Haiti’s ultimate independence from France was won in The Battle of Vertieres, a site now part of the city of Cap Haitian. Historians tell that on November 18th, 1803, the leader of the Haitian rebels, General François Capois, mounted a great horse and led the charge against the French army. In a hail of bullets Capois went down – his horse killed in the barrage. Undeterred, he rose from the ground, drew his sword, and advanced shouting “Forward! Forward!” Watching from the field, French commander, General Rochambeau, ordered his drummers to sound a temporary cease fire. The fighting halted and a French soldier rode across the battle field to deliver a message to Capois: “General Rochambeau sends compliments to the general who has just covered himself with such glory!” The soldier then saluted the Haitians, returned to his position, and the fighting resumed.
A monument now marks the historic site of Haiti’s final battle of independence. Now a national holiday, The Battle of Vertieres Day is celebrated each year on November 18th.
This year a crowd of over 200,000 Haitians gathered to celebrated The Battle of Vertieres, and to hear Haitian President Michel Martelly deliver a speech at the monument site.
The Battle of Vertières marked the first time in recorded history that slaves successfully led a revolution for their freedom. Less than two months after the battle, Haiti became the first black independent republic.
The following photographs are from the holiday celebration last week. President Martelly was a no show.
All writing and photographs copyright 2011 Adam Bacher. All rights reserved. Absolutely no usage without prior authorization.