While there were many battles during the colonial era, the Pequot War of 1636-37 between the Puritans and the Pequot Indians of Connecticut deserves examination because of the motivation and level of violence of the combatants. This conflict set the pattern of Anglo-Native American relations for the next 250 years.
During the 1630's, the political situation of the Pequot was affected by repeated rebellions by a dissident sachem, Uncas of the Mohegan. Tensions between the English colonists and the Pequot became stronger in 1636, but did not exist in a vacuum. They were complicated by the existence of tensions between Massachusetts and Connecticut, tensions between the Narragansetts and the Pequots, and the involvement of the Mohegan. The primary campaign took place during the spring of 1637. During the Pequot War in New England, temporary detachments were drawn from the militia companies for field operations against the Indians. Volunteers or drafted quotas formed the detachments.
A punitive expedition (24 Aug., led by John Endecott of Mass.) against the Pequots (who dominated the area between the Pequot (Thames) River and the present western boundary of Rhode Island, as well as easter Long Island and Long Island Sound) in reprisal for the murder of a New England trader, John Oldham (20 Jul. 1636), led to reprisals the following spring. A Connecticut force under Capt. John Mason destroyed the main Pequot stronghold near the present village of Stonington (26 May). The fleeing remnants were slaughtered near New Haven (28 July) by a combined force from Plymouth, Massachusetts, and Connecticut.
The Pequot were not signatories to the Treaty of Hartford the year after the Pequot War. Rather, this was a treaty among the colonial authorities of the Massachusetts Bay and Connecticut colonies, the Mohegan, and the Narragansett, which regulated among themselves the disposal of the Pequot prisoners. According to this treaty, the surviving Pequots were to be divided equally among the Mohegan and Narragansetts, and not to live in their former territory.
During the Pequot War, the Reverend Samuel Stone of the Church of Christ, Hartford, Connecticut, became the first military chaplain to begin active field service in English America.
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