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

A Weak Defense

I knew, in addition to all this, because of having lived so many years in the fort, that we were not in a condition to hold our own against even one of these English ships, because of many of our soldiers' being in the same frame of mind as was I, concerning the Director, and even though each and every one had been heart and hand with Master Stuyvesant, there was not in all the city enough of ammunition to serve the guns during a battle.

It stood on the accounts that we had thirteen hundred pounds of powder in the magazine; but I knew, as did many another, that of the whole amount a full seven hundred pounds would not burn even though it was thrown into a blazing fire.

We had one hundred and fifty soldiers under arms, and Martin Kip had the names of ninety-six of these who had declared that if English, French, or Swedes came against us while Petrus Stuyvesant was Director, they would not raise a hand in defense of the city.

There were also near to two hundred and fifty citizens who had been armed and commanded to be ready for service in time of danger; but I knew beyond a question that more than half the number would stand with hands in their coat pockets, rather than raise them in obedience to an order from Director Stuyvesant.

Thus it can be seen that the English had chosen a most favorable time for coming against us, and, as if to make their chances even better, Master Stuvvesant, suspecting no evil, had gone on a tour of inspection far up the North river.

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