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The Indians of Tsenacomoco—a paramount chiefdom of twenty-eight to thirty-two Algonquian-speaking groups in the while another attacked their settlement at Jamestown, killing two.
Three months later, in August, the first of many summertime sicknesses set in, killing more than half of the colonists. Reinforcements helped offset the toll again taken by the so-called summer seasoning, so that by mid-December 1608 Jamestown's population stood at about 200.
"For the most part," however, "they died of meere famine." He went on to lament that "There were never Englishmen left in a forreigne Countrey in such miserie as wee were in this new discovered Virginia." He described his men as "feeble wretches": "Our food was but a small Can of Barlie sod in water to five men a day, our drinke cold water taken out of the River which was at a floud verie salt, at a low tide full of slime and filth, which was the destruction of many of our men." The colonist Ralph Hamor later blamed "misgovernment, idlenesse, and faction" for these early deaths, suggesting that "people were fedde out of the common store and labored jointly in the manuring of the ground, and planting corne." As a result, "glad was that man that could slippe from his labor," for he knew that he would be maintained by the communal food supply.
He joined volunteers in France who were fighting for Dutch independence from Spain.
Two years later, he set off for the Mediterranean Sea as a sailor on a merchant ship.
Smith was on the fleet of three ships that set sail December 20, 1606, and during the four-month voyage was charged with mutiny by the leader of the expedition, Captain Christopher Newport.
Smith was a prisoner when the ships reached Virginia in April 1607—but was released when the other colony leaders opened orders from the Virginia Company and discovered Smith was to be on the governing council.