The Story of Bacon’s Rebellion
by Mary Newton Standard
Published by The Neale Publishing Company, 1907
E-version, ©, Jeffrey C. Weaver, 2000
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After the thrilling scenes through which the Colony of Virginia passed during its earliest days, the most portentous, the most dramatic, the most picturesque event of its seventeenth century history was the insurrection known as “Bacon’s Rebellion.” All writers upon the history of Virginia refer to it, and a few have treated it at some length, but it is only in quite late years that facts unearthed in the English public records have enabled students to reach a proper understanding of the causes and the results of this famous uprising, and given them accurate and detailed information concerning it. The subject has long been one of popular interest, in spite of the. imperfect knowledge touching it, and it is believed that a clear and simple presentation of the information now available will be welcomed by those whose attention has been attracted to a man of most striking personality and to a stirring period of Colonial history.
During the year 1907 thousands of persons from all parts of the world will visit the scenes of Nathaniel Bacon’s brief career, will see-while passing on James River-the site of his home at “Curles Neck,” will visit Richmond, where “Bacon’s Quarter” is still a name, will linger in the historic city of Williamsburg, once the “Middle Plantation,” will stand within the ancient tower of the church which the rebels burned at Jamestown, and from, possibly, the very spot where Bacon and Sir William Berkeley had their famous quarrel, will see the foundations 6f the old State House-but lately excavated-before which the antagonists stood.
While the writer of this monograph has made a careful and thorough study of all records of the period, remaining in England or America, and has earnestly endeavored to give an exact and unbiased account, and while she has made no statement not based upon original sources, her story is addressed especially to the general reader. She has therefore not burdened her pages with references to the authorities she has used, a list of which will be found in the appendix.
The year 1676 dawned upon troublous scenes in Virginia. Being a time when men were wont to see in every unusual manifestation of Nature the warning shadow cast ahead by some coming event, the colonists darkly reminded each other how the year past bad been marked by three “Prodigies.” The first of these was “a large comet every evening for a week or more, at southwest, thirty-five degrees high, streaming like a horse’s tail west-wards, until it reached (almost) the horizon, and setting towards the northwest.” The second consisted of “flights of pigeons, in breadth nigh a quarter of the mid-hemisphere, and of their length was no visible end, whose weight brake down the limbs of large trees whereon they rested at nights, of which the fowlers shot abundance and ate ’em,” and the third, of “swarms of flies about an inch long, and big as the top of a man’s little finger, rising out of spigot holes in the earth, which ate the new sprouted leaves from the tops of the trees, without other harm, and in a month left us.”
Looking backward from the practical point of view of our day, and beholding that memorable year under the cold light of fact, it does not seem that any evil omen should have been needed to make clear that a veritable witch’s caldron of dangers was brewing in Colonial Virginia, and that some radical change in the administration of the government alone could have prevented it from reaching boiling point.
Sir William Berkeley had served two long terms as Governor, during which his attractive personality and intellectual gifts had brought him wide popularity, and his home, “Green Spring,” some four miles from Jamestown, had become famous for its atmosphere of refinement and good cheer, and as a resort for wandering Cavaliers. He was now-grown old in years and sadly changed in character-serving a third term; reigning, one ‘night almost say. Stern and selfish as he had become, bending his will only to the wishes of the young wife of whom he was childishly fond and who was, by many, blamed for the change in him, he makes an unlovely, but withal a pathetic figure in the history of Virginia.
Every inch a gallant soldier, every inch a gentleman, yet haughty, unsympathetic and unlovable; narrow in mind and in heart; clinging desperately to Old World traditions in a new country eager to form traditions of its own; struggling blindly to train the people under him to a habit of unquestioning obedience and submission to the powers that be, however arbitrary and oppressive those powers might become-a habit which, however deep-rooted it might have been in its native soil, could hardly be expected to bear transplanting to a land so wide and free as America, and so far distant from its parent stem.
To Sir William Berkeley his sovereign was literally “his most sacred Majesty.” Whatever that sovereign’s human frailties might be, the kingly purple covered them all. Ilis slightest whim was holy; to question his motives or the rightness and wisdom of his commands was little short of blasphemy. Furthermore, as the King’s agent and representative in Virginia, Governor Berkeley expected like homage toward himself. In short, he was a bigoted royalist and egotist, believing first in the King and second in himself, or rather, perhaps, first in himself, and then in the King, and the confession of faith which he lived up to with unswerving consistency was the aggrandizement of those already great and the keeping in subjection of those already lowly.
Yet, high-spirited old Cavalier though he was, knowing nothing of personal cowardice nor fearing to match his good sword against any in the land, The People, whom his aristocratic soul despised, inspired him with continual dread.
It most naturally follows that to such a mind the unpardonable sin was rebellion. No matter what the provocation to rebellion might be, the crime of presuming to resist the King’s government was one that could not be justified, and the chief policy of Sir William’s administration was to keep the people where they were as little as possible likely to commit it. Recognizing that ideas might become dangerous weapons in their possession, he took pains lest they should develop them, and thanked God that there were no public schools or printing-presses in Virginia. He even discouraged the parsons from preaching for fear that the masses might gain too much of the poison of knowledge through sermons. He declared that “learning had brought disobedience into the world,” and his every act showed that he was determined to give it no chance to bring disobedience to the English government or to himself into Virginia.
Around the Governor had gathered a ring of favorites, called by the people “grandees,” who formed an inner circle which grew daily richer and more important as those outside of its magic bounds sunk into greater obscurity and wretchedness. The result was, under an outward show of unity, two distinct parties, deeply antagonistic in feeling, the one made up of the Governor and the Governor’s friends-small in numbers but powerful in wealth and influence -and the other of the people, strong only in numbers and in hatred of their oppressors. The one party making merry upon the fat of that goodly land, the other feeding upon the husks and smarting under a scourge each several lash of which was an intolerable “grievance.”
It would be impossible to gain a faithful picture of the time without a knowledge of the nature of some of these grievances. Most of them were summed up in the melancholy and inharmonious cry of “hard times,” which made itself heard through-out the broad land-a cry which in whatso- ever country or time it be raised invariably gives rise to discontent with the existing government, and, in extreme cases, brings with it a readiness on the part of the distressed ones to catch at any measure, try any experiment that seems to hold out promise of relief. One cause of the poverty of the people of Virginia in 1676 was to be found in the low price of tobacco-the sole money product of the colony-through a long series of years. For this and the’ consequent suffering the government was, of course, not responsible. Indeed, it sought to find a remedy by attempting to bring about, for a time, a general cessation of tobacco culture in the colonies. A scheme to better the condition of the people by introducing diversified industries was also started, and with this end in view tanneries were established in each county, and an effort was made to build new towns in several places, but it soon became plain that they could not be maintained. These unhappy attempts became, by increasing the taxes, merely fresh causes of discontent. Yet, while they were blunders, they were well meant, and in accordance with the spirit of the times.
Giving the government all honor due for taking even these misguided steps in behalf of the people, it must be confessed that there were other troubles greatly to its discredit.
The heaviest of these were the long continued Assembly,-while the people clamored, justly, for a new election,-the oppressive taxes, and the Indian troubles.
As early as 1624 the Virginia Assembly had declared that the Governor (for all he was his Majesty’s representative) could not levy taxes against the will of the Burgesses, which, since the Burgesses were supposed to represent the people, was as much as to say against the will of the people. Governor Berkeley’s Burgesses, however, did not represent the people. The Assembly chosen in l862, [sic–1662] and composed almost entirely of sympathizers with the Governor, was so much to the old man’s mind that, saying that “men were more valuable in any calling in proportion to their experience,” he refused to permit a new eJection, and the consequence was that in the thirteen years before our story opens, during which this Assembly sat under Sir William’s influence, he had brought it up to his hand, as it were, and it had ceased to represent anything but its own and the Governor’s interests.
With such a legislature to support him, Sir William could bid defiance to the restrictions upon the Governor’s power to lay taxes, and the poor “tithable polls” (all males above sixteen Years of age) were called upon to pay the expenses of any measures which were deemed proper in carrying on the government; for the unrighteous taxes were imposed always per captia-never upon property, though by act passed in 1670 only landholders could vote.
It was by this system of poll-tax that the ample salaries of the Burgesses were paid and also that the sundry perquisites attached to the office of a Burgess were provided–such as the maintenance of a manservant and two horses apiece, and fees for clerks to serve committees, and liquors for the committees to drink their own and each other’s good health. Doubtless many stately compliments were exchanged when the Burgesses, in an outburst of generosity, were pleased to present the Governor and others of high degree with “great gifts,” but the grace and charm of the act were not perceptible to the eyes of the people who, enjoying neither the gifts nor the applause of presenting them, were taxed to pay the piper.
The “poorer sort” complained that they were “in the hardest condition-who having nothing but their labor to maintain themselves, wives and children, pay as deeply to the public as he that hath 20,000 acres.” Their complaints were just, but not likely to find a hearing, for the spirit of the age demanded that, in order that the wealthy might keep up the appearance of wealth and maintain the dignity of their position, those who had no wealth to be retained and no dignity to be maintained must keep the wolf from the door as best they might while the fruits of their daily toil were “engrossed” by their so-called representatives. In the mean time, these representatives, their pockets thus. swelled, found public life too comfortable to feel any desire to return to agricultural pursuits, or to be content with the uncertain income afforded by the capricious crop.
But this was not the worst.
While Charles II was yet in exile, some of his courtiers who, for all their boasted sympathy in the sorrows of their “dear sovereign,” were not unmindful of their own interests, prayed of his Majesty a grant of the Northern Neck of Virginia, and Charles, forgetful of the loyalty 6f the little colony beyond the seas which had been faithful to him through all of his troubles, and utterly ignoring the right and title of those then in possession of the coveted lands, yielded them their wish, After the Restoration this grant was renewed, and in 1672 his Majesty went further still and was pleased to grant away the whole colony, with very few restrictions, to Lords Arlington and Cuipeper. Not only were their Lordships to be enriched by the royal quit-rents and escheats, and to enjoy the sole right of granting lands, but through the privilege likewise given them of appointment of sheriffs, surveyors, and other officers, the power of executing the laws and collecting the taxes, and of dividing the colony into counties and parishes and setting boundary lines was to be practically in their hands.
Thus upon the fair bosom of Virginla, already torn and fretted by a host of distresses, was it purposed that these two “Lords Proprietors” should be let loose-their greed for gain to be held in check only by the limitations of the colony’s resources-through a dreary waste of thirty-one years.
The colonists, foreseeing that all manner of dishonesty and corruption in public affairs would be the certain and swift result of such large powers, cast about for a remedy, and at length determined to send a commission to England to raise a voice against the ruinous grant and to bribe the hawks away from their prey. So far so good; but to meet the expenses of the com- mission the poll-tax was greatly increased, so that while the landholders were to be relieved by having their rights restored, the “poorer sort” were made poorer than ever by being required to pay sixty pounds of tobacco per head for that relief. This unjust tax was a crowning point to all that the people had suffered, and a suppressed groan, like the threatenings of a distant but surely and steadily approaching storm, arose, not in one settlement, not in one county, but from one end of Virginia to another, even to the remotest borders of the colony.
While this black enough tempest was brewing about the path of the Governor and the “grandees,” another and a still darker cloud suddenly arose in an unexpected quarter and burst with frightful fury upon the heads of the unhappy people, the chiefest among whose “grievances” now became their daiTy and hourly terror of the Indians, made worse by the fact that their Governor was deaf to all their cries for protection.
Indeed, the savages, not the colonists, were the protected ones, for the gain from the Indian beaver and otter fur trade, which the Governor and his friends monopolized, was believed to be a stronger argument with Sir William Berkeley for keeping in league with the red men than the massacre of the King’s subjects was for making war upon them. The helpless people could only shake their heads despairingly and whisper under their breath, “Bullets cannot pierce beaver skins.”
In a “Complaint from Heaven, with a Huy and Crye and a Petition out of Virginia and Maryland. To Owr great Gratious Kinge and souveraigne Charles ye ii King of Engel ‘d etc. with his parliament,” it is charged that “Old Governr. Barkly, altered by marrying a young Wyff, from his wonted publicq good, to a covetous Fole-age, relished Indians presents with some that hath a like feelinge, so wel, that many Christians Blood is Pokketed up wth other mischievs, in so mutch that his lady tould, that it would bee the overthrow of ye Country.”
The most ghastly accounts of the sly and savage incursions of the Indians, and of the way in which they served their victims, such as flaying them alive, knocking out their teeth with clubs and tearing out their finger-nails and toe-nails, flew from lip to lip. The terror-stricken planters upon the frontiers and more exposed places deserted their homes, left the crops upon which they depended for existence to waste and ruin, and huddled together in the more sheltered places, still not knowing “upon whom the storm would light.”
Truly was the colony under the “greatest distractions “it had known since the frightful Indian massacre of the year 1622.
In such a state of horror and demoralization, and remembering all that those of earlier times had suffered, no wonder the colonists did not question whether the natives had any rights to be considered, and came to scarcely regard them as human beings, or that the sentiment “the only good Indian is a dead Indian” should have prevailed. Indeed, the one chance for the divine law of the survival of the fittest to be carried out in Virginia seemed to be in the prompt and total extermination of the red race.
The beginning of serious war with the Indians happened in this wise. One Sunday morning in the summer of 1675, as some of the settlers of Stafford County took their way peacefully to church, with no thought of immediate danger in their minds, they were greeted, as they passed the house of one Robert Hen, a herdsman, by the ghastly spectacle of the bloodstained bodies of Hen himself, and an Indian, lying across Hen’s doorstep. Though scarred with the gashes of the deadly tomahawk, life was not quite gone out of the body of the white man, and with his last breath he gasped, “Doegs-Doegs,” the name of a most hostile tribe of Indians.
At once the alarm was given and the neighborhood was in an uproar. Experience had taught the Virginians that such a deed as had been committed was but a beginning of horrors and that there was no telling who the next victim might be. Colonel Giles Brent, commander of the horse, and Colonel George Mason, commander of the foot soldiers of Stafford County,-both of them living about six or eight miles from the scene of the tragedy,- with all speed gathered a force of some thirty men and gave’ chase to the murderers. They followed them for twenty miles up the Potomac River and then across into Maryland (which colony was then at peace with the Indians), firing upon all the red men they saw without taking time to find out whether or not they were of the offending tribe. In Maryland, Colonels Brent and Mason divided the men under them into two parties and continued their chase, taking different directions. Soon each party came upon, and surrounded, an Indian cabin. Colonel Brent shot the king of the Doegs who was in the cabin found by him, and took his son, a boy eight years old, prisoner. The Thdians fired a few shots from within the cabin and were fired upon by the white men without. Finally the Indians rushed from the doors and fled. The noise of the gnus aroused the Indians in the cabin-a short distance away-surrounded by Colonel Mason’s men, and they fled with Mason’s men following and firing upon them, until one of them turning back rushed up to Mason and shaking him by both hands said, “Susquehannocks-friends!” and turned and fled. Whereupon Colonel Mason ran among his men, crying out,
“For the Lord’s sake, shoot no more! These are our friends the Susquehannocks!”
The Susquehannocks were an exceedingly fierce tribe of Indians but were, just then, at peace with the English settlers.
Colonels Mason and Brent returned to Virginia, taking with them the little son of the chief of the Doegs; but as murders continued to be committed upon both sides of the Potomac, Maryland (which was now drawn into the embrogho) and Virginia soon afterward raised between them a thousand men in the hope of putting a stop to the trouble. The Virginians were commanded by Col. John Washington (great-grandfather of General Washington) and Col. Isaac Allerton. These troops laid siege to a stronghold of the Susquehannocks, in Maryland. The siege lasted seven weeks. During it the besiegers brought down upon themselves bitter hatred by putting to death five out of six of the Susquehannocks’ “great men” who were sent out to treat of peace. They alleged, by way of excuse, that they recognized in the “great men” some of the murderers of their fellow-countrymen. At the end of the seven weeks, during which fifty of the besiegers were killed, the Susquehannocks silently escaped from their fort in the middle of the night, “knocking on the head” ten of their sleeping foes, by way of a characteristic leave-taking, as they passed them upon the way out. Leaving the rest to guard the cage in blissful ignorance that the birds were flown, the Indians crossed over into Virginia as far as the head of James River. Instead of the notched trees that were wont to serve as landmarks in the pioneer days, these infuriated Thdians left behind them a pathway marked by gaping wounds upon the bodies of white men, women, and children. They swore to have still further revenge for the loss of their “great men,” each of whose lives, they said, was worth the lives of ten of the Englishmen, who were of inferior rank, while their ambassadors were “men of quality.”
Sir William Berkeley afterward rebuked the besiegers before the Grand Assembly for their breach of faith, saying,
“If they had killed my grandfather and grandmother, my father and mother and all of my friends, yet if they had come to treat of peace they ought to have gone in peace.”
The English held that the savages were utterly treacherous, their treaties of peace were dishonored by themselves and were therefore unworthy of being kept by others.
An investigation made by Governor Berkeley showed that neither of the Virginia officers was responsible for the shabby piece of work.
However faithless the Indians may have been in most matters, they were as good as their word touching their vengeance for the loss of their “men of quality.” About the first of the new year a party of them made a sudden raid upon the upper plantations of the Potomac and Rappahannock rivers, massacred thirty-six persons, and fled to the woods. News of this disaster was quickly carried to the Governor, who for once seemed to respond to the need of his people. He called a court and placed a competent force to march against the Indians under command of Sir Henry Chicheley and some other. gentlemen of Rappahannock County, giving them full power, by commission, to make peace or war. When all things had been made ready for the party to set out, however, Governor Berkeley, with exasperating fickleness, changed his mind withdrew the commission, and ordered the men to be disbanded, and so no steps were taken for the defense of the colony against the daily and hourly dangers that lurked in the forests, threatened the homes and haunted the steps of the planters-robbing life in Virginia of the frecdom and peace which had been its chief charm.
The poor Virginians were not “under continual and deadly fears and terrors of their lives” without reason. As a result of their Governor’s unpardonable tardiness in giving them protection, the number of plantations in the neighborhood of the massacre was in about a fortnight’s brief space reduced from seventy-one to eleven. Some of the settlers had deserted their firesides and taken refuge in the heart of the country, and others had been destroyed by the savages.
Not until March did the Assembly meet o take steps for the safety and defense of he colonists, three hundred of whom had by that time been cut off, and then, under Governor’s Berkeley’s influence, the only action taken was the establishment of forts at the heads of the rivers and on the frontiers, and of course heavy taxes were laid upon the people to build and maintain them. These fortifications afforded no real defense, as the garrisons within them were prohibited from firing upon Indians without special permission from the Governor, and were only a new burden upon the people. The building of the forts may have been an honest (though unwise and insuffi- cient) attempt at protection of the colony, but the people would not believe it. They saw in them only expensive mouse-traps,” for whose bait they were to pay, while they were sure that the shrewd Indians would continue their outrages without coming dangerously near such easily avoided snares. They declared that, scattered about as the forts were, they gave no more protection than so many extra plantations with men in them; that their erection was ”a great grievance, juggle and cheat,” and only “a design of the grandees to engross all of the tobacco into their own hands.” In their indignation the planters vowed that rather than pay taxes to sup- port the forts they would plant no more tobacco.
So often had the Governor of Virginia mocked them with fair but unfulfilled promises, so often temporized and parried words with them while their lives were in jeopardy and the terror-stricken cries of their wives and children were sounding “grievous and intolerable” in their ears, that those whom he was in honor bound to protect had lost all faith in him and all hope of obtaining any relief from him or his Assembly. Finally, as Sir William Berkeley would not send his forces against the murderers, the suffering planters resolved to take matters into their own hands and to raise forces amongst themselves, only they first humbly craved of him the sanction of bis commission for any commanders whom he should choose to lead them in defense of their “lives and estates, which without speedy prevention, lie liable to the injury of such insulting enemies.” The petitioners assured Sir William that had no desire to “make any disturbance or put the country to any charge,” but with characteristic lack of sympathy he bluntly refused to grant their request and forbade a repetition of it, “under great penalty.”
The people’s fears and discontent steadily increased. It seemed more and more evident that Governor Berkeley was protecting their murderous enemies for his own gain, for (they charged) after having prohibited all traffic with the Indians, he had privately, given commission to some of his friends to truck with them, and these favorites had supplied them with the very arms and ammunition tbat were intended for the protection of the colonists against their savagery. The. red men were thus better provided with arms than his Majesty’s subjects, who had “no other ingredients” from which to manufacture munitions of war but “prayers and misspent intreaties, which having vented to no purpose, and finding their condition every whit as bad, if not worse, than before the forts were made,” they resolved to cease looking to the Governor for aid and to take the steps that seemed to them necessary for defense and preservation of themselves and those dear to them. In other words, since their petition for a commission to march against the Indians was denied them, they would march without a commission, thus venturing not only their lives, but the tyrannical old Governor’s displeasure for the sake of their firesides.
With this end in view, the dwellers in the neighborhood of Merchant’s Hope Plantation, in Charles City County, on James River, began to “beat up drums for Volunteers to go out against the Indians, and soe continued Sundry dayes drawing into Armes.” The magistrates, either for fear or favor, made no attempt to prevent “soe dangerous a beginning & going on,” and a commander and head seemed all that was needed to perfect the design and lead it on to success.
Such, then, was the condition of the little colony which had struggled and hoped and hoped and struggled again, until now hope seemed to have withdrawn her light altogether, and a despairing struggle to be all that was left.
Throughout all history of all lands, at the supreme moment when any country whatsoever has seemed to stand in suspense debating whether to give itself over to despair or to gather its energies for one last blow at oppression, the mysterious star of destiny has seemed to plant itself- a fixed star-above the head of some one man who has been (it may be) raised up for the time and the need, and who has appeared, under that star’s light, to have more of the divine in him than his brother mortals. To him other men turn as to a savior, vowing to follow his guidance to the death; upon his head women call down Heaven’s blessings, while in their hearts they enshrine him as something akin to a god. Oftentimes such men fall far short of their aims, yet their failures are like to be more glorious than common victories. The star that led them on in life does not desert them in death-it casts a tender glow upon their memory, and through the tears of those who would have laid down their lives for them it takes on the softened radiance of the martyr’s crown.
Other times and other countries have had their leaders, their heroes, their martyrs Virginia, in 1676, had her Nathaniel Bacon.
This young man was said to be a “gentleman of no obscure family.” He was, indeed, a cousin of Nathaniel Bacon, Sr., the highly esteemed president of the Virginia Council of State, who remained loyal to the government during the rebellion against Sir William Berkeley’s rule, and is said to have offered to make his belligerent relative his heir if he would remain loyal, too. The first of the family of whom anything is known was Robert Bacon, of Drinkstone, who married Isabella Cage and had two sons, one of whom was Sir Nicholas Bacon, Lord Keeper, and father of the great Lord Bacon; and the other James Bacon, Alderman of London, who died in 1573. Alderman Bacon’s son, Sir James Bacon, of Friston Hall, married his cousin Elizabeth, daughter and heiress of Francis Bacon, of Hessett, and had two sons, James Bacon, Rector of Burgate (father of President Nathaniel, of Virginia), and Nathaniel Bacon, of Friston Hall, who married Anne, daughter of Sir Thomas De Grasse, of Norfolk, England, and died in 1644. Nathaniel and Elizabeth Bacon were the parents of Thomas Bacon, of Friston, who married Elizabeth, daughter of Sir Robert Brooke, of Yexford. Nathaniel Bacon, Jr., styled “the Rebel,” was their son.
This Nathaniel Bacon was born on January 2, 1647, at Friston Hall, and was educated at Cambridge University-entering St. Catherine’s College there in his fourteenth year and taking his A.M. degree in his twenty-first. In the mean time he had seen “many Forraigne Parts,” having set out with Ray, the naturalist; Skipton, and a party of gentlemen, in April, 1663, upon “a journey made through part of the Low Countries, Germany, Italy, France.” A quaint account of all they saw, written by Skippon, may be found in “Churchill’s Voyages.” In 1664 young Bacon entered Grey’s Inn. In 1674 he was married to Mistress Elizabeth Duke, daughter of Sir Edward Duke, and in that year his history becomes a subject of interest to Virginians, for in the autumn or winter he set sall with his bride, in a ship bound for Jamestown, to make or mar his fortune in a new world. The young couple soon made a home for themselves at “Curles Neck,” some twenty miles below the site afterward chosen by Colonel William Byrd for the city of Richmond, and about forty miles above Jamestown. This plantation afterward became famous in Virginia as one of the seats of the Randolph family. Bacon had a second plantation, which he called “Bacon’s Quarter,” within the present limits of Richmond, bnt his residence was at “Curles.”
The newcomer’s high connections, natural talents-improved as they had been by cultivation and travel-and magnetic personality evidently brought him speedy distinction in Virginia, for he at once began to take a prominent part in public affairs, was made a member of his majesty’s Council, and soon enjoyed the reputation of being the “most accomplished man in the colony.”
Ere long, too, it became apparent that the heart of this marked man was with the people. Encouraged by his sympathy they poured their lamentations into his ears, and along with his pity for their help-less and hopeless condition a mighty wrath against Governor Berkeley took possession of his impetuous soul. “If the redskins meddle with me, damn my blood,” he cried -with what Governor Berkeley called his “usual” oath- “but I’ll harry them, commission or no commission!” Soon enough the “redskins” did “meddle” with him, murdering his overseer, to whom he was warmly attached, at “Bacon’s Quarter,” and, as will be seen, he proved himself to be a man as good as his word.
And so it happened that upon this newcomer the whole country, ripe for rebellion, casting about for a leading spirit to give the signal for the uprising, set its hope and its love. In him choice had fallen upon one who had the courage to plan and the ability to put into execution, and who, for want of a commission from the Governor to lead a campaign against the Indians accepted one “from the people’s affections, signed by the emergencies of affairs and the country’s danger.”
Though only twenty-nine years of age when he was called, of a sudden, to take so large a part in the history of Virginia, Nathaniel Bacon looked to be “about four or five and thirty.” No friendly brush or pen has left us a portrait of him, but the Royal Commissioners, sent over after the Rebellion to “enquire into the affairs of the colony,” give us the impression which they gathered from all they heard of him. In their words he was “Indifferent tall but slender, black-haired, and of an ominous, pensive, melancholy aspect, of a pestilent and prevalent logical discourse tend- ing to atheism in most companies, not given to much talk, or to make sudden replies; of a most imporious and dangerous hidden pride of heart, despising the wisest of his neighbors for their ignorance and very ambitious and arrogant.”
Verily, a lively and interesting picture, for even an enemy to paint.
His temperament and personality were as striking as his appearance and manner. He was nervous and full of energy; determined, self-reliant and fearless; quick and clear of thought and prompt to act. In speaking, he was enthusiastic and impassioned, and full of eloquence and spirit, and if he had been born a hundred years or so later would doubtless have been dubbed a “silver-tongued orator.” He was a man born to sway the hearts of his fellows, which he understood and drew after him with magnetic power, and upon which he could play with the sureness of a master of music touching the keys of a delicate musical instrument.
Such was the man toward whom in the hour of despair the hopes of the Virginians turned-such the man who declared his willingness to “stand in the gap” between the commonalty and the “grandees,” and with true Patrick Henry-like devotion, to risk home, fortune, life itself, in the cause of freedom from tyranny.
One day a group of four prominent Virginia planters were talking together and, naturally, made the “sadness of the times and the fear they all lived in” the subject of their conversation. These gentlemen were Captain James Crews, of “Turkey Island,” [Afterward the seat of William Randolph, first of the Randolph family in Virginia] Henrico County; Henry Isham, Colonel William Byrd (first of the name), and Nathaniel Bacon. They were all near neighbors, and lived in the region most exposed and subject to the Indian horrors -Squire Bacon’s overseer having been among the latest victims. Their talk also turned upon the little army of volunteers that was collecting in Charles City County, on the other side of the river, to march against the Indians. Captain Crews told them that lie had suggested Bacon to lead the campaign, and the two other gentlemen at once joined him in urging Squire Bacon to go over and see the troops, and finally persuaded him to do so. No sooner did the soldiers see him approaching than from every throat arose a great shout of, “A Bacon! A Bacon! A Bacon!”
The young man’s companions urged him to accept the proffered leadership and promised to serve under him; his own ambition and enthusiasm caught fire from the warmth of such an ardent greeting, and without more ado he became “General Bacon, by consent of the people.”
In a letter to England, describing the state of affairs in the colony, and his connection with them, he wrote how, “Finding that the country was basely, for a small, sordid gain, betrayed, and the lives of the poor inhabitants wretchedly sacrificed,” he”resolved to stand in this ruinous gap” and to expose his “life and fortune to all hazards.” His quick and sympathetic response to their call “greatly cheered and animated the populace,” who saw in him the “only patron of the country and preserver of their lives and fortunes, so that their whole hearts and hopes were set upon him.”
To a man like Nathaniel Bacon it would have been impossible to do anything by halves. Having once for all committed himself to the people’s cause, he threw his whole heart and soul into the work before him, and recognizing the danger of delay and the importance of letting stroke follow stroke while the iron of enthusiasm was still aglow, he began at once to gather his forces and to plan the Indian campaign.
The excited volunteers crowded around him and he “listed” them as fast as they offered themselves, “upon a large paper, writing their names circular-wise, that their ring leaders might not be found out.” Having “conjured them into this circle,” he “gave them brandy to wind up the charm,” and drink success to the undertaking, and had them to take an oath to “stick fast” to each other and to him, and then went on to New Kent County to enlist the people thereabouts.
It was about the end of April, when the glad sight of the countryside bursting into life and blossom and throbbing with the fair promise of spring doubtless added buoyancy to hearts already cheered by the hope of brighter days, that Nathaniel Bacon at the head of three hundred men-in-arms, set out upon the Indian warpath. Sir William Berkeley, in a rage at their daring to take steps for their own defense without a commission from him, but power-less to put a stop to such unheard-of proceedings, promptly proclaimed leader and followers “rebels and mutineer s,” and getting a troop of soldiers together, set out toward the falls of James River, in hot pursuit, resolved either to overtake and capture “General” Bacon, or to seize him on his return. This proved to be a wild-goose chase, however, for the little army of “rebels” had already crossed to the south side of James River and was marching “through boush, through briar,” toward the haunts of the savages, whither the Governor’s train-bands had little appetite to follow.
The enraged Berkeley, finding his will thwarted, waited patiently for the return of the doughty three hundred, taking what grim satisfaction he could find in telling young Mistress Elizabeth Bacon that her hushand would hang as soon as he came back, in issuing, upon May 10, another proclamation against the “young, inexperienced, rash and inconsiderate,” general and his “rude, dissolute and tumultuous” followers, and in deposing Bacon from his seat in the “honorable Council” and from his office as a magistrate.
Meanwhile, Nathaniel Bacon and his men, regardless of the anxiety with which Governor Berkeley watched for their return, were pressing on through the wilderness. When they had marched “a great way to the south”-had crossed into Carolina, indeed-and their supplies were nearly spent, they came upon a little island (probably in Roanoke River) seated by the Ockinagee Indians, one of the tribes said to have been protected by Berkeley for sake of the fur trade, and doubtless the same as the Mangoaks, rumors of whose great trade with the Indians of the northwest, for copper, had been brought to Sir Walter Raleigh’s colony. These Ockinagees, who were very likely a branch of the great Dakota family of Indians, were evidently a most enterprising people, and their isle was a veritable center of commerce among the red-skin inhabitants of that region. It was described as “commodious for trade, and the mart for all the Indians for at least five bundred miles” around. Its residents had at that time on hand no less than a thousand beaver skins of which Sir William Berkeley and his partners. would in due time, doubtless, have become possessed, and it was supposed to have been through trade with these Islanders that arms and ammunition were passed on to the fierce Susquehannock braves.
When Bacon reached the island he saw at once that it would be nothing short of madness to pit his handful of foot-sore and half-starved men agalnst the combined strength of the Ockinagees and the Susquehannocks, so, adopting a policy patterned after the savages’ own crafty methods of warfare, he made friends with one tribe and persuaded them to fall upon the other. The result was a furious battle between the two tribes in which thirty Susquehannock warriors and all of their women and children were killed. By this time Bacon’s men were in a sorry plight for the want of provisions. They offered to buy food from their new-made friends, the Ockinagees, who promised them relief on the morrow, but when the next day came put them off again with talk of still another “morrow.” In the mean time, they were evidently making preparations for battle. They had reinforced their three forts upon the island, and were seen to grow more and more warlike in their attitude as the pale faces grew weaker in numbers and in physical strength. To add to the desperate situation, there came a report that the Indians had received private messages from Governor Berkeley.
Bacon’s men had, in their eagerness to procure food, “waded shoulder deep through the river,” to one of the island forts, “still entreating and tendering pay for the victuals,” but all to no avall. While the half-starved creatures stood in the water, with hands stretched out, still begging for bread, one of them was struck by a shot fired from the mainland, by an Indian. The luckless shot proved to be the signal for a hideous battle. Bacon, knowing full well that retreat meant starvation for himself and his devoted little band of followers, believing that the savages within the fort had sent for others to cut them off in their rear, but not losing the presence of mind that armed him for every emergency, quickly drew his men close against the fort where their enemies could get no range upon them, and ordering them to poke their gnns between the stakes of the palisades, fired without discrimination- without mercy. All through the night and until late into the next day the wilderness echoed with the yells of the wounded and dying. savages and with the gun-shots of the hunger-crazed palefaces.
Let us not forget that this battle was the last resort of an army which championed the cause of the people of Virginia, and upon whose steps the horrors of murder, torture, and starvation waited momently. Let us also not forget that the time was the seventeenth century, the place a wilder- ness, the provocation an attempt not merely to shut the Anglo-Saxon race from the shores of the New World, but to wipe out with hatchet and torch the Anglo-Saxon homes which were already planted there.
When at last, after a loss of eleven of their own hardy comrades, the exhausted Baconians withdrew from the fray, the island fort had been entirely demolished and vast numbers of the Indians slain.
While Sir William Berkeley possessed his soul in as much patience as he could command at the Falls of the James? lying in wait for Bacon’s return, the inhabitants farther down toward Jamestown began to “draw into arms,” and to proclaim against the useless and costly forts. Open war with the Indians was the one thing that would content them, and war they were bent upon having. They vowed that they would make war upon all Indians who would not “come in with their arms” and give hostages for their fidelity and pledge themselves to join with the English against all others. “If we must be hanged for rebels for killing those that will destroy us,” said they, ”let them hang us; we will venture that rather than lie at the mercy of a barbarous enemy and be murdered as we are.”
In a “Manifesto,” defending the rights of the people, issued soon after his return, Bacon made a scornful and spirited reply to Governor Berkeley’s charges of rebellion and treason. “If virtue be a sin, said he, “if piety be ‘gainst all the principles of morality, goodness and justice be perverted, we must confess that those who are now called rebels may be in danger of those high imputations, those loud and several bulls would aifright innocents and render the defence of our brethren and the inquiry info our sad and heavy oppressions treason. But if there be, as sure is, a just God to appeal to, if religion and justice be a sanctuary here, if to plead the cause of the oppressed, if sincerely to aim at his Majesty’s honor and the public good without any reservation or by-interest, if to stand in the gap after so much blood of our dear brethren bought and sold, if after the loss of a great part of his Majesty’s colony, deserted and dispeopled, freely with our lives and estates to endeavor to save the remainders, be treason, Lord Almighty judge and let the guilty die.” Can it be that these words were in the mind of Patrick Henry, when, nearly a hundred years later, he cried, “If this be frea son, make the most of it”?
Governor Berkeley, finding the wrath of the people past his control, gave up for the time the chase after Bacon, returned home, and to appease the people, not only had the offensive forts dismantled, but even, upon the 18th of May, dissolved the legislature that had established them, and for, the first time’ for fourteen years gave. orders for the election of a new free Assembly. This Assembly, whose immediate work, the Governor declared, should be to settle’ the “distracted” condition of Virginia., was “new” in more senses than one, for, departing from the usual custom of electing only freeholders to represent them, some of the counties chose men “that had but lately crept out of the condition of servants,” for their Burgesses. Thus showing the strong democratic feeling that had arisen, to the exasperation of the aristocratic Berkeley.
Bacon had by this time returned from his march into the wilderness and the countryside was ringing with glowing reports of his success against the Indians. The people welcomed him with wild enthusiasm, for they not only regarded him as their champion against the brutalities of savages, but attributed to him the calling of the new Assembly, to which they looked for relief from the “hard times.” Their hopes, as will be seen, were not doomed to disappointment.
A short time before the meeting of this “June Assembly,” as it was commonly called, Bacon made his friend and neighbor, Captain Crews, the bearer of a letter from him to Sir William Berkeley, in which he said:
“Sir: Loyalty to our King and obedience to your Honor as his Majesty’s servant or chief commander here, under him, this was generally the preface in all my proceedings to all men, declaring that I abhorred rebellion or the opposing of laws or government, and if that your Honor were in person to lead or command, I would follow and obey, and that if nobody were present, though I had no order, I would still adventure to go in defense of the country against all Indians in general, for that they were all our enemies; this I have always said and do maintain, but as to the injury or violation of your power, interest, or personal safety, I always accounted magistracy sacred and the justness of your authority a sanctuary; I have never otherwise said, nor ever will have any other thoughts.”
Continuing, he says that he does not believe the rumors of the Governor’s threats against his (Bacon’s) life, which are” daily and hourly brought to my ears,” and wishes that “his Honor” were as willing to distrust the various reports of him. He says his conscience is too clear to fear and his resolution too well grounded to let him discontinue his course, and closes his letter with these words:
“I dare be as brave as I am innocent, who am, in spite of all your high resentment, unfeignedly, your Honor’s humble and obedient servant.”
Madam Byrd, who had been driven from her home by fear of the Indians, said in a letter to a friend in England that neither Mr. Bacon nor any with him had injured any Englishman in their persons or estates, that the country was well pleased with what he had done, and she believed the council was too, “so far as they durst show it.’, “Most of those with Mr. Bacon,” she wrote, “were substantial householders who bore their own charges in this war against the Indians.” She added that she had heard that Bacon had told his men that he “would punish any man severely that should dare to speak a word against the Governor or government.”
Henrico County chose Nathaniel Bacon to represent it in the new House of Burgesses, and Captain Crewes was also sent from that county. Although the voters were resolved to give their darling a voice in the Assembly, however, they were loth to trust his person in the midst of so many dangers as they knew lurked about Jamestown for him. Madam Elizabeth Bacon, proudly writing of her young husband, to her sister in England, under date June 29, says, “The country does so really love him that they would not leave him alone anywhere.”
And so, accompanied by a body-guard of forty armed men, the newly elected Burgess of Henrico set sail in a Sloop for Jamestown. When he had passed Swan’s Point, a mile or two above the town, he dropped anchor and sent a messenger ashore to inquire of the Governor whether or not he might land in safety and take his seat as a member of the Assembly. Governor Berkeley’s only answer was delivered promptly, and with no uncertain sound, from the savage mouths of the “great guns” on the ramparts of the town fort-whereupon Bacon moved his sloop higher up the river. After nightfall, accompanied by a party of his men, he ventured on shore and went to “Mr. Lawrence’s house” in the town, where he had an interview with his good friends Mr. Lawrence and Mr. Drummond, and then returned to the sloop without having been seen. These two friends of Bacon’s were gentlemen of prominence and wealth in the colony. Their houses were the best built and the best furnished in Jamestown, and Richard Lawrence was a scholar as well as a “gentleman and a man of property,” for he was a graduate of Oxford, and was known to his contemporaries as “thoughtful Mr. Lawrence.” His accomplishments, added to a genial and gracious temper, made him a favorite with both the humble and the great, and he had the honor to represent Jamestown in the House of Burgesses. He had married a rich widow who kept a fashionable inn at Jamestown, and their house was a. rendezvous for persons of the best quality. Mr. Lawrence was cordially hated by Governor Berkeley and his friends, one of whom dubbed him “that atheistically and scandalous person.”
Mr. Drummond, “a sober Scotch Gentleman of good repute,” had at one time been Governor of North Carolina. He was noted for wisdom and honesty, and an admirer said of him, “His dimensions are not to be taken by the line of an ordinary capacity”; but the Governor’s caustic friend, already quoted, has placed him on record as “that perfidious Scot.”
We shall hear more of these two gentlemen hereafter.
At length, finding no hope of meeting with a more hospitable greeting from the Governor of Virginia than that which he had already received, the “Rebel” set his sails homeward; but, in obedience to Governor Berkeley’s orders, Captain Gardner, master of the ship Adam and Eve, which lay a little way up the river, headed him off, and “commanded his sloop in” by firing upon him from aboard ship, arrested him and his guard, and delivered them up to the Governor, in Jamestown. Within the State House there a bit of drama was then acted in the presence of the amazed Assembly- Governor Berkeley and Mr. Bacon playing the principal parts. In this scene the fair-spoken Governor’s feigned clemency was well-matched by the prisoner’s feigned repentance, for Berkeley found it prudent to be careful of the person of a man in whose defense the excited people were ready to lay down their lives, and Bacon found it equally prudent to seem to believe in the friendship of one who he knew hated him with all the venom of his bitter heart, and doubtless also realized that to accept the proffered clemency, however insincere he might know it to be, was the likeliest way of obtaining the coveted commission to continue his Indian campaign, and to gain admission to his seat in the Assembly, by which he hoped to raise his voice in behalf of the oppressed commonalty of Virginia.
The Governor, looking at Bacon, but addressing himself to the Assembly, said:
“Now I behold the greatest rebel that ever was in Virginia.” Then, addressing himself to the prisoner, he questioned, “Sir, do you continue to be a gentleman, and may I take your word? If so you are at liberty upon your own parole.”
Upon which Mr. Bacon expressed deep gratitude for so much favor.
On the next day the Governor stood up during the session of the Council, sitting as upper house of the Assembly, and said:
“If there be joy in the presence of angels over one sinner that repenteth, there is joy now, for we have a penitent come before us. Call Mr. Bacon.”
Mr. Bacon came forward, and dropping upon his knee, in mock humility, presented his Honor with a paper which he had drawn up, pleading guilty of the crime of rebellion and disobedience and throwing himself upon the mercy of the court.
Governor Berkeley forthwith declared him restored to favor, saying three times over, “God forgive you, I forgive you !”
Colonel Cole, of the Council, put in, “And all that were with him.”
“Yea,” quote Sir William Berkeley, “and all that were with him “-meaning the Rebel’s body-guard who had been captured in the sloop with him, and were then lying in irons.
Governor Berkeley furthermore extended his clemency to the culprit by restoring him to his former place in the Council of State,-“his Majesty’s Council,” as the Virginians loved to call it,- made him a positive promise of the much-desired commission to march against the Indians, and even suffered Captain Gardner, of the ship Adam and Eve, to be fined the sum of seventy pounds damage and in default of payment to be thrown into jail, for seizing Bacon and his sloop, according to his own express orders.
Bacon’s friends had been thrown into an uproar at the news of his arrest, and some of them made “dreadful threatening to double revenge all wrongs” to their champion and his guard; but all were now so pleased at the happy turn of affairs that” every man with great gladness returned to his own home.”
And so it happened that Mr. Nathaniel Bacon, so lately dubbed a “rebel” and a “mutineer,” took his seat, not merely in the House of Burgesses, but in the more distinguished body, “his Majesty’s Council.” The Council chamber was upon the first floor of the State House, that occupied by the Burgesses upon the second. The Burgesses, as they filed upstairs. to take their places, that afternoon, saw, Through the open door of the Council chamber, a surprising sight,-“‘Mr. Bacon on his quondam seat, “-and to at least one of them it seemed” a marvelous indulgence” after all that had happened.
The session was distinctly one of reform. Nathaniel Bacon was determined to make the best of his hard-earned advantage while he had it, and he at once made his influence felt in the assembly. He was now strong with both Burgesses and Council, who were won, in spite of any prejudices they may have had, to acknowledge the personal charm and the executive genius of the daring youth. He promptly set about revising and improving the laws. Universal suffrage was restored, a general inspection of public expenses and auditing of public accounts was ordered, and laws were enacted requiring frequent election of vestries by the people, and prohibiting all trade with the Indians, long terms of office, excessive fees, and the sale of spirituous liquors. Some of the most unpopular leaders of the Governor’s party were debarred from holding any public office. The wisdom of the Rebel’s legislation was to be later set forth by the fact that after his death, when the fascination of a personality which had bent men’s wills to its own was no longer felt, and when his name was held in contempt by many who failed to understand him or his motives, the people of Virginia clamored for the reestablishment of “Bacon’s Laws,” which upon his downfall had been repealed; and in February, 1676-7, many of them were actually re-enacted-with only their titles changed.
Governor Berkeley, finding it beyond his power to stem the tide of reformation which tossed the old man about like a leaf whose little summer is past,-a tide by which his former glory seemed to be utterly submerged and blotted out,-pleaded sickness as an excuse to get away from it all and take refuge within his own home, but in vain. Not until he had placed his signature to each one of the acts passed for the relief of the people and correction of the existing abuses would Bacon permit him to stir a step.
But the Assembly was not wholly taken up with revising the laws. It devoted much attention to planning the Indian campaign to be carried on under “General Bacon,” for which 1,000 men and provisions were provided. For this little army we are told that some volunteered to enlist and others were talked into doing so by members of the Council-Councilor Ballard being especially zealous in the work. It was also decided to enlist the aid of the Pamunkey Indians, who were descendants of Powhatan’s braves, and had been allies of the English against other tribes. Accordingly, the “Queen of Pamunkey” was invited to appear before the House of Burgesses and say what she would do. The “Queen” at this time commanded a hundred and fifty warriors. She was the widow of the “mighty Totopotomoy” who had led a hundred warriors, in aid of the English, at the battle of “Bloody Run,” and was slain with most of his men. The Association for the Preservation of Virginia Antiquities possesses an interesting relic in what is known as the “Indian Crown, “-a silver frontlet presented to the “Queen of Pamunkey” by the English Government, as a testimonial of friendship.
This forest queen is said to have “entered the chamber with a comportment graceful to admiration, bringing on her right hand an Englishman interpreter, and on her left her son, a stripling twenty years of age, she having round her head a plait of black and white wampumpeag, three inches broad, in imitation of a crown, and was clothed in a mantle of dressed deerskins with the hair outwards and the edge cut round six inches deep, which made strings resembling twisted fringe from the shoulders to the feet; thus with grave court-like gestures and a majestic air in her face, she walked up our long room to the lower end of the table, where after a few entreaties, she sat down; the interpreter and her son standing by her on either side, as they bad walked up.”
When the chairman of the House addressed her she refused to answer except through the interpreter, though it was believed that she understood all that was said. Finally, when the interpreter had made known to her that the House desired to know how many men she would lend her English friends for guides in the wilderness against her own and their “enemy Indians,” she uttered, “with an earnest, passionate countenance, as if tears were ready to gush out,” and a “high, shrill voice,” a “harangue,” in which the only intelligible words were, “Totopotomoy dead! Totopotomoy dead!” Colonel Edward Hill, whose father had commanded the English at the battle of “Bloody Run,” and who was present, it is written, “shook his head.”
In spite of this tragic “harangue,” the House pressed her to say how many Indians she would spare for the campaign. She “sat mute till that same question being pressed a third time, she, not returning her face to the board, answered, with a low, slighting voice, in her own language, Six. But being further importuned, she, sitting a little while sullen, without uttering a word between, said Twelve. . . . and so rose up and walked gravely away, as not pleased with her treatment.” While Bacon was dictating laws in Virginia, making ready for the march against the Indians and at the same time preparing a defense of himself for the King, his father, Thomas Bacon, of Friston Hall, England, was on bended knee before his Majesty pleading with him to withhold judgment against the rash young man until he could obtain a full account of his part in the troubles in the colony, concerning which startling tales had already been carried across the water.
At last the Grand Assembly’s work was done and everything but one was ready for the march against the Indians-the commission which Sir William Berkeley had publicly promised Bacon, and for which alone Bacon and his army tarried at Jamestown, was not yet forthcoming. The perfidious old man, crazed with jealousy of his prosperous young rival in the affections of the people, postponed granting it from day to day, while he secretly plotted Bacon’s ruin. His plots were discovered, however, by some of the friends of Bacon, who was “whispered to,” not a moment too soon, and informed that the Governor had given orders for him to be arrested again, and that road and river were beset with men lying in wait to assassinate him if he attempted to leave Jamestown. Thus warned, he took horse and made his escape through the dark streets and past the scattered homes of the sleeping town before the sun was up to show which course he had taken. In the morning the party sent out to capture him made a diligent search throughout the town, actually thrusting their swords through the beds in the house of his “thoughtful” friend, Mr. Lawrence, to make sure that he was not hidden in them.
No sooner had the fugitive Bacon reached the “up country” than the inhabitants crowded around him, clamoring for news of the Assembly and eager to know the fate of his request for a commission to fight the Indians. When they learned the truth they “began to set up their throats in one common cry of oaths and curses.” Toward evening of the same day a rumor reached Jamestown that Bacon was coming back at the head of a “raging tumult,” who threatened to pull down the town if the Governor’s promises to their leader were not kept. Governor Berkeley immediately ordered four “great guns” to be set up at Sandy Beach–the only approach by land, to Jamestown–to welcome invaders and all the men who could be mustered–only thirty in all–were called out and other preparations made to defend the town.
Next morning the little capital rang with the call to arms, but the despised Governor, finding it impossible to get together enough soldiers to resist the people’s favorite, resorted to the stratagem of seeking to disarm the foe by the appearance of peace. The unfriendly cannon were taken from their carriages, the small arms put out of sight, and the whole town was made to present a picture of harmlessness and serenity.
The Assembly was calmly sitting on that June day when, without meeting with the slightest attempt at resistance, Nathaniel Bacon marched into Jamestown at the head of four hundred foot soldiers and a hundred and twenty horse. He at once stationed guards at all the “principal places and avenues,” so that “no place could be more securely guarded,” and then drew his men up in front of the State House where the Councilors and Burgesses were in session, and defiantly demanded the promised commission. Some parleying through a committee sent out by the Council followed, but nothing was effected. Throughout the town panic reigned. The white head of the aged and almost friendless Governor along kept cool. At length, his Cavalier blood at a boiling point, he arose from the executive chair, and stalking out to where Bacon stood, while the gentlemen of the Council followed in a body, denounced him to his face as a “rebel” and a “traitor.” Then, baring his bosom, he shouted, “Here! Shoot me! ‘Fore God, a fair mark, shoot!” repeating the words several times. Drawing his sword, he next proposed to settle the matter with Bacon, then and there, in single combat.
“Sir,” said Bacon, “I came not, no intend, to hurt a hair on your Honor’s head, and as for your sword, your Honor may please to put it up; it shall rust in the scabbard before ever I shall desire you to draw it. I come for a commission against the heathen who daily inhumanly murder us and spill our brethren’s blood, and no care is taken to prevent it,” adding, “God damn my blood, I came for a commission, and a commission I will have before I go!”
During this dramatic interview, Bacon, his dark eyes burning, his black locks tossing, strode back and forth betwixt his two lines of men-at-arms, resting his left hand upon his hip, and flinging his right from his hat to his sword-hilt, and back again, while the Burgesses looked on breathless from the second-story windows of the State House.
At length the baffled Governor wheeled about and, with haughty mien, walked toward his private apartment at the other end of the State House, the gentlemen of the Council still close following him, while Bacon, in turn, surrounded by his body guard, followed them, continuing to gesticulate in the wild fashion that has been described.
Finding Sir William deaf to every appeal, the determined young leader swore another great oath, and exclaiming, “I’ll kill Governor, Council, Assembly and all, and then I’ll sheathe my sword in my own heart’s blood!” he turned to his guard and ordered them to “Make ready, and present!”
In a flash the loaded muskets of the “fusiliers” pointed with steady aim and true toward the white faces in the State House windows, while from the throats of the little army below arose a chorus of “We will have it! We will have it!” meaning the promised commission.
A quick-witted Burgess waved his handkerchief from the window, shouting, as he did so,” You shall have’ it! You shall have it!” and the day was saved. The tiny flag of truce worked a magic spell. The soldiers withdrew their guns, uncocked the match-locks, and quietly followed Bacon back to the main body of his men. One witness says that Bacon’s men also shouted a chorus of, “No levies! No levies!”
After a long and heated argument with Council and Burgesses (though not until the next day) Governor Berkeley grudgingly drew up a commission and sent it out. Bacon, who was bent upon making the most of his hard-won position, was not content with it, however, and scorning to accept it, dictated one to his own mind and required the Governor to sign it, as well as thirty blank ones for officers to serve under him, to be filled with such names as he himself should see fit. Afterward, finding need of still more officers, he sent to Berkeley for another supply of blank commissions, but the beaten old man, deserted, for the time, by his resources and his nerve, sent back the answer that he bad signed enough already, and bade General Bacon sign the rest for himself.
One more paper, however, the old man was made to sign-a letter to King Charles explaining and excusing Bacon’s course, and an act of indemnity for Bacon and his followers.
Most of the commissions Bacon filled with the regular officers of the militia, as the “most fit to bear commands,” and likely to be the “most satisfactory to both Governor and people.”
The young General sat up all night long making his appointments and preparing the commissions, keeping the Burgess from Stafford County, Mr. Mathew, whom he had pressed into service as secretary, up with him. This gentleman made bold to express the fear that as the people he represented dwelt upon the most northern frontier of the colony, their interests might not be so much regarded as those in General Bacon’s own neighborhood, on the far southern frontier; but his fears were set to rest by Bacon’s assurance that “the like care should be taken of the remotest corners in the land as in his own dwelling house.”
In the very midst of Nathaniel Bacon’s little reign at Jamestown came the news that the Indians, with a boldness exceeding any they had hitherto shown, had swooped down upon two settlements on York River, only twenty-three miles diatant from the little capital, and more than forty miles within the bounds of the frontier plantations, and had massacred eight persons. This was upon the morning of the twenty-fifth of June-a Sunday-when the pious Virginians were doubtless rejoicing in a welcome rest from law-making, and, resplendent in apparel fashioned after the latest mode in England at the time when the ships that brought it over sailed thence, were offering thanks in the church for the promise of brighter days which filled their hearts with good hope.
The town was again thrown into an uproar. Bacon ordered supplies to be taken to the Falls of James River, and upon Monday morning, bright and early, flags were unfurled, drums and trumpets sounded, and with the authority of the cherished commission as “General of all the forces in Virginia against the Indians,” and the God-speed of men, women and children, he marched away at the head of his thousand troops.
From the chorus of cheers and prayers for his safety and success that followed him, however, one voice was missing. There was among those that witnessed the departure one who was silver-haired and full of years, but who had grown old ungracefully, for his brilliant and picturesque prime had been eclipsed by a narrow and crabbed old age. While every heart but his was stirred to its depths, every eye but his dimmed by the gentle moisture of emotion, every tongne but his attuned to blessings, Sir William Berkeley was possessed by wrathful silence, resolved to submit as best he could to what he could not help, and to bide his time till the aid from England, which he confidently expected, should arrive. He was in the mean time upon the lookout for any straw that could be caught at to stem the tide of his rival’s popularity, and such a straw he soon found.
The people of Gloucester County had been irritated by the rigorous manner in which Bacon’s officers impressed men and horses for the Indian campaign. One account even states (most likely without truth) that Bacon himself had been in Gloucester upon this business. Berkeley was informed of the feeling in that county and told that the settlers there were loyal to him and would support him against Bacon. The old man hastened to Gloucester, where he was presented with a petition complaining bitterly of the loss of men and horses impressed for the Indian war, and especially of the rowdy methods of “one Matthew Gale, one of Mr. Bacon’s chief commanders,” and begging for protection “against any more of these outrages.” Sir William answered that the petition would be “most willingly granted,” for that he “felt bound” to preserve his Majesty’s subjects from the “outrages and oppressions to which they have lately too much submitted by the tyranny and usurpation of Nathaniel Bacon, Jun., who never had any commission from me but what, with armed men, he extracted from the Assembly, which in effect is no more than if a thief should take my purse and make me own I gave it him freely, so that in effect his commission, whatever it is, is void in law and nature, and to be looked upon as no value.”
Encouraged by the attitude of the people of Gloucester, Governor Berkeley at once began raising troops, ostensibly to go himself to fight the Indians, but really to attack Bacon.
In the mean time, Bacon, in blissful ignorance of the fresh trouble brewing for him, was mardhing on toward the Falls. They were reached ere long, and all was now ready for the plunge into the wilderness where the red horror lurked. He gathered his men about him and made them a speech. He assured them of his loyalty to England and that his only design was to serve his King and his country. Lest any should question the means by which he had gotten his commission, he reminded them of the urgency of the time and the “cries of his brethren’s blood that alarmed and wakened him to his public revenge.” When he had finished speaking he took the oath of “allegiance and supremacy,” in the presence of all his soldiers, had them to take it, and then gave them an oath of fidelity to himself. By this oath they bound themselves to make known to him any plot against the persons of himself or any of his men, of which they might happen to hear; also, to have no communication with the Indians, to send no news out of camp, and to discover all councils, plots, and conspiracies of the Indians against the army.
The cheers of assent which answered the commander’s words died upon the air, and the order to march was about to be given, when a messenger posted into camp with the news that Governor Berkeley was in Gloucester County raising forces to surprise Bacon and take his commission from him by force. The doughty young General, unfailing of resources, and nothing daunted even by this ”amusing” message, promptly decided what he should do. In obedience to his command, trumpet and drum again called his men together that he might inform them that ere they could further pursue the chase after their “dearest foe” they must turn backward again once more to meet the even greater horrors of civil warfare-how instead of leading them as he had supposed, only against the hated redskins, he must now command that the sword of friend should be turned against friend, brother against brother.
“Gentlemen and Fellow Soldiers,” he said, “the news just now brought me may not a little startle you as well as myself. But seeing it is not altogether unexpected, we may the better hear it and provide our remedies. The Governor is now in Gloucester County endeavoring to raise forces against us, having declared us rebels and traitors; if true, crimes indeed too great for pardon. Our consciences herein are best witnesses, and theirs so conscious as like cowards therefore they will not have the courage to face us. It is revenge that hurries them on without regard to the people’s safety, and had rather we should be murdered and our ghosts sent to our slaughtered countrymen by their acting than we live to hinder them of their interest [the fur trade] with the heathen, and preserve the remaining part of our fellow-subjects from their crnelties. Now then, we must be forced to turn our swords to our own defense, or expose ourselves to their mercies, or fortune of the woods, whilst his Majesty’s country lies here in blood and wasting (like a candle) at both ends. Row incapable we may be made (if we should proceed) through sickness, want of provisions, slaughter, wounds, less or more, none of us is void of the sense hereof.
“Therefore, while we are sound at heart, unwearied, and not receiving damage by the fate of war, let us descend to know the reasons why such proceedings are used against us. That those whom they have raised for their defense, to preserve them against the fury of the heathen, they should thus seek to destroy, and to betray our lives whom they raised to preserve theirs. If ever such treachery was heard of, such wickedness and inhumanity (and call all the ages to witness) and if any, that they suffered it in like manner as we are like by the sword and ruins of war.
“But they are all damned cowards, and you shall see they will not dare to meet us in the field to try the justness of our cause, and so we will down to them.”
As the ringing notes of their commander’s voice died away, a great shout arose from the soldiers. “Amen! Amen! “they cried. “We are all ready to die in the field rather than be hanged like rogues, or perish in the woods exposed to the favors of the merciless Indians!” And without more ado, they wheeled about and marched, a thousand strong, to meet their pursuers.
There was, however, to be no battle that day. It is true, as has been shown, that the Governor had raised forces under the pretense of going himself to aid in the Indian warfare, but really for the purpose of pursuing and surprising Bacon and (in true Indian-gift fashion) taking the commission away from him. But as soon as the Governor’s army discovered for what service they were called out they bluntly, and with one accord, refused to obey marching orders, and setting up a cheer of “Bacon, Bacon, Bacon!” walked off the field-still (it is written) muttering in time to their step, “Bacon, Bacon, Bacon!”
The poor old Governor, finding himself thus abandoned, his friends so few, his cause so weak, his authority despised and his will thwarted at every turn, “for very grief and sadness of spirit,” fainted away in his saddle. Soon enough he heard that Bacon was on the march toward Gloucester to meet him, and finding himself utterly unprepared for the encounter, he fled, in desperation, to Accomac County, upon the Eastern Shore of Virginia, which, cut off as it is by the broad waters of the Chesapeake, had not suffered from the Indian horrors that had fallen upon the rest of the colony, and had remained loyal to the government. Here Sir William found a wel- come shelter, though, even while giving him the balm of a hospitable greeting and according him the honor they conceived to be due him as the King’s representative, the people of Accomac did not forbear to complain to him of the public abuses from which they had suffered in common with the folk across the Bay.
As unsuccessful as was Berkeley’s attempt to muster an army to oppose Bacon, its consequences were dire. The “Royal Commissioners” appointed to investigate and report upon the merits of Bacon’s Rebellion condemned it, declaring that nothing could have called back Bacon, “then the hopes of the people,” from his march against the Indians, or “turned the sword of a civil war into the heart and bowels of the country, but so ill-timed a project as this proved.”
“Now in vain,” say the Commissioners, “the Governor attempt raising a force against Bacon, and although the industry and endeavors he used was great, yet at this juncture it was impossible, for Bacon at this time was so much the hopes and darling of the people that the Governor’s interest proved but weak.” And so he “was fain to fly” to Accomac.
When at length Bacon reached Gloucester he found “the Governor fled and the field his own,” so he marched boldly, and without resistance, to the “Middle Plantation,” the very “heart and center “of the colony, and soon to be chosen as the site for its new capital-storied Williamsburg. Here the young “rebel” found himself lord of all he surveyed-the Governor gone, and all Virginia, save the two counties on the Eastern Shore, in his power. After quartering his soldiers he issued a proclamation inviting all the gentlemen of Virginia to meet him at the “Middle Plantation,” and ”consult with him for the present settlement of that, his Majesty’s distressed Colony, to preserve its future peace, and advance the effectual prosecution of the Indian war.”
In response to the summons a great company of people gathered, on the third day of August, at the house of Mr. Otho Thorpe. From this convention the real Rebellion is dated. An oath was drawn up, by Bacon, to be taken by the people of Virginia, “of what quality soever, excepting servants.” By it the people were bound to aid their General with their lives and estates in the Indian war; to oppose and hinder the Governor’s designs, “if he had any,” and to resist any forces that might be sent over from England to suppress Bacon until time was allowed to acquaint his Majesty with the “grievances” of the colony, and to receive a reply.
The oath was put into due form and read to the convention by the clerk of the Assembly. A stormy debate, which lasted from midday until midnight, followed. Some feared the oath (especially the clause regarding resistance of the King’s soldiers) to be a dangerous one. Bacon, supported by many others, protested its innocence.
“The tenor of the oath” was declared in the report of the “Royal Commissioners” to be as follows:
“1. You are to oppose what forces shall be sent out of England by his Majesty against me, till such time I have acquainted the King with the state of this country, and have had an answer.
“2. You shall swear that what the Governor and Council have acted is illegal and destructive to the country, and what I have done is according to the laws of England.
“3. You shall swear from your hearts that my commission is legal and lawfully obtained.
“4. You shall swear to divulge what you have heard at any time spoken against me.
“5. You shall keep my secrets and not discover them to any person.”
The men foremost in urging the oath were Colonel Swann, Colonel Beale, Colonel Ballard, and Squire Bray, of the Council, and Colonel Jordan, Colonel Smith, Colonel Scarsbrook, Colonel Milner, Mr. Lawrence, and Mr. Drummond-all of them gentlemen of standing in the colony.
Bacon himself pleaded hotly for the oath, and at last vowed that unless it were taken he would surrender up his commission to the Assembly, and “let them find other servants to do the country’s work.”
This threat decided the question. The oath was agreed to and was administered by the regular magistrates in almost all of the counties, “none or very few” dodging it.
Bacon’s position, already so secure, was now made all the stronger by the arrival of the “gunner of York fort,” breathless with the tidings that this, the “most considerable fortress in the country,” was in danger of being surprised and attacked by the Indians, and imploring help to prevent it. The savages had made a bold raid into Gloucester, massacring some of the settlers of the Carter’s Creek neighborhood, and a number of the terror-stricken county folk had fled to York for refuge. The fort could offer them little protection, however, for Governor Berkeley had robbed it of its arms and ammunition, which he had stowed away in his own vessel and sailed away with them in his flight to the Eastern Shore.
Bacon at once began making ready to continue his oft-interrupted Indian campaign, but first, to be sure of leaving the country safe from Berkeley’s ire,-for he feared lest “while he went abroad to destroy the wolves, the foxes, in the mean time, should come and devour the sheep,” –he seized Captain Larrimore’s ship, then lying in the James, and manned her with two hundred men and guns. This ship he sent under command of Captain Carver, “a person acquainted with navigation” and Squire Bland, “a gentleman of an active and stirring disposition, and no great admirer of Sir William’s goodness,” to arrest Sir William Berkeley for the purpose of sending him-as those of earlier times had sent Governor Harvey-home to England, to stand trial for his “demerits toward his Majesty’s subjects of Virginia,” and for the “likely loss of that colony,” for lack of defense against the “native savages.”
Before leaving “Middle Plantation” the Rebel issued a summons, in the name of the King, and signed by four members of his Majesty’s Council, for a meeting of the Grand Assembly, to be held upon September 4, to manage the affairs of the colony in his absence.
Jamestown he left under the command of Colonel Hansford, whom he commissioned to raise forces for the safety of the country, if any should be needed. He then set out, with a mind at rest, upon his Indian warfare. The few who had had the hardihood to openly oppose his plans he left behind him safe within prison bars; others, who were at first unfriendly to him, he had won over to his way of thinking by argument; while any that he suspected might raise any party against him in his absence, he took along with him.
For the third time, then, he marched to the “Falls of James River,” where it is written that he “bestirred himself lustily,” to speedily make up for lost time in carrying on the war against the Ockinagees and Susquehannocks; but seems to have been unsuccessful in his search for these tribes, which had probably fled far into the depths of the wilderness to escape Bacon’s fury, for he soon abandoned the chase after them and marched over to the “freshes of York, “in pursuit of the Pamunkeys,–whose “propinquity and neighborhood to the English, and courses among them” was said to “render the rebels suspicious of them, as being acquainted and knowing both the manners, customs and nature of our people, and the strength, situation and advantages of the country, and so, capable of doing hurt and damage to the English.”
The “Royal Commissioners” condemn the pursuit of the Pamunkeys, saying that ”it was well known that the Queen of Pamunkey and her people had ne ‘er at any time betrayed or injured the English,” and adding, “but among the vulgar it matters not whether they be friends or foes, so they be Indians.”
It is indeed evident that the war with the Indians was intended to be a war of extermination, for by such war only did the Virginians believe they would ever secure safety for themselves, their homes, and their families.
Governor Berkeley himself had no faith in the friendship of the Indians, however. While Bacon was gone upon his expedition against the Ockinagees, the Governor sent forces under Colonel Claiborne and others to the headwaters of Pamunkey River. They found there the Pamunkey Indians established in a fort in the Dragon Swamp-probably somewhere between the present Essex and King and Queen Counties. The red men said that they had fled to this stronghold for fear of Bacon, but their explanation did not satisfy the Governor, who declared that as soon as his difficulty with Bacon was settled he would advance upon the fort himself. The Queen of Pamunkey herself was in the fort, and when requested by Berkeley to return to her usual place of residence said “she most willingly would return to be under the Governor’s protection, but that she did understand the Governor and those gentlemen could not protect themselves from Mr. Bacon’s violence.”
At the “freshes of York” Bacon was met and joined by “all the northern forces from Potomac, Rappahannock, and those parts,” under the command of Colonel Giles Brent, and the two armies marched together to the plantations farthest up York River, where they were brought to an enforced rest by rainy weather, which continued for several days. Even this dismal interruption could not chill Bacon’s ardor, but it filled him with anxiety lest the delay should cause his provisions to run short.
Calling his men together he told them frankly of his fears, and gave all leave to return to their homes whose regard for food was stronger than their courage and resolution to put down the savages, and revenge the blood of their friends and neighbors shed by them. He bade them (if there were any such) with all speed begone, for, said he, he knew he would find them the “worst of cowards, serving for number and not for service, starving his best men, who were willing to “bear the brunt of it all,” and disheartening others of “half mettle.”
In response to this speech, only three of the soldiers withdrew, and these were disarmed and sent home.
The sullen clouds at length lifted, and the army tramped joyfully onward. Ere long they struck into an Indian tribe, leading to a wider one, and supposed from this that they must be near the main camp of some tribe. Some scouts were sent out, but reported only a continuation of the wide path through the woods. The army broke ranks and, to save time, and make the rough march under the sultry August sun as little – uncomfortable as possible, followed the trail at random. They soon came in sight of a settlement of the Pamunkey tribe, standing upon a point of high land, surrounded upon three side’s by a swamp.
Some ten Indian scouts who served Bacon’s army were sent ahead to reconnoiter. The Pamunkeys, seeing the scouts, suffered them to come within range of their guns, and then opened fire upon them. The report of the guns gave the alarm to Bacon and his troops, who were about half a mile distant, and who marched in great haste and confusion to the settlement. The Indians took refuge in the edge of the swamp, which was so miry that their pursuers could not follow, and the only result of the chase, to the Englishmen, was the not over glorious feat of killing a woman and capturing a child.
It so happened that the “good Queen of Pamunkey,” as the “Royal Commissioners” styled her, with some of her chiefs and friends, was in the neighborhood of the settlement. Being warned that Bacon and his men were coming, she took fright and fled, leaving behind her provisions and Indian wares, as a peace offering, and charging her subjects that if they saw any “pale faces” coming they must “neither fire a gun nor draw an arrow upon them.” The “pale faces,” in their chase, overtook an aged squaw who had been the “good queen’s” nurse, and took her prisoner, hoping to make her their guide to the hiding-places of the Indians. She led them in quite the opposite way, through the rest of that day and the greater part of the next, however, until, in a rage at finding themselves fooled, they brutally knocked her upon the head and left her dead in the wilderness. They soon afterward came upon another trail which led to a large swamp, where several tribes of Indians were encamped, and made an attack upon them, but with small fruits, as the red men took to their heels, and most of them made good their escape.
Bacon now found himself at the head of an army wearied by the rough march through swamp and forest, weak for want of food, and out of heart at the contemplation of their thus far bootless errand.
Moreover, the time appointed for the meeting of the Assembly was drawing nigh, and he knew that the people at home were looking anxiously for the return of their champion, and expecting glorious tidings of his campaign. In this strait he gave the troops commanded by Colonel Brent provisions sufficient for two days, and sent them, with any others who were pleased to accompany them, home ahead of him, to make report of the expedition and to carry the news that he would follow soon.
With the four hundred of his own soldiers that were left the indefatigable Bacon now continued to diligently hunt the swamps for the savages, for he was determined not to show his face in Jamestown again without a story to tell of battles won and foes put to confusion. At length he struck a trail on hard ground, which he followed for a great distance without finding the “Indian enemy.” What he did find was that his provisions were almost entirely spent, which melancholy discovery forced him to reduce rations to “quarter allowances.” Ilis pluck did not desert him, however. In the depths of the wilderness, miles away from white man’s habitation, hungry and worn, and with four hundred wearied and half-starved men looking entirely to him, his fortitude was still unbroken, his faith in his mission undimmed, his heart stout.
Finally, he saw that the only hope of escape from death by starvation was to reduce his numbers by still another division of his army. Drawing the forlorn little band up before him he made the dark forest ring with the eloquence that had never failed to quicken the hearts of his followers and which made them eager to endure hardship under his leadership.
“Gentlemen,” he said, “the indefatigable pains which hitherto we have taken doth require abundantly better success than as yet we have met with. But there is nothing so hard but by labor and industry it may be overcome, which makes me not without hope of obtaining my desires against the heathen, in meeting with them to quit scores for all their barbarous cruelties done us.
“I had rather my carcass should lie rotting in the woods, and never see English-man’s face in Virginia, than miss of doing that service the country expects of me, and I vowed to perform against these heathen, which should I not return successful in some manner to demnify and affright them, we should have them as much animated as the English discouraged, and my adversaries to insult and reflect on me, that my defense of the country is but pretended and not real, and (as they already say) I have other designs, and make this but my pretense and cloak. But that all shall see how devoted I am to it, considering the great charge the country is at in fitting me forth, and the hopes and expectation they have in me, all you gentlemen that intend to abide with me must resolve to undergo all the hardships this wild can afford, dangers and successes, and if need be to eat chinquapins and horseflesh before he returns. Which resolve I have taken, therefore desire none but those which will so freely adventure; the other to return in, and for the better knowledge of them, I will separate my camp some distance from them bound home.”
Next morning, as the sun arose above the tree-tops it looked down upon the divided forces-one body moving with heavy step, but doubtless lightened hearts, toward Jamestown, the other pressing deeper into the wilds.
A few hours after the parting Bacon’s remnant fell upon a party of the Pamunkey tribe, whom they found encamped-after the wonted Indian fashion-upon a piece of wooded land bounded by swamps. The savages made little show of resistance, but fled, the English giving close chase. Forty-five Indian captives were taken, besides three horse-loads of plunder, consisting of mats, baskets, shell-money, furs, and pieces of English linen and cloth.
A trumpet blast was the signal for the prisoners to be brought together and delivered up to Bacon, by whom some of them were afterward sold for slaves while the rest were disposed of by Sir William Berkeley, saving five of them, whom Ingram, Bacon’s successor, presented to the Queen of Pamunkey.
As for the poor queen, the story goes that she fled during the skirmish between Bacon’s men and her subjects, and, with only a little Indian boy to bear her company, was lost in the woods for fourteen days, during which she was kept alive by gnawing upon the “leg of a terrapin,” which the little boy found for her when she was “ready to die for want of food.”
While Bacon was scouring the wilderness in his pursuit of the Indians, the colony, which he was pleased to think he had left safe from serious harms, was in a state of wildest panic.
A plot had been formed by Governor Berkeley and Captain Larrimore to recapture the ship which, it will be remembered, Bacon had sent to the Eastern Shore after the Governor. When the ship cast anchor before Accomac, Berkeley sent for her commander, Captain Carver, to come ashore and hold a parley with him, promising him a safe return. Unfortunately for himself, the Captain seems to have forgotten for the moment how little Governor Berkeley’s promises were worth. Leaving his ship in charge of Bland, he went well armed, and accompanied by his most trusty men, to obey the summons. While Sir William was closeted with Captain Carver, trying to persuade him to desert the rebel party, Captain Larrimore, who had a boat in readiness for the purp()se, rowed a party of men, under command of Colonel Philip Budwell, of the Council, out to the ship. The Baconians, supposing that the approaching boat came in peace, were taken entirely by surprise, and all on board were made prisoners. Soon afterward, Captain Carver, his conference with Sir William over, set out for the ship, in blissful ignorance of what had happened in his absence until he came within gun-shot, when he, too, fell an easy prey into the trap, and soon found himself in irons with Bland and the others.
A few days later Sir William Berkeley rewarded the unfortunate Captain Carver for his thus thwarted designs against the liberty of his Majesty’s representative, with the ungracious “gift of the halter.”
Governor Berkeley was now having his turn in sweeping things before him. At the time of the seizure by Carver and Bland of Captain Larrimore’s ship, another ship, lying hard by, in the James, commanded by Captain Christopher Evelyn, eluded the efforts of the Baconians to seize her also, and some days later slipped away to England, carrying aboard her a paper setting forth the Governor’s own story of the doings of Nathaniel Bacon, Jr., in Virginia.
It was upon the first day of August that the Baconians had seized Captain Larrimore’s ship and made her ready to go to Accomac after Berkeley. Upon the seventh of September Berkeley set sail for Jamestown, not as a prisoner, but with a fleet consisting of the recaptured ship and some sixteen or seventeen sloops manned by six hundred sturdy denizens of Accomac, whom he is said to have bribed to his service with promises of plunder of all who had taken Bacon’s oath,-“catch that catch could, “-twenty-one years’ exemption from all taxes except church dues, and regular pay of twelvepence per day so long as they should serve under his colors. He was, moreover, said to have offered like benefits, and their freedom besides, to all servants of Bacon’s adherents who would take up arms against the Rebel.
The direful news of Sir William’s approach, and of the strength with which he came, “outstripping the canvas wings,” reached Jamestown before any signs of his fleet were spied from the landing. The handful of Baconians who had been left on guard there to “see the King’s peace kept by resisting the King’s vice-gerent,” as their enemies sarcastically put it, were filled with dismay, for they realized themselves to be “a people utterly undone, being equally exposed to the Governor’s displeasure and the Indians’ bloody cruelties.”
To prove the too great truth of the report, the Governor’s ships were before long seen sailing up the river, and the Governor’s messenger soon afterward landed, bearing commands for the immediate surrender of the town, with promise of pardon to all who would desert to the Governor’s cause, excepting only Bacon’s two strongest friends, Mr. Drummond and “thoughtful Mr. Lawrence.”
The Baconians had caught too much of the spirit of their leader to consider such terms as were offered them, and scornfully spurned them; but seeing that it would be madness to attempt to hold the town against such numbers, made their escape, leaving abundant reward in the way of plunder for the Governor and his six hundred men of Accomac. Mr. Lawrence, whose leave-taking was perhaps the more speedy by reason of the compliment Sir William had paid him in making him one of the honorable exceptions in his offer of mercy, left “all his wealth and a fair cup-board of plate entire standing, which fell into the Governor’s hands the next morning.”
About noonday, on September 8, the day following the evacuation, Sir William entered the little capital. He immediately fortified it as strongly as possible, and then once more proclaimed Nathaniel Bacon and his followers rebels and traitors, threatening them with the utmost extremity of the law.
Let us now return to the venturesome young man who was voluntarily placing himself under this oft-repeated and portentous ban. We will find him and his ragged and foot-sore remnant on their way back to Jamestown, for after the successful meeting with the Pamunkeys he withdrew his forces from the wilderness and turned his face homewards to gather strength for the next march. He had already been met by the news of the reception that awaited him at Jamestown from Sir William. His army consisted now of only one hundred and thirty-six tired-out, soiled, tattered and hungry men-not a very formidable array with which to attack the fortified town, held by his wrathful enemy and the six hundred fresh men-at-arms from Accomac. Pathetic a show as the little band presented, however, the gallant young General called them about him, and with the with which he always opened the eyes of his soldiers to every possible danger to which they might be exposed in his service, laid before them Governor Berkeley’s schemes for their undoing. Verily must this impetuous youth have had magic in his tongue. Perhaps it was because he was able to throw into his tones his passion for the people’s cause and earnest belief in the righteousness of the Rebellion, that his voice had ever the effect of martial music upon the spirits of his followers. Their hearts were never so faint but the sound of it could make them stout, their bodies never so weary but they were ready to greet a word from him with a hurrah.
Nothing daunted by the appalling news he told them, the brave men shouted that they would stand by their General to the end. Deeply touched by their faithfulness, Bacon was quick to express his appreciation.
“Gentlemen and Fellow Soldiers,” he cried: “How am I transported with gladness to find you thus unanimous, bold and daring, brave and gallant. You have the victory before you fight, the conquest before battle. I know you can and dare fight, while they will lie in their place of refuge and dare not so much as appear in the field before you. Your hardiness shall invite all the country along, as we march, to come in and second you.
“The Indians we bear along with us shall be as so many motives to cause relief from every hand to be brought to you. The ignominy of their actions cannot but so reflect upon their spirits as they will have no courage left to fight you. I’ know you have the prayers and well wishes of all the people of Virginia, while the others are loaded with their curses.”
As if “animated with new courage, “the hit of an army marched onward toward Jamestown, with speed “out-stripping the swift wings of fame,” for love and faith lightened their steps. The only stop was in New Kent County, where, halting long enough to gain some new troops, their number was increased to three hundred. Weak and weary, ragged and soiled as was the little army, the home-coming was a veritable triumphal progress. The dwellers along the way came out of their houses praying aloud for the happiness of the people’s champion, and railing against the Governor and his party. Seeing the Indian captives whom Bacon’s men led along, they shouted their thanks for his care and his pains for their preservation, and brought forth fruits and bread for the refreshment of himself and his soldiers. Women cried out that if need be they would come and serve under him. His young wife proudly wrote a friend in England: “You never knew any better beloved than he is. I do verily believe that rather than he should come to any hurt by the Governor or anybody else, they would most of them lose their lives.”
Rumors of the Governor’s warlike preparations for his coming were received by Bacon with a coolness bound to inspire those under him with confidence in his and their own strength. Hearing that Sir William had with him in Jamestown a thousand men, “well armed and resolute,” he nonchalantly made answer that he would soon see how resolute they were, for he was going to try them. When told that the Governor had sent out a party of sixty mounted scouts to watch his movements, he said, with a smile, that they were welcome to come near enough to say “How d ‘ye,” for he feared them not.
Toward evening upon September 13, after a march of between thirty and forty miles since daybreak, the army reached “Green Spring,” Sir William Berkeley’s own fair estate near Jamestown-the home which had been the centre of so much that was distinguished and charming in the social life of the colony during the Cavalier days. In a green field here Bacon again gathered his men around him for a final word to them before marching upon the capital. In a ringing appeal he told them that if they would ever fight they would do so now, against all the odds that confronted them-the enemy having every advantage of position, places of retreat, and men fresh and unwearied, while they were “so few, weak, and tired.”
“But I speak not this to discourage you,” he added, “but to acquaint you with what advantages they will neglect and lose.” He assured them that their enemies had not the courage to maintain the charges so boldly made that they were rebels and traitors.
“Come on, my hearts of gold!” he cried. “He that dies in the field, lies in the bed of honor!”
With these words the Rebel once more moved onward, and drew up his “small tired body of men” in an old Indian field just outside of Jamestown. He promptly announced his presence there in the dramatic and picturesque fashion that belonged to the time. Riding forward upon the “Sandy Beach”-a narrow neck of land which then connected the town with the mainland, but has since been washed away, making Jamestown an island-he commanded a trumpet-blast to be sounded, and fired off his carbine. From out the stillness of the night the salute was heard, and immediately, and with all due ceremony, answered by a trumpeter within the town. These martial greetings exchanged, Bacon dismounted from his horse, surveyed the situation and ordered an earthwork to be cast up across the neck of land, thus cutting off all communication between the capital and the rest of the colony except by water. Two axes and two spades were all the tools at the Rebel’s command, but all night long his faithful men worked like beavers beneath the bright September moon. Trees came crashing down, bushes were cut and earth heaped up, and before daybreak the fortification was complete and the besiegers were ready for battle.
When Sir William Berkeley looked abroad next morning and found the gateway between town and country so hostilely barred he did not suffer his complacency to forsake him for a moment, for he at once resolved to try his old trick, in which he had perfect confidence, of seeking to dis- arm the enemy by an affectation of friendship. He could not believe that Bacon would have the hardihood to open war with such a pitiful force against his Majesty’s representative, and pretending to desire a reconciliation with the Rebel on account of his service against the Indians, he ordered his men not to make attack.
But Sir William Berkeley had played his favorite trick at least twice too often. Moreover, he little knew of what stern stuff Bacon and his handful of ragamuffins were made, though they were far too well acquainted with the silver-haired old Cavalier’s ways and wiles to pin any faith to the fair words that could so glibly slip off of his tongue and out of his memory.
Early that morning the beginning of the siege was formally announced by six of Bacon’s soldiers, who ran up to the palisades of the town fort, “fired briskly upon the guard,” and retreated safely within their own earthwork. The fight now began in earnest. Upon a signal from within the town the Governor’s fleet in the river shot off their “great guns,” while at the same time the guard in the palisades let fly their small shot. Though thus assailed from two sides at once, the rebels lying under their earthwork were entirely protected from both, and safe in their little fortress, returned the fire as fast as it was given. Even under fire, Bacon, the resourceful, strengthened and enlarged his fort by having a party of his soldiers to bind fagots into bundles, which they held before themselves for protection while they made them fast along the top and at the ends of the earthwork.
A sentinel from the top of a chimney upon Colonel Morrison’s plantation, hard by Jamestown, watched Berkeley’s maneuvers all day, and constantly reported to Bacon how the men in town “posted and reposted, drew on and off, what number they were and how they moved.”
For three days the cross-firing continued, during which the besiegers were so well shielded that they do not seem to have lost a single man.
Upon the third day the Governor decided to make a sally upon the rebels. It is written that when he gave the order for the attack some of his officers made such “crabbed faces” that the “gunner of York Fort,” who, it seems, was humorously inclined, offered too buy a colonel’s or a captain’s commission for whomsoever would have one for “a chunk of a pipe.”
It is also written that the Governor’s Accomac soldiers “went out with heavy hearts, but returned with light heels,” for the Baconians received them so warmly that they retired in great disorder, throwing down their arms and leaving them and their drum on the field behind them, with the dead bodies of two of their comrades, which the rebels took into their trenches and buried with their arms.
This taste of success made the besiegers so bold and daring that Bacon could hardly keep tbem from attempting to storm and capture Jamestown forthwith; but he warned them against being over rash, saying that he expected to take the town without loss of a man, in due season, and that one of their lives was worth more to him than the whole world.
Upon the day after the sally some of Bacon’s Indian captives were exhibited on top of the earthworks, and this primitive bit of bravado served as an object-lesson to quicken the enthusiasm of the neighborhood folk, who were coming over to the Rebel in great numbers.
News was brought that “great multitudes” were also declaring fdr the popular cause in Nansemond and Isle of Wight Counties, “as also all the south side of the river.”
Bacon sent a letter from camp to two of his sea-faring friends, Captain William Cookson and Captain Edward Skewon, describing the progress of the siege and urging them to protect the “Upper parts of the country” against pirates, and to bid his friends in those parts “be courageous, for that all the country is bravely resolute.”
In the midst of the siege Bacon resorted to one measure which for pure originality has not been surpassed in the history of military tactics, and which, though up to the present writing no other general sufficiently picturesque in his methods to imitate it has arisen, has furnished much “copy” for writers of historical romances.
The Rebel had the good fortune to capture two pieces of artillery, but a dilemma arose as to how he should mount them without endangering the lives of some of his men. His ingenious brain was quick to solve the riddle. Dispatching some of his offlcers to the plantations near Jamestown, he had them to bring into his camp Madam Bacon (the wife of his cousin Nathaniel Bacon, Sr., President of the Council), Madam Bray, Madam Page, Madam Ballard, and other ladies of the households of embers of his Majesty’s Council who had remained loyal to the Governor. He then sent one of these fair ones, under escort, into Jamestown, to let her husband and the husbands of her companions know with what delicate and precious material their audacious foe was strengthening his fort, and to give them fair warning not to shoot. The remaining ladies (alas for the age of chivalry!) he stationed in front of his breastworks and kept them there until the captured “great guns” had been duly mounted; after which he sent them all safely home.
Most truly was it said that Bacon “knit more knots by his own head in one day than all the hands in town were able to untie in a whole week!”
So effectual a fortification did the glimmer of a few fluttering white aprons upon his breastworks prove to be, that, as though confronted by a line of warriors from Ghostland, the Governor’s soldiers stood aghast, and powerless to level a gun, while to add still further to their discomfiture they had to bear with what grace they could command having their ladies dubbed the “guardian angels” of the rebel camp.
The cannon mounted under such gentle protection were never given a chance to prove their service.
Jamestown stood upon low ground, full of marshes and swamps. The climate, at all times malarious and unhealthy, was at this season made more so than usual by the hot September suns. There were no fresh water springs, and the water from the wells was brackish and unwholesome, making the place especially “improper for the commencement of a siege.” While the Governor had the advantage of numbers, and his men were fresh and unwearied, Bacon had the greater advantage of motive. Sir William Berkeley’s soldiers were bent upon plunder, and when they found that the Rebel’s determined “hearts of gold” meant to keep them blocked up in such comfortless quarters, and that the prospects were that there was nothing to be gained in Sir William’s service, they began to fall away from him in such numbers that, upon the day after the placing of Bacon’s great guns, the old man found that there was nothing left for him but a second flight. That night he, with the gentlemen who remained true to him -about twenty in all – stole out of their stronghold in great secrecy, and taking to the ships, “fell silently down the river.” The fleet came to anchor a few miles away, perhaps that those on board might reoccupy the town again as soon as the siege should be raised, perhaps that they might, in turn, block up the rebels in it if they should quarter there.
Bacon found a way to thwart either design.
The first rays of morning light brought knowledge to the rebels that the Governor bad fled, and that they were free to take possession of the deserted capital. That night, as Berkeley and his friends rocked on the river below, doubtless straining eyes and ears toward Jamestown, and eagerly awaiting news of Bacon’s doings there, the sickening sight of jets of flame leaping skyward through the darkness told them in signals all too plain that the hospitable little city would shelter them nevermore.
Filled with horror, they weighed anchor and sailed with as great speed as the winds would vouchsafe to bear them out of James River and across the Chesapeake’s broad waters, where Governor Berkeley found, for a second time, a haven of refuge upon the shores of Accomac County.
This great city of Jamestown, which though insignificant in number of inhabitants and in the area it covered, was a truly great city, for its achievements had been great, was thus laid low at the very height of its modest magnificence and power. Though but little more than a half century old, it was already historic Jamestown, for with its foundations had been laid, in the virgin soil of a new world, the foundations of the Anglo-Saxon home, the Anglo-Saxon religion, and Anglo-Saxon law. This town, so small in size, so great in import, could proudly boast of a brick church, “faire and large, “twelve new brick houses and half a dozen frame ones, with brick chimneys. There was also a brick state house the foundations of which have lately been discovered.
The inhabitants are facetiously described by a writer of the time as for the most part “getting their livings by keeping ordinaries at extraordinary rates.”
“Thoughtful Mr. Lawrence ” devoted Mr. Lawrence (whose silver plate the Governor had not forgotten to carry off with him, for all his leave-taking was so abrupt) -and Mr. Drummond heroically began the work of ruin by setting the torch to their own substantial dwellings. The soldiers were quick to follow this example, and soon all that remained of Jamestown was a memory, a heap of ashes, and a smoke-stained church tower, which still reaches heavenward and tells the wayfarer how the most enduring pile the builders of that first little capital of Virginia had heaped up was a Christian temple.
Mr. Drummond (to his honor be it said) rushed into the burning State House and rescued the official records of the colony.
In a letter written the following February Sir William Berkeley said that Bacon entered Jamestown and “burned five houses of mine and twenty of other gentlemen’s, and a very commodious church. They say he set to with his own sacrilegious hand.”
The firebrand’s uncanny work complete, Bacon marched his men back to “Green Spring” and quartered them there. That commodious plantation, noted among other things for its variety of fruits and its delightful spring water, must have been a welcome change from the trenches before Jamestown, haunted by malaria and mosquitoes.
Comfortably established in Sir William Berkeley’s own house, the Rebel’s next step was to draw up an oath of fidelity to the people’s cause, denouncing Sir William as a traitor and an enemy to the public good, and again binding his followers to resist any forces that might be sent from England until such time as his Majesty should “fully understand the miserable case of the country, and the jushce of our proceedings,” and if they should find themselves no longer strong enough to defend their “lives and liberties,” to quit the colony rather than submit to “any such miserable a slavery” as they had been undergoing.
Though the “prosperous rebel,” as the Royal Commissioners call Bacon, had now everything his own way, his hour of triumph was marked by diginity and moderation. Even those who opposed him bore witness that he “was not bloodily inclined in the whole progress of this rebelTion ” He had only one man-a deserter-executed, and even in that case he declared that he would spare the victim if any single one of his soldiers would speak a word to save him. The Royal Commissioners, who had made a careful study of Bacon’s character, expressed the belief that he at last had the poor fellow’s life taken, not from cruelty, but as a wholesome objectAesson for his army.
He suggested an exchange of prisoners of war to Berkeley-offering the Reverend John Clough (minister at Jamestown), Captain Thomas Hawkins, and Major John West, in return for Captain Carver (of whose execution, it seems, he had not heard), Bland, and Farbe. Governor Berkeley scorned to consider the proposition, and instead of releasing the gentlemen asked for, afterward sent the remaining two after the luckless Captain Carver, although Bacon spared the lives of all those he had offered in exchange, and though Mr. Bland’s friends in England had procured the King’s pardon for him, which he pleaded at his trial was even then in the Governor ‘s pocket.
Though Bacon him self was never accused of putting any one to death in cold blood, or of plundering any house, he found that the people began to complain bitterly of the depredations, rudeness, and disorder of his men. He therefore set a strict discipline over his army and became more moderate than ever himself.
After a few days’ rest at “Green Spring” the Rebel marched on to Tindall’s Point, Gloucester County, where he made the home of Colonel Augustine Warner, Speaker of the House of Burgesses, his headquarters. From there he sent out a notice to all the people of the county to meet him at the court-house for the purpose of taking his oath.
His plans were now suddenly interrupted by a report from Rappahannock County that Colonel Brent, who, it seems, had gone over to the Governor’s side, was advancing upon him at the head of eleven hundred militia. No sooner had be heard this news than he ordered the drums to beat up his soldiers, under their colors, and told them of the strength of the approaching army, and of Brent’s “resolution” to fight him, and demand theirs.”
With their wonted heaftiness, his men made answer in “shouts and acciamations, while the drums thunder a march to meet the promised conflict.”
Thus encouraged, Bacon set out without delay to give the enemy even an earlier chance to unload his gnus than he had bargained for. He had been on the march for several days when, instead of meeting a hostile army, he was greeted with the cheerful tidings that Brent’s followers, who were described as “men, not soldiers,” had left their commander to “shift for himself.” They had heard how the Rebel had beat the Governor out of town, and lest he should “beat them out of their lives,” some of them determined to keep a safe distance from him, while most of them unblushingly deserted to him, deeming it the part of wisdom “with the Persians, to go and worship the rising sun.”
Bacon now hastened back to Gloucester Court House to meet the county folk there, in accordance with his appointment. The cautious denizens of Gloucester, reckoning that in such uncertain times there might be danger in declaring too warmly for either the one side or the other, petitioned through Councilor Cole, who acted as spokesman, that they might be excused from taking the oath of fidelity, and “indulged in the benefit of neutrality.” Lukewarmness in his service was a thing wholly new to Bacon, and utterly contemptible in his eyes. He haughtily refused to grant so unworthy a request, telling those who made it that they put him in mind of the worst of sinners, who desired to be saved with the righteous, “yet would do nothing whereby they might obtain their salvation.”
He was about to leave the place in disgust when one of the neutrals stopped him and told him that he had only spoken “to the horse” -meaning the troopers-and had said nothing to the “foot.” Bacon cuttingly made answer that he had “spoken to the men, and not to the horse, having left that service for him to do, because one beast would best understand the meaning of another.”
Mr. Wading, a parson, not only refused to take the oath himself, but tried to persuade others against it, whereupon Bacon had him arrested, telling him that “it was his place to preach in the church-not in the camp,” and that in the one place he might say what he pleased, in the other only what Bacon pleased, “unless he could fight better than he could preach.”
It was clearly the clause regarding resistance of the English forces that made the people suspicious and afraid of the oath. John Goode, a Virginia planter, and a near neighbor of Bacon’s, had been one of the first among the volunteers to enlist under him, but afterward went over to Governor Berkeley. He wrote the Governor a letter reporting a conversation between himself and Bacon which he said they had had upon the second of September. This must have been during Bacon’s last Indian march, and about ten days before the siege of Jamestown.
According to Goode, Bacon had spoken to him of a rumor that the King had sent two thousand “red-coats” to put down the insurgents, saying that if it were true he believed that the Virginians could beat them-having the advantages of knowing the country, understanding how to make ambuscades, etc., and being accustomed to the climate-which last would doubtless play havoc in the King’s army.
Goode writes that he discouraged resistance of the “red-coats,” and charged Bacon with designing a total overthrow of the Mother Country’s government in Virginia -to which Bacon coolly made answer, “Have not many princes lost their dominions in like manner?” and frankly expressed the opinion that not only Virginia, but Maryland and Carolina would cast off his Majesty’s yoke as soon as they should become strong enough.
The writer adds that Bacon furthermore suggested that if the people could not obtain redress for their grievances from the Crown, and have the privilege of electing their own governors, they might “retire to Roanoke,” and that he then “fell into a discourse of seating a plantation in a great island in the river as a fit place to retire to for a refuge.”
Goode describes his horror at such a daring suggestion, and says he assured Bacon that he would get no aid from him in carrying it out, and that the Rebel replied that he was glad to know his mind, but charged that “this dread of putting his hand to the promoting” of such a design was prompted by cowardice, and that Goode’s attitude would seem to hint that a gentleman engaged as he (Bacon) was, must either “fly or hang for it.”
The writer says that he suggested to the Rebel that “a seasonable submission to authority and acknowledgment of errors past” would be the wisest course for one in his ticklish position, and, after giving this prudent advice, Mr. Goode, fearing that alliance with Bacon was growing to be a risky business, asked leave to go home for a few days, which was granted, and he never saw the Rebel again-for which, he piously adds, he was very thankful.
Gloucester folk, who evidently did not realize as fully as Mr. Goode that discretion is the better part of valor, finally’ came to terms, and took the dangerous oath. Six hundred men are said to have subscribed to it in one place, besides others in other parts of the county.
Bacon next turned his attention to making plans for the regulation of affairs in the colony. One of his schemes was to visit all “the northern parts of Virginia,” and inquire personally into their needs, so as to meet them as seemed most fit. He appointed a committee to look after the south side of James River, and inqnire into the plundering reported to have been done there by his army; another committee was to be always with the army, with authority to restrain rudeness, disorder, and depredations, while still another was to have the management of the Indian war.
Full many “knots” the busy brain of Bacon was “knitting” indeed, among them a design to go over to the Eastern Shore, where Sir William Berkeley was still in retreat, and return the “kind-hearted visit” which Sir William and his Accomac eight hundred had made Hansford and the other Baconians at Jamestown, during his absence, and that the Accomackians might be ready to give him a warm reception, he had his coming heralded with meet ceremony.
The “prosperous Rebel” was never to see the fulfilment of his hopes and purposes, however. The week of exposure to the damps and vapors of the Jamestown swamps, during the siege, added to the physical and mental strain he had been under since the beginning of the Rebellion, had done its deadly work. The dauntless and brilliant young General met an unexpected and, for the first time during his career, an unprepared-for enemy in the deadly fever, against which he had no weapon of defense.
It is written that he was ‘besieged by sickness” at the house of Mr. Pate, in Gloucester. He made the brave struggle that was to be expected from one of his fibre, but at length, upon the first day of October, he who had seemed invincible to human foes “surrendered up that fort he was no longer able to keep into the hands of that grim and all-conquering captain, Death.”
He died much dissatisfied in mind at leaving his work unfinished, and “inquiring ever and anon after the arrival of the frigates and forces from England.”
Sir William Berkeley, writing of his enemy’s illness and death in a tone of great satisfaction, says that Bacon swore his “usual oath”-“God damn my blood!”- at least “a thousand times a day,” and that “God so infected his blood” that it bred vermin in “an incredible number,” to which “God added” his sickness. Sir William adds that “an honest minister – evidently one of the Governor’s own adherents-wrote an epitaph upon Bacon declaring that he was “sorry” at his “heart” that vermin and disease “should act the hangman’s part.”
Was this “honest minister” the Reverend Mr. Wading-the same whom Bacon had arrested and debarred from “preaching in camp” Perhaps, but the deponent saith not.
Those who had loved the Rebel in life were faithful to him in death, and tenderly laid his body away beyond the reach of the insults of his enemies. So closely guarded was the secret of the place and manner of his burial that it is unto this day a mystery; but tradition has it that stones were placed in his coffin and he was put to bed beneath the deep waters of the majestic York River, whose waves chant him a perpetual “requiescant in pace.”
A feeble attempt was made by Bacon’s followers, under Ingram as commander-in-chief, to carry on the rebellion, but in their leader the people of Virginia had not only lost their “hope and darling” but the Organizer, the inspiration of their party. Their “arms, though ne ‘er so strong,” wanted the “aid of his commanding tongue.” Without Bacon the movement was as a ship without captain, pilot, or even guiding star. As soon as the news of his death was carried across the Chesapeake, to Berkeley, the Governor sent a party of men, under command of Maj. Robert Beverley, in a sloop over to York to reconnoiter. These “snapped up,” young Colonel Hansford and about twenty soldiers who kept guard under his command at Colonel Reade’s house, and sailed away with them to Accomac. Upon his arrival there Hansford was accorded the unenviable “honor to be the first Virginian that ever was hanged” (which probably means the first Englishman born in Virginia), while the soldiers under him were cast into prison. The young officer met his death heroically, asking of men no other favor than that he might be “shot, like a soldier, and not hanged, like a dog” (which was heartlessly denied him), and praying Heaven to forgive his sins.
With his last breath Colonel Hansford protested that he “died a loyal subject and a lover of his country, and that he had never taken up arms but for the destruction of the Indians, who had murdered so many Christians.”
Major Cheesman and Captain Wilford, who was the son of a knight, and was but “a little man, yet had a great heart, and was known to be no coward,” were: taken by the same party that captured Hansford, and Wilford was hanged, while Cheesman only escaped a like fate by dying in prison, of hard usage.
When Major Cheesman was brought into the Governor’s presence and asked why he had taken up arms with Bacon, his devoted and heroic wife stepped forward and declared that she had persuaded him to do so, and upon her knees plead that she might be executed in his stead.
Berkeley answered her with insult, and ordered that her husband be taken to prison.
Encouraged by Major Beverley’s “nimble and timely service” in ridding him of so many Baconians, Berkeley, with an armed force, took ship and sailed in person to York River. A party of his soldiers under one Farrill, and accompanied by Colonel Nathaniel Bacon, President of the Council, and Colonel Ludwell, who went along to see the thing well done, made an unsuccessful attack upon a garrison of Baconians under Major Whaly, at President Bacon’s own house. During the fray Farrill was killed and some of his men were taken prisoners.
Another party of the Governor’s troops which, under command of Maj. Lawrence Smith, had taken possession of Mr. Pate’s house, where the Rebel died, was besieged by the Baconians, under Ingram. Although Major Smith was said to have been “a gentleman that in his time had hewed out many a knotty piece of work,” and so the better knew how to handle such rugged fellows as the Baconians were famed to be, “he only saved himself by leaving his men in the lurch.”
The whole party tamely surrendered to Ingram, who dismissed them all to their homes, unharmed.
In spite of these little victories, however, the Rebellion was doomed. Only a few days after his raid upon Pate’s house, Ingram decided to give up the struggle, and made terms with Captain Grantham, of Governor Berkeley’s following.
The Governor’s own home, “Green Spring,” which Bacon had left in charge of about a hundred men and boys, under command of Captain Drew, now stood ready to throw open its doors once more to its master.
It was said that the “main service that was done for the reducing the rebels to their obedience, was done by the seamen and commanders of ships then riding in the rivers.” In the lower part of Surry County, upon the banks of James River, stands an ancient brick mansion, still known as “Bacon’s Castle,” which tradition says was fortified by the Rebel. This relic of the famous rebellion is mentioned in the records as “Allen’s Brick House,” where Bacon had a guard under Major Rookins. The place was captured by a force from the Governor’s ship Young Prince, Robert Morris, commander. Major Rookins, being “taken in open rebellion,” was one of those afterward sentenced to death by court martial, at “Green Spring,” but was so happy as to die in prison and thus, like Major Cheesman, cheat the gallows.
Drummond and Lawrence alone remained inflexible, in command of a brick house in New Kent County, on the opposite side of the river from where Grantham and the Governor’s forces were quartered. Seeing that they could not long hold out against such odds, but determined not to surrender to Berkeley, or to become his prisoners, they at length fled from their stronghold.
Poor Mr. Drummond was overtaken by some of the Governor’s soldiers in Chickahominy Swamp, half starved. He ‘had been from the very beginning one of the staunchest adherents of Bacon and the people’s party. A friend had advised him to be cautious in his opposition to the Governor, but the only answer he deigned to make was, “I am in over shoes, I will be in over boots.”
And he was as good as his word. When he was brought under arrest, before Berkeley, Sir William greeted him with a low bow, saying, in mock hospitality:
“Mr. Drummond, you are very welcome. I am more glad to see you than any man in Virginia. Mr. Drummond, you shall be hanged in half an hour.”
The sturdy Scotchman replied, with perfect equanimity, and like show of courtesy:
“What your Honor pleases.”
Sir William, too, was for once as good as his word, and the sentence was executed without delay.
Governor Berkeley was evidently bent upon enjoying whatever satisfaction was to be found in the humiliation and death of his enemies. Those who shared Mr. Drummond’s fate numbered no less than twenty, among them Bacon’s friend and neighbor, Captain James Crews.
The end of “thoughtful Mr. Lawrence” is not known. When last seen he, in company with four other Baconians, mounted and armed, was making good his escape through a snow ankle deep. They were supposed to have cast themselves into some river rather than die by Sir William Berkeley’s rope.
Mr. Lawrence was thought by many to have been the chief instigator of the Rebellion, and it was rumored that it was he that laid the stones in Bacon’s coffin.
By the middle of January of the new year the whole colony had been reduced to submission, and upon January 22 Governor Berkeley went home to “Green Spring,” and issued a summons for an Assembly to meet at his own house-for since the destruction of Jamestown the colony was without a legislative hall.
Sir William sent a message to the Assembly directing that some mark of distinction be set upon his loyal friends of Accomac, who had twice given him shelter during the uprising. It fell to the lot of a Baconian, Col. Augustine Warner, as Speaker of the House, to read the Governor’s message, but that fiery gentleman consoled himself by adding, upon his own account, that he did not know what the “distinction” should be unless to give them “earmarks or burnt marks “-which was the common manner of branding criminals and hogs.
So many persons had been put to death by Governor Berkeley, “divers whereof were persons of honest reputations and handsome estates,” and among them some of the members of the last Assembly, that the new Assembly petitioned him to spill no more blood. A member from Northumberland, Mr. William Presley by name, said that he “believed the Governor would have hanged half the country if they had let him alone.”
His Majesty King Charles II is said to have declared when accounts of Berkeley’s punishment of the rebels reached his ears, that the “old fool had hanged more men in that naked country than he [Charles] had done for the murder of his father.”
With the completion of Sir William Berkeley’s wholesale and pitiless revenge fell the curtain upon the final act in the tragedy of Bacon’s Rebellion.
As soon as the country was quiet many suits were brought by members of the Governor’s party for damages to their property during the commotion. These suits serve to show how widespread throughout the colony was the uprising.
The records of Henrico County contain sundry charges of depredations committed by Bacon’s soldiers, showing that the people’s cause was strong in that section. Major John Lewis, of Middlesex, laid claim of damages at the hands of “one Matt Bentley,” with “forty or fifty men-of- arms,” in the ”time of the late rebellion.” Major Lewis’s inventory of his losses includes “400 meals” (which he declares were eaten at his house by Bacon’s men during their two days encampment on his plantation), the killing of some of his stock, and carrying off of meal “for the whole rebel army,” at Major Pate’s house.
The records of Westmoreland County show that the Baconians, under “General” Thomas Goodrich, had control in the Northern Neck of Virginia as late as November, 1676. Major Isaac Allerton, of Westmoreland, brought suit for thirteen thousand pounds of tobacco for damages his estate had suffered at the hands of a rebel garrison which had seized and fortified the house of his neighbor, Colonel John Washington. The jury gave him sixty-four hundred pounds.
Many illustrations of the unbroken spirit of Bacon’s followers are preserved in the old records.
When Stephen Mannering, the rebel officer who had given the order for the seizure of Colonel Washington’s house, inquired how many prisoners had been taken there, and how they were armed, he was told fourteen, with “guns loaden.” Whereupon he exclaimed that if he had been there with fourteen men, he would “uphold the house from five hundred men, or else die at their feet.”
Mannering furthermore expressed the opinion that “General Ingram was a cowardly, treacherous dog for laying down his arms, or otherwise he would die himself at the face of his enemies,”
John Pygott, of Henrico, showed how far from recantation he was by uttering a curse against all men who would not “pledge the juice and quintessence of Bacon.”
About the time of meeting of the “Green Spring” Assembly, a small fleet arrived from England, bringing the long-looked-for “red-coats” and also three gentlemen-Sir John Berry, Colonel Herbert Jeffreys, and Colonel Francis Moryson-commissioned by the King to inquire into and report upon the state of affairs in the colony. His Majesty’s “red-coats” found that their services were not needed, but the conciliatory attitude of the “Commissioners” doubtless aided in restoring peace, and their official report makes interesting reading. In a tactful address to the Assembly they expressed the hope that the “debates and consultations” of that body might be for the “glory of God, the honor of his most sacred Majesty, and the happy restoration, public good, and long lasting welfare and resettlement of this so miserable, shattered, and lacerated colony,” and that the Assembly might gain for itself the “name and memorable reputation of the healing Assembly,” and in order that it might be the “more truly styled so,” the Commissioners advised that it would thoroughly “inspect and search into the depth and yet hidden root and course of these late rebellious distempers that have broke out and been so contagious and spreading over the whole country,” that it might thus decide “what apt and wholesome laws” might be “most properly applied, not only to prevent the like evil consequences for the future but also effectually to staunch and heal the fresh and bleeding wounds these unnatural wars have caused among you, that there may as few and small scars and marks remain, as you in your prudent care and tenderness can possibly bring them to.”
They “most heartily” assured the Assembly that in accordance with “his Majesty’s’ royal commission,” granted to them, “under the great seal of England,” and his “instructions therewith given, “they would “most readily assist, promote and advise” it, and would be “happy” to bear home to his Majesty the “burthens” which had disturbed “that peace and tranquility which his good subjects had so long enjoyed under his Majesty’s happy government,” and which “by reason of the great and remote distance” of Virginia from “the usual place of his royal residence,” could not be “so easily made known to him” as the troubles of “other his subjects who live at a nearer distance.” They promised that the people’s grievances, “be they few or many, great or less,” should be received and “most sincerely reported” fo the King, who, they declared, “out of his royal favor and compassion” had been pleased to promise a “speedy redress thereof, as to his royal wisdom shall seem meet.” The Commissioners furthermore promised to aid in bringing about a “truly good and just peace” with the Indians, and exhorted the Virginians to keep peace among themselves, that the Indians might not again “look on” while they were “murdering, burning, plundering and ruining one another, without remorse or consideration.” They recommended to the Assembly various measures for the relief of the people’s grievances- -among them reduction of salaries of the Burgesses to “such moderate rates as may render them less grievous and burdensome to the country, a new election of representatives every two years, cutting off the allowance for “liquors drank by any members of committees,” and other perquisites for which the “tithable polls” had to pay so dearly.
The Commissioners refused to consider anonymous complaints, but appointed Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays as days to receive and examine “grievances” that were duly signed and sworn to.
The Commissioners’ address to the Assembly is dated, “Swann’s Point, Feb. 27th, 1676-7,” and is signed, “Your friends to serve you, Herbert Jeffreys, John Berry, Francis Moryson.”
In a proclamation dated “Whitehall, October 27, 1676,” the King declared that every man engaged in the Rebellion who would submit to the government and take the oath of obedience within twenty days after the royal proclamation should be published, would be “pardoned and forgiven the rebellion and treason by him committed,” and “be free from all punishments for or by reason of the same.”
Upon February 10 of the following year Sir William Berkeley published at “Green Spring” a proclamation, similar to that of his Majesty, save that it announced the “exception and expulsion of divers and sundry persons” from the offer of pardon.
Upon May 15 still another proclamation was issued from Whitehall, wherein his Majesty condemned Governor Berkeley’s proclamation as “so different from ours and so derogatory to our princely clemency toward all our subjects,” that it was declared to be of “no validity,” and his Majesty’s own directions were ordered to be “punctually obeyed in all points.”
When the fleet of the Royal Commissioners sailed again for England, Sir William Berkeley sailed with it to plead his own side of the question before King Charles. Happily for himself, perhaps, he died not long after he reached his native land, and without having seen the King. In a letter written “on board Sir John Berry’s ship,” however (which has already been quoted), he expressed some very energetic opinions concerning Bacon and the Rebellion, which still live to bear witness to the bitter old man’s views.
In an address to the Assembly in June, 1680, Governor Berkeley’s successor, Governor Jeffreys -the same Jeffreys that had been a Royal Commissioner-reminded the Virginians how the King had pardoned “all persons whatever” that had engaged in the uprising, “except Bacon that died and Lawrence that fled away,” and added, “as his Majesty bath forgot it himself, he doth expect this to be the last time of your remembering the late Rebellion, and shall look upon them to be ill men that rub the sore by using any future reproaches or terms of distinction whatever.”
And was Bacon’s Rebellion, then, a failure? Far from it. Judged by its results, it was indeed a signal success, for though the gallant leader himself was cut down by disease at a moment when he himself felt that he had but begun his work, though many of the bravest of his men paid for their allegiance to the popular cause upon the scaffold, that cause was won-not lost. Most of the people’s grievances were relieved by the reforms in the administration of the government, and the reenactment of Bacon’s Laws made the relief permanent. The worst of all the grievances-the Indian atrocities -was removed once and forever, for Bacon had inspired the savages with a wholesome fear of the pale faces, so that many of them removed their settlements to a safe distance from their English neighbors, and a general treaty of peace, which seems to have been faithfully kept, was effected with the others. And so the colonists never had any more trouble with the red men until they began to make settlements beyond the Blue Ridge.
According to a deposition made by “Great Peter, the great man of the Nansemond Indians,” the Weyanoke tribe, “when Bacon disturbed the Indians,” fled to their former settlements upon Roanoke River, in North Carolina. In 1711 some “old men of the Nottaway Indians” upon being asked if they knew anything of the return of the Weyanokes to Carolina replied, “They did go thither for they were afraid of Squire Bacon, and therefore were resolved to go to their own land.”
Lovely woman flits in and out through the whole story of Bacon’s Rebellion, touching up the narrative here and there with the interest her presence always creates. First there is the fair and fascinating young wife of Sir William Berkeley, said to have turned his head in his old age. A beautiful portrait of her remains to make excuses for the bewitched husband’s weakness. She seems to have been capable of excessive irony upon occasion. The Royal Commissioners indignantly complained that when they went ashore and called upon Lady Frances Berkeley she received them courteously and sent them back to the wharf, in state, in the Governor’s coach, but they afterward found that the coachman she chose to drive them was the “common hangman.”
Then there is the brave-hearted young bride of the Rebel, trembling with fears for his safety, no doubt, but exulting in his popularity, and writing home to tell about it.
We have a series of characteristic pictures in the dusky “Queen of Pamunkey” upbraiding the Virginians for the death of her consort, the “mighty Totopotomoy”; the house-wives running out of their homes to see the victorious Rebel pass and heap him with blessings and gifts of food; the white-aproned ladies guarding the Rebel fort from the guns of their own husbands, and, at the end of all, the wife of Major Cheesman upon her knees before the Governor, praying to be hanged in her husband’s place. Madam Sarah Drummond seems to have been as ardent an admirer of Bacon as her husband. When others were hesitating for fear of what his Majesty’s “red-coats” might do, she picked up a stick and broke it in two, saying, “I fear. the power of England no more than a broken straw.”
The only child left by Nathaniel Bacon was a daughter, Mary, born a short time before or after his death, and through her many can claim descent from the Rebel, though. none of them bear his name. She grew, in due time, to womanhood, and married, in England, Hugh Chamberlain, a famous doctor of medicine and physician to Queen Anne, and became the mother of three daughters. The eldest of these, Mary, died a spinster, the second, Anna Maria, became the wife of the Right Honorable Edward Hopkins, who was a Member of Parliament for Coventry in the time of William III and Anne, and Secretary of State for Ireland. The third daughter, Charlotte, married Richard Luther, Esq., of Essex, England.
Young Madam Bacon, so early and tragically widowed, was married twice afterward-first becoming Madam Jarvis and later Madam Mole. Devoid of romance as this record sounds, her first love affair and marriage had not been without a strong flavor of that captivating element. The young woman’s father, Sir Edward Duke, for reasons unknown, opposed the match with “Nat” Bacon and provided in his will that his bequest to her of £2,000 should be forfeited if she should persist in marrying “one Bacon.” That Mistress Elizabeth gave up her fortune for him, is but another proof of the Rebel’s charm.
Later, as Madam Jarvis, she and her husband brought suit for a share in her father’s estate, but the Lord Chancellor decided against her, and gave as his opinion that her father had been right-“such an example of presumptuous disobedience highly meriting such punishment; she being only prohibited to marry with one man by name, and nothing in the whole fair garden of Eden would serve her but this forbidden fruit.”
Had Nathaniel Bacon’s life been spared, who can say what its possibilities might or might not have been? His brief career was that of a meteor-springing in the twinkling of an eye into a dazzling being, dashing headlong upon its brilliant way, then going out in mystery, leaving only the memory of an existence that was all fire and motion. If he had lived a hundred years later the number of heroes of the American Revolution would doubtless have been increased by one-and his name would have been at the top of the list, or near it.
For about two hundred years after the episode of Bacon’s Rebellion, in the history of Virginia, there was no light by which to view it other than such as was afforded by a few meagre accounts of persons opposed to it. It is only by the most painstaking and judicious sifting of these contemporary and sometimes vexingly conflicting statements, diligent study of the period, and research into official colonial records, of late years unearthed, that the truth of the matter can be arrived at.
Unveiled by such investigation, the character of Bacon seems to have been (while of course he had his faults like other mortals) self-sacrificing to a heroic degree, sincere, unmercenary, and high-minded. If otherwise, it nowhere is revealed, even by the chronicles of his enemies, who while they frown upon his course cannot hide their admiration of the man. Such of his followers as lived to tell the story of the struggle from their own point of view doubtless dared not commit it to paper. If his intrepid and accomplished friends, Drummond and Lawrence, had lived, they might have left some testimony which would have prevented the world from misjudging him as it did through so many generations, though, after all, no musty document could speak so clearly in his behalf as does the fact that they like so many others, were ready to give their lives for him. A fire-brand? Perhaps so; for some sores caustic is a necessary remedy. Profane? That he undoubtedly was, but plain speech was a part of the time he lived in, and a people settled in a wilderness and driven to desperation by hard times and the constant fear of violent death would hardly have chosen for their leader in a movement to redress their wrongs a man of mincing manners or methods. The only memorial of him left by a friendly hand, now remaining, is a bit of rhyme entitled, “Bacon’s Epitaph made by his man,” which truly prophesied,
“None shall dare his obsequies to sing
In deserv’d measures, until time shall bring
Truth crown’d with freedom, and from danger free
To sound his praise to all posterity.”
Original Sources of Information for “The Story of Bacon’s Rebellion.
Most of the official records and other contemporary manuscript documents -including private letters-which supply material for a history of Bacon’s Rebellion have been printed and copies of them may be found in collections of Virginiana owned by historical societies and libraries.
No one of these documents, however, sheds more than an imperfect side-light upon this interesting subject. To understand the man Bacon, and the merits of the rebellion led by him, familiarity with all contemporary evidences, and a painstaking sifting of them, is. necessary.
From the aforesaid evidences the author of this modest work has made a sincere attempt to draw the real facts, bit by bit, and to patch them together into a true story.
The items of the list which here follows have not been arranged in chronological order-indeed, a number of the most important papers bear no date. The collections where the original manuscripts may be or once could have been found are indicated by italics. In some instances it has been impossible to locate the original.
The British Public Record Office is referred to as P. R. O. and Colonial Papers and Colonial Entry Books mentioned are classes of records in that great depository.
The list does not include the abstracts in the English Calendar of State Papers, and the acts in Hening’s Statutes at Large of Virginia. All the papers referred to are full copies.
The Beginning, Progress and Conclusion of Bacon’s Rebellion in Virginia in the year 1675 and 1676. Known as “T. M’s” account-printed in the Richmond (Va.) Enquirer, Sept., 1804, from the original, formerly in the Harleian Collection, subsequently included in Force’s Tracts.
An account of our late troubles in Virginia written in 1676 by Mrs. An. Cotton of Q. Creeke. Published from the original manuscript in the Richmond Enquirer, Sept. 1804, and afterward in Force’s Tracts.
A Narrative of the Indian and Civil Wars in Virginia in the year 1675 and 1676. A manuscript found among the papers of Captain Nathaniel Burwell of King William County, Virginia, first printed in Vol.1, 2nd Series, Massachusetts Historical Society Collection.
A List of those that have been Executed for the Late Rebellion in Virginia by Sir William Berkeley, Governor of that Colony. Printed in Force’s Tracts from the original manuscript in the British Museum (Harleian Collection, Codex 6845, page 54) copied by Robert Greenhow, Esq., of Virginia.
Strange Newse from Virginia, &c. (Printed) London, 1677
Nathaniel Bacon’s acknowledgement of offences, and request for pardon, June 9, 1676. General Court “Deeds and Wills, 1670-1677.” Hening’s Statutes at Large of Virginia, II, 543.
A True Narrative of the Rise, Progress and Cessation of the Late Rebellion in Virginia. * * * By His Majesty’s Commissioners. P.R. O. Col. Papers, XLI, 79. Va. Mag. Hi st. & Biog., IV., 117-154.
Defence of Colonel Edward Hill. P. R. O. Va. Mag. Hist. & Biog., III, 239-252, 341-349; IV, 1-15.
Charles City County Grievances, May 10, 1677. P. R. 0. Va. Mag. Hist. & Biog., III, 132-160.
William Byrd’s Relation of Bacon’s Rebellion. Century Magazine (Edward Eggleston), Va. Mag. Hist. & Biog., V, 220.
Council and General Court Records. Robinson Notes. Va. Mag., VIII, 411, 412; IX, 47, 306.
Bacon’s Rebellion in Surry, County Court proceedings, July 4, 1677. Surry Records. Wm. & Mary Quarterly, 125-126.
Bacon’s Rebellion in Westmoreland County, depositions, &c. in regard to, Oct. 21, Nov. 25, 1676, &c. Westmoreland Records. Wm. & Mary Quarterly, II, 43-49.
Extracts from the records of Lower Norfolk County in regard to Capt. William Carver, June 15, 1675, Jan. 15, 1676. Lower Norfolk Records. Wm. & Mary Quarterly, III, 163-164.
Bacon’s Rebellion in Isle of Wight County, entries in county records relating to, May 22, and July 14, 1677. Isle of Wight Records. Wm. & Mary Quarterly, IV, 111-115.
Indian War, Orders of Northumberland County Court in regard to, July 4th and 19th, and Sept.20, 1676. Northumberland Records. Wm. & Mary Quarterly, VIII, 24-27.
Grievances of Cittenborne Parish, Rappahannock County, March, 1677. P.R.O. Col. Papers, Vol. XXIX, Nos. 62-63, also Col. Entry Book, LXXXI, pp. 300-302. Va. Mag., III, 35-42.
Isle of Wight County Grievances, March, 1677. P. R. O. Col. Papers, Vol. XXIX, Nos. 82-83, and Col. Entry Bk., Vol. LXXXI, pp.316-319. Va. Mag., II, 390-392.
Gloucester County Grievances, March, 1677. P.R. O. Col. Pap., Vol. XXIX, No. 94, and Col. Entry Bk. No.81, pp.325-327. Va. Mag. II, 166-169
Lower Norfolk County Grievances, March, 1677. P. R. O. Col. Pap., Vol. XXIX, No.95, and Col. Entry Bk. No. 81, pp.327-328. Va. Mag., II, 169-170. Surry County Grievances, March; 1677. P.R. 0. Col. Pap., Vol. XXIX, Nos. 69-70, and Col. Entry Bk., Vol.81, pp.304-307. Va. Mag., II, 170-173.
Northampton County Grievances, March, 1677. P.R. 0. Col. Pap., Vol. XXIX, No. 74, 75, and Col. Entry Bk., Vol.81, pp.309-312. Va. Mag. 289-292.
A Description of the fight between the English and the Indians in May, 1676. Egerton MSS., 2395. Wm & Mary Quarterly, IX, 1-4.
Letter, Philip Ludwell, Va., June 28, 1676, to Sir Joseph Williamson. P. R. O. Col. Pap., Vol. XXXVII, No.16. Va. Mag. I, 174-186.
Letters, William Sherwood, James City, June 1 and 28, 1676, to Sir Joseph Williamson. P. R. O. Col. Papers, Vol. XXXVII, No.1 and No.17. Va. Mag. I, 167-174.
Letter, Virginia, June 29, 1676, from the wife of Nathaniel Bacon to her sister. Egerton MSS., 2825. Va. Mag., V, 219-220. Wm. & Mary Quarterly, IX, 4-5.
Mr. Bacon’s Account of the Troubles in Virginia, June 18, 1676. Egerton MSS., 2395. Win & Mary Quarterly, IX, 6-10.
Charter of Virginia, dated Oct.10, 1676 (but never granted). Bland MSS., Library of Congress and contemporary copy, Va. Historical Society. Hening II, 532, 533; Burk ‘s Virginia, IT, lxii.
Proclamation by Charles II, Westminster, Oct. 10, 1676, granting pardon to the Governor and Assembly and over subjects in Virginia. Pat. Roll, 28 Car. II, No.11. Hening II, 423-424.
Letter, Governor Berkeley, Nov. 29, 1676, to Major Robert Beverley, Beverley MSS. Hening III, 568.
General Court Proceedings, Sept. 28, 1677 (in regard to the Rebellion). General Court Records. Hening II, 557.
General Court Proceedings, Oct. 26, 1677. General Court Records. Hening II, 557-558.
Bacon’s Rebellion, Depositions, Nov.15, 1677, in regard to Col. Thomas Swann’s Conduct in. S~ry Records. Wm. & Mary Quarterly, XI, 80-81.
Mrs. Bird’s Relation, who lived Nigh Mr. Bacon in Virginia *** Egerton MSS., 2395. Win. & Mary Quarterly IX, 10.
Proposals of Thos. Ludwell and Robert Smith, to the king, for reducing the rebels in Virginia . P. R. O. Va. Mag. I, 432-435.
Petition of Thomas Bacon (father of Nathaniel) to the King, June (?) 1676. P. R. O. Col. Pap., Vol. XXXVII, No. 15. Va. Mag., I, 430-431.
Proceedings of Court Martial on board ship in York River, Jan.11, 1676-77. General Court Records. Hening II, 545-546.
Proceedings of Court Martial on board ship in York River, Jan.12, 1676-77. General Court Records. Hening II, 546.
Proceedings of Court Martial at Green Spring, Jan.24, 1676-77. General Court Records. Hening II, 547-548.
Proceedings of Court Martial at Bray’s House, Jan. 20, 1676-77. General Court Records. Hening II, 546-547.
A True and faithful account in what condition we found your Majesty’s Colony of Virginia, of our transactions, &c., signed by the Commissioners Berry and Moryson. P.R.O. Col. Pap., Vol. XXXVII, No.51. 427. Burk ‘s Virginia II, 253-259.
Proceedings of Court Martial at Green Spring, Jan.24, 1676-77. General Court Records. Hening II, 547-548.
Proceedings of General Court at Green Spring, March 1, 1676-77. General Court Records. Hening II, 548.
Proceedings of General Court at Green Spring, March 8, 1676-77. General Court Records. Hening II, 549-550.
Proceedings of General Court at Green Spring, March 9, 10, 15, 16, 17, 22, 1676-77. General Court Records. Hening U, 550-556.
Nathaniel Bacon’s Manifesto Concerning the present troubles in Virginia (n. d.) P.R.O. Col. Pap., Vol. XXXVII, No.51. Va. Mag. I, 55-58.
The Declaration of the People, By Bacon. Aug. 3, 1676. P. R. O., Vol. XXXVII, No. 41. Va. Mag., I, 59-61 Mass. Hist. Soc. Collections, 4th Series, Vol. IX, 184-186.
Bacon’s Appeal to the People of Accomac (n. d.). P. R. O. Col. Entry Bk., Vol.81, pp 254-263. Va. Mag., I, 61-63.
Orders of the General Assembly at Session begun Feb.26, 1676-77. Northumberland Co. MS. Hening II, 401406.
Additional instructions from the King to Governor Berkeley, Whitehall, Nov. 13, 1676. P. R. O. Col. Entry Bk., Vol.80, pp. 111-114. (In the English Cal. Col. State Papers, these instructions are dated Oct. 13; in Hening, Nov.13.) Hening II, 424-426.
Surry County, submission of Bacon’s followers in, Feb. 6, 1677. Surry Records. Wm. & Mary Quarterly, XI, 79-80.
Testimony of Governor Berkeley in regard to Robert Beverley’s services during the Rebellion, Northampton Co., Nov.13, 1676. Beverley MS. Hening III, 567.
Letter, Governor Berkeley, Jan.18, 1676 (7), to Robert Beverley. Beverley MS. Hening III, 569.
Letter, Governor Berkeley, Jan. 21, 1676-77, t6 Robert Beverley. Beverley MS. Hening III, 569.
The Petition of the County of Gloucester, July, 1676, to Sir William Berkeley, and his answer. Chalmers (Aspinwall) Papers. Mass. Hist. Col., 4th Series, Vol. IX, 181-184.
The Declaration and Remonstrance of Sir William Berkeley, May 29, 1676. Chalmers (Aspinwall) Papers. Mass. ilist. Col., 4th Series, Vol. IX, 178-181.
The opinion of Council of Virginia Concerning Mr. Bacon’s Proceedings, May 29, 1676. Chalmers (Aspinwall) Papers. Mass. Hist. Col., 4th Series, Vol. IX, pp. 177-178.
Virginia’s Deplored Condition. Or an Impartial Narrative of the Murders Committed by the Indians there, and the sufferings *** under the Rebellious outrages of Mr. Nath. Bacon, Jr. *** to the tenth day of August, 1676. Chalmers (Aspinwall) Papers. Mass. Hist. Col., 4th Series, Vol. IX, 162-176.
A dialogue between the Rebel Bacon and one Goode as it was presented to * ** Sir William Berkeley, Governor of Virginia. P.R.O. Col. Entry Bk., lxxi pp. 232-240. Goode’s “Our Virginia Cousins.”
A Review, Breviary and Conclusion, being a Summary account of the late rebellion in Virginia. P. R. O. Col. Entry Bk., Vol.81, pp.411-419. Burk’s Virginia, II, 250-253.
Letter, Giles Bland, James Town, April 20, 1676, to Charles Berne (England). Burk’s Virginia II, 245-249.
Letter, Francis Moryson, London, Nov. 28, 1677, to Thomas Ludwell. Burk’s Virginia II, 265-270.
Letter, Charles II, Oct.22, 1677, to Governor Jeffreys. Burk’s Virginia II, 264-265.
Vindications of Sir William Berkeley (1676). Randolph MS., Va. Hist. Soc. Va. Mag. VI, 139-144. Burk’s Virginia, II, 259-264.
List of persons who suffered in Bacon’s Rebellion, report by the Commissioners, Oct.15, 1677. P. R. O. Col. Entry Bk., Vol.81, pp.353-357. Va. Mag. Hist. & Biog. V, 64-70