CHRONOLOGY OF THE PEQUOT WAR

1630s Increased Dutch and English migration into Connecticut Valley, Pequot territory.
Pequot efforts to oust Dutch kill Indians (probably Narragansetts or a subject tribe) trading at the House of Hope, a Dutch trading post.
Dutch retaliate, killing Pequot sachem Tatobam.
1634 Captain John Stone killed by western Niantics, a tributary tribe of the Pequots. Circumstances of the attack unclear.
23 October 1634 Pequots send messenger bearing gifts and promises of tribute to Roger Ludlow, deputy governor of Massachusetts Bay Colony.
7 November 1634 Second Pequot embassy.
Massachusetts Bay-Pequot treaty: Pequot negotiators agree
  • to hand over Stone’s murderers
  • to pay indemnity of 250 sterling in wampum
  • to cede Connecticut lands
  • to trade with the English
  • to have disputes with Narragansetts mediated by the English.

Pequot council does not ratify the treaty, objecting to the indemnity and arguing that Stone’s murderers were all either dead or beyond their reach.

16 June 1636 Jonathan Brewster, trader from Plymouth, conveys message from Uncas, chief of the Mohegans, that the Pequots plan a preemptive strike against the English.
July 1636 Conference at Fort Saybrook of Connecticut and Massachusetts Bay officials with representatives of Western Niantics and Pequots. English colonists reassert demands of 1634 treaty.
Sassious, Western Niantic sachem, pledges loyalty and submission to English.
John Oldham and crew killed by Narragansetts or a subject tribe off Block Island.
Narragansett sachems Canonchet and Miantonomo condemn the murder and offer reparations. Miantonomo leads party to Block Island to exact vengeance. Canonchet and Miantonomo promise not to ally selves with Pequots in any dispute between English and Pequots.
25 August 1636 Captains John Endecott, John Underhill, and William Turner sent to Block Island with 90 men to apprehend killers of Stone and Oldham and to seek reparations or plunder.
Most of the population of Block Island had escaped and had left little to plunder.
August 1636 Endecott sails troops to Fort Saybrook to punish Pequots.
Lieutenant Lion Gardiner protests his actions.
Endecott sails to Pequot Harbor at mouth of Pequot (Thames) River. Pequots ask what he wants, and Endecott announces his goal.
Pequots request conference.
Endecott refuses, demanding that Pequots fight in European-style open battle.
Pequots refuse.
English troops burn Pequot houses and destroy crops.
Late summer 1636 Pequots attack Fort Saybrook. Siege continues intermittently for months.
Late winter 1637 Mason visits fort but does not provide much relief.
Spring 1637 Pequots attempt to persuade Narragansetts to ally with them against the English.
English send Roger Williams to persuade Narragansetts to remain neutral.
March 1637 Miantonomo allies Narragansetts with the English, "solemnizing the treaty with a gift of wampum and the severed hand of a Pequot brave" (Axelrod 19).
18 April 1637 Massachusetts General Court authorizes levy to raise funds for anticipated costs of war against Pequots.
April 1637 Saybrook Company sends Underhill to Saybrook with 20 men.
Mason reinforces Fort Saybrook.
Gardiner, Underhill, and Mason quarrel.
23 April 1637 Attack on settlers working in field near Wethersfield, in retribution for confiscation of land belonging to Sowheag, a sachem. Seven to nine settlers are killed and two girls are taken captive.
Late spring 1637 Colonists become increasingly alarmed. Plymouth, Massachusetts, and Connecticut colonies decide to fight Pequots together.
10 May 1637 Mason leaves Hartford with 90 colonists and 60 Mohegans under Uncas to attack Pequot fort Sassacus, on Pequot Harbor. Some members of the Boston church refuse to join the expedition because John Wilson is the chaplain.
15 May 1637 Mason and Uncas arrive at Saybrook with their troops.
Uncas leads 40 warriors into battle against Pequots and Niantics, killing 4-7, taking one prisoner, and leaving one Mohegan wounded.
At Fort Saybrook, Mason’s men torture the prisoner. Underhill shoots him, ostensibly to end his suffering.
16 May 1637 Underhill places his 19 men under Mason’s command.
20 of Mason’s men are sent to reinforce Connecticut’s other settlements.
18 May 1637 Mason and Underhill’s forces embark.
20 May 1637 Mason and Underhill arrive in Narragansett territory.
22-24 May 1637 Mason, Underhill, and Lieutenant Richard Siely confer with Narragansetts. Narragansetts under Miantonomo and Eastern Niantics under Ninigret ally with the English.
25 May 1637 English and their allies approach Sassacus’s Pequot Harbor fort.
They decide to attack fort at Mystic instead.
English and allies arrive at Mystic at night and make camp.
26 May 1637 English fire a volley at dawn, then storm the fort. Mason enters at northeast, and Underhill enters at southwest.
Pequots fight fiercely.
Mason abandons plan to seek booty and sets fire to 80 huts housing approximately 800 people (men, women, and children).
600-700 Pequots die in an hour. 7 are taken captive, and 7 escape.
Two Englishmen are killed, with 20-40 wounded.
English march toward their ships, burning Pequot dwellings along the way.
Late May or early June, 1637 Mason and Underhill’s troops unite with Massachusetts troops led by Captain Patrick and Israel Stoughton.
Group of Pequots discovered near Connecticut River is surrounded by Narragansetts who pretend to offer protection, enabling the English troops to capture them.
Survivors flee, some to Manhattan Island.
July 1637 Stoughton and Mason pursue fugitive Pequots.
13 July 1637 English forces surround Mystic survivors in swamp near New Haven.
English offer safe conduct to old men, women and children and to non-Pequot residents of the swamp. 200 people accept this offer. 80 warriors refuse it and start shooting arrows at English. English soldiers close in on them.
14 July 1637 20-30 Indians (Mason says 60-70) escape in early-morning fog.
Summer 1637 Sassacus and other Pequots seek refuge with neighboring tribes but tribes are intimidated by the English (and in some cases were already unfriendly with the Pequots). Sassacus is refused sanctuary. English receive severed heads of Pequots as tribute from other tribes, including head of Sassacus sent by Mohawks.
21 September 1638 Treaty of Hartford:
  • Survivors of swamp siege divided as slaves among Indian allies: 80 to Uncas and Mohegans, 80 to Miantonomo and Narragansetts, 20 to Ninigret and Niantics
  • No Pequot may inhabit former Pequot territory
  • Name Pequot to be expunged; Pequot slaves must take name of tribes to which they are enslaved.
Fall 1638 Group of Pequots settle at Pawcatuck in violation of treaty.
Mason sent with 40 English soldiers and 120 Mohegans under Uncas to clean them out.
Narragansetts attack Uncas as he is plundering the wigwams, but refuse to fight the English.

Notes

  1. Mason reports that they went with 120 men:   "The Council of Massachusetts being informed of their proceedings, sent to speak with the Pequots, and had some Treaties with them:  But being unsatisfied therewith, sent forth Captian John Endicot Commander in Chief, with Captain Underhill, Captain Turner, and with them one hundred and twenty Men:  who were firstly designed on a Service against a People living on Block Island, who were subject to the Narragansett Sachem; they having taken a Bark of one Mr. John Oldham, Murdering him and all his Company:" (17)

  2. Axelrod raises questions about this warning: "Moreover, a victory over the Pequots would render the other tribes in the region more pliable: the Western Niantics, who lived near the mouth of the Connecticut River and were subject to the Pequots; the Eastern Niantics, whose territory lay east of the Pequots, near the Pawcatuck River, and who were allied with the Narragansetts; and the Narragansetts, a large tribe on the bay named after them. Traditional rivals of the Pequots, they would be uneasily wooed to the English cause. A more solid and cordial English-Indian alliance was quickly forged with the Mohegans, really a Pequot splinter group whose leader, Uncas, desired to unseat Sassacus, the feared and mighty sachem of the Pequots proper. Indeed, it is entirely possible that Uncas’s warning to the colonists, apprising them of Pequot war intentions, was a fabrication meant to provoke combat." (Axelrod 18)

  3. Historians suggest a variety of reasons for this change of plans, ranging from its relative proximity (Mason 26) to a deliberate choice to avoid a battle and instead to have a massacre (Jennings).

Sources