Fort Nassau (North River)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
This article is about the fortress in New York. For the one in New Jersey, see Fort Nassau (South River). For other settlements around the world with the same name, see Fort Nassau (disambiguation).
Fort Nassau
Part of New Netherland
Albany, New York
Type Fort
Site history
Built 1614
Built by Hendrick Christiaensen
Materials Wooden structure
surrounded by stockade
Demolished 1618
Events First Dutch settlement
in North America
First treaty between natives and Dutch
Garrison information
Past
commanders
Jacob Eelkens
Garrison 10 or 12 men
Occupants Dutch traders and soldiers

Fort Nassau (aka Fort van Nassoueen[1]) was the first Dutch settlement in North America, located beside the "North River" (the modern Hudson) within present-day Albany, New York, in the United States. The factorij was a small fortification which served as a trading post and warehouse.

History[edit]

Henry Hudson explored what would be known as the Hudson River for the Dutch in 1609, including Castle Island which was at the center of Native American fur trading routes from the interior.[2] Hendrick Christiaensen chose Castle Island to build Fort Nassau, the first documented European structure in the region, in 1614 or 1615 as a dual warehouse and military defense structure and named the fort in honor of the stadtholder of the United Netherlands, who was of the House of Orange-Nassau.[3] This was the first Dutch settlement in North America.[4] Jacob Eelkens became commander on Christiaensen's death in 1616.[5]

In 1617 a freshet damaged the fort to such an extent that it was abandoned and rebuilt on more secure ground at the mouth of the Normans Kill (called the Tawasentha by the natives) with the Hudson River. This new fortification was built by Eelkens on a prominence called Tawass-gunshee by the natives. Once the new fort was completed, the Dutch completed their first treaty with natives of North America.[3] In 1618 a freshet destroyed the new fort, and it was abandoned for good.[5]

In 1624, the Dutch built Fort Orange nearby.

Geography[edit]

Fort Nassau was built on what is now called Westerlo Island and was formerly called Castle Island. The island was part of the town of Bethlehem until 1926 when it was annexed to the city of Albany.[6] It has been part of the Port of Albany-Rensselaer since 1932.[7]

Structure[edit]

Fort Nassau was a 36-foot (11 m) long by 26-foot (7.9 m) wide building enclosed by a 58-foot (18 m) square stockade surrounded by an 18-foot (5.5 m) wide moat. The fort was defended by two large cannon and eleven swivel guns. The fort was garrisoned by 10-12 men.[3]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]

Preceded by
French fort
1540
Forts of Albany, New York
Fort Nassau

1614-1618
Succeeded by
Fort Orange
1623-1676