Help support TMP

"Was the 1623 Poisoning of 200 Native Americans One" Topic

20 Posts

All members in good standing are free to post here. Opinions expressed here are solely those of the posters, and have not been cleared with nor are they endorsed by The Miniatures Page.

Please use the Complaint button (!) to report problems on the forums.

For more information, see the TMP FAQ.

Back to the Renaissance Discussion Message Board

Back to the American Indian Wars Message Board

Areas of Interest

18th Century
19th Century

Featured Hobby News Article

Featured Recent Link

Top-Rated Ruleset

De Bellis Antiquitatis (DBA)

Rating: gold star gold star gold star gold star gold star gold star gold star 

Featured Showcase Article

28mm Acolyte Vampires - Based

The Acolyte Vampires return - based, now, and ready for the game table.

Featured Workbench Article

From Fish Tank to Tabletop

Personal logo Editor in Chief Bill The Editor of TMP Fezian receives a gift from his wife…

Featured Profile Article

First Look: Barrage's 28mm Streets & Sidewalks

Personal logo Editor in Chief Bill The Editor of TMP Fezian looks at some new terrain products, which use space age technology!

Current Poll

Featured Book Review

595 hits since 17 Sep 2023
©1994-2023 Bill Armintrout
Comments or corrections?

Tango01 Supporting Member of TMP17 Sep 2023 8:48 p.m. PST

… of the Continent's First War Crimes?

"In 2008, officials erected a historical marker in West Point, a small hamlet in Virginia's King William County. Set at an intersection about 20 miles north of Williamsburg, the plaque is titled "Indians Poisoned at Peace Meeting." It commemorates a little-known act of colonial duplicity: a mass poisoning carried out by the English in 1623 as part of an attempted assassination of the Pamunkey leader Opechancanough.

"Why place a marker of tragedy?" asked Pamunkey Chief William P. Miles at the unveiling ceremony. "By telling the past," he added, "it leads to our future. … Not many knew of this poisoning. This will help tell the story of the good and bad neighbors."…"

Main page



Bunkermeister Supporting Member of TMP17 Sep 2023 10:06 p.m. PST

War Crime is one of those phrases that get thrown about without any real meaning most of the time.

For something to be a war crime, typically each side must be parties to a treaty that forbids the conduct alleged as a war crime.

So the US is not a signatory to the convention on cluster munitions so for the US it is not a war crime to use them.

I suspect that the settlers and the Colonists were not signatories to any treaty that made poison wine a "war crime."

We should not judge historical figures only by our own standards as some behaviors that were normal 500 years ago are very different today.

This is just another woke article designed to degrade and destroy the respect for western civilization and the United States with the focus on triggering words such as "war crime."

Mike Bunkermeister Creek

GildasFacit Sponsoring Member of TMP18 Sep 2023 1:37 a.m. PST

While I don't agree with Bukermeister's definition of a war crime I do agree that that incident doesn't class that.

It was quite clearly an horrific crime. Even by the standards of its day it would not have been considered as appropriate behaviour by most contemporary Englishmen.

Why it has anything to do with the respect for a nation that wouldn't exist until 150 years later I don't understand.

Anybody who believes that this is some sort of purposeful act of political or cultural denigration is overreacting.

35thOVI Supporting Member of TMP18 Sep 2023 5:44 a.m. PST

Ahhh, yes there was no U.S. at this time. All loyal subjects of the crown. so a British war crime. 😉

Puster Sponsoring Member of TMP18 Sep 2023 6:21 a.m. PST

One of the continents first war crimes?

Most certainly not.

Not the among "the first".

We simply do not know about the previous, but War Crimes are as old as war itself. With a millenium or more of warfare before the European arrival we can be pretty sure that there were older crimes.

Perhaps if the statement is amended by "recorded" then I might agree.

GildasFacit Sponsoring Member of TMP18 Sep 2023 7:40 a.m. PST

35th – there was no 'Britain' either at that time so still wrong.

Arjuna18 Sep 2023 7:57 a.m. PST

As far as I can see, it would definitely have violated the Poisoning Act of 1530, enacted by the Parliament of England which made poisoning high treason with the imposed punishment of death by boiling but that was repealed by the Treason Act of 1574.
So it probably was just murder.
Though no codices regarding 'war crimes' per se existed, besides the hypocritical outcry here and there (The 3000 of Akkon comes to mind), there are a few notable individual cases in between in other jurisdictions.
See for example that of Peter von Hagenbach in 1474.

Besides, regarding 'first war crime in the Americas' is it a war crime if it is part of ritual warfare?
The flower wars of the Aztecs and their sporting opponents included the ritual killing of captives as a central component. It was the reason for this pastime in the first place.

I seem to recall that there is an account of a Spanish priest discussing torture in both cultures with a member of some Mesoamerican civilization, perhaps an Aztec.
I just can't find it right now.

35thOVI Supporting Member of TMP18 Sep 2023 8:11 a.m. PST

"35th – there was no 'Britain' either at that time so still wrong."

So just an English crime then, or do the Scots get to share the blame? 😉

mjkerner Supporting Member of TMP18 Sep 2023 9:27 a.m. PST

And the Iroquois were at this very time exterminating the Erighs, and no doubt other smaller, weaker tribes. But, you know, "Noble Savages".

Choctaw18 Sep 2023 9:49 a.m. PST

Which makes it okay, right mjkerner?

mjkerner Supporting Member of TMP18 Sep 2023 10:02 a.m. PST

No, it balances the narrative of the article, Choctaw. Perhaps the Iroquois Nation should be painted with the same racist/terrorist brush that the article imposes on European-Americans. Native Americans were no more innocent than anyone else. Jeez.

35thOVI Supporting Member of TMP18 Sep 2023 12:21 p.m. PST

FYI, It was the Erie tribe they destroyed

Col Durnford Supporting Member of TMP18 Sep 2023 12:54 p.m. PST

Definitely not even among the first war crime in the America's.

That ship sailed generations before the new world was discovered by Europeans.

The original colonists were humans just like the second wave.

mjkerner Supporting Member of TMP18 Sep 2023 12:56 p.m. PST

35th, it was spelled "Erigh" or "Eriegh" in some contemporary/primary sources, but modern spellings are of course,"Erie".

What bugs me about the article is that it appears to be more Race-baiting/US bashing (but I hope unintentionally), because as a despicable event having a 300th "anniversary" it is newsworthy, historically speaking. But why add the "War Crimes" angle? Why not pick ANY Native Tribe/Peoples and detail the atrocities committed on innocent women and children, grabbing infants by the ankles and swinging them around to smash their brains against a tree or rock, cutting fetuses out of pregnant women while still alive, burning captives alive, etc., etc., ad nauseum?

35thOVI Supporting Member of TMP18 Sep 2023 1:26 p.m. PST

Mjkerner, because it's the current in thing with the elites. 😉

Today's flagellants


YouTube link

Tango01 Supporting Member of TMP18 Sep 2023 3:26 p.m. PST

Many thanks.


Grattan54 Supporting Member of TMP18 Sep 2023 6:12 p.m. PST


One must understand in our current society minorities cannot do nor ever have done anything wrong. To say otherwise is racist and unacceptable.

doc mcb19 Sep 2023 11:07 a.m. PST

I agree with most of the above, and will also observe that 1) disease was the big killer, whether helped along or not, especially after the Columbian exchange, and 2) not much difference between disease and deliberate famine, as in a siege, except disease is probably faster; and 3) destruction of crops was widely practiced, and morally about the same as firebombing a city; and 4) attitudes change over time.

HMS Exeter Supporting Member of TMP19 Sep 2023 3:02 p.m. PST

I've never been able to conceptualize that WAR could be codified into a sort of Marquess of Queensberry rules, manual of proper and improper exercises of violent destruction. It's certainly a noble aspiration, but, on a planet of non-signatories, rogue nations and non-state actors, it's an unworkable idea.

One man's war crime is another man's asymmetrical strategy.

It's right up there with the many quaint discussions over the relative guilt various nations ought to acknowledge over their complicity in historic slavery. This somehow managing to gloss over the reality that, here in the 21st Century, slavery is alive and well.

Warfighting should have no rulebook. If a nation is prepared to initiate armed conflict, or elect to defend itself with violent force, there should be no guaranty of restraint. WWII saw almost no use of chemical weapons for a very good reason.

It is well that war is so terrible, otherwise we should grow too fond of it.

Dn Jackson Supporting Member of TMP20 Sep 2023 11:44 p.m. PST

It's very odd to me the way the question of 'war crime' is framed in this article. It mentions the attack of 1622 where the natives wiped out a quarter, 347, of the colonists, but fails to mention that they entered the English colony as merchants wanting to sell food. They then attacked the colonists and killed everyone they could get their hands on; men, women, and children.

You can make the argument that all men over the age of 16 were legitimate targets as they were part of the militia, if you ignore the fact the attack occurred while the two sides were at peace. But you cannot make the argument that the women and children were legitimate targets.

Going by the rules laid down in the article, wouldn't this attack be the first 'war crime' in the New World? The poisoning was an attempt to kill the person who initiated the war.

Sorry - only verified members can post on the forums.