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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 / Friderici, Juriaan François de / Böhm, Johann Gottfried Rabanus / Kikkert, Albert / Wichers, Jan Gerhard

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 time of war, which was worked out in detail during and after the Fourth Anglo-Dutch War, using the set-up which was first improvised in 1781-1782.

This map shows the riverine area around the fort of Nieuw Amsterdam and the two nearby redoubts, and depicts an alternative blockade line when compared to other maps depicting this plan.

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 was the first inspection tour undertaken after the war with England.

Hottinger and Kikkert remained in Surinam between 9 November 1786 and 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 operational within a short time and at little expense.

The resulting plan, mainly produced 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.

In view of the handwriting and its style, the map of the project reproduced here is probably not by Hottinger himself, but corresponds exactly to a second version which is also found with the original report (Dutch National Archives, 1.01.50 1287).

Besides Hottinger and Kikkert, Wichers, De Friderici and Böhm have also signed their approval of the map.

Scale of 300 Rhineland Rods = 180 ‘strepen’ [approximately 1 : 6,400].

Please contact Nationaal Archief for reuse and copyrights.

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)