Saturday, May 23, 2015

“20 or 30 arrows in him”--and worse. . . .

In December 1607 John Smith went exploring up the Chickahominy River. He hoped to trade beads and trinkets to the Indians for food, but instead the Indians killed three of his men. One of them, a carpenter named Thomas Emry, was taken by surprise and never heard of again. Emry’s companion, John Robinson, died with “20 or 30 arrows in him.” The third man, George Cassen, suffered a hideous death by torture at the hands of Indians who were looking for Smith: They stripped Cassen naked, tied him to a tree, and with mussel shells or reeds they cut off his fingers one after the other, scraped the skin from his head and face, and finally disemboweled him. Then they burned him “with the tree and all.”

Meanwhile, Indians had captured Smith. He managed to hold his own among them, including the king of the Pamunkey Indians, a tall Indian named Opechancanough. His brother was Wahunsonacock, also called Powhatan, the chief of all the Chesapeake tribes. Taken for an audience before Powhatan, Smith narrowly escaped being bludgeoned to death.
 This was the now-famous rescue, when Powhatan’s daughter Pocahontas saved Smith’s life.

         We know the Pocahontas story--but only from John Smith.

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