Second Maroon War

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The Second Maroon War
Date 1795 - 1796
Location Colony of Jamaica
Result Maroon defeat
Belligerents
 Great Britain
Colony of Jamaica
Maroons
Commanders and leaders
Kingdom of Great Britain Major General George Walpole
Strength
5,000 150 Maroons, 350 runaway slaves

The Second Maroon War of 1795–1796 was an eight-month conflict between the Maroons of Trelawney Town, a maroon settlement created at the end of First Maroon War, located in Trelawny Parish, Jamaica, and the British colonials who controlled the island. The Windward Jamaican Maroon communities remained neutral during this rebellion and their treaty with the British still remains in force. Accompong Town, however, sided with the colonial militias, and fought against Trelawny Town.[1]

The outbreak of the war[edit]

The Maroons felt that they were being mistreated under the terms of Cudjoe's Treaty of 1739, which ended the First Maroon War, the spark of the war was when two Maroons were flogged by a black slave for stealing two pigs. When six Maroon leaders came to the British to present their grievances, the British took them as prisoners, they were acting under orders from the new governor, the Earl of Balcarres, who wrongly believed that the French had infected the Maroons with their revolutionary spirit. Balcarres completely mishandled the dispute, which could have been resolved without conflict, but he ignored the advice of local planters, and ordered his forces to put down the Maroons of Trelawny Town. Fighting began in mid-August.[2]

The war[edit]

The war lasted for eight months as a bloody stalemate, the British 5,000 troops and militia outnumbered the Maroons ten to one, but the mountainous and forested topography of Jamaica proved ideal for guerilla warfare. The casualties suffered by the colonial militias were higher than those suffered by the Maroons. And yet, when General Walpole employed a scorched-earth strategy against Trelawny Town, the Maroons found they had difficulty getting access to food, water, and ammunition as the dry season began at the end of the year. When Governor Balcarres imported some one hundred bloodhounds and their handlers from Cuba, the Maroons saw this as the last straw, and accepted Walpole's overtures for peace, the Maroons had the better of the skirmishes, so they only laid down their arms and surrendered in December 1795 on condition they would not be deported. Walpole gave the Maroons his word that they would not be transported off the island.[3]

Aftermath[edit]

The treaty signed in December between Major General George Walpole and the Maroon leaders established that the Maroons would beg on their knees for the King's forgiveness, return all runaway slaves, and be relocated elsewhere in Jamaica, the governor of Jamaica ratified the treaty, but gave the Maroons only three days to present themselves to beg forgiveness on 1 January 1796. Suspicious of British intentions, most of the Maroons did not surrender until mid-March, by which time the conflict had proved to be very costly to the island, and resulted in the ruin of many plantations and estates, the British governor used the contrived breach of treaty as a pretext to deport the entire Trelawny town Maroons to Nova Scotia. Walpole was disgusted with the governor's actions, pointing out that he had given the Maroons his word that they would not be transported off the island. Walpole resigned his commission, and went back to England, where he became an MP and protested in vain in the House of Commons how Balcarres had behaved in a duplicitous and dishonest way with the Maroons, after a few years the Maroons, who were upset with the poor accommodation in Canada, asked to be transported to the new British settlement of Sierra Leone in West Africa. The British government eventually agreed, and the Maroons travelled to Freetown at the start of the nineteenth century.[4]

References[edit]

  • Campbell, Mavis C. The Maroons of Jamaica, 1655-1796. Trenton, NJ: Africa World Press. 1990.
  • Craton, Michael. Testing the Chains: Resistance to Slavery in the British West Indies. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1982.
  • Winks, Robin. The Blacks in Canada. Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press: 1971.

Among the early historians to mention the Jamaican Maroons and the Second Maroon War were the following:

  • Robert Charles Dallas, The History of the Maroons, From Their Origin to the Establishment of their Chief Tribe at Sierra Leone. 1803
  • Bryan Edwards, History, Civil and Commercial, of the British Colonies in the West Indies. 1793. (Later editions of Edwards' History, which eventually ran to several volumes, included information about the Second Maroon War.)
Specific
  1. ^ Mavis Campbell, The Maroons of Jamaica (Massachusetts: Bergin & Garvey, 1988), pp. 209-249.
  2. ^ Campbell, Maroons of Jamaica, pp. 209-249.
  3. ^ Campbell, Maroons of Jamaica, pp. 209-249.
  4. ^ Campbell, Maroons of Jamaica, pp. 209-249.