Saturday, February 8, 2014

The Starving Time: Grisly Death Upriver

Jamestown, December 1609
         People inside the little log fort kill and eat their dogs, the mastiffs they brought with them to hunt. They have already eaten the horses, and they are afraid to go outside the fort to hunt.

         George Percy sends a boat with John Ratcliffe and fifty men upriver to trade for food with Pocahontas’s father, Powhatan, who is now their enemy.
         When the English arrive, Powhatan invites them to come ashore. Thirty-four of them accept this invitation; sixteen remain aboard the boat,
         Powhatan’s men kill all of the unsuspecting Englishmen ashore except two: one gets back aboard the boat, and one, a boy named Henry Spelman, Pocahontas manages to hide and send away. 

         Powhatan’s women seize the English commander, John Ratcliffe and put him to death by torture:
         They tie him naked to a tree. Then they scrape the flesh from his bones “with mussel shells,” and throw the pieces onto a fire “before his face” until at last he dies.
         The survivors aboard the boat flee in terror.
         Fifty men went upriver, eighteen are coming back.
         And there is still no food at Jamestown.

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