Pequot War 1638


In the 1630s, fur trade was a major economic activity in the Connecticut River Valley region. The Native Americans hunted or trapped animals and extracted their furs. They then sold these furs to the Europeans in exchange for weapons, horses, tobacco and other objects. Fur trade created a competition between different native tribes. The tribes vied for the control of the lands where game animals could be found. The Pequot War was fought as a part of this attempt for dominance.

Pequot Indians and the British Colonists

Not only the Native Indians tribe, the British colonists also wanted to control the Connecticut River Valley region. These colonists belonged to the Saybrook, Connecticut, Massachusetts Bay and Plymouth colonies. Their efforts were primarily opposed by the Pequot tribe. The Pequots were a powerful tribe at the time and had been successful in expanding their domain of power in Connecticut River Valley area. The traded with the Dutch previously but their alliance came to an end when relationships with the Dutch grew violent. Violence also erupted between the Pequots and the British colonists.

The Start of the War

The Pequot killed a number of British colonists, believing them to be Dutch. This heightened the tensions between the two sides. The British then decided to avenge these deaths and raided a Pequot village. They burned down the village and carried away the crops stored for the winter. This marked the beginning of the war and the Pequot decided to respond in like manner.

The fighting and the massacre

The Pequot tried to gain the help of their allied tribes but were not very successful. They started to attack the towns in the Saybrook and Connecticut colonies. In the Saybrook colony, they laid siege to Fort Saybrook so that no settlers could go out and return alive. In Connecticut, Pequots raided various towns. Pequot raids resulted in the death of nearly 30 settlers.

The British response was more severe and deadly. The colonists gathered up a militia and marched on the fortified villages of the Pequots. At one of these villages at Mistick, the colonist militiamen entered the village and set it on fire either by accident or more likely on purpose. The conflagration consumed the entire village. Those who tried to escape from the village were killed by the militiamen. In all, only a few of the 500 villagers survived in the end.

The Result and the Aftermath

After the Mistick massacre, the Pequots were discouraged from the war. They left their villages and starting migrating towards the west, hoping to get refuge with other tribes. The colonist militia continued to pursue the refugees and forced hundreds of them to surrender on the way.

The rest of the Pequots were either enslaved or distributed among other Native American tribes. They were banned from using the Pequot name or title again. The overall effects of the war were devastating for the Pequots. They effectively ceased to exist as a tribe, after sustaining heavy losses during the fighting.