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Go Back   Armchair General and HistoryNet >> The Best Forums in History > Historical Events & Eras > American Age of Discovery, Colonization, Revolution, & Expansion > American Colonial Era

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American Colonial Era 1660-1763 The growth of North American colonies, often with a change in native & national control.

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Old 24 Oct 09, 22:03
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The Massacre of 1622

Virtually everyone has heard of the hardships faced by the first English colonists at Jamestown. How they suffered for years through disease and starvation just to maintain a small foothold in the New World. But few have heard of perhaps the greatest tragedy the English faced, just 15 years after establishing the colony. It was an event which shocked Englishmen everywhere, and which had drastic consequences for English and Indian conflicts to come.

Friday March 22nd, 1622 began just like any other day. The English colonists and Powhatan Indians had been living at peace since the marriage of Pocahontas to John Rolfe in 1614. The English and Indians regularly intermingled. Englishmen seldom went armed in the woods except when hunting, and Indians often came and went in English villages. But this morning was different. Opechancanough, chief of the Powhatan had had enough of English encroachment. Edward Waterhouse described what happened next:

"...as in other dayes before, [the Indians] came vnarmed into our houses, without Bowes or arrowes, or other weapons, with Deere, Turkies, Fish, Furres, and other prouisions, to sell, and trucke with vs, for glasse, beades, and other trifles: yea in some places, sate downe at Breakfast with our people at their tables, whom immediately with their owne tooles and weapons, eyther laid downe, or standing in their houses, they basely and barbarously murthered, not sparing eyther age or sexe, man, woman or childe; so sodaine in their cruell execution, that few or none discerned the weapon or blow that brought them to destruction. . . . And by this meanes that fatall Friday morning, there fell vnder the bloudy and barbarous hands of that perfidious and inhumane people, contrary to all lawes of God and men, of Nature & Nations, three hundred forty seuen men, women, and children, most by their owne weapons; and not being content with taking away life alone, they fell after againe vpon the dead, making as well as they could, a fresh murder, defacing, dragging, and mangling the dead carkasses into many pieces, and carrying some parts away in derision, with base and bruitish triumph..."


During a series of concerted surprise attacks against various English houses and settlements, 347 English (about a third of the population) were murdered including 35 women and 30 children, as well as many houses and crops burned. Several English settlements along the James were abandoned. Over the following summer and fall, after they recovered from the initial shock, the English fought back, raiding Indian villages and burning their crops. As Waterhouse also wrote: "Our hands, which before were tied with gentleness and fair usage, are now set at liberty by the treacherous violence of the savages So that we may now by right of war, and law of nations, invade the country, and destroy them who sought to destroy us Their cleared grounds in all their villages shall be inhabited by us."

One of the consequenses of the conflict was that in 1624, the Virginia Company lost their charter to the colony, and Virginia became a royal colony. English policy toward the Indians would now be determined by the Crown. The Powhatan continued to decline over the following decades. Then in 1644, now between 90 and 100 years old, Opechancanough launched another major assault against the English, killing another 400 colonists. Opechancanough's Second War, as it came to be known ended two years later with his imprisonment in Jamestown where he was murdered by a soldier assigned to guard him. The Powhatans were forced to accept a treaty which ceded most of their lands to the English.

Another consequence of the 1622 Massacre was that the English would now be more suspicious of the "barbarous savages" in other colonies, and be more willing to deny quarter to the Indians in later conflicts such as the 1636-7 Pequot War in New England; where the English burned the Pequot Fort Mystic and massacred it's Indian inhabitants.

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Old 24 Oct 09, 23:50
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HiredGoon View Post
Virtually everyone has heard of the hardships faced by the first English colonists at Jamestown. How they suffered for years through disease and starvation just to maintain a small foothold in the New World. But few have heard of perhaps the greatest tragedy the English faced, just 15 years after establishing the colony. It was an event which shocked Englishmen everywhere, and which had drastic consequences for English and Indian conflicts to come.

Friday March 22nd, 1622 began just like any other day. The English colonists and Powhatan Indians had been living at peace since the marriage of Pocahontas to John Rolfe in 1614. The English and Indians regularly intermingled. Englishmen seldom went armed in the woods except when hunting, and Indians often came and went in English villages. But this morning was different. Opechancanough, chief of the Powhatan had had enough of English encroachment. Edward Waterhouse described what happened next:

"...as in other dayes before, [the Indians] came vnarmed into our houses, without Bowes or arrowes, or other weapons, with Deere, Turkies, Fish, Furres, and other prouisions, to sell, and trucke with vs, for glasse, beades, and other trifles: yea in some places, sate downe at Breakfast with our people at their tables, whom immediately with their owne tooles and weapons, eyther laid downe, or standing in their houses, they basely and barbarously murthered, not sparing eyther age or sexe, man, woman or childe; so sodaine in their cruell execution, that few or none discerned the weapon or blow that brought them to destruction. . . . And by this meanes that fatall Friday morning, there fell vnder the bloudy and barbarous hands of that perfidious and inhumane people, contrary to all lawes of God and men, of Nature & Nations, three hundred forty seuen men, women, and children, most by their owne weapons; and not being content with taking away life alone, they fell after againe vpon the dead, making as well as they could, a fresh murder, defacing, dragging, and mangling the dead carkasses into many pieces, and carrying some parts away in derision, with base and bruitish triumph..."


During a series of concerted surprise attacks against various English houses and settlements, 347 English (about a third of the population) were murdered including 35 women and 30 children, as well as many houses and crops burned. Several English settlements along the James were abandoned. Over the following summer and fall, after they recovered from the initial shock, the English fought back, raiding Indian villages and burning their crops. As Waterhouse also wrote: "Our hands, which before were tied with gentleness and fair usage, are now set at liberty by the treacherous violence of the savages So that we may now by right of war, and law of nations, invade the country, and destroy them who sought to destroy us Their cleared grounds in all their villages shall be inhabited by us."

One of the consequenses of the conflict was that in 1624, the Virginia Company lost their charter to the colony, and Virginia became a royal colony. English policy toward the Indians would now be determined by the Crown. The Powhatan continued to decline over the following decades. Then in 1644, now between 90 and 100 years old, Opechancanough launched another major assault against the English, killing another 400 colonists. Opechancanough's Second War, as it came to be known ended two years later with his imprisonment in Jamestown where he was murdered by a soldier assigned to guard him. The Powhatans were forced to accept a treaty which ceded most of their lands to the English.

Another consequence of the 1622 Massacre was that the English would now be more suspicious of the "barbarous savages" in other colonies, and be more willing to deny quarter to the Indians in later conflicts such as the 1636-7 Pequot War in New England; where the English burned the Pequot Fort Mystic and massacred it's Indian inhabitants.



Wolstenholm Towne near the Martin's Hundred Plantation was particularly hard hit by the Indians and soon disappeared from later historical accounts until archaeologists re-discovered the ruined town in the 1980's.
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Old 25 Oct 09, 10:00
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A Relation of the Barbarous Massacre, 1622

List of the Dead in the 1622 Massacre

How the Massacre of 1622 Was Good for the Plantation
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Old 25 Oct 09, 11:13
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Certainly, this piece of history and others very similar, show that the idea of the Noble Savage was something that came about years later when Europeans had become just as savage in their reprisals and eventually pre-emptive strikes to control the interaction between Natives and Colonists.

Thanks for this tale and the links to other info.

I, for one, was not aware of this attack until now.
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Old 26 Oct 09, 05:21
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Keep up the good work, HG.
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Old 04 Nov 09, 17:21
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What a fascinating read? Why would this thread be the first time I ever heard of this massacre? Was it not considered an important part of our History?

Man, puts a damper on the upcoming Thanksgiving!!!
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Old 05 Nov 09, 03:12
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Originally Posted by RuselUpsomegrub View Post
What a fascinating read? Why would this thread be the first time I ever heard of this massacre? Was it not considered an important part of our History?

Man, puts a damper on the upcoming Thanksgiving!!!
Yet another great thread about a portion of our history that we should know more about. HG, thanks for the references.
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Old 10 Nov 09, 03:18
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One of the more fascinating tidbits from the 1622 massacre concerns the survival of Jamestown itself. The Indians were wildly successful in most of the plantations particularly in the upper James River area. The colony was reduced by 25% in the space of a couple of hours. In spite of all the planning, Jamestown itself was spared from the attack. A young Indian friend of one of the town residents (probably a gay man saving his lover) alerted the citizens to close the gates and not allow Indian visitors on that morning. The colony came very close to total failure that day at the hands of Powhatan & co. However, it was also due to the efforts of an Indian that Jamestown survived.
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Old 23 Nov 09, 16:06
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The Samson arrived in VA in Spring of 1619 carrying Captain John Ward and 50 new colonists (complete with many head of cattell). In recognition for this addition to the colony, Ward received a grant of 1200 acres on the south side of the James River along what is still known today as 'Ward's Creek'. After seeing the work started on his new plantation, Captain Ward took his ship off sailing to the banks of New England in search of enough food for the first winter in VA. Returning in July, he made a much appreciated deposit into the general store of the colony at Jamestown.

The local government was much impressed and allowed John Ward to sit in the first assembly of Burgesses even though he didn't yet have an official commission. They recognized his contribution to the colony and waived any objections.

Captain Ward traded with Indian tribes in the Chesapeake area and may have been one of the primary causes of the massacre in 1622. It seems he felt cheated on a business deal with some Indians along the Potomac. When he failed to get satisfaction peacefully, Captain Ward is said to have taken 800 bushels of corn by force.

The Indians appear to have had the last laugh as 12 persons are believed killed on his plantation in the massacre. Apparently it was enough to end the little settlement as all other references to Ward's Plantation seem to have faded away.

Took this story from Charles Hatch, Jr.'s Virginia, The First Seventeen Years 1607 - 1624.
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Old 23 Nov 09, 17:52
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Not aytypical, a relative newcomer would upset political balance. Of course I dont know what other tensions there may have been between the two groups.
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Old 23 Nov 09, 19:22
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I find it interesting that not all indians were 100% in agreement to murder. Seems a true friendship was struck between this indian, (Perries Indian) and Englishman (Pace). History may have lost the name of the indian, but not the heartfelt action to warn of impending doom.

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That the slaughter had beene vniuersall, if God had not put it into the heart of an Indian belonging to one Perry, to disclose it . . . Perries Indian rose out of his bed and reueales it to Pace . . . And thus the rest of the Colony that had warning giuen them, by this meanes was saued. . . .
i definitely learned some history on this thread. thanks for sharing.
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Old 24 Nov 09, 11:18
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The 1622 massacre left the colony in terrible shape but still hanging on. Jamestown had been saved without significant loss even though surrounding plantations suffered about 25% losses. Over the next several weeks, Chief Werowance Opechancanough kept the pressure up and continued assaults upon any colonist caught outside protected walls.

The colonists gradually regrouped and organized a counter-offensive into the Indian villages. The massacre significantly altered the colonists vision of the Indians from people to trade with to people to exterminate. The armed force colonists moved from Indian village to Indian village burning the houses and destroying all the crops. The Indians themselves vanished into the forest remaining powerless in the face of armor plated men with firearms.

For the next several years the VA colonists made an annual excursion into Indian villages burning structures and destroying all the crops they could find. The effect devastated Indian populations but, through it all, Opechancanough remained defiant serving notice to the European world that Native Americans would not be assimilated into western society.
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Old 24 Nov 09, 12:53
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By the 1640s Opechancanough was an old man but still full of fight. He continued to worry about the constant encroachment of VA colonists deeper into the countryside. In April 1644 another great massacre was planned. This time there were simply too many English and, instead of all settlements being attacked, only the outlying plantations were hit.

The 1644 attacks went on for a couple of days and left over 500 colonists dead by Indian hands. Even though a higher number died than in 1622 the population of VA was simply too large and the deaths were more easily absorbed by the English.

The colonists organized in much the same way as 1622 but this time were greater in number and the Indians fewer. Fighting and burning over a two year period the English finally captured Opechancanough in 1646. While held in the jailhouse down at Jamestown two guards took it upon themselves to rid the colony of the evil werowance and murdered the old man in his cell.

The successor werowance Necotowance sued for peace and agreed to acknowledge Charles I as his overlord and king. The Indians were granted a reservation that no white man could enter without a special license and paid annual tribute of 20 beaver skins to the crown.

Info from Warren Billings The Old Dominion in the Seventeenth Century
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Old 22 Dec 09, 07:05
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Just stumbled upon this thread... IIRC, the 1622 massacre is portrayed in the beautiful movie "The New World", but I don't remember if the story was accurate in view of HiredGoon's account. Recommended anyway. I don't remember much reference to it in Disney's Pocahontas.
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AKA Don Luis de Velasco

Openchancanaugh (He whose soul is white) was abducted by Spaniards of the Virginia coast in the 1560's and taken to Spain were he was educated by Jesuit priests. He spent 11years between Spain and Mexico until he returned to his native land accompanied by Jesuit priests whom he later had killed when they protested that Don Luis de Velasco had reverted to his native ways and rejected the Christian faith by practicing polygamy.
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