Not far to the east of the coastal town of Saint-Marc is the small town of Petite Rivière de l'Artibonite (meaning "the small river of Artibonite"). It is a quiet and friendly place alongside the Artibonite river, with small farms and a thriving market.
It is quiet now, but when the black people, led by Jean-Jacques Dessalines, had begun their revolt against the French in 1802, one of the most important battles of the Haitian Revolution was fought here at the fort of Crête-à-Pierrot. General Charles Leclerc's French colonial army besieged the heavily barricaded fort, which was defended by Haitian forces under Jean-Jacques Dessalines; it was significant as it controlled access into the Cahos Mountains. The defenders, running short of food and munitions, eventually abandoned the fort but were able to force their way through the French lines and into the Cahos Mountains. The French, although gaining control of the fort, had suffered heavy losses. This was the deciding battle that forced the French to withdraw from the war. The fort was never captured and in February 1803, in Petite Rivière de l'Artibonite, Jean-Jacques Dessalines, chief of the black rebels, and Alexandre Pétion, leader of the mulattos, proclaimed Haiti's independence.
Petite Rivière de l'Artibonite: a small town with a big name in the heart of Haiti.