2011 GSA Annual Meeting in Minneapolis (912 October 2011)
Paper No. 213-6
Presentation Time: 3:00 PM-3:15 PM

THE ROLE OF KARST HYDROLOGY IN THE 17th CENTURY MAROON WARS IN THE COCKPIT COUNTRY, JAMAICA

DAY, Mick, Geography, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, PO Box 413, Milwaukee, WI 53201, mickday@uwm.edu

Access to local and regional water supplies was a key factor in the Maroon Wars of 1690 to 1796, which pitted numerically superior British colonial forces against organized bands of escapee slaves and others in Jamaica. Although skirmishes occurred throughout the country, the principal conflicts were centered in and around the Cockpit Country, which became a principal Maroon stronghold.

Surface drainage is uncommon in the Cockpit Country, although there are numerous peripheral sinking streams where allogenic drainage from the central inlier meets the limestone along its southern boundary, and there are springs, some perennial, others intermittent or ephemeral, where subsurface drainage reappears, particularly along the northern periphery. Reflecting the karst hydrology within the Cockpit Country, the Maroons established a base at Pettee Bottom, with access to one of the few water sources within the interior karst. Pettee River Bottom is a particularly defensible although rather atypical karst depression near the western margin of the Cockpit Country and not more than 4km distant, as the crow flies, from the British military base at Vaughansfield. The term “Bottom” in the Cockpit Country generally denotes a glade – an elongated although enclosed karst depression with at least a partially alluviated floor and with seasonal, if not perennial surface water - and such is Pettee River Bottom. About 1.5km in length, but for much of that less than 100m in width, the Bottom has a perennial water source, is flanked by rugged ridges and hills, which provide convenient lookout points, and is accessible only via narrow corridors at the southern and northwestern ends.

By contrast, colonial forces established bases around the periphery, particularly where springs and allogenic rivers provided perennial water supplies. British efforts to engage and subdue their antagonists were largely unsuccessful, and in response they adopted a strategy of attrition and containment, bombarding the Maroon base to displace the insurgents from their internal water supplies and establishing a “cordon sanitaire” around the Cockpit Country periphery in order to limit Maroon access to peripheral water supplies.

2011 GSA Annual Meeting in Minneapolis (912 October 2011)
General Information for this Meeting
Session No. 213
The History of Humans and the Hydrologic System: Exploring Relationships between Cultures, Climate, and Hydrology through Time II
Minneapolis Convention Center: Room 101FG
1:30 PM-5:30 PM, Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Geological Society of America Abstracts with Programs, Vol. 43, No. 5, p. 515

© Copyright 2011 The Geological Society of America (GSA), all rights reserved. Permission is hereby granted to the author(s) of this abstract to reproduce and distribute it freely, for noncommercial purposes. Permission is hereby granted to any individual scientist to download a single copy of this electronic file and reproduce up to 20 paper copies for noncommercial purposes advancing science and education, including classroom use, providing all reproductions include the complete content shown here, including the author information. All other forms of reproduction and/or transmittal are prohibited without written permission from GSA Copyright Permissions.