Letter from council of New Netherland to director Stuyvesant

Scanned Document:

This dispatch shall serve to inform you and your council, with sorrow, of how on the morning of the 15th of this month a multitude of armed Indians came onto the island of Manhattan. They consisted of Maquas, Mahikanders, the Indians of the North River from above to below, those from Paham's land,[1] northern Indians and others. They forced their way with intolerable insolence into the houses of citizens, and showed great insolence to Mr. Allerton. When order was restored in the area of the fortress, a parlay was held in the council chamber with the chiefs, who spoke an abundance of good words. They then went to their people on the shore who at about 9o'clock ] in the evening wounded Hendrick van Dyc in the side with an arrow, but not mortally, while he was standing at his garden gate, and they almost split Paules Lendersen's head with an axe ] as he stood next to his wife ]. It was then thought ] advisable to go ask the Indian chiefs on the shore why they had not withdrawn to Noten Island as promised. When we came to the shore the Indians attacked our people and killed Jan de Visser. Whereupon the Dutch returned the fire, driving the enemy into their canoes, of which there were 64 in number. The rest ran away along the island. As soon as they were in the water they shot from their canoes, killing Cornelis van Doren and wounding three others. Presently we saw the house at Hooboken in flames. Soon after that all Pavonia was burning. Everything there has been burned and everyone killed except the family of Michiel Jansen. On this island they do nothing but burn and set fires. Nine hundred Indians are at the end of this island or thereabouts who were joining forces with the others. If Mr. Willith's reports are correct, we shall be attacked here ourselves in a short while. May God grant us prudence and courage.

Mr. Willit relates that the great chief of the Minquas has been here conferring on some matters with all the aforementioned Indians; he thinks that the Swedes have had him bribe these Indians, and that it is through Swedish instigation that these troubles have befallen us in your absence. God delivered us from a general massacre last night through the hastiness of the Indians who relied on their might. We hope to defend ourselves well. We would expand on this further but shall let it be for now.

We wish you good success. We have [      ] a yacht, by your order, at the appointed place, but have received no news either by letter or Indian, which gives us reason here to fear that you might have encountered more resistance there than we had anticipated.

My lord, may it please you to consider this letter and reflect whether you and that force would not be needed more here than to subdue that place there. We deem it better to protect one's own house rather than to go conquer one that is far away and lose the old one in the process. We hope for a speedy reply so that we might know what to do.

Your wife, with her whole family and all that concerns you and herself is all still well. Since the citizens are unwilling to protect other people's houses far from Manhattan, we have, with her advice, hired ten Frenchmen for the protection of your farm on Manhattan, subject ] to your discretion. We shall, as much as possible, keep it well-guarded, and await your speedy return ]; manning a fort day and night with citizens has its difficulties ], because I cannot command them as soldiers.

My Lord ], not having anything else, I shall commend you and all those with you to the protection of God and ask you to give our greetings to Domine Megapolensis; and remind him whether the fiscal upon his departure did not make known that he feared such murderous designs by [      ] were being planned, and he asked him to make you aware of it at the first opportunity; but he did not think that such would happen. We had much more to say, but so as not to grieve you anymore, we shall refrain from speaking of the great murder of 100 people in nine hours until the next opportunity.

All of the country people are fleeing except for Amersvoort, Medwout, Breukelen and the English villages. There is a great deal of lamenting here; we leave you to consider the misery- We pray that God may protect you and all those with you and bring you back speedily in good health for the consolation of the poor inhabitants. We would have greeted the other gentlemen, Sille and Coninck, with a few lines but time does not permit.

We shall close, after greetings, by commending you and the messers. Sille and Coninck to the protection of God, and remain your servants.

[      ] September[2]


The Pachami from the east side of the Hudson River between Esopus and Manhattan.

The date was probably 16 September 1655; NYCD, 12:99 has 12 September which is impossible since the Indians attacked on the 15th.


Translation: Gehring, C. trans./ed., New York Historical Manuscripts: Dutch, Vols. 18-19, Delaware Papers: Dutch Period, 1648-1664 (Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc.: 1981).A complete copy of this publication is available on the New Netherland Institute website.