‘O Brave Pequots!’
Just above (July 28, 1637), we saw the English locate the largest known band of dispersing Pequots in Quinnipiac’s summer swamps. It happens because Captain Patrick provides June 19 intelligence of “300 [Pequots] fit to fight” in that region (WPF 3: 431); and because Mason acquires a new Native guide, one “Luz,” renamed for “Light” (and “so faithful is he.. .though against his own,” M37).
Quinnipiac’s horrors show the Anglo-American planter-turned-soldier doing—well, he tries. Mason fills a page with his company’s already-frustrated strategy council, held there in the midst of miles of tangled summer-green swamp. As for the enemy, Native groups can make swamps a “marvelous great and secure” refuge because only they know the very few useful “passages” and trails, and the best hiding-places “off” these. An untutored Englishman not only carries too much stuff and finds his weapons (slow guns, slashing-swords, halberds) less effective than spears and arrows. The swamp treats him as it will you today, if you go and try your way through.
Stay on-trail, and you can be ambushed from every side from a wall of cattails mixed with 12-foot-tall other bushes. Try to charge off-trail through these, and within 10 yards, the bush en masse wrestles you to an exhausted halt, and strips you of direction. You’ve scarcely room to pull a knife. Mosquitoes are constant unless you know the plants to rub on, or fancy a coat of mud. Every promising grassy maze with space for the chase dead-ends in moss and thicket, deepening ooze, quaking-bogs of bottomless peat, or quicksand.
Mason writes of this swamp-council years after it happens, and he still describes it as a talk among men so irritated that they debate the ludicrous. They want to cut the swamp down; wall the Pequots in with a “pallizado”; build “hedges…like those of Gotham”; “force” the swamp, block its “open passages,” and more (M38)— anything to keep the Pequots confined (again) for victory. These men of “Mystic Massacre” now appear to be “loth to destroy women and children,” if they can manage better and turn them into either capital or docile plantation-labor.
At last, Gardener’s old left hand Thomas Stanton intervenes with something useful: Pequot language. Because he “speaks,” he can shout his way safely toward the Pequots with promises of “parley”; and surrender is arranged. Mason is allowed into the Pequots’ daunting hide, and finds there “but few slain” by combat (M37, 39: including 4 braves and an old man defending that boy, last chapter).
We can see Mason’s reaction after a hot summer goose-chase: he and his men find it refreshing to butcher each of the 80 Pequot people just disarmed, and then ship the spoil of “almost” 100 noncombatants to Boston.
We have counted and “hold aside” the people killed—Now we’re discovering/counting how many Pequots Escaped or Assimilated to “other lives” in this war. You’ll find this “almost 100” from Quinnipiac in the totals below.
In the midst of “victory” again, Mason’s men confess how “easily” Pequots “escape in the night.” Where are the psalms, where the legendary Mystic nerve? “We keeping at a great distance, what better could be expected?” (M38).
And as this goes on all night, what about the great tradition-attested advantage of guns in these “thickets”? Maybe the Pequots are somehow trapped right here, but swamp is foggy and dampest near dawn. Just then, “sixty or seventy [Pequots], as we are informed” smash their way out right through the English line (M38-9). Can we take a reliable number from this action that we must not dismiss?
First above, we saw Captain Patrick’s original intelligence of “300” fighting-men at Quinnipiac. The Pequots are in dispersion and their women, children and elders are with them: many historians grant 2, 5, or even 7 “dependents” as uncounted with each recorded brave. With 300 braves reported here, how many Pequots out of at least 600 do you now think slip away via other directions from this swamp in their backyard, before the English “close” one wing of a landscape never seen before?
Subtract the previous chapter’s 85 Pequot males Killed. And, we’ll be skeptical of Patrick’s daunted report; to enter below only Mason’s report of 60 as Escaped (besides the “almost 100” shipped from Quinnipiac).
Patrick also reports 40 to 50 Pequots “at Long Island”: Williams first-says that this group includes four “Sachems” (WCL 1: 117), and that they total 60.  Given that Uncas, when pressed, shrugs that “actually,” it is 40 Pequots out there (WCL 1: 184), Williams may add noncombatants to arrive at the 100 Pequots who, he last-claims, are actually there (WPF 3: 446). Having granted Underhill 50 of his claimed 100 braves killed at Mystic, we think similar proportions reasonable for Long Island; and you will note below a great deal of almost-secret sea-traffic conducted there by Uncas and others. With all this considered, we enter 54 Escaped/Assimilated Pequots for this Long Island group. 
As you recall Captain Davenport’s August sighting of 500 so-called Mohegans in the last chapter (WPF 3: 490-1), consider Williams’ next report of September 9 (WCL 1: 117). “Soldiers...relate to me that Uncas…has about 300 men with him on Pequot River…which I believe are most of them Pequots and their confederates” (he names Nipmucs and “their Inlanders”). Williams swears that “not above 40 or 50” of the 300 are “actual” Mohegans. But we recall Uncas with anywhere from 60-100 braves back at Saybrook. With the much-debated low numbers of “original Mohegans” in mind (Time Line 4), can we now feel our captains shudder to think that most of their Mohegan allies were Pequots all along?
Let us handle this carefully. Discount, then, 100 “Mohegans” from this group (we are looking for Pequots), and 50 “confederates.” This makes half of our concerned 300 people on Pequot River likely to be “fugitive Pequots” (150 fighting-men). And, given the evidence of Uncas’ busy summer and fall 1637, we will add to this 150 only an average of 2 women/children/elders for each brave.
It is no small group, but a cluster of families. In balance to the noncombatants counted skeptically above, here we see little reason to doubt that this group totals at least 300 “actual” Pequot people, and we enter that number below as Assimilated: blending in where they can. It doesn’t seem extremely difficult to “disappear” that way.
The records reflect English confusion, or rather “Indian” intelligence, as Captains Stoughton and others pursue Winthrop’s justice. The Williams letter just cited (117) complains also that Eastern Niantic Wequashcook “is the man” who “shelters Audsah, the murderer of [trader John] Oldham,” and “keeps his head so long upon his shoulders” (Time Line 4: 1636, 1639).
The same Native protection of “murderers” (any man who fought the English) goes on at Narragansett. Though Williams learns the names of six of them there (WCL 1: 184), Captain Stoughton and others report that a total of 10—connected with that earlier group of 72 surrendered” at Narragansett (last chapter)—are surely “departed” from there for Mohegan country or “Pequot” itself. By these same pages, another 10 fugitives become Miantonomo’s; and 5 of those “run off” farther, to join family ahead of them with Uncas (WCL 1: 127, 187n12). We add a total of 20 to the Assimilated below. 
And so we come to the Hartford Treaty’s dispensations (September 21, 1638, text in Vaughan 340). Mason records 20 Pequots “given” to Eastern Niantic Sachem Ninigret, and so does Williams (M40; WCL 1: 187n10). We enter 20 thus below.
What is the fate of that “almost 100” noncombatants shipped from Quinnipiac? Mason, perhaps flush with his year, somehow reports two groups of 80 Pequots each “at” Hartford; and “his” 160 he sees divided equally, and declared henceforth Narragansetts and Mohegans (M40). But the Treaty’s text counts differently. It says only that “there be or is reported...to be by the said [Natives], 200 Pequots living [with them] that are men, besides squaws and papooses” (341).
Do those women and children include the “almost 100” from Quinnipiac? Rather than allow a double-count, we think it must; because the “Quinnipiac Pequots” are the biggest and were the hardest-to-manage group of all, disposed of nowhere else. The Treaty’s “reported” 200 men likely include “about 60 men”—not to mention their families—whom Mason and Uncas force just this month (September 1638) to join the Mohegans, after they try to relocate on the Pawcatuck with plenty of coveted corn (M40-43; G138-9).
We cannot explain how or why these groups of prisoners (Quinnipiac’s women and children, Pawcatuck’s “men” plus families) seem to end up in Native “custody” before Treaty-day. Boston has its effective “prisons.” What we do know is that, to the English, the Hartford Treaty deals with the “mother-lode” of all known or reported Pequots taken in the war. Its Native report, then, of 200 “men, besides” their people, is an underestimate. James Mooney’s much-regarded population studies conclude that this Hartford dispensation concerns no less than 700 Native souls. (See his 1907 “Pequot” 230; reappraised, like most of Mooney’s work, as under-estimation: Salisbury 23).
With so many sub-groups converging here, we want to resist temptations to assume. So, we grant only 2.5 dependents to each of the 200 men reported by Natives and accepted by Hartford. This brings us a total of 500 Pequot men, women and children to enter below. 
Meanwhile, of course, even more people are finding new lives outside and around official records. Williams reports 7 Pequot women and one man “come in” (WPF 3: 446), for which we total 8 below (as a number easy to get right). Williams has intelligence of larger groups he can number. 200 Pequots are on the verge of a bit more revenge against the Narragansetts (June 21, WPF 3: 434), but a coastal “mist” deters them (somehow), and they vanish. We, striving for conservatism, add 100 for this group. 
Williams speaks fair Eastern Algonquian too, and has more Native friends than almost any Englishman these days (it is part of Roger’s “problem”). He hears of “other companies” also roving the region, “four-score in one surviving” (WPF 3: 436). Counting one such company below, we add 80.
Add one for Mamoho, Sachem of Mystic. 
Finally in this Escaped/Assimilated part of calculations, we depend on historian McBride’s expertise for three last number- specific estimates of Pequots in these dispersions. (See his “Archaeology” in Hauptmann/ Wherry 104-5 and notes). Bear with us for these answers, and you will have what you need to judge for yourself (our purpose). We disagree with McBride at several points of this journey, but do respect his Pequot community-based knowledge. And his research gives us ways to bring precision to the number we seek, of post-war Pequots.
First of three: McBride estimates 120 Pequot “males” after the war “with Wequash” on Niantic lands. We recall Wequash as “a disaffected Pequot living in Niantic territories” (McBride), who appears to help the English very little against Mystic. The number itself comes with Williams’ description of Wequash’s success after the war, through marriage to Sassacus’ mother (Complete 67). Like Uncas and Miantonomo, Wequash sees the future in human numbers.
Who can know better than the Pequots the actual post-war families of the Eastern or Pawcatuck Pequots; families who in spite of Mason after all, are there in 1650 to receive a 500-acre reservation “on the east side of Long Pond in North Stonington”? If they were “120” later returning to Pawcatuck, they likely included many of the same would-be “60” first prevented by Mason from living there (just above). If we half this first of McBride’s three estimates, and “add” only 2 family for each of them, we come after all to his 120, and enter that number, having tried it.
Second, McBride reports 72 Pequot men and 8 boys known living at Nameag, in 1646 or only eight years after the war (he cites Williams Complete 6:67 and an unpublished “List”).  We count this as only 40 below—not as “doubt,” but to answer the possibility that, over 10 years’ time, a smaller original group of Pequots increases to McBride’s third estimated 150 Pequots—in his report of “350-400 individuals” spread among one Niantic Bay village and four more on the west banks of the Thames/Pequot River. These are ancestors of the Mashantucket Pequots living “in the mid-17th century.” That is, circa 1650, or 12 years after Hartford. 
We begin to arrive at Mystic, and more. According to all sources we can find, the Pequot Nation before The Pequot War numbers about 3,000 persons. This is the preferred number for Mooney (230), Starna (46), and McBride (104, with 4,000 his maximum).
By those same sources, the Pequots number about 1,000 persons after the war. So we have about 2,000 Pequots for whom to account.
Recall the previous chapter’s documented total of Pequots Killed or Enslaved: 346. That number should increase slightly, because there are vague but accepted claims of Pequot “heads” being delivered “daily” to the English (for ex. DYW 127). Further, hints from tradition say that Mr. John Gallop, a boat-captain at Quinnipiac, enjoys tying up “Indians” and throwing them into the sea—at Quinnipiac perhaps as many as 30 (Drinnon’s estimate, 44). For these reasons we increase the Killed/Enslaved total (by 40) to 386.
Our total of 1,595 Escaped/Assimilated Pequots must gather in 7 “stragglers”: the 6 Pequot males (at least) reported escaped from Sassacus’ “death” among the Mohawks; and the young boy first-found at Quinnipiac but never “rounded up” on record. We reach a final total of 1,602 Escaped Pequots.
With 2,000 Pequots to account for, subtract first the 1,602 Escapees. For all our conservative skepticisms toward both sides of these calculations, what we are left with (as Sherlock Holmes remarked) “must be the truth.”
This final subtraction leaves a total of 398 Pequots who “must” have been Killed or Enslaved from Mystic to the end of The Pequot War. That number is twelve more than we arrived at (386) in hard numbers.
This is the end of the conception that “hundreds” of Pequots—be they 200, 300, 400, 500, or 700—were slain at Mystic. 
The captains wanted to believe, and “martialist” tradition wants colonial citizens to believe, that they did what they said atop Mystic Fort Hill. Time to worry again; because surrounding the hardest possible numbers are echoes of yet more Pequot “survivals.” Although uncounted, they were real enough to soon become a frightening new distant thunder over victorious New England.
Recall the young man now “christened” to play the role of a “Pequot servant” named Reprieve in Governor Winthrop’s life. His real name is Jaguante Tunkawatten, and he is not a Pequot but a Manissean, of Block Island (WCL 1: 129n14). Roger Williams, blending together calls for general mercy and his own purchase of Prudence Island from the spoils, tells this young man’s journey.
[October 1637] Sir, your servant Reprieve lodged here [at Providence] two nights, and Miantonomo tells me that five days [before] he lay a night with him, and is gone [now] to Block Island.
He is very hopefully improved since I first saw him; and [I] am bold to wish that he might now take his last farewell of his friends; to whom you would rather be pleased to give leave to visit him at Boston. For you cannot believe how hard it is for him to escape much evil, and especially uncleanness while he is with them.
The good Lord be pleased to bless him to you, and to make you a blessing to him and many others....(WPF 3: 508-9)
Amid the region-wide hunt for Pequots after Mystic, Jaguante Tunkawatten travels the countryside (until November we presume: he is not much to Winthrop’s records). Williams the evangelist is “glad to see this poor fellow” and that he is “careful to please” his new master(s). Williams praises Tunkawatten’s attention to Mr. Governor’s “leave for 28 days”: “though he could stay but 6 days where he desired to stay longest, yet he will not lie.” It seems that Tunkawatten’s “brother goes along with him to stay some while, till the spring.” In war-time New England, how and why does an “Indian” enslaved as “a Pequot” arrange to go visiting across the theatre of war, and with a free-ranging “brother”? Where does this “brother” live?
Tunkawatten and Williams, between them, reveal loose seams in the colonies, busy at their prayer-vigils and starved for “Indian” intelligence:
[November 1637] Your native
Reprieve requests me to write a word for himself, and another for the Sachem of Block
For [Reprieve] himself, he tells Me [that] when he departed hence, being alone, he wandered toward Nipmuc. At Niantic, [Sachem] Juanemo said he was a spy from Mr. Governor, and threatened to kill him. [Juanemo] denied that there were [any] Pequots, saying—though Reprieve saw many himself—that they were all gone to Monahiganick [likely Mohegan country].
So, he came back in fear of his life to Wepiteammock, Miantonomo’s brother in law; who lent him a canoe to Block Island, where he stayed but six days. (WPF 3: 508)
Tunkawatten’s personal patrol brings in four Native communities and the Mohegan refuge beyond. Is he a spy, “wandering” for his own relief, or both? He can have any kind of reason to wander north to Nipmuc villages “near the headwaters of the Blackstone and Quinebaug Rivers” (WCL 1: 95); but Native “traffic” headed that way these days also means Pequots, coastal peoples the young Block Islander may know. Why does he not go free with them? He fears Winthrop’s reach to bring him back (the colonies are good at retrieving runaway-indentures)? He knows he is not to pursue or make new Native bonds, or allow sexual “uncleanness” in his life. But, if Tunkawatten sees his own life as Winthrop’s, he knows that others do not. He reports no Pequots to the north. Tunkawatten goes out as Winthrop’s eyes, and finds Native eyes on him.
Tunkawatten is not Pequot: he turns around. He has “pretty passage” on the war’s frontiers with Winthrop’s “paper.” Soon he arrives at Juanemo’s Niantic village, and there he strikes a quick nerve. Juanemo is scared enough of spies (guilty, that is) to blurt out the “Indian party line” (“All Pequots gone Mohegan!”), as he sees Tunkawatten noting many Pequots there—and the host threatens to kill Mr. Governor’s man. Tunkawatten flees to Mason’s old promised guide, Wepiteammock, and he doesn’t keep this guest around. He too knows the youth’s real desire and hands him a boat out into the cold.
Tunkawatten disappears; but both Sachems see the spy coming and behave against their norms, as if they have company to conceal. If they are all in haste to throw off any shadow of English suspicion, mistreatment of a suspect-guest would be to play these games with an unusual heavy hand.
A brother of Miantonomo’s, Yotaash, tells Williams that co-Sachem Canonicus has “some Pequot women” around: Canonicus denies it (WCL 1: 187n11). After the Hartford Treaty too, the Wangungks near Wethersfield deny their way out of a charge of hiding “Pequot warriors” and families (WJH 2: 614-5; WPF 6: 258-9).
With these quasi-specifics, we have other hints deserving consideration.
Captain Stoughton reports “a great number” with the Nipmucs (WPF 3: 431). Williams mentions “other companies” of Pequots, some as large as 80 men (436 as above). Miantonomo tells Williams of “diverse more...in woods” (447). The English hear of “scattered” Pequots fighting Nipmucs (445). Williams insists that “Those Inlanders [of the Pequots] are fled up toward the Mohawks” (452), and the reliable Captain Davenport seems to sum up: “the body of Pequots…yet live.”
Two years later (July 1640), Williams points Niantic Sachems “still refusing to yield up any of those Pequots to death, to whom they promise life” (WCL 1: 203). Vaughan notes “some” in future Pennsylvania and Virginia (376n63). If we see no substance in these reports, we can hardly see any in equally-general reports of Pequots killed.
We need to know one further historical clue on where many of the Pequots go. From at least 1640 to 1644 (three to seven years after Mystic), the colonies are troubled again with many-sided rumors of Native American “conglutination” (Williams, WPF 3: 436; WCL 1: 204n5). The 1640 warning from Plimoth’s Bradford (WPF 4: 258-9) of “a great present” of wampum sent from the Narragansetts to the Mohawks, is hardly the first link among them and the Pequots we have seen. By 1644, Plimoth’s Edward Winslow is sure that “The Narragansetts prepare for war... [The] Mohawks have promised to aid them with a thousand men in the spring” (WPF 4: 427).
Maybe the Mohawks hear Miantonomo’s visionary words of 1641 (Chapter 5). Maybe they now regret killing Sassacus and other Pequots, or they are listening to him and them as veteran victors. The Mohawks seem ready by all accounts to send 1,000 braves far from home for a “Narragansett” cause. The adolescent Pequot boys sheltered by the Mohawks in 1637 are now prime-age warriors.
“Maybe.” The word has disserved us for a long time. Once in awhile, earned, it serves as a referent for things that cannot be dismissed.
We return you to the question. Which is more likely: that Mason’s, Underhill’s and tradition’s claims about Mystic are accurate; or that the “massacred” hundreds find more than enough room among the records, relatives, numbers, options, and clues to be, at the very least, survivors?
Eric S. Johnson’s careful study of Uncas relates that, by 1643--only six years after The Pequot War—the “Mohegan” population is 2,000 to 2,500 persons strong. No early, pre-war source counts the Mohegans as more than a few hundred. Where do the thousands come from? Johnson refers us to James Mooney’s “1500”: Mooney works back from the count on two Pequot reservations in 1674 (“Pequot” 230, “Mohegan” 926). Johnson’s other source is Williams, on Uncas’ many ways of gathering Pequots to himself (WCL 1: 117- 121).
We do not forget the hundreds certainly killed, lives ruined in slavery, generations displaced and forever changed. Nothing will excuse that. This is not a book of miracles. It is a book of “brave Pequots”—whatever group of braves in which we find them.
|Chapter 5||Chapter 7|