‘So Must We Be As One’
Wise, warned, and waiting, Mamoho’s Mystic Pequots make their threatened home look alive. Their night of provocative music and campfires lure eager confused Englishmen inside, away from their long-gone human targets; inside where close fighting can foil slow guns, where arrows, spears, clubs and numbers can take on panicked swords. Then, for their own reasons, the Pequots almost fulfill English nightmares. Their Mystic is a holding-action to protect Pequot families, their counterattack “a statement” that drives their guests into the wrong Atlantic. Yet, at more than one point of potential English massacre, the Pequots do no harm. Virtually every aspect of Mystic proves the green English overmatched in American terms: its aftermath suggests more of the same.
Certainly Mystic scatters the Pequots. As unprecedented violence it demonstrates the English will to let loose with “sheer wantonness.” But the scatter does not follow a DeForest fantasy. It is not Vaughan’s or Hirsch’s “disarray” (1203), but the Pequots’ next coordinated move. At Mystic, the Pequots test their war against Europe’s and find it too costly in their own terms, given other options. In a “loose confederacy” like theirs (note below), dispersion is not defeat but the use of a further strength in political structure. Their attachment to their land proves as flexible as it is deep and patient.
To most Europeans, diaspora is destruction. But overnight after Mystic, Great Sachem Sassacus and many Pequots hold council, blame and argue: then they agree to burn their other chief and ancient home Weinshauks. They disperse across Connecticut in bands of different size and direction. Direction it is, guided by each clan’s or family’s idea of where relatives can best help. It makes massive massacre impossible. 
What do “the numbers” in these records of struggles after Mystic reveal about it? We try to answer by bringing those records and numbers carefully before your eyes, and then we ask you to consider this question:
Which is more likely: that Mason’s, Underhill’s and traditional claims about Mystic are accurate; or, that the Pequots of Mystic find more than enough room in those records, numbers, and post-Mystic options to be remembered not as victims, but (at least) as survivors?
A credible conception of Mystic requires hard numbers. Surely, the histories that generalize about Mystic and The Pequot War “do” them---but we never see it done. We always find citations of a few primary documents (below). But then, another language takes over: “A number of Pequots were killed there”; “The prisoners were divided up”; “The main body was in flight”; “women and children,” “those,” “some,” or “a band.” These are mini-generalizations, and they cannot support tradition’s larger ones.
We propose more accuracy. Let us present a few points of orientation about the Pequot diaspora after Mystic. Then we’ll complete our journey with the English and Native Americans who continue The Pequot War by other means. The numbers will show that, like “the Mystic Massacre” itself, the long-assumed “destruction of the Pequots” does not add up---except with the other evidence presented.
What general conditions prevail in the months and years after Mystic? Recall that convincing, face-to-face oratory is the key to social and political power in these Native cultures. In the fourth year after Mystic, Narragansett Sachem Miantonomo delivers this speech before many different groups during his 1641 travels through Native New England (qtd. in Gardener 142):
A while after this comes Miantonomo from Block Island to Mantacut [Long Island] with a troop of men...and instead of receiving presents, which they used to do in their progress[es, or official visits], he gives them gifts, calling them brethren and friends.
‘For so we are all Indians, as the English are, and say Brother to one another. So must we be as one, as the English are, and say Brother to one another. So must we be as one, as they are; otherwise we shall all be gone shortly. For you know our fathers had plenty of deer and skins, our plains were full of deer, as also our woods, and of turkeys, and our coves full of fish and fowl.
‘But these English, having gotten our land, they with scythes cut down the grass, and with axes fell the trees: their cows and horses eat the grass, and their hogs spoil our clam banks, and we shall all be starved. Therefore, it is best for you to do as we, for we are all the Sachems from east to west, both Moquakues and Mohawks joining with us; and we are all resolved to fall upon them all....’
Informed of speeches like these, Massachusetts and Connecticut colonies see their vision as something to worry about in the wake of their Pequot War. They know of Miantonomo’s widespread relatives, his sophistication and courage, and to them this seems the politically realistic start of a “pan-Indian alliance” that might yet drive the colonies into the sea.
Miantonomo has many motives for his travels by 1641. May 1637 at Mystic opens a year of brutal bloodshed followed by threats, demands and more killings, under a one-sided retroactive “justice” (below). All this brings Miantonomo, Uncas, and the English of the colonies to The Treaty of Hartford (September 21, 1638: text in Vaughan 340). The Treaty, however, signifies not peace, but the start of another new kind of war. For years after these ceremonies, the English never shake the anxiety that despite “victory,” the Pequots are still all around them.
They are. In the year of horror (1637-38) we’re about to witness, the English try different ways of annihilating Pequot existence. When their own sufferings force them to it, the English shift methods from military to symbolic ones. Under Hartford’s treaty, on pain of death, they force all Pequot war-survivors to henceforth play a part for them. As of Hartford, anybody identified (as usual) by Native people as “Pequot” is to be henceforth known as Mohegan, Narragansett, Niantic, or “other.” Anything but Pequot.
It’s a strange demand, because when it really counts, the English still cannot tell “Indians” apart. The treaty seems to work most on the English---or, not to work. It’s growing easy to become deranged around here. Are they gone? Are we safe? In control? Gardener feels “infected” (G147).
The English try to annihilate, then to “reform” other peoples’ persistent being with a category---Non-Pequot, for beings who walk and talk pretty much as before Treaty- day. The English create and police a fiction of symbols to ease their terror of bloodthirsty Pequot being. The new rules cloud their ability to measure real success. This is a “go-away” project that, by definition, can’t. Or how can the English confirm that they are gone?
As post-Mystic time goes on, frustration feeds suspicion of “treachery.” “The United Colonies of New England” order Miantonomo’s murder as their “first official act” (Cave). But Miantonomo’s purpose is not treachery. 
He remembers and draws upon his “enemy” Sassacus’ appeal to himself before Mystic, that their feuds should stand second to a cooperative defense against the foreign colonials whose life-ways are destroying Native New England. The two Sachems’ words ring across Native actions before and after Mystic. At the war’s end in 1638, Miantonomo and Uncas purchase relief from most English violence through familiar means. They formally “agree” and “promise” to stop fighting each other, and to capture or kill any Pequots “guilty of killing Englishmen” in the war.
The English of Hartford and Mass. Bay believe these forced promises enough to stop their offensive war. Three years’ more anxiety drives them to Miantonomo’s murder. What is it they “know” in-between? That a treaty imposed by force is merely one- sided “peace,” and therefore nothing by which “Indians” will be bound. Native Americans have a world, and will not be confined by needless English rules that make them feel “safe.” Obvious is the treaty’s demand for more killing---of Native people, with “a hand in murdering or killing” in open war. Even historians of LaFantasie’s caliber adopt this one-sided term “murder” (for ex. WCL 1: 166n10). Miantonomo and Uncas see it for what it is.
There is no agreement for peace where the choices are cultural extinction, slavery or death. We must not surrender our understanding to the limited terms on Hartford parchment. Native deceptions that (for example) falsely vouch for a kinsman’s non-Pequot identity (citations to come), their running away or hiding themselves and others, are not automatic admissions of defeat or an end to resistance. 
At Hartford, Miantonomo and Uncas---those relentless rivals who lose New England between them---smile, and agree, and promise, and mark a big special parchment surrounded with English pomp. They “sign,” a ritual-act of shallow meaning to them, because it’s what the English demand to stop the killings. The Sachems can see how much and how little paper means to the ink-obsessed English, and swear to help make “Pequots” disappear. Then as you’ll see, they take subtle thorough care of the people this peace intends to destroy.
In the violent year after Mystic, some of the English do grow “almost averse [to] killing women and children” (WPF 3: 437). As the war begins they execute as many “adult” Pequot males (of warrior or reproductive age) as they can identify or trick into surrender: by its end, they are willing to deport males into slavery or (they believe) erase their Pequot being by declaring them Mohegan or “other.”
But the Pequots know that the long-term price of true cooperation will still be their people’s erasure. As with Mystic, we need to see this situation not with Mason’s, Underhill’s and tradition’s monological eyes alone, but also with a fresh fundamental recognition of the intelligence, pride, imagination and courage in the Native peoples who respond to it.
This is not to idealize Native people, but to describe more fully what happened among all these parties on the land. Consider what has been missing. You, for example, are born of Italian heritage. One day, a new law proclaims that henceforth you are Irish, on pain of death. Who is affected most by this? You, or the police?
Should your continued resistance count as part of the story? People are not broken or erased when they mark a paper to that effect. The Pequots hold tight to concepts of home, time, victory and proud identity that are flexible; filled with places in which to survive or even live. Places the English cannot see, conceive or acknowledge, let alone permit.
Uncas proves this after Mystic to both Native peoples and ourselves. Winthrop and Williams, the last ones in on his outrageous joke, tell how (WCL 1: 166, notes 7-10).
The year after Mystic is so brutal that Boston refuses Uncas’ first gesture toward new relations (June 1638). The colonies well-suspect Uncas of hiding Pequot “murderers” and others. Rejected, Uncas comes back two days later with his “great speech” (here in the Introduction); and as LaFantasie puts it, Governor Winthrop is so “pleased with this display” (emphasis added), a display practiced on Mason and Underhill, that Mr. Governor decides “to trust Uncas, and to believe his many professions of faithfulness.”
Winthrop decides to face his colony’s need for “Indian intelligence,” and Uncas makes the usual use of such need, as you’ll see. The most outrageous proof of Uncas’ Boston Blarney is that, as he delivers it, the “Mohegan” company of men standing beside him includes “six Pequots,” and two of the “known [sic] murderers” or braves so badly wanted by the English.
If even one brave is recognized, it will shatter Uncas’ confidence-game and hopes for power of his own. But there the hunted Pequots stand at his sides as Uncas promises (that phrase again) to turn them in, “were he never so dear to me.” At a stroke he “proves” himself to get what he needs from the English, and proves to his kinsmen that the English truly, still, have no way to know who is whom among “Indians.” Their only criterion is political attitude. Uncas must have coached this group to smile.
“Winthrop must feel a bit foolish” (LaFantasie) when Roger Williams fills him in two days later on Uncas’ outrage. And yet, Boston’s need for an Uncas turns most of Winthrop’s anger, instead, against Miantonomo’s Narragansetts (and Williams as their pawn). This helps to bring about Miantonomo’s murder: again, the English do not know where their foes are. They go on living, as the colonies’ “common enemy.”
After Mystic the war continues in Native communities across Pequot country: the Eastern and Western Niantics, Quinnipiacs, Shinnecocks, Wangunks, Nipmucs, Mohawks and other nations play parts. There is some compliance with Hartford’s demands. “Pequot” individuals are turned in or killed, their identities no more certain than those of the heads brought to Saybrook by Uncas.
Each betrayal---a small proportion included below---is based on avoidance of slavery or death. Native collaborators may even use the demand for heads just to enrich themselves, while settling old feud-scores of no Pequot War relevance. Once-dominant “man- eaters” leave some scores to settle. But like these English, we have no way to know the difference. We can no longer have perfect faith in what Captains Mason and Underhill wrote down. 
Cutshamekin of the Massachusetts serves as a guide in the Pequot chase and gives up in disgust, careful to leave no other interpreter behind. Long Island’s Sachem Wyandot fears a Mystic “massacre” upon his own or “all Indians,” as he says in rushing to terms (G137). So Wyandot does report Miantonomo’s speech in 1641, with fatal effect. “Mystic” as a hollow but potent Trojan Horse gets inside Wyandot and others and convinces them of the stakes of New English war. Yet, beyond Miantonomo’s death, the collaborators add up to little. Native defeat does not hang on one Sachem or group, not even in the colonists’ minds. Uncas and Ninigret soon have many fast dugout-boats fetching scores of Pequots from Long Island to better safety.
The great majority of Native New Englanders, however imperfectly, take in hand the ancient structure of their “pan-Indian” community. “Political leadership [is] community-based,” Peter Thomas affirms in his study of “cultural change” in this time and place. On that basis, “leadership is generally a matter of group consent” (138).
What characteristics would best elicit your consent to life-and-death decisions needful in this year after Mystic? Thomas concludes that a leader is known by generosity, the “ability to reconcile differences” and (undefined) “success in war.” In times of “external threat,” a leader meets “complex” problems with ingenuity and diplomacy.
“Each one of us is a sovereign being,” said the Wampanoags’ late Supreme Medicine Man, Slow Turtle (interview in Dempsey film, Morton). Each person is a leader when she/he acts like one and produces results. At the same time in this post-Hartford war, simple negligence in favor of justice can help (for example, ignoring a “Pequot” in your village). People are free to follow their judgment, which is “invariably reinforced and broadened by means of extending family relations.” They have what they need to meet the day. Thomas (138):
From the time the English arrived in The New World until the 20th century, colonial administrators as well as most subsequent writers have seen Indian ‘tribes’ in southern New England as well-defined political units, with recognizable leaders and identifiable territorial boundaries (see for example Alden Vaughan [Frontier 53]). Upon reviewing specific chains of historical events during the 17th century, however, it becomes apparent that persistent tribal unity is a figment of everyone’s imagination.. ..The ‘tribe’ as such was episodic. Generally, what defined a…tribe was cooperation among communities in response to outside pressures. In retrospect, it is nearly impossible to define the ‘tribal’ affiliations of most of New England’s Indian villages.
So does Johnson rightly notice Uncas’ broad “success” after Mystic in “attracting former enemies” (35). The Pequots and Mohegans have been (human) feuding relatives for generations. Life-and-death “outside pressures” help Uncas to reconcile differences, except with Miantonomo. His point of view is a generation older than Uncas’, and outdone at last by what colonial history brings to America.
Blindly, it outwits even Uncas. But the contest between him and Miantonomo is about who will lead “Indians” to a future. “The Indians struggle for larger shares of the Pequots’ persons and former tributaries, [while] the English strive for wampum and the Pequots’ former lands” (Jennings 227). This is another way to understand Mystic: the English achievement is that for a handful of years, “Pequots” cannot live there openly. 
As our journey takes us into the details, documents and numbers we need to make accurate judgments, we can see better than those who left them. We invite you to keep tabs on these numbers as we make each event and subtotal clear, and then process them all for consideration.
Here, we discover the numbers of Pequots reported as Killed Or Enslaved; slavery a “choice” we must separate from “human” life, even given Axtell’s observations (below). The next chapter discovers the numbers of Pequots reported as Escaped Or Assimilated to other Native groups; circumstances more conducive to “life” than permanent forced labor.
What happens to Sassacus himself? Though Mason and Underhill risk death to kill their capital enemy, neither tells us, or seems curious to know. Underhill’s story may be in print before August 1637, when Sassacus is reported dead, below. Mason wrote years after; yet the captains’ best merely reports Sassacus (or somebody like him) heading west across the Connecticut River. This Sassacus---the identifiers can only be “Indian”---wins a fight there with three men from Saybrook (M35-6; U85 brands him “all for blood”). Vincent reports only his escape to the Mohawks (V107).
Several records show us (on Native reports) the “last council” of Sassacus and his “close followers.” The numbers of their dispersion groups “deserting the country as never to return” (WPF 3: 430-1) grow sharp in only four English sources. How many Pequots go with Sassacus after Mystic, at May’s end? We hear of 80, of 40 “plus females”; of 7, and of 20: the first and last are Williams’ numbers, with two July weeks in-between (WPF 3: 436, 446, 491; DYW 127).
Those numbers produce an average of 39 (147/4). So in this case, being reasonably conservative, we suggest that 40 is the round number of Pequots including Sassacus. It rings well with other casual estimates of a senior Sachem’s wartime company, and it puts most strength and less danger around the other Pequot bands. There are more reports treated below that match or come close to this number. 
Sassacus’ story gives a royal idea also of English command of their crusade. “Not a Pequot to be found,” Williams writes six days after Mystic (WPF 3: 427). Sassacus “is resolved to sell his life, and so the others’, as dear as they can,” Captain Israel Stoughton reports by hearsay on June 28 (WPF 3: 435). Once (perhaps) sighted “foraging” for shellfish and the coast’s easy food (WJH 1: 226), “Sassacus” is gone in several directions: north to the Mohawk country, from which the Pequots “originally” migrated (WPF 3: 436/438, and Time Line 4); east by July 6 to Long Island, where Captain Patrick takes men to “salute” him (WPF 3: 441); and, by July 15/17, north again “to the Mohawks they say” (Williams, WPF 3: 452).
Maybe “our men miss of him there” as the English, “fast by a hideous swamp,” “divide themselves, and range up and down as the providence of God [not new tactics] guides them; for the Indians are all gone, save 3 or 4, and they know not whither to guide them, or else would not” (July 28, WPF 3: 456). 
July and August are the hot New England months. Humidity, mosquitoes---At last, a break for the hunters on August 5. Winthrop’s Boston gets news that Sassacus, at age 77 dragging along his people’s 500 English-pound wampum-bank, is (by Native reports) betrayed by his kinsmen the Mohawks, somewhere up in that Hudson River country where he sought refuge.
The Mohawks reportedly kill Sassacus, “twenty of his best” including his brother and five Pequot Sachems, and pocket the cash. Winthrop and Bradford cite “rumor” that the Mohawks do so to curry future favor with themselves (DYW 127, FBH 2: 258). With all the new standards’ circular confirmation and credibility.
Proof? “A part of [Sassacus’] skin and lock of hair” delivered, or “mixed,” with those of “others,” by Mohawks, who hand them with all this “news” to Connecticut River-traders (WJH 1: 227-9, 260). Nobody can admit this latest joke. Gardener alone recalls Sassacus’ “head” (G138) as Boston’s prize. He never saw Sassacus, and no Englishman claims the sight of him, either---let alone to be able to recognize his personal coiffure.
Not to worry. By August 23, Uncas and/or his Mohegans pass along reassurances. Captain Davenport and men travel “up to the head” of the Quinnipiac River, “to cut corn or gather beans,” meaning steal Native crops beyond any “Pequot” commission; and there they find “a great company of Mohegans [?]…returned to their country, about 500 of men, women and children.”
That is the biggest group of “Mohegans” on record so far (compare sources in Time Line 4, 1614, 1636): a sudden host for “little Sachem” Uncas. These people are “somewhat fearful at first,” but “after speak with us and lovingly entertain.” They say “for certain that Sassacus is killed…and forty men with him, and some women” (WPF 3: 490-1). 
From where are they returning? If this report isn’t enough, and it isn’t, other Mohegans know what to present. They bring Davenport (just before his scavenging-trip) the severed hands “of a great Sachem, as they say greater than Sassacus.” Now, why describe a brave in a way so clearly out in front of the dogs chasing Sassacus?
This “testimony” all but closes with Best Wishes, Uncas. The hands, reportedly, belonged to Momomattuck Samm, a convenient consolation-prize, for whom we will enter 1 person Killed below. And that despite doubts that Samm was killed by his own people as a goodwill token. He might have died of battle-wounds and found a way to serve beyond his death. 
The Mystic battle occurs on May 26. By June 28, the English hear that 70-72 Pequots have surrendered themselves to Miantonomo’s Narragansett village (they are never specified as prisoners brought there from Mystic: WPF 3: 435; WJH 1: 277; WCL 1: 90n5, 3: 446).
Captain Israel Stoughton takes charge. The Narragansetts know the survival-value of “attitude” and display. When Stoughton’s soldiers arrive, they find the Pequots identified for them and somehow “cooped up as in a pound.”
What we learn is that Stoughton has 22 of the group’s 24 Pequot men (ages 22-30) killed on the spot, in front of the village. The other 50 or 52 are women and “children” (numbers from Williams, WPF 3: 435). Stoughton, knowing his Joshua, picks out “the fairest and largest that I saw amongst them, to whom I have given a coat...it is my desire to have her for a servant.”
His men step up: “a little Squa...Steward Calacot desireth”; “a tall one” for Davenport marked with “three strokes upon her stomach,” and Stoughton’s new guide, “Solomon the Indian,” gets “a young little squa” too.
These totals to enter below: 22 Killed and 50 Enslaved. Why the latter? Stoughton’s “pinnace,” sent to Mr. Governor, holds “48 or 50 women and children” likely to be counted against his letter when they land. And now it’s off to see “what we can do against Sassacus, and another great sagamore, Momomattuck: here is yet good rough work to be done. And how dear it will cost is unknown.” 
By July 5 and 6, reports count 11 Pequots killed by Narragansetts (WPF 3: 443); plus one more, snatched mid-ocean from a Block Island dugout and shipped to England (WJH 1: 225). By July 17, Davenport tells comrade Hugh Peter that “three leagues from Quinnipiac,” he falls upon two Native people, kills them, and forces two more to guide him to Sassacus (WPF 3: 452-3). When they prove “not particularly helpful” (Cave 159), Davenport beheads them too, and so bestows on a place called Menunkatuck the title “Sachem’s Head”; where Uncas watches him pike them to rot.
This report relates 5 more men and 2 women (Pequots?) run down through a “heavy rain,” the men killed, the women “taken.” We total 20 Killed, 3 Enslaved for all entries in the above paragraph.
At July’s end (about the 28th), the English in Quinnipiac swamps stumble into the hiding-place of about 180 Pequots (WPF 3: 453-4). First they find a sick, hungry “old man” with “a boy” hiding in thickets. The old man they kill and, likely, four other Pequot braves who come charging and “learn to repent.” The boy’s fate is unspecified, (next chapter). Then, in this horrific fight that goes on through the darkness between two days, “many” Pequots are deemed killed, “some” run away. We “count” neither. The English try to surround their prey. Stalemated (“Sassacus is gone”), they offer surrender-terms, and then murder 80 Pequot men who believe them. Like Stoughton, of their 180, they actually deliver “almost 100 Indian [sic] women and children” (454).
“Some” are given to “river men” who have helped them, “some” are shipped to “Bermuda” slavery, “some” die on the spot. The soldiers hate these swamps as they hate Pequots. Altogether, we count from this episode 85 Killed (80 plus 4 braves and the “old man”): the fates of the boy and the “almost 100” appear next chapter.
Quinnipiac, Fairfield, Stamford---This running fight nearly gratifies the frustrated lust for a target packed with people. “Although they had marched in their arms all the day and had been in fight all the night…they professed they found themselves so fresh as they could willingly have gone to another such business” (WPF 3: 458). 
Roger Williams, meanwhile, reports that a son of “old” Connecticut River Sachem Sequassen has “cut off 20 Pequot women and children, in their passage [north] to the Mohawks” (July 21: WPF 3: 455-6); plus “one sachem” who, years ago, sent Governor Winthrop “a present,” inviting his English to “settle” that country (refused: Time Line 4, 1631). In these records, “cut off” usually means killed; but no record says more of these Pequots as dead or delivered.
Maybe Sequassen’s people assimilate them: it is not Native custom here to slay them. Still, we cannot assume their heads not sent along, another goodwill-present in an unspeakable situation created by people on all sides. On what you see, we count these 21 Pequots as Killed.
These are all the “precise” numbers of Pequots killed or enslaved after Mystic. How many Pequots die there? Mystic is “two” events, the fight in/around the fort, and the English retreat. Though you must bear with us for all the evidence, we stand by our estimate that “only” about 50 Pequot braves perish inside Mystic Fort. There is no massacre of “civilians” because they aren’t there. If any are inside, we include them in our estimate. We count 50 Pequots Killed “at” the fort: that is 10 more than Mason’s “guess” for the first fight with “40 of their Stoutest” (M29).
In the second event (the Pequot counterattack/English retreat), Underhill claims to kill “or wound” 100 of at least 300 Pequot braves; in a sortie-situation whose odds, by his numbers, are 10-to1 against him (U81). Mason’s only help here is that “some” of their hot pursuit “fell” (M31). At this stage, we must not allow Hawkeye Fenimore Cooper to help us.
Nor, though, do the captains forget the ferocity of “enraged” Pequot braves turning from “pastime” to drive the wounded English down the hill, and Gardener shows them full-willing to charge men with guns and fight hand-to-hand. We come to the curious position of granting the doughty captain half his claim---50 Pequots killed in their counterattack, in the name of parsimony. This means a total of 100 Pequots killed (either outright, or died of wounds) at Mystic.
For now (see above Footnote), our total of Pequots Killed or Enslaved is 346, including Mystic. For comparison, see Alfred E. Cave’s 1996 The Pequot War. Carefully examined for its use of records with anything like hard numbers, Cave’s total of Pequots Killed or Enslaved is 72, not counting a “Mystic Massacre.” 
We will present all totals from this and the next chapter clearly. But to truly “reach Mystic,” we need as well a precise idea of Pequots other than Sassacus who Escaped or Assimilated. May this book about impatience survive it! The people in question matter, and the history.
|Chapter 4||Chapter 6|