What happened to the ‘vanished’ colonists at Roanoke?



On Aug. 27, 1587, John White, the governor of Roanoke Island colony, an English settlement in what is now North Carolina, sailed to England in hopes of gathering badly needed supplies and reinforcements to bring back to the struggling colony. 

His return to Roanoke was delayed in 1588 by the Spanish Armada — a huge Spanish fleet that sailed to northern Europe with the intention of invading England — which required the English government to make use of all available ships to combat the threat. When White finally got back to Roanoke Island on Aug. 18, 1590, he found the colony abandoned — the only clues to the colonists’ fate being the words CROATOAN carved on a palisade post and CRO carved on a tree. White believed that they had gone to Croatoan Island (now called Hatteras Island), but a storm prevented White from reaching Hatteras and he was forced to turn back to England. He was unable to raise the money to finance another rescue mission and the fate of the colonists has remained a mystery ever since. 



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