Johan Evertsen

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Admiral Johan Evertsen.

Johan Evertsen (1 February 1600 – 5 August 1666) was a Dutch admiral during the 17th century. Evertsen and his five brothers started their career in the military after the death of their father, "Captain Jan," by taking his rank for Lieutenant. He quickly moved through the ranks fighting battles with corsairs and protecting Dutch ships from other privateers. Evertsen was eventually promoted to be an admiral during the Anglo-Dutch Wars. Despite Evertsen's successes and influence in the Dutch Navy, his skill level was questioned due to rumors of him being a coward.

Biography

Born in Vlissingen, Johan was the eldest surviving son of Johan Evertsen, also known as Captain Jan, who died in 1617 fighting near La Rochelle against a French corsair. As gratitude for the services he rendered, all five sons of Captain Jan were named lieutenants by the Admiralty of Zeeland.

At the age of 18, Johan was already reported as captain of a ship. He fought near La Rochelle in 1625 under Willem de Zoete, and in 1626 and 1627 in a campaign against the Barbary Coast under Laurens Reael.

Between 1628 and 1636, he distinguished himself while fighting the Dunkirk corsairs. His greatest successes were in 1628 preventing the interception by the Dunkirkers of the captured treasure fleet of Piet Heyn and in 1636 the capture of the famous corsair Jacob Collaert. He also played an important part in the Dutch victory in the Battle of the Slaak against the Spanish.

In 1637, he became Vice-Admiral and in 1639 commanded a squadron in the Battle of the Downs in which he destroyed the Portuguese Admiral′s ship Santa Teresa, killing 800 of the 1000-man crew.

In the wake of this battle, he got into conflict with Witte Corneliszoon de With, and did not receive any more important commands for the next years. In those years, he developed a friendship with stadtholders Frederick Henry and William II.[1][2]

First Anglo-Dutch War

At the outbreak of the First Anglo-Dutch War, Johan Evertsen was still left aside by Witte de With, who considered him an orangist. But after de With's defeat in the Battle of the Kentish Knock and his replacement by Maarten Tromp, Johan Evertsen was reinstated as squadron commander and helped achieve victory in the Battle of Dungeness, extricating Tromp's flagship from an English attack.

In 1653, he fought the last Battle of Portland and Battle of the Gabbard.

The final Battle of Scheveningen was also lost and Tromp was killed in battle. Evertsen's ship was so badly damaged that he had to withdraw and leave the command to Witte de With. Evertsen was again blamed by de With to be a coward, and he didn't receive any command for the next 5 years.

In May 1659, after the death of de With, he sailed under Michiel de Ruyter in the fleet that assisted Jacob van Wassenaer Obdam in reconquering the Danish islands after the victory in the Battle of the Sound, in which de With was killed.

Second Anglo-Dutch War

Despite his age, Johan Evertsen was third in command of the fleet that faced the English in the Battle of Lowestoft. The battle went horribly wrong for the Dutch, and the first and second in command, Jacob van Wassenaer Obdam and Egbert Bartholomeusz Kortenaer, were killed. Evertsen was brought in command, but the confusion in the Dutch fleet was so great, that Cornelius Tromp did the same. By the evening, the Dutch fleet was in full flight.

Johan Evertsen was summoned to The Hague. When he travelled there, he was dragged from his carriage by an angry mob, mistreated, and thrown into the water, hands, and feet tied. He had saved himself by clinging on to the stem of a ship. He had to be escorted for his protection by an armed detachment to Den Helder, where he would be tried for cowardice.

But the commanders of the fleet spoke out in his favour, and when it became clear that Evertsen had prevented worst by covering the retreat of the fleet, receiving 150 bullet impacts in his ship, he was released from prison.

When his brother Cornelis Evertsen the Elder was killed in the Four Days' Battle, Johan joined as yet the fleet and took command of the vanguard of De Ruyter. He was killed on the first day of the St James's Day Battle.

Both brothers were, after much conflict between the Admiralty and the family over the costs, in 1681 buried in the Abbey of Middelburg, where their shared grave memorial is still to be seen.

Tomb monument of Johan and Cornelis Evertsen in Middelburg

Marriage and children

Johan married Maayken Gorcum (1600–1671). They had five children:

References

  1. ^ "Dutch Warships in the Age of Sail 1600-1714: Design, Construction, Careers". Casemate Publishers Amazon.com. Retrieved 11 September 2017. 
  2. ^ Jan Evertsen. REFOLVY. Retrieved 11 September 2017. 
  • Jonge, J. C. de, Levens-beschrijving van Johan en Cornelis Evertsen, Luitenant-Admiralen van Zeeland, ’s Gravenhage, Weduwe J. Allart & Comp., 1820.
Attribution
  • This article is based on the article from the Dutch Wikipedia "Johan Evertsen".

External links

  • Michiel de Ruyter
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