Sunday, 16 June 2013

Maroons and slave revolts

When my interest was raised in slavery at university, I also learned about the maroons (called bosnegers in Dutch controlled Surinam). These escaped slaves formed communities in hard to reach areas of British Jamaica, Surinam, French Saint-Domingue (present day Haiti). I assume there were also maroon communities in North and Latin America.
 These include the French, Haitian, British and even Dutch units involved in the
Napoleonic Wars in the Caribbean, in my possession since last Friday 
The subject has not left me since but was rekindled with the 150th anniversary of abolition of slavery in the Dutch West-Indian colonies coming up on July 1st (more on this later). It made me wonder why there have been no wargame rules that included maroons or slave revolts in their rules, at least none that I know of. But there's references in a few Ospreys (shown above) and at least I've found a miniature manufacture, Trent Miniatures, that offers maroons, Haitian rebels and regulars.

For the rules, I've been looking at Muskets and Tomahawks, as it also focuses on 18th century skirmish wargaming in the North American colonies. I think it can be easily adapted to include actions in the Caribbean. As it uses card driven scenarios, it could be well suited for the raiding, tracking and harassing expeditions of slave societies.

Revolting slaves by Trent Miniatures, from NorthStar website
It could also include scenario's based on the larger slave rebellions, like the one on Saint-Domingue in 1792 that led to its independence. With British, Spanish and French attempts to (re)gain control, there's all kinds of interesting angles to take.

So I've done myself a big favour by getting a few relevant Ospreys and ordering Muskets & Tomahawks, and the Trent minis (as well as some French and Indians for the French & Indian wars). This isn't a project yet, and will have to wait a while, but I'm looking forward to working on it. René, are you reading this?


  1. lots and lots more maroon communities. Some quite statelike. In Louisiana, in Brazil, in Panama. Charles Manns "1493" has a whole chapter on them, IIRC. Could look it up if needed.

    1. thanks! Apparently, many maroons joined the Seminoles in their 1830s war. There's miniatures for them as well, so I might just be tempted...

      I got some stuff from Knight's history of the Caribbean and I must have a stash of old copies I made for a term paper.

      I still need to finish Mann's 1491, but good to know there's a 1493 as well. Another one on my wishlist is Mosquito Empires: Ecology and War in the Greater Caribbean, 1620-1914 by JR McNeill

  2. So far the only game that's currently in development is Black Eagles by John Poniske ( Other than that, it seems this subject has never really been explored. I for one would love to see more games on this front.

    1. Cheers Doc, hadn't thought of boardgames. I notice that it's still in development though, so no instant gratification. But good thing that it's multiplayer. Always more interesting!


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