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stepping stones of maritime history


Robert Holmes was sent to West Africa to attack Dutch possesions and ships to:
'promote the Interests of the Royall Company' and to 'kill, take, sink or destroy such as shall oppose you' (Bath MSS. XCV, ff.3-5)

Especially the Goulden Lyon (De Gouden Leeuw) of Flushing, a Dutch West India Company ship that had given the English a lot of trouble.

In sight of the Dutch base at Gorée he (Robert Holmes) took the Dutch West Indiaman Brill on 27 December 1663. Stirring up the Portuguese, Africans, and even such Dutch merchants as had a grudge against the WIC, he sank 2 ships and captured 2 others under the guns of Gorée (22 January 1664), and the next day took possession of the fort itself.

On 28 March, in a tactically cunning action, he took Goulden Lyon meanwhile named Walcheren (taken into the Royal Navy as a fourth-rate). On 10 April he captured Anta Castle on the Gold Coast and several other small strongholds and ships. But the greatest coup was the capture of the principal Dutch base in West Africa, Cape Coast Castle near El Mina, on 1 May. Contrary to the popular picture, Holmes had no hand in the capture of New Amsterdam. In August, Michiel de Ruyter had clandestinely been sent to undo what Holmes had achieved. De Ruyter recaptured everything Holmes had conquered, except for Cape Coast Castle, which meant that after 1664, the English were on that coast to stay.



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