True Relations – Paister Nelson in the Phoenix

This happy arrival of Paister Nelson in the Phoenix and having been then about three months missing since Captain Newport’s arrival, being to all our predictions lost. And now at last having been long delayed by the tempest weather and contrary winds he so unexpected coming, did so bring us with him exceeding joy, that now we thought ourselves well fitted, as our hearts could wish, and now with a competent number of men., and also with all needed provisions, until a further supply should come to us. Where upon the first thing that was concluded was that myself and Paister Scriuener, should with seventy men go with the best means we could provide and to discover beyond the falls, as in our engagements we conveniently thought we might. Five to seven days we spent only in training our men to march, fight and to survive in the woods. Their willing minds to this action and so quickly their understanding in this exercise, as in all engagements we were better able to fight with Powhatans whole force. In our order of battle amongst the trees, for tricks there is few. Then the fort was to repulse four hundred and at the first assault with some ten to twenty shot and not knowing what was to be, nor how to bring a peace. Our warrant being sealed, Paister Nelson ensured to assist us with the volunteer mariners and himself as he promised, understanding we would stand bound to pay the hire for ship and mariners, for the time they stayed. And further there was some controversy, through the divided and contrary opinions. Some alleging that how profitable and to what good purpose or what so ever our journey would pretend. Yet our commission commanding no certain design, we should be tarred for the most indiscreet men in the world, besides the wrong we would do to Captain Newport, to whom only our discovers did belong, and to no other. The means for guides, beside the uncertain courses of the river, from which we could not err much. Each night we would fortify in two houses, better than that they first called the fort, and their towns upon the river, each within one days journey of the other, and besides our ordinary provision we might well be supposed able to be relieved. For trading and dealing only, but in love and peace as with the rest, if they assaulted us, their towns they cannot defend, nor their luggage so convey, that we should not share, but to admit the worst, sixteen basic provisions we had of the Chief Oatmeale and musket, besides our ordnance, we could and might have hid in the ground.

With five men Captain Martin would have undertaken it, himself leaving the rest to defend the fort, and plant the corn. Yet no reason could be reason to proceed forward, though we were going ahead to set sail. These discontents caused so many doubts to some, and discouragement to others, as our journey ended. Yet some of us procured petitions to set us forward, only with the hope of our own confusions. Our next course was to turn married men to fell trees and set corn. Fifty of our men we employed in this service, the rest kept at the fort to do the commands of the president and Captain Martin. Thirty days the ship lay expect the trial of certain matters which for some cause me to keep private. The next exploit was an Indian having stolen an ax. He was so pursued by Paister Scriuener and them next to him as he threw it down, and running away drew his bow at anyone that would encounter him. Within four or five days after, Paister Scriuener and I being a little ways from the fort, among the corn, two Indians and each with a grudge and all newly painted with Terrafigillate, came and encircled me as though they would have clubbed me like a hare. I knew their fading love for me, not without a deadly hatred but to prevent the worst, I calling Paister Scriuener for the both of us to retire to the fort. The Indians seeing me suspect them, and with good terms, asked me for some of their men, whom they would beat, and then went with me into our fort. Finding the one that lay ordinarily with us , only for a spy. They offered to beat him, and I in persuading them to forbear, they offered to began with me, being now four, for two others arrived in like manner, which came in on the other side of the fort. Where upon I caused to shut the post and apprehended them. The president and counsel being presently acquainted, remembering the first assault, they came in like manor, and nothing else but against some vigilance concluded to commit them to prison, and expect the event, eight more we ceased at that present. And hour after came three or four more other strangers, extraordinary fitted with arrows, skins and shooting gloves, and to their jealousy and fears, betrayed their bad intent, as also their suspicious departure.

Nelson, Newport, Scriuener,


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