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Editorial Last Updated: Aug 6, 2017 - 10:19:57 AM


The Peach Tree War
By Dr. Gary K. Busch 4/8/17
Aug 4, 2017 - 10:36:10 AM

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On September 15, 1655, the Susquehannock Nation and allied Native Americans attacked several New Amsterdam settlements along the North River (the Hudson) in retaliation against the New Amsterdam Dutch colonists in NY and New Jersey who had just taken over the Swedish colony of ‘New Sweden’ along the Delaware River.

In March 1638, Swedish colonists led by Peter Minuit landed in what is today Wilmington, Delaware, proclaiming the west bank of the Delaware River to be "New Sweden". Peter Minuit was a dismissed Director of the Dutch West India Company's New Netherland colony and had allied himself with the Swedish colonists. On their behalf, Minuit had negotiated the right to buy access to the land for the Swedes from the Susquehannocks. The Susquehannocks were a powerful confederacy on the Eastern seaboard and were in competition with the Iroquois Confederation which competed with them for land and power. The Iroquois had aligned themselves with the Dutch and the British.

The Susquehannock quickly became New Sweden's main supplier of furs and pelts and customers for European manufactured goods. In the process, New Sweden became a protectorate and tributary of the Susquehannock nation, which was perhaps the leading power on the Eastern seaboard at the time.

Both the Dutch and English colonial administrations opposed the formation of New Sweden and began to build forts along its northern perimeter. In late 1651, they agreed to work together to remove New Sweden. The Swedes were concerned, as were the Susquehannocks. On Trinity Sunday in 1654, Johan Risingh, Commissary and Councillor to New Sweden Governor Lt. Col. Johan Printz began his attempt to expel the Dutch from the Delaware Valley. They took both the Dutch and English forts on its border (Fort Casimir was assaulted, surrendered, and renamed Fort Trefaldighet), leaving Swedes in complete possession of their colony. On June 21, 1654, the Indians met with the Swedes to reaffirm their agreements

The Dutch West India Company, headquartered in New Amsterdam (‘New York’) was outraged and sent an armed squadron of ships under the direction of Director-General Peter Stuyvesant which seized New Sweden on 15 September, 1655.The Susquehannocks were upset at the disturbance of the relationship with their best market, New Sweden, and vowed to honour their commitments made to the Swedes, They assembled an army of warriors from multiple allied and neighbouring groups.

An army of six hundred warriors landed in New Amsterdam (Lower Manhattan), wreaking havoc (a hundred Dutch died) through the narrow streets of the town which was mostly undefended, as the bulk of the garrison was in New Sweden. They later crossed the North River and attacked Pavonia (Jersey City).  One hundred fifty hostages were taken and held at Paulus Hook. Farms at Harlem, Staten Island, and the Bronx were also attacked. Stuyvesant, who had led the assault on New Sweden, hurried back to his capital on news of the attack. When they were later ransomed, the settlers took temporary refuge in New Amsterdam, and the settlements on the west shore of the river were depopulated. This became known as the ‘Peachtree War”.

Stuyvesant and the Dutch had to ransom the hostages and were compelled to repurchase the right to settle the area between the Hudson and Hackensack Rivers. The nascent colony on Staten Island was abandoned. The Susquehannocks had won but the colony of New Sweden disappeared.

See:       Karnoutsos, Carmela (2007) .”Peach Tree War”, .New Jersey City |University

Russell Shorto,  The Island at the Center of the World: The Epic Story of Dutch Manhattan and the Forgotten Colony that Shaped America. Random House. 2004


Source:Ocnus.net 2017

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