The colony was in extremity. New Haven refused to aid, because, as a member of the New England confederacy, it could not act alone, and because it was not satisfied that the Dutch war was just. An appeal was made by Kieft's eight advisers to both the States-General and the West India Company in Holland. The sad condition of the colonists was fully set forth, and the responsibility directly ascribed to the mismanagement of Kieft. At the same time, undismayed by the gloomy outlook, the courage of the sturdy Dutchmen rose with the emergency. Small parties were sent out against the Connecticut savages in the vicinity of Stamford. Indian villages on Long Island were surprised and the natives put to the sword. In two instances at least the victors disgraced humanity by torturing the captured.
In these engagements Underhill was conspicuous and most energetic.
Having made himself familiar with the position of the Indians near Stamford, he sailed from Manhattan with one hundred and fifty men, landed at Greenwich, and, marching all day, at midnight drew near the enemy. His approach was not wholly unannounced, for the moon was full.
The fight was desperate and bloody. The tragedy that had made memorable the banks of the Mystic in the destruction of the Pequot fort was now almost equalled. After the example of his old comrade Mason, Underhill fired the village. By flame, shot, or sword more than five hundred human beings perished.
While New Netherland was awaiting some message of cheer from Holland, a company of Dutch soldiers came from Curacoa, but they did little to follow up the successes already gained. Again the Eight sent a memorial to the company, boldly condemning the conduct of the director and demanding his recall. Their remonstrances were at last heeded, and the removal of the unpopular governor resolved upon. In 1647 Kieft set sail for Holland, but the ship was wrecked, and he with nearly all on board was drowned.
It was high time for a change. In the two years, 1643-45, while sixteen hundred Indians had been slain, Manhattan had become nearly depopulated.
In 1645 peace was concluded, not only with the smaller tribes in the vicinity, but also with the powerful Mohawks about Fort Orange, and finally with all the Indians belonging to the Five Nations or acknowledging their authority. A pleasing incident of this treaty was the promise of the Indians to restore the eight-year-old granddaughter of Mrs. Hutchinson, a promise which they faithfully performed in 1646.
The great compact was made under the shadow of the Fort Amsterdam walls, and the universal joy was expressed by a day of thanksgiving.
An interval of peace for ten years was now enjoyed, when the killing of a squaw for stealing some peaches led to an attack by several hundred of the infuriated savages upon New Amsterdam. They were repulsed here, but crossing to the shore of New Jersey they laid waste the settlements there. Staten Island, too, was swept with fire and sword. One hundred people were slain, 150 more taken captive, 300 made homeless. Peace was again effected and maintained for three years, when fresh quarrels began. It was not until 1660 that a more general and lasting treaty was brought about, on which occasion a Mohawk and a Minqua chief gave pledges in behalf of the Indians, and acted as mediators between the contending parties.
See also: 1640-1643