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Historical Notes

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Alexander Anderson’s Geography and History of St Vincent, a manuscript written just before 1800, edited and published by Richard and Elizabeth Howard in 1982; (Anderson was Director of the Botanical Gardens from (1785-1811).

Dorchester Hill (Dorsetshire Hill)

“…Overlooking Sion Hill rises rather abruptly to the elevation of 800 feet above the sea the well known Dorchester Hill.{{more}} From its situation and height it commands the town and bay. It will ever be memorable in the annals of StVincent for being the scene of three engagements during the insurrection.

Here the hordes of banditti from Leeward and Windward united in one numerous body in March 1795, with the determination of the total extirpation of the English inhabitants…This was the post the French, when they conquered the island in 1778, selected for their garrison, and as such continued by the English for some years but by them resigned for a hill on the west side of the bay…

On breaking out of the insurrection only two companies of regular troops were in the island, and they and a few convalescents from the two ill-fated companies sent to Guadeloupe and the thin population of white inhabitants or militia were (too) small to withstand the swarms of desperados and savages pouring from the woods on all quarters…The fort only was the asylum from torture and murder of man, woman and child of English extraction, and so small was the collected force within its lines for its defense, had these savage and undisciplined bands been headed at that period with European officers as they afterwards were, the consequences must have proved fatal.

To add to the general misfortune and dreadful catastrophe , from the long run of dry weather previous the cisterns were destitute of water, and but few days’ provision for the number shut up in it…Sion Hill was their object, which their gun completely commanded at daybreak…

This would have rendered master of the town all the provisions and stores for the garrison and plunder of the inhabitants. Therefore the necessity of driving them from this stronghold was evident if not all was lost. This fortunately was effected before daylight…Among the killed fortunately was Chatouy, chief of the Caribs and generalissimo of the motley band…Being old, he had far more information than any other of his tribe, which gave him great authority over them. There was not strength to keep possession of this post and the fort. It was abandoned after burning the buildings. Afterwards they had got large reinforcements of European officers and men and ammunition from Guadeloupe. They were determined to gain possession of this hill again, which they accomplished, but fortunately some equivalent to their force was gained to the garrison by the arrival of the 46th regiment from Martinico. As Dorchester hill was naturally supposed to be the grand object of the enemy, a small detachment (about 90 or 60) of the militia with some of the 46th were ordered to take possession of it. About one in the morning this point was attacked by the main force of the enemy from Calliaqua, which soon overpowered by numbers. This small force (was) obliged to fly, leaving several fine young men, dead and wounded, to the mercy of the enemy, with a six-pounder. It was two o’clock in the morning they got possession…

…The fate of the island now depended upon the operation of two or three hours, from the number of disciplined officers and men they now had. It was evident if they were not immediately disposed, while lulled into security from the idea of the impossibility of an immediate attack from the garrison near four miles distant…All the garrison to a few were immediately sent to the desperate attempt, but as a good cause is backed with resolution, in it a few will overpower a number and so it happened on this occasion… Just as day began to dawn they were attacked. After a desperate defense in which the most resolute of the French with their mulattoes and negroes were posted near the gun…their number were overpowered by bravery and soon put (to) flight, leaving behind them killed the greatest part of their white officers…”

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