There were still a number of captives held by the Indian tribes who dwelt among the Highlands. The question was anxiously deliberated, in the Council, respecting the best mode of recovering them. One only, Van Tienhoven, was in favor of war. But Governor Stuyvesant said,
“The recent war is to be attributed to the rashness of a few hot-headed individuals. It becomes us to reform ourselves, to abstain from all that is wrong, and to protect our villages with proper defences. Let us build block-houses wherever they are needed and not permit any armed Indian to enter the European settlements.”
The Long Island Indians sent a delegation to New Amsterdam declaring that for ten years, since 1645, they had been the friends of the Dutch, and had done them no harm, “not even to the value of a dog.” They sent, as a present, a bundle of wampum in token of the friendship of the chiefs of the Eastern tribes. But the up-river Indians continued sullen. With their customary cunning or sagacity they retained quite a number of captives, holding them as pledges to secure themselves from the vengeance of the Dutch. There was no hope of liberating them by war, since the Indians would never deliver up a white captive in exchange for prisoners of their own tribes. And upon the first outbreak of war the unfortunate Dutch prisoners would be conveyed to inaccessible depths of the forests.
The Dutch settlers had scattered widely, on farms and plantations. Thus they were peculiarly exposed to attacks from the Indians, and could render each other but little assistance. As a remedy for this evil, Governor Stuyvesant issued a proclamation ordering all who lived in secluded places in the country to assemble and unite themselves in villages before the ensuing spring, “after the fashion,” as he said, “of our New England neighbors.”
In Sweden, before the tidings of the fall of fort Casimir had reached that country, an expedition had been fitted out for the South river, conveying one hundred and thirty emigrants. Stuyvesant, on learning of their arrival, forbade them to land. He dispatched a vessel and a land force, to capture the Swedish ship the Mercury, and bring it with all the passengers to fort Amsterdam. Having disposed of her cargo, the vessel and all the Swedish soldiers it bore, were sent back to Europe.
In obedience to orders from home, Stuyvesant erected a fort at Oyster Bay, on the north side of Long island. In the instructions he received he was enjoined, “to maintain, by force, if necessary, the integrity of the Dutch province, the boundaries of which have just been formally confirmed by the States-General.”
The Directors added,
“We do not hesitate to approve of your expedition on the South river, and its happy termination. We should not have been displeased, however, if such a formal capitulation for the surrender of the forts had not taken place, but that the whole business had been transacted in a manner similar to that of which the Swedes set us an example when they made themselves masters of fort Casimir.”