Captain John Mason was an English-born settler, soldier, commander, and Deputy Governor of the Connecticut Colony. While most people want to be remembered for the great things they did during their lives, Captain Mason will always be remembered for something else…being the leader of the massacre of the Pequot Tribe of Native Americans in southeast Connecticut. The group, led by Mason was a group of Puritan settlers and Indian allies, who combined to attack a Pequot Fort in an event known as the Mystic Massacre. The Mystic Massacre took place on May 26, 1637, during the Pequot War, when Connecticut colonizers and their Narragansett and Mohegan allies set fire to the Pequot Fort near the Mystic River. With the fire raging, they shot anyone who tried to escape the wooden palisade fortress, effectively murdering most of the village. In all, there were between 400 and 700 Pequot civilians killed during the massacre. The only Pequot survivors were warriors who were away in a raiding party with their sachem (chief), Sassacus.
Prior to the massacre, the Pequot tribe were the dominate Native American tribe in southeast Connecticut, but with the massacre, came the end of an era where that was concerned. The massacre was brutal and heinous and should have been met with severe punishment, but at that time in history, the Native Americans were not particularly valued among the people of the colonies. In fact, the Native Americans were probably viewed as the intruders, and not the natives. As more and more Puritans from Massachusetts Bay spread into Connecticut, the conflicts with the Pequots increased. The tribe centered on the Thames River in southeastern Connecticut, and by the spring of 1637, the Pequot tribe killed 13 English colonists and traders. That was when Massachusetts Bay Governor John Endecott organized a large military force to punish the Indians, who were only trying to protect what they saw as theirs. On April 23, 1637, with pressure mounting, 200 Pequot warriors responded defiantly to the colonial mobilization by attacking a Connecticut settlement, killing six men and three women and taking two girls away.
Then on May 26, 1637, everything exploded when, two hours before dawn, the Puritans and their Indian allies marched on the Pequot village at Mystic, slaughtering all but a handful of its inhabitants. Following that attack, Captain Mason attacked another Pequot village on June 5, 1637, this one near what is now Stonington, and again the Indian defenseless inhabitants, were defeated and massacred. In a third attack on July 28, 1637, Mason and his men massacred a village near what is now Fairfield, and the Pequot War finally came to an end. Most of the surviving Pequot were sold into slavery, though a handful escaped to join other southern New England tribes.
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