Gateway to the Classics: Peter of Amsterdam by James Otis
Peter of Amsterdam by  James Otis

How the Fort Was Armed

It may interest you to know that our fort was well armed, having mounted and ready for service, eight bombards, by which I mean heavy cannon with wide, flaring mouths; six culverins, or exceedingly long, slim guns with handles on either side for carrying; and seven serpentines, these last being thin, long guns with grooves on the inside to throw the shot in a whirling manner. As missiles for the serpentines, two balls were chained together, being sent among the enemy in such way that they swung round and round, oftentimes inflicting much damage.

The palisade, which had been built straight across the island while the savages were thirsting for our blood, was to me a wonder in those days when Master Tienhoven gave me an opportunity for strolling about the town.

It was made of cedar logs full twelve-feet high, and less than a quarter-mile back from the fort, stretching across the island for a distance of nearly twenty-five hundred feet. Here and there, say every three hundred feet, was a small fort built of logs, where the soldiers could be protected while beating back an enemy, and at the water's edge on the river to the eastward, was what is called a half-moon battery, set well out into the stream, where were mounted two guns.


The same kind of fortification stood at the other end of the palisade, on the shore of that river discovered by MIaster Henry Hudson, and near each battery was a gate giving entrance to the town, while an arch with heavy barriers, formed with much ornamentation of carving, stretched across the Broad Way.

Following this palisade was a wide lane, along which were built the huts of the slaves, servants, or people who were poor because of being lazy.

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