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The Story of Bacon's Rebellion
XI - Bacon Returns to Jamestown
by Standard, Mary Newton


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 tbe 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 disarm 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.

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