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The night time battle against the Spanish fleet


The night time battle against the Spanish fleet

In early July 1615 the five ships of the expedition of Joris Spilbergen reached Arica, where they very much hoped to intercept Spanish ships carrying silver from Potosí. There were no Spanish ships with any valuables to assault and Spilbergen decided to press on. A small ship was captured at Cañete but it did not contain anything of real value. Then, in the evening of July 16th, the fleet saw a fleet of 8 Spanish ships. Van Spilbergen already knew that the Spanish were likely looking for him and had already prepared his fleet for the possibility of battle. Late evening, the Spanish admiral Don Rodrigo de Mendoza decided to attack before the Dutch ships could decide to flee, although he had only part of his fleet collected near him. Likewise, Van Spilbergen’s fleet was dispersed, and only part of the Dutch fleet fought in the night time battle. The attack of Mendoza failed. One of the Spanish ships sank, another was heavily damaged. In the next morning, five of the seven remaining Spanish ships tried to sail away. This left the admiral’s ship Jesus Maria and the vice-admiral’s ship Santa Anna effectively isolated. The Dutch fleet attacked and after a fierce fight the Santa Anna sank and the Jesus Maria escaped to the shore in the night. The fight was a clear victory for Van Spilbergen, though he did not capture anything valuable from the ships.

This image shows the night time battle at Cañete as told in Van Spilbergen’s journal: A. is the flagship of the Spanish admiral Don Rodrigo de Mendoza, the Jesus Maria. B. is the ship of admiral Joris van Spilbergen, who, according to the description, is bravely attacking the Spanish admiral. C. Is the Spanish vice-admiral’s ship, the Santa Anna, commanded by Pedro Alvares de Pulgar. D. Is the third-in-command of the Spanish fleet. E. Was another Spanish ship. F. shows the Dutch vice-admiral’s ship, commanded by De Tovelingh. G. Is the Morgensterre, a Dutch ship. H. Is the Dutch ship Aeolus, which due to lack of wind could not participate in the battle. I. Is a Spanish ship that fought against the Dutch vice-admiral’s ship. K. Are two Spanish ships that sometimes fired their cannons. L. Is the Jager, which sank a Spanish ship. M. Is a Spanish ship that sank after taking heavy cannon fire.

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Sources and literature

J.C.M. Warnsinck, De reis om de wereld van Joris van Spilbergen, 1614-1617