The Warraskoyack Indians had a town south ofFort Boykin in the vicinity of Tormentor Creek andanother on Jones Creek near the mouth of thePagan River. John Smith stayed with them on his 1608mission to Powhatan's residence on the York River andon a similar mission the following year. The latter meetingwas fraught with tension.
By 1609, drought had withered the crops, and the Natives were wearyof English demands for food. A peace treaty and the marriage of Powhatan'sdaughter Pocahontas to John Rolfe in 1614 led to quieter times, during which the English expanded their holdings far beyond their agreement with Powhatan. In 1622, Powhatan's successor, Opechancanough, organized punitive attacks against the incursive settlements, which killed many colonists. He then withdrew, but the English responded withwarfare against all of the region's Indians.
A True Servant to the Country.
Fort Boykin began its role in American history in 1623 and since then has been involved in every military campaign fought on American soil. On May 11, 1623,Capt. Roger Smyth was commissioned to construct a fortification to protect the colonists against "Spaniards by sea and Indians by land." The steep cliff here, its commanding view of the James River and its naturally deep ditches made the site of Fort Boykin ideal. It was then christened The Castle.
During the RevolutionaryWar, Fort Boykin was refortifiedand renamed after Maj. FrancisBoykin, then serving on Gen.George Washington's staff. The fort was again used during the War of 1812.
The present earthworkfortification was constructed during the Civil War by the Confederate army betweenJune 1861 and May 1862. It was part of the system for blockingaccess to Richmond by river. The fort was captured by Union troops shortly after its completion and since then has remained essentially intact.
Capt. John Smith's Trail
John Smith knew the James River by its Algonquian name: Powhatan, the same as the region's paramount chief. Smith traveled the river many times between 1607 and 1609, trading with Virginia Indians to ensure survival at Jamestown. What he saw of Virginia's verdant woodlands and pristine waters inspired him to explore the greater Chesapeake Bay, chronicling its natural wonders. · Capt. John Smith's Trail on the James is a 40-site water trail and auto tour for modern explorers.