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Historic England Research Records

Battle Of Landguard Fort 1667

Hob Uid: 1584112
Location :
Essex
Tendring
Grid Ref : TM2757029760
Summary : The Battle of Landguard Fort (389664) took place on 2 July 1667 (12 July 1667 according to the Dutch calendar) during the Second Anglo-Dutch War when the Dutch, led by Michiel de Ruyter, attacked from the direction of the Suffolk coast. They landed marines at Felixstowe Cliffs with scaling ladders who were met by English soldiers in hand-to-hand combat: "their reception was brisk when discovered, and they were repulsed after half an hour's assault". After landing the troops, the Dutch sailed towards the Rolling Grounds to mount an attack on Landguard Fort. Their attempts to bombard the fort were hampered by the sandbanks around Landguard Spit, and the troops landed from the Dutch ships were driven back by the garrison and by an English warship which fired cannon onto the beach, scattering the shingle like grapeshot. The English had placed ships across the entrance to Harwich, some of which were sunk as blockships (1584182).This attack was preceded in the Second Anglo-Dutch War by the Battle of Lowestoft, 1665 (1584057), the Four Days' Battle, 1666, (1583919), the St. James's Day Fight, 1666 (1584743), the Raid on the Medway (1584349) just a month before the action at Landguard, and was succeeded by attacks on the Hope (1584207) and Sheppey (1584293) later the same month. The location of the battle is arbitrary and for representative purposes only, centred on the Rolling Grounds to the south, the central focus of the Dutch action; one squadron attacked from the Platters shoal to the east, the central squadron from the Rolling Grounds, and the westernmost squadron was placed to sail straight into the harbour.
More information : Note that the date of the battle according to English and Dutch sources differs by 10 days. The English still adhered to the Julian or Old Style Calendar, whilst the Dutch had already adopted the Gregorian or New Style Calendar, which remains in use today. The English calendar was in arrears by 10 days in the 17th century, so that 2 July according to English sources was 12 July according to Dutch sources.

Primary Sources:

July 2. Noon, Harwich. Jo. Quin to Williamson.

'The lord lieutenant, being busy, wishes the writer to give notice to Lord Arlington that the whole body of the enemy is standing into Harwich, and the foremost so near Landguard Fort that fire is expected every moment: yet, as the wind slackens, it is uncertain whether they will begin the attack this tide. They come in close between the Sands from the Suffolk coast, a way our great ships never used to adventure. His lordship is providing as well as he can to receive them.' (1)

July 2. 2pm. Harwich. Silas Taylor to Williamson.

'At 11am the Dutch were discovered about Filstow alias Felixstow Cliff. At 1 o'clock, 47 came to the back of the fort, besides five that lay in the Sledway, and sent out eight or nine into the outer part of the Rolling Grounds, where they have just anchored. They have landed 1,000 men, and Felixstow beacon was fired.' (2)

July 2. 11pm. Harwich. Silas Taylor to Williamson.

'At 8pm the Dutch fleet came into the Rolling Grounds, and fired many guns at the fort and at the ships placed at the entrance of the harbour, to be sunk for security. Some were sunk; knows not why the rest were not; 2,000 or 3,000 landed at Filstow Cliff, with a very great stand of pikes; some attacked Landguard Fort, and made two great assaults, but were repulsed boldly; their loss is said to be 150. Saw much firing of the militia from Filstow Cliff. The major of the regiment says they have had a great skirmish with the Dutch. Hopes the place may be secured, though wanting both friends and power. The Dutch lie close to the shore, 47 or 48 sail, beside five in the Sledway. Expects an action tomorrow.' (3)

July 2, Dover. Jo. Carlisle to Williamson.

'Guns have been heard, supposed to be before Harwich.' (4)

July 3. 9am. Harwich. Earl of Oxford to Lord [Arlington].

'The enemy have shipped the remainder of their broken party, and the fleet draws away as fast as the dead calm will permit . . . The harbour, with the fortifications, Landguard Fort, and the fire-ships, is not now an enterprize for Dutch courage, and the disrepute of this enterprize moderates the grief for the loss at Chatham.' (5)

'July 3. 11am. Harwich. Silas Taylor to [Williamson].

'The designs of the Dutch in so many places have rendered the accounts very confused. The eight Dutch ships which sent such clouds of smoke on the fort, were merely for that purpose: thinks above 2,000 men landed about Filstow Cliff alias Felixstow. At 4 or 5 o'clock, the Suffolk forces came to them in inclosures; 400 or 500 were detached from the Dutch main body to meet them, with a strong body of pikes and two or three drakes, with which they maintained the lanes and hedges; so that the horse being excluded from service, the Earl of Suffolk got his ground but by inches. Meanwhile, 300 or 400, covered by the smoke from the ships, made up to Landguard Fort, with scaling ladders of 200 feet, hand granadoes, drawn cutlasses, and mustkets, and came close up to the fort; their reception was brisk when discovered, and they were repulsed after half an hours assault. They got under the sand banks, but the LENOX and TRUELOVE played on them from the water. An hour after, they tried again, but ran away, leaving some of their ladders and arms. By 9pm, they had withdrawn to their body about Felixstow Cliff; they stood their ground the longer because their boats were aground, but, being pressed by the Earl of Suffolk, had much ado to keep themselves from disorder. This lasted from 11pm to 2am, when the water floating their boats, they got off to their ships, which at 6am were under sail, and are now out of sight, Felixstow Cliff being in Ousely Bay. The five great Dutch ships still ride in the Sledway, and a Rear-Admiral came yesterday into the Rolling Grounds. The loss is uncertain; only one man was killed in the fort, but four Dutch were killed before it.' (6)

July 4. Sir Wm. Coventry to Sir E. Spragg.

' . . . The enemy have attempted Landguard Fort, and been beaten off; is not sure whether they will continue to ride in the Rolling Ground or not. Wishes the frigates gone there knew it, but hopes they will use caution enough in sailing. His Royal Highness is gone to Harwich.' (7)

July 4. Harwich. Silas Taylor to Williamson.

'Capt. Darell, Governor of Landguard Fort, was wounded, but not dangerously. Towards evening, several hundred men were sent to the other side of the water, under command of Major Legg; they were very welcome to the Earl of Suffolk, but the enemy were drawn off before they arrived. Several boats laden with dead men put off from the shore. A Swede, who has been on board De Ruyter, says 60 or 80 are slain by their own confession, some being commanders of quality. A tall English lieutenant-colonel led the Dutch, and they had two English pilots; one was on board the Vice-Admiral that ran aground, a circumstance which greatly hindered them. There were three squadrons: the first was to play on the fort from the Platters side, the second from the Rolling Ground side, and the third to come straight in. They were troubled with the ships lying across the entrance, not knowing whether they were men-of-war or fire-ships, but wondered more to see some of them sink. They expected the fort to yield at first sight, thinking there were but 30 guns and 150 men. They sailed yesterday towards Aldborough, and at 7am the Duke of York came into town, where he stays and dines, and then over to Landguard.' (8)

July 4. 8am. Aldborough. Rich. Browne to Williamson.

'Yesterday, the Dutch fleet was spied under sail from Ousley Bay; three vessels ran aground on Whiting Sand, which caused the others to anchor in the bay two miles off. They sent 10 men to land and pass about Orford lighthouse, and return; they have not attempted to land, as was expected, but stand to the south, two leagues off. The country has come down in great companies, both horse and foot, with halberds, scythes and what weapons they could get; also there are four companies of foot and two troops of horse, under Sir Rob. Brooke, who has been very diligent.' (9)

'July 6. 4am. Aldborough [Aldeburgh]. Rich. Browne to Williamson.

'On Wednesday last, at 11am, the Dutch fleet of 80 sail landed 4,000 men and three culverins at Filstow, crept on their hands a great way with ladders, and attempted Landguard Fort, but were beaten off, leaving their ladders and two dead, but carrying off the wounded; only three foot companies engaged them, and no horse; they carried off their dead and wounded and culverins in the night, and by morning were all aboard again; one Fleming was killed with a cheese under his arm. On Thursday they anchored in Aldborough Bay, and then sailed southward, leaving only nine ships in the bay. Last night 18 were seen. They have advice and provision yachts coming to them daily; they make false fires every night.' (10)

'Whitehall, July 3. By several Letters arrived from the coasts, we have this account of the motion of the Dutch Fleet. The 1. instant, about 80 Sail of them with 9 Flagships came to an anchor near night in the Bay near Albrough within two miles of the shore, where it was expected they would have made some attempt the next morning, and accordingly the place was provided for their reception: But about the break of day, the Dutch weighing, at the first stood nearer in to the shore; but in a little time, for the space of an hour, sailed Northwards, after which they all tackt and stood again to the Southwards, close by the Light-house at Orford, and about 7 that morning past the Nesse towards Harwich. The same day about 1. of the clock, their Fleets consisting of 47 sail with their Attenders, stood within half cannon-shot of the shore, towards Felstow-Cliffe, but out of reach of Landguard Fort, leaving 5 of their number in the Sledway; and then manning out their Boats, landed about 3000 men at the Cliffe, with a great stand of Pikes. Near 2000 of them marched up, and made two Assaults on Landguard Fort, where they were stoutly entertain'd, and after three quarters of an hours dispute in the first assault, and about a quarter of an hours only in the second, they were forced to retire in such haste, that they left their ladders all of them behind them, scarcely being able to carry off their Dead, which is judged to be about 150 at the least.

'Whilst these assaults were making upon the Fort, about 1200 that were left behind near the Cliffe to secure their retreat, were encountered by the Trained Bands, under the Command of the Earl of Suffolk, and a smart skirmish between them, which continued till 10 in the evening; when it was renewed by the return of the beaten Companies from the Fort, who by the lowness of the Ebb were hindered at the present from returning to their Boats; at which time a party of 500 Foot were drawn out, under the Command of Major Legge, to fall upon the Enemy in the Rear; whose success we must expect at the arrival of the next Post. In this dayes Service we lost only three or four Men, and as many hurt, with Captain Darrel, who has received a wound in his shoulder.

'They have not as yet made any attempt upon the Town, being resolved first to try their fortunes upon the Fort, to which ('tis believed) they have not the courage left them to return.' (12)

'Here I find all the newes is the enemy's landing 3,000 men near Harwich, and attacking Landguard Fort, and being beat off thence with our great guns, killing some of their men, and they lieaving their ladders behind them; but we had no Horse in the way on Suffolk side, otherwise we might have galled their Foot.' (13)

Translated and paraphrased from the original Dutch by compiler, original much compromised by printing issues:

'Rotterdam, 14 July. This morning came in an advice boat from our fleet, which the day before had come from the River [Thames], and said that the day before that about 3 to 4,000 men had landed at Harwich, of which a party advanced to the castle, and a party towards the town; Captains Naelhout [?] and Jan van Nes were by the Ness, to fire at the Castle; meanwhile our men were to have attacked the castle, when a galliot with 8 to 10 guns came out of Harwich to the castle near the shore, and shot down the beach [illegible] so that our men could not advance; the English had some ships which came up to be sunk, and others which they had prepared for sinking . . . ' [remainder very difficult to read]. (16)

July 2. 'The Dutch landed on the Suffolk shore, attempting Langer fort, but beat off.' (18)

Pictorial Sources:

Willem van de Velde the Elder painted a grisaille or 'penschildering' (pen-drawing) of the Dutch attack on Harwich in 1669, depicting ships identifiable as, from left to right: GOUDEN LEEUW, the 42-gun ZEVEN PROVINCIEN, WALCHEREN, and de Ruyter's flagship, the 80-gun ZEVEN PROVINCIEN, WASSENAAR, and HUIS TE OOSTERWIJK.

The viewpoint is from Felixstowe Roads looking towards Landguard Fort from the seaward side, with the spit of land on which the fort stands clearly identifiable. To the left of the painting the principal part of the fleet lies in the Rolling Grounds, before the landing. The painting thus depicts events on the afternoon of 2 July 1667. (11)

Secondary sources:

The raid on the Medway caused national turmoil, compounded by the Dutch attack on Harwich on 2 July. Twelve warships from de Ruyter's fleet attempted to bombard Landguard Fort, but could not approach closely enough in the treacherous waters to fire accurately. Two attempts to storm the fort were made by 800 Dutch troops but were driven back by the 200-strong garrison under Captain Nathaniel Darell, who fired musket shot at their attackers. A small warship covered the beach, firing cannonballs which scattered the shingle in deadly showers, leading to a Dutch retreat with 8 dead to one Englishman killed. (14)

The Dutch Council of War took Cornelis de Witt's advice to attack Landguard Fort, thought to be poorly defended and thus an easy target. A thousand soldiers and 400 sailors were commanded by Colonel Dolman; Dolman and his men were landed on 2 July under cover of bombardment from the sea, advancing to Landguard together with Cornelis de Witt and de Ruyter who were present to inspire the troops.

The Dutch were forced to fall back under fire, abandoning their scaling ladders, one of which was retrieved by Captain Darell, and preserved in the church at Little Chart, which, however, was destroyed with the church by a flying bomb in August 1944.

The English attacked the rearguard under Count van Hoorne which was protecting the boats, which made it difficult for the retreating forces from Landguard to recover their boats. The outcome was a reversal of fortune for the Dutch with a boost to English morale. (17)

Location of battle:

The location of the battle is arbitrary and for representative purposes only. Nevertheless, it is based on the contemporary sources, most notably (8) which suggests that the Dutch had three squadrons, the easternmost on the Platters side, that is the Platters shoal approximately a mile east of the Landguard Spit, another more southerly towards the Rolling Grounds, and the third standing in towards the harbour entrance to the westward. This is broadly the view corroborated by Willem van de Velde the Elder's grisaille (11), which shows the Dutch lying easterly in Felixstowe Roads, i.e. towards the Platters, on the seaward side of Landguard Fort, with the ships on the left, i.e. to their south-west, in the Rolling Grounds. The position is based on the Rolling Grounds as the central position taken up by the three squadrons, for geographical representation only. (15)

Sources :
Source Number : 1
Source : Calendar of State Papers Domestic
Source details : Charles II, 1667, Vol.208, No.26, accessed via < http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=54924 >, subscription only, on 27-MAR-2014
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Source Number : 2
Source : Calendar of State Papers Domestic
Source details : Charles II, 1667, Vol.208, No.27, accessed via < http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=54924 >, subscription only, on 27-MAR-2014
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Source Number : 11
Source : World Wide Web page
Source details : 'The Dutch attack on Harwich', Willem van de Velde the Elder, 1669, National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, accessed via < http://collections.rmg.co.uk/collections/objects/11788.html > on 27-MAR-2014
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Source Number : 13
Source : The Diary of Samuel Pepys
Source details : 3 July 1667, accessed via < http://www.pepysdiary.com/diary/1667/07/03/ > on 27-MAR-2014
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Source Number : 13
Source : London Gazette
Source details : Monday, July 1, to Thursday, July 4, 1667, No.170
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Source Number : 14
Source : Landguard Fort
Source details :
Page(s) : 23
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Source Number : 15
Source : Oral information, correspondence (not archived) or staff comments
Source details : Compiler's comments: 27-MAR-2014
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Source Number : 16
Source : Oprechte Haerlemsche Courant
Source details : 21-JUL-1667 [New Style], No.29
Page(s) : 2
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Source Number : 17
Source : The Dutch in the Medway
Source details :
Page(s) : 121-2
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Source Number : 18
Source : Diary of Ralph Josselin
Source details : Entry for 2nd July, 1667, accessed online via the transcript of Ralph Josselin's diary from a private collection, < http://linux02.lib.cam.ac.uk/earlscolne/diary/70015540.htm > on 02-APR-2014
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Source Number : 3
Source : Calendar of State Papers Domestic
Source details : Charles II, 1667, Vol.208, No.28, accessed via < http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=54924 >, subscription only, on 27-MAR-2014
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Source Number : 4
Source : Calendar of State Papers Domestic
Source details : Charles II, 1667, Vol.208, No.29, accessed via < http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=54924 >, subscription only, on 27-MAR-2014
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Source Number : 5
Source : Calendar of State Papers Domestic
Source details : Charles II, 1667, Vol.208, No.54, accessed via < http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=54924 >, subscription only, on 27-MAR-2014
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Source Number : 6
Source : Calendar of State Papers Domestic
Source details : Charles II, 1667, Vol.208, No.55, accessed via < http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=54924 >, subscription only, on 27-MAR-2014
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Source Number : 7
Source : Calendar of State Papers Domestic
Source details : Charles II, 1667, Vol.208, No.60(i), accessed via < http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=54924 >, subscription only, on 27-MAR-2014
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Source Number : 8
Source : Calendar of State Papers Domestic
Source details : Charles II, 1667, Vol.208, No.72, accessed via < http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=54924 >, subscription only, on 27-MAR-2014
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Source Number : 9
Source : Calendar of State Papers Domestic
Source details : Charles II, 1667, Vol.208, No.73, accessed via < http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=54924 >, subscription only, on 27-MAR-2014
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Source Number : 10
Source : Calendar of State Papers Domestic
Source details : Charles II, 1667, Vol.208, No.105, accessed via < http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=54924 >, subscription only, on 27-MAR-2014
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Monument Types:
Monument Period Name : Post Medieval
Display Date : 1667
Monument End Date : 1667
Monument Start Date : 1667
Monument Type : Naval Battlefield, Battlefield
Evidence : Documentary Evidence, Conjectural Evidence

Components and Objects:
Related Records from other datasets:
External Cross Reference Source : Admiralty Chart
External Cross Reference Number : 1183a 15-07-83
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : Admiralty Chart
External Cross Reference Number : 1406 16-05-69
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External Cross Reference Number : 2693b 14-06-74
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : National Monuments Record Number
External Cross Reference Number : TM 22 NE 9
External Cross Reference Notes :

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Related Activities :
Associated Activities : NHPP NAVAL BATTLEFIELDS PROJECT
Activity type : DESK BASED ASSESSMENT
Start Date : 2012-01-01
End Date : 2013-12-31