Tiger vs Schakerlo

22nd February 1673/74
Part of : The Third Anglo-Dutch War (1672 - 1674/02)
Previous action : Action off Dover 30.10.1673
Next action : Battle of Ronas Voe 4.3.1673/74


Kingdom of England

Ship NameCommanderNotes
Tiger (40) Thomas Harman (d.1677)

Dutch Republic

Ship NameCommanderNotes
Schakerloo (30) Passchier de Witte Captured

Notes on Action

Description of the action

On February 22nd, 1674, the Dutch ship Schakerloo, 28, Captain Passchier de Witte, which had been cruising off the mouth of the Strait, entered Cadiz. A few hours later, the Tiger, which had been at Tangier, also entered the port. According to local gossip, De Witte had come in because of his unwillingness to meet Harman. Cornells Evertsen, " the Youngest," who was at the time careening his flagship in the Bay, heard this gossip from the Dutch Consul, and, quite unnecessarily, advised De Witte that, in the circumstances, it was his duty to challenge Harman.

De Witte, an excellent and brave officer, would brook no imputations on his honour; but, looking to his greatly inferior force, he obtained from Evertsen a detachment of seventy officers and men, which, according to the Dutch accounts, brought his total strength up to one hundred and seventy. The Tiger's proper complement at the time appears to have been two hundred and twenty-six, but the ship is said to have had only one hundred and eighty-four officers and men on board at the moment, though Evertsen, in his 'Journal,' declares that she had had more than three hundred. On the other hand, the English contemporary reports of the affair assert that the Dutch ship carried thirty-six guns and about two hundred and seventy officers and men. The gun strength of the Schakerloo is here certainly overstated, and it is quite likely that the number of her people is also exaggerated. Be this as it may, at about 9 A.M. on February 23rd, De Witte went out into the Bay, and was presently followed by Harman.

The two ships at once began a hot action at close quarters. Then, as by common consent, they ran alongside one another, and both made attempts to board; but in vain. Again the guns were resorted to; and when the Schakerloo was almost in a sinking condition, another English effort to board her met with more success, and the gallant Dutch surrendered after a two hours' fight. The Schakerloo had fifty people killed, and seventy, including Captain de Witte, wounded. There could be no stronger testimony to the heroism of the defence. The English loss was but nine killed (four by the bursting of one of the lower-deck guns) and fifteen wounded. Harman received a musket ball under his left eye, but soon recovered from his injury.

I have already characterised this action as one of the most gallant performances of the whole campaign. Yet it seems to me that the chief gallantry was displayed by the Dutch, who, even admitting that they were as strong in numbers of men as their opponents, were undoubtedly very inferior both in number and in relative weight of guns. All the English accounts are so worded as to suggest that the balance of force inclined rather the other way: and as they are almost unanimous in calling the Dutch ship the Schaerlaes instead of the Schakerloo, the question has been involved in unnecessary obscurity. It is certain, however, that the ship was the Schakerloo, and that she mounted twenty-eight light guns and no more.

Harman took his prisoners into Cadiz. The Spanish governor interceded for them; and Jacob Binckes, with four men-of-war, entering the Bay a few hours afterwards, and threatening, in case of their non-surrender, to sink the Tiger as she lay, De Witte and his people were released ere they had spent a night in the English ship. Evertsen, upon his return to Holland, was much censured for having brought about this engagement; and, indeed, to his conduct in the affair he owed, in part, the temporary disgrace which soon afterwards overtook him.



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