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The Tenth Day Of September

By Angel Nuñez

On September 10, we celebrate the Battle of St. George’s Caye. This is the time of the year when Belize dresses itself with its patriotic colors: blue, white and red. Let me give you a little background based on archives of Belize, how this thing came to happen.  But first the lyrics of our patriotic song.

It was the tenth day of September In ninety-eight Anno Domini
when our fore-fathers won the
glorious fight at Old St. George’s Caye

Then hail them – cheer them.
Let our grateful loyal hearts not fail them,
as we march and sing and shout in merry glee
The Battle of St. George’s Caye.

Hip! Hip! Hurrah. Hip! Hip! Hurrah.

The historical encounter we refer to today as “the Battle of St. George’s Caye” took place in 1798. Why did the Spaniards assemble such a huge invasion fleet to attack the tiny settlement of Belize?  For some sort of answer we have to look back at the period between 1715 and 1760, during which the Spaniards drove the Baymen from the Settlement on many occasions. Since the Spaniards never attempted to occupy the area, the Baymen always returned to the logwood forests.

Belize Logwood Cutters

Prior to 1798 the Spaniards attempted to invade Belize at least six times, and only once were they successful when in 1779 Spanish ships surprised the inhabitants of St. George’s Caye, burned down the buildings and took away 140 prisoners.

Based on a report by a Spanish Commissioner who visited the Yucatan that the Baymen were extending their logwood cutting borders dangerously close to a nearby Spanish town, Spain issued orders for the immediate and effective expulsion of the settlers occupying the Settlement.  In March of 1796 it was reported that the Spaniards had started warlike preparations in the neighborhood. This, of course made the people of the Settlement very worried, and the Baymen immediately requested defensive help from the Governor of Jamaica, who complied by sending Lieutenant Colonel Thomas Barrow to the Settlement as Commander-In-Chief.

And then on September 10, 1798 the Spanish fleet came into the area of St. George’s Caye and it was then that the Baymen drove them and beat them in the famous battle of St. George’s Caye.  Never again did they attempt to drive out the Baymen from their settlement so this is considered the great victory for the settlement of Belize.

Battle Of St. George's Caye, September 10, 1798

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