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Connecticut

The first settlers in Connecticut were mostly men from Massachusetts and Plymouth. Initially, Connecticut was made up of two separate colonies, New Haven and Connecticut. These two colonies soon merged under the name of Connecticut.

By that time, the English had been established in New England for over 15 years. Their presence had profound effects on the local natives. The native tribes had an established hierarchy in the region that was based on power. Upon the arrival of the Europeans, Dutch, English and French, the natives made alliances with the various nationalities for trade and defense purposes.

The Wampanoags had allied themselves with the people of Plymouth. The Massachusetts tribe was friendly with the settlers who moved into their territory. The Mohegans of Connecticut, a splinter group from the Pequot tribe, also favored the Massachusetts colony, while the populous Narragansett people had befriended and welcomed settlers to Rhode Island.

The Pequots, an aggressive, warlike people were the dominant tribe in Connecticut. In 1637, some Western Niantic people, tributaries to the Pequots, attacked a trading vessel of Captain Stone on the Connecticut River. Several of those aboard the ship were killed. Massachusetts Bay demanded that the Pequots surrender the guilty parties to authorities so they could be tried for the murders. After much stalling and making of excuses by the Pequots, The Governor of Massachusetts sent troops on a punitive mission to get the Pequots in line.

The man in command of the half finished English fort at Stonington, Captain Lyon Gardiner, begged the officers in charge of the soldiers not to attack the Pequots then sail back to Boston, but of course they did, ?"bringing a wasp's nest down around our heads?" as Gardiner later complained.

This precipitated a campaign of terrorism by the Pequots against the sparsely defended fort and settlements along the river. The English and the Pequots had each been angered by the other party and a very bloody war resulted.

Soldiers from Massachusetts Bay and Plymouth launched an attack from Narragansett, RI with the help of warriors of the Narragansett tribe and transport ships provided by Rhode Islanders. They met up with Connecticut troops at the Pawcatuck River in Westerly, RI and marched on the Pequot stronghold. This war was so intense and devastating that it came to define the early days of the Connecticut colony.

 

Books in the Connecticut series:

    1637    History of the Pequot War - Captain John Underhill

    1660    Relation of the Pequot War - Lt. Lion Gardener

 
 
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