Fort Zwaanandael

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Fort Zwaanandael (1631-1632) - A Dutch Colonial Fort established in 1631 near present-day Lewes in Sussex County, Delaware. Also spelled as Fort Swanendael or Fort Zwanendael, and known as Fort Hoarkill and Fort Whorekill; and sometimes as Fort Oplandt, although that appears to be a purely descriptive term meaning "upland" rather than the name of the fort. The fort was attacked and burned by Indians in 1632 over a cultural misunderstanding, all of the settlers were killed.

De Vries Monument at the Fort Zwaanandael Site.

History of Fort Zwaanandael

In 1629, Gillis Hossitt and Jacob Jansz traveled to the Delaware area and purchased land for the Dutch West India Company from a local Indian group. They purchased a tract of land eight miles long and a half-mile wide (as measured in Dutch miles). The patent for the land was registered and confirmed in 1630. Captain David Pietersen de Vries and a group of patroon investors subsequently financed and planned an expedition to colonize this land and establish a whaling station.

The first expedition sailed from Texel in Holland on 12 Dec 1630. The "Walvis" was armed with 18 guns and commanded by Captain Peter Heyes, and was initially accompanied by a smaller vessel but only the Walvis completed the voyage. The ship arrived in the spring of 1631 and established a settlement at present-day Lewes, Delaware. The settlement had a double-bastioned palisade surrounding the structures.

In September 1631, Captain Heyes returned to Holland and reported to De Vries that all was well with the colony. Later news arrived that all 33 colonists had been killed by the Indians. On 24 May 1632, Captain de Vries, with 50 men sailed from Holland aboard the Walvis. They arrived on 6 Dec 1632 and found the colonists dead and that all the fort structures had been burned down. Captain de Vries came to understand that the attack grew out of a misunderstanding over what land ownership meant. The colony lasted less than a year.

The south Delaware area including the Lewes area was resettled by the Dutch who intensified their settlement efforts after 1655 until 1664 when the English seized the Dutch lands in New Netherlands.

Current Status

Fort Zwaanandael Site Reader Board.

No visible remains of the fort. A de Vries Monument is located on Pilottown Road where the site of the fort is thought to be. Archeological excavations have found the 17' by 20' southern bastion of the fort and the stockade's post holes at this location.

Location: Pilottown Road, Lewes, Sussex County, Delaware.

Maps & Images

Lat: 38.78632 Long: -75.15857

See Also:



Visited: 18 Apr 2018

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