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  • 2 Jul 2021 3:26 AM | Soule (Administrator)

    Watching and Waiting

    The settlers also spent the summer awaiting a relief ship from England.  They had no way to know whether the Mayflower had made it back to England (it had -- it arrived on May 6/16, about a month and a half ago, but the Pilgrims had no way of knowing that).  If it had not, no one would know where to find them: the supplies and new people needed so desperately would never arrive.  Even if a ship sent to resupply them were to set sail across the ocean, it would be looking for them where they were supposed to be -- at the mouth of Hudson’s River.  And even if the Mayflower had made it back safely, there was no guarantee that the investors would send anything back: they might be (and they certainly were) angry that all they received back for their money was a boat load of ballast and some Indian trinkets.  The fact that they had settled outside of any place to which they had a right to settle made any support from the merchant adventurers even more questionable.

  • 1 Jul 2021 3:29 AM | Soule (Administrator)

    Division of housing

    William Bradford drew a somewhat crude map showing seven plots, all on the south side of “the streete” (there was no need to name it, as there was only one).  The map showed garden plots for Peter Brown, John Goodman, and William Brewster on the east side of the “high way” that went from the street to the town brook.  John Billington, Isaac Allerton, Francis Cooke, and Edward Winslow had plots on the west side.  Most likely the five married men mentioned had houses, along with Bradford (the Governor) and Hopkins.  Brown and Goodman had plots, but, being single, would not have had their own houses.  There were seven houses, and about 49 people, yielding about seven people to a dwelling.  The settlers were very, very suspicious of single men living alone (and with good reason), so all single men had to bunk with a family.

  • 30 Jun 2021 3:34 AM | Soule (Administrator)

    Work

    While yesterday’s posting may have sounded pleasant, the Pilgrims certainly knew that they had only about four months, at most, remaining in which to prepare for winter.  They had no ship to take refuge in, as they had last winter.  There were no stores of food, and no cache of firewood.  Over the course of the summer, they built seven dwellings for families, and four common buildings -- this was all that was available by the end of the fall, and all the habitation available for the upcoming winter.  These would have to house everyone in the upcoming winter, and although the settlers did not know it now, their numbers would significantly increase in November.  But they did know that there was no time to lose.

  • 29 Jun 2021 3:33 AM | Soule (Administrator)

    Summertime, and the livin’ is easy

    Bradford actually sounded happy when he wrote about summer in Plymouth: the settlers “were all well recovered in health and strength and had all good things in plenty.”  They had actually learned how to fish and had all they could eat, the herring trick had worked with the corn, and in just one day four men shot enough fowl to feed everyone for a week.  They ate lobsters that weighed several pounds, and found three varieties (count ‘em!) of wild plums.  Edward Winslow said that it was just like England, only with less fog.

  • 28 Jun 2021 3:27 AM | Soule (Administrator)

    Second Offence

    As if the brewing difficulties with and among the natives were not enough, there were more problems closer to home.  The first breach of conduct had occurred in April, when John Billington (the elder) exchanged angry, insubordinate, and perhaps seditious, words with Myles Standish.  Today, “the second Offence” in Plymouth was “the first DUELL fought in New England, upon a Challenge at single Combat with Sword & Dagger between Edward Doty and Edward Leister, Servants of Mr. Hopkins:”  There is no record of the source or the nature of the argument, but both of the combatants clearly thought that death was the only thing that would settle it. “Both being wounded, the one in the Hand, the other in the Thigh; they are adjudg'd by the whole Company to have their Head and Feet tied together, and so to lie for 24 Hours, without Meat or Drink: which is begun to be inflicted, but within an Hour, because of their great Pains, at their own & their Master's humble Request, upon Promise of better Carriage, they are Released by the Governor.”  There was clearly a desperate and immediate demand for strong leadership.

  • 27 Jun 2021 3:29 AM | Soule (Administrator)

    The trap is sprung

    Hobomack came back to Plymouth this afternoon, running hard, covered in sweat, and gasping for breath.  Prince’s Annals conflate from several sources what Hobomack told the startled Pilgrims: “[Hobomack and Squanto] are discover'd to Corbitant; who besets the House, [and] threatens to kill Squanto and Hobbamak for being Friends to us.  [Corbitant] seizes Squanto and holds a Knife at his Breast, [and] offers to stab Hobamak, but being a stout Man, [Hobomack] clears Himself, concludes Squanto kill'd and flies to our Governor with the Information.”  Corbitant, who had been expecting Hobomack and Squanto to appear on just such an intelligence gathering mission, viewed Squanto as the instigator of Massasoit’s shift toward the Pilgrims.  If Squanto was dead, Corbitant told the Indians at Nemasket, “the English had lost their tongue.”  Unable to communicate with Massasoit, the Pilgrims would be useless as allies, and could be easily surrounded and eliminated.

    Hobomack explained, the best he could, “in broken English and horrifically graphic sign language” (Cheney, Thanksgiving, 218) what had happened.

  • 26 Jun 2021 3:46 AM | Soule (Administrator)

    Hobomack

    Hobomack was “a Pinese or chief Captain of Masassoit,” who was living just outside the Plymouth palisade with his family, keeping an eye on the settlers, helping them to get along, and reporting back to Massasoit: he “continue[d] faithful as long as He live[d].”  But he realised that if the various native tribes went to war with each other, Plymouth’s pathetic little militia had to back up Massasoit.  If Massasoit lost the support of the few villages who continued to support him, the Narragansett could easily take control of the whole area.  The fifty two people in Plymouth would find themselves surrounded, their backs to the sea, no ship to take them away, and no friends to come to their rescue.

    The Pilgrims probably knew only a small fraction of what was really going on.  As Glenn Cheney quipped, “The complexity of the situation rivalled the political machinations of Europe” (Thanksgiving, 217).  While Tokamahomon went to see Corbitant, Squanto and Hobomack hurried to Namasket, where they thought Massasoit was being held.

    And they were walking into a trap …

  • 25 Jun 2021 3:27 AM | Soule (Administrator)

    A sachem’s troubles

    While the Pilgrims, with Squanto and Tokamahamon, were on their way to return John Billington, Massasoit and several of his tribe were taken captive by the Narragansett.  This was an opportunity for some of the “lesser” chiefs, particularly those who were opposed to the alliance with the English, to take things into their own hands.  One “petty sachem” in particular, Corbitant, “ever fear'd to be too conversant with the Narragansetts, and no Friend to the English,” used this opportunity to break the alliance.  He arrived at the nearby village of Nemasket (now Middleborough) and attempted “to draw the hearts of Massasoit’s subjects from him.”  Corbitant “storms at the Peace between Nauset, Cummaquid and Us, and at Squanto the Worker of it, as also at Tokamahamon and Hobbamak.”  Bradford decided to send his two resident Indians, recently returned from accompanying them on the trip to Nauset, to Massasoit’s headquarters at Sowams to see what was going on.

  • 24 Jun 2021 3:25 AM | Soule (Administrator)

    Home again

    The men spent last night in the boat again.  “This morning Iyanough espied us again and ran after us; we being resolved to go to Cummaquid again to water, took him into the shallop, whose entertainment was not inferior unto the former.  The soil at Nauset and here is alike, even and sandy, not so good for corn as where we are. Ships may safely ride in either harbor. In the summer they abound with fish.  Being now watered we put forth again, and by God's providence, came safely home that night.”

  • 23 Jun 2021 3:23 AM | Soule (Administrator)

    Reunited

    It was still dark when the Nauset sachem, Aspinet, arrived with more than a hundred warriors, many of whom had undoubtedly been a part of the attack at First Encounter Beach in December.  Half of the men stayed on the shore with their bows and arrows, while the other half (outnumbering the Pilgrims five to one) waded out unarmed.  One of Aspinet’s men carried John Billington in his arms; the youth wore a string of shell beads around his neck.  “There he delivered us the boy, behung with beads, and made peace with us, we bestowing a knife on him, and likewise on another that first entertained the boy and brought him thither. So they departed from us.”

    Aspinet had some disturbing news: “Here we understood that the Narragansets had spoiled some of Massasoit's men, and taken him. This struck some fear in us, because the colony was so weakly guarded, the strength whereof being abroad:  but we set forth with resolution to make the best haste home we could; yet the wind being contrary, having scarce any fresh water left, and at least sixteen leagues home, we put in again for the shore.”  The men knew that there were no more than half a dozen able-bodied men back at Plymouth to defend the colony. If Massasoit had, in fact, been captured, then according to the treaty, the Pilgrims were bound to attack the most powerful tribe in the region.  “There we met again with Iyanough the sachem of Cummaquid, and the most of his town, both men, women, and children with him. He, being still willing to gratify us, took a runlet and led our men in the dark a great way for water, but could find none good, yet brought such as there was on his neck with him. In the meantime the women joined hand in hand and dancing before the shallop, the men also showing all the kindness they could, Iyanough himself taking a bracelet from about his neck and hanging it upon one of us. Again we set out, but to small purpose, for we gat but little homeward; our water also was very brackish, and not to be drunk.”

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