Summer 2014 Battlefield Field School Underway!By admin | June 19th, 2014 | Category: Archaeology, Blog & Media Center | Comments Off on Summer 2014 Battlefield Field School Underway!
Update: our 2014 UConn Battlefield Archaeology Field School is underway!
Students are currently excavating the second half of the second phase of the Battle of Mistick Fort. The area the students are excavating covers approximately 10-15 acres, and is the site of a battle between the Pequot and the retreating English and Native allied force.
This battlefield the students are currently excavating is part of the “Battle of the English Withdrawal.” The Battle of the English Withdrawal began on May 26, 1637 near 9 a.m., approximately two hours after the Mistick Fort Battle (the attack and destruction of the Pequot fortified village). The withdrawal consisted of near ten hours of intense fighting between English allied and Pequot forces over a four-mile stretch of extremely difficult terrain. The English fought off dozens of Pequot attacks while they were burdened with arms, equipment, and tended to more than 20 of their wounded (four or five of the English were carried on stretchers). This Battle of the English Withdrawal was the largest combat action of the entire war and the longest period of fighting during the Mistick Campaign with more than 600 combatants engaged over hundreds of acres. The battle illustrates the evolution in the complexity and effectiveness of English allied military tactics as well as the aggressive attack, ambush, and pursuit strategy employed by the Pequot. The English reported that they killed more Pequot during their withdrawal than at the Mistick Fort Battle, and by 7 p.m. on May 26, the Pequot had perhaps lost half of their fighting men. The loss of 400-500 Pequot during the Mistick Campaign was a devastating blow to the Pequot and the turning point of the war.
The documentary record for the Battle of the English Withdrawal alludes very little to the direct path and singular battles and/or engagements which took place during a ten-hour time period over the course of four miles. The battle narratives only generally reference, with very few specifics, that the Pequot counterattacked the English and their allied Natives at least eight times during their withdrawal through Pequot country towards their waiting ships in the Thames River harbor. Therefore, the battle-related artifacts and resulting archeological record is at times the only evidence of these early battles, previously undocumented and referenced little, during one of the most significant wars in early American history.