In 1645, the Narragansett Indians renew their attacks on Uncas and the Monhig. They kill many of Uncas’s men; in response, the United Council holds a meeting on July 28th. They send word to both tribes to send representatives for negotiation or else risk war. The Narragansett refuse to send representatives, and around the same time, Roger Williams sends a letter to Plymouth, explaining that the Narragansett are contemplating war. The United Council drafts a declaration of war against the Narragansett and assembles an army to fight them.
The United Council responds to the conflict between the Narragansett and the Monhig Native Americans by issuing a declaration of war; however, its goal is seemingly not to wage an actual war. Rather, the Council’s goal seems to be promoting peace and, just as importantly, peaceful trade and communication between its member colonies.
The United Council sends its declaration of war to the Narragansett, and the Narragansett send back an “insolent” messenger to heap “scorn and contempt” on the Council. Seeing that war is inevitable, the Plymouth leadership assembles 190 men, led by Myles Standish, to fight the Narragansett.
The Council members respond to the Narragansett’s escalations by assembling troops for a full-scale war. Once again a common enemy helps unite the otherwise often disconnected colonies.
Just before the men are due to leave, the Council sends messengers to the Narragansett, explaining that if they make reparations, the English settlers will accept peace. Three days later, a group of three Narragansett messengers arrives in Boston, offering to pay reparations of corn and wampum and to return all settlers they’ve captured in the past. Finally, the Narragansett messengers promise that their tribe will cease attacking neighboring tribes. The Council accepts the messengers’ surrender, and “thus was the war pending at this time prevented.”
The Council calls the Narragansett tribe’s bluff, taking its military forces to the brink of war, only to hear from the Narragansett that they’ve surrendered. In this way, the Council establishes itself as the most powerful authority in the New England area. In the following fifty years, New England’s leadership would become much more aggressive and ambitious in its aims. But the near-war of 1645 was an important step forward for military cooperation between the colonies.