Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Pratt Stories-Phineas Pratt II

Another version of the Phineas story plus Miles Standish in action. Taken from "Weymouth-The First Hundred Years" by Ted Clarke.
Phineas Pratt, now a leader of the Wessagusset contingent, believed from the actions of the Indians that they were planning an attack, both there and at Plymouth when the snow melted. He decided to go to Plymouth on foot by night to warn that colony. The account in his diary of his trip by foot is harrowing. He believed he was followed by an Indian who lost his track because Pratt stayed away from snow and mud where he would leave footprints. However, when he arrived at Plymouth, he learned that his news was no news at all. The Pilgrims had already heard of the plan of attack from the sachem Massasoit. The chief had told this to a Plymouth settler who had given him medical treatment.
Not only that, but the Plymouth group had already discussed the situation and had agreed to take action. They sent Miles Standish and eight other armed men via boat to Wessagusset. Standish had met Wituwaumet (one of the Indian leaders) earlier and had considered some of the Indian's words to him to be threatening and insulting, so he was ready to take action. According to one version, when he arrived Wituwaumet and Pecksuot visited Standish inside the stockade where Wituwaumet warned of destruction and the two Indians taunted Standish about his short stature.*
Accounts of the skirmish the next day, April 6, 1623, differ somewhat. Apparently Standish lured Pecksuot, Wituwaumet and some others into the stockade for a feast. Five whites and four Indians were present. Standish had hoped for more Indians, but the two strongest fighters were there so he proceded wwith his plan.
At a signal the doors were closed and Standish grappled with Pecksuot and wrested his knife from its sheath, at last killing him with it. Wituwaumet was also killed as was one other Indian, and the remainder of the Indians were routed. Wituwaumet was beheaded and his head was taken to Plymouth where it was displayed at the fort as a warning.
After this, however, at Standish's advice, most of the Wessagusset settlers went to Plymouth or to the fishing stations on the Maine coast. According to Pratt, three remained at Wessagusset and were killed by the Indians.
* Bad mistake. Standish was already boilnig mad and humiliated because he had just been rejected by Priscilla Mullins ("Why don't you speak for yourself, John"). Google Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's "The Courtship of Miles Standish".
NEXT: Phineas Pratt's own words.

Emailed Sept. 6

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