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#73361 - 09/08/03 08:25 PM Battle of St. George's Caye Holiday  
Joined: Oct 1999
Posts: 55,662
Marty Online happy
Marty  Online Happy
are we all preparing for the battle of St. Georges Caye Holiday on Sept 10th?

to celebrate the fact that the british settlers finally fought off the spanish once and for all. just read a great book about it, "The Baymen of Belize."

At that time, the main settlements were at the mouth of the Belize River, what is now Belize City, and logwood camps up the Belize River. Out at St. Georges Caye was where the 'baymen' went for R&R, fishing, hanging out. The Spanish occasionally sent warring parties down to try to wipe the British settlements off the map. One particularly bloody battle took place in 1779 at St. Georges Caye, where the settlers successfully fought off the spanish but it was a nasty fight, and the Brits were undermanned and underarmed.

The Spanish came again in 1798, after spending a couple years preparing the invasion. Rumors had been rampant for quite some time, and finally a fleet was spotted heading south.

St. Georges Caye is where the main battle was fought in 1798. the settlers made their successful stand against a spanish armada that sailed from the Yucatan, asembled at Long Caye, and attacked (the British and Belizeans fighting together) positions at St. Georges Caye. The settlers had voted just barely to make the stand, and not flee. Once the vote was taken, all stood together. They burned every building on the caye, all their own properties, and with the help of a few ships from Jamaica, fought hard for two days vastly outnumbered.

On day one, (Sept 10, 1798), several Spanish vessels became stuck on the Montego shoals as they approached the island, and boarding parties from the settlers made quick work of them, with 1/3 killed or wounded among the settlers as well. Boarding was a bloody undertaking. the Spanish retreated back to long caye, and the settlers sent their wounded to the mainland and awaited the next day. the four smoldering spanish gunship wrecks on the shoals were a sight to behold.

After taking a licking the first day, the spanish came strong the second day, though leaving their reserves which they never used the whole time. They sent four gun brigs, and four schooners down the reef channel to attack the caye. wary of sending the ships down the one narrow channel to the island, the only way out from there would be victory. eventually the steeled their hearts and entered the channel in a single file. on they came, pouring a heavy fire into the settlers positions. once over half the ships were in the channel, the settlers finally opened fire with devastating effect. right then, the magazine of the leading schooner exploded, incredibly loudly, and caused awful havoc among her crew. the two schooners next to the burning ship, unable to face the fire, and terrified by the fate of their consort, tried to go about, and crashed into each other, drifting helplessly aground. broadside after broadside was poured into these foundering ships. seized with panic at the mishaps of their leaders, the rearmost sloops tried to escape, and in the confusion two of them ran on the shoal and stuck fast. only the last of the six got out safely. then the boarders went up, and the hand to hand fight commenced, with the settlers finally getting the upper hand on all the vessels.

Once the spanish flagship got into range of the Merlin, the one big ship the settlers had at their disposal (thanks to Jamaica, no help from the Brits, who had too many wars going elsewhere to worry about Belize), it was the beginning of the end. after watching the debacle of his cohorts, shame made the spanish commander try one more effort. then suddenly, he withdrew, but too late. his path took him too close to the Merlin, the terrific fire reduced the flagship to a wreck.

the shattered remains of the once powerful flotilla were now in full retreat to the rendezvous at long caye. on the 12th of September the whole fleet weighed from long caye and headed northward. the battle was over. The settlers won the day. The ragtag bunch of settlers and their Belizean workers/friends had fought off the spanish fleet with little help from the Brits.

so lets party.

#73362 - 09/08/03 08:33 PM Re: Battle of St. George's Caye Holiday  
Joined: May 2000
Posts: 3,280
Barbara K Offline
Barbara K  Offline
I have always wanted to be in Belize for the Sept Holidays. Maybe next year....

#73363 - 09/08/03 08:39 PM Re: Battle of St. George's Caye Holiday  
Joined: Jan 2003
Posts: 2,675
dbdoberman Offline
dbdoberman  Offline
amazing history, thanks Marty. I wondered how the jamaican link came about - that explains it.

#73364 - 09/09/03 02:08 AM Re: Battle of St. George's Caye Holiday  
Joined: Apr 2000
Posts: 4,258
Laguna Punta Offline
Laguna Punta  Offline
I'm in shallow water here, but I believe the Jamaican influence was from "Pirates" roving the Carribean from Port Royal. Many "Pirate" ships would go to Belize to harvest Logwood at times of slender pickings for plunder. A greatly interesting history can be found about Port Royal, Jamaica...the evilest place in the Western Hemisphere. Port Royal was the stronghold of Pirate Henry Morgan. Port Royal sunk into the sea during a violent earthquake. The report was that as the City sank into the sea, cries where heard from the drowning over the ringing of the Church bells.

Gone fishing!!
#73365 - 09/09/03 05:31 AM Re: Battle of St. George's Caye Holiday  
Joined: Jan 2003
Posts: 2,675
dbdoberman Offline
dbdoberman  Offline
I like caribbean pirate lore, Bill, especially Port Royal and Cartagena history. I thought maybe there was a friendlier historical connection to Jamaica. You might well be right, I can see how that would explain it. Thanks for reminding me, matey!

#73366 - 09/09/03 06:02 AM Re: Battle of St. George's Caye Holiday  
Joined: Apr 2000
Posts: 4,258
Laguna Punta Offline
Laguna Punta  Offline
Shiver me timbers, mate!!! PS. I got hooked on Carribean History by reading Carribean by the late James Michner. The story of Cartagena is very interesting, too. One of the best local pirate historians is my old friend Richie Woods. A very, very knowledgeable fellow. He has a text book at the San Pedro Library...which is great. He is still about town, usually sitting on a shady corner somewhere. Ask around, he is worth meeting.

Gone fishing!!
#73367 - 09/09/03 07:55 AM Re: Battle of St. George's Caye Holiday  
Joined: Oct 1999
Posts: 55,662
Marty Online happy
Marty  Online Happy
Richie gave the the book i refer to above. This website owes a lot to his genius. I could sit in his boat/house and read forever.

#73368 - 09/09/03 08:03 AM Re: Battle of St. George's Caye Holiday  
Joined: Nov 2001
Posts: 2,364
wow, i do believe i have a t shirt from a few years ago that i bought at the post office in honor of this day. it has several old sailing ships on it. i will wear it tomorrow. thanks for the reminder marty. i can pretend i am in belize. cool

#73369 - 09/09/03 04:36 PM Re: Battle of St. George's Caye Holiday  
Joined: Apr 2000
Posts: 4,258
Laguna Punta Offline
Laguna Punta  Offline
And you paided $10BZ. What a deal!!

Gone fishing!!
#73370 - 09/09/03 04:38 PM Re: Battle of St. George's Caye Holiday  
Joined: Apr 2000
Posts: 4,258
Laguna Punta Offline
Laguna Punta  Offline
That Richie looks like an old piece of coal...but there is a diamond in there!!PS. A couple of years ago, Richie was trying to republish his text book, which would be a service to the world as well as Richie. His orginal text is rough...he has one copy and the other copy is at the San Pedro Library. The text is out of publication and if someone has some "horsepower", he could use some hep.

Gone fishing!!
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