This small caye, 9 miles North-East of Belize City, is steeped in history and was once the home of buccaneers and pirates. Between 1650 and 1784 it was the first capital of the British settlement. The island’s greatest moment of glory came on 10th September 1798 at the Battle of St. George’s Caye.
On this day the Baymen of Belize prepared to defend their tiny settlement against a Spanish invasion of 32 ships carrying 2,000 troops and 500 seamen. The Baymen’s modest fleet consisted of one sloop – HMS Merlin – with approximately 117 sailors and troops on board, two sloops with 25 men each and seven gun flats with 16 men each. The decisive battle was going to take place in the waters around St. George’s Caye.
At the sound of the first gunfire about 200 colonial troops and Baymen, who had been left to guard the mainland, could not be restrained from going to the aid of the Merlin. Fishing smacks, dories, pitpans and anything else that could float set off with whatever arms could be mustered.
Incredibly, on that memorable day – heavily outnumbered and against all the odds – the Baymen achieved a decisive victory. Black men and white men fought courageously side by side, miraculously without the loss of a single life! The Spanish were not quite so fortunate and many of the dead are buried on nearby Caye Chappel. This was the last attempt made by the Spanish to oust the British from Belize.