By Orita Bailey
Brimstone Hill Fortress will once again reverberate with the sound of gunfire when re-enactors from The British Soldiers Fund from the USA and members of the St. Kitts-Nevis Defence Force re-enact the battle which was to play a pivotal role in the future and history of the Atlantic region and the world.
The 1782 battle between French forces and the British stationed at ‘the hill’ was key to dominance of the Caribbean region and eventually the whole of the western hemisphere.
“The importance of Brimstone Hill and ST. Kitts is often overlooked and its significance to the development for the hemisphere is not taught in schools, so our people and most others are unaware of the role ‘we’ played in shaping world history.” said Cameron Gill General Manager of The Brimstone Hill Fortress National Park Society.
In 1782 after several decades of struggle for ownership of St. Kitts, the building of the fortress – using predominantly the labour of enslaved Africans; Brimstone Hill gave the British a distinct advantage. Its location at the top of a 750 ft hill gave the British a unique vantage point; an almost 360o view of the waters around the island – foiling any possibility of an unobserved attack. The battle was fought for possession of the island after several decades of ownership by either the French or the British and even joint settlement for a time.
The re-enactment is collaboration between the management of the Society and the British Soldiers Fund and has been in the planning for over two years. The two days of re-enactment on Thursday 29th and Friday 30th will be a culmination of that effort.
The British Soldiers Fund is an organisation of enthusiasts from the United Stated, who devote their spare time to re-enacting battles between the British and their colony the fledgling USA. The battle of 1782 was also important to the history of the USA, as in their fight for independence from the British they joined forces with the French try to remove the British.
The re-enactment will be staged twice daily at 11 a.m and 2 p.m on the 29th and 30th March, entrance to the park is just $10.00 EC for adults and $5.00 for children. The public is encouraged to attend. On the 29th the battle will be preceded by a brief opening ceremony where the President of the Brimstone Hill Brimstone Fortress National Park Society , Sir Probyn Innis will present welcome remarks. The re-enactment has been included in the month long activities to mark the Diamond Jubilee of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth ll in the Federation. On Nevis a re-enactment of the marriage of Lord Horatio Nelson and Fanny Nesbitt will be performed at the Mountpellier Hotel on 9.00am on the 29th March.
A special performance will be held at the Governor General’s residence on Friday 30th at 7 p.m. This event is in commemoration of an incident during the Battle when enslaved Africans voluntarily joined forces with the British against the French. It is thought that this was not an act of ‘blind loyalty’, but an informed choice – choosing to remain with their families – the lesser of two evils; as during periods of French occupation, men were sent to plantations on Martinique and Guadalupe.