Thursday, July 24, 2008

The First Esopus War; 1659—July 1660

The First Esopus War,
Excerpts from the HISTORY OF KINGSTON. By Marius Schoonmaker, published 1888

The Beginnings of the Colony of the New Netherlands
In the year 1609 Hendrick Hudson, in a ship called the Half-moon, furnished him by the Dutch East India Company, departed from Holland in search of a passage to the East Indies. . On the 12th of September, 1609, he entered a narrow strait, which led him to the Hudson river which has since immortalized his name. He anchored his ship and for several days in the bay by Manhattan Island., Hudson then proceeded up the river, which some of the Indian tribes called "Cahohatatia," which translated means “river of the mountains”, and explored it a short distance beyond the present site of Albany, stopping at several places on the route, . On his return to Europe, although detained by the British and prevented from returning to Holland, he transmitted to his Amsterdam patrons a description of his discoveries
The next year the East India Company of Holland sent a ship to trade with the natives. Finding their first venture profitable, they soon established trading posts at Manhattan, Fort Orange, now Albany, and at some intermediate points along the river, including the mouth of the creek at Atkarkarton, afterward Esopus, now Kingston. At this last-mentioned place the valley of the several large streams (the Rondout, the Wallkill, and the Esopus), all concentrating at that point and extending far into the interior, furnished facilities for a trading post. . The mountains and [p3] forests through which these valleys extended abounded with game and animals valuable for their furs.
On the 11th day of October, 1614, the States-General of Holland granted to "the United New Netherland Company the exclusive right to visit and navigate all the lands situate in America between New France and Virginia, , and which are named the New Netherlands ; and to navigate or cause to be navigated the same for four voyages within the period of three years, to commence from the first day of January, 1615, or sooner."
Under the authority thus granted the company took possession of the Hudson River, and built three forts or redoubts—one on Castle Island just below Albany, one on the Battery at New York, and one at the mouth of the Rondout Creek.
After the expiration of this patent, and on the 3d of June, 1620, the States-General incorporated the West India Company with enormous and almost unlimited powers. In the name of the States- General it could make contracts and alliances with princes and nations, build forts, administer justice, appoint and discharge governors, soldiers, and public officers, and promote trade.
The government of the company was vested in five separate chambers of managers: one at Amsterdam, managing four ninths; one in Zeeland, two ninths; one at Dordrecht, one ninth; one in North Holland, one ninth, and one in Friesland'and Groningen, one ninth.
General executive powder, for all purposes except war, was entrusted to a board of nineteen delegates, called the " College of the XIX."
The time of the patent was for twenty -four years, and the New Netherlands was included within their grant. At this time, when the Dutch sought to acquire possession of the Hudson River and adjoining territory, that on the west of the Hudson below Albany was occupied by the Indians known as the Algonquins, who were divided into numerous bands under local names. The band or tribe at Kingston and its immediate vicinity are generally known and designated as the Esopus Indians, sometimes named the Warynawancks.
The West India Company was specially organized for commercial and trading purposes [For Profit], and therefore its principal object was the control and possession of the New Netherlands, for the purpose of conducting and monopolizing the rich and very profitable fur trade with the Indians. As a necessary consequence, the earliest immigrants were merely a company of traders.
The Dutch West India Company purchased the island of Manhattan from the Indians for a sum equivalent to about twenty-four dollars of our money. Peter Minuit, the first agent of the company, under the title of governor, built a house upon the island and resided there. The lower end of the island was then occupied by a fort and a few cottages, and was called New Amsterdam.
Governor Minuit continued his agency for several years, apparently cultivating the friendship of the savages and the interest of his employers. Upon his resignation he was succeeded by Wouter Van Twiller, who , had the wisdom to pursue a peaceful and conciliatory policy with the savages.

Indian Troubles in the Colony
About 1638 Governor Van Twiller was succeeded in his agency by Willem Kieft. He was said to be arbitrary and kept the colony in a continual turmoil. ;He drove the Indians to desperation and madness, aroused Indian wars and massacres, and soon had scarcely a friend in the colony.
One of his first steps against the Indians was, in 1638, to attempt the levy of a tribute upon the river Indians. They rebelled against its enforcement. About 1640 the Raritans, a tribe living along the river of that name, were accused of stealing some hogs. Governor Kieft at once, without making any inquiry into the justice or falsity of the charge, sent a band of soldiers to punish them, who fell upon them unawares, killed a number, and destroyed their corn. Another instance is related by a chronicler of the times :
“A Dutchman sold to a young Indian, a son of a chief, brandy; and, when he was intoxicated, cheated and drove him away. The Indian, raging with drink and maddened by the treatment he had received, went to his home, procured his bow and arrows, returned and shot the Dutchman dead. The chiefs of the murderer's tribe hastened to the governor to explain the matter, and to pay the price of blood ; they wished for peace, but the governor was inexorable. He demanded the murderer, but he had fled to a neighboring tribe. ' It is your own fault,' exclaimed the indignant chief ; ' why do you sell brandy to our young men ? it makes them crazy.' Just at this time came a company of Mohawks, all armed [p5] with muskets, to demand tribute of the enfeebled river tribes. The latter fled to the Dutch for protection. ' Now is the time,' urged the people, ' to obtain forever the friendship of the Indians living around us by their protection.' But Kieft,, deemed it the proper time for their extermination. "
"The unsuspecting victims of this scheme of treachery and cruelty were with the tribe of Hackensacks, just beyond Hoboken. About the hour of midnight some soldiers from the fort and freebooters from the ships in the harbor passed over the river, and soon thereafter were heard the shrieks of the dying Indians. The carnage continued ; the poor victims ran to the river to pass over to their supposed friends at New Amsterdam. But they were driven into the water. The mother who rushed to save her drowning child was pushed in, that both might perish in the freezing flood ; and another company of Indians, trusting to the Dutch for protection, who were encamped on the island a short distance from the fort, were murdered in the same manner. In the morning the returning soldiers received the congratulations of Kieft."
The settlers, when they became aware of the facts, were indignant and horror-stricken, and condemned the atrocity in no measured terms. As might have been anticipated, the anger and indignation of the savages were aroused to the highest pitch of fury, and war was inaugurated which knew no mercy. Wherever a white man's hut was situated, there was sure to ascend the smoke of conflagration. All the settlers who could escape the fury of the savages rushed to the fort for protection, and all outside settlements were deserted. Some in their terror returned to Holland. If at any time before that there had been any settlers in Esopus, as some allege, their homes were then deserted and abandoned. The war was thus started in the winter of 1643, and waged with slight interruption, and with more or less brutality, for two years, before peace was concluded. Kieft, whose conduct was censured by his superiors, was soon after recalled, and set sail for England, which country he never reached, being shipwrecked and drowned on the passage.
In 1646 Petrus Stuyvesant was appointed to succeed Kieft as governor. He was honest and trustworthy, but had a most difficult task before him to overcome the effects of Kieft's misgovernment and treachery.

The settlement of the Esopus [Kingston]
In 1652 considerable difficulty arose at Rensselaerwyck in regard to title and occunpancy of land, caused by the patent of the patron Van Rensselaer overlapping the occupancy of some settlers. Parties were violent in their quarrels, which, in a number of cases, led to personal conflicts. Thomas Chambers, an Englishman, Mattys Hendrix, Christopher Davis, and Johan De Hulter, who had [p6] settled on the disputed territory, and several of their neighbors, desiring peace and comfort, left for Atkarkarton (Esopus), [now Kingston]
and formed a settlement there; this immigration of Chambers and his neighbors was the first approach to a permanent settlement.
Here Chambers, in 1653, received a gift from the natives of about seventy-six acres of land, described as bounded “Easterly and Westerly by the woods, and running Northerly and Southerly by the Kill [creek].“ This grant, therefore, must have been of the lowland along the creek, as that was prairie land. . Some of his associates also purchased land from the Indians about the same time, and afterward received confirmatory grants thereof.
Settlers now began to come in rapidly, and soon there was quite a colony gathered together. As early as 1655 the wife of Cornells Barentse Slecht was licensed " as a midwife for Esopus." Each of the settlers at that time had his territory allotted to him and settled thereon, so that they were scattered and unprotected from the savages.
It appears that Johan De Hulter, in 1654, purchased a tract of one thousand acres from the Indians, bounded on the north by the lands of Thomas Chambers, and was patented by his widow in March, 1657. This grant, it was claimed by some, covered the site of the old village of Kingston, but was denied by Governor Stuyvesant. This settlement remained in peace for only a short time, for in 1655 the Indians, on both sides of the river, made war upon the Dutch at New Amsterdam and its vicinity, and the settlers at Esopus, fearing an attack and being without any means of defense, left their homes and went to more secure areas. As soon as peace was concluded, the following fall, they returned to their homes to find that much had been appropriated and destroyed by the Indians.

Indian Troubles in the Esopus
With residences thus scattered, the natives were living around and among them, th;is resulted in frequent depredations the one upon the other; and the settlers were not careful to keep the " fire-water" from the Indians' lips. That in one instance resulted in a drunken spree near Ponckhockie, in which the Indians in their craziness killed one man, a skipper named Harmon Jacobs, while standing on board his vessel ; and the dwellings of Jacob Adriance and Andries Van der Huys, located at Ponckhockie, were set fire to and burned to the ground.
This situation led some of the settlers to call upon Stuyvesant, the governor, for assistance. In it they say : " The savages compel the whites to plough their maize land, and when they hesitate threaten, with firebrands in their hands, to burn their houses. ,,, That the chiefs have no control of their men. We are locked up in our houses and dare not move a limb."
The extent of their settlement at that time, May, 1658, may be judged by the fact that in such application to the governor they state that " they had 990 schepels of grain in the ground, and had 60 or 70 people, who support a reader at their own expense. "
Immediately on receipt of the news, May 28th, the council directed the governor to proceed with sixty or seventy men to the relief of the inhabitants.
He arrived there on Wednesday ; the next day being Ascension Day, he notified the people to meet him after service in the afternoon. He told them the killing of one man and the burning of two buildings was not enough to make war. They must concentrate and form a village with a stockade, so as to be able to protect themselves. They objected on account of their poverty and their inability to house their crops so near harvest, and they wished the troops to remain and to have the village built after harvest. He finally told them that there was no security as they then lived ; they must concentrate then or remove to Fort Orange or Manhattan ; or if they remained as they were, they must give him no more trouble. If they agreed to concentrate, he would remain until the work was complete.
The next day, the 30th of May, he had a conference with about fifty warriors, who met him under a tree. Stuyvesant then recounted to them their insolence to the whites, their murders, and their burning of dwellings ; still he did not come to make war, but to punish the guilty ; and asked them why they acted thus, and were constantly threatening the inhabitants. After a pause one of the chiefs arose and said : " The Shawanakins sold our children drink, and they were thus the cause of the Indians being made crazy, which was the cause of all the mischief. The sachems could not always control the young men, who would often fight and wound. The murder was committed not by one of our tribe, but by a Minnisink, who had skulked away among the Haverstraws. The one who fired the two small dwelling-houses had run away, and dared not cultivate his. own soil. We are innocent, not actuated by malice, do not want to fight, but cannot control the young men."
Stuyvesant replied that if any of their men wanted to fight, let them step forth. He would place man against man ; yes, twenty against thirty or forty of the hotheads. But that it is unmanly to threaten farmers, and women and children, who are not warriors. [p 8] If it was not stopped he would be compelled to retaliate on old and young, on women and children. "You must repair all damages, seize the murderer if he comes among you, and do no further mischief. The Dutch are now going to live together in one spot. It is desirable that you should sell us the whole of the Esopus land and remove farther into the interior ; for it is not good for you to reside so near the Shawanakins, whose cattle might eat your maize, and thus cause frequent disturbances." The matter was settled upon the terms thus dictated by Stuyvesant, and the savages departed after exchanging some small presents.
The citizens finally came to terms with Stuyvesant, and entered into a written agreement, which translated is as follows: " We, the subscribers, assembled inhabitants of the Esopus, having found from time to time, through a very sorrowful experience, and to the damage of us all, the faithless and unbearable boldness of the Indians' barbarous nature—how uncertain it is to depend on their words — how careless and perilous it is to live so separate and wide apart among such a faithless and insolent nation, have (on the proposition and promise of the Director-General, the lord Petrus Stuyvesant, to furnish us with a night-guard, and in case of necessity with further help) resolved among one another, that in order to better protect ourselves, our wives and children, it is necessary to leave our separate dwellings immediately after the signing of this, in the most speedy manner possible, and to concentrate in such place as the Lord Director shall choose, and surround it with palisades of proper length ; and in order that through these means, if it please the all-good God to lend his blessing, we may be better prepared to preserve ourselves and ours from a sudden onslaught of the Indians, we bind ourselves one to another, after prayer to the Lord, to take the means named in hand without any objection, and to complete them as speedily as possible, under a fine of one thousand guilders, to be paid for the benefit of the place, by any one who may oppose the same by words or deeds. In further witness whereof we have hereto set our own hands, in presence of the Lord Director-General and Govert Loockermans, old Schepens of the City of Amsterdam in New Netherland. Done the last of May, 1658. "
Signed : Jacob Janseri Stol, Thomas Chambers, Cornelis Barentse Slecht, mark of Willem Jansen, Peter Dercksen, Jan Jansen, Jan Broersen, Dirck Hendricksen Graef, Jan Loornan."
After this agreement was signed, the priority was the selection of the site for the village. Stuyvesant wisely selected the site of what subsequently became the thickly settled part of the old village of Kingston, being protected by very steep banks on three sides, and exposed on a level only at the south.

Building and living in a Stockade
The location appears to have been satisfactory to all, as the inhabitants proceeded at once to remove their dwellings and build the stockade. The selection was made on the 31st day of May, and in three weeks' time the palisade was substantially completed, the buildings removed, a bridge thrown over the brook beyond the gate near the northwest corner of the stockade, and a guard-house and temporary barracks built.
The location of the stockade was such that on the north, east, and west sides it ran along the brow of a steep declivity, with small steams of water, through wet marshy ground at the foot, and an extensive prairie flat beyond on the north and east sides; and on the west was a valley, with a brook running through the centre, bordered by considerable marshy ground. The last-named brook was very soon utilized for milling purposes; on the south there was a very extended sandy flat terminating in the narrow neck encompassed by the stockade.[p10]
Shortly after the Dutch had begun their stockade they saw a band of Indians approaching and at first apprehended trouble, but soon found that the mission was friendly. They had come to give the land on which the village was commenced as a present to "the grand sachem" of the Hollanders, "to grease his feet, as he had taken so long and painful a journey to visit them."
Stuyvesant then, after the completion of the work, and leaving a detail of twenty-four soldiers as a guard, left on the 24th of June for his headquarters at New Amsterdam.
Peace with the Indians promised to be of very short continuance. Distrust seemed to exist on both sides. On the 15th of October, 1658, Director Stuyvesant had a conference with several sachems or chiefs of the savages. After the sachem had affirmed their authority to enter into a binding agreement, the affronts and injuries which they had done to the Esopus Christians were rehearsed to them as follows : "
They or their tribe had killed two horses of the Widow Hulter."
“That about a year or eighteen months ago they had wounded with a hatchet one Jacob Adriaensen on the head, while in his own house, in consequence of which he is still blind of one eye, and they had also mortally wounded his little child."
“That since the Spring they had burned his house and plundered his goods, also killed a dutchman on one of the Sloops."
“That they had stolen and taken with them from the aforesaid burned house some duffels and shirts of Adriaen Van der Sluys."
“That they had compelled the farmers to plough their land for corn and had threatened Cornells Barentsen Slecht to burn his house, in case he should refuse, taking a firebrand for that purpose and running up under the roof to fire the barn. "
“That they had extorted at different times new payments from the Dutch, who had bought land from them and paid for it according to the bill of sale, and had inflicted many more threats, affronts and damages upon our nation, which have been the cause that the People have been obliged to pull down their houses and move close together, and that the Director General has been forced to close this place by palisades, with great labor and expenses and to send here and keep so many soldiers.
"That they have killed again, contrary to the promise, a [p 11] horse and several hogs belonging to Jacob Jansen Stoll for all which losses caused by them proper satisfaction is demanded."
The Indians made professions of friendship and a desire to make satisfaction. But the director-general, after waiting until the 18th, the Indians not returning on that day, as promised, became satisfied that they had no intention of giving satisfaction. He therefore returned to New Amsterdam on the 19th of October, 1658, leaving instructions with Ensign Dirck Smit that he should join to the old garrison twentyfive men from the military brought up, so that they should number fifty men, and he to have the supreme command. With the assistance of the inhabitants he was immediately to make the enclosed place secure, and mount a proper guard at the two gates and the guard-house, in daytime as well as at night, and not allow any savage to pass through except upon permission of Jacob Jansen Stoll and Thomas Chambers. Until further order he was not to act hostilely against the savages unless they began first and harmed the Christians. Then, with the advice of said Stoll and Chambers, and assistance of the inhabitants, he was to act defensively, and apprehend, resist, and pursue the savages as occasion might require.
On the 29th of October, 1658, Messrs. Stoll, Chambers, and Smit reported to the director-general, by letter, that the savages on the previous day had released the large tract of land as demanded, and expected some presents in return.
Mutual distrust continued to exist between the whites and the Indians. The Dutch suspected that the savages intended to attack and slaughter them when opportunity offered, while the savages had no confidence in the sincerity of the director-general, he having avoided or neglected to send them the promised presents as a guarantee of peace. With the savage, the withholding of the presents was an evidence of want of sincerity. For that reason they apprehended that it was his intention to surprise and destroy them. In this critical condition, ready to blaze at the touch of the slightest spark, they lingered along through the winter and summer of 1659 and until the fall, when an outrage on the part of the whites rekindled the anger of the Indians

The incident that brought fullscale War
A few Indians—some eight in number—were employed by Thomas Chambers, who lived on his farm and had not removed into the village, to husk his corn, at which they were engaged until late in the evening.
During the evening they asked for brandy. When they had finished their work he gave them a large jug of it. They went to a brook near by and had their party. As the liquor operated the [p12] noise and yelling and drunken actions increased. It became so great that the commandant of the guard ordered a squad of his men to march out of one of the gates and return by the other, so as to see what the turmoil was, but not to commit any violence. He did so, and reported that it was a few Indians on a drunken spree.
That was enough to prompt some concerned settlers to action. Jacob Jansen Stoll called on several people to follow him and attack the Indians. Accordingly, against the orders of Ensign Smit, he left with Jacob Jansen Van Stoutenbergh, Gysbert Phillipse Van Velthuysen, Thomas Higgins, Evert Pels, Jan Arentsen, Barent Harmensen, Martin Hoffman, and Abel Derckson, and attacked the savages firing a volley of musketry among them, killing some and wounding others. It is said the indians immediately jumped up : one was knocked on the head with an axe ; a second was taken prisoner ; a third fled ; a fourth, while lying intoxicated, was cut on the head with a cutlass, which aroused him from his stupor, and he made off. The Dutch thereupon returned to the fort …
Ensign Smit, perceiving that he could not control the action of the settlers, determined at once to return with his command to New Amsterdam, and leave the settlers to the consequences of their acts. He therefore announced his intention to leave the next day, and made preparations accordingly.
The people made earnest opposition. They did not know what to do in the predicament in which they were placed. Smit would not yield, and insisted upon going. Finding they could do nothing by persuasion, Stoll and Chambers quietly got possession of all the boats in the neighborhood, so that Smit was thus deprived of the only means he had of transportation. In this emergency, securing one canoe, he sent Christopher Davis to the governor with information of the situation . . He was escorted to the river by eight soldiers and about a dozen citizens, under the command of Sergeant Laurentson. This was on the 25th of September, 1659, about four days after the incident. When this party was returning from the river, it fell into an ambuscade near where the City Hall is now situated. The sergeant and thirteen men at once surrendered, seeing, with the opposing numbers, the folly of resistance. The others fled, and reached the gate in safety.
War was now fully inaugurated. The Indians, to the number of five hundred and upward, surrounded the place, and kept up a constant skirmish. Throwing firebrands, they set fire to the house of Jacob Sebers, which, with many barns, stacks, and barracks were burned. They attempted to take the place by storm, and for that purpose made a most desperate assault, but without success. The stockade formed such an effective protection that only one man inside of the enclosure was killed. Not succeeding in capturing the place, they then proceeded to kill all the domestic animals they could find. The siege was thus kept up uninterruptedly for three weeks. Failing in their main object, they then proceeded to wreak their vengeance upon the prisoners.
Jacob Jansen Van Stoutenbergh. Abraham Vosburgh, a son of Comelis B. Slecht, and several others were forced to run the gauntlet, after which they were tied to stakes ; then cut and beaten in the most cruel manner ; and such as survived the torture were burned alive. There were others of the prisoners who suffered torture and death, but their names are unknown.
Thomas Chambers was exchanged for an Indian captive. One soldier made his escape. Sergeant Laurentson and Peter Hillebrants were ransomed. Evert Pels' son, who was a youth, was adopted into an Indian family. He remained with the tribe, took a wife from among them, had children, and refused to leave his wife. Whether he afterward returned to civilization or not tradition does not inform us.
At this time there was a great deal of sickness prevailing at New Amsterdam and throughout the colonial possessions, which, added to the fear of the inhabitants, it was impossible for Stuyvesant to procure any volunteers for aid to Esopus. Anticipating that the massacre and war would extend throughout the whole colony, the farmers fled in every direction, abandoning houses, grain, cattle, and, indeed, the nearest inhabited villages on Long Island, seeking shelter where they thought there might be safety.
There were only about half a dozen soldiers all told in Fort Amsterdam, and all sick. Stuyvesant himself was sick. In this plight he used every effort imaginable to procure volunteers ; every effort to that end was a failure. After repeated appeals only from twenty-five to thirty volunteers could be procured. Finally he required the able-bodied men to cast lots, and that those upon whom the lots fell would be required to go, under penalty of forfeiture of fifty guilders.
On the 9th of October, 1659, on Sunday, after the second service, Stuyvesant was able to set off with about one hundred and sixty men and as many Indians from Long Island. He reached Esopus the next day. On arriving there he learned that the Indians, not having been able to carry the works by assault or by any other way, had, about three weeks previous, abandoned the siege and gone to their homes. Stuyvesant was unable to pursue them on account of the country being so inundated, and the streams swelled by the heavy rains. He then at once returned to Manhattan.
Before leaving he strengthened the garrison, leaving Smit still in command. It appears, however, that the savages only made their appearance occasionally, to make threats and keep the people watchful. In the mean time, the authorities at Fort Orange had sent two Maquas chiefs, with Misameret, a Mohican sachem, to conclude an armistice. In this, after a few days' stay, they were successful, and at the same time they ransomed two men. The armistice was to continue as long as the director should elect.
On the 28th of November, 1659, Stuyvesant again visited the place, hoping to conclude a permanent peace, but the savages were afraid of him and did not meet him . About the middle of the following month they brought in some turkeys and deer, " to see if we were sincere." Some powder was given in exchange, which had a happy effect. But no confidence was placed in them. It was believed that winter and a scarcity of corn alone retarded hostilities. Tradition and old documents have left but little information how the settlers passed the winter. There is no doubt that they had a very watchful, anxious, and busy time.
Late in the winter or early in the spring of 1660 Director Stuyvesant had a consultation with his council in regard to the affairs of Esopus and their troubles with the Indians, and proposed to make a formal declaration of war. He thought it too humiliating to bear what had passed in Esopus, and he proposed to fight. He said the people of Esopus could produce more grain than all the other settlements. There was, therefore, the greater need for their protection. He did not purpose to declare war immediately, but at once began preparations therefor, and increased the military strength of the colony. And until prepared to strike a decisive blow, he purposed "ruse for ruse, and to lead them away by chicanery."
Van Ruyven, the secretary of the colony, opposed this plan if it could be avoided, reminding them that the whites were aggressors, not the Indians, and urging that another effort be made for peace; and if war must be made, it should be deferred until fall, when they could destroy the maize , which was always planted the some remote, secret place, to provide Indians with food for the winter. The council, however, agreed to declare war, but advised it be deferred until fall.
After the above determination had been reached, and on the 15th of March, Goetchels, chief of the Wappingers, appeared before the council at Manhattan, and asked for peace in the name of Pegh-Pegh-quanock, Pemmyrameck, Prenwamack, and Seewechammee, sachems of the Esopus Indians. "They were very fearful all winter the Dutch would make war. They had the wampum and beaver all ready to make peace. They did not come themselves, because they were full of fear." Governor Stuyvesant answered, they only wanted an "empty peace"
The chief answered it was only the empty heads (Kaele backers) who wanted war ; that all the principal men, especially Kaelkop and Pemmyrameck, begged for peace and wanted to meet at Esopus. In the mean time, Smit was pursuing the Indians and harassing them wherever they could be found. On the 15th of March he marched into the interior about eight or ten miles, where he discovered sixty savages, who fled without offering any resistance. But the Dutch soldiers fired on them, killed three or four, and took twelve prisoners. Returning they destroyed an Indian fort called Wiltmeet, supposed to have been located in Marbletown, and captured considerable maize, beans, and peas, and a number of peltries.
This again struck terror into the savages, and they were afraid to go and meet Stuyvesant, who arrived at Esopus on the 18th to meet them. Stuyvesant, irritated by their failure to meet him, at once determined to declare war. He then sent the plunder and prisoners to Manhattan, ordered the remnants of the tribes to be driven across the Catskill Mountains, and then sailed to Fort Orange. On the 25th of March, 1660, he issued a formal declaration of war against them and their adherents.
By treaties entered into with river tribes south of Esopus, including the Wappingers, he bound them to remain neutral ; thus entirely cutting off the Esopus Indians from any allies or assistance in that quarter.
On the 3d of April two parties of savages appeared on the opposite side of the Esopus Creek and made derisive gestures. The next day they came again and promised to come on the morrow. Smit, early the next morning, placed forty-three men in ambush about three gun shots from the stockade. Soon about one hundred Indians appeared, but their scouts discovered the snare. The Dutch now began a general attack, and followed them for an hour. They killed three, wounded two, and took one prisoner, with a loss of only three horses.
During this time the Indians were praying for peace. On the 21st of April the Catskill and Mohican tribes asked for peace in behalf of the Esopus Indians, and in their name offered to give up all land on the Esopus and exchange prisoners and booty on the 23d of April. Also on the 23d some Mohawk chiefs appeared before Montague, the Secretary of Fort Orange, and presented, in the name of the Esopus Indians, eighteen fathoms of sewan, soliciting a treaty of peace. This was declined for want of authority to act in the premises, and the petitioners were referred to the director and council.
About this time three sachems of the Mohican tribe— Aepjen, Assamad, and Beresbay — appeared before the director in behalf of the Esopus Indians. Laying down two strings of wampum, one of them said :”his is a pledge that the Esopus sachems, Kaelebackers, young and old, men and women, desire peace." These belts were taken, but Stuyvesant told them that peace could only be assured by their coming to New Amsterdam. Then, presenting two other belts, they asked that the prisoners might be released. This they were told was impossible, and the wampum was returned. They then laid down twelve and renewed the request. This was also refused.
The Indians, finding their efforts fruitless for the release of the prisoners, one of their number, after a short consultation, laid a belt of wampum at the director's feet, and requested that the war be confined to the Esopus country. They were assured that as long as they remained friendly to the Dutch they would not be molested. Other belts of wampum were now laid at his feet " to wipe out the remembrance of the rejection of those they had offered for the prisoners. ' ' These were taken, and each was given a blanket, a piece of frieze, an axe. a knife, a pair of stockings, two small kettles, and one pound of powder. They then left, apparently satisfied, taking with them a pass for the Esopus chiefs.
On the next day, May 25th, 1660, about twenty of the Indian captives were sent by the director to the island of Curacoa, with directions that they be employed there or at Bunaire with the company's negroes. [ in effect he sold them into slavery.] Three or four others were kept to be punished '' as might be thought proper or necessity might demand."
The only excuse Stuyvesant gave for this act, was that "their enlargement would have a tendency to create disaffection toward our nation. Our barbarous neighbors would glory as if they had inspired us with terror."
Stuyvesant in this act evinced a great lack of good policy and acuteness as a statesman . It was never forgotten by the Indians, and they awaited their time for the terrible retribution of blood.
Questioning, as the writer [Marius Schoonmaker]does, the policy and humanity of the government of New Amsterdam in transporting the Indian captives to Curacoa, it is proper that he should give the reasons as [p 17] contained in the resolution of the council, as passed May 26th, 1860. "
“It is quite evident from the proposition and the talk of the Savages, that we shall not obtain a firm and stable peace with the Esopus savages, unless the captured Esopus Indians (of whom the eleven here and the others still in prison at the Esopus are all bold and hard hearted fellows, and the most inconsiderate of the tribe) are released, or they are deprived of all hope ever to get them back, and they are forced to a solid peace by force of arms (with God's blessing). Having considered this, after several serious deliberations, it has been decided unanimously, that to release them would not only tend to create disregard and contempt of our nation among neighbors, as well as our own subjects, but also the neighboring barbarians, and especially the Esopus savages would glory in it, as if they inspired such great awe to our People, that we were afraid to arouse their anger, and that we had no courage, to treat, according to their merits, and as an example for others, the prisoners among whom there are some, who have dared to murder our People, captured by them, in cool blood and with unheard cruelty. Hence we have, for the above stated and other reasons, judged it to be best, to send the aforesaid Indian Captives to Curacao by the first good opportunity, and at the expense of the Company, to be employed there or at Bonayro with the negroes in the service of the Company, and to keep here only two or three of the aforesaid Captives, who have murdered our prisoners in cool blood, and to punish them, at the proper time, in such a manner, as shall be decided upon, in the mean time to continue a defensive and offensive war against the Esopus savages, and inflict all possible harm upon them, until such time, that we can obtain a peace with them on favorable conditions."
On the 27th of May, Smit sent out seventy-five men with an Indian prisoner, Disquaaras, as guide. They discovered, " at the second fall on Kit David's Kill" — supposed to be Lefevre's Falls, at the Rock Lock, in the town of Rosendale — a few Indians planting maize on the opposite bank. The creek being high, the Dutch could not cross, but the Indians fled, and the Dutch returned to the fort.
Smit having been informed by Maritje Hansen, wife of Juriaen Westphael, that the Indians had located “about nine miles or three hours farther up the stream above mentioned that the fall, where the stream can be easily forded,” he sent his men forthwith to take the Indians by surprise. When within sight of their dwellings they saw some women and children planting, who, being warned of the approach of the Dutch by the barking of the dogs, fled, leaving behind them Preymaker, a chief of their tribe, who [p 18] was crippled and bent with age. He was designated as "the oldest and best of their chiefs." He, armed with a gun, six knives, and a tomahawk, demanded : "What are ye doing here, ye dogs ?" and at the same time leveled his gun at them. That was at once snatched from his grasp, and he was then disarmed and put in charge of a guard. He lived below Hurley, and the stream Preymaker was named after him.
They then crossed the creek to the other Indian dwellings, and. destroyed all they could find. Being about to return, and finding the Indian Chief Preymaker an incumbrance, as "being too old to walk and the distance too great to carry him," they struck him down with his own axe. On their way back they were attacked by some Indians concealed in the bushes, and had one man wounded. " Making fight, the Indians fled to a thick woods, where they could not be pursued, and the soldiers marched home."
On the 3d of June, Oratany, chief of the Hackensack and Hav- erstraw Indians, at the instance of Seewackamano, one of the Esopus sachems, appeared before Stuyvesant, and sued for peace in their name. He told Stuyvesant that Seewackamano, only a few days before, had called together the Wanwassutje Indians (the Warwassings), and asked them what they would do. " We will fight no more was their answer." He next asked the squaws "what seemed best." They answered, "Let us plant our field in peace and live in quiet." He then went to the young men, who lived apart in another quarter, "and asked their opinion too." Their answer was, "They would not kill hog or fowl any more ."That, having thus the consent of all classes to make peace, he had come down to get them—the Ha«kensacks and Haverstraws—to intercede in their behalf. While there in that behalf, and only the day before, he had heard of the expedition of Smit and the killing of "their greatest and best chief." The news had fallen heavily on his heart, and he did not know what to do. " He had gone home to appease his people, would return in ten or twelve days, and left the Hackensacks and Haverstraws to do the best they could with the Dutch ; for himself he had no hope."
Stuyvesant assured him that the Christians wanted peace. The old chief replied : " It is strange, then, that your people have so lately killed their chief. They mourn his loss."
It was then agreed that there should be a truce, while he, Oratany, and his sachems went up to Esopus with Claes de Ruyter, to see what was the true disposition of the Indians. Claes was then authorized to go with them and make a treaty, provided they would return the ransom paid for prisoners afterward murdered, and retire from the Esopus land. Claes and Commander Smit soon reported that they were wiling to accept those terms, but [p19] wanted the director to come with an interpreter called Weathercock. The Minnisink savages, who had engaged with the Esopus, also wanted terms.
The council of New Netherland concluded to send Stuyvesant to Esopus with two old burgomasters, Martin Cregier and Oloff Stevenson Van Cortlandt, to advise with him. On the 7th of July this party left Manhattan. On the 9th they arrived at Esopus, and they received on board the Highland chiefs, who sent two Indians to notify the Esopus Indians. The Esopus Indians did not appear until the 14th of July, toward evening. On the next day, the 15th of July, there was a memorable gathering of Christians and savages " on the flat near the strand gate," just without the enclosure of the village, " under the sky of heaven." There were met in conference the Indian sachems Kaelkop, See- wackamano, Nosbabowan, and Pemmyrameck ; Esopus : Adog- beguewalgus, Requescecade, Ogkuekelt ; Maquas : Eskyras, alias Aepje-Ampumst ; Mohiccms : Keesewing, Machacknemenn ; Cats- Mils : Onderis, Hoeque, Kaskongeritschage ; Minquas : Isses- chahga, Wisachganio ; Wappingers : Oratany, Carstaugh ; Hack- ensacJcs : Warchen ; St-aten Island : together with the director and his advisers, the interpreter, " Old Weathercock, Arent Van Curler," and all the inhabitants of Esopus. After much talking with the Indians to and fro, and Stuyvesant consenting to peace, Onderis addressed the Esopus sachems, and said: "Ye must not renew this quarrel; neither kill horse nor cow, nor steal any property. AVhatever ye want ye must purchase or earn." After some more talking to and fro, he said : " Throw down the hatchet. Tread it so deep into the earth that it shall never be taken up again." He then presented them a belt of white wampum. The Macquas then addressed the Dutch, and charged them not to renew the quarrel, " nor beat the Esopus savages in the face and then laugh at them." Then, taking an axe from the hands of an Esopus chief, he threw it on the ground, jumped on it, and said : " Now, they will never commence this quarrel again." The Esopus chief, rising slowly, said : " We have permitted the hatchet to be taken from our hands and trodden in the ground. We will never again take it up." The conditions of peace were then submitted and agreed to substantially, as follows : All hostilities were to cease, all injuries forgiven and forgotten. The Dutch to have all the land of Esopus, and the Indians to depart from and not plant thereon. The directors to pay eight [p 20] hundred schepels corn for the Christian prisoners, " one half this harvest, and the other half next year, when the maize is ripe." The Indians were not to kill any horses, cattle, or hogs ; and if they did, were to pay for them, or remain under arrest until damages were paid, the Dutch agreeing to the same terms. There was not to be war for murder, but the guilty parties were to be punished. The Indians were not to approach the plantations or dwellings armed, and only to drink brandy and spirituous liquors in their own camp, in the woods at a great distance. The peace was to include the friends of both sides, and the chiefs mentioned were to be security for the observance of these conditions by the Esopus Indians.

Thus terminated what has been styled the first Esopus war. As has before been said, we have but little information in original sources pertaining to it.

It seems that the war ended when the survival of the tribe was threatened, but it also seems that the sending of members of the tribe to a life of slavery brought deep resentment which may have been one of the contributing factors in bringing about the Second Esopus War.

No comments: