[Note: This is a single part of what will be, by my classification, about 240 compact tribal histories (contact to 1900). It is limited to the lower 48 states of the U.S. but also includes those First Nations from Canada and Mexico that had important roles (Huron, Micmac, Assiniboine, etc.).
This history's content and style are representative. The normal process at this point is to circulate an almost finished product among a peer group for comment and criticism. At the end of this History you will find links to those Nations referred to in the History of the Wappinger.
Using the Internet, this can be more inclusive. Feel free to comment or suggest corrections via e-mail. Working together we can end some of the historical misinformation about Native Americans. You will find the ego at this end to be of standard size. Thanks for stopping by. I look forward to your comments...Lee Sultzman.]
East side of the Hudson River between the Bronx and Rhinebeck extending east to the crest of the Taconic Mountains on the border between New York and Connecticut. Except for a few small groups, most Wappinger had left the lower Hudson Valley by 1760 and settled in western Massachusetts with the Mahican at Stockbridge, the Iroquois in New York, or the Delaware in Pennsylvania.
In 1600 the seven Wappinger tribes probably numbered about 8,000 in 30 villages. After contact, the rate of their "melting away" was dramatic. Smallpox struck the area 1633-35 and 1692. By 1700 epidemics (including malaria) had reduced the lower Hudson tribes to 10 per cent of their original number. Warfare also took a serious toll, and at least 1,600 Wappinger were killed during the Wappinger War (1643-45). Only a few hundred Wappinger
remained in the lower Hudson Valley after 1700, and almost all were gone by 1758. One possible group of Wappinger remain in the region today, the Ramapough Mountain Indians (Ramapo Mountain People) in northern New Jersey. They are probably descendents of a mixture of Munsee Delaware, Mattabesic Ramapo, and Pompton (Wappinger who relocated to northern New Jersey during the 1660s). With 2,500 members, they have state recognition but were denied federal status in 1993.
Meaning "easterner" and applied to the entire group of seven related tribes, Wappinger was originally the name of a small sachemship consisting of three villages on the east side of the Hudson near Poughkeepsie. Spelling variations are: Wappinck, Wapping, Wappingo, and Wawping. Because many of the Algonquin-speaking tribes south of the St. Lawrence River (Mahican, Wappinger, Delaware, etc.) had a wolf clan, the French commonly referred to them collectively as Loup (French for wolf). Other names for the Wappinger were: Highland Indians, Long Reach Indians, Oping (Opine), and Pompton.
Algonquin. The R-dialect spoken by the Wappinger was almost identical to that of the Mattabesic in western Connecticut and the Metoac tribes of western and central Long Island.
Kitchawank (Kitchawong) - northern Westchester County.
Villages:Kitchawank, Sackhoe, and SenasquaNochpeem - northern Putnam and southern Duchess Counties.
Villages:Canopus (Canpopus), Keskistkonk, Nochpeem, and PasquasheckSintsink (Sinsink) - east side of Hudson River between Tarrytown and Croton. Villages:Kestaubuinck, and Ossingsing (Sin-Sing)Siwanoy (Sinanoy) - Hellgate east to Norwalk, Connecticut.
Villages:Cassacuhque, Noroaton (Roatan), Norwauke (Norwalk), Poningo, and SioascaukTankiteke (Pachami, Pachany) - extreme western portion of Fairfield County, Connecticut into eastern halves of Duchess and Putnam Counties, New York.
Villages:Aspetuck, Mount Misery, Pahquioke, Saugatuck, and ShippanWappinger (Waping) - east side of Hudson River between Wappinger Falls and Poughkeepsie.
Villages:Poughkeepsie, and WapingWecquaesgeek (Wechquaesgeek, Wiechquaeskeck, Wickquaskeek) - east side of Hudson River between the Bronx and Tarrytown.
Villages:Alipkconk, Nappeckamak, Nipinichsen, Rechouwakie, Rechtauck (Rechgawawank, Reckawawana), Wecquaesgeek, and WysquaquaOther Villages:Ridgefield (CT), Saeckkill, and Sapohanikan
Mention is sometimes made of a Wappinger tribe or confederation, but it took a major war with the Dutch to unite these seven small tribes into a single unit. Like most of the eastern Algonquin groups, the Wappinger were organized into sachemships where, in most cases, the authority of the sachem and council (composed of clan chiefs) extended over only a few villages and was limited mostly to resolving problems and disputes. Councils of the individual sachems were only held as required by common problems. However, in times of war, leadership was given to a war chief, whose authority was absolute for the duration of the conflict. A greater degree of organization was not required, since the Wappinger generally lived in peace with most of their neighbors. "Most" is used here, since, like the neighboring Metoac on Long Island, the Wappinger manufactured a superior form of wampum which they traded with other tribes. There appears to have been some warfare before contact because of this valuable commodity. There were also raids by European slavers during the 1500s.
As a result, the Wappinger were forced to make more extensive military preparations than the norm. Besides their villages, most of the Wappinger had at least two "castles," or forts, where they could retreat when threatened. Like other tribes in the region, the Wappinger relied heavily on an agriculture of corn, beans, squash. Tobacco was also grown for ceremonial purposes. Diet was supplemented by fishing in the spring and summer and hunting during the colder months. The Wappinger frequently cooked their meat without removing the innards which made it difficult for some of their Dutch guests to enjoy the meal. Despite this, many Dutch are known to have married Wappinger women. Villages consisted of wigwams and mid-sized longhouses. As a rule, the Wappinger only lived in their villages during the warmer months and moved to their castles for the winter. The Hudson River provided easy transportation for their dugout canoes. Because of its tidal surges, both the Wappinger and Mahican called it the Mahicanituk meaning "ever flowing river." Its Iroquois name was Cohatatea, but the Dutch renamed it the Maurititius. Only after the English gained control of New York in 1664 did it become known as the Hudson River.
The area around greater New York City was originally occupied by three tribal groups: Wappinger, Munsee and Unami Delaware, and Metoac. Since all of them spoke related languages and shared a common culture, there has never been a consensus as to which tribe belonged to which group. In the classification employed here, the Wappinger lived on the east side of the lower Hudson, the Delaware occupied the west side, and Manhattan and Long Island belonged to the Metoac. These distinctions would not be important if not for the question of which tribe sold Manhattan Island to the Dutch for only twenty-five dollars. Even Native Americans are not certain about this. The Delaware usually blame the Wappinger. However, if the Manhattan had purchased, rather than sold, their island for this price, they would probably be claimed as immediate family. For our purposes, the Manhattan - meaning "people of the island" - were Metoac.
While he was exploring the coast of North America for France in 1524, Giovanni da Verrazano discovered the narrow entrance to New York harbor which today bears his name. His encounters with the native peoples at the mouth of the Hudson River were friendly, but unfortunately, he set the pattern for what was to follow by trying to kidnap some of them before his departure. During the next 80 years, this kind of "unofficial" contact continued as Spanish treasure fleets and English pirates passed by riding the Gulf Stream home to Europe from the Carribean. The Wappinger and other coastal tribes soon learned to be wary of the Swannekins "salt water people" who came ashore from the big ships to kidnap them and steal their food. Aside from this harassment, European contact did not really begin until 1609. Attempting to find the fabled Northwest Passage to China for the Dutch East India Company, the English sea captain Henry Hudson explored the New Jersey coast north of his initial landfall at Delaware Bay. While anchored off Sandy Hook, Hudson and his men apparently had a minor confrontation with the Navasink (Unami Delaware). Despite this, Hudson pressed on and entered the mouth of the Hudson River on September 9th.
Hudson dropped anchor near the north end of Manhattan Island and lowered his longboats to explore the area. His men were already nervous from their encounter with the Navasink. One of the boats became lost in a fog bank near Hellgate. When the fog parted, the crew suddenly found themselves being approached by a group of curious Wappinger in canoes, and the sailors apparently fired first. A barrage of arrows killed one sailor and wounded two others. Fortunately, the Wappinger withdrew, and the survivors were able to make their way back to the ship. Despite this initial hostile encounter, Hudson was able to entice a delegation of Wappinger sachems aboard his ship. Food and drink were served, and gifts exchanged, but the meetings remained uncomfortable, giving Hudson the feeling that he "durst not trust them." It would appear that the Wappinger "durst not trust Hudson" either, since he attempted to detain two of their young men as guides before raising anchor and continuing upstream. Once clear of the Wappinger, the people became friendlier after reaching the Highlands, and the Munsee near Kingston deliberately broke their bows and arrows as a sign of their peaceful intentions.
On September 18th, Hudson was finally halted by shallow water at the Mahican villages just south of Albany. The Mahican were not only friendly but eager to trade. Hudson soon exhausted trade goods and, loaded with a cargo of valuable fur, started back down the river on September 23rd. Two incidents marred the return journey. Near the Highlands, the Munsee came aboard again, but during their visit, a warrior was caught stealing and shot trying to escape with his loot. The other Munsee immediately jumped overboard. Hudson ordered a longboat lowered to retrieve the stolen goods, but one of the Munsee warriors in the water attempted to overturn the boat and was killed. Hudson raised anchor and kept going, but opposite Yonkers, he was attacked by Wappinger warriors in canoes who pursued him downstream until he finally reached the open sea on October 4th.
Hudson had not found the Northwest Passage, but the furs he brought back >from the Mahican brought Dutch traders to the Hudson River the following year. The Wappinger on the lower river remained hostile and had fewer furs than the tribes upstream, so the Dutch bypassed them, and in 1613 opened their first trading post (Fort Nassau) on Castle Island just south of Albany. This was in Mahican territory, the location unfortunate since it was vulnerable to flood. Perhaps worse, the fur trade aggravated a pre-existing rivalry between the Mahican and the Mohawk of the Iroquois League. The Mahican proved reluctant to allow their old enemy to trade with the Dutch, and after four years of occasional skirmishes, war erupted between the Mohawk and Mahican during 1617 which forced the Dutch to abandon Fort Nassau. The Dutch managed to arrange a truce the following year, but since the Mohawk were forced to pay tolls to cross Mahican territory to trade, the situation remained tense.
Involved in a war along the St. Lawrence with the Algonkin and Montagnais (French allies), the Mohawk endured this only because they desperately needed the steel weapons obtained in trade with the Dutch to fight their northern enemies. The problem was, however, that neither the Mohawk nor the Mahican had enough beaver in their own homelands to satisfy the enormous demand of the Dutch. Within a few years, most of their beaver were gone which forced them to expand to find more by taking hunting territory from neighboring tribes. In 1615 this encroachment started a war between the Mohawk and the Munsee and Susquehannock along the upper Susquehanna and Delaware Rivers. As time went by, the situation only worsened. In 1624 the Dutch brought 30 families to New Netherlands and built a new post (Fort Orange) at present-day Albany. The new location was on the west side of the Hudson and, while still on land claimed by the Mahican, was actually more convenient for the Mohawk who no longer had to cross the river to trade.
There is little doubt that the Dutch at Fort Orange were more sympathetic to the Mahican than the Mohawk. At their urging, the Mahican attempted to cut into French trade on the St. Lawrence by arranging trade between the Dutch and the Algonkin and Montagnais. The Mohawk had endured the humiliation of paying tolls to trade with the Dutch, but the Mahican trading with their enemies was too much. A war broke out in 1624 which the Dutch could not halt. The fighting continued until 1628 and before it ended, the Mahican had been defeated and forced to abandon their territory west of the Hudson River. With the exception of seven Dutch soldiers who joined a Mahican war party against the Mohawk (four were killed), the Dutch were neutral during this conflict and allowed the rivals to fight it out among themselves. The lengthy warfare did, however, force them to look elsewhere for fur and a place to settle and, for the Wappinger, had the unfortunate effect of shifting the focus of Dutch settlement downstream to the mouth of the Hudson River.
This was not entirely unwelcome. After 1610, the Dutch had steadily improved their relations with the Wappinger, Munsee and Metoac at the lower end of the river, and as a result, they had been able to expand the range of their trade into Connecticut, Long Island, and New Jersey. In 1626 Pieter Minuit, the new director-general of New Netherlands, purchased Manhattan Island from the Metoac tribe of the same name for twenty-five dollars of trade goods. Fort Amsterdam was built with the settlement of New Amsterdam for the farmers to raise the food for its garrison. Dutch settlement soon spread across the lower Hudson Valley. Unlike the friendly relations the Dutch enjoyed with the Mahican, conflict with the Wappinger and neighboring tribes was immediate. A seemingly unimportant incident occurred in 1626 when a Wecquaesgeek visiting Manhattan was robbed and murdered. His young nephew who accompanied him managed to escape unharmed, which several years later would have serious consequences for the Dutch.
The colony of New Netherlands which the Dutch established on the Hudson was essentially a company town. The Dutch West India Company had been formed in 1621 with exclusive authority to trade and govern. Since there was little economic opportunity for anyone else in this arrangement, there was little immigration from the Netherlands to the New World. An attempt to increase settlement occurred in 1629 when the company sold patroonships to persons willing to pay to bring in settlers. Only one, Van Rensselaer, met with any success, and by 1635 the company had repurchased four of the five patroonships it had granted. Immigration did increase until the company decided in 1639 to give up its monopoly in the fur trade. Dutch colonists began to arrive in greater numbers, although by then there were still fewer than 750 Dutch in New Netherlands in 1643. New settlements began on Staten Island, in the Hackensack Valley in New Jersey, and the Bronx. The amazing thing was how so few Dutch were able to create so much trouble with their Native American neighbors.
The Dutch usually took the trouble to purchase the land they occupied, but in many cases, they greased the process with brandy and fraud. The able Pieter Minuit was replaced as director-general in 1631, and his successors were not always as capable. Serious trouble began in 1639 after the appointment of Director Kieft, an aggressive but stupid man inclined to run roughshod over the rights of the resident tribes. Kieft arrived just after the English had destroyed the Pequot (Pequot War, 1637), and English settlement had spread down the coast of western Connecticut to within a few miles of Fort Amsterdam. At the same time, the Swedes had established themselves on the lower Delaware River on lands claimed by the Dutch. Once in charge, Kieft set the tone by dispatching an armed sloop to demand tribute in corn and wampum from the Tappan (Unami Delaware) in New Jersey. The Tappan paid but were angered by this abuse.
One source of irritation was that Dutch farmers allowed their cows and pigs to wander free in the woods which often resulted in their invasion of the tribal corn fields. Not only did this bring immediate revenge on the offending animal, but the natives did not yet understand the European concept of the ownership of domestic animals, and a pig roaming loose in the woods was often viewed as meat on the table. After some pigs were stolen at the De Vries plantation on Staten Island in 1640, Kieft dispatched 100 men to punish the Raritan (Unami Delaware) thought to be responsible. The Dutch killed several of them, took one chief prisoner, and mutilated the corpse of another. Raritan retaliation in the "Pig War" killed four of De Vries' workers and burned his farm. Kieft then ordered a war of extermination against the Raritan and offered a bounty of ten fathoms of wampum for every Raritan head brought to Fort Amsterdam. Most tribes refused to participate, and only a few Metoac warriors from Long Island "took up the hatchet" for the Dutch. Records indicate that Kieft received one only head for his trouble.
The growing tension could have ended there. Unfortunately, the Wecquaesgeek nephew, in the fashion of his people, chose this moment to take revenge for his uncle's murder by killing a hapless Dutchman with his own axe. Not understanding the native tradition of a blood debt, Kieft demanded the Wecquaesgeek surrender the murderer, but this was refused. In March, 1642 Kieft dispatched a punitive expedition of 80 men under Ensign Hendrick Van Dyke to attack the Wecquaesgeek village at Yonkers. Fortunately, Van Dyke and his men got lost. The Wecquaesgeek, however, soon learned of this attempt to attack them and, becoming alarmed, immediately signed a peace with the Dutch. However, by this time the nephew had found refuge with another tribe, and the Dutch never got their hands on him. A similar situation developed after some Dutch got the son of a Hackensack (Unami Delaware) sachem drunk and robbed him of his beaver coat. In what has been called the "Whiskey War," he retaliated by shooting a Dutchman and then fled to the Tankiteke.
Kieft made his usual demand that the Hackensack surrender him. For their part, the Hackensack were willing to to settle things with a payment of wampum to "cover the dead," but the sachems were unwilling to go to Fort Amsterdam for fear that the intractable Kieft would take them hostage. That summer, the Narragansett sachem Miontonimo from Rhode Island, in the company of 100 of his warriors, visited both the Metoac tribes on Long Island and the Wappinger and Mahican in the Hudson Valley to recruit allies for the war he was planning against the rival Mohegan in Connecticut. While an intertribal war in an English colony should have been of little concern, the growing tensions had made Kieft and Dutch almost paranoid, and they came to believe that an uprising was being planned against themselves and the English. However, it was not the Narragansett who would touch off the powder keg building on the lower Hudson. Instead, it was the most reliable allies of the Dutch - the Mahican and Mohawk.
The peace which ended the war between the Mohawk and Mahican in 1628 had also bound them together as allies against the Algonkin, Montagnais, and Huron who had driven the Iroquois from the St. Lawrence River during 1610. The Iroquois never accepted their defeat, and after the English capture of Quebec in 1629 interrupting French trade, the Mohawk seized the opportunity to retake the upper St. Lawrence Valley. By the time Quebec was returned to France by the Treaty of St. Germaine en Laye in 1632, their native allies were in retreat and the Mohawk were close to controlling the critical trade route through the Ottawa River Valley to the western Great Lakes. Prior to this, all of the Europeans had been very reluctant to sell firearms to Native Americans ...the steel knives and hatchets conferring enough advantage for their trading partners over their enemies. However, when the French regained Quebec in 1632, the situation was desperate enough that they sought to restore the previous military balance by providing limited amounts of firearms and ammunition to their allies.
The result was an arms race and a major escalation in the level of violence in intertribal warfare. Dutch traders countered with their own guns for the Iroquois, and the latecomers to the fur trade, the English and Swedes, attempted to compensate by selling even more. However, the sales of these new weapons were not even, and the tribes which traded with the Europeans suddenly acquired a tremendous advantage over their neighbors. French trading partners in Ontario used their firearms to seize hunting territory from the Fox, Sauk, and Mascouten in Michigan who only had traditional weapons. The disparity only worsened. In 1640 English traders along the Connecticut River, in violation of existing laws, tried to lure the Mohawk away from the Dutch by offering firearms. With this all restrictions ended, and the Dutch responded by selling the Iroquois as many guns and as much ammunition as they wanted. They also offered the same weapons to the Mahican, who were Iroquois allies.
For obvious reasons, the Dutch did not provide firearms to the tribes near their settlements of the lower Hudson. Sensing their growing disadvantage, this refusal added to the growing resentment of the Wappinger, Munsee, Unami, and Metoac. To acquire even more guns, both the Mohawk and Mahican needed more fur and hunting territory. This was especially true for the Mahican, since they had been forced east of the Hudson by their defeat in 1628. they expanded north, east and south, the last direction being mostly at the expense of the Wappinger. The Mohawk did the same to the Munsee west of the river. Fur was becoming scarce but the Dutch also accepted wampum as payment. Located in the interior, neither the Mahican or Mohawk had access to this, but the Wappinger and other lower river tribes did. The solution was for the Mohawk to demand tribute in wampum from the Munsee while the Mahican went after the Wappinger. During the winter of 1642-43, 80 heavily-armed Mahican warriors came to the Wecquaesgeek villages to demand tribute. In the melee which followed, the Mahican killed 17 Wecquaesgeek and captured many of their women and children.
The Wecquaesgeek fled south to what they thought was the safety of the Dutch settlements on Manhattan. They remained nearby for two weeks before moving across the river to the Tappan and Hackensack villages at Pavonia (Jersey City). Another group settled with the Tappan at Corlear's Hook. As mentioned, the Dutch at New Amsterdam were already concerned about an uprising, and several incidents afterwards seemed to confirm this suspicion. Ignoring the advice of his council, Kieft decided to exterminate the Wecquaesgeek and set an example to the other "wilden" (wild men) in the vicinity. In what has become known as the Pavonia Massacre, he ordered a surprise attack to be made on the night of February 23rd, 1643. Maryn Andriansen was sent with a group of militia to Corlear's Hook, while Sergeant Rodolf and his soldiers from Fort Amsterdam were to attack the village at Pavonia. Kieft's orders were to kill all of the warriors and take the women and children prisoner (valuable as slaves). Only Andriansen followed these instructions.
Rodolf and his men just slaughtered every Wecquaesgeek in the sleeping village at Pavonia without regard for age or sex. The killing by these Dutch "Christians" was especially brutal involving babies hacked to death in their mother's arms, torture, and mutilation. When the attacks began, some Wecquaesgeek made the mistake of fleeing to Fort Amsterdam. They were murdered in cold blood outside the gates and their bodies tossed into the Hudson. De Vries, who had relocated near the Tappan villages at Corlear's Point and apparently bore no hatreds after his plantation on Staten Island had been destroyed by the Raritan, saved some of the Wecquaesgeek who came to him for protection by telling them to hide in forest. In all, Andriansen killed 31 but brought 30 prisoners back to an uncertain fate at Fort Amsterdam. Rodolf butchered 80 Wecquaesgeek and took no prisoners. His soldiers reportedly brought the severed heads of their victims back to the fort and played kickball with them. Preparing for a possible siege, Kieft further inflamed the situation by seizing corn from the Metoac on Long Island and killing three Canarsee warriors in the process.
Kieft expected some retaliation but obviously underestimated the extent of the ill feeling among the tribes of the area against the Dutch. As the news of the massacre spread, the other Wappinger raided the outlying Dutch farms and settlements. The war quickly spread to include warriors from almost 20 different tribes: Tappan, Hackensack, Haverstraw, Navasink and Raritan in New Jersey; Wecquaesgeek, Sintsink, Kitchawank, Nochpeem, Siwanoy, Tankiteke, and Wappinger to the north; and Canarsee, Manhattan, Rockaway, Matinecock, Merrick, Secatoag, and Massapequa on Long Island. Kieft had his uprising - Wappinger War (Governor Kieft's War 1643-45), but it was far greater than anything he had anticipated. The Dutch were quickly driven inside of Fort Amsterdam. Small groups sent even a short distance outside to gather firewood were in constant danger of attack. A glimmer of hope came in the spring. Although the Metoac were still denouncing the Dutch as murderers and "corn thieves," De Vries was able to convince their sachems to meet with Kieft and negotiate a peace. After a treaty was signed, envoys were dispatched to the Tappan and Hackensack, and for a time, it looked as if the hostilities would end at this point.
However, this was not to be. Urged by the Tankiteke sachem Pacham to destroy the Dutch, the Wappinger and their allies resumed the war that fall. After years of abuse, Pacham's words found ears willing to listen. It began with a Wappinger attack on Dutch boats near Poughkeepsie followed by raids on what remained of the outlying Dutch settlements. Among the victims was Anne Hutchinson, a religious dissenter banished from Massachusetts in 1634 along with Roger Williams. After settling near Portsmouth, Rhode Island for several years, she had, with a terrible sense of timing, chosen to relocate to New Amsterdam in 1642. She and her entire family (a granddaughter was taken prisoner) were killed during a Siwanoy raid in 1643. With only 250 men to defend against more than 1,500 warriors led by the Siwanoy war chief Mayane, the Dutch were in danger of being overwhelmed. As the war spread, the Dutch were being hit by tribes they had not met or with whom there had always been friendly relations and trade. Since the Netherlands was at war with Spain at this time, Kieft could not expect much help from Europe.
Despite his other shortcomings, Kieft was resourceful. He first negotiated a treaty of friendship and alliance at Fort Orange with the Mohawk and Mahican. Although the Mohawk and Mahican did not intervene directly, the mere threat of their doing so was sufficient to keep the war from spreading further. Kieft then offered 25,000 guilders to the English colonists in Connecticut for 150 men to help put down the uprising. There was no objection to this. The English were already angry about the deaths of Anne Hutchinson and other English colonists in New Netherlands and concerned by the proximity of the fighting to the new English settlements at Stamford, Bridgeport, and New Haven. Captain John Underhill organized two companies of volunteers (120 men) with Mohegan scouts and joined the fight in 1644. Underhill had a well-earned reputation throughout New England as the "scourge of Indians." A deeply religious man, he had a unusual concept of Christian duty, best illustrated by his later explanation that "Scripture declareth women and children must perish with their parents ...we had sufficient light from the word of God for our proceedings."
The first combined efforts by the Dutch and English were largely ineffective. An expedition sent to clear Staten Island found only abandoned villages. However, the corn it brought back to Fort Amsterdam was very welcome since the Dutch were running out of food. A second expedition against a Wecquaesgeek castle had similar results, and an English attack on Siwanoy villages and forts near Stamford and Greenwich killed only a few warriors and captured a few old men, women, and children. More telling results came when Underhill combined with the Dutch to lay waste to the Metoac villages on the western end of Long Island. 120 Canarsee, Massapequa, Merrick were killed and, warming to their work, the soldiers executed seven of their prisoners in a manner usually reserved for the worst descriptions of the atrocities attributed to native warriors. However, the most brutal acts occurred during the night attack by the English and Dutch on the Siwanoy and Tankiteke fort near Greenwich Connecticut in February. Between 500 and 700 Wappinger were killed in this massacre, exactly the same number as the more infamous slaughter of the Pequot at Mystic, Connecticut by the English in 1637. Once again, there was unspeakable cruelty, mutilation, and torture, but it brought the war to an end. In April of 1645 the Sintsink, Wecquaesgeek, Nochpeem, and Wappinger sachems presented themselves at Fort Amsterdam and asked for peace.
This was not granted immediately, because the Metoac were still at war with the Dutch. The Matinecock finally succeeded arranging a truce which was also extended to the Tappan and Hackensack in New Jersey. Through the mediation of the Mahican and Mohawk and Mahican, a final peace treaty was signed with Kieft and the Dutch at Fort Orange in August of 1645. By this time, more than 1,600 Wappinger and their allies had been killed. As a condition of the peace, the Mohawk and Mahican gained control not only of the Wappinger, but also the Metoac on the western end of Long Island. Annual tribute was to be paid in wampum, so without losing a single warrior, the Mahican and Mohawk benefited enormously from the war they had provoked between the Wappinger and Dutch. After the war, some groups of Wappinger crossed over to northern New Jersey and settled among the Unami and Munsee where they became known as the Pompton. Others were absorbed outright by the Mahican (not always voluntarily). The Mahican used the remaining Wappinger as enforcers to collect the wampum tribute due them from the Metoac. Failure to pay brought Wappinger raids on the Metoac villages which the Dutch made no effort to prevent.
For the most part, the Wappinger who remained on the lower Hudson tried to avoid further conflict with the Dutch, and in 1649 the Wecquaesgeek surrendered their claims to lands on the north end of Manhattan . However, just below the surface, resentment continued to smolder fueled by the illegal brandy readily available at Fort Amsterdam. Another source of irritation was the Dutch support of the Mohawk after 1651 in their war against the Susquehannock and Munsee. This was tolerated while the Swedes on the lower Delaware River were able to supply guns to Munsee and Susquehannock, but the Dutch capture of New Sweden in 1655 ended this and forced the Susquehannock and Munsee to ask the Mohawk for peace. That year, the Wappinger got into their final major confrontation with the Dutch. In September, a Dutch farmer on Manhattan named Van Dyck shot and killed a Wappinger woman when he caught her "borrowing" a peach from a tree in his garden. This brought canoes with more than 200 Wappinger warriors down the Hudson to Manhattan to kill Van Dyke. They eventually found and put an arrow into him (he was only wounded), but while tearing up the island looking for him, they got into a fight with burgher guards (Dutch militia). The warriors retired across the river to lick their wounds and raise hell by burning Dutch farms at Pavonia, Hoboken, and Staten Island. At least 50 Dutch were killed in the fighting - Peach War (1655).
Meanwhile, the Metoac had grown increasingly angry that the Dutch permitted the Wappinger to attack them whenever they failed to pay the tribute due the Mahican and by 1658 were planning to kill all of the Dutch on Long Island (and also the English settlers on the island if they dared to intervene). Despite a recent Anglo-Dutch War (1652-54), the English colonists warned Governor Peter Stuyvesant who brought in troops to put down the revolt. After ransoming the 50 Dutch prisoners held by the Metoac, Stuyvesant promised to halt the Wappinger attacks. Following the Wappinger War, Dutch settlement in New Netherlands increased from 2,000 in 1648 to more than 10,000 by 1660. Beginning in 1652, it had spread north into the Munsee country in the Esopus Valley near present-day Kingston. During 1659 this erupted in a serious conflict known as the Esopus Wars (1659-64). The Wappinger certainly had enough of their own grievances against the Dutch, but few, if any of them, were involved in the fighting on on opposite side of the Hudson. However, a Wappinger sachem was able to arrange a prisoner exchange in November, 1663. To defeat the Esopus, the Dutch ultimately were forced to call in the Mohawk. Although the Dutch made peace with the Esopus in May of 1664, the slaughter did not finally end until 1675 with the Munsee defeated and subject to the Iroquois.
In September, 1664 a British fleet captured New Amsterdam, and the important role of the Dutch in North America ended. Despite this, few of the Dutch settlers left the area. A steady influx of English colonists began to arrive with the first Puritans from Connecticut settling at Newark, New Jersey in 1666. Few were willing to settle up the river and challenge the Iroquois, so most of the new settlement moved onto the Wappinger and Munsee lands along the lower Hudson. Rather than treaty, lands were surrendered mostly through private contracts of sale with payment in trade goods. In some cases land was taken without any attempt at payment. In 1677 the Esopus sold their remaining lands to newly-arrived French Huguenots and moved west with the permission of their Iroquois masters to the Wyoming Valley. East of the Hudson, the Wappinger sold more than 100,000 acres between 1683 and 1685. While a few families stubbornly clung to their river homeland, most began to move north to the Mahican villages along the Housatonic River in western Massachusetts or settled with the 1,000 New England Algonquin refugees who had settled at Schaghticoke after the King Phillip's War (1675-76).
The "melting away" of the Wappinger population on the lower Hudson is a perfect example of what happened to most of the eastern tribes when confronted with the "advance of civilization." The blame cannot easily be attributed to any single reason. Although illegal, alcohol contributed to social disintegration and greased the wheels of a series of suspicious land sales to whites which usually left the Wappinger with little beyond the clothes on their backs. Epidemic accelerated the process by killing off both the old and young (smallpox in the Hudson Valley during 1636, 1656, and 1692 followed by malaria after 1700) leading to a lack of experienced leadership and a loss of any hope for the future. Warfare also contributed to the decline. When the Mohawk were dispersed in 1693 by French attacks on their homeland during the King William's War (1689-96), the British attempted to compensate by recruiting Mahican, Munsee, and Wappinger warriors to help defend New York. Fully two-thirds of the Wappinger and Mahican warriors who volunteered never returned and gave their lives defending the interests of the colonists who were taking their land.
The Wappinger disappeared but did not cease to exist. However, there was no massive migration which would be easy to trace where they went. As their lands and numbers dwindled, small groups of extended families left the Hudson Valley and moved elsewhere. As mentioned, many went north and settled at Schaghticoke on the upper Hudson or in the Mahican villages near Stockbridge, Massachusetts. Others moved to northern New Jersey and were absorbed by the Unami and Munsee Delaware. By the 1730s, only a few hundred remained in the lower Hudson Valley. Living in small bands, they posed no threat to their white neighbors, and through the influence of Christian missionaries were adjusting to their new circumstances. Missionaries not only exposed traders who were illegally selling alcohol to the natives but also provided legal advice which kept many natives from being cheated. Rather than supporting these efforts, many whites resented the missionaries interference with "nature taking its course." This was especially true of the Moravians who in 1740 established a mission at Shekomeko (Pine Plains, New York) for the Wappinger and Mahican still living along the river.
In the meantime, the King George's War (1744-48) broke out between Britain and France. The Iroquois, except the Mohawk, chose to remain neutral. The Wappinger and Mahican made a similar decision, but French allies from Canada raided settlements in Vermont, New Hampshire, and the Hudson Valley north of Albany. Warned of impending attacks on the lower river, the colonists massacred several peaceful Munsee families near Walden, New York during the fall of 1745. The Munsee and Wappinger immediately left the area and remained in Pennsylvania until 1746. That year, a French army of 960 men under Philippe de Vaudreuil captured Fort Massachusetts on the Hoosic River which exposed the entire Hudson Valley to attack. Apologies were quickly sent explaining that the incident at Walden the year before was a terrible mistake, and the Wappinger and Mahican suddenly found they were welcome in the Hudson Valley to defend it against the French. No invasion came except for a battle near Schenectady in 1748.
The good feelings lasted until the outbreak of the French and Indian War (1755-63). In August, 1755 Abenaki raiders from St. Francois (Quebec) grabbed the last New England refugees at Schaghticoke and took them back to Canada and the French alliance. The Mahican, Munsee and Wappinger families there probably went with them. Their sudden departure cast suspicion on the loyalty of all natives still living along the Hudson. In December, the Munsee and Wappinger families living along the Hudson were ordered to leave the backcountry and move closer to white settlements for their own "protection." On March 2nd, 1756, a group of white vigilantes led by William Slaughter (appropriate name) killed nine peaceful Munsee. Remembering 1746, the 300 remaining Munsee and Wappinger fled north to the Iroquois. A total of 196 Wappinger and Munsee moved in among among the Mohawk and Oneida in 1756; others settled near the Moravian missions for the Mahican and Delaware at Freidenshutten and Gnadenhutten in Pennsylvania; and the remainder with the Mahican at Stockbridge. None would ever return to their homeland.
During the summer of 1757, frontier settlements in Orange and Duchess Counties, New York and northern New Jersey were attacked by Munsee warriors still angry about being cheated out of their lands near Minisink. The following year, New York responded by confiscating all of the remaining native lands in the Hudson Valley. Whites immediately moved into the abandoned lands, and when the Moravian missionaries protested, they were arrested as French agents and banished from New York. The Munsee and Delaware raids were not prompted by any desire to help the French, but to avenge themselves against the British for being cheated out the their lands. Realizing this, William Johnson, the British Indian Commissioner, convened a conference at Easton, Pennsylvania in 1758. Hostilities ended for the most part after Pennsylvania relinquished its claim to Ohio and New Jersey agreed to pay the claims of the Delaware and Munsee within its borders. Besides the Munsee, Delaware, and Iroquois, the Wappinger also signed this treaty. By 176O there were 300 Mahican, Munsee, and Wappinger living with the Oneida in upstate New York. They served with distinction as scouts for Sir William Johnson and the British for the remainder of the war. However, their demands that the St. Francois (French allies) compensate them for the warriors they had lost delayed peace with the Abenaki until 1762.
After violence and riots in reaction to the Pontiac Rebellion (1763), the Moravian closed their missions in Pennsylvania. The Wappinger families living nearby joined the general migration west to Ohio where they were most likely absorbed by the Delaware. Many of those with the Iroquois settled at Chenango and were adopted by the Nanticoke, themselves refuges from English settlement in Maryland. The Nanticoke supported the Mohawk and British during the American Revolution and in 1783 were forced to relocate to southern Ontario. Some of their descendants can still be found there among the Delaware of the Thames and Munsee-Delaware First Nations. The last major group of Wappinger settled in western Massachusetts with the Mahican at Stockbridge. Because of the missionary efforts of John Sargeant, the Mahican at Stockbridge were largely Christian, and through association, many Wappinger also converted. Besides acquiring a new religion, they also learned something about the British legal system.
Both the Wappinger and Mahican were still angry about their lands in Duchess and Putnam counties which had been confiscated by New York in 1758. However, when they tried to forcibly expel the white squatters, troops were brought in to prevent bloodshed. Daniel Nimham, the last great Wappinger sachem, travelled to England to plead his people's case. After receiving a favorable hearing, he returned to America in 1762 and filed suit in the New York courts to reclaim land taken without compensation. The idea of Native Americans demanding justice in an English court stunned the colonists of New York, but they recovered with numerous motions intended to delay a decision. The proceedings were finally interrupted by the start of the American Revolution. As the war started, the Mahican and Wappinger, now virtually the same tribe, joined the Iroquois as neutrals. However, after attending a meeting in Boston in April, 1774, Captain Hendrick Aupamut of the Stockbridge agreed to support the Americans. Ninham's Wappinger followed suit. Few white American families can match the patriotic credentials of the Wappinger and Mahican from Stockbridge. They fought at Bunker Hill (1774), White Plains (1776), Saratoga (1777), and Barren Hill (1778).
Daniel Nimham was killed at the battle of Kingsbridge (near Yonkers NY) in August, 1778. The Stockbridge and Wappinger lost over 40 warriors in this battle. In all, half of the Mahican and Wappinger men of military age were killed fighting for the American cause in the Revolutionary War. The new nation's gratitude for their sacrifice was brief. They were not allowed to become citizens after the war. By 1786 the last groups of the Stockbridge (and Wappinger had been forced to leave Massachusetts and resettle with the Oneida in upstate New York. For similar reasons, the Brotherton Indians from Connecticut and Long Island joined them at Oneida during the next few years. During the years which followed, the Oneida, Brotherton, and Stockbridge slowly lost their lands to speculators and the State of New York. In 1822 they relocated to a reservation established for the Oneida near Green Bay, Wisconsin. In 1856 a separate reservation was created for the Stockbridge, Brotherton, and Munsee on lands purchased from the Menominee by the United States.