Smith was not the only one to suffer after he left Virginia. Jamestown became a veritable ghost town. Life became so hopeless that 30 men fled the settlement to become buccaneers aboard a stolen ship, rather than face starvation. The natives grew increasingly resentful of the settlers, whom they felt encroached upon their lands. Hostilities increased and many of the newcomers were slaughtered.
Starvation visited much more often than the natives did. This period became known as “The Starving Time.” Every person was without and every house saw death on a daily basis. When all members within a household perished, the structure was torn down to use for firewood. The settlement’s palisades were also razed. Famine became so dire that the settlers eventually lost any fear of native attacks.
Many who begged for help from the natives were murdered for doing so. Their diets dwindled to consist of acorns and horse meat. Sadly, it grew even more calamitous when they ran out of livestock. Several resorted to cannibalism. They exhumed the recently deceased to cook and eat them.
One man killed his wife, but he consumed a sizable portion of her body before it was discovered. He was burned for murder. A count was taken in September of 1609, and showed 500 settlers resided in Jamestown. Another count was taken only six months later, in February of 1610. The population had declined to less than 60.
The ships Patience and Deliverance came in May of 1610. The survivors fled as soon as the ships arrived, which had last departed from Bermuda. Jamestown survivors left so quickly they didn’t even warn oncoming residents to what awaited them. Governor Baron De La Warre carried new settlers and supplies on board his ship when it passed those carrying the Jamestown survivors. A colony named Delaware would eventually be named after the Baron.
Jamestown had a rocky beginning, but perseverance and tenacity helped found a portion of America that would soon expand and develop as quickly as its New England counterparts developed.