Bradford's history details many of the hardships the Pilgrims endured, especially during their voyage and first winter at Plymouth. Making their way across the Atlantic in the Mayflower, which was a very small ship by today's standards, they experienced terrible storms, "furious seas," and many rounds of seasickness. When one of the main beams in the ship "bowed and cracked," they lived in fear of even completing their voyage. Additionally, throughout these great difficulties, the Pilgrims had to endure the taunts and abuse of the Mayflower's crew, sailors who showed contempt and deliberate cruelty toward them. One of their group, John Howland, was swept overboard during a storm; he was saved, but the experience left him sometimes ill. Another of their group, William Butten, died during the voyage.
Because their passage took far longer than expected, the Pilgrims landed during the dead of the New England winter, their supplies mostly depleted. Bradford called this, appropriate, "The Starving Time." The Pilgrims suffered and died, "sometimes two or three of a day." Bradford reported that of more than one-hundred, barely fifty survived. During the worst of this suffering, only six or seven of the Pilgrims remained unafflicted and worked night and day to care for the sick.
In establishing their colony at Plymouth, the Pilgrims faced enormous odds, as Bradford recounted:
. . . they had now no friends to welcome them nor inns to entertain or refresh their weather-beaten bodies; no houses or much less towns to repair to, to seek for succor . . . . what could they see but a hideous and desolate wilderness, full of wild beasts and wild men--and what multitudes there might be of them they knew not.
In spite of these hardships, however, the Pilgrim's endured. With the special help of Squanto, their Native-American gide whom they considered an agent of God, their colony survived.