In 1590, on this day a relief fleet comprising the Moonlight, Little John, Hopewell, and other ships commanded by Captain Christopher Newport arrived off the Chesapeake Bay in present-day North Carolina.
CroatoanReuniting with his daughter Eleanor, Governor John White had arrived just in time to celebrate the third birthday of his grand daughter Virginia Dare, the first English child born in the Americas. But White's initial joy soon gave way to deep disquiet. His suspicion that something was very wrong at Roanoke Colony began as soon as he noticed the word "Croatoan" carved into a post of the fort and "Cro" carved into a nearby tree.
In fact, during the voyage from England White had greatly feared that upon his return that he would find the settlement completely deserted. Because in late 1587 a dispute had developed with the neighboring Croatan tribe. A fellow colonist Ralph Lane mysteriously disapppeared while searching for crabs alone in the Albemarle Sound. Fearing for their lives, the Roanoke Islanders had urged White to return to England to explain the colony's situation and ask for help. Before he left the colony, White had instructed them that if anything happened to them, they should carve a Maltese cross on a tree nearby, indicating that their disappearance had been forced.
But the England to which White returned had a much bigger problem than the future of Roanoke Colony. That problem was called the Spanish Armada. All suitable vessels were requisitioned for the defence of the country, delaying his return by three agnosingly long years. Because of these troubles, by the time he returned to the colony his famously blond hair had gone completely grey.
During the night White was startled awake by the noise of nearby trees crashing. Something huge was approaching the colony, and at a truly frightening high speed. The unidentified source of John White's fears was about to take a very definite shape.