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Plan for closing the estuary of the Surinam river in times of war


Plan for closing the estuary of the Surinam river in times of war

Hottinger, Johann Heinrich

Title Leupe: Schetsplan van een defens plan der rivieren Surinamen en Comowini, ontworpen door: Hottinger.

This map shows the ‘obstruction plan’, the closure of the estuary of the Surinam River in times of war, which was worked out in detail during and after the Fourth Anglo-Dutch War, using the setup which was first improvised in 1781-1782.

The map shows how hostile ships will be attacked.

In addition to batteries, blockade ships, gunboats and the wooden barrier, the map also depicts brandertjes, i.e. fireships, which would be sent into the enemy fleet.

This map is part of the report of the tour of inspection of the Dutch possessions on the Gold Coast and West Indies from January 1786 to August 1787 by the naval frigate Hector, under the leadership of Lieutenant Johann Heinrich Hottinger of the Engineering Corps and naval Lieutenant Albert Kikkert. This voyage was the first of its kind undertaken after the war with England.

Hottinger and Kikkert were in Surinam from 9 November 1786 to 2 March 1787, during which time they inspected the fortifications in the colony and produced a small number of project maps, with the assistance of the engineer Johann Gottfried Rabanus Böhm, the military commander Juriaan François de Friderici and Governor Jan Gerhard Wichers.

In the first two months, they concentrated on a new design for the ‘Line of Obstruction’, which would ensure that this barrier could be made operational within a short time and at little expense. The plan which was produced, mainly through Hottinger’s efforts, included the placement of a permanent barrier of heavy piles and ironwork across the river between Purmerend and Leiden, leaving only a narrow channel which could be closed off in times of war by a set of chains.

Directly behind this would be a line of ‘canonnieer chalouppen’ (gunboats), and a little farther upstream, on a level with the fort of Nieuw Amsterdam, on both the Suriname and the Commewijne Rivers, larger armed ships would be stationed.

Hottinger estimated the total cost of this barricade at nearly 93,000 guilders. It was never implemented.

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Sources and literature

Heijer, H. den, Grote Atlas van de West-Indische Compagnie = Comprehensive Atlas of the Dutch West India Company, II, de nieuwe WIC 1674-1791 = the new WIC 1674-1791 (2012)