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Thursday, May 03, 2007

Witte de With after the Three Days Battle

One striking feature of the correspondence from March 1653 to May 1653, is that Vice-Admiraal Witte de With was actively involved in planning and operations within a few weeks after the Three Days Battle (the Battle of Portland). The worst aspect of his absense from the fleet from December to March 1653 was that we lack the detailed fleet lists that he would have recorded. From April to November 1653, there are many good fleet lists, a few with ship names, even. The earliest such list that I had seen was in September 1652, after he had taken command of the fleet, when Tromp had been sacked for leading the fleet into the storm in the Shetlands. By April 1653, Witte de With commanded a raiding squadron, with his flag on the Amsterdam ship Leeuwarden (36 guns). That grew into a small fleet with three squadrons. Jan Jansz Lapper, in the Phesant (32 guns), commanded the van of 9 ships, Witte de With commanded the center with 13 ships, and Leendert Haexwant commanded the rear with 10 ships. This included some newly commissioned ships, such as Pieter de Bitter's ship Mercurius.

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