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

The Uprising of the Indians

And this is the news which the messenger brought:—It seems that two days after our fleet had sailed from New Amsterdam, Master Van Dyck found an Indian woman in his orchard stealing peaches; without parley or warning, he shot her dead, and there were those of her tribe nearby who carried with all speed to the Indian villages information of the murder.

The savages knew that Master Stuyvesant and nearly all the fighting men of the city were away, and speedily they gathered to take revenge. It was said that no less than two thousand savages, having come in sixty-four canoes, paddled down the Hudson River in front of the city while we lay off Christina arguing with the Swedish governor.


The Indians claimed that they had come only in order to find some enemies of their tribe whom they believed had fled there, and proceeded to break open a dozen or more of the houses while searching for those whom they professed to be seeking.

Now there had been left in the fort less than twenty soldiers, while the greater number of our cannon were on board the fleet for the purpose of killing the Swedes, in case they refused to give up their forts to us. Therefore it would have been folly had our people made any attempt at holding the savages in check.

The burgomasters and other officers of the city did what they could to pacify the painted visitors, and so far succeeded, by soft words, as to persuade them to withdraw to Nutten Island.

One can well fancy in what a state of terror were those whom Director Stuyvesant had left behind in New Amsterdam, while so great an army of savages, who had just cause for anger, ryas so near at hand.

The women and the children fled to the fort for protection, where but little could have been given them had the brown men made an attack, and during all the hours of the day no one dared venture abroad. The shops and the dwellings alike were left unprotected, while those trembling, frightened ones who crouched within the fort, believed that death was close beside them.


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