True Relations – Supplies Run Short

Captain Newport having set things in order, set sail for England the 22nd of June 1, leaving provisions for thirteen or fourteen weeks. The day before the ships departure the king of Pamaunkey sent the Indian that had met us before in our arrival, to assure us peace, our fort being then laid out round, and all our men in good health and comfort, all but that through some discontented humors, it did not so long continue, for the president and Captain Gosnold, with the rest of the Counsel being for the most part discontented with one another, in so much that things were neither carried with that discretion nor any business effected in such good sort as wisdom would, nor our intention good and satisfy required there by, and through the hard dealing of our president, the rest of the Counsel being very affected by this audacious command, and for Captain Martin all but very honest and within the best good, yet so sick and week, and my self so disgraced and through other malice, through which disorder, God being angry with us, plagued us with such famine and sickness, that the living we were barely able to bury the dead. Our want of sufficient and good vitals, with continual watching, four or five each night at three bulwarks being the chief cause, only of starvation we had great stores, where on our men would so greedily suffered, as it cost many of their lives, the sack and quantity, and other preservatives for our health, being kept only in the presidents hands, for his own diet, and his few associates. Shortly after Captain Gosnold fell sick and within three weeks died 2, Captain Ratcliffe being then also very sick and weak, and myself having also drafted of the extremities there of, but by Gods affection being well recovered. Kendall about this time for various reasons disposed from being of the Counsel. And shortly after it pleased God ( in our extremity ) to move the Indians to bring us corn being only half ripe, to refresh us, when we rather expected when they would destroy us 3. About the tenth of September there was about 46 of our men dead, at which time Captain Wingefield having ordered the affairs in such manor that he was generally hated by all, in which respect with one content he was removed of his position and Captain Ratcliffe according to this course was elected.

Our provision being now within the twenty days spent, the Indians brought us stores of both corn and bread, ready made. And also there came such abundance of fowls in the rivers, as greatly refresh our weak estates, in here upon many of our weak men were presently able to go abroad. As yet we had no houses to cover us, our tents were rotten, and our cabins were worst then naught. Our best commodity was iron on which we made in to little chisels. The president and Captain Martins sickness construed me to be camp merchant 4, and yet to spare no pains in making houses for our company, who not with standing our misery, little eased their malice, grudging and muttering. As at this time most of our chief men were either sick or discontented, the rest being in such despair, as they would rather starve and rot with violence then be persuaded to do anything for their own relief without constant. Our journey being now within eighteen days spent, and the Indians trade decreasing.

I was sent to the mouth of the river, to Kegquouhtan 5 an Indian town to trade for corn and try the river for fish, but our fishing we could not effect by reason of the stormy weather. The Indians thinking us near starvation, with careless kindness offered us little pieces of bread and small handfuls of beans or wheat for a hatchet or a piece of copper. In the like manor I entertained their kindness, and in like scorn offered them like commodities, for the children , or any that seemed extraordinary kindness, I liberally contented with free gifts, such trifles as well contented them finding this comfort. I anchored before the town, and the next day returned to trade, but God ( the absolute disposed of all hearts ) altered their conceits, for now they were no less desirous of our commodities then we were of their corn, our to fetch fresh water, I sent a man to discover the town, their corn, and force to try their intent, in that they might lock me up to their houses. Which well understanding, with force I shot I outfitted them with five officers, bread and beer, they kindly treated with me and my men, being no less in doubt of my intent, then I of theirs, for well I might with twenty men loaded a ship with corn. The town contain eighteen houses pleasantly seated upon three acres of ground upon a plain, half encircled with a great bay of the great river, the other part with a bay of the other river falling in to the great bay, with a little I felt fit for a castle in the mouth thereof, the towns adjoining to the main by a neck of land of thirty yards. With fourteen bushels of corn I returned towards our fort. By the way I encountered with two canoes of Indians, who came abroad me. Being the inhabitants of Waroskoyack 6, a kingdom on the south side of the river, which is in the distance of five miles, and twenty miles near the mouth. With these I traded, who having but their hunting provision requested me to return to their town my boat with corn, with near thirty bushels I returned to the fort, the very name gave great comfort to our despairing company.


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  1. The date of Newport’s sailing is wrongly given in the “Generall Historie” as the 15th. He sailed a week later, the 22d; and this date in the text is confirmed by Percy, and by the writer in the “Relatyon”.[]
  2. Gosnold died 22 August. — Percy, in Purchas, vol. iv. p. 1690.[]
  3. Here we have an example of the Indians honor. With so many of the men suffering they could have simply allowed them to die from their illness or starve. But that wouldn’t be an honorable death, as to die in battle is, nor would attacking them while they were in this manner, so, while they had recently wanted to fight and kill these men, they now provided them sustenance which saved many of their lives[]
  4. Or Treasurer. Thomas Studly had before held this office; and we may suppose Percy refers to him when he says, “The eight and twentieth day [of August] died Thomas Stoodie, Cape Merchant;” though Studly’s name is given, in the second part of the “Map of Virginia” (the Oxford tract before referred to), as the authority for a narrative of events running into a later period. Possibly some of those whose names are appended to this part of the narrative, as it appears in its enlarged form in the “Generall Historie,” may have written a portion of it as originally published.[]
  5. Now Hampton. The account of this expedition, in the second part of the “Map of Virginia,” is very briefly given; but it is much enlarged in the “Generall Historie;” and a very extravagant story of a fight with the Indians, and other details, are given, quite inconsistent with this account, and probably with the truth.[]
  6. This place may be seen on Smith’s map, on the south side of the Powhatan or James River, a little below “Hog Isle.”[]

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