The Battle of Muizenberg 1795.
This extract from the Muizenberg Historical Concervation Society (by Chris Taylor 084 722 3007).
August 1795 saw the start of a short military action in Muizenberg, that resulted in the British taking control of the Cape from the Dutch VOC or East India Company. That is why we speak English today in Southern Africa, instead of French.
The American War of Independence in 1776 showed the world, that it was possible for ordinary citizens to rise up against oppressive rulers. The French Revolution was a direct result. The unrest in Europe spread to many countries and in 1795 Prince William of Orange, the ruler of Holland fled to safety of his British allies abandoning his country to the revolutionaries.
Britain needed access to the Cape in order for her ships to reach India, which was then a vital colony. The sea voyage was a long one, and the ships had to stop en route for water and supplies, to effect repairs and to drop off sick seamen. The Dutch had the same requirements for them to get to their colonies in the Far East, which was why they founded Cape Town, as a refreshment station in the first place, in 1652. When revolution spread to Holland the citizens supported not Britain but France, Britain's bitter enemy at the time. It was clear to the British East India Company, that if they did not take action the Cape would be closed to them, and that would cut them off from India. Lord Baring the Chairman of the East India Company, persuaded the British Government to send a military force to the Cape to ensure that did not happen.
A small British fleet arrived in July 1795 and anchoured in Simon's Bay. After unsuccessfully negociating with the Dutch to protect the Cape from their enemies, the British landed a small army of 1400 men and sailors and began the march on Cape Town. On the 7th August 1795 the column marched along the coast road from Simon's Town through Fish Hoek and alk Bay towards Muizenberg. Sailing along the coast next to the soldiers were 4 warships of the Royal Navy. At Kalk Bay the Dutch had a piquet of one cannon. HMS America fired one gun and the Dutch retreated to their fort outside Muizenberg. At that fort 800 Dutch soldiers waited for the British. They were lightly armed but had a few cannon pointed down the road. To their surprise the four war ships anchoured alongside and began firing broadsides. There was no way the Dutch could reply effectively and within a hour they had retreated around the corner to Zandvlei. The fighting continued for some weeks, pushing the Dutch slowly back to Wynberg Hill, where a stalemate was reached. In early Septmber a much larger British force arrived, and with that the Dutch surrendered the Cape. Few lives were lost in the action.
What you can see today.
Next to the Main Road in Muizenberg is an
extensive rock fort built by the British on the site of the Dutch fort. Higher
up the mountainside, below Boyes Drive is a crudely built defensive parapet that
was probably built by the Dutch.