Thursday, June 02, 2005

Jenkins tells the story of d'Estree's abortive attack on Tabago

While Du Quesne was winning battles in the Mediterranean Sea, Admiral d'Estrees was sitting idle. He suggested that he lead an expedition to the West Indes to take the Dutch possessions. E. H. Jenkins, in A History of the French Navy (1973) tells the story of the campaign in the Caribbean in 1677-1678. This is described on pages 61-63. Jenkins mentions Vice-Admiral Binckes and the ships Berscherming (50 guns), Huis te Kruiningen (56 guns), and the Zeelandia (44 guns). D'Estrees sailed from Martinique in February 1677 to attack Tobago. Binckes didn't expect the French to attempt the narrow harbor entrance, but they did. The other Dutch ship mentioned by name was the Leiden, which caught fire and set the French Marquis afire as well. The French took the Huis te Kruiningen, but found she was burning as well. D'Estrees' flagship was the Glorieux, which caught fire when the Huis te Kruiningen exploded. The rest of the Dutch ships burned from the debris, and only the Berscherming survived. The French Preciéux was aground and was taken by the Dutch. The Dutch were left with the two ships. D'Estrees returned from France with 11 warships in December 1677. This time, the French attacked by land. They his the Bescherming with a mortar shell, exploding the magazine and killing Binckes. The Dutch surrendered. While sailing to Curacao in May 1678, d'Estrees ran his fleet aground on a low reef. D'Estrees was not punished, despite the fault being his navigation. Interestingly enough, an elderly captain named Forant was sent out to retrieve the artillery from the sunken fleet. He was able to find 364 guns and 3,000 shot. As I wrote, this is based on the account in Jenkins' book.

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