of Cambridge, and roasted him alive; and so they served a shallop of his, coming down the river in the Spring, having two men, one whereof they killed at Six-mile Island, the other came down drowned to us ashore at our doors, with an arrow shot into his eye through his head.

In the 22d of February, I went out with ten men, and three dogs, half a mile from the house, to burn the weeds, leaves and reeds, upon the neck of land, because we had felled twenty timber-trees, which we were to roll to the water-side to bring home, every man carrying a length of match with brimstone-matches with him to kindle the fire withal. But when we came to the small of the Neck, the weeds burning, I having before this set two sentinels on the small of the Neck, I called to the men that were burning the reeds to come away, but they would not until they had burnt up the rest of their matches. Presently there starts up four Indians out of the fiery reeds, but ran away, I calling to the rest of our men to come away out of the marsh. Then Robert Chapman and Thomas Hurlbut, being sentinels, called to me, saying there came a number of Indians out of the other side of the marsh. Then I went to stop them, that they should not get the wood-land; but Thomas Hurlbut cried out to me that some of the men did not follow me, for


Thomas Rumble and Arthur Branch, threw down their two guns and ran away; then the Indians shot two of them that were in the reeds, and sought to get between us and home, but durst not come before us, but kept us in a half-moon, we retreating and exchanging many a shot, so that Thomas Hurlbut was shot almost through the thigh, John Spencer in the back, into his kidneys, myself into the thigh, two more were shot dead. But in our retreat I kept Hurlbut and Spencer still before us, we defending ourselves with our naked swords, or else they had taken us all alive, so that the two sore wounded men, by our slow retreat, got home with their guns, when our two sound men ran away and left their guns behind them. But when I saw the cowards that left us, I resolved to let them draw lots which of them should be hanged, for the articles did hang up in the hall for them to read, and they knew they had been published long before. But at the intercession of old Mr. Michell, Mr. Higgisson [Higginson], and Mr. Pell, I did forbear. Within a few days after, when I had cured myself of my wound, I went out with eight men to get some fowl for our relief, and found the guns that were thrown away, and the body of one man shot through, the arrow going in at the right side, the head sticking fast, half through a rib on the left side, which I took out and cleansed it, and presumed to send to the Bay, because they had said that the arrows of the Indians were of no force.

Anthony Dike, master of a bark, having his bark at Rhode-Island in the winter, was sent by Mr. Vane, then Governor. Anthony came to Rhode-Island by land, and from thence he came with his bark to me


with a letter, wherein was desired that I should consider and prescribe the best way I could to quell these Pequits, which I also did, and with my letter sent the man's rib as a token. A few days after, came Thomas Stanton down the River, and staying for a wind, while he was there came a troop of Indians within musket shot, laying themselves and their arms down behind a little rising hill and two great trees; which I perceiving, called the carpenter whom I had shewed how to charge and level a gun, and that he should put two cartridges of musket bullets into two sakers guns that lay about; and we levelled them against the place, and I told him that he must look towards me, and when he saw me wave my hat above my head he should give fire to both the guns; then presently came three Indians, creeping out and calling to us to speak with us: and I was glad that Thomas Stanton was there, and I sent six men down by the Garden Pales to look that none should come under the hill behind us; and having placed the rest in places convenient closely, Thomas and I with my sword, pistol and carbine, went ten or twelve pole without the gate to parley with them. And when the six men came to the Garden Pales, at the corner, they found a great number of Indians creeping behind the fort, or betwixt us and home, but they ran away. Now I had said to Thomas Stanton, Whatsoever they say to you, tell me first, for we will not answer them directly to any thing, for I know not the mind of the rest of the English. So they came forth, calling us nearer to them, and we them nearer to us. But I would not let Thomas go any further than the great stump of a tree, and I stood by him;


then they asked who we were, and he answered, Thomas and Lieutenant. But they said he lied, for I was shot with many arrows; and so I was, but my buff coat preserved me, only one hurt me. But when I spake to them they knew my voice, for one of them had dwelt three months with us, but ran away when the Bay-men came first. Then they asked us if we would fight with Niantecut Indians, or they were our friends and came to trade with us. We said we knew not the Indians one from another, and therefore would trade with none. Then they said, Have you fought enough? We said we knew not yet. Then they asked if we did use to kill women and children? We said they should see that hereafter. So they were silent a small space, and then they said, We are Pequits, and have killed Englishmen, and can kill them as mosquetoes, and we will go to Conectecott and kill men, women, and children, and we will take away the horses, cows and hogs. When Thomas Stanton had told me this, he prayed me to shoot that rogue, for, said he, he hath an Englishman's coat on, and saith that he hath killed three, and these other four have their cloathes on their backs. I said, No, it is not the manner of a parley, but have patience and I shall fit them ere they go. Nay, now or never, said he; so when he could get no other answer but this last, I bid him tell them that they should not go to Conectecott, for if they did kill all the men, and take all the rest as they said, it would do them no good, but hurt, for English women are lazy, and can't do their work; horses and cows will spoil your corn-fields, and the hogs their clam-banks, and so undo them: then I pointed to our great house,


and bid him tell them there lay twenty pieces of trucking cloth, of Mr. Pincheon's, with hoes, hatchets, and all manner of trade, they were better fight still with us, and so get all that, and then go up the river after they had killed all us. Having heard this, they were mad as dogs, and ran away; then when they came to the place from whence they came, I waved my hat about my head, and the two great guns went off, so that there was a great hubbub amongst them. Then two days after, came down Capt. Mason, and Sergeant Seely, with five men more, to see how it was with us; and whilst they were there, came down a Dutch boat, telling us the Indians had killed fourteen English, for by that boat I had sent up letters to Conectecott, what I heard, and what I thought, and how to prevent that threatened danger, and received back again rather a scoff, than any thanks, for my care and pains. But as I wrote, so it fell out to my great grief and theirs, for the next, or second day after, (as Major Mason well knows,) came down a great many canoes, going down the creek beyond the marsh, before the fort, many of them having white shirts; then I commanded the carpenter whom I had shewed to level great guns, to put in two round shot into the two sackers, and we levelled them at a certain place, and I stood to bid him give fire, when I thought the canoe would meet the bullet, and one of them took off the nose of a great canoe wherein the two maids were, that were taken by the Indians, whom I redeemed and clothed, for the Dutchmen, whom I sent to fetch them, brought them away almost naked from Pequit, they putting on their own linen jackets to cover their nakedness; and


though the redemption cost me ten pounds, I am yet to have thanks for my care and charge about them: these things are known to Major Mason.

Then came from the Bay Mr. Tille, with a permit to go up to Harford [Hartford], and coming ashore he saw a paper nailed up over the gate, whereon was written, that no boat or bark should pass the fort, but that they come to an anchor first, that I might see whether they were armed and manned sufficiently, and they were not to land any where after they passed the fort till they came to Wethersfield; and this I did because Mr. Mitchel had lost a shallop before coming down from Wethersfield, with three men well armed. This Mr. Tille gave me ill language for my presumption, (as he called it), with other expressions too long here to write. When he had done, I bid him go to his warehouse, which he had built before I come, to fetch his goods from thence, for I would watch no longer over it. So he, knowing nothing, went and found his house burnt, and one of Mr. Plum's with others, and he told me to my face that I had caused it to be done; but Mr. Higgisson, Mr. Pell, Thomas Hurlbut and John Green can witness that the same day that our house was burnt at Cornfield-point I went with Mr. Higgisson, Mr. Pell, and four men more, broke open a door and took a note of all that was in the house and gave it to Mr. Higgisson to keep, and so brought all the goods to our house, and delivered it all to them again when they came for it, without any penny of charge. Now the very next day after I had taken the goods out, before the sun was quite down, and we all together in the great hall, all them


houses were on fire in one instant. The Indians ran away, but I would not follow them. Now when Mr. Tille had received all his goods I said unto him, I thought I had deserved for my honest care both for their bodies and goods of those that passed by here, at the least better language, and am resolved to order such malepert persons as you are; therefore I wish you and also charge you to observe that which you have read at the gate, 'tis my duty to God, my masters, and my love I bear to you all which is the ground of this, had you but eyes to see it; but you will not till you feel it. So he went up the river, and when he came down again to his place, which I called Tille's folly, now called Tille's point, in our sight in despite, having a fair wind he came to an anchor, and with one man more went ashore, discharged his gun, and the Indians fell upon him, and killed the other, and carried him alive over the river in our sight, before my shallop could come to them; for immediately I sent seven men to fetch the Pink down, or else it had been taken and three men more. So they brought her down, and I sent Mr. Higgisson and Mr. Pell aboard to take an invoice of all that was in the vessel, that nothing might be lost. Two days after came to me, as I had written to Sir Henerie Vane, then Governor of the Bay, I say came to me Capt. Undrill [Underhill], with twenty lusty men, well armed, to stay with me two months, or 'till something should be done about the Pequits. He came at the charge of my masters. Soon after came down from Harford Maj. Mason, Lieut. Seely, accompanied with Mr. Stone and eighty Englishmen, and eighty Indians, with a commission


from Mr. Ludlow and Mr. Steel, and some others; these came to go fight with the Pequits. But when Capt. Undrill [Underhill] and I had seen their commission, we both said they were not fitted for such a design, and we said to Maj. Mason we wondered he would venture himself, being no better fitted; and he said the Magistrates could not or would not send better; then we said that none of our men should go with them, neither should they go unless we, that were bred soldiers from our youth, could see some likelihood to do better than the Bay-men with their strong commission last year. Then I asked them how they durst trust the Mohegin [Mohegan] Indians, who had but that year come from the Pequits. They said they would trust them, for they could not well go without them for want of guides. Yea, said I, but I will try them before a man of ours shall go with you or them; and I called for Uncas and said unto him, You say you will help Maj. Mason, but I will first see it, therefore send you now twenty men to the Bass river, for there went yesternight six Indians in a canoe thither; fetch them now dead or alive, and then you shall go with Maj. Mason, else not. So he sent his men who killed four, brought one a traitor to us alive, whose name was Kiswas, and one ran away. And I gave him fifteen yards of trading cloth on my own charge, to give unto his men according to their desert. And having staid there five or six days before we could agree, at last we old soldiers agreed about the way and act, and took twenty insufficient men from the eighty that came from Harford [Hartford] and sent them up again in a shallop, and Capt. Undrill [Under-


hill] with twenty of the lustiest of our men went in their room, and I furnished them with such things as they wanted, and sent Mr. Pell, the sergeon, with them; and the Lord God blessed their design and way, so that they returned with victory to the glory of God, and honour of our nation, having slain three hundred, burnt their fort, and taken many prisoners. Then came to me an Indian called Wequash, and I by Mr. Higgisson inquired of him, how many of the Pequits were yet alive that had helped to kill Englishmen; and he declared them to Mr. Higgisson, and he writ them down, as may appear by his own hand here enclosed, and I did as therein is written. Then three days after the fight came Waiandance, next brother to the old Sachem of Long Island, and having been recommended to me by Maj. Gibbons, he came to know if we were angry with all Indians. I answered No, but only with such as had killed Englishmen. He asked me whether they that lived upon Long-Island might come to trade with us. I said No, nor we with them, for if I should send my boat to trade for corn, and you have Pequits with you, and if my boat should come into some creek by reason of bad weather, they might kill my men, and I shall think that you of Long Island have done it, and so we may kill all you for the Pequits; but if you will kill all the Pequits that come to you, and send me their heads, then I will give to you as to Weakwash [Wequash], and you shall have trade with us. Then, said he, I will go to my brother, for he is the great Sachem of all Long Island, and if we may have peace and trade with you, we will give you tribute, as we


did the Pequits. Then I said, If you have any Indians that have killed English, you must bring their heads also. He answered, not any one, and said that Gibbons, my brother, would have told you if it had been so; so he went away and did as I had said, and sent me five heads, three and four heads for which I paid them that brought them as I had promised.

Then came Capt. Stoten [Stoughton] with an army of 300 men, from the Bay, to kill the Pequits; but they were fled beyond New Haven to a swamp. I sent Wequash after them, who went by night to spy them out, and the army followed him, and found them at the great swamp, who killed some and took others, and the rest fled to the Mowhakues [Mohawks], with their Sachem. Then the Mohawks cut off his head and sent it to Hartford, for then they all feared us, but now it is otherwise, for they say to our faces that our Commissioners meeting once a year, and speak a great deal, or write a letter, and there's all, for they dare not fight. But before they went to the Great Swamp they sent Thomas Stanton over to Long Island and Shelter Island to find Pequits there, but there was none, for the Sachem Waiandance, that was at Plimoth when the Commissioners were there, and set there last, I say, he had killed so many of the Pequits, and sent their heads to me, that they durst not come there; and he and his men went with the English to the Swamp, and thus the Pequits were quelled at that time. But there was like to be a great broil between Miantenomie [Miantunnomoh] and Unchus [Uncas] who should have the rest of the Pequits, but we meditated between them and pacified them; also Unchus


challenged the Narraganset Sachem out to a single combat, but he would not fight without all his men; but they were pacified, though the old grudge remained still, as it doth appear. Thus far I had written in a book, that all men and posterity might know how and why so many honest men had their blood shed, yea, and some flayed alive, others cut in pieces, and some roasted alive, only because Kichamokin [Cutshamequin], a Bay Indian, killed one Pequit; and thus far of the Pequit war, which was but a comedy in comparison of the tragedies which hath been here threatened since, and may yet come, if God do not open the eyes, ears, and hearts of some that I think are wilfully deaf and blind, and think because there is no change that the vision fails, and put the evil-threatened day far off, for say they, We are now twenty to one to what we were then, and none dare meddle with us. Oh! wo be to the pride and security which hath been the ruin of many nations, as woful experience has proved.

But I wonder, and so doth many more with me, that the Bay doth no better revenge the murdering of Mr. Oldham, an honest man of their own, seeing they were at such cost for a Virginian. The Narragansets that were at Block-Island killed him, and had, 50 of gold of his, for I saw it when he had five pieces of me, and put it up into a clout and tied it up all together, when he went away from me to Block Island; but the Narragansets had it and punched holes into it, and put it about their necks for jewels; and afterwards I saw the Dutch have some of it, which they had of the Narragansets at a small rate.

And now I find that to be true which our friend

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This page last updated August 9, 2000.