Two monuments in Fairfield commemorate the Great Swamp Fight, during which English settlers defeated Native Americans on July 13, 1637.
The Swamp Fight was the last major action in a series of battles between the Pequot tribe and English settlers over land and trade in southern New England and Long Island Sound.
During a massacre in Mystic on May 26, 1637, an estimated 600 Pequots died after settlers and allied Mohegans (who had separated from the Pequots earlier in the century) burned an occupied fort and shot people trying to escape the fire.
A group of Pequot survivors who had occupied another fort traveled west after the massacre and sought sanctuary in marshlands in today’s Fairfield. The last 100 warriors within that group were defeated on July 13 after 180 noncombatants were allowed to surrender. By September of 1638, a treaty had divided the surviving Pequots among rival tribes and settlers who used them as slaves.
The Swamp Fight Monument, dedicated in 1904 by the Connecticut Society of Colonial Wars, today sits on a small triangle of land along the Post Road, near a Peoples’ United Bank branch and a popular Dunkin’ Donuts outlet. A large stone monument bears the simple inscription on its east face that “the great Swamp Fight here ended the Pequot War.”
This inscription is much more sedate than some of the historical texts written during the late 19th and early 20th centuries, which tended to describe the Native Americans with less-than-glowing terms.
The only other marking on the stone lists its dedication date.
Much of the land where the Swamp Fight took place has been lost to development, including the construction of Interstate 95. Driving along the interstate just past exit 19, you can see marsh plants rising above the small surviving portions of the swamp.
Researchers from the Mashantucket Pequot Museum plan to survey the Southport area over the next couple of years to try to identify locations or relics from the areas where the battle took place.
The Swamp Fight is also commemorated by a fountain, dedicated in 1903 by the Daughters of the American Revolution, that sits at the intersection of Main Street and Harbor road in the Southport section of Fairfield. The fountain, topped by a light fixture, features water-spigot lions on the north and south faces. Since we visited this monument in mid-February, we’re not sure if it has been converted into a planter, as many commemorative fountains from that era have been.
The water trough on the north side of the monument bears the inscription “This fountain commemorates the valor and victory of the colonist forefathers at the Pequot Swamp,” which is a slightly more strident message in praise of the settlers than the matter-of-fact listing found on the other Swamp Fight monument.
Sitting in a T-shaped intersection, the fountain is an example of the middle-of-the-roadway sculpture dreaded by monument bloggers, who generally prefer to take pictures while standing on the safety of a town green.