Powhatan offensive enacted at Henricus

Member(s) of the Henrius Citie Militia protecting the evacuating settlers against Opechancanough’s warriors.

The history of the early settlements at the James River came to life when Opechancanough’s offensive of 1622 was enacted recently at the Henricus Historical Park.

Attacks by Powhatan Indians had killed more than 300 men, women and children, representing a quarter of the total population, among the early settlers along the James River and in the Williamsburg area in March 1622. In the weeks after the “massacre,” the Powhatan Confederacy Indians, led by chief Opechancanough, continued their coordinated campaign against the settlers, who had to be evacuated from their farms and settlements to the fortified Jamestown settlement.

Jamestown, founded in 1607, was the site of the first successful English settlement in North America and the capital of the Colony of Virginia. Its expansion and seizure of Powhatan lands ultimately provoked a violent offensive by the Powhatan Confederacy natives.

Although Jamestown was spared due to a last-minute warning, the Powhatan Indians also attacked and destroyed many smaller settlements along the James River. The English abandoned many of the smaller settlements after the attacks.

The organized retreat was enacted in “first person” by volunteer and staff at the Henricus Historical Park March 22.

“Most of the history enacted here cannot be found easily in books or online," explained militia member Dexter Guptill.

Involving the small crowd of interested citizens as “evacuees,” the soldiers of the settlement, under the leadership of their captain, backed up the evacuation in their historical costumes and gear – including muskets, a canon and swords – against the attacking natives. The enactment and accompanying narrative brought these events of local history to life in their original environment.

Indian battle cries were heard, muskets fired, livestock were removed from their stables and valuables piled on carts when the small group retreated through the back-gate of the fenced museum park under the protection of the militia force.

The lively dedication of the March 22, 1622 historical monument was presented by the Society of Colonial Wars in the State of Virginia and the Henricus Historical Park. The park operates in partnership with the counties of Chesterfield and Henrico and recreates everyday 17th century life in the second successful English settlement in North America. It sits on the original site of the Citie of Henricus, in present-day Chesterfield County.

Surrounded by the Dutch Gap Conservation Area the living history museum offers exceptional education for students and adults.
John Pagano, Henricus Park Site and Interpretation Supervisor, leading the settler’s militia force during the evacuation of the James River settlements during Opechancanough’s 1622 offensive.


Volunteers Corey Bartos, Sean Edwards, Martin Saniga, and Patrick St. Germain enacting Opechancanough’s warriors.

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Henrico Police to participate in ‘Tip a Cop’ Oct. 21


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Participants sought for ‘Walk to End Alzheimer’s’


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Fairfield meeting Oct. 25 to focus on cybersecurity


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As part of its 25th anniversary, the University of Richmond’s Jepson School of Leadership Studies welcomes back 2008–09 Leader-in-Residence Leland Melvin, ’86, for a discussion of his new memoir, "Chasing Space: An Astronaut’s Story of Grit, Grace, and Second Chances." "Chasing Space" traces the former NASA astronaut and NFL wide receiver’s “personal journey from the gridiron to the stars.” The event, which is free and open to the public, starts at 6 p.m. A book signing and reception will follow. For tickets, call 289-8980. Full text

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