Anglo–Powhatan Wars

Anglo–Powhatan Wars

The Anglo–Powhatan Wars were two wars fought between English settlers and Indians of the Powhatan Confederacy in Virginia. The First War lasted from 16091613 and ended in a peace settlement. The Second War lasted from 1644-1646 and ended in complete defeat for the Indians who were then forced off their land.

First Anglo-Powhatan War

The First Anglo–Powhatan War lasted between 16091613 involving the English colonists who were based in Jamestown, Virginia beginning in 1607 and Indians of the Powhatan Confederacy.

Colony leader Captain John Smith, a major intermediary between the settlers and the Indians, was injured in an accidental gunpowder explosion, and sailed to England in December 1609. After his departure the Powhatans got more aggressive; they captured and killed the new leader John Ratcliffe.

Newly appointed governor Thomas West, 3rd Baron De La Warr (“Lord Delaware”) arrived from England in Jamestown in June 1610. Delaware introduced "Irish Tactics", where his troops raided Indian villages, burned houses, confiscated provisions, and torched cornfields. However, the Indian Pamunkey warriors, led by Opechancanough counter-attacked defending their own land, and laid siege to the fort at Jamestown. He and his warriors nearly succeeded in driving the English out of the Jamestown area.

A peace settlement ended the war in 1614, and it was sealed by the marriage of Pocahontas to the colonist John Rolfe. This was the first known inter-racial union in Virginia, and helped usher in a brief period of better relations between the Indians and the newcomers.

econd Anglo-Powhatan War

The Second Anglo–Powhatan War began in 1644 as a last effort by the Indians to dislodge the English settlers of the Virginia Colony, and a last effort by the settlers to exterminate the Powhatan after their population was decimated in the First Anglo–Powhatan War. The Indians were defeated for the second time. The result was a near extinction of the native tribes of the Tidewater region. The peace treaty in 1646 ended any hopes of the colonists and Indians being able to peacefully coexist. It shoved the natives off their land and distinguished Indian land from white settlement land, a foreshadowing of the reservation system.

After twelve years of peace after the First Indian War of 1622-1632,commonly considered misnamed, that saw English control of the Virginia Tidewater region grow, the Powhatan leader Opechancanough began attacks on English settlements. Also known as the Tidewater War of 1644-1646, these attacks enraged the English colonists who then launched extirpative raids on Indian villages, nearly destroying the Powhatan people. The War's end ushered in 30 years of relative peace for the Virginian colonists.

ee also

* List of conflicts in the United States


Grenier, John. The First Way of War, American War Making of the Frontier, 1607-1814. Cambridge University Press. 2005. pp. 24-25.

Additional Sources

Steve Rajtar's book, "Indian War Sites" (McFarland and Company, Inc., 1999)

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