November 1621. Sir Francis Wyatt voyages to Jamestown and takes over the Colony’s governorship from Yeardley,
whose three year tenure in the office is over. Expansion in Virginia is slowly progressing and despite attacks on individual
settlers occurring from time to time, it is generally felt that relations with the Indians are improving. Wyatt could
not be more wrong.
6 March 1622. Jack of the Feathers appears at colonist Morgan’s
house and persuades him to accompany him on a trading trip up North. Morgan agrees. Two days pass, Jack reappears at Morgan’s
house, telling two young servants that their master is dead. Stupidly cocky, he is wearing Morgan’s hat so,
suspecting murder, the youths find a gun, chase and shoot him. Mortally wounded Jack begs two favours of them. One, tell no
one he’s been killed by a bullet. The other, ‘Bury me among the English.’ Jack is so famous among the tribes
that none think he can be killed by an Englishman.
Nevertheless, the news of Jack’s murder
eventually reaches the ears of Chief Opechananough, who immediately threatens Wyatt with a terrible revenge on the colonists.
Wyatt in response threatens even stronger retaliation and forces, so he thinks, the Chief to keep the peace. He’s wrong,
for whilst Opechananough pretends to back down by sending pacific messages, he orders his braves, in ones and twos, to cross
the James River and, without arousing suspicion, infiltrate the settlements. They go unarmed.
Friday morning, 22 March.
It appears to be a normal workday, the men out labouring in the corn and tobacco fields, or brickmaking, making barrels or
busy in the smithy as the Indians arrive. They bring fish, turkeys and furs to trade with the English by visiting the dwellings.
At some they’re offered refreshment when, suddenly, as if by prearranged signal, the Indians seize the whites’
weapons, knives, axes, tools – anything to use as a lethal bludgeon. The unarmed settlers are helpless.
They are massacred. Later official reports record the killing of ‘three hundred and forty seven men, women and children,
most by their own weapons…. Then defacing, dragging and mangling the dead carcasses into many pieces and carrying some
parts away in brutish triumph.’ Jack of the Feathers is avenged.