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CrazyFruits13  » Jamaican's History & Events pieces from the past » THE GREAT MAROONS OF JAMAICA, THE ACCOMPONG PEOPLE


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In May of 1655, under a plan aimed against Spain known as the
“Western Design”, the English Fleet of 38 ships and about 8,000
men sailed into Kingston Harbor. The “Roundheads” under
Oliver Cromwell’s leadership had many motives for attacking the
Spanish Chief among them was to avenge the deportation of
English Settlers from St. Kitts in 1629 and the countless
attacks on English ships resulting in the murder and
enslavement of the english crews.

The Expedition assembled to enforce the “Western Design”
was perhaps the worst equipped and poorly organized to
ever leave England. Sailing in secrecy from Portsmouth
England at the end of December 1654, the Expedition achieved
some moderate success when, after five weeks at sea, they
stopped in Barbados. There eleven Dutch ships were seized
by Admiral Penn to be used as transports. Food and arms were
demanded along with 4,000 men recruited for the Expedition Army.


Santo Domingo, capital city of Hispanola and a Spanish stronghold
was the next target according to the instructions set down
in the “Western Design” plan. A tactical error in landing the
forces 30 miles outside the city without sufficient food or water
caused panic and disorder. Sickness from drinking polluted water
and the long march made the Expedition vulnerable to Spanish lancers
and local cattle hunters. A complete massacre of the nearly 12,000 man Expeditionary force was only averted by successfully landing a
party of sailors who covered their retreat. Nearly 4,000 men were
left behind as dead or missing. Fearful of Cromwell’s anger over
the failure at Santo Domingo, a hasty decision was made to attack
another thinly populated and weakly defended Spanish island; Jamaica.


With less than 1,500 Spaniards on the island and only about
500 able to bear arms, the English made another blunder.
Instead of pressing the attack and taking advantage of the
superiority of sheer number of troops, they handed the Spaniards
an offer to surrender with terms to leave the island if they
so desired. Venables, the Expedition leader, unwisely gave the
Spaniards time to consider these terms. During this time the
Spanish turned their cattle loose and escaped to the North Coast
and from there to Cuba. When the Expeditionary army marched
into Spanish Town, they found it empty and bare of booty.
In anger and disappointment, they destroyed much of the town.


The Spanish didnt have any choice but to free the maroons
that they enslaved and left them behind in the mountains
to harry the English until they could amass a force for
reconquest of Jamaica. These freed people, later to become
famous as the Maroons, were organized into a fighting force
by Christoval Arnaldo de Ysasi before he too escaped to Cuba.
These first Maroons settled mainly in the St. John district
of St. Catherine still called Juan de Bolas after one of their
chiefs whose real name was Juan Lubolo, on Vera-mahollis Savanna
(Los Vermejales) and on the Rio Juana (exact location uncertain).

freedom may be round the corner


In 1690 a large group of slaves in Clarendon, consisting
mainly of Coromantees an extremely brave and warlike people
from Africa’s Gold Coast, rebelled and escaped into the dense woods.

Soon they would join forces with the Spanish-freed Maroons
under the able leadership of one of their number named Cudjoe.
We are told he was a thick necked, short, extremely squat man
with a large lump of flesh upon his back. They say he was “bear-like” in appearance and often acted in a strange wild manner. Cudjoe,
with the help of his two brothers Accompong and Johnny
(in the West or Leeward side), and two sub-chiefs Quao and
Cuffee (in the East or Windward side), began a campaign of
murder and robbery known to history as the First Maroon War.
Disguised from head to foot with leaves and cunningly concealed,
the Maroons chose to attack from ambush. This form of warfare
along with their skill in woodcraft and familiarity with the
untracked forests along with their legendary skill as marksman
baffled and confounded those sent to fight them. Keen-eyed
lookouts would spot an approaching force long before their
arrival and spread the warning through the abeng horn, a kind
of bugle made from a cow’s horn. Especially skilled horn
blowers could use particular calls to summon each member of
their party from long distances
as if they were face-to-face. The English forces suffered
huge losses both from the sharp shooting Maroons and the
tropical diseases that were very common at that time.

Blowing the Abeng

In 1734 Captain Stoddart lead a successful attack on Nanny
Town (named for a Maroon Chieftainess) aided by
tracking dogs. The town was completely
leveled and to this day is believed haunted
by the ghosts of those who died in that battle.
Cudjoe, finding himself less secure, moved further into
the Trelawny Cockpits and those that escaped the battle
moved even further into the Cockpits to establish a new
village site. The fighting soon resumed. With a slave to owner
ratio of 14:1 and successful new raids on plantations
occurring more frequently, the Assembly was sufficiently
alarmed to vote the necessary funds for a large scale campaign
against the Maroons. The situation was getting desperate for
the Maroons as their provision grounds were destroyed and
they were forced into smaller areas.
The alternative of surrender over starvation was becoming
a real option…..but the government did not know this.

Shortly after a bloody massacre of English soldiers
by a band of Maroons led by Cudjoe from a hiding spot
in a cave to be later dubbed the Peace Cave, the King
of England in 1738 commissioned Colonel Guthrie to seek
out Cudjoe and offer him favorable terms of peace.

Marshall, Kindah One Family Tree


On January 6th 1738, Colonel Guthrie and Colonel Cudjoe
exchanged hats as a sign of friendship and, after some
discussion, the treaty was agreed to under a big cotton
tree then called Cudjoe’s tree and today called the Kindah
One Family tree. By its terms the Maroons were granted full
freedom and liberty, given 1,500 acres of land and the
right to hunt wild pig anywhere except within a 3 mile
limit of a town or plantation. Cudjoe was appointed Chief
Commander in Trelawny Town and his successors in order
beginning with Accompong and Johnny. The Chief Commander
or “Colonel” as he is called today is empowered to inflict
any punishment he thinks proper for crimes committed by his
people except those requiring the death sentence when
then they are handed over to a justice of the peace.

The Maroons had to agree to end all hostilities, receive
no more runaway slaves and further agreed to help recapture
them for a reward when the runaways were returned to their
owners. Finally the Maroons had to agree to suppress any
local uprising or foreign invasion. The following year a
similar treaty was agreed to and signed with Quao, Chief of
the Windward Maroons in what is called Moore Town today. The
First Maroon War had officially ended and more than 50 years
of peace ensued. Two more conflicts were later dubbed the
Second Maroon War and the Third Maroon War but neither
of these involved the Accompong Town Maroons. They remained
neutral in both conflicts and remain so today

Marshall at Peace Cave


Not all historical accounts written by Western scholars
agree with the Maroon Historian’s versions of those same
events. One such example is the signing of the Peace
Treaty ending the First Maroon War. No mention of the
Peace Cave as the official site of the treaty signing
can be found in history textbooks but Maroon Historians
insist that Colonel Guthrie and Colonel Cudjoe signed
the Peace Treaty in a “blood brother” ceremony within it’s
confines. Location of that original Peace Treaty is hard
to pin down as the Maroon Historians only say a trusted
Maroon elder is the keeper of this valuable document and
keeping its location secret is a top priority. Accompong
Town is a relatively new settlement as the original village
“Old Town” where Cudjoe is buried was abandoned in favor of
higher ground when Accompong, his brother, took over
leadership of the Maroons. This “Old Town” is considered
sacred ground today and a secret ceremony is performed
there each January 6th when the signing of the Peace Treaty
is celebrated. The position of “Colonel” was once a lifetime
position but now has been modified to a 5 year elected position.

In the 263 years since the Peace Treaty was signed, the
Accompong Maroons have had only 1 unfortunate incidence
of a capital crime requiring the intervention of a justice
of the peace making this a truly remarkable place.
There are no Jamaican Police in Accompong and the substation
in Maggotty is on-call if needed but that has never been
necessary as the Maroons are quite capable of policing
themselves. Some new Guest Houses have
been constructed as of late and overnight, as well
as Day Visits by tourists, are roundly encouraged
by the Maroon Council and community members.




Nanny was very clever and was also a spiritual lady
she could disguise herself, so that no-one could see


this is a great story



Like this thread.


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