The Battle of Casa Forte
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The battle of 17August 1645, which became known as the Batalha de Casa Forte(Battle of ‘Strong House’), in allusion to the place where it was fought, was one of the most notable victories for Pernambuco in the war against the Dutch.
After the defeat suffered by the Dutch army at theBattle of Tabocas on 3August 1645, in Vitoria de Santo Antão, Pernambuco, the Batavian troops,on their march back to Recife, encamped on the Casa Forte sugarcane plantation belonging to Anna Paes.
On August 16, the Dutch commander, Colonel Henry Hous (van Haus), sent Maj. Carlos Blaer with a detachment to search the houses of the Várzeavillage, where the families of revolutionary leaders lived, and imprison their wives.
The mission returned the same day with several prisoners, among them Isabel de Góis, the wife of Antonio Bezerra, AnaBezerra, João Fernandes Vieira’s mother-in-law and Maria Luisa de Oliveira,AmaroLopes’ wife, who were incarcerated in the plantation manor.
When the news reached thePernambuco army encamped near Tejipió, commandersJoãoFernandes Vieira, André Vidal de Negreiros, Henrique Dias and Felipe Camarão rallied their men and went to rescue the Pernambuco ladies.
Marching under heavy rain and facing the poor condition of roads, they managed to cross the Capibariberiver atCordeiro, reaching and surrounding AnnaPaes’ sugarcane plantation on the morning of August 17.
Caught off-guard by the fury of the Pernambuco men, the Dutch took refuge in the manor house, puttingthe female prisoners in front of the wide-open windows.
The head of the Pernambuco troops, interpreting the act as a sign of capitulation, ordered a ceasefire and sent an officer to negotiate the surrender with the Dutch.
The emissary was cowardly killed in front of the troops, which outraged everyone. Forgetting that among the enemies were the wives of the commanders, the Pernambuco army fiercely attacked the Dutch and set fire to the house for vengeance.
Surrounded and suffocated by the smoke, the Flemish commander, Colonel Henry Hous, waving a white flag and the handle of a pistol, surrendered with his troops.
The defeat cost the Dutch 37 dead, many injured and more than 300 prisoners, as well as a large quantity of weapons, horses and food.
Various Dutch officerswere taken prisoners, which frightened the invaders so much that they demolished most of the houses in Recife, uprooted the trees in Maurício de Nassau Park, and decided on the immediate withdrawal of troops from the forts of Sergipe, São Francisco and Porto Calvo,transferring them to ensure the safety of Recife’s towncentre and its surroundings.
The loss of Pernambuco troops was minimal, the hostages were released and the wounded taken to the Apipucos and São João da Várzea plantations.
The Dutch prisoners were sent to Bahia. Colonel Henrique Houswas sent from Bahia to Portugal, reaching Terceira Island where he was imprisoned in the castle of St. John until his departure for Lisbon. Having refused to serve Portugal, he was sent to Holland. He later returned to Pernambuco and was killed in the first Battle of Guararapes, in April 1648
Recife, 21 october 2004.
(Atualizado em 21 august 2009).
Translated by Peter Leamy, March 2012.
COSTA, Francisco Augusto Pereira da. Anais pernambucanos. 2. ed. Recife: Fundarpe, 1983. v. 3. p. 230-233. (Coleção pernambucana, 2a. fase).
GUERRA, Flávio. Casa Forte. Revista do Conselho Estadual de Cultura, Recife, p. 77-80, . Edição especial.
VASCONCELLOS, Telma Bittencourt de. Dona Anna Paes. Recife: Edição do Autor, 2004. 208 p.
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Source: GASPAR, Lúcia. The Battle of Casa Forte. Pesquisa Escolar Online, Joaquim Nabuco Foudation, Recife. Available at: <http://basilio.fundaj.gov.br/pesquisaescolar/>. Accessed: day month year. Exemple: 6 Aug. 2009.