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The Loss Of Hms Centaur
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Stories Of The Second Dutch War






BY JOHN CAMPBELL.


I. THE DEFEAT OF THE DUTCH OFF HARWICH.

The second Dutch war was declared in Holland in January and in England
in February, 1665. It arose out of the conflicts of the rival companies
of Dutch and English merchants in the East and West Indies and in
Africa, and the refusal of Charles II. to remedy a condition of things
which had become unendurable.

In 1664 the Dutch sent an embassy to the English court, to complain of
the depredations from which they suffered at the hands of the
Anglo-African company, of which the king's brother, the Duke of York,
was then governor; but the king replied that he had received no
particular information of the affairs in question and that the rival
companies must settle their differences among themselves. On the other
hand, the English merchants appealed to him with so much persistence,
that he finally demanded satisfaction of the Dutch.

The first action of consequence that happened after the war actually
broke out was an attack made upon a Dutch fleet coming richly laden from
Smyrna upon the Spanish coast near Cadiz. This consisted of forty
merchant ships, some of them very large, and well provided with
ordnance; and their convoy was composed of four third-rate men-of-war.
Sir Thomas Allen, who commanded the English squadron, had with him about
nine ships. With these he attacked the enemy so successfully, that
having killed their commodore, Brackel, and taken or sunk four of their
richest ships, he drove the rest into the Bay of Cadiz, where for some
time he blocked them up. A misfortune of the same kind befell the Dutch
Bourdeaux fleet, out of which about one hundred and thirty ships were
taken.

These heavy misfortunes obliged the Dutch to lay an immediate embargo on
all vessels in their ports; by which their fisheries and their annual
commerce were stopped for that season. They likewise settled a fund of
fourteen millions of guilders for the support of the war; and, in order
to show that there ought to be some difference between such wars as are
made by trading nations, and those entered into by arbitrary princes,
for the mere thirst of dominion, they ordered about fifty English and
Scotch vessels, which had been seized in their harbours, to be set at
liberty; and, on the arrival of these ships in England, the civility was
returned by a like release of all the Dutch ships that had been stopped
here.

The English fleet, which was the first ready, consisted of one hundred
and fourteen sail of men-of-war and frigates, twenty-eight fire-ships
and ketches, having about twenty-two thousand seamen and soldiers on
board. The whole was commanded by the Duke of York, as lord
high-admiral; Prince Rupert was admiral of the white; and the Earl of
Sandwich who, as Captain Montague had won distinction under Blake, was
admiral of the blue. On April 21st, 1665, the English sailed for the
Dutch coast, and on the 28th sent in a squadron so near the shore and
harbour of the Texel that the country was exceedingly alarmed. After
remaining there a month, however, the fleet was so ruffled by a storm,
that it was found necessary to retire towards our own shore.

This opportunity the Dutch took of sending out their fleet, which, by
the latter end of May, appeared about the Dogger Sands. It was divided
into seven squadrons, the first under Admiral Opdam, consisting of
fourteen men-of-war and two fire-ships; the second under John Everts, of
the like force; the third commanded by Admiral Cortenaer, consisting of
fourteen men-of-war and one fire-ship; the fourth under Stillingwert,
composed likewise of fourteen men-of-war and a fire-ship; the fifth
conducted by Van Tromp, the son of the famous old admiral, who fought
with Blake, made up of sixteen men-of-war and two fire-ships; the sixth
under Cornelius Everts, consisting of fourteen men-of-war and a
fire-ship; the seventh commanded by Schram, comprising sixteen
men-of-war and two fire-ships--in all, a hundred and three men-of-war,
eleven fire-ships, and seven yachts. A mighty fleet indeed!

The Duke of York having retired with our navy from the Dutch coast when
they came out, afforded them the opportunity to fall upon our Hamburg
fleet, which they did not neglect; capturing the greater part of it,
whereby our merchants suffered a loss of nearly two hundred thousand
pounds. This exceedingly exasperated the English, and, at the same time,
gave great encouragement to the Dutch.

Admiral Opdam, who commanded the latter, was a prudent as well as a
truly gallant commander, but he was not allowed the liberty of action
absolutely necessary at such a crisis. No sooner was he out at sea than
he received a letter from the states directing him to fight at all
events; and this order he resolved to obey, though contrary to the
advice of most of his officers and to his own opinion. "I am," said he,
addressing the council of war, "entirely in your sentiments: but here
are my orders. To-morrow my head shall be bound with laurel or with
cypress." On June 3rd the English and Dutch navies engaged about three
in the morning off Lowestoft; when the English had the weather-gauge--an
advantage they knew how to use as well as keep.

Things went at first very equally on both sides; several squadrons
charging through and through, without any remarkable advantage. But
about noon, the Earl of Sandwich, with the blue squadron, fell into the
centre of the Dutch fleet, and divided it into two parts, thus beginning
the confusion which ended in their defeat. The Duke of York in the
Royal Charles, a ship of eighty guns, and Admiral Opdam in the
Eendracht, of eighty-four, were closely engaged. The fight continued
for some hours with great obstinacy, and the duke was often in the
utmost danger. Several persons of distinction were killed on board his
ship, particularly the Earl of Falmouth, the king's favourite, Lord
Muskerry and Mr. Boyle, son to the Earl of Corke, with one ball, and so
near the duke that he was covered with their blood and brains; nay, a
splinter from the last-mentioned gentleman's skull razed his hand. About
one, the Dutch admiral blew up, with a prodigious noise; but how the
accident occurred is not known. In this vessel, together with Admiral
Opdam, perished five hundred men, only five of the whole crew escaping;
many of those lost being volunteers, of the best families of Holland,
and not a few Frenchmen, who had taken this opportunity of being present
in a sea-fight.

A little after this unlucky blow, the Dutch received a greater. Four
fine ships, the largest of sixty, the least of forty guns, ran foul of
each other, and were burnt by one fire-ship, and soon after, three
larger vessels, by the same accident, shared the same fate. The
Orange, a ship of seventy-five guns, after a most gallant defence was
also burnt; and thus, towards four in the afternoon, all fell into
confusion. Vice-admiral Stillingwert was shot through the middle by a
cannon-ball; and Vice-admiral Cortenaer received a shot in his thigh, of
which he instantly died. Their ships bearing out of the line on the
death of their commanders, without striking their flags, drew many after
them; so that, by eight at night, Tromp, who held out bravely to the
last, and fought retreating, had not more than thirty ships left with
him.

According to English accounts, the Dutch had eighteen ships taken, and
fourteen sunk in this action, besides such as were burnt or blown up.
Yet their accounts admit of no more than nine ships taken, one, their
admiral, blown up, and eight burnt. The English lost the Charity, a
ship of forty-six guns, with most of her men, in the beginning of the
fight; about two hundred and fifty men killed, and three hundred and
forty wounded; on the other side, they lost at least six thousand men,
including two thousand three hundred taken prisoners.

There is very little room for doubt that if there had not been some
mismanagement on the side of the English, this, which was the first,
might also have been the last action in this war; for the Dutch fleet
fled in great confusion, and if the English had pressed them vigorously,
as they might have done, having the wind, so many ships might have been
either sunk, disabled, or taken as must have forced a peace; in favour
of which there was a very strong party in Holland, who did not like the
domination of the pensionary De Witte and the dependence in which he
held the states, who seldom ventured to do anything of importance when
he was absent. This great opportunity was lost through the English
fleet's slacking sail in the night, contrary, it is said, to the express
directions of His Royal Highness the duke before retiring to rest.

It is far from being an easy matter to determine how this came to pass.
But the circumstances appear to have been as follows. The duke, as lord
high-admiral, had two captains on board his ship--Sir William Penn, who
had the rank of a vice-admiral, and Captain, afterwards Sir, John
Harman. Sir William had retired as well as the duke, so that the command
remained with Captain Harman, who was himself at the helm, when one Mr.
Brounker, who was of the duke's bed-chamber, came and told him that "he
ought to consider how much His Royal Highness's person had been already
exposed in the action, and how much greater risk he might run if their
ship, which was the headmost of the fleet, should fall in single with
those of the enemy upon their own coasts." Harman heard him, but
answered like an honest brave man as he was that he could do nothing
without orders. Brounker upon this went to the duke's cabin and returned
with orders, in His Royal Highness's name, to make less sail; these
Captain Harman, without the least scruple, obeyed, though it caused some
confusion in the fleet, several ships coming very near to running foul
of each other.

In the morning the duke expressed surprise and resentment at finding the
fleet at such a distance from the Dutch, that there was no longer any
hope of coming up with them. It then appeared that either through
cowardice, or something worse, Brounker had carried Captain Harman
orders which he never received. However, this was concealed from His
Royal Highness at the time, and other excuses made, such as a brisk wind
from shore and their fire-ships being all spent. The truth, however, was
very soon whispered about, though the duke was not acquainted with it
for more than six months after; upon which he discharged Brounker his
service, and would have done more, if the celebrated Duchess of
Cleveland, then Countess of Castlemain, with whom he was a favourite,
had not by her interest with the king protected him. However, at the end
of the war when the House of Commons was out of humour, the matter was
mentioned and inquired into; upon which Brounker, who was a member, was
expelled the house and ordered to be impeached, but was never
prosecuted.


II. THE CAPTURE OF DUTCH CONVOYS BY THE EARL OF SANDWICH.

After the defeat of the Dutch off Harwich, the Duke of York returned to
England to report himself to the king; and the command of the fleet now
lying in Southwold Bay fell upon the Earl of Sandwich, who had
contributed so much to the late victory. While here news reached the
earl that two rich Dutch squadrons had put to sea; whereupon he
immediately prepared to follow them with Sir George Ayscue as
vice-admiral, and Sir Thomas Tyddiman as admiral of the rear, determined
either to intercept De Ruyter, the Dutch admiral, on his return, or to
take and burn the Turkey and East India fleets of which they had news.

Both these schemes were doomed to failure. De Ruyter returned
unexpectedly by the north of Scotland and arrived safely in Holland,
where he was immediately promoted to the chief command of the fleet. The
Turkey and India fleet--consisting of twenty sail under the command of
Commodore Bitter--took the same route; but having intelligence of the
approach of the English, took shelter in the port of Bergen in Norway.

Here the Danish governor promised them all the assistance he could give,
and to strengthen his hands the Dutch landed forty-one pieces of cannon,
which he disposed in a line in front of the port, the Dutch forming
another line of their largest ships across the bay, and then waiting the
arrival of the English fleet. Bergen, being a neutral port, ought to
have been an asylum of safety for these Dutch merchantmen, but the King
of Denmark, hoping to share the plunder, showed himself willing to treat
with the Earl of Sandwich for liberty to attack the convoy in port. The
earl, however, had no desire to share the spoil, and, impatient of
delay, ordered Sir Thomas Tyddiman with fourteen sail of men-of-war and
three fire-ships to enter the bay and cut out the Dutch squadron. This
he attempted with great courage; though the wind was against him and he
had to face a fierce fire from the castle, the line of guns, and the
Dutch ships. Eventually, he was compelled to bear out of the bay, which
he succeeded in doing without the loss of a ship; though five or six of
his squadron were very much damaged.

To relieve the Dutch squadron--now practically prisoners in the port of
Bergen--the Dutch manned a stout fleet, which put to sea under the
command of Admiral Ruyter, who was accompanied by De Witte, appointed,
with two other deputies by the states, to attend upon the admiral. After
meeting with many difficulties, the Dutch fleet succeeded in eluding
that of the English, and arrived safely before Bergen, where, in the
meantime, their friends had found a new enemy in their old defender. The
Danish governor had modestly desired a hundred thousand crowns for the
assistance he had given them in the late affair with the English, and
had threatened to sink them without ceremony if they offered to stir out
of the port before they had complied with his demand. The arrival of De
Ruyter's fleet made him change his tone, and he allowed them to sail
without paying the money, but kept the cannon they had put ashore.

Thus far, the Dutch were very successful; but on their return home the
fleet was scattered by a storm, in which they lost two fire-ships and
some of the merchantmen. The vice-admiral and rear-admiral of the East
India fleet, ships of very great value, with four men-of-war, were taken
by five English frigates, which the same storm had separated from their
fleet; and soon after four of their men-of-war, two fire-ships, and
thirty merchantmen joined our fleet instead of their own, and through
this mistake were all taken prisoners. This ended the operations of the
year 1665.


III. THE FOUR DAYS' FIGHT IN THE CHANNEL.

The year 1666 opened upon a new condition of affairs. The French having
declared in favour of the Dutch, Charles II. recalled his ambassador,
Lord Holles, from the French court, and sent the Earl of Sandwich as
ambassador to Spain; placing the fleet under the command of Prince
Rupert and the Duke of Albemarle, who had won distinction as General
Monk, the former to look after the French, who began to talk very high,
and the latter to act against the Dutch.

Prince Rupert and the Duke of Albemarle went on board the fleet on April
23rd, 1666, and sailed with it in the beginning of May. Towards the
latter end of the month a rumour reached the English court that the
French fleet, under the command of the Duke of Beaufort, was coming out
to the assistance of the Dutch; and orders were immediately despatched
to Prince Rupert to sail with the white squadron to engage it; which
order he proceeded to obey.

As Prince Rupert sailed from the Downs, the Dutch with their whole force
put to sea, the wind at north-east, and blowing a fresh gale. This
brought the Dutch fleet on to the coast of Dunkirk, and carried away His
Highness towards the Isle of Wight; but the wind suddenly shifting to
the south-west, and blowing hard, brought both the Dutch and the Duke of
Albemarle with his two squadrons to an anchor. Captain Bacon in the
Bristol first discovered the enemy, and, by firing his guns, gave
notice of it to the English fleet.

The departure of Prince Rupert had left the Duke of Albemarle with but
sixty sail; whereas the Dutch fleet consisted of ninety-one men-of-war,
carrying four thousand seven hundred and sixteen guns, and twenty-two
thousand four hundred and sixty-two men. But a council of war was
called; wherein, without much debate, it was resolved to fight the
enemy, notwithstanding their great superiority.

It was the 1st of June when the Dutch fleet was discovered, and the duke
was so warm for engaging, that he attacked the enemy without giving them
time to weigh anchor; as De Ruyter himself says in his letter,
compelling them to cut their cables to make ready for the fight. In the
same letter De Ruyter says, that to the last the English were the
aggressors, notwithstanding their inferiority of force. The English
fleet had the weather-gauge, but the wind bowed their ships so much that
they could not use their lowest tier. Sir William Berkley's squadron led
the van. The Duke of Albemarle, when he came on the coast of Dunkirk, to
avoid running full on the sand, made a sudden tack, and this brought his
top-mast by the board, which compelled him to lie by four or five hours
till another could be set up. The blue squadron, knowing nothing of
this, sailed on, charging through the Dutch fleet, though they were five
to one.

In this engagement fell the brave Sir William Berkley, and his ship, the
Swiftsure, a second-rate, was taken; so was the Essex, a third-rate;
and Sir John Harman, in the Henry, had the whole Zealand squadron to
deal with. His ship being disabled, the Dutch admiral, Cornelius Evertz,
called to Sir John, and offered him quarter, who answered, "No, sir! it
is not come to that yet," and immediately discharged a broadside, by
which Evertz was killed and several of his ships damaged. This so
discouraged their captains that they quitted the Henry, and sent three
fire-ships to burn her. The first grappled on her starboard quarters,
and there began to raise so thick a smoke that it was impossible to
perceive where the irons were fixed. At last, when the ship began to
blaze, the boatswain of the Henry threw himself on board her, and
having, by her own light, discovered and removed the grappling irons,
in the same instant jumped back on board his own ship. He had scarcely
done this before another fire-ship was fixed on the larboard, which did
its business so effectually that the sails, being quickly on fire,
frightened the chaplain and fifty men overboard. Upon this, Sir John
drew his sword, and threatened to kill any man who should attempt to
provide for his own safety by leaving the ship. This obliged them to
endeavour to put out the fire, which in a short time they did; but the
cordage being burnt, the cross-beam fell and broke Sir John's leg, at
which instant the third fire-ship bore down upon him; but four pieces of
cannon loaded with chain-shot disabled her: so that, after all, Sir John
brought his ship into Harwich, where he repaired her as well as he
could, and, notwithstanding his broken leg, put to sea again to seek the
Dutch. The battle ended on the first day about ten in the evening.

The following night was spent in repairing the damage suffered on both
sides, and next morning the attack was renewed by the English with fresh
vigour. Admiral Van Tromp, with Vice-admiral Vander Hulst, being on
board one ship, rashly engaged it among the English, and their vessel
was in the utmost danger of being either taken or burnt. The Dutch
affairs, according to their own account, were now in a desperate
condition; but Admiral De Ruyter at last disengaged them, though not
till his ship was disabled and Vice-admiral Vander Hulst killed. This
only changed the scene; for De Ruyter was now as hard pressed as Tromp
had been before. However, a reinforcement arriving preserved him also;
and so the second day's fight ended earlier than the first.

The third day the Duke of Albemarle found it necessary to retreat; and
he performed it with wonderful courage and skill. He first burnt three
ships that were absolutely disabled; he next caused such as were most
torn to sail before, and, with twenty-eight men-of-war that were in a
pretty good condition, brought up the rear. Sir John Harman, indeed,
says he had but sixteen ships that were able to fight. Yet, in the
evening, his grace, discovering the white squadron coming to his
assistance, resolved to engage the enemy again. In joining Prince Rupert
a very unlucky accident happened; for Sir George Ayscue, who was on
board the Royal Prince, the largest and heaviest ship in the whole
fleet, ran upon the Galloper, and being there in danger of burning,
and past all hope of relief, was forced to surrender; and then night
falling ended this day's engagement.

On June the 4th, the Dutch, who were still considerably stronger than
the English, were almost out of sight; but the Duke of Albemarle, having
prevailed upon the prince to follow them, about eight in the morning
they engaged again, and the English fleet charged five times through the
Dutch; till Prince Rupert's ship being disabled, and that of the Duke of
Albemarle very roughly handled, about seven in the evening the fleets
separated, each side being willing enough to retire. In this day's
engagement fell that gallant admiral, Sir Christopher Myngs, who, having
a shot in the neck, remained upon deck and gave orders, keeping the
blood from flowing with his fingers for above an hour, till another shot
pierced his throat and put an end to his pain.

This was the most terrible battle fought in this war. De Witte said
roundly upon this occasion, "If the English were beaten, their defeat
did them more honour than all their former victories; and all the Dutch
had discovered was that Englishmen might be killed and English ships
burnt, but that English courage was invincible."

After all, it is by no means easy to say who were victors upon the
whole, or what was the loss of the vanquished. Some Dutch writers talk
of thirty-five ships, and between five and six thousand men lost by the
English; which is more than half their fleet, and very little less than
all their seamen. Other authorities, however, compute our loss at
sixteen men-of-war, of which ten were sunk and six taken. Our writers
say the Dutch lost fifteen men-of-war, twenty-one captains, and five
thousand men, and they themselves own to the loss of nine ships and a
prodigious slaughter of their seamen.


IV. THE DEFENCE OF THE THAMES.

After the four days' fight the Dutch had once more the credit of
appearing at sea before the English, their ships having suffered less in
that protracted conflict. It was not long, however, before the English
fleet appeared. It consisted of eighty men-of-war, great and small, and
nineteen fire-ships, divided into three squadrons: the red, under Prince
Rupert and the Duke of Albemarle, who were on board the same ship with
Sir Joseph Jordan for their vice-admiral and Sir Robert Holmes for their
rear-admiral. Sir Thomas Allen was admiral of the white, and had under
him Sir Thomas Tyddiman and Rear-admiral Utburt. Sir Jeremiah Smith
carried the blue flag, and his officers were Sir Edward Spragge and
Rear-admiral Kempthorne. The Dutch, according to their own accounts, had
eighty-eight men-of-war and twenty fire-ships, divided also into three
squadrons, under Lieutenant-admiral De Ruyter, John Evertz, brother to
the admiral who was killed in the former engagement, and Van Tromp.

On July the 25th, about noon, the English came up with the enemy off the
North Foreland. Sir Thomas Allen, with the white squadron, began the
battle by attacking Evertz. Prince Rupert and the duke, about one in the
afternoon, made a desperate attack upon De Ruyter, whose squadron was in
the centre of the Dutch fleet; but, after fighting about three hours,
were obliged to go on board another ship. In this interim the white
squadron had entirely defeated their enemies; Admiral John Evertz, his
vice-admiral, De Vries, and his rear-admiral, Koenders, being all
killed, the vice-admiral of Zealand taken, and another ship of fifty
guns burnt. The prince and duke fought De Ruyter ship to ship, disabled
the Guelderland, of sixty-six guns, which was one of his seconds,
killed the captain of another, and mortally wounded two more; upon which
some of the Dutch ships began to retreat. However, Vice-admiral Van Nes
stood bravely by De Ruyter, and his ship received great damage; yet,
being at last deserted by all but seven ships, they yielded to
necessity, and followed the rest of their fleet to sea.

This was the clearest victory gained during the whole war; the Dutch
lost twenty ships; four admirals were killed and a great many captains;
as to private men, there might be about four thousand slain and three
thousand wounded. The English had only the Resolution burnt, three
captains killed, and about three hundred private men.

By the end of the year 1666, however, both nations had become weary of
the war, and the King of Sweden having offered his mediation, it was
readily accepted by both sides. Negotiations were immediately set on
foot which ultimately resulted in the treaty of Breda; but in the
meantime the Dutch rather increased than relaxed their efforts to
strengthen their navy, hoping thereby to influence the terms of the
treaty in process of negotiation. Having previously sounded the mouth of
the Thames to ascertain how far it might be practicable to attempt to
enter it with large ships, and having thereby discovered the facility
with which such a project could be carried out, De Witte determined to
make the attempt without delay.

The Dutch fleet being ready, sailed over to the English coast, where it
was joined by Van Ghent, and formed a fleet of seventy men-of-war,
besides fire-ships. On June 7th they attacked Sheerness, which was at
that time unfinished and in no state of defence, and captured fifteen
iron guns and a considerable quantity of naval stores. The Duke of
Albemarle, Sir Edward Spragge, and other officers had made all
imaginable provision for the defence of the River Medway, by sinking
ships in the passage, throwing a chain across it, and placing three
large vessels, which had been taken from the Dutch, behind the chain.
The Dutch, however, had the advantage of a strong easterly wind, which
encouraged them to make an attempt upon our ships at Chatham, in spite
of the precautions taken to preserve them. It was on June the 12th that
they executed this design; which, however, would have miscarried at
last, if one Captain Brakell, who was a prisoner on board their fleet
for some misdemeanour, had not offered to wipe out the memory of his
former mistake by breaking the chain, a service which he gallantly
performed. Captain Brakell also with great bravery boarded and took one
of the English frigates which guarded the passage; and soon after, the
Matthias, the Unity, and the Charles the Fifth, the ships which
had been taken from the Dutch, were set on fire. The next day, the
advantage of wind and tide continuing, the Dutch advanced with six
men-of-war and five fire-ships as high as Upnore Castle; but were so
warmly received that they were obliged to return. However, as they came
back, they burnt the Royal Oak, a very fine ship, and in her Captain
Douglas, who chose to be burnt with her rather than live to be
reproached with having deserted his command. On the 14th they carried
off the hull of the Royal Charles, notwithstanding all the English
could do to prevent it; a project which they had dearly at heart. On
their return, two Dutch men-of-war ran ashore in the Medway and were
burnt, which, with eight fire-ships consumed in the action and one
hundred and fifty men killed, is all the loss acknowledged by the Dutch
writers; though it is not improbable that they really suffered much
more.

De Ruyter, highly pleased with what he had performed, left Admiral Van
Nes with part of his fleet in the mouth of the Thames, and sailed with
the rest to Portsmouth, in the hope of burning the ships there. Failing
in this design, he sailed westward to Torbay, where he was likewise
repulsed. Then he returned back again to the mouth of the Thames and
with twenty-five sail came as high as the Hope, where our squadron lay
under the command of Sir Edward Spragge. This consisted of eighteen
sail; yet, the admiral not being on board when the enemy began the
attack, the English fleet suffered at first from their fire-ships; but
Sir Edward repairing to his command, and being joined by Sir Joseph
Jordan with a few small ships, quickly forced the Dutch to retire. The
like success attended their attack on Landguard Fort, which was
performed by sixteen hundred men, commanded by Colonel Doleman, a
republican, under the fire of their whole fleet: but Governor Darrel, an
old cavalier, beat them off with great loss. On the 23rd Van Nes sailed
again up the river as far as the Hope, where he engaged Sir Edward
Spragge, who had with him five frigates and seventeen fire-ships. This
proved a very sharp action, at least between the fire-ships, of which
the Dutch writers themselves confess they spent eleven to our eight.

The next day the English attacked the Dutch in their turn, and,
notwithstanding their superiority, forced them to retire and to burn the
only fire-ship they had left, to prevent her being taken. On the 25th
they bore out of the river with all the sail they could make, followed
at a distance by Sir Edward Spragge and his remaining fire-ships. On the
26th, in the mouth of the river, they were met by another English
squadron from Harwich, consisting of five men-of-war and fourteen
fire-ships. These boldly attacked the Dutch, and grappled the
vice-admiral of Zealand and another large ship; but were not able to
fire them, though they frightened a hundred of their men into the sea.
In this struggle the rear-admiral of Zealand was forced on shore, and so
much damaged thereby as to be obliged to return home.

While the whole Dutch fleet was employed in alarming our coasts, Sir
Jeremiah Smith was sent with a small squadron northwards; with which,
and the assistance of a numerous fleet of privateers, already abroad for
their own profit, the Dutch commerce to the Baltic was in a manner
ruined, and multitudes of rich prizes were daily brought into English
ports. Thus it may be truly said that the nations at this time changed
characters. The Dutch preferred the insult at Chatham, which, all things
considered, was of little or no consequence to them, to the preservation
of their trade; and the English endeavoured to make themselves amends
for this unexpected loss of a few men-of-war by taking numbers of
merchantmen.

The English, in the West Indies, took the island of St. Eustatia, Saba,
St. Martin, Buen Ayre, the island of Tobago, and other places from the
Dutch. On the contrary, the Dutch, under the conduct of Commodore
Krynsen, made themselves masters of Surinam; and the French, assisted by
the Dutch, almost deprived the English of their half of the island of
St. Christopher, after several obstinate disputes and the death of their
commander Le Salles. Six frigates and some other small vessels from
Barbadoes, sailing from thence to repair this loss, were so ill-treated
by a violent storm that they were put out of a condition to execute
their design, and two or three of the most disabled ships fell into the
hands of the enemy; though, before their misfortune, they had burnt two
Dutch ships richly laden in the harbour of Los Santos.

There were three distinct treaties of peace signed at Breda
respectively, with the Dutch, the French, and the Danes, and these were
ratified on August 24th, 1667. The terms upon which this peace was made
were safe and honourable at least, though not so glorious and beneficial
as might have been expected after such a war. By it the honour of the
flag was secured; and the island of Poleron, to prevent further
disputes, was yielded to the Dutch. In the West Indies we kept all that
we had taken, except Surinam; and the French were obliged to restore
what they had taken from us.





Next: The Destruction Of The Algerine Navy

Previous: The Story Of The First Dutch War



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