Author Topic: Kieft's War  (Read 145 times)


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Kieft's War
« on: April 05, 2021, 12:30:45 am »

Dutch colonists attacked Lenape camps and massacred the inhabitants, which encouraged unification among the regional Algonquian tribes against the Dutch and precipitated waves of attacks on both sides. This was one of the earliest conflicts between settlers and Indians in the region.
New Netherland had begun to flourish along the Hudson River. The Dutch West India Company ran the settlement chiefly for trading, with the director-general exercising unchecked corporate authority backed by soldiers. New Amsterdam and the other settlements of the Hudson Valley had developed beyond company towns into a growing colony. In 1640, the Company surrendered its trade monopoly on the colony and declared New Netherland a free-trade zone, and Kieft was suddenly governor of a booming economy.


Kieft's first plan to reduce costs was to solicit tribute payments from the tribes living in the region. Long-time colonists warned him against this course, but he pursued it, nonetheless. Tribal chiefs rejected the idea. Pigs were stolen from the farm of David Pietersz. de Vries, so Kieft sent soldiers to raid a Raritan village on Staten Island, killing several people. The Raritan band retaliated by burning down de Vries' farmhouse and killing four of his employees, so Kieft offered bounty payments to rival tribes for the heads of Raritans. Colonists later determined that de Vries' pigs had been stolen by other colonists.[4] In August 1641, a Weckquaesgeek Indian killed Claes Swits, an elderly Swiss immigrant[5] who ran a public house frequented by settlers and Indians alike in Turtle Bay, Manhattan.
Kieft sent a punitive expedition to attack the village of the Indian who had murdered Swits, but the militia got lost. He then accepted the peace offerings of Weckquaesgeek elders.[8] He then launched an attack on camps of refugee Weckquaesgeek and Tappan on February 23, 1643, two weeks after dissolving the council.[9] Mahican and Mohawk Indians in the north had driven them south the year before, armed with guns traded by French and English colonists,[8] and the Tappans sought protection from the Dutch. Kieft refused aid despite the company's previous guarantees to the tribes to provide it. The refugees made camp at Communipaw in Jersey City and lower Manhattan.

Pavonia Massacre

Colonists from New Netherland descended on the camps at Pavonia on February 25, 1643 and killed 120 Indians, including women and children. De Vries described the events in his journal:

Infants were torn from their mother's breasts, and hacked to pieces in the presence of their parents, and pieces thrown into the fire and in the water, and other sucklings, being bound to small boards, were cut, stuck, and pierced, and miserably massacred in a manner to move a heart of stone. Some were thrown into the river, and when the fathers and mothers endeavored to save them, the soldiers would not let them come on land but made both parents and children drown.[10]

Historians differ on whether Kieft had planned such a massacre or a more contained raid,[11][12] but all sources agree that he rewarded the soldiers for their deeds.[citation needed] The attacks united the Algonquian peoples in the surrounding areas against the Dutch.

Two years of war

In the fall of 1643, a force of 1,500 Indians invaded New Netherland and killed many, including Anne Hutchinson, a chief figure in the Antinomian Controversy which ruptured the Massachusetts Bay Colony years earlier. The Indians destroyed villages and farms, the work of two decades of settlement, and Dutch forces killed 500 Weckquaesgeek Indians that winter in retaliation.
Kieft hired Captain John Underhill, who recruited militia on Long Island to go against the Indians there and in Connecticut. His forces killed more than 1,000 Indians, including 500 to 700 in the Pound Ridge Massacre.[1]

On the cusp of the New Year, John Underhill was dispatched with a force of 120 men to the town of Greenwich in response to local Wappinger Confederacy attacks. Greenwich was settled by New England colonists but had agreed to submit to Dutch suzerainty in exchange for protection. After much searching, the colonial force was finally directed to a party of Indians by the residents of the adjacent town of Stamford. Underhill's force managed to kill or capture twenty Indians in a surprise attack. A raid was soon launched on the Wesquaesgeek which managed to destroy two villages and much of the Indians' stored winter food. Underhill next participated in an attack on the Indians of western Long Island in February 1644. The colonial force managed to kill 120 Indians in attacks on two villages. Only one colonial soldier was killed and three were wounded.

The massacre

John Underhill returned to Stamford to acquire information on the whereabouts of the Indians. He encountered the guide who had led them in the initial unproductive phase of the last expedition in the region. The guide was anxious to demonstrate his good will and offered to lead Underhill to a large concentration of Indians nearby. As a result, three yachts delivered 130 colonial soldiers to Greenwich under the joint command of General John Underhill and Hendrick van Dyck Ensign. The army was forced to spend a night in Greenwich due to a winter storm. The next day the army marched out into the surrounding hilly country. Traveling conditions were so poor that some men had to crawl at stages. The army came within a mile of the Indian village by eight in the evening. After resting for a couple of hours, the army crossed two rivers and surrounded the village which was located in the hollow of a great hill.

The village was called "Nanichiestawack" meaning "Place of Safety".[6] The Lenape were gathered for a pow wow during a winter ceremony of celebration in their place of safety on sacred lands of their ancestors with special guests from local tribes. The Siwanoy and Tankiteke were attempting to integrate their bands with five others of the Wappinger confederacy, including the Raritan, Wecquaesgeek, and by some accounts members of the Ramapo, with blessings on the land and people. Scholars and local historians do not agree on the actual site of the massacre. Some historians believe it to be located on the border of modern Bedford and Pound Ridge Townships adjacent to the Pound Ridge Reservation where two rivers intersect beneath what later became a mine in the 1930s of rose quartz. Others assume it to be located between Routes 104 and 172.[7] It consisted of three orderly rows of houses each 80 paces long. The Dutch report confirms that the Indians had gathered there for a winter festival.

The night attack on the village was conducted under the light of a full moon. The Indians were awake when the colonial force launched its attack. In the initial phase Dutch reports suggest 180 Indians were killed outside of the houses while one colonial soldier was killed and twelve wounded. The village was sufficiently encircled by the attacking force such that the Indians could not escape. The survivors holed up in the houses and fired arrows at the assaulting army.

In a repetition of the tactics employed in the Mystic massacre, John Underhill and his co-commander ordered the village set on fire with the inhabitants inside, including mostly Women, children and tribal elders. The Dutch account reported on this phase of the battle, according to Underhill, "What was most wonderful is, that among this vast collection of Men, Women and Children not one was heard to cry or to scream."[8]

Only eight Indians survived the battle of whom three were severely wounded. According to the surviving tribes, more than 600 Native Americans from seven tribes had been killed in the massacre. Reports by colonists claim between 500 and 600 killed by Underhill's troops most of whom were burned alive.

The survivors included a medicine man and his grandson who arrived the next day to the sight of burnt family members. In total the colonial force lost only one man and fifteen wounded. The Native Americans were unprepared for war as they had nurtured a strong relationship with local officials and possessed memorandum of agreement based on mutual respect for the land with local officials. John Underhill violated these agreements and was wounded in the attack. The army remained at the battle site for the night and departed the next morning. The army arrived in Stamford by the afternoon and was welcomed by the inhabitants. The army left Stamford and arrived at New Amsterdam after two days. A Thanksgiving celebration was held on its return.


For the next two years, the united tribes harassed settlers throughout New Netherland. The sparse colonial forces were helpless to stop the attacks, but the Indians were too spread out to mount more effective strikes. The two sides finally agreed to a truce when the last of the 69 united tribes joined in August 1645.


The Indian attacks caused many settlers to return to Europe,[14] and the Dutch West India Company lost confidence in its ability to control its territory in the New World. They recalled Kieft to the Netherlands in 1647 to answer for his conduct,[15] but he died in a shipwreck near Swansea, Wales. The company named Peter Stuyvesant as his successor, and he managed New Netherland until it was ceded to the English.[6]

In other words, many Dutch colonialist bloodlines surely exist in the present-day Netherlands. Every last one must be eliminated.

« Last Edit: September 10, 2022, 06:56:47 pm by 90sRetroFan »

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