Connecticut, 1637: “Frying in the Fire”

The Europeans came armed with crossbows, battle axes, armor and firearms. The indigenous had bows and arrows and tomahawks. The unequal firepower resulted in heavy losses for the indigenous population.Williambradford bw

In May, the English war party surrounds a secondary Pequot village along the Mystic River. Most of the inhabitants are noncombatants, since the main force of warriors is five miles away. The English and their Narraganset allies infiltrate the town and set fire to the wigwams. In the battle as they retreat, the English wound twenty Narraganset because they find it difficult to distinguish their friends from their enemies.

The English regroup and wait for the survivors fleeing from the fire. By sundown, a large majority of the Pequot tribe lies slaughtered.

William Bradford writes, soon after that day, It was a fearful sight to see them thus frying in the fire and the streams of blood quenching the same, and horrible was the stink and scent thereof; but the victory seemed a sweet sacrifice, and they gave praise thereof to God, who had wrought so wonderfully for them…

One of the captains who was there writes, God…laughed [at]his Enemies and the Enemies of his People to Scorn making them as a fiery Oven…[and] filing the Place with Dead Bodies.

The English enslave the survivors and sell some to the West Indies for needed capital.  On of New England’s first historians’ writes about the trip on Captain John Gallup’s slave ship which proved [to be] Charon’s ferry boat unto them, for it was found the quickest was to feed the fishes with’em

An English officer, John Underhill, also keeps a record of the day’s battle, reporting that the Narraganset cried out concerning the Englishmen’s way of fighting, Mach it Mach it; that is, It is naught, it is naught [bad or wicked] because it is too furious and slays too many men.

The savages are appalled at the savagery of the civilized.

-Gary Nash, Red, White, and Black, 84-85


See additional sources:

Narraganset Tribe

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