Saturday, July 31, 2004

The Battle of Scheveningen

It seems like time to make an attempt to build a list of the Dutch fleet at Scheveningen. Needless to say, this is not an easy thing to do. We need to greatly rely on references to ships in the Hollandsche Mercurius, Dr. Elias' book, Schetsen uit de geschiedenis van ons Zeewezen, and The First Dutch War, Vol.V. I'm afraid that we need to ignore Dr. Ballhausen's book, as it has proved to be extremely unreliable. There was a period when I was tempted to use it. That was when I was building scenarios for battles from the First Anglo-Dutch War. When I investigated more closely, I found that even his maps were incorrect. His map for the Battle of Portland was bogus. I found from Michael Baumber's book, General-at-Sea, and Peter Padfield's Tide of Empires, that Dr. Ballhausen had misplaced George Monck's squadron. My first attempt at a scenario for Privateers Bounty followed that map, and therefore, had the wrong setup. An interesting feature of the Battle of Scheveningen, is that two days before, there was a partial encounter between the fleets. Only about 30 English ships came into action, late in the day, and Monck's Resolution took casualties. I had thought that only English frigates had gotten into action, but obviously, there were major warships, as well. The next day, the weather was so bad that the fleets were fully occupied with staying off the shore, with the wind blowing from seaward. It was only on July 31/August 10 that the fleets came back together to fight. The fleets were sailing westward as early as 7am. The Dutch had the wind, initially, but eventually lost it to the English. The battle proceeded as the fleets tacked and broke through the opposing line. The Dutch seem to have fought in an informal line as well, and were shot to pieces for their trouble. The English were superior in weight of shot and in ship size. The smaller, more lightly armed Dutch were in desperate straits by early afternoon. Tromp was dead, early in the battle, but by agreement, his flag was kept flying from the Brederode. Egbert Meeussen Kortenaer, Tromp's flag captain, commanded the ship and Tromp's squadron for the remainder of the battle. In fact, he seems to have kept command of the squadron for the remainder of the war. Even before the battle, the Vice-Admirals had decided that they would not allow another route, as happened at the Gabbard. De With, Evertsen, and De Ruyter formed a rear-guard, and with difficulty, allowed the surviving ships to retreat. Despite that, Dutch losses were almost as bad as those at the Gabbard. They lost about 10 ships, as I have previously notes.

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