[Blackstudies-l] Black Prisoners of War at Portchester Castle

Maria Lima lima at geneseo.edu
Wed Jul 19 11:23:11 EDT 2017


ivetteromero posted: " “Portchester Castle and Prisoners of War” opens at
Church Road, Portchester, Hampshire, England, on July 20, 2017, and will
remain on view through August 5. The exhibition, curated by Abigail
Coppins, tells the fascinating story of Caribbean prisoners o"
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New post on *Repeating Islands*
<http://repeatingislands.com/author/ivetteromero/> Black Prisoners of War
at Portchester Castle
<http://repeatingislands.com/2017/07/18/black-prisoners-of-war-at-portchester-castle/>
by
ivetteromero <http://repeatingislands.com/author/ivetteromero/>

*[image: unknown-french-soldier]*

*“Portchester Castle and Prisoners of War” opens at Church Road,
Portchester, Hampshire, England, on July 20, 2017, and will remain on view
through August 5. The exhibition, curated by Abigail Coppins, tells the
fascinating story of Caribbean prisoners of war. [See previous post, Hidden
story of 2,000 African-Caribbean PoWs in a medieval castle
<https://wordpress.com/post/repeatingislands.com/123936>.]*

In October 1796 a fleet of ships from the Caribbean carrying over 2,500
prisoners of war, who were mostly black or mixed-race, began to dock in
Portsmouth Harbour. By the end of that month almost all these prisoners,
apart from about 100 women and children, were living at Portchester Castle.

English Heritage curator Abigail Coppins, who is researching their
extraordinary story, explains how the prisoners came to be captured, how
they were treated at the castle, and what happened to them after their
release.

The story begins on the island of St Lucia in the Caribbean.

When war between Britain and Revolutionary France erupted in 1793, the
overseas colonies belonging to Britain, France and their European allies,
including the Caribbean, were also dragged into the war. The many Caribbean
islands were much fought over by European powers vying for supremacy. These
islands were mainly inhabited by an enslaved African Caribbean population
working on European-owned plantations.

A French-born revolutionary, Victor Hugues, captured the island of
Guadeloupe from Britain in 1794. He then declared an end to slavery and
enlisted many former enslaved and free people of mixed race into the French
Revolutionary army. Across the Caribbean, men of both African and European
descent served in racially integrated military units that fought against
Britain – which was still a slave-owning nation – on islands such as St
Lucia, St Vincent and Guadeloupe.

On 26 May 1796, the French garrison holding Fort Charlotte on St Lucia
surrendered to British forces commanded by Sir John Moore. They laid down
their weapons and marched out of the fort and onto British ships. The terms
of their surrender ensured that they would all be treated as prisoners of
war, rather than as slaves, as Moore recorded:

a flag was sent from them to know what way they might … be treated …The
answer … was, that men regimented … of whatever colour, should be treated
as prisoners of war.

The garrison consisted of mainly local black soldiers, with a smaller
number of European French soldiers. There were also women and children
among them. [. . .]

WHO WERE THEY?

The registers for the time list all the prisoners by name, including the
women and children. It is difficult to find out much about their individual
stories, but many would once have been slaves working on the plantations on
the French and British islands of the Caribbean. Others were from the free
black and mixed-race communities on the islands.

*Some notable prisoners were:*

General Marinier – a free, mixed-race soldier, who had been
commander-in-chief of the French forces on St Lucia and had organised
resistance to British rule. He was captured on the island of St Vincent, a
few weeks after Fort Charlotte’s surrender, where he had been fighting a
guerrilla war

General Marinier’s wife, Eulalie Piemont

Jean-Louis Marin Pedre – a free, mixed-race soldier, who had been the
commander of the Caribs (Garifuna), the indigenous people of the Caribbean

Marin Pedre’s wife, Charlotte Pedre

Captain Jean-Joseph Lambert – a free, mixed-race officer in the French army
Captain Lambert and General Marinier had set up a guillotine on Guadeloupe,
probably as a symbol of the power of Revolutionary France

Captain Louis Delgrès – a free, mixed-race soldier, captured on St Vincent
where he had been fighting alongside the Caribs, just after the surrender
of Fort Charlotte.

[Image above: Sketch of an unknown French soldier by Emile-Jean-Horace
Vernet, c.1830 (Jacqueline Hyde, Paris/The Menil Foundation/The Image of
the Black Archive and Library, Harvard University).]

For detailed descriptions, see http://www.english-heritage.
org.uk/visit/places/portchester-castle/history-and-stories/prisoners-of-war/
and http://www.english-heritage.org.uk/visit/places/
portchester-castle/history-and-stories/prisoners-of-war/
*ivetteromero <http://repeatingislands.com/author/ivetteromero/>* | July
18, 2017 at 11:02 pm | Tags: art exhibitions
<http://repeatingislands.com/tag/art-exhibitions/>, Black Prisoners of War
<http://repeatingislands.com/tag/black-prisoners-of-war/>, Portchester
Castle <http://repeatingislands.com/tag/portchester-castle/> | Categories:
Art <http://repeatingislands.com/category/art/>, History
<http://repeatingislands.com/category/history/> | URL:
http://wp.me/psnTa-wfx

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