The Starving Time

The Starving Time at Jamestown in the Colony of Virginia was a period of forced starvation initiated by the Powhatan Confederacy to remove the English from Virginia. The campaign killed all but 60 of the 500 colonists during the winter of 1609–1610.

The colonists, the first group of whom had originally arrived at Jamestown on May 14, 1607, had never planned to grow all of their own food. Their plans depended upon trade with the local Native Americans' Powhatan Confederacy to supply them with food between the arrivals of periodic supply ships from England.

The efforts by anti-English leaders amongst the Powhatan Confederacy succeeded in isolating the tenuous English colony. Additionally, lack of access to water and a relatively dry rain season crippled the agricultural production of the colonists. After Captain John Smith's return to England in October 1609, the Powhatan placed the colony completely

under siege and attempted to end the English settlement through starvation. A fleet from England, damaged by a hurricane, arrived months behind schedule with new colonists, but without expected food supplies.

On June 7, 1610 the survivors boarded ships, abandoned the colony site, and sailed towards the Chesapeake Bay, where another supply convoy with new supplies and headed by a newly-appointed governor, Thomas West, Baron De La Warr, intercepted them on the lower James River and returned them to Jamestown. Within a few years, the commercialization of tobacco by John Rolfe secured the settlement's long-term economic prosperity.

Jamestown John Rolfe John Smith Pocahontas Powhatans Starving Time