• Si Biggs

The Admirals Regiment - The Marines First Action - attack on the Dutch Smyrna fleet

Unit/ Formation: Marine Regiments


Location: Cadiz


Period/ Conflict: Second Anglo Dutch War


Year: 1664


Date/s: December 1664


The restoration of Charles II saw widespread demands at home to reverse the Dutch dominance in world trade. Charles, however, was personally greatly in debt to the House of Orange, which had lent enormous sums to his father during the Civil War. But a conflict soon developed over the education and future prospects of his nephew, William III of Orange. That dispute, which had wide implications for the royal houses of Europe, was temporarily solved, thanks largely to the diplomacy of Lord Clarendon, a favourite of the king.

Charles sailed from his exile in the Netherlands to his restoration in England in May 1660. Painting by Lieve Verschuier.

In 1664, the situation quickly changed when Clarendon’s enemy, Lord Arlington, superseded him as the king’s favourite. Arlington and the king’s brother James, Duke of York, the Lord High Admiral, saw the opportunity for great personal gain in a war with the Dutch. James headed the Royal African Company and hoped to seize the possessions of the Dutch West India Company.


James, Duke of York, the Lord High Admiral of England and openly Catholic, argued in favour of a war between England and the Dutch.

The two were supported by the English ambassador in The Hague, George Downing, who despised the Dutch. He, either falsely or over-optimistically, reported that the Republic was politically divided between Orangists, who would gladly collaborate with an English enemy in case of war, and a faction of wealthy merchants that would give in to any English demand in order to protect their trade interests. Arlington planned to subdue the Dutch completely by permanent occupation of key Dutch cities.


Charles was easily influenced and became convinced that a popular and lucrative foreign war at sea would bolster his authority as king. Naval officers were hungry for promotion and fortune in a conflict which they thought would be a walk-over.


Enthusiasm for war became infectious. English privateers attacked Dutch ships, capturing about 200. Dutch ships were obligated by treaty to salute the English flag first. In 1664 English commanders provoked the Dutch by not saluting in return.


Possibly the first action where Marines were used was the suddenly attacked the Dutch Smyrna fleet. Though the attack failed, the Dutch in January 1665 allowed their ships to open fire on English warships in the colonies when threatened.


Charles II used this as a pretext to declare war on the Netherlands on 4 March 1665 leading to the Second Anglo Dutch War.


Read More/ Web Link: Wikipedia

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