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The second day of battle against the Spanish fleet


The second day of battle against the Spanish fleet

In early July the five ships of the expedition of Joris Spilbergen reached Arica, where they very much hoped to intercept Spanish ships carrying silver from Potosí, Bolivia. There were no Spanish ships with any valuables to assault and Spilbergen decided to press on. A small ship was captured but it did not contain anything of real value. Then, at San Vincente de Cañete 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 prepared his fleet for the possibility of battle. In the late evening of the 17th July, 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 to Lima. 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 day-time battle at San Vincente de Cañete on the 18th of July, as recorded in the published journal of Van Spilbergen’s expedition. A. is the half crescent moon – likely reference to the Dutch ship Moon that due to lack of wind came between two Spanish ships and, according to the accompanying text, fought valiantly. B. Are two Spanish galleons that are attacking the Moon. C. Are two boats sent to assist the Moon. D. Is the Morning Star, which had to be towed by two row boats because of the lack of wind. E. Is the ship of admiral Joris van Spilbergen. F. Is the ship of the Spanish vice-admiral, which took heavy fire. G. Are two ships who were pursuing “the Spaniard”, probably a reference to the Spanish admiral Don Rodrigo de Mendoza on the Jesus Maria. H. Is a Spanish ship that went down and was on fire. It’s crew let out pitiful cries. I. Is another Spanish ship that also sank after taking heavy cannon fire. K. Are the remaining Spanish ships, fleeing the battle. L. Is the third Spanish ship, which sank while fleeing.

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Sources and literature

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