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Smith had settlers dig the first well inside the fort (and archaeologists have found that well and the many unique artifacts it held when it became a trash pit).
Smith ordered the repair of many buildings and the expansion of the fort into a five-sided structure, which archaeologists have also traced.
Smith’s first meeting with Chief Powhatan, the supreme leader in the Chesapeake region, was eventful, but historians have cast doubt on whether the captain’s life was really saved by Powhatan’s favorite daughter, Pocahontas, as Smith reported years later.
"He that will not worke shall not eate," he told the colonists, adding that "the labours of thirtie or fortie honest and industrious men shall not be consumed to maintaine a hundred and fiftie idle loyterers." Like Hamor (and other colonist-observers), Smith worried about idleness, a condition some historians have likened to laziness, suggesting that too many of the early colonists were gentlemen and so unaccustomed to labor. Karen Ordahl Kupperman, for instance, has countered that men suffering from malnutrition "exhibit symptoms in their early phases which appear to be purely psychological, such as loss of appetite (anorexia) and indifference." In other words, weakness and fatigue may have looked like laziness but were in reality illness.
Smith also led the first English explorations of the Chesapeake Bay and was almost killed by a ray on the first of the two expeditions.
Smith’s strong leadership helped the colony survive and grow but also made him enemies within the fort.
But the residents of Tsenacomoco were feeling the drought no less than the English, and could scarcely afford these unexpected demands on their food supply.
With the coming of winter in 1608 and with Captain John Smith now president, the Indians largely refused to trade.
Moreover, conditions were particularly severe near Jamestown, an ecological zone (oligohaline) where the exchange between fresh and salt water is minimal.