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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

Bonaventure 44 guns -
Leopard 48 guns (Appleton's flagship)
Sampson 40 guns hired merchantman
Mary 30 guns hired merchantman
Peregrine 30 guns hired merchantman
Levant Merchant 30 guns hired merchantman

Badiley's squadron

Paragon 52 guns (Badiley's flagship)
Phoenix 36 guns -
Elizabeth 36 guns -
Constant Warwick 32 guns -
Mary Rose 32 guns hired merchantman
Lewis 30 guns hired merchantman
William and Thomas 30 guns hired merchantman
Thomas Bonaventure 28 guns hired merchantman
Charity - fireship

The Dutch fleet

Vereenigde Provincien (Zeven Provincien) 40 guns (Johan Van Galen's flagship)
Eendracht 40 guns (Jacob de Boer Vice-Admiral)
Maan 40 guns (Cornelis Tromp)
Ter Goes 40 guns -
Zon 40 guns -
Zutphen 36 guns -
Maagd van Enkhuysen 34 guns -
Jonge Prins 28 guns -
Julius Caesar 28 guns hired merchantman
Witte Olifant 28 guns hired merchantman
Madonna della Vigna 28 guns hired merchantman
Susanna 28 guns hired merchantman
Zwarte Arend 28 guns -
Salomons Ordeel 28 guns hired merchantman
Roode Haes 28 guns hired merchantman
Ster (Star) 28 guns hired merchantman

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.

  • Anderson, R.C., The First Dutch War in the Mediterranean, The Mariner's Mirror, November 1963, Vol.49 No.4, pp. 241-265.
  • Ballhausen, Carl, Ph.D., Der erste Englisch-Hollandische Seekrieg 1652-1654 Sowie der Schwedisch-Hollandische Seekrieg 1658-1659, Martinus Nijhoff, den Haag, 1923.
  • Elias, Dr. Johan E., Schetsen uit de Geschiedenis van ons Zeewezen, Vol. VI, Martinus Nijhoff, 's-Gravenhage, 1930.
  • Van Rijsewijk, P. Haverkorn, De Eerste Oorlog met Engeland en Willem van de Velde de Oude, Oud-Holland Vol. 17, 1899, pp.33-46.
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