The next expedition seems to have been a project to colonize the country. The vessels were three in number, on board of which one hundred and forty men embarked, who took with them all kinds of live stock. The leaders on this occasion were Thorfinn, who married the widow of Thornstein, Biarné Grimolfson, and Thorhall Gamlason. The enterprise appears to have been attended with a measure of success. They erected their tents, and fortified them in the best manner they were able, as a protection against the natives. An incident of some interest is mentioned as having occurred in their trade with the latter. These were eager for arms, but as they were not suffered to become an article of barter, one of the natives seized an axe, and, in order to test its efficacy, struck a companion with it, who was killed on the spot. The affair shocked them exceedingly; but in the midst of the confusion, the axe having been seized by one who appeared to be a chief, was critically inspected for a while, and then violently cast into the sea.
At length, however, Captain Mosely got within the fort, with a small band of men. Then commenced a terrible struggle, at fearful odds. While these were contending hand to hand with the Indians, the cry was heard, "They run! they run!" and immediately a considerable body of their fellow-soldiers rushed in. The slaughter of the foe became immense, as the assailants were insufficient in strength to drive them from the main breast-work. Captain Church, who was acting as aid to Winslow, at the head of a volunteer party, about this time dashed through the fort, and reached the swamp in the rear, where he poured a destructive fire on the rear of a party of the enemy. Thus attacked in different directions, the warriors were at length compelled to relinquish their ground, and flee into the wilderness.
In 1633, when the Plymouth colony had determined to commence the work of settlement, they commissioned William Holmes, and a chosen company with him, to proceed to Connecticut. They took with them the frame of a house, which they set up in Windsor. They achieved their object, notwithstanding the threatened opposition of the Dutch at Hartford, where the latter, after learning that the Plymouth people intended to settle on the river, had erected a slight fort.
On one occasion, while exploring the country, after he left his boat, and was proceeding in company with two Englishmen, and a savage for his guide, he was beset with two hundred savages. The Englishmen were killed; the savage he tied to his arm with his garter, using him as a buckler. Smith was soon wounded and taken prisoner; but not until he had killed three of the Indians. The fear inspired by his bravery checked their advance, till he sunk to the middle in a miry spot which was in his way, as he retreated backward. Even then they dared not come near him, till, being nearly dead with cold, he threw away his arms. Upon being taken, he presented to their king a round ivory compass, which was the means of saving him from instant death. Just as they were preparing to pierce him with their arrows, the chief, lifting the compass, they all laid down their bows and arrows, at the same time releasing him from his pitiable situation.
Northmen leaving Iceland
The conduct and appearance of the natives were such as to show that the Spaniards had no reason to fear their hostility or treachery. Simple, harmless, naked, and unarmed, they seemed rather to be at the mercy of their visitors. Equally timid and curious, they were at first shy; but being encouraged to approach the strangers, they at length became entirely familiar with them, and received presents with expressions of the highest delight. The new comers to their shores were thought to have dropped from the skies, and the articles bestowed were received as celestial presents. All was a scene of wonder and amazement indeed to both parties.
At length, to save himself, he adroitly adopted the plan of painting his face black, as he perceived the enemy had done to their faces. In this disguise he ran among them, and pretended to join them in the fight; but watching his opportunity, he soon escaped into the woods. Of another it is reported, that being pursued by one of the enemy, he sought the shelter of a large rock. While in that situation, he perceived that his foe lay ready with his gun on the opposite side, to fire upon him as soon as he stirred. A stratagem only saved his life. Raising carefully his hat upon a pole, he seemed to the person lying in wait, to have exposed himself to a shot. A ball was instantly sent through the hat, but one was returned in earnest against the head of the enemy. Thus the Christian Indian, through his address, found the means of escape from his singular peril
They pursued their course until two in the morning, when from the Pinta, which generally sailed ahead, the thundering signal was heard, the order being that a gun should be fired as soon as land hove in sight. It was indeed land at this time. It lay before them, now dimly seen, about two leagues distant. The joy which Columbus and his crew felt at the sight, surpasses the power of description. It is difficult, even for the imagination, to conceive the emotions of such a man, in whose temperament a wonderful enthusiasm and unbounded aspiration prevailed, at the moment of so sublime a discovery. Utterance was given to his intense feelings by tears, and prayers, and thanksgivings.
The fleet consisted of three vessels, one furnished by himself, through the assistance of his friends, and was to sail from the little port of Palos in Andalusia. Two of the vessels were caravels—that is, light vessels without decks—the other was of a larger burden, though not amounting even to an hundred tons. How such craft could survive the waves and storms of the Atlantic, is one of the marvelous circumstances of the undertaking. The number of men received on board amounted to one hundred and twenty. The preparations having been finished, the undaunted navigator set sail on the morning of the 3d of August, 1492, having first with his whole crew partaken of the sacrament.
The Pinta, being separated from the Nina, was supposed to have been lost; but this proved to have been a mistake, as she reached Spain nearly at the same time with the other caravel. At the time of their greatest extremity, when all hope of safety had departed, Columbus, anxious that the knowledge of his discovery might be communicated to the world, wrote a brief account of his voyage; and having properly secured it in a barrel, committed the latter to the ocean, in the hope that it might afterward be found, should he and his crew never see land again. But they were mercifully preserved, as the storm at length subsided, and, within a few days, they reached the island of St. Mary's, one of the Azores.
With this grand object before him, he first submitted his theory of a western route to the Indies, to John the Second, king of Portugal. He met with no countenance from this quarter. His project, in its vastness, was in advance of the comprehension of the age. John was not unwilling clandestinely to avail himself of information communicated to him by Columbus, but he would enter into no stipulation to aid him in the enterprise. Leaving the court of Lisbon in disgust, in the latter part of 1484, Columbus repaired to the Spanish sovereigns, Ferdinand and Isabella. The time of the application was peculiarly unfavorable, as the nation was then in the midst of the Moorish war, and needed for its prosecution all the pecuniary resources of the state. The persons of influence also in the court, were destitute of those enlarged views, which are essential to a just appreciation of the scheme that fired the great mind of Columbus. With these causes of discouragement, and the submission of his proposal on the part of the sovereigns to a council chiefly of ecclesiastics, he had little reason to expect a favorable issue. After waiting years in the most agitating suspense and doubt (for the council would come to no decision), he was preparing to abandon the suit. Pressing the court for a definite answer at that juncture, they at last gave him to understand, that his scheme was "vain, impracticable, and resting on grounds too weak to merit the support of the government." In deep despondency he quitted the court, and took his way to the south, as if in desperation, to seek other patronage in other quarters.
Pictures of Columbus, Cabot
Built in 1765. 2162 tons.
The Battle of Trafalgar
After twenty-five days in England, Nelson took command off Cadiz on September 28, eager for a final blow that would free England for aggressive war. There was talk of using bomb vessels, Congreve's rockets, and Francis's (Robert Fulton's) torpedoes to destroy the enemy in harbor, but it soon became known that Villeneuve would be forced to put to sea. On October 9, Nelson issued the famous Memorandum, or battle plan, embodying what he called "the Nelson touch," and received by his captains with an enthusiasm which the inspiration of the famous leader no doubt partly explains. This plan, which had been formulating itself in Nelson's mind as far back as the pursuit of the French fleet to the West Indies, may be regarded as the product of his ripest experience and genius; the praise is perhaps not extravagant that "it seems to gather up and coördinate every tactical principle that has ever proved effective."
With the explorations of Columbus on his first and his three later voyages (in 1496, 1498, and 1502) we are less concerned than with the first voyage itself as an illustration of the problems and dangers faced by the navigator of the time, and with the effect of the discovery of the new world upon Spain's rise as a sea power. The three caravels in which he sailed were typical craft of the period. The Santa Maria, the largest, was like the other two, a single-decked, lateen-rigged, three-masted vessel, with a length of about 90 feet, beam of about 20 feet, and a maximum speed of perhaps 6-1/2 knots. She was of 100 tons burden and carried 52 men. The Pinta was somewhat smaller. The Niña (Baby) was a tiny, half-decked vessel of 40 tons. Heavily timbered and seaworthy enough, the three caravels were short provisioned and manned in part from the rakings of the Palos jail.
Farming instruction book 1601
Trenching Implements 17th Century
Seventeenth Century Plows
A prepared drawing of the plat of a survey made for William Sherwood at Jamestown in 1680. “Roades” indicates the course of the “Greate Road” that connected the town with the mainland. On the left the isthmus that joined the “Island” to Glasshouse Point is shown.
The man who first made intensive experiments with native plants was Doctor Lawrence Bohun. Arriving at Jamestown in 1610, he is mentioned several times by William Strachey, who [Pg 65]also reached Jamestown in 1610, in The Historie of Travell into Virginia Britania 1612:
After the settlement had become fairly well established the colonists began building a few brick houses. In the picture English artisans are shown erecting a small brick structure at Jamestown about the year 1630. It is quite clear from the documentary records and the archeological remains that the colonists not only made their own bricks—and probably many of their roofing tiles—but that the process, as well as the finished product, followed closely the English tradition.
One seventeenth century building unearthed at Jamestown appears to have been used as a place where beer, ale, brandy, and other alcoholic beverages were made. Nearby were found pieces of lead, which may have been part of a lead cistern which held barley, and inside the building were three brick ovens, which may have been used for drying malt. A handle from a copper kettle was discovered near one of the ovens, and pieces of copper and lead pipes were recovered not far from the building. Historical objects excavated near the site revealed that the structure was used between 1625 and 1660.
Virginia in the seventeenth century was a woodsman's paradise, and there is every reason to believe that most of the furniture used in Jamestown houses was made by colonial cabinetmakers. In the forests grew magnificent specimens of oak, walnut, pine, cypress, cedar, maple, and many other varieties; and although contemporary records are scanty, it is believed that the "James Citty" furniture makers made skillful use of such woods. William Strachey, who reached Jamestown in 1610, wrote that the church furniture was made of cedar and black walnut:
It [the church] is in length threescore foote, in breadth twenty foure, and shall have a chancell in it of cedar, and a communion table of blake walnut, and all the pewes of cedar, ... a pulpet of the same, with a font hewen hollow, like a canoa....
A blacksmith, James Read by name, was a member of the first group of colonists who planted the Jamestown settlement in 1607. Perhaps he helped forge the small chisels which Captain John Smith mentioned (writing of the month of September, 1607):
As yet we have no houses to cover us, our tents were rotten, and our cabbins worse than nought: our best commoditie was iron which we made into little chissels.
Many small chisels have been unearthed at Jamestown, and one may wonder whether any were made during the hard autumn of 1607, when the state of the new colony was at such a low ebb.
Silk was made at Jamestown during the seventeenth century, but the enterprise seldom brought profit to the planters. The majority of the colonists had to struggle to grow crops and produce goods with which they were familiar, and were reluctant to experiment with a commodity which required a special skill that they did not possess. A few settlers, however, made serious efforts to raise silkworms, and at times small quantities of silk were made and shipped to England.
The silk-making venture died a hard death, but the large mulberry trees which still grow in many places in Tidewater Virginia (perhaps scions of seventeenth century ones) are reminders of a day when a few Virginia colonists fed and nurtured silkworms and "wound off" silk thread onto primitive wooden reels.
In the conjectural illustration a woman is drawing silk thread from the cods; the man is winding the thread on a wooden reel.
Timbering was one of the first activities undertaken by the Jamestown colonists and was one of the first English industries in America. The day the settlers arrived they began cutting down trees, for timber was needed to build their fort and town as well as to export to the mother country. Thomas Studley, a member of the first colony, reported that clapboards were made for loading on the ships which were to return to England:
Now falleth every man to worke, the Councell contrive the fort, the rest cut downe trees to make place to pitch their tents; some provide clapboard to relade the ships, some make gardens, some nets, &c.
Captain Newport left Jamestown in June, 1607 and aboard his two ships were clapboards and other wooden products.
Seafood was an important food for the early colonists. At times, especially during the first years of the settlement, it was one of the main foodstuffs.
During the early years of the Jamestown settlement the Virginia Company of London encouraged many agricultural pursuits, including the planting and cultivation of grape vines and the making of wine. The reasons seemed to have been twofold: first, to make money for the Virginia Company, whose stock-holders had invested much capital in the new colony; and secondly, to insure the mother country a steady flow of inexpensive wine—which was impossible as long as continental merchants charged exorbitant prices for wines sent to England. Then, too, if wine could be made successfully in Virginia, the people living in the new settlement would profit accordingly.
Pitch and tar—used by shipbuilders from time immemorial for caulking and covering seams of vessels—were made at Jamestown as early as 1608. After the second supply ships reached Jamestown in October, 1608, one of the settlers wrote:
No sooner were we landed, but the President dispersed [as] many as were able, some for glasse, others for pitch, tarre, and sope ashes.
A month later trials of pitch and tar were carried to England by Captain Christopher Newport, as reported by Thomas Studley, one of the original planters:
Captaine Newport being dispatched with the tryals of pitch, tarre, glass, frankincense and sope ashes, with that clapbord and wainscot [which] could bee provided ... returned for England.
As pitch and tar were made in Virginia throughout the seventeenth century, mainly for exporting to England, it appears that the colonists made some profit from the sale of such products.
Pitch and tar were obtained from pine trees, one of the common trees in the Tidewater Virginia woods. Tar is an oily, dark colored, product obtained in the destructive distillation of pine wood.
Soap-ashes and potash were among the first commodities produced by the English in America. Potash was made from soap-ashes (wood ashes, especially those obtained from burning ash and elm) and was used at Jamestown for making both soap and glass. Soap-ashes were exported to England as early as 1608, and throughout the remainder of the century it appears that both potash and soap-ashes were shipped to the mother country, As early as 1621 soap-ashes were selling for six shillings to eight shillings per hundred weight, whereas potash was bringing between thirty-five shillings and forty shillings per hundred weight
A pewterer who lived thirty miles from Jamestown—Joseph Copeland by name—made the oldest dated piece of American pewter which has been found. In the 1930's, National Park Service archeologists, working at Jamestown, recovered the significant specimen—an incomplete pewter spoon which is a variant of the trifid or split-end type common during the 1650-1690 period.
In order to build brick houses lime was needed by the bricklayers and plasterers for making plaster and mortar. Contemporary records reveal that "lymeburners" emigrated to Jamestown as early as 1610. As four lime kilns were found during archeological excavations, it is evident that the lime used by the Jamestown builders was made on the historic island. In the kilns oyster shells from the James River were burned and converted into lime by the limeburners.
Glass was made at Jamestown in 1608-1609, and again in 1621-1624, its manufacture being one of the first English industries in the New World.
Among the colonists who reached Jamestown in October, 1608, were "eight Dutchmen and Poles," some of whom were glassmakers. When Captain Christopher Newport sailed for England a few weeks later he carried with him "tryals of pitch, tarre, glasse, frankincense, sope ashes; with that clapboard and waynscot that could be provided." It is not known what kinds of glass were taken to England by Newport.
Making Brick At Jamestown About 1650
Shortly after the Jamestown colony was planted the English adventurers explored the rivers and bays in the vicinity of the settlement, visited many Indian villages, and traded colorful articles to the natives in exchange for foods, furs, and other commodities.
The first exploring party left Jamestown a week after the establishment of the colony. Twenty-four of the settlers sailed up the James River as far as the falls, a distance of about ninety miles. At Arahatteak (near present-day Richmond) the explorers gave the Indians "penny knyves, sheeres, belles, beades, glass toyes &c ..." for mulberries, wheat, beans, tobacco, and a "crowne which was of deares hayre, dyed redd." Before leaving the village Captain Newport presented the Indian chief with a hatchet and a red waistcoat.
The day the colonists landed at Jamestown (May 14 1607) they began building a triangular-shaped fort ("a pallizado of planckes and strong posts, foure foote deepe in the ground, of yong oakes, walnuts, &."), "A setled streete of houses," a church, a guardhouse, and a storehouse.
n 1620-21 the Jamestown colonists established an iron furnace at Falling Creek—about eighty miles upriver from Jamestown. It was the first ironworks built in America by Englishmen, and the furnace was the first one (of which there is definite record) in which iron was smelted. The contemporary records also indicate that a few tools were made in the forge shop. The enterprise was short-lived, however, for in 1622 the Indians massacred the ironworkers and their families and destroyed the furnace. Although never rebuilt, its importance cannot be overstressed, for the Falling Creek site can rightfully claim the honor of being the birthplace of the American iron industry.
The Jamestown cooper was a busy craftsman. Many barrels, hogsheads, and casks were needed in the colony, and large quantities of barrel staves were made for shipping to England. (Painting by Sidney E. King.)
On April 27 1607, the day after the Jamestown colonists landed at Cape Henry, some of the settlers began to build or assemble a small boat. George Percy, one of the original colonists, reported that it was completed and launched on April 28.
It appears, therefore, that 350 years ago—on the sandy beach near Cape Henry—the Jamestown bound colonists made their first important commodity by hand in the New World.
Contemporary records reveal that many small boats were built at Jamestown from the earliest years of the settlement. They afforded the best means of transportation through the uncharted wilderness, and were used for fishing, trade, and exploration.
The conjectural illustration shows colonists building a small boat at Jamestown Island—near Back River—about 1650.