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Conflict and war - pequot war

The Pequot War of 1637. In 1633 the English Puritan settlements at Plimoth and Massachusetts Bay Colonies had begun expanding into the rich Connecticut River Valley to accommodate the steady stream of new emigrants from England. Other than the hardship of the journey and the difficulty of building homes in what the Puritans consider a wilderness, only one major obstacle threatened the security of the expanding settlements: the Pequots. Despite early attempts to reconcile differences, continued confrontations precipitated the first war between Native Americans and English settlers in northeastern America and set the stage for the ultimate domination of the region by Europeans. The War not only involved the Pequots and the English Puritans, but several other Indians tribes, some of which, including the Mohegans, aligned themselves with the English.Based on archaeological and linguistic evidence, the Pequot and Mohegan Tribes, indian peoples of the Algonquian language group, probably have lived in what is now southeastern Connecticut for several hundred years. Mohegan oral tradition holds that the Mohegan-Pequots, originally the same tribe, migrated into the region some time before contact with Europeans. Anthropological evidence shows that the two groups were very closely related. Just before the outbreak of war with the English, the Mohegans under a sachem named Uncas split from the Pequots and aligned themselves with the English.At the time of the Pequot War, Pequot strength was concentrated along the Pequot (now Thames) and Mystic Rivers in what is now southeastern Connecticut. Mystic, or Missituk, was the site of the major battle of the War. Under the leadership of Captain John Mason from Connecticut and Captain John Underhill from Massachusetts Bay Colony, English Puritan troops, with the help of Mohegan and Narragansett allies, burned the village and killed the estimated 400-700 Pequots inside. The battle turned the tide against the Pequots and broke the tribe's resistance. Many Pequots in other villages escaped and hid among other tribes, but most of them were eventually killed or captured and given as slaves to tribes friendly to the English. The English, supported by Uncas' Mohegans, pursued the remaining Pequot resistors until all were either killed or captured and enslaved. After the War, the colonists enslaved survivors and outlawed the name "Pequot."The story of the Pequot War is an American story, a key element in our colonial history. As noted historian Alden T. Vaughan wrote in his book New England Frontier: Puritans and Indians 1620-1675: "The effect of the Pequot War was profound. Overnight the balance of power had shifted from the populous but unorganized natives to the English colonies. Henceforth [until King Philip's War]there was no combination of Indian tribes that could seriously threaten the English. The destruction of the Pequots cleared away the only major obstacle to Puritan expansion. And the thoroughness of that destruction made a deep impression on the other tribes." The Pequot War was fought in 1637. It involved the Pequot Indians and the settlers of the Pilgrim Colony and the Massachusetts Bay Colony. The Pequot were a powerful tribe, their only serious rival the Narragansett.This war was the culmination of numerous conflicts between the colonists and the Indians. There were disputes over property, livestock damaging Indian crops, hunting, the selling of alcohol to Indians, and dishonest traders. Besides these, the Colonists believed that they had a God given right to settle this New World. They saw the Indian as savages who needed to be converted to their way of God. Unfortunately, the colonists felt superior to all Indians even those who became Christian. The Indian was in a difficult situation. He constantly suffered at the hands of the colonists, yet at the same time was growing more dependent on the Colonists trade goods. The Indians were also disturbed at the encroachment of their lands by the colonies. Two events weakened the Pequots prior to their war with the English. In 1631 the tribe was divided into pro-English and pro-Dutch factions. This problem was not solved when the tribes leader, Wopigwooit, died in that year. Two sub-sachems, Sassacus who was pro-Dutch and Uncas who was pro-English, fought to succeed as the grand sachem. The tribe picked Sassacus. Uncas and his followers continued to quarrel with the pro-Dutch group. Eventually, Uncas and his followers fled to form their own tribe, the Mohegan. The Mohegan became hostile to the Pequots.The second event that weakened the Pequots was the smallpox epidemic which they suffered in 1633-34. The separation of the Mohegan and the smallpox cost the Pequots almost half of their people. The suffering of the Indians reached a breaking point on July 20, 1636. On that date, the Pequot's killed a dishonest trader, John Oldham. Many settlers demanded that the Pequot's be punished for this transgression. Massachusetts raised a military force under the command of John Endicott. This troop of 90 men landed on Block Island and killed 14 Indians before they burned the village and crops.Endicott then sailed to Saybrook where they demanded tribute from the Pequot village there. This was the first indication Connecticut had that the Massachusetts Bay Colony was fighting the Pequots. The Pequots managed to flee their village at the approach of the Massachusetts troops who then burned their village. Endicott then left, leaving the Connecticut troops at Fort Saybrook to feel the wrath of the Pequots, who attacked anyone trying to leave the fort. That winter Pequot sent war belts to many surrounding tribes Both the Narragansett and the Mohegan refused to side with the Pequots. This was due to past aggressions by the Pequots and to the influence of Roger Williams. While the Narragansett, and many smaller tribes, remained netural, the Mohegan sided with the English and fought the Pequots.On May 26, 1637, a military force under John Mason and John Underhill, attacked the Pequot village located near New Haven, Conn. The village was destroyed and over 500 Indians killed. The Pequot leader, Sassacus, was captured on July 28. Many of Sassacus' tribesmen were captured during the war. The captives were sold in the West Indies as slaves. Sassacus was executed by the Mohawks, a tribe that fought on the side of the English. The few Pequots who were able to escape the English, fled to surrounding Indian tribes and were assimilated. The Pequots, once a powerful Indian nation, was destroyed (http://www.colonialwarsct.org/1637.htm).

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Source:  OpenStax, Us history to 1877. OpenStax CNX. Jan 20, 2013 Download for free at http://cnx.org/content/col11483/1.1
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