The Battle of Muizenberg
site is on a mountain slope and has breast and stonework remnants belonging to the actual battle in 1795. Views from the site allows you to imagine 4 tall ships sailing close to Muizenberg beach.
The Battle of Muizenberg was a small but significant military affair that began in June 1795 and ended three months later with the (first) British occupation of the Cape. Thus began the period (briefly interrupted from 1804 to 1806) of British control of the Cape, and subsequently much of Southern Africa. The historical remnant of the Battle of Muizenberg is a site on the hillside overlooking False Bay that holds the remains of a defensive fort started by the Dutch in 1795 and expanded by the British from 1796 onwards.
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 anchored in Simon's Bay. After unsuccessfully negotiating 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 Kalk Bay
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 cannons pointed down the road. To their surprise the four war ships anchored 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 September a much larger British force arrived, and with that the Dutch surrendered the Cape. Few lives were lost in the action.
The Battle of Muizenberg Site:
The Battle of Muizenberg site is open to the public and is where the British captured the Dutch colony in 1795 – a significant marker in the history of Cape Town and South Africa. It is an open air site on a mountain slope between Muizenberg
and St James
. The site depicts both local and national history, and is best seen by a walking tour lasting about 2 hr in conjunction with Rhodes Cottage Museum
and Het Posthuys.
Forming part of the larger battle area, a visit provides a wonderful opportunity to both enjoy the wider view, and to imagine what took place between the Dutch and English at that time, with four tall sailing ships close to Muizenberg
Beach. Breast and stonework renmants belonging to the actual battle in 1795 are visible.
Open for pre-bookings only.
Call 082 908 3456 or email using the book/enquire button.
It is run as a museum by civilian volunteers from the Muizenberg Historical Conservation Society.