History of New England - Vol. 1

By John Gorham Palfrey | Go to book overview
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CHAPTER XII.

THE war against the Pequots had been waged by the English on the Connecticut at such extreme disadvantage, that nothing short of a conviction of its necessity can be supposed to have induced them to engage in it. The settlements which undertook to equip and victual1 a force consisting of more than one third of their adult males, were themselves not far from starvation. In the summer of the principal emigration, the labors of husbandry had been interrupted by those of making roads and erecting and fortifying habitations. In the autumn there were only thirty ploughs in Massachusetts,2 and it is not likely that there was a quarter of that number in Connecticut. In the winter which followed, the cattle suffered from insufficiency of food and shelter; and farming stock, and provisions, both meat and grain, bore an enormous price, while hunting and fishing were made dangerous occupations by the near neighborhood of watchful savages. Nor did the struggle, successful as it had been, fail to bring heavy burdens of its own. While so large a proportion of the able-bodied men were in the field, production was stinted on the one hand,3 and debt incurred on the other. Indian corn was sold for twelve

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1
Votes of the first General Court of Connecticut fixed the proportions of supplies to be furnished to the troops by the three towns respectively; there was to be "one hogshead of good beer for the captain and minister and sick men." ( Conn. Col. Rec., I. 9.)
2
Winthrop, I. 206.
3
"Our plantations are so gleaned by that small fleet we sent out, that those that remain are not able to supply our watches, which are day and night, that our people are scarce able to stand upon their legs. And for planting, we are in the like condition with you. What we plant is before our doors; little anywhere else." ( Lettter of Ludlow to Pynchon at Springfield, May 17, 1637, in Mass. Hist. Coll., XVIII. 235.)

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