Society of Colonial Wars

in the State of Ohio

Ohio Society of Colonial Wars
:: Colonial Wars

1659 - 1663

   ||    Esopus Wars   ||    Dutch and Iroquois confederacy vs. Esopus tribe

Conflict between Dutch settlers and Esopus tribe of Lenape Natives in the colony of New Netherland.

In 1614 the Dutch tried to establish a trading post where Kingston New York is today, on land which the Esopus tribe used for farming. The Natives destroyed the trading post and drove the settlers back south. The Dutch tried again in 1652 with the same result. In 1658 the Dutch returned again, and built a stockade, this time the Esopus were unable to drive them away. Instead they granted the land to the settlers in an attempt to contain them and stop them overrunning more crop land.

20 Sept. 1659 - 15 July 1660 First Esopus War
 Several Esopus men were hired to do farm work, after they were done, and paid in brandy, a drunken native fired a musket in celebration. No one was hurt, but a mob of soldiers and farmers attacked the natives, most of whom escaped. The next day the natives returned with their tribesmen, who destroyed crops, killed livestock, and burned buildings. After a brief stalemate, where the Dutch were reinforced by New Amsterdam, peace was reached, but it was quite tenuous.
5 June 1663 - Sept. 1663Second Esopus War
 In an attempt to agree to a permanent treaty the Dutch reached out to the Esopus for a meeting, and were told that it was customary to conduct peace talks unarmed and in the open. As a result, the gates of the Dutch town were kept open, allowing large numbers of Esopus to move throughout the town supposedly selling produce. By the time news of the destruction of the neighboring village reached the town the scouts were in position to launch their own surprise attack. They devastated a large portion of the town and kidnapped a number of women before escaping.
 Throughout the next few months the Esopus used guerilla tactics to attack the Dutch, who were unable to follow until they managed to obtain the assistance of the Mohawk tribe who acted as guides and interpreters.
 At the end of July, the Dutch reinforcements had arrived, and they marched to the Esopus stronghold. Unable to assault it effectively, they decided to burn the surrounding fields and starve the natives out.
 The stalemate continued until early September when a Dutch force managed to engage with a party of the Esopus and killed the Chief, Papequanaehen. This put an end to the war, though the peace was quite uneasy.

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