The river Indians
, or those dwelling on the borders of the Hudson
, were tributary to the powerful Mohawks
In the midwinter of 1643, a large party of the latter came down to collect by force of arms tribute which had not been paid.
The river Indians
, 500 in number, fled before the invaders, and took refuge, with their wives and children, among the Hackensacks at Hoboken
, opposite Manhattan Island
, where they asked the protection of the Dutch
At the same time many of the tribe in lower Westchester
fled to Manhattan
and took refuge with the Hollanders.
The humane De Vries
, who had a settlement on Staten Island
, proposed to Governor Kieft
to make this an occasion for establishing a permanent peace with the Indians, whose anger his cruelties had fearfully aroused.
But the “man of blood” refused; and it was made the occasion of spilling more innocent blood.
On a cold night in February, 1643, the fugitives at Hoboken
, and those on Manhattan
, slumbering in fancied security, were attacked by order of Kieft
, without the shadow of an excuse, by armed Hollanders sent by the governor to murder them.
Eighty of these Dutchmen were sent across the Hudson
stealthily, among floating ice, and fell suddenly upon the stricken families at Hoboken
View of the spring, Hobkirk's Hill.|
They spared neither age nor sex. “Warrior and squaw, sachem and child, mother and babe, were alike massacred,” says Brodhead
“Daybreak scarcely ended the furious slaughter.
Mangled victims, seeking safety in the thickets, were driven into the river; and parents, rushing to save their children, whom the soldiers had thrown into the stream, were driven back into the water, and drowned before the eyes of their unrelenting murderers.”
About 100 of the dusky people perished there, and forty of those on Manhattan
The river and the surrounding country were lighted with the blaze of burning wigwams; and by that horrid illumination De Vries
witnessed the butchery from the ramparts of Fort Amsterdam.
He told the cowardly governor, who remained within the walls of the fortress, that he had begun the ruin of the colony.
The governor sneered at the clemency of De Vries
; and when the soldiers returned to the fort the next morning, with thirty prisoners and heads of several of the slain Indians
of both sexes, he shook their bloody hands with delight, praised them for their bravery, and made each of them a present.
Then De Vries
uttered his prophecy.
See Kieft, William