John Mason, major of the forces of Connecticut colony, born in England in 1600, died in Norwich, Conn., in 1072. He served in the Netherlands as a volunteer under Sir Thomas Fairfax, and about 1630 emigrated to Dorchester, Mass.. whence in 1635 he removed to Connecticut, and aided in founding the town of Windsor. The settlers were in constant dread of the Pequot Indians, who inhabited a tract of country lying between the Pequot river, now called the Thames, and the territories of the Narragansetts in Rhode Island. The slaughter of a party of whites at Wethersfield in April, 1637, at length called for retaliatory measures; and at a general court convened in Hartford, Mason was commissioned, with a force of 90 men, to descend the Connecticut and attack the Pequots at the mouth of the Pequot river. Accompanied by 70 friendly Indians of the Mohegan tribe, he reached the English fort at Saybrook, at the mouth of the Connecticut, in the middle of May, and thence put off into Long Island sound,"intending to follow the coast to the country of the Narragansetts, and thence by a retrograde march along the shore fall upon his enemies unawares.
On the 23d he landed in Narragansett bay, near Point Judith, secured the cooperation of 200 Narragansetts, and having sent back his boats to meet him at the mouth of the Pequot, proceeded by quick marches to the Mystic river, in the neighborhood of which were the two principal forts of the Pequots. Although his Indian allies were now swelled in numbers to about 500, such was their terror of the Pequots that Mason was compelled to commence the attack almost unaided. Before daybreak on the 26th he surprised the nearest fort, and, gaining an entrance within the palisades, fell sword in hand upon the enemy. But finding it difficult to dislodge the Indians, he set lire to their wigwarns, the whites and their allies forming a circle around the fort to prevent escape. Be-tween 600 and 700 Pequots perished, 7 were captured, and 7 escaped. Of the English 2 were killed and 20 wounded. He then marched to the mouth of the Pequot river, into which his vessels sailed soon after. They were attacked on the way by 300 Indians from the other fort, who however soon retired.
Mason, putting his wounded aboard the vessels, marched with a small party by land to Saybrook. Aided by a party from Massachusetts, he then pursued the remnant Of the Pequots toward New York, killed and captured many more, and divided the few who remained in Connecticut between the Mohegans and Narragansetts, stipulating that the very name of Pequot should become extinct. He thus secured a general peace with the Indians, which remained unbroken for 40 years. After the Pequot war he removed to Saybrook, at the request of its settlers, for the defence of the colony, whence in 1659 he removed to Norwich. He was major of the colonial forces more than 30 years, and between 1660 and 1670 he was deputy governor of Connecticut. He was also a magistrate from 1642 to 1668. At the request of the general court of Connecticut, he prepared an account of the Pequot war, published by Increase Mather in 1677, and republished, with an introduction and notes by the Rev. Thomas Prince (Boston, 1736). - See Sparks's "American Biography," 2d series, vol. iii. .