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Annual Fortsberg Trek Set for Friday

Nov. 24, 2004 –– St. John's history comes alive Friday during the annual trek up to Fortsberg to commemorate the Nov. 23, 1733, revolt by the island's slaves.
If you're coming from St. Thomas, meet the group at the Red Hook ferry dock at 9 a.m. The group will leave Cruz Bay at 10 a.m., stopping at Estates Adrian and Catherineberg before reaching the base of the hill up to Fortsberg around 11:30 a.m.
The trip costs $20 for adults and $12 for children. This includes the ferry and shuttle bus portion of the trip.
Gene Emanuel, a University of Virgin Islands professor who organizes the event, said the trip helps participants to understand the sacrifice made by those involved, "and, if nothing else, to see where history was made."
He said a program is planned at the base of Fortsberg Hill as well as at the old fort. Additionally, he and others will make remarks as the shuttle bus makes its way to Coral Bay.
Fortsberg, which is on privately-owned land just outside the village of Coral Bay, is now just a ruin, but on Nov. 23, 1733, it served as the start of the slave revolt.
It began when slaves carrying bundles of firewood wood attacked the seven Danish soldiers at Fortsberg. They killed all but one, who escaped by hiding under a bunk.
The slaves fired three cannons to lure other soldiers to the fort.
The conflict finally ended six months later when the French sent help from Martinique.
In 2002 Gov. Charles Turnbull declared Nov. 23 Freedom Fighters Day. The event is recounted in John Anderson's "The Night of the Silent Drums." The book, published in 1975 and reissued by the late Michael Paiewonsky's publishing company, Mapes Monde, in 1992, is often available on used-book Web sites such as www.alibris.com.

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