Tacky's War

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Tacky's War
Part of North American slave revolts
Date May - July, 1760
Location Colony of Jamaica
Result Slave defeat
Kingdom of Great Britain British military
Jamaican government
Maroon allies
Ashanti Slaves
Commanders and leaders
Part of a series of articles on...
North american slave revolts.png

1526 San Miguel de Gualdape
(Sapelo Island, Georgia, Victorious)
c. 1570 Gaspar Yanga's Revolt
(Veracruz, Victorious)
1712 New York Slave Revolt
(New York City, Suppressed)
1733 St. John Slave Revolt
(Saint John, Suppressed)
1739 Stono Rebellion
(South Carolina, Suppressed)
1741 New York Conspiracy
(New York City, Suppressed)
1760 Tacky's War
(Jamaica, Suppressed)
1791–1804 Haitian Revolution
(Saint-Domingue, Victorious)
1800 Gabriel Prosser
(Virginia, Suppressed)
1803 Igbo Landing
(St. Simons Island, Georgia, Suppressed)
1805 Chatham Manor
(Virginia, Suppressed)
1811 German Coast Uprising
(Territory of Orleans, Suppressed)
1815 George Boxley
(Virginia, Suppressed)
1816 Bussa's Rebellion
(Barbados, Suppressed)
1822 Denmark Vesey
(South Carolina, Suppressed)
1831 Nat Turner's rebellion
(Virginia, Suppressed)
1831–1832 Baptist War
(Jamaica, Suppressed)
1839 Amistad, ship rebellion
(Off the Cuban coast, Victorious)
1841 Creole case, ship rebellion
(Off the Southern U.S. coast, Victorious)
1842 Slave Revolt in the Cherokee Nation
(Southern U.S., Suppressed)
1859 John Brown's Raid
(Virginia, Suppressed)

Tacky's War, or Tacky's Rebellion, was an uprising of Black African slaves that occurred in Jamaica from May to July 1760. It was the most significant slave rebellion in the Caribbean between the 1733 slave insurrection on St. John and the 1790 Haitian Revolution.


The leader of the rebellion, Tacky (Takyi), was originally from the Ashanti ethnic group in West Africa (as were many of the slaves in St.Mary and had been a paramount chief in Asanteman (in the Ashanti region of present-day Ghana) before being enslaved. He along, with Queen Nanny or Nana, both planned to take over Jamaica from the British to be a separate Black country.[1]

Tacky's position as slave overseer on the Frontier plantation gave him the opportunity to draw up some simple but effective plans to gain freedom and to easily get them to his trusted followers both at the Frontier and neighbouring Trinity plantations. The conspirators decided to wait until Easter Sunday to gain an element of surprise.[2]


Sometime before daybreak on Monday, Tacky and his followers began the revolt and easily took over the Frontier and Trinity plantations while killing their masters. Bolstered by their easy success, they made their way to the storeroom at Fort Haldane where the munitions to defend the town of Port Maria were kept. After killing the storekeeper, Tacky and his men stole nearly 4 barrels of gun powder and 40 firearms with shot, before marching on to overrun the plantations at Heywood Hall and Esher.[3]

By dawn, hundreds of other slaves had joined Tacky and his followers. At Ballard's Valley, the rebels stopped to rejoice in their success. One slave from Esher decided to slip away and sound the alarm.[4] Obeahmen (Caribbean witch doctors) quickly circulated around the camp dispensing a powder that they claimed would protect the men from injury in battle and loudly proclaimed that an Obeahman could not be killed. Confidence was high.[5]

Soon there were 70 to 80 mounted militia on their way along with some Maroons from Scott's Hall, who were bound by treaty to suppress such rebellions. When the militia learned of the Obeahman's boast of not being able to be killed, an Obeahman was captured, killed and hung with his mask, ornaments of teeth and bone and feather trimmings at a prominent place visible from the encampment of rebels. Many of the rebels, confidence shaken, returned to their plantations. Tacky and 25 or so men decided to fight on.[6]

Tacky and his men went running through the woods being chased by the Maroons and their legendary marksman, Davy. While running at full speed, Davy shot Tacky and cut off his head as evidence of his feat, for which he would be richly rewarded. Tacky's head was later displayed on a pole in Spanish Town until a follower took it down in the middle of the night. The rest of Tacky's men were found in a cave near Tacky Falls, having committed suicide rather than going back to slavery.[7]


The rebellion didn't end here, as other rebellions broke out all over Jamaica, which many were rightly or wrongly attributed to Tacky's cunning and strategy. It was months later until peace was restored. Over 60 white people had lost their lives as well as 400 or so Black slaves, including two ring leaders who were burned alive and two others who were hung in iron cages at the Kingston Parade, until they starved to death.[8]

Tacky Monument in Claude Stuart Park can be visited in Port Maria, St. Mary. Tacky Falls is accessible by the sea but the overland route is considered by locals to be too tough to travel. The waterfalls have diminished over the years and mainly eroded rocks mark the course. The exact location of the cave where they found Tacky's men is not known.[9]

Tacky's Rebellion was, like many other Atlantic slave revolts, put down quickly and mercilessly by colonial officials. Planters severely punished rebel slaves. Other slaves learned of Tacky's revolt, which inspired unrest and disorder throughout the island. It took the local forces some weeks to reestablish order.

Further reading[edit]