Thursday, September 15, 2005

Dutch Captain: Jacob Wiltschut (UPDATED)

Jacob Wiltschut served the Admiralty of Amsterdam. He was born in 1620. Up until 1658, he had served in the West Indian Company. In 1665, he commanded the Harderwijk (46 guns). He fought in the Battle of Lowestoft, where the Harderwijk was assigned to Lt-Admiral van Wassenaer's squadron. At Lowestoft, the Harderwijk had a crew of 200 men. In August 1665, he was with De Ruyter's fleet, where he still commanded the Harderwijk. In August, the Harderwijk's crew consisted of 170 sailors, 10 marines, and 29 soldiers. The Harderwijk had been built in 1662, and her dimensions were 133ft x 34.5ft x 14ft. There was an Amsterdam ship in 1665 with 46 guns that is listed by De Jonge: 4-18pdr, 18-12pdr, 20-8pdr, and 6-3pdr. The 18pdr and the 12pdr were probably on the lower tier with the 8pdr on the upper tier. The 3pdr were probably on the quarterdeck. Jacob Wiltschut fled the fleet in September 1665. On 9 September, in a heavy storm on the way back from Bergen to the Netherlands, the fleet became scattered. He joined Lt-Admiral Aert van Nes's squadron of 19 ships. They ran into the entire English fleet. Jacob Wiltschut put on extra sail and escaped aboard the Harderwijk. He said: "I will fight only if they catch up with me, because 19 ships can do little against 90 warships." He was courtmartialed on September 29th, 1665 and declared honorless and his sword was broken before his eyes and he was cashiered from service (my paraphrase of Carl Stapel's words). Sources:
  1. Gerard Brandt, Het Leven en Bedrijif van den Heere Michiel de Ruiter, 1687.
  2. Frank Fox, A Distant Storm: the Four Days' Battle of 1666, 1996.
  3. J. C. De Jonge, Geschiedenis van het Nederlandsche Zeewezen, Vol.I, 1858.
  4. Communication from Mr. Carl Stapel.

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