• Simon Biggs

The Battle of Blaauwberg - Cape Town 1806

The Battle of Blaauwberg also known as the Battle of Cape Town fought near Cape Town on Wednesday 8 January 1806, was a small but significant military engagement. After a British victory, peace was made under the Treaty Tree in Woodstock. It established British rule in South Africa.

Battle of Blaauwberg Landing 6th January 1806 by Angus Mc Bride from the cover of Blue berg by Mark Dunbar Anderson

Supported by a huge armada of warships and transports, a British invasion force which had landed at Losperd's Bay (today's Melkbosch) defeated a small multi-racial force led by Lt-Gen Jan Willem Janssens of the Batavian Republic, bringing to an end three years of liberal democratic rule at the Cape and setting the scene for the subsequent colonisation of southern and central Africa.

The battle began soon after first light on the morning of 8 January 1806, when the once-peaceful plain behind the Blaauwberg, literally 'Blue Mountain',just 20km from Cape Town, erupted in an orgy of controlled violence on a scale never before seen at the toe of Africa. Artillery pieces boomed and spat lethal iron cannon-balls back and forth, muskets rattled off individual shots or roared in volleys.

Wounded men and horses screamed as they wallowed in their own blood, officers and sergeants shouted orders in voices hoarse with thirst, torrents of sweat turning their powder-stained faces into devils' masks. Drums rattled, Highland bagpipes screeched eerily, overlaying frenzied battle-cries in Dutch, English, French, Gaelic, German, Hungarian and the local dialect that would later be called Afrikaans.

Extract from the Bill Smuts map indicating the advance of the British Brigades and the defensive line of the Batavian forces (Anderson 2008:112).

Everywhere lay the dead, some in the red coats of Imperial Britain, others in the dark blue or green of the Batavian Republic.

Two hours later it was over. General Janssens had withdrawn and Lieutenant-General Sir William Baird of His Britannic Majesty's Army was the master of the battlefield and its gory fruit. It was still to be another ten days before a formal capitulation was signed, but for all practical purposes the Cape of Good Hope was now a British colony

Captain McKenzie and 400 Marines played a major roll during the battle attached to the Highland Brigade.

More here: Wikipedia



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