• Si Biggs

Cliff Assault - The re-capture of St Helena

Unit/ Formation: Marine Regiments


Location: St Helena


Period/ Conflict:


Year: 1673


Date/s: 14th May 1673


Four hundred English troops sailed into Prosperous Bay on 14th May 1673. With them was Black Oliver, a slave who had sailed with Beale’s party to Brazil and back again. Black Oliver was chosen to guide the troops to James’ Fort. Captain Richard Keigwin commanded the 200 English troops, among them was a sailor named Tom who was the first to climb a 300m cliff and drop ropes for the rest of the troops to follow.



The plan was for Keigwin to attack from inland while Munden fired an off-shore bombardment. Munden first bombarded James’ Fort as sailor Tom led the troops up the cliff, intending to continue the assault the following morning when Keigwin’s force should be in position to attack.



Keigwin reached his position above James’ Fort as planned but found it was already in English hands - the Dutch had surrendered after the first bombardment.


At sunset on 15th May 1673, the English re-took possession of James’ Fort. Three Dutch East Indiamen, richly laden, which were anchored in the bay, were also seized.

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