Monday, December 31, 2012

Battle of Rabot

SAINT LUCIA - CIRCA 1995: Three stamps printed in the island nation of Saint Lucia shows islanders and British redcoat soldiers, to commemorate the bicentennial anniversary of the battle of Rabot on 22 April 1795, circa 1995.
British interest in  St. Lucia began in the middle of the 16th century, but it was not until 1778 that they began the effort that gained possession of the island from the Empire in 1814. In the middle of this period of time the British also fought the "Brigands War," against African slaves who took the opportunity to seek their freedom.
     The Battle of Rabot which was one of the key events of the “Brigands War” was fought  April 22, 1795,  The souvenir sheet shows the disposition of the forces and the plan of battle. The war ended in November 1797 with an agreement by the British that the Brigands would not be re-enslaved but repatriated to Africa. At the end of the war the Brigands were recruited into the 1st West India Regiment, which was stationed in Sierra Leone. They served in the Regiment with honor.
Historic Battle of Rabot. The town of Soufriere, once capital of St Lucia under the French, is a colourfully spattered palette of the island’s dynamic past.  The picturesque town is home of architectural treasures, agricultural riches, and geological wonders. It is no wonder then that Soufriere was so coveted and as a result, the site of some of the most significant battles fought in St Lucia during the colonial era. Among them is the Battle of Rabot, a conflict in 1795 that determined more than possession of the territory. 
The French Revolution which reverberated throughout the French territories worldwide had brought an end to the institution of slavery, returning freedom to the thousands of Blacks who then populated the island of St Lucia. The British, who had been engaged in an ongoing struggle to wrest control of the strategically and economically important colony back from the French, attempted to intervene. A British victory would have condemned this newly liberated population to slavery. Much was at stake.
The battle deciding this fate was centred in the French stronghold and seat of power, Soufriere, and Fond Doux and Rabot Estates, prosperous sugar and cocoa producing plantations became the stage for the conflict. Fond Doux ridge, a strategic barrier and look out point over the basin of Soufriere, played an important role in determining the outcome of the battle.The revolutionary forces, known as Laree Françoise dams le Bois, used the strategic vantage of the ridge to ambush and beat back the advancing forces led by Brigadier General Stewart. Legend purports that Rabot Lake, a marshy, bushy death-trap played an integral part in thwarting the attempts of the British. Mired in the sludge and seemingly attacked by the vegetation, the British stood little chance. After the musket fire died down, victory was declared and the tricolour once more flew over the town of Soufriere. The town subsequently became the seat of the revolutionary tribunals and a guillotine was set up in the town square where the trials and executions of the Royalists took place.  Thank you Maria for this lovely FDC.

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