The Lost Colony Of Roanoke Island

Early colonization in the United States was met with a lot of troubles and hardships. These problems included food shortages, diseases, and attacks by Indians. There were 13 British colonies formed by the 1700's, from Massachusetts to Georgia, with their own government run by the British lawmakers. The earliest attempt at a colony was in 1585 on Roanoke Island on the coast of North Carolina.



Sir Walter Raleigh sent over settlers to establish a colony for Queen Elizabeth I, but three years after receiving supplies from England, the colony disappeared during the Anglo-Spanish War. Part of the queen's agenda was to build a base to guard against Spain's treasure fleets. Raleigh himself never visited North America, instead sending others to lead different expeditions.

The first expedition, led by Arthur Barlowe and Philip Amadas, arrived on the island on July 4. They met with the Croatoans and Secotans, who were the local natives, and brought two of the Croatoans back to England so they could explain the geography and politics of the area to Raleigh. It was then that he ordered another expedition, led by Sir Richard Grenville.


Grenville left with five ships, but his ship got separated from the rest of the fleet due to a storm and he went to Puerto Rico, which is where they agreed to meet if anything went wrong. He built a fort there and waited for the other ships, but only one of them came, and he left almost a month later for the Outer Banks where they were reuinted with the people from the rest of the ships.

After a conflict with the natives, which resulted in the settlers burning one of their villages, Grenville left the settlers to set up a colony on the north end of the island, saying he would return with more supplies. 7-8 months went by and there was no sign of Grenville's shipment, and a couple of months later their fort was attacked by the natives, but they were able to fight them off.


Sir Francis Drake stopped by soon after that and offered to give the colonists a ride back to England, which some accepted. Then Grenville's ship arrived finally, but the fort was abandoned and he left a small group of men behind to protect their claim on the island. In 1587, a new group of colonists were gathered to establish a colony on the Chesapeake Bay, but first they would make a stop at Roanoke to get the small group left behind by Grenville.

When they made the stop, they found the place empty, and the new settlers were forced to establish a new colony there instead of the Chesapeake Bay. Tensions with the Croatoans and other tribes were still somewhat high, so the colonists wanted the expedition leader, John White, to go back to England and ask for help. He left everyone there, including his granddaughter, Virginia Dare, who was the first English child born in America.


Because of the Anglo-Spanish War, White couldn't return to the colony and it wasn't until the spring of 1588 that he was able to get two ships to sail to Roanoke. The captains of those ships tried to capture some Spanish ships on the way to gain profits, but they in turn were captured and White had to return to England.

It would be three years before he was finally able to get to the island, and when he did, there was no trace of the colony he left there. There was no sign of a battle or them being forced to leave, since everything had been dismantled slowly. On a post of the fence surrounding the village, they found 'Croatoan' carved into it and CRO was carved into a tree.



It wasn't the sign he had asked them to leave, which was a cross carved into a tree, to tell him they had been forced to leave. So he took it to mean they may have moved to Croatoan Island, which is now Hatteras Island. He wasn't able to search for them because of a storm, so no one knows what may have happened to the colonists.