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nature's own framing, so far beyond the conceptions and imposing trickery of art, was the summit of a circular diluvial deposit, that gracefully bent around, and arose from, the delta we have described, and was at once the throne and the grave of the monarch.
I have stood, as erewhile stood the Mohegan sachems, on this towering eminence, and glanced abroad over the pleasant landscape swelling upward from the deep rolling stream, and undulating, with a gradual acclivity, backward to the rocky parapets which crown the distant heights. I have lingered on the green-sward consecrated to the remains of successive regal chieftains, and wandered in the deep ravines which on either side once guarded the living as they should now guard the dead. I have seen the hand of cultivation long since upturn and mingle the mouldering remains of all that was left of a populous people, and I have seen the comminuted fragments of their bones whitening on the western plains. And all this I have beheld with a swelling heart.
A little removed from this asylum of the dead, are the mutilated walls of a Mohegan fort, which was once the scene of sanguinary strife. It was the strong hold of the tribe against the cunning efforts of the Narragansets.
Here were the hot attack and the bold repulse -- the fierce note of defiance, and the exulting yell of triumph. Here it was that, on one occasion, being hotly pressed by the wily enemy, and every morsel of food exhausted, recourse was had by the artful but terrified Uncas to a desperate stratagem to effect the salvation of his people. Calling together his chiefs, he selected the fleetest runner and the bravest of their number, and despatched him to the then first and feeble settlement of the English, at Saybrook, with orders to obtain succour at any price. The command was executed, although at imminent hazard, in passing through the most powerful of all the enemies of the Mohegans, the Pequots, living in the country opposite and above the present city of New-London. The runner was sent back, with assurances that the desired supply of beef and vegetables would be despatched in two days, and with a request that Uncas should place himself, with a torch light, at a given point on the rocks overlooking the Thames, and at a certain hour of the night. The plan succeeded. The English approached, and landed their provisions, and on the following day Uncas hoisted on the end of a long pole a quarter of the beef, that the enemy might see he had other materials than the stout hearts and sinewy arms they had manifested, for maintaining themselves against his reiterated assaults. The effect of this stratagem was complete. The Mohegans were immediately supplied with the necessary food, and relieved of the fearful presence of their implacable foe. The Narragansets retired to their country, on the borders of the Providence river, and the Mohegans quietly dispersed themselves around on their own pleasant hills. To this day, the rocky, elevation, on the borders of the river, a few miles below Norwich, on which Uncas gave to the English the desired signal, is pointed out as Uncas' Seat.' In gratitude to his deliverers — quite equal, at least, to the examples of his white brethren Uncas gave to Mr. Lathrop and Mr. Leffingwell, the men who designed and executed the means of his relief, all that portion of country in and around
Norwich, now constituting between four and five counties. The descendants of these gentlemen have ever since lived on the soil so justly acquired by brave effort, the offspring of humanity. A walking-stick was recently shown the writer, belonging to the last male descendant of Mr. Leffingwell, the friend of Uncas, and one of the first settlers of our country at the mouth of the Connecticut. It is a fine specimen of the antique, and was originally brought from Europe.
Uncas distinguished himself in nuinerous battles, and ever showed his untiring friendship for the whites. At the bloody and decisive battle which the daring Captain Mason had with the Pequots, at Mystic, Uncas assisted; and, if never before, he here gave signs of fear at the sight of that terrible and warlike tribe. When the great chief of the Mohegans was in his glory, there came up from the land of the Narragansets the renowned Sachem, Miantinomah, with a thousand warriors, to give him battle. The ceaseless friendship of Uncas to the pale-faces had provoked the desperate hate of the Narraganset, and he had resolved on revenge. The event proves this hate to have been mutual. It was first kindled on the separation of the Mohegans from their allegiance to that ancient and powerful tribe, and had burned with increasing violence ever since that period. Uncas was apprized of the enemy's approach, only when very near his wigwam. Hastily collecting his most efficient warriors, in numbers scarcely half those of the foe, he marched out to meet him. On the elevated plain west of the Thames, and three miles south of Norwich, the antagonists came in contact. The Mohegan chief sig. nifying a wish to hold 'a talk' with the proud hero of the Narra. gansets, the combatants on either side came to a halt, in full view of each other.
The vengeful chieftains came forth to the middle ground, when the powerful Uncas thus addressed his adversary : You have with you many stout warriors.
So have I with me. It is a pity that brave men should kill each other for our quarrels. Come forward, then, like a brave man, as you profess to be, and let us fight it out. If Uncas falls before Miantinomah, then are his warriors thine ; but, if Miantinomah is conquered by Uncas, then are his warriors mine.' To this the haughty Narraganset briefly replied : • The men of Miantinomoh came out to fight, and they shall fight.' At a pre-concerted signal, Uncas suddenly fell to the ground, when his valiant men, with their arrows drawn to their heads, instantly sent home those well-directed and destructive missiles, and then furiously rushing, with a terrible yell, upon the foe, already in confusion from the fatal effects of the sudden shower of arrows, put them to general flight. Hotly pursuing the cowardly enemy, now intent only on their flight, they were hurried, unwittingly, to the brink of an awful chasm, between high precipitous rocks, and now well known as the romantic Falls of the Yantic, near the city of Norwich. Many of the foremost, seeing no means of escape, leaped headlong into the rocky abyss, and were dashed in pieces, while others, dexterously turning to the left, ran upward along the stream, and forded it just by the present old paper mill.' Among the latter, was Miantinomah, who, with his flying comrades, still strove with desperate effort to
escape. The Mohegans still pressing on the flanks of the enemy, the pursued and pursuing were seen by a few white men, the first settlers in the old town' and the country, to pass the road, rush up the adjacent rocks, and disappear in the forest. On coming to the plain, at a distance, Uncas — himself the foremost of the purBuers — caught a view of his arch-enemy, and, putting forth his utmost strength, he bounded forward, and seized him fiercely in his iron grasp. The exulting yell of the Mohegan quickly brought his warriors to his side, and the hero of the Narragansets found himself a prisoner, firmly secured in the hands of his most hated foe. The triumph of Uncas was all that his ambition could desire. It was an event which at once gave to himself immortality, and enduring prosperity to his people.
Miantinomah, sullen and sad, replied by no word to his conqueror, but deep within his soul concealed the melancholy emotions which overwhelmed him. His proud spirit was broken by this sudden and fatal reverse of fortune, and he bowed in silence to the stroke of fate. • But yesterday the renowned monarch of the most powerful people of the new world - to-day the abject prisoner of a former vassal! How fallen is Miantinomah, the great chief of the Narragansets!'
Uncas, with a few chosen warriors, led his royal captive to Hart. ford, then one of the only three settlements in New-England, and gave him up as an offering to the councils of the white man. Here, during a long imprisonment, he awaited the lordly will of the usurpers of the soil - those whom he boldly defied to bring aught against him, and whose right to sit in judgment on his destinies he as fearlessly denied. But, with our forefathers, as with most other men, might was often right. The pious delegation wisely decided that Uncas had a right to kill their prisoner, and that by allowing him to destroy the great proprietor of the best soil in New-England, he, at least, could have no rights to claim no injuries to resent. But however
pure and sacred the ultimate determination of this tribunal, the facts of the case, and the noble appeal of Miantinomah will remain for the judgment of unbiased posterity. Uncas was informed that the prisoner was to receive justice at his hands, and that a subdelegation should see it executed. Thus justice was made doubly sure, and the mode of its execution cautiously guaranteed — for so read the chronicles of the times. Uncas came down to the land of the white man, like a faithful subject, when desired, to execute the privilege which had been intrusted to him; and taking the regal prisoner to the distant plain, where he had been captured, accompanied by the two trusty delegates before mentioned, called in the said chronicles, “soldiers.' There, while passing near the spot, Uncas came suddenly up behind his captive and, with one blow, struck him lifeless at his feet; so that, as it is said, the ill-fated chief knew not how nor by whom he had been killed. Uncas cut with his knife from the shoulder of the dead Miantinomah a large piece of flesh, which, on eating, he pronounced, with Indian exultation, the sweetest meat he had ever tasted. Said be, 'It makes my heart strong !' Thus fell the Indian king, Miantinomah.
For years was that spot consecrated by the Narraganset people,
and pilgrimages, worthy of previous ages, and of a more enlightened people, though in a less honored cause, were made to the manes of their beloved sachem. At each visit, additional stones were placed on the rude monumental pile which kept hallowed the earth that covered his bones. It was a pleasing but melancholy sight, to behold the poor Indian coming up from his home, far away in the wild, to pay homage to the memory of a chief of his nation, long since mingled with the soil of a stranger-land to shed a tear on the sacred sod, and to add another fragment to the memorial which fidelity had reared. It was indeed a sight which might well bring a burning blush to the cheek of the white man, and excite an emotion of tenderness for the cause, and of respect for the spot, of the red man's lamentations. But no! We talk of Christian affection,' of civilized refinement,' and we laud the luxury of social sentiment; but let us cease our vain boasting, when we reflect, that there is not a solitary stone to mark the place so often visited by the friendly Indian, even to the last remnant of his tribe. The same despoiling hand which has recklessly sacrificed so many of the venerated relics of other days to curiosity, or the hackneyed watch-word of the age,
improvement,' but still more frequently to the paltry cause of trifling gain, has scattered, too, this little testimonial of a people's affection. The pale-face who put his destructive hands on that consecrated pile, should never claim kindred sentiments with the 'savage. Where did the red man ever, in a spirit of revenge — and it is surprising, when so much cause has been given to create it, that so little has been manifested-or in a spirit of gain, despoil the places of the dead ? Where has the 'savage' rifled your tombs, or wantonly destroyed your memorials of friendship No where - never! is not the barbarian, thus ruthlessly to mutilate or destroy the objects of sense that link us to all we hold dear in memory. He is not the poor savage,' said to be insensible to, and devoid of, those finer feelings' of which we boast as the happy results of civilization — the exclusive effects of education and of social institutions. No: he is, on the contrary, an example worthy of our emulation in this and in many, very many, of those emotions of affectionate sensibility and of ennobling disinterestedness, which we deem the distinctive characteristics of our race.
There is something sad in the thought, that the fragments of olden time are, every where in our country, recklessly destroyed by unfeeling and unthinking men. We can call to mind numerous interesting relics which time, more sparing and conservative than man, has handed down unscathed through former ages and generations. But they are now gone! Would that the
Would that the progress of society and of human weal might leave undisturbed the grand and myeterious relics of the west, since the destructive hand of man cannot here be stayed! But there, too, has the sacrilegious example been followed; and soon, we fear, unless checked in time, will its effects be every where as apparent as at Circleville, etc. As I love the remembrance of our fathers' deeds, and the incidents of other ages as I delight to dwell on the past acts and conditions of men, and revere the relics of ancient days — I condemn the man who, in earnest or in sport, destroys one of the few sacred remains of his country's history,
He is the personification of stolid selfishness, and is ‘fit for treason, stratagem, and spoil.'
The curious may find a few additional facts and traditionary particulars, amusing if not instructive, should he ever visit the beautiful lands of the Uncases, or hereafter recur to the history of a people who, with all their traditions, are fast going the way of all their brethren. The antiquarian may not be less gratified with data which he may no where else obtain. Nor will the stranger who, at some future and perhaps far-distant period of time, may recognise the graves of the Mohegan chiefs, or the endeared but forgotten places of their people, deem any local fragments, snatched from the wreck of time, devoid of interest.
In the pleasant and shady grove by the road side, as you pass from the Landing to the Falls,' in the charming town of Norwich, and at the head of a deep ravine running to the factory village,' which sweeps around the base, and begirts like a zone the solitary sumınits of the sachem's former glory, lie the remains of the royal Uncases. One of the mounds is distinguished as the sepulchre of the first of his tribe — the conqueror of Miantinomah. This spot is the more distinguishable, from the result of a late popular impulse which, in 1833, caused the earth around it to be handsomely elevated, and a granite block to be planted by the hand of General Jackson on its centre. A flat slab of gneiss rock supports this granite pedestal, intended, as it is understood, to be surmounted by a pyramidal column. The occasion which induced this momentary attention to the manes of the Mohegan chief having passed by with the departure of General Jackson and his suite, the memory of the object, with the half-finished testimonial, remains to this day, as it ever yet may,
unhonored and unsung. Thus far the deed, designed to mark the visit of the hero of the white men, was just and laudable. The address by Governor Cass, and the eclat on that occasion, were alike honorable to the dead and to the living. It is hoped that neither may be forgotten ; nor may the desire of possession, or the power of time, for ages destroy the green-sward where
repose the ashes of the Uncases. Already has a portion of the consecrated soil been forced to yield its pittance to the itching palm of the white man; but farther, at least, should not the hallowed grave, the homely monument, nor the sepulchral sod, give place to overweening acquisitiveness. Let the group hereafter remain undisturbed to posterity, shielded by an inclosure from destruction by .rational' or instinctive animals.
The inscriptions yet to be deciphered on the few humble yet mutilated stones within the brief area, may be curious to the reader. On a fragment of that which once marked the grave of the great sachem, and white man's friend, are the following eulogistic lines :
• For beauty, wit, and sterling sense,
* The etymology of the word wawegan, which is evidently of Indian origin, tradition says was, as its use here seems to imply, good. This poetical eulogium is said to have been written by a dir. TRACY.