Archeology team makes Southport discoveries

The past is just underfoot in Southport. Over the past few weeks, archeologists working in Southport have been discovering artifacts related to the 1637 Battle of Pequot Swamp. Musket balls from the battle have been recovered from Westford Road, Oxford Road, Kings Highway West, Pequot Avenue, and Southport Park.

In partnership with the National Park Service, the Fairfield Museum is leading a research project to discover details of the Battle of Pequot Swamp that occurred July 13-14, 1637 in present day Southport.  The battle was the last engagement of the Pequot War between English settlers and Native inhabitants, and was the catalyst for English settlement of Fairfield and Southport.

According to the archeologists, the impacted musket balls recovered from Southport Park and Pequot Avenue were a bit of a surprise as these areas are a good distance from the swamp. “These actions are probably related to the English advance to the swamp and are not identified in English accounts.”  The remaining musket balls were a mix of dropped (indicating an English soldier stood at that spot) and impacted lead musket balls generally found within 25 yards of the swamp. This distribution likely indicates the position of the English as they surrounded the swamp in the final phase of the battle.

This summer, the archeologists will survey properties within a few hundred yards of the swamp boundary. Dozens of homeowners in the area have generously granted their permission for the archeologists to conduct metal detector surveys of their property and the Museum encourages other homeowners to join this exciting project.  “This is a rare and exciting opportunity to learn more about this fascinating battle and the founding of Fairfield,” noted Fairfield Museum Executive Director Michael Jehle, “We hope that other Southport residents will join us to help make this project a success.”

The Fairfield Museum was awarded a multi-year National Park Service American Battlefield Protection Program grant to identify the probable location of the Battel of Pequot Swamp, conduct historical research and locate any archeological artifacts that might remain from the battle. The project is part of the state-wide Battlefields of the Pequot War project that is identifying and preserving similar battlefields associated with the Pequot War (1636-1637) across Connecticut.  The project is funded by the National Park Services American Battlefield Protection Program.

The first phase of the Fairfield project, completed in 2017, was to review all historical references to the Battle of Pequot Swamp and identify the probable location of the battle. Now, the Fairfield Museum is working with a team of professional archeologists to conduct low-impact field analysis of the Pequot Swamp battle site to locate possible artifacts. Archeologists are using metal detectors to survey the area. If any objects are detected, they carefully dig a small hole to retrieve the object, and then replace any grass or dirt to fully restore the site. For more information on the project, visit www.fairfieldhistory.org/library-collections/pequot.

Archeologists survey land in Southport in search of battle-related artifacts.

Archeologists survey land in Southport in search of battle-related artifacts.

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