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The Third Anglo-Dutch War (1672-1674) at sea formed part of the greater conflict between France and England against the Dutch, in which the naval campaign was fought in conjunction with a major land offensive, leading to an invasion of the Netherlands by France. The war at sea saw English and French fleets both trying hard to work together. In the event, their combined attempts to blockade the Dutch coast were punctuated, and in part frustrated, by the major fleet actions at Sole Bay, Schooneveld and the Texel.
This volume comprises an absorbing collection of highly readable narratives and journals by senior officers in command at sea during 1672-3 including, notably, John Narborough and Edward Spragge. The accounts are sequential and contain a wealth of observations and detail about operations in the Channel and the North Sea and the difficulties both sides had in bringing their respective fleets to decisive action. Most usefully, they provide extensive fleet lists, detailed topographical information and comprehensive, first-hand accounts of the major actions, including that at Sole Bay.
The journals contain a variety of (sometimes contradictory) opinions and judgements about key events and decisions, together with perceptive observations about personalities, tactics, including the routine use of fireships in battle, and naval organization. Several journals contain fascinating detail about the practicalities of maintaining the blockade against the Dutch, the struggle to gain intelligence about enemy shipping movements and the problems of cooperating with the French, about whom there are frequent disparaging comments, mostly about their poor formation-keeping, unreliable mutual support and slack seamanship practices.