September 23 (September 13, o.s.)

Connecticut: Mrs. Sarah Bates appears before the magistrates in Stamford to testify about an incident shortly after Daniel Westcott’s servant Katharine Branch began to have strange fits.  The Westcotts asked Bates, who has some medical knowledge, to come to their house to look at the girl.  When she arrived, Kate was lying on the bed, and it seemed to Bates that her illness likely had a natural cause.  She therefore advised the Westcotts to burn feathers under her nose, a well-known remedy for fainting spells, and when they did she seemed to improve a bit.  When Bates left the house that night, Kate seemed to be doing better, and she expected her condition to improve by the morning.

In the morning, however, Daniel Westcott came to Bates and asked her to come see the girl again, and when she arrived Kate seemed to be in considerably worse shape, lying on the bed apparently senseless with her eyes half open.  She did, however, have a normal pulse.  Abigail Westcott, Daniel’s wife, asked Bates to bleed the girl’s foot in the hope that it might help, and when Bates replied that she doubted any bleeding could be done in her present condition she insisted until Bates acquiesced and agreed to at least do a test bleeding.  When everything is set up for the bleeding, however, Kate suddenly cried out, and when she was asked why she said that she didn’t want to be bled because it would hurt.  Upon being assured that it would be no more than a pinprick she agreed to do it and put her foot out over the side of the bed, but the way she suddenly perked up from her near-comatose state as soon as something potentially painful was mentioned made Bates quite suspicious.  After the bleeding was done without much immediate effect, Kate lay still on the bed for a short time, then suddenly cried out.  Abigail Westcott was startled by this and cried out that the girl was bewitched, and Bates saw Kate turn her head away from the people into her pillow and laugh.

Mary Lockwood, who was present at the time of the bleeding, confirms the accuracy of Bates’s account of the events of that day, but cannot say anything about her account of the previous night.

Massachusetts: The Court of Oyer and Terminer meets in Salem Town.  The first order of business is the case of Ann Foster, who confessed to witchcraft beginning on July 15.  Since she confessed, the grand jury has no trouble indicting her based on the ample evidence against her just in her own statements.  The grand jury also hears the evidence against Samuel Wardwell, primarily based on his own confession on September 1, but when he appears before the court he recants and says that while he did confess, he was lying when he did so, and that since he will now be executed no matter what he says, he might as well tell the truth.  The court then adjourns for the day with the expectation of hearing more evidence against Wardwell the next day.

New Mexico: Governor Vargas’s expedition saddles up at dawn after one of the expedition’s priests, Miguel Muñiz, grants absolution to both Vargas and his soldiers.  They then proceed on their way to Pecos Pueblo, preparing to attack it if necessary.

Shortly after the expedition departs, they come across the tracks of two Indians on horseback, who seem to have come out from the pueblo either during the night or very early in the morning.  The tracks lead back to Pecos, which the Spanish troops see as they come over a hill.  Vargas orders Roque Madrid to take one squadron of men with him to prepare to besiege it, and he sends the reinforcements that recently arrived from Nueva Vizcaya to accompany him.  The rest of the troops will stay with him to complete the siege.

As the soldiers approach the pueblo, they see two columns of smoke coming out from it, indicating that it is still inhabited.  Some of the expedition’s scouts, however, soon arrive and report that the people have abandoned the site and are leaving on horseback.  Vargas orders that any enemy soldiers encountered on horseback be unhorsed, captured and killed.  The expedition then proceeds at a full gallop toward the pueblo.

When they arrive, they find it abandoned but well-provisioned.  Vargas concludes that the tracks they saw earlier were scouts who came back to warn the people of his arrival, and he orders his men to continue following the tracks leading away from the pueblo without stopping.  As the men reach the mountainous country in the surrounding area, they are forced to spread out as they look for the fleeing people of Pecos.

Vargas himself holds back and continues more slowly with his chief advisers.  One soldier he finds along the way tells him that the track the men are following is old, so he orders him to hurry to tell the men and give them his order that anyone not following a track that is clearly new return to join him.  Anyone who is following a new track should continue until they capture some prisoners, then bring them back to him.

Vargas soon hears a shot in the distance, and shortly thereafter the soldier he sent off to deliver his orders returns, coming down a mountain with an old Indian woman as a prisoner.  Vargas questions her through the interpreter Pedro Hidalgo, and she says that the younger people of Pecos fled six days earlier, as soon as they received the news that the Spanish had arrived in Santa Fe, and that they wouldn’t let the older people who stayed behind come down and make peace with the newcomers as they wanted.  Soon, another soldier arrives with another prisoner, an old man who is naked.  Vargas has the Indian woman he just spoke to give him one of the hides she is carrying, with which he covers himself.  He then questions him through the interpreter, and gets the same story the woman told him.  Vargas tells him that he has come not to punish the rebel Indians but to forgive them and bring them back to Christianity and Spanish authority, and that he should tell the people to come back and that he will receive them peacefully and protect their houses and fields.  As a gesture of his sincerity, he gives the man a rosary, and to ensure that he won’t be bothered by the widely dispersed Spanish troops on his way to deliver the message, he has him make a large cross which he signs and tells him to carry and show to any soldiers who stop him.  The man is quite pleased with Vargas’s friendliness, and duly leaves to deliver the message.  Vargas says he will wait at the pueblo for the people to return.

Over the course of the day, more and more soldiers return to the governor bringing prisoners they have found, all of whom are women, children, and old men.  By the time the whole expedition regroups at Pecos, there are 27 prisoners in all.

In the afternoon, an old man arrives at the pueblo carrying the cross Vargas sent with the other old man.  The governor greets him warmly, and he tells the same story that the prisoners have: that the young people abandoned the pueblo six days before, leaving the young and old to fend for themselves if they didn’t leave as well, and that those who stayed fled when the two scouts on horseback informed them of the Spanish advance.  He also says that the old man Vargas sent out with the cross is in fact the governor of Pecos, and that he sends a message that it will take a while for him to collect his people, who are widely scattered.  Vargas gives the man a rosary and tells him to return to the governor and tell him that he will be waiting at the pueblo all of the following day, and that he and his people should come there as soon as they can.  Although, as the man can clearly see, Vargas and his men have moved into the houses at the pueblo, Vargas tells him to assure the governor that they return them to their owners as soon as they come back, and that they are not averse to sleeping outside, which they did while they were camped at Santa Fe.  He also tells him that he has come to reconcile the people of Pecos with his new allies and their recent enemies, the Tewas, who have come with him.  The man is pleased with Vargas’s treatment of him and leaves, promising to deliver the message to the governor.

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Published in: on September 23, 2008 at 12:00 am  Comments (1)  

One Comment

  1. […] cross that they have made.  This is in stark contrast to Vargas’s first visit to Pecos on September 23, when the people fled to the mountains upon hearing of his approach.  This time they seem to have […]


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