The First Anglo-Dutch War
17th Century Battles | Anglo-Dutch Wars
Battle of Livorno OOB
NB: Discussion devoted to the Anglo-Dutch Wars at sea, including ships, battles, and persons by James C. Bender. Regularly updated.
The Battle of Leghorn (the Dutch call this by the Italian name, Livorno) was fought on March 14, 1653 (new style date). The English fleet was divided into two squadrons, on being in the harbor at Leghorn.
The English Mediterranean fleet commander, Admiral Richard Badiley, commanded the other squadron. Henry Appleton commanded the squadron in Leghorn, but was not a regular naval officer. Appleton had been an official at Trinity House, where he returned, after his part in the war ended.
Johan van Galen commanded the Dutch fleet. The Dutch fleet had many more ships than the English fleet, although they had nothing the equal of the largest English ships, the Paragon, Leopard, and Bonaventure.
The English and Dutch orders of battle at Leghorn were as follows:
Appleton's squadron, which came out of the harbor at Leghorn, in order
The Dutch fleet
The English goal was to enable Appleton's squadron to leave port and rejoin the fleet. Badiley had wanted Appleton to set sail at night, to improve his chances of escaping the Dutch.
Alas, Appleton would not comply. Instead, while Badiley was still to the South, beyond the Dutch, Appleton's squadron sortied from the harbor mouth in broad daylight. The Dutch immediately attacked his squadron before Badiley could close. Early in the engagement, the Bonaventure, leading Appleton's squadron was hit by a shot from Van Galen's flagship, the Vereenigde Provincien, and exploded. The ship was destroyed, with only five men saved by the Dutch. Before that, the Bonaventure had fired and a shot hit Van Galen in the leg, causing his leg to have to be amputated. He died 9 days later.
The Leopard fought the Zon and Julius Caesar and inflicted heavy losses on them. The Maan fought and beat the Sampson, but a Dutch fireship came up on her disengaged side and burnt the Sampson.
Both the Peregrine and Levant Merchant were captured. The Peregrine first lost her mainmast, shot by the Roode Haes and then was boarded by the Susanna. The Peregrine eventually lost her mainmast, but had fought off the Susanna. The Zwarte Arend eventually captured the Peregrine.
The Levant Merchant sank her first opponent, the Madonna della Vigna, or at least she was forced to run ashore, north of the harbor mouth. The Maagd van Enkhuysen then attacked and took the Levant Merchant.
The Leopard, Appleton's flagship, was engaged by the Eendracht, and was eventually captured.
In the end, only the Mary, which was faster than the Dutch ships, escaped to join Badiley's squadron.
Badiley eventually came up to engage. All the remaining Dutch ships engaged his squadron. After an initial exchange of gunfire, Badiley led his squadron in retreat.