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Action of 12 March 1672

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Battle of Texel
Part of the Franco-Dutch War
Holme's attack on the Smyrna Fleet, 12 March 1672 RMG PW5525.jpg
Holme's attack on the Smyrna Fleet, off Beachy Head, 12 March 1672
Date12-13 March 1672
Result Most of the Dutch convoy escapes
 England  Dutch Republic
Commanders and leaders
Sir Robert Holmes
Sir Frescheville Holles
Dutch Republic Adriaan de Haaze 
Dutch Republic Cornelis Evertsen
9 warships 5 warships
66 merchantmen
Casualties and losses
1 ship disabled (Saint Michael) and severe damage to the other ships 1 warship lost (Klein Hollandia)
4 small merchantmen captured

The action of 12 March 1672 was a naval battle in the Third Anglo-Dutch War between a squadron commanded by Sir Robert Holmes and Sir Frescheville Holles against the Smyrna convoy, which was protected by 5 warships under De Haaze and Cornelis Evertsen.[1] The Battle took place before the official start of the Third Anglo-Dutch War, but now there was no turning back and England declared war on the Dutch Republic on March 17, 1672.

Discover more about Action of 12 March 1672 related topics

The Battle

Holmes with a squadron of 5 ships cruising about the Isle of Wight, met with the Dutch Smyrna fleet, consisting of about 50 sail.[2]

When the English fleet closed in with the Smyrna convoy, Holmes ordered Captain De Haaze to come aboard his ship. De Haaze refused, and English ship the "Saint Michael" reacted to this refusal with a broadside after which De Haaze's ship replied in kind, and the engagement became general. At a certain point during the battle Haaze was killed, but his crew kept resisting. Holmes maintained the engagement until sunset, but failed to capture a single ship while his squadron had suffered severe damage. With dawn the action resumed. Four English warships which had hung back the day before now joined the battle. After another whole day of fighting, Evertsen managed to extract 62 merchantmen from danger. The Dutch during the engagement had lost 1 warship and only lost 4 merchantmen of which only 2 were of any value. The English ships had suffered severe damage with one ship disabled.

The Gloucester's prize the Klein Hollandia which she had disabled and captured, later foundered off Eastbourne.[3]

Ships involved

The following details are from British Warships in the Age of Sail, 1603–1714.[1]

Holmes' squadron
Vessel Guns
Saint Michael 90
Resolution 70
Cambridge 70
Gloucester 62
York 60
Fairfax 60
Diamond 48
Success 32
De Haaze's squadron
Vessel Guns
Vlissingen 50
Utrecht 48
Klein Hollandia 44
Dordrecht 44
Delft 36

Source: "Action of 12 March 1672", Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, (2023, February 9th),

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  • Shomette, Donald G.; Haslach, Robert D. (1988). Raid on America: The Dutch Naval campaign of 1672-1674. University of South Carolina Press. ISBN 978-0788422454.
  1. ^ a b Winfield, Rif (10 March 2010). British Warships in the Age of Sail, 1603–1714. Pen & Sword Books. ISBN 9781783469246.
  2. ^ Roberts, Alice; Nubia, Onyeka (1 January 2023). "Alice Roberts reveals a Dutch ship sunk by the English, a Cornish Roman fort and a 5,000-year-old Neolithic monument. Series 10: Episode 4.". Digging for Britain. BBC. Retrieved 30 January 2023. Sir Robert Holmes with a squadron of 5 ships cruising about the Isle of Wight, met with the Dutch Smyrna fleet, consisting of about 50 sail. Quote taken from A contemporary pamphlet "A true and perfect relation of the great victory obtained over the Dutch" which gives a date of 13 March 1672 for the action.
  3. ^ Davies, Caroline (27 January 2023). "'Remarkable': Eastbourne shipwreck identified as 17th-century Dutch warship". Guardian. Retrieved 27 January 2023. A remarkably preserved shipwreck known only as the "unknown wreck off Eastbourne" has finally been identified as the 17th-century Dutch warship Klein Hollandia... Its identity has been confirmed after painstaking research by archaeologists and scientists after its initial discovery in 2019, having lain 32 metres (105ft) underwater on the seabed since 1672. the Klein Hollandia warship which was built in 1656 and owned by the Admiralty of Rotterdam.

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