Raleigh’s “New Fort in Virginia” 1585, Seadogs
The following data is extracted from Trinity College Historical Society .
"Seadogs" who were now making the whole Atlantic unsafe for Spain. His death in 1591 off the Azores, where also Gilbert had perished, is one of the most glorious events in British naval annals. The English squadron consisted of but seven sail; the Spanish fleet numbered fifty-five. Engaged all night at close quarters with many of the largest Spanish galleons, at daylight Grenville found his little ship, the Revenge, literally shot to pieces, and not a man on board unhurt. Desperately wounded, he still refused to strike his flag; and when forced by his crew to surrender the sinking hull, he was taken on board the Spanish Admiral to utter the memorable last words: "Here die I. Richard Grenville, with a joyful and quiet mind; for that I have ended my life as a true soldier ought to do, fighting for his country, queen, religion, and honour."Doctissimus ille Harriotus,
On September 3, 1585, Governor Lane wrote to Richard Hakluyt from ''the New Fort in Virginia," which he had built at the northern end of Roanoke island, on the site of the fortified Indian village found there by Amadas: "Since Sir Richard Grenville's departure, we have discovered the maine to be the goodliest soyle under the cope of heaven, so abounding with sweete trees, and grapes of such greatnesse, yet wilde. . . . And we have found here Maiz or Guinie wheat, whose eare yeeldeth come for bread 400 upon one eare. . . . It is the goodliest and most pleasing Territorie of the world: for the continent is of an huge and unknowen greatnesse, and the climate is wholesome. . . . If Virginia had but horses and kine, I dare assure myselfe, being inhabited with English, no realme in Christendome were comparable to it."
He describes the whole neighboring country, and determines to change the site of the colony to a better port, for "the harborough of Roanoak was very naught;" but the hostility of some of the Indian tribes rendered all his efforts futile. Conspiracies were formed against the English, and their situation grew so precarious, that many turned a longing eye homeward. On June 10, 1586, Sir Francis Drake anchored off the coast with a fleet of twentythree sail, and furnished Lane with a a “very proper barke of seventy tun, and tooke present order for bringing of victual aboord her for 100 men for four moneths." But on the 13th there arose a great storm, which drove her to sea, with many of the chief colonists on board, and she did not return. Despairing of any remedy for this disaster, and unable to pass another winter without succor from home, Lane determined to abandon the colony. The men were bestowed among Drake's fleet, and arrived at Portsmouth on the 27th of July.
“Immediately after the departing of our English colony out of this paradise of the world." writes Lane, “the ship sent at the charges of Sir Walter Raleigh, fraighted with all manor of things in most plentifull maner, arrived at Hatorask; who after some time spent in seeking our Colony up in the countrey, and not finding them, returned with all the aforesayd provision into England. About foureteene days after the departure of the aforesayd shippe, Sir Richard Grenville Generall of Virginia arrived there; who not hearing any newes of the Colony, and finding the places which they inhabited desolate, yet unwilling to loose the possession of the countrey, determined to leave some men behinde to reteine it: whereupon he landed fifteene men in the Isle of Roanoak, furnished plentifully with all maner of provisions for two yeeres."
Besides Lane's narrative of his explorations in the waters of North Carolina, of his relations with the Indians, and of the various adventures and vicissitudes of the first colony, we have a "Briefe and true report of the new found land of Virginia" by Thomas Hariot, "a man no lesse for his honesty than learning commendable," the scholar of the expedition, and the inventor of the algebraic system of notation described in his epitaph as:
Qui omnes scientias coluit,
Qui in omnibus excelluit. Mathematicis, philosophicis, theologicis,
Veritatis indagator studiosissimus.
His report, addressed to "the Adventurers, Favourers, and Welwillers of the enterprise for the inhabiting and planting in Virginia," is a very full and interesting account of the varied products of the new country, and of the manners and customs of the natives. "There is a kind of grasse in the country, upon the blades whereof there groweth very good silks. . . . There are two kinder of grapes that the soile doth yeeld, the one small and sowre, of the ordinary bignesse, the other farre greater and of himselfe lushious sweet [the Scuppernong]. . . . A kinde of graine called by the inhabitants Pagatowr [Indian corn], about the bignesse of English peaze; but of divers colours; white, red, yellow and blew. All yeeld a very white and sweete flowre. . . . There is an herbe called by the inhabitants Uppowoe; the Spanyards call it Tabacco. The leaves thereof being brought into ponder, they used to take the smoake thereof, by sucking it thorow pipes made of clay, into their stomacke and heade; from whence it purgeth superfluous fleame and other grosse humours whereby their bodies are notably preserved in health, and know not many grievous diseases, wherewithall we in England are afflicted. They thinke their gods are marvellously delighted therewith: whereupon they make hallowed fires, and cast some of the ponder therein for sacrifice being in a storm, to pacifie their gods, they cast some into the waters: also after an escape from danger, they cast some into the a ire. . . . We our selves used to sucke it after their maner, and have found many wonderfull experiments of the vertues thereof: the use of it by so many of late, men and women of great calling, is sufficient witnesse. . . . Openauk are a kinde of roots of round forme [the potato] found in moist and marish grounds:
Source: Trinity College Historical Society