John Underhill’s Newes

Account of the Pequot War of 1636–1637

Possibly the most thorough written account of the Pequot War of 1636–1637 can be found in John Underhill's Newes from America. The account describes the English colonists' choice to declare war on the Pequot people as a result of ongoing hostilities between them. The force was commanded by Underhill and John Mason when it sailed from Saybrook and landed in Narragansett Bay. Under his command, a two-day trip to Pequot was undertaken with the help of the Narragansetts and the Eastern Niatics. The Pequot fortified hamlet near Mystic was attacked at dawn while unprepared to defend itself. Captain John Mason led a troop that attacked from the West end while the author, Captain Underhill marched to the southern side. They set the village on fire, and many people were burnt in the Fort while others were forced out. Those that fled were entertained with the point of the sword. About 400 souls are reported to have perished in the warfare. Nonetheless, both Underhill and Mason cheated death as they were shot at with arrows that nearly pierced through them. They lost two men and twenty were wounded in the bloodshed.

Interestingly, the author relates the war to that of David in the Christian Bible, noting that those going contrary to the Lord’s will must be put to the sword. The Indians admired the English men’s approach to combat. They willingly surrendered to fight alongside the English men. The war was a terrible blow to the Piquet’s that they sought consultation among themselves. They contemplated upon revenging against the Narragansetts or enterprise upon the English or just flee. The Piquet realized they did not stand a chance against their adversaries. Having lost their men and goods, it was in their best interest to flee. Even so, some fell into the hands of the Indians who killed those that resisted and the rest were taken as prisoners.

Author’s Historical Background

The author, John Underhill (1957-1672) was an English-born soldier in the Massachusetts Bay Colony. He undertook his martial preparation in the service of William, Prince of Orange (Underhill and Royster 1). In 1630, Underhill was appointed by the Massachusetts Bay Colony to be the captain to aid the training of the colony’s paramilitaries. He is most noted for leading the colonial militia in the warfare against the Pequot along with Kieft’s war against different groups of Native Americans. Underhill faced charges of adultery and Antinomianism following his service in the Pequot war. Consequently, he was removed from service and disenfranchised. He, however, issued a public repentance and was reconciled. He later served in the military in various capacities until 1653 in a war with the Dutch. Afterwards, he went back to Long Islands and settled at Oyster till the end of his time.

The author displays a disarmingly charming style as he presents the accounts as an eyewitness to the bloodshed. The Pequot’s bloodshed is therefore narrated based on a first-hand knowledge of the writer. His account is inspired by what appears to be an extraordinary execution of the combat. How the Pequot inhabitants were subdued by the English militia following stubborn conflicts made it worthwhile to tell a story. By leading from the frontline, Underhill was at the heart of the operation.

As the captain, he wanted to win the combat by all means. The fact that they approached Pequot village with sufficient intelligence shows he was laudatory of the events. Making allies with the Indians demonstrated their will to conquer the enemy and that they were unapologetic about it. A flawless organization of the attack acted to Underhill’s men advantage. They only lost two of their soldiers while only about twenty men were wounded. Of note is that he escaped fatal injuries and even cheated death in the bloodshed. In warfare, subduing the enemy is often credited to the captain for a seamless operation. He, therefore, earned praise and commendation for the victory.

Source Analysis

This electronic edition of Newes from America provides a significant account of the happenings during the Pequot war. This is because it is based on the original telling of an eyewitness who happens to be the writer. Hence, it is an accurate source, and its narration can be trusted. The punctuations, spellings and the choice of words confirm that indeed it is a first-hand narration of the story. As such, it enables readers to relate to the narrated events which promote a deeper understanding of the Pequot War history as a series of events. Correspondingly, elements of the doubt on the credibility of the source are eliminated. The source becomes vital in the documentation of the Pequot war history and analysis of the events leading up to bloodshed. Even so, as a primary source, the narration encourages interested researchers and readers to seek additional evidence through research. Any conflicting accounts of the Pequot War will always be streamlined by Underhill’s narration.

Underhill’s account of the war details the reasons for the ensuing war, its organization and the dominance of the English military in the region. Besides, the sources reveal the factors that led to the English military success and motive behind it. The source reveals that the historical warfare was prompted by the tribulations of the Christian along with the need to trust in the Lord. The Pequot were considered sinners by the English people and thus had to succumb to the sword. While the question of mercy and compassion by the Christians comes up, the author notes that even women and children must perish for their parent’s sins. Accordingly, the author presents the Pequot War had sufficient light from God to proceed with the combat.

One bias aspect regarding Underhill’s account is that he makes certain remarks from a subjective point of view. He is overly infatuated with the fact that their undertaking is under the providence of God. While it might be the case, the narration reveals that the English were overly superior and dominant in the region with their military prowess. The Indians even admired how English soldiers could shoot so precisely and directly. Underhill boldly affirms that even if granted seven years, the Pequots, Narragansetts, and Mohhigeners would not kill seven men. This demonstrates the subjectivity approach that cuts across the whole story.


It is clear that the Pequot War was a one-sided battle that led to the decisive defeat of the Pequot. Hundreds of Pequot were killed while some were taken into captivity. The dominance of the English military over the region is portrayed in the narration. It is clear that through preparedness and making alliances on faction stands a greater chance in against an adversary. Nonetheless, Underhill’s account highlights the significance of a primary source in the documentation of history. It is through such evidence that historians can create a secondary source that details the findings, analysis and the chronology of stories about the past.

Work Cited

Underhill, John, and Paul Royster. "Newes From America; Or, A New And Experimental Discovery Of New England; Containing, A True Relation Of Their War-Like Proceedings These Two Years Last Past, With A Figure Of The Indian Fort, Or Palizado." Electronic Texts in American Studies (1638): 1-46. Print.

Deadline is approaching?

Wait no more. Let us write you an essay from scratch

Receive Paper In 3 Hours
Calculate the Price
275 words
First order 15%
Total Price:
$38.07 $38.07
Calculating ellipsis
Hire an expert
This discount is valid only for orders of new customer and with the total more than 25$
This sample could have been used by your fellow student... Get your own unique essay on any topic and submit it by the deadline.

Find Out the Cost of Your Paper

Get Price