The Raid On The Medway
Patrick Harris -During the winter of 1666-1667 (part of the Second Anglo Dutch War); King Charles II decided to lay up the fleet in dockyard. The British were becoming exhausted with war and peace negotiations were under way. The Dutch however, had other plans. The Dutch government wanted to humiliate the Brit's so that they could decide their own peace terms. The Dutch sent their fleet under Cornelis de Witt up the Thames Estuary, where they arrived on June 7th 1667.
Originally, this expedition was a failure. 20 merchantmen escaped them. Then, on June 10th, de Witt sent his marines to capture the fort at Sheerness, which they did easily. This opened up the way to the Medway, where the British ships lay. The British commanders could see what was coming, and they tried to hastily prepare. Blockships were erected and a makeshift defence of a ship of the line, a frigate and two merchantmen. The Dutch brushed these aside easily. Dutch Engineers dismantled the chain connecting the blockships. The Dutch Fleet, now under nominal command of Michiel de Ruyter, attacked up the Medway.
The 80-gun Royal Charles was easily captured (it only had a skeleton crew). Other British ships were scuttled to prevent capture. While sinking, these ships, including Loyal London, Royal James, and Royal Oak were fired by the Dutch. Only Monmouth escaped, as she was one of the only ships not at anchor. this attack was later referred to as "A dreadful spectacle as ever an Englishman saw and a dishonour never to be wiped off" (John Evelyn, June 1667). The Dutch eventually withdrew on June 14th, after taking fire from shore batteries.
|Michiel de Ruyter|