Battle of the Gabbard
The First Anglo-Dutch War is not one that springs to mind as decisive in our history, but the gains in trading power and control of the seas around these islands that victory brought merit greater fame for the conflict. That victory was anchored by Englandís triumph at the Battle of the Gabbard.
Cromwell ís Commonwealth had drifted into the war: Dutch support for Charles I ; trade differences; the Dutch spurning our grandiose plans to divide the world between the two nations; and in 1652 the taking of Dutch merchant vessels trading with English colonies counter to recently passed laws conspired to bring about a state of war.
The Battle of the Gabbard, fought off Harwich, began on June 2 (Old Style) and lasted for two days. General Monck and Admiral Sir William Penn (father of the founder of Pennsylvania ) were two of the English senior commanders; Maarten Tromp and Witte de With the Dutch leaders.
On the first day of the clash the Dutch foolishly attacked the English line of battle, and being outgunned lost two ships before retiring. Not learning from this, they repeated the exercise on June 3, the result catastrophic because a drop in the wind left the fleets immobile with the more powerful English cannons able to reach the Dutch who could not reply. When the wind rose again, the Dutch fled: six of their ships were sunk, and 11 captured. Worse yet, the English were able to blockade the Netherlands, preventing the supply of Baltic grain on which the nation relied. Starvation followed.
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