Source C was written by the Master Shipwright who was at Harwich Navl Dockyard. He says, “it is the fireships which have preserved us and nothing else hindered (prevented) the Dutch coming into this place.” Source F supports this by saying that the Dutch could not get their ships into Harwich but source F makes no mention of the fireships, which is not suprising as the Dutch ships never managed to get far enough up the channel to encounter them.
In Source F it is written, “The fort had been fortified more strongly than we had been informed, which dampened the morale and courage of our men”. This low morale and courage of the invading Dutch soldiers would have made the attack less effective and reduced the chances of a Dutch victory.
Source E tells us a lot about why the attack failed.
Where the source says “There a halt was made and it was found that there was a considerable pass which it was judged should be occupied. This the Count van Hoorn did and remained there with four or five hundred soldiers.” This means that four or five hundred men were left to guard a pass and so were not available for the attack on the fort. At the time it was not thought that these men would be needed for a victory as the Dutch had underestimated the number of men and big guns at the fort. My site record helped me to realise the cliffs that protected the route for the Dutch return finished as they arched toward the fort and so four or five hundred men were left at a pass to make sure the Dutch could return safely and that they wouldn’t be stopped by the white regiment.
On reaching the fort Colonel Dolman discovered “Firstly, the fort appeared to be fortified with four good bastions or bulwarks, partly with earth and the rest with masonry with a good ditch” and “Secondly, it was fortified with a good covered way and counterscarp, leaving those standing behind it in safety. The covered way was filled with men, who were well disciplined and alert and were faithfully keeping a lookout” for the Dutch.
Once Colonel Dolman discovered how well defended the fort was he “called all the senior officers and captains to a council of war to consider whether it was possible to take such a well organized fort: and it was unanimously agreed that it was not, all the more so because they saw that the Count van Hoorn’s troops were being attacked.”
This tells us that the Dutch did not expect such a great defence at the fort and so were unprepared to capture it.
The information I have discovered from my site visit have helped me to realise why this agreement was made. I have discovered from my site record that the fort was surrounded by open ground, tall walls and cannons. The fort had very few weak points. The only weak points were the gate as there was already a whole with which to gain access and the walls in the centre but there was a ditch around the perimeter of the fort making attack very difficult. The Dutch soldiers were expecting their ships to bombard the fort and then they would go in a finish what was left of the English. After the long march when the Dutch troops saw the fort was undamaged they must have felt extremely disappointed as they knew they will lose many men in the battle. The Dutch also knew they were likely to encounter the white regiment on the way back to the ships. The Dutch commander, upon realising the fort was far stronger than was expected would have felt upset, annoyed and desperate and he would have known that he would be sending troops into a already lost battle.
When the Dutch says they don’t believe they could take the fort, the source says “even more so because they saw that the Count van Hoorn’s troops were being attacked.” Which implies that even with the Count van Hoorn’s men the Dutch would be unable to take the fort. The Dutch knew that they could not capture the fort but still had to carry out their duty and go into battle, and so two attacks on the fort were made and when both failed and the Dutch had done as much damage as they could the Dutch withdrew, “in good order to help the troops of the Count van Hoorn.”
The Count van Hoorn’s men could not help Colonel Dolman attack the fort as “Skirmishing (fighting) had scarcely begun near the fort when the enemy appeared in the pass with foot and horse where the Count van Hoorn’s troops were occupying it.”
The main reason source E tells why the Dutch attack failed is because the Dutch underestimated the defensive capabilities of Landguard fort.
My site record also tells me a lot about why the Dutch attack failed.
The Dutch landing site was about 2 miles away from the Fort. Although this site provided cliff protection and time to unload, it also meant that the troops would have a long march before the battle therefore the men would not be at their best during the battle.
As both source E and my site record confirm the Dutch troops split up at the end of the cliffs and about 400-500 men were left to guard a pass so that the English did not attack from the rear. It was not suspected at the time that these men would be needed.
Although no physical evidence remains to show fort was surrounded by open ground I saw a model in the museum close to the fort which shows the fort and the environment around it at the time of the Dutch attack. The model showed that the fort was surrounded by open green land which would have made spotting the Dutch very easy and the fort easily had enough range to allow the English to fire at the Dutch before the Dutch could even get close to the fort. The position of the fort also revealed that it was very well sited to spot the approach of the Dutch as it had a good view of the North Sea.
The morale of the soldiers would have been very low as they went into battle as once they saw the fort’s defences and that it was undamaged they would have known that victory would be near impossible and that many men would die.
The failure of the sea attack which left the fort undamaged would have been one of the greatest reasons of why the Dutch attack failed as the men had no chance of taking the undamaged fort. Unfortunately there is very little evidence left of the Dutch attack on the fort to study as the original fort no longer stands. The only evidence is a battery built for WWI called Darrell’s battery. Nathanial Darrell led defence of Landguard and so a battery was built in his name.
I believe there were many reasons as to why the Dutch sea attack failed.
Source F is written by Cornelis de Witt, a highly ranking Dutch officer, and in it he explains from his point of view why the attack failed. Cornelis de Witt begins “It was found that they could not get nearer to the shore on account of the shallowness of the water, so that their shots could scarcely reach the fort.” This shows that that the fleet could not attack the fort successfully, so to continue any sort of long distance attack would be a waste of time and ammunition. In the 17th Century the ship guns were only powerful enough to be able to hit the fort with enough impact power if they could get to a range of 200 yards or less. Later in the source it is explained why the ships could not get close enough to the fort to attack successfully, “The pilot declared that all the marks had been cut down so he could not find the entrance which was very narrow.” This was stated by Cornelis de Witt (high ranking Dutch officer) in his report to the Dutch States General. I also saw how narrow the channel was during my site visit and agree that a shit would not be able to navigate through it safely with marks or other such assistance. Without marks from which to navigate, the Dutch could not risk sailing into shallow water and disabling some, or all of their ships, which would have been a great and unacceptable loss.
Source G speaks very highly of Admiral De Ruyter. It could be biased as it is a biography of De Ruyter and biographies usually tend to concentrate of how great a person is and less on the negative aspects of their life.
Source G suggests the attack was well led, but unfortunately did not cause the damage that was intended “The well led attack came to nothing with little loss.” This tells us that the attack although a failure was not a costly failure as only few men were injured or killed.
The preparation of behalf of the English was very good which hindered the Dutch attempt to capture the fort. Removing the markers left the Dutch with no other alternative way to reach the fort. The sea attack was useless as damage could be done if the Dutch could get at least 200 yards close to the fort but this was no possible.
I believe the attack was well led but a lack of preparation was the downfall of the sea attack. I believe the Dutch did not do enough in order to make sure that the markers were not moved or removed and that more could have been done in order to guarantee their safe passage toward the fort on the day of the attack. As it would have been very difficult for the Dutch to monitor English activity and prevent tampering with the markers, ideally someone with greater knowledge of the area could have been captured or employed to help the Dutch navigate.
I also believe that if the Dutch sea attack had been successful then the English would have been defeated.
There were other reasons, which I believe to have had a contribution in the failure of the Dutch sea attack, which neither source mentioned. The English sent out ships that were positioned in such a way that they prevented the Dutch travelling any further by sea. These ships were known as block ships. The
English also set old ships on fire and directed them at the advancing Dutch, which proved to be a great success although they were not tested to their full extent as the Dutch did not make it far up the channel. The action which I believe was the final misfortune that caused the Dutch to abandon their sea attack, was the running aground of their lead ship while it was attempting to sail into the estuary. Pulling it back onto the water wasted much valuable time.
“The most important reason why the Dutch attack failed to take Landguard Fort was that they were not fully committed to the attack.”
I agree with the above sentence because I believe that the Dutch could have been more committed to the attack which may have led to a different outcome. On the other hand in source E “it was unanimously agreed that it was not” possible to take such a well organized fort and therefore if the Dutch very more committed and devoted more men to the battle it may have just meant that many more men would have lost their lives. The lack of preparation and intelligence on the Dutch behalf greatly hindered their chances. If they had alternative methods for the fleet to reach the fort, other than the markers then the sea attack and the overall Dutch attack could have been successful. Because no preparations were made to compensate for the probability that the markers would be unavailable, the ships were not able to get close to the fort. This greatly affected the outcome of the overall battle and was one of the defining factors which caused the Dutch attack to fail.
Insufficient knowledge and a lack of intelligence prevented the Dutch from knowing alternative methods to guide a fleet toward the fort. It also made the Dutch underestimate the number of men and guns at the fort and arrive at the fort with too little resources to be able to take the fort. If the Dutch were fully committed to the attack then more intelligence and knowledge of the fort and the surrounding area would have been gathered prior to the battle.
The strength of the fort and the limited attacking force were also large reasons why the Dutch attack failed.
In Source E when the Colonel Dolman, the captains and the senior officers decided it was not possible to defeat a fort that was so well organised, it is implied that even if the Dutch had more men they still would be unable to defeat the fort.
De Ruyter was probably already aware of many of the difficulties that would face him when attacking Landguard, such as the shallow water and open ground near the fort, and it may have been these difficulties that forced him to decide not to attack in 1666. In 1667 source D shows that De Ruyter had no choice but to attack the fort as he was ordered to by the Dutch States General. Source D speaks of the planned sea attack, “by a determined attack by the ships on one side” and the land attack which was to follow, “the army on the other”. De Ruyter was probably unhappy with the decision to attack but was forced to carry out his duty and so would have approached the situation cautiously.
Since the first Anglo-Dutch war England had still not received possession of the Dutch rules island that they demanded. The Dutch refused to hand back the spice islands of Pulo Run as they had agreed in 1654. By 1664 Charles II restored the monarchy of England and the two countries engaged in frequent clashes in the East Indies, Africa and America. The English were confident of a victory as the defeated the Dutch in the first war and the war was going well for them to begin with. The crushing Dutch defeats led to the death of the Dutch Admiral. The new commander of the Dutch Navy began to rebuild the fleet and changed the balance of the war. In the great four day battle of June 1666 the Dutch made good use of superior numbers and defeated the English. The war began to get better for the Dutch and many would have become confident of a victory. This possibly over confidence may have remained up to the time of the Dutch attack on Landguard fort and so the Dutch may not have been as dedicated to the attack as they would have been had they not been defeating the English in many of their previous battles.
The Medway attack would have made many Dutch very confident when attack the English another time. The Medway attack went very well for the Dutch. Prior to the attack the Dutch were busy refitting and building a massive fleet of ships while the English government was rather slow to prepare for another Dutch attack. Some English ships were taken out of service in the winter and were not refitted ready for the 1667 campaign. The battery guns at Sheerness were not finished properly. During the attack the Dutch ploughed through many of the English’s finished defences and even captured a English warship which was taken back to Holland as a prise of war. This would have made many Dutch over confident when they met the English again and therefore under prepared to face the now stronger English.
Overall I think the Dutch could have been more dedicated to the attack but I don’t know if this could have changed the overall outcome of the battle at Landguard.