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Military Memoirs of Capt. George Carleton

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MEMOIRSOF ANEnglish Officer, &c.

In the year one Thousand six Hundred seventy two, War being proclaimed with Holland, it was looked upon among Nobility and Gentry, as a Blemish, not to attend the Duke of York aboard the Fleet, who was then declared Admiral. With many others, I, at that Time about twenty Years of Age, enter'd my self a Voluntier on board the London, commanded by Sir Edward Sprage, Vice-Admiral of the Red.

The Fleet set Sail from the Buoy of the Nore about the beginning of May, in order to join the French Fleet, then at Anchor in St. Hellen's Road, under the Command of the Count de Estrée. But in executing this Design we had a very narrow Escape: For De Ruyter, the Admiral of the Dutch Fleet, having Notice of our Intentions, waited to have intercepted us at the Mouth of the River, but by the Assistance of a great Fog we pass'd Dover before he was aware of it; and thus he miscarried, with the poor Advantage of taking only one small Tender.

A Day or two after the joining of the English and French, we sailed directly towards the Dutch Coast, where we soon got sight of their Fleet; a Sand called the Galloper lying between. The Dutch seem'd willing there to expect an Attack from us: But in regard the Charles Man of War had been lost on those Sands the War before; and that our Ships drawing more Water than those of the Enemy, an Engagement might be render'd very disadvantageous; it was resolv'd in a Council of War to avoid coming to a Battle for the present, and to sail direftly for Solebay, which was accordingly put in Execution.

We had not been in Solebay above four or five Days, when De Ruyter, hearing of it, made his Signal for sailing in order to surprize us; and he had certainly had his Aim, had there been any Breeze of Wind to favour him. But though they made use of all their Sails, there was so little Air stirring, that we could see their Fleet making towards us long before they came up; notwithstanding which, our Admirals found difficulty enough to form their Ships into a Line of Battle, so as to be ready to receive the Enemy.

It was about Four in the Morning of the 28th of May, being Tuesday in Whitson Week, when we first made the Discovery; and about Eight the same Morning the Blue Squadron, under the Command of the Earl of Sandwich, began to engage with Admiral Van Ghent, who commanded the Amsterdam Squadron; and about Nine the whole Fleets were under a general Engagement. The Fight lasted till Ten at Night, and with equal Fury on all Sides, the French excepted, who appeared stationed there rather as Spectators than Parties; and as unwilling to be too much upon the Offensive, for fear of offending themselves.

During the Fight the English Admiral had two Ships disabled under him; and was obliged about Four in the Afternoon to remove himself a third Time into the London, where he remain'd all the rest of the Fight, and till next Morning. Nevertheless, on his Entrance upon the London, which was the Ship I was in, and on our Hoisting the Standard, De Ruyter and his Squadron seem'd to double their Fire upon her, as if they resolv'd to blow her out of the Water....