Saturday, July 26, 2014

Jamestown, 1610: A Heart-stopping Surprise

           When the unidentified vessels--two small pinnaces--came within two miles of the mouth of the James River, those on board them saw a puff of smoke and heard the report of a cannon. It came from the north shore of the river. Their hearts sank. The Virginia Company’s instructions to them had mentioned nothing about a fort in that location. But those instructions were out of date. The Sea Venture survivors had spent nearly a year in Bermuda. After all that time, had the Spanish managed to plant an outpost in Virginia? The people aboard the pinnaces had no way of knowing. Governor-General Thomas Gates cautiously dispatched a handful of men in the Deliverance’s little longboat to investigate, but told them that under no circumstances were they to set foot on shore. 
On that shore, at Fort Algernon, Captain James Davis, President Geroge Percy, and others had been anxiously keeping watch all night. When the two unknown pinnaces had come within range, Davis had fired the fort’s cannon as a warning shot. In a little while those at Fort Algernon spied the longboat approaching and, as Percy remembered, “We hailed them.” Shouting back and forth across the water, Percy and his companions on shore “understood that Sir Thomas Gates and Sir George Somers were come in these pinnaces which by their great industry they had built in the Bermudas with the remainder of their wrecked ship and other wood they found in the country. Upon which news we received no small joy.”
The lost were found.
The dead were restored to life.

            Well, not all of them.

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