Distinguished Conduct.

Dedicated to the Officers and Men of the British West India Regiment and their descendants.

There is a resonance in some of what follows, as the action about to be described was caused by an outside war prompting a migration of refugees into a territory. This broadly mirrors a current issue today, the lessons of the caste war of Yucatan however are not properly studied outside of Central America. What is certain is that the influx of new inhabitants brought both instability and growth to the colony of British Honduras.
However there would not have been such trouble had not the logging industry been strongly entrenched. If we look today at South America, especially the central sweep between Brazil and Peru, we find that the harvesting of natural resources from the rain forests brings conflict. Today small tribal groups are finding themselves pushed into contact with small rural communities by loggers, provoking violence from and against both loggers and villagers. Very often troops and Police are needed to stabilise the situation, sometimes with fatal results.

Northern Frontier British Honduras, 8am Sunday 1st September 1872

 

British Honduras can be seen in yellow at the top of this map.

British Honduras can be seen in yellow at the top of this map.

The frontier town of Orange Walk was a motley collection of curiously assembled Palm thatch, pimento stick and pine buildings, scattered without much care in between a few constructions of stone along and around the rough horseshoe of a dirt road that formed the business district, which ended at the banks of the New River. There was a small Catholic chapel, some stores and one or two better built houses that belonged to local ranchers or bosses.
More or less in the centre of the business district, and thus fairly isolated from the other buildings was the barracks. Each morning the steady routine of army life ticked by in regulated motions that were being observed not just by the small detachment of the 1st West India Regiment but by countless other imperial posts across the empire. Sergeant Edward Belizario awoke in his iron bed in the central room of the barracks and saw that the 38 men (which equates to one and a half sections, or two understrength ones) that formed the garrison heeded the sound of the bugle calling them to consciousness.
Just outside the kitchen fire was lit and at their posts, in the most strategic perimeter houses tired sentries looked forward to coming off duty at 8am. People were on their way back from mass, or going work. The corporal of the guard was making his morning rounds and the officer commanding, Lt Joseph Smith and was preparing to take his morning bath in his quarters, which he shared with Assistant Staff Surgeon Dr. Edge, who was also already submerged in his tub. Smith and Edge were some of the few Englishmen in the town at that point. All of their men were Islanders from Britain’s Caribbean possessions, and the population contained some 1,200 souls, the majority of whom were Indians, Mestizos or Creole woodcutters and farmers.
From his door, Lieutenant Smith could see the barracks. There on the parade, drawn up in light marching order was his detachment attending roll call, taken by Sergeant Belizario. A line of colourfully dressed Zouaves, in white shell jackets, red waistcoats, smart gaiters and dark baggy trousers, under their red fezzes and turbans, the double row of dark faces held high to the front as the strengthening sun rose over the jungle and glimmered on the muddy waters of the sluggish river.
At 8 Smith sank into his tub and the Corporal began his tour of the picquets to change the guard. Private Bidwell, awake, accoutred and fed had been stationed inside the commissariat store close to the officers quarters. No doubt if any of the two gentlemen had any sort of singing voice, he would have been able to hear it as they did their bit to keep up the aura of civilised men in what to them was a very wild place, cleaning their pale skin which they guarded closely under their uniforms and close European clothes to prevent it burning.
At that moment no one in the town knew that danger was approaching them from the jungle. Possibly some of the boys from the countryside of their respective Caribbean Islands might have wondered about the inevitable bird calls, that even the most skilful Indian hunter would be bound to arouse as they crept towards the town. But the Jamaicans were strangers in Honduras, and who was to say which bird call meant what? Instead they busied themselves with maintaining their kit and undertaking fatigue duties that kept the garrison running, oblivious to the hundred odd guns now being trained on their position from three sides.

A closer look at the colony. The strategic significance of the towns of Corozel and Orange Walk & their vulnerability to attacks from the north is clear.

A closer look at the colony. The strategic significance of the towns of Corozel and Orange Walk & their vulnerability to attacks from the north is clear.

The men in the jungle were anything but alien to the ways of the Honduran rainforest, yet they could be called with reasonable authority, strangers by the inhabitants of Orange Walk. They were fighters of the Icaiché Maya. Dressed in the typical clothes of Mexican peasants and labourers they had been working closer and closer to the town since dawn. Having separated into 3 assault parties two had by now taken up positions to the south and west, even though they numbered at most 180 men minus camp followers, they outnumbered the British troops by more than 2 to 1.
Their presence at Orange Walk that morning traced back about 31 years to when the Mahogany trade was booming and Britain had yet to recognise Honduras as a crown colony. At this time over 14 million feet of timber was being cut each year and the logging camps were creeping further and further into the forest. In 1847 what are known as the Guerras Castes broke out in the strong Mayan heartland of Yucatan in southern Mexico. This was the beginning of a protracted and brutal war that spanned almost the entire intervening period and further, and caused a huge displacement of Mayan Indians who fled south into Belize to find safety.
Their presence had untold ramifications for the future of the country. By the 1850s they had built settlements along the northern frontier and refugees were pouring into all the frontier towns, doubling the populations of some but also bringing them into contact with the loggers and plantation owners. Skirmishes began to break out between the two sides, and the loggers asked for protection, even submitting to a two year taxation to fund troops for colonial defence, a road which eventually lead to annexation by Britain in 1861 and the arrival of troops, such as the West India Regiment.
Mayan presence in the North had not caused trouble on all fronts. They were predominantly farmers, the indigenous people of Mexico had an ancient tradition of land cultivation, especially of corn. It was due to their skill at working the land that sugarcane, alongside their cereal crop, was introduced flourished in the colony and allowed the loggers who were experiencing an depreciation of their product by the 60s to survive, and they brought with them an established method of governance from Mexico which initially the British flattered to keep them quiet. Indeed when the trouble began to fester some Mayan leaders like Marcus Canul even went so far as to use the cover of their former status as subjects of Mexico to legitimise his raids. Canul raided logging camps and towns along the Rio Hondo and extracting taxes, while redirecting authorities towards Mexico, who the British complained to not raising that they could do nothing to stop him.
Having been the most prolific raiders of the displaced Mayan Chiefs in Belize, Canul had traded shots with the West India Regiment before, in December of 1866 he had engaged a detachment and forced them to retreat. He had then raided the cane farmers and logging camps, and evaded any thought of pursuit leaving behind demands for “rent” or total destruction. A punitive expedition consisting of 313 men of the WIR had then attacked and burned the Maya village of San Pedro with rockets in February 1867. Things had quieted down after that but Canul reappeared three years later, and most recently occupied the town of Corozel 30 miles north of the Walk, this had been in April of 1870, and the British troops had once more returned to the trouble zones. It was with with roughly the same war band that Canul was now preparing to unleash on Orange Walk.

This gruesome mural that depicts an event of the Caste Wars, demonstrates the carnage of this conflict that was nothing short of apocalyptic.

This gruesome mural that depicts an event of the Caste Wars, demonstrates the carnage of this conflict that was nothing short of apocalyptic.

The first shots brought Lieutenant Smith leaping from his bath to the doorway, snatching up his trousers with a wet hand, curtains of water cascading from his moving form. The sound of gunfire was coming from the houses across the road from the barracks and air was alive with bullets. The Corporal of the Guard came sprinting up the headquarters.
“The Indians have come!” He cried.
Smith left the man to cover the doorway and yelled to Dr. Edge while he hopped in place “The Indians have come!” Having pulled his trousers onto his half dried legs he bolted past the corporal, out the door and across the 40 yard stretch of open ground and made for the barracks.
There was a flash of white skin, gleaming wet in the sun, as first Smith and then Dr. Edge “In a state of nudity” went haring over the cleared ground and cannoned into the barrack house, followed by the breathless corporal. Crouched in firing positions along the forest edge and amongst the local buildings the Mayans, some with repeating rifles, others with muzzle loaders, let off some rushed shots but the absurd spectacle but only kicked up dust around their flying feet.

Without any warning the inhabitants, who like the troops had grown complacent about Indian raids, had grabbed what belongings they could and had made a run for the safety of the bush, some managed to get to the river and took boats across to the far bank. Meanwhile the Mayans had begun to burn some of the houses and stores in the upper part of the town, and clouds of acrid smoke began to rise into the blue sky.

Smith barrelled through the barrack room door calling the company to arms, while Dr. Edge doubtless searched for something to cover himself. The lieutenant need not have bothered to raise his voice as the men had already started rushing for their arms, but he was instantly forced to find cover as “unceasing volleys of ball” were pouring into the barracks through the flimsy pine and pimento walls. Amid the sprays of splinters and dust Sergeant Belizario was suddenly beside Smith telling him that only the picquets were able to return fire. Urgently he asked for ammunition and suddenly a horrified look must have come over Smith’s face as he realised he had left the key to the ammunition magazine in his quarters. Looking back towards the officers quarters both men knew what had to be done.
Perhaps there was a cry amongst the shouts and screams the Indians were letting off that alerted them to another running of the gauntlet. The same bare chested European had burst back out into the hot sun and was running fast towards the officers quarters, he was followed by a tall black soldier. This area of ground was already swept with fire, and it was nothing short of miraculous (for the Mayans were good shots) that Smith and Belizario managed to make it there and back without so much as a graze.
Inside the picquets were returning fire as best as they could, which actually would have been enough to keep the enemy’s heads down. Each soldier in addition to his 1857 modified trotter knapsack, carried in a pouch on his waist 50 rounds of .577 Boxer Cartridge. Their kit was in fact becoming antiquated by this date, being a colonial regiment the WIR were down towards the bottom of the list when it came to getting new equipment. Nevertheless a heavy calibre boxer round with a bayonet on one end and some guts on the other was reliable and effective combination. The men just returned from guard duty had ten rounds each in their pouches, and were even now pressing these cartridges into the breeches of their Snider Enfield’s and taking careful aim, but it was possible for a well trained soldier to fire 10 rounds a minute at top speed, the NCOs would therefore be telling their men to fire slowly and take their time, “fire low fire slow”. Across the road to the southwest near some large piles of logwood by the bank, a carpenter named John Haylcock had just spirited his family out the back door when six Indians burst inside and began firing at the barracks. Haylcock dove behind his mosquito netting and lay still, listening while the intruders spoke in Mayan and Spanish anticipating an easy victory. He flinched as the soldier’s bullets came right through the walls of his house and sprayed dirt in his face, but stayed still and hoped for the best.

Doubtless panting hard from their hair raising run the sergeant and the Lieutenant returned to the barracks, Smith brandishing the valuable key that he had risked his life for, and it was then they realised there was no way into the guard room from inside the barracks. On each end of the building was a small partitioned room, the one at the North end facing the church across the wide parade ground and the guard room on the south side facing the houses now occupied by the enemy. They needed the ammunition if they were to hold the Mayans back, and that meant someone exposing themselves yet again. If ever Smith had looked at Edward Belizario, he did so now, as the tall dark eyed 31 year old Virgin Islander, caught his breath and volunteered to run round to the guard room and retrieve the portable magazine himself.

A sergeant, private and bugler of the 1st West India Regiment circa 1870. Showing their box knapsack equipment and Snider Rifles.

A sergeant, private and bugler of the 1st West India Regiment circa 1870. Showing their box knapsack equipment and Snider Rifles.

Private George Bidwell had been on duty in the commissariat store in the huddle of buildings near to the officers quarters when the attack began. Although he tried to make it to the barracks he found that the buildings between him and safety were already overrun and he was just deciding what was to be done when he was confronted by an Indian framed in the doorway. Reacting, Bidwell bayonetted the man before he could react and made a dash over his body and out of the door, then turned left across a 50 yard open space of the parade to the enclosure of a well built house that belonged to a wealthy resident named Don Pancho de Escalante. There he tucked himself behind the fence and took aim at the stone house to the South west that was firing on the barracks.
Sergeant Belizario meanwhile was paused on the brink of his second run. A deep breath and he was gone, the riflemen inside giving him the benefit of what shot they had left in their pouches as soon as he left the doorway.
Outside the sergeant ran like mad down the side of the barracks. The ground under his feet was cut up by bullets, dirt leapt up at his knees while shots buzzed and cracked around his head, kicking out clouds of splinters and debris from the barrack wall. It took great courage just to keep going, ducking and bending as he ran, somehow Belizario managed to reach the corner and dart inside the relative safety of the guardroom. The portable magazine was according to the regimental history either a metal box or a more typical wooden one of great strength. It contained packets of Boxer Cartridge ammunition, accessed by sliding off a central panel in the middle. Although heavy and long, usually intended for two bandsmen to carry, it could be dragged or carried by one man.
Sergeant Belizario laid hold of it and, likely after a short pause to deceive the enemy, burst once more into the sunlight and began dragging the magazine along the side of the wall the way he had come. His appearance was once more greeted by volleys of apparently ill aimed shots, from the Mayans in the stone building that Private Bidwell was firing at. They found their mark in the ground, on the wall and on the surface of the magazine but miraculously Belizario remained untouched. However getting to the guard room had been achievable because Belizario had not been weighed down and had freedom of movement, but tied to his box the sergeant realised he wouldn’t be able to reach the door if he continued. Stopping he unlocked the magazine and began to push handfuls of ammunition packets through the ventilation gap found underneath the eaves of the thatch and over the top of the pimento stick wall. This done he sprinted inside, heart pounding and alive, having daringly ensured that his men would be able to hold out and fight back.

Private Bidwell, sheltering behind Don Pedro Escalante’s wall, was now casting his mind towards the problem of ammunition too. With only 10 rounds in his pouch at the beginning of the fight he was by now running low on cartridges. Either at the fence or from inside his house, Don Pedro was probably engaging the Indians with his own private weapon and his 14 year old son may well have been assisting him, but the caliber would be different and could not help. Yet he never expected the soldier to suddenly turn to him and say over the noise of the firing “I am going over to the barracks for some more cartridges.”
Before Don Pedro could utter a word to dissuade him Bidwell had left the enclosure. Helpless to intervene Escalante watched the brightly clad soldier run across the open ground towards the distant barracks, now screened behind a off coloured film of lazily drifting gunsmoke.
Inside the barracks the horizontal sunlight filtered through both the narrow slats in between the sticks and the shot holes blasted through the flimsy walls by the Mayan marksmen. In the midst of the gently swirling miasma of wood particles and smoke the soldiers were now returning fire. Lieutenant Smith had grabbed a rifle and inserting a cartridge into the bore he took up a firing position at the west door in order to “pick off some of the most daring Indians”. He was covered by Private Lynch who stood beside him. However the enemy were now peppering the place with all of their firepower. The pimento walls were no defence against their shot and bullets were ripping through the sticks and flying the length of the building. Suddenly Smith jerked convulsively at his station by the door and was thrown down on the floorboards at Lynch’s feet, a bullet had entered the left side of his chest, precious inches above his heart. Lynch had no time to react before he was hit successively by two shots and he dropped dead beside his wounded commander. Stunned and breathless Smith was dragged away from the door.
Watching from cover Don Pedro might have been able to deter a check in the stride of Private Bidwell as he ran towards the barracks. Yet he neither fell nor stopped but carried on until he reached the shelter of the building. Running inside, panting George Bidwell might have had time to report his presence to one of the NCO’s and see that Lieutenant Smith was down and shouting for the men to upturn their iron beds, and Private Lynch was dead before the strength in his limbs began to fail, he noticed the stain growing on his clothing and began to slump slowly to the ground.

There had been no fighting at Corozel, the inhabitants were largely refugees who offered no resistance, and because much of the population of far flung towns like Orange Walk and Corozel were indifferent to British rule, the raiders found no cause to do any harm. However the damage to the sugar cane industry by the Icaiché had caused was troubling, especially to men like John Wallace Price and the other inhabitants of the rancho at Tower Hill four miles to the south, downriver from Orange Walk.
Price was one of the 20,000 Confederate veterans if the War between the States that had left his country in 1865 in search of opportunities away from the grasp of the Federal government. Some went to England, others like Jubal Early searched for a land no “with Negros”, others wished some familiarity and went to Brazil which would retained its slave economy until 1888. Those who wished to keep soldiering went to Mexico, where the new French Emperor was keen to encourage them as mercenaries. The British likewise were not adverse to having a few communities of these battle hardened adventurers scattered along the frontier.
Price was typical of many that had been attracted by the lures of fresh land in which they might resurrect the cotton industry. Yet the land hated cotton-plants, but Price was amongst those savvy enough to make the switch to Cane and got in on the boom, and his prosperous mill was the heart of the community. After Corozel many Confederates that had been since around 1866 providing much of the frontier defence of the colony had packed up and lead by Captain Beauregard (younger brother of the famous General) departed British Honduras and the West Indians had arrived in their place. Price was originally from Louisiana, he had fought during the war and after the Icaiché had begun their activities against the loggers and cane farmers he and other members of the Confederate community had volunteered to form a defence force to back up the local militia. They were called the “Flying Calvary” and they were well equipped, experienced and all hardened fighters well versed in irregular and conventional warfare. They received $30 a month plus all their equipment and a horse paid for by the government.
It was at 9.30am, for an hour and a half now the sound of gunfire had been coming through the forest from the direction of Orange Walk. More worrying still was the sight of smoke rising in the far distance over the treetops. It is highly probable that the firs fugitives from the town brought confirmation that the Indians were attacking the barracks. In a scene not hard to conjure from a dozen westerns, Price, ordered what Flying Cavalry there was at Tower Hill to get their equipment and mount up.

3rd West India Regiment in Jamaica.

3rd West India Regiment in Jamaica.

Back at the Walk the situation was, somewhat improved, but on the other hand certainly no better. The men were now returning a lively fire from behind their iron bedsteads, although some bullets from the outside were still able to penetrate even these. On the floor rolled empty metal cartridges which were continually falling musically to the floor with a distinctive metallic tap after each shot. Though badly wounded, Lieutenant Smith, his chest now bound and staunched by Dr. Edge continued to give encouragement and orders but as Smith was so weakened from his wound, there is no doubt that the responsibility for the defence of the barracks now rested principally on the broad shoulders of Sergeant Belizario. In the smoke and noise the Doctor, whose previous nakedness presumably was now covered by whatever clothes he had been able to grab, was tending to a growing number of wounded men, which by the time the sound of crackling flames reached their ears had approached a height of 14 men. The dying Private Bildwell was propped against an upturned bed, Private Lynch lay were he had fallen, but those still alive in the cramped room could now smell burning it was discovered that the Indians, having become infuriated by their inability to wipe out the barracks had set fire to the buildings on the other side of the road.
These palm thatched houses had obligingly gone up in smoke at a spark and the Mayans expected the leaping flames to ignite the barracks. Something they felt was worth the risk of torching what had been their primary source of cover. For some tense minutes the soldiers fired into the smoke and towards the piles of logwood and at the men manning the stone house to the South west. All the while the flames spread and most worryingly communicated by sparks to the the kitchen which stood at the roadside, just to the wast side of the barracks. It seemed like it would only be a matter of time before their little fortress would catch fire, and if that happened the choices were stark; fight the fire, evacuate the barracks in the hope of escaping or reoccupying the officers quarters with a desperate bayonet charge. Either way it was getting desperate when miraculously the kitchen which had been burning fiercely, suddenly burnt out and collapsed into a smouldering heap.
Now the situation stabilised somewhat. Having denied themselves their main source of cover, the Mayans fell back and redeployed. Most of the men that had been firing from the street moved down to the piles of logwood by the bank and resumed their fire. Indians still sniped from the stone house, but another party now worked around to the north and opened fire on the barracks from the other side. With casualties mounting and a limited supply of food, water and ammunition the West Indians’ best chance lay in some sort of reinforcements reaching them.

Snider Enfield Breech Loading Rifle.

Snider Enfield Breech Loading Rifle.

It was probably about 10am when the crowd of Icaiché at the logs, heard an unfamiliar and worryingly savage cry from behind them that was nothing to do with any of their own war cries. The noise grew and with it the sound of hooves along the shore. It was Price’s Flying Cavalry, and the sound was the high stepping shriek of furious sound that had made every northern heart turn cold during the War between the States. Yelling like furies the small group of confederate cavalry came crashing into the rear of the huddled mass of Indians at the log piles, firing into them with pistols and perhaps wielding the odd sabre. The Mayans dispersed instantly, leaving many dead behind them as the wheeling southerners took pot shots at them.
Despite the drama of this event it is by no means clear how many men Price had with him. The history of the West India Regiment says he and one other American alone dispersed the Indians, another source fails to specify a number but to name two of the members.
In any event the sudden charge of the Flying Cavalry had forced some of the Indians into the open, inside the barracks their appearance running up the road towards them was taken as an attempt to storm the barracks. “Fix bayonets!” Was the order and men took up positions to defend the entrances. However the Indians only ran past, doubtless losing a few men to Snider fire as they did. Right after, Price and however many men he had entered the barracks, indicating the rather small force he must have had at his disposal. Nevertheless they were a welcome addition and had unknowingly dealt a crippling blow to the Mayans.

Tamper with Bee hives and you’re going to stir up some anger, and the response to the arrival of Price and his men was just that. A redoubling of fire erupted from around the barracks extending now around to the north side, and under this barrage the defenders had to hunker down and fight back as best as they could until at last at 1.30pm it began to demonstrably slacken. By 2 no one had heard a shot for 30 minutes and not a soul was moving. Smith ordered Belizario to take some men and reconnoitre. The Sergeant chose his men and cautiously left the hot cramped, barrack room and began to rove across the silently smouldering town in search of the enemy. They found many dead but having checked the perimeter reported the enemy had retreated. Belizario picked up their trail and was ordered to follow them and watch their movements, but no pursuit could be organised. A quarter of Smith’s command was unfit for duty, including himself, at most perhaps 10 men and the confederates could be spared to “chase” the Mayans, and so the Battle of Orange Walk was over.

Word reached Belize town that Orange Walk had been attacked and burnt 2 days later. The governor promptly declared martial law over the Northern Territory and further declared the Icaiché enemies of the Queen, sending out a relief force as soon as they could march. On the 5th of September Major Johnson, OC 1st West India, arrived with 53 officers and men at Orange Walk. It presented a sombre sight. Smoke blackened rows of houses, bullet holes everywhere and fresh dirt in the cemetery. The garrison and population had been dug in for most of the intervening time expecting another attack. 17 townspeople had been wounded in the battle on 1 September and the 14 year old son of Don Pedro Escalante was dead. The barracks had been shot to bits by around 300 bullets and the kitchen was destroyed. Property was doubtless found to be missing and anything in the southern houses was now nothing but ash and cinders, but by the time Johnson’s force arrived the Mayans were long gone.
It was a sorrowful retreat for them, for out of between 150-80 fighters around 50 were dead which logically means their wounded was much higher in number, (although it was never ascertained how many) presenting great blow to the tribe, not least because their leader Marcus Canul was amongst the wounded. He is thought to have received a mortal wound when the Confederates arrived, and died of his injury between Orange Walk and the Rio Hondo. So disastrous was their failure that the new chief begged for peace terms so they could recover.

The men of the West India Barracks were hero’s. 2 were dead 14 had been injured but all had fought with a tenacity and courage that deserved special recognition. A colonist wrote to the Times that:

“…I have nothing to say but what redounds to their credit and high character as British soldiers; and if medals and crosses were distributed among the dusky warriors of Her Majesty’s land forces in this part of her dominions as freely as among other branches of the service, all I can say is that every one of the brave fellows, who held with such determined valour and tenacity the barracks at Orange Walk on that memorable Sunday morning against such fearful odds, would be entitled to a medal at least.”

Happily recognition was at hand. On the 23rd of September the Commander of Her Majesties forces in the West Indies was pleased to recommend to the War Office the names of Smith, Edge, Belizario, Lance Corporals Spencer and Stirling and Privates Hoffer, Maxwell, Osbourne, Murray and W. Morris. In November 1872 the Deputy Adjutant General wrote that the Commander in Chief and Secretary of State for War had confirmed:

“That Lieutenant Smith, late 1st West India Regiment, who was gazetted to the 57th Regiment in August last, shall be immediately promoted to a Company in the 97th Foot.

“That Staff-Assistant-Surgeon Edge shall be promoted to the rank of Surgeon, as soon as he has qualified for the higher position, and a notification to this effect will be published in the London Gazette, hereafter.

“That Sergeant Edward Belizario shall receive the distinguished conduct medal, with an annuity of £10, to be given at once, in excess of the vote, until absorbed on the occurrence of a vacancy.

“That Lance-Corporals Spencer and Stirling shall be granted the distinguished conduct medal without annuity, and promoted to the rank of Corporal, to be borne supernumerary till absorbed.”

Victorian Distinguished Conduct Medal.

Victorian Distinguished Conduct Medal.

In addition several members of the European population who played a more vague but nonetheless worthy part in the engagement were mentioned . The other soldiers were to be specially commended for their good conduct and to have the regiment record them for special mention “from time to time”. Mr. Price went on to become a respected member of the community, whose descendants can still be found in Honduras.
Today the legacy of the battle is the forts that were built there in the years following the action to guard against further attacks. However the attack of the 1st of September remains the largest encounter in Honduran history. Edward Belizario remains a source of considerable pride to the members of the Belize defence force. I tried hard to track down information about him, for months I searched in vain to find out about this man. Who’s courage and coolness undoubtedly allowed the detachment to maintain itself throughout the battle. During 2014 my questions got me nowhere and then finally late last year, I (with help from the Victorian Wars Forum) struck a hit on Find My Past which surrendered the small scraps that allowed me to fill in som basic blanks.
In my estimation Sergeant Belizario and his comrades are some of the unsung heroes of the British Army. He received his DCM and his pension, gaining a further Long Service Good Conduct Medal at his discharge in 1879 at the age of 39. He settled in Belize, and it is not unreasonable to think that he started a family there. Today although his name is invisible to everyone except those who are interested in the West India Regiment, he is commemorated in the name of a military training camp in Belize. Camp Belizario.

Thanks for reading. See you again for another adventure in Historyland.
Josh.

For their kind assistance I would like to offer; crimea1854, Peter, Frogsmile, and Folkert van Wijk from the Victorian Wars Forum. Charles Emond from the History of Orange Walk Facebook Page. And Melissa Bennett from Twitter, my deepest thanks.

The History of the First West India Regiment. Alfred Burdon Ellis.
Colonialism and Resistance in Belize. O. Nigel Bollard.
Belize. Johanna Mayr.
Rough Guide to Belize. Peter Eltringham.
Maya Wars. Terry Rugeley.
Anthropology and History in Yucatan. Grant D. Jones.
Confederate Settlements in British Honduras. Donald C. Simmonds. Jr.
Belize. Joseph Fullmn, Nicola Mainwood.
The Caste War of Yucatan. Nelson Reed.
Yucatan’s Maya peasantry and the origins of the Caste War. Terry Rugeley.
Indigenous citizens. Karen Caplan.
Confederates Rescue the Queen’s West India Regiment from Indians (Yucatan Times retrieved 7 Nov 2015)
History of Orange Walk Town, Belize. Charles Emond.
British Infantry Equipments (1) 1808-1908. Mike Chappell.

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