Siege of Bergen op Zoom (1622)

The Siege of Bergen op Zoom (1622) was a siege during the Eighty Years' War that took place from 18 July to 2 October 1622. The Spanish general Ambrosio Spinola laid siege to the Dutch city of Bergen op Zoom.

Siege of Bergen op Zoom (1622)
Part of the Eighty Years' War
Map of Bergen op Zoom (Blaeu).jpg
Bergen op Zoom, circa 1620
Location51°30′N 4°18′E / 51.500°N 4.300°E / 51.500; 4.300
Result Dutch victory
Belligerents
Dutch Republic United Provinces  Spain
Commanders and leaders
Maurice, Prince of Orange
Ernst von Mansfeld
Kingdom of Scotland Sir Robert Henderson 
Ambrosio Spinola
Hendrik van den Bergh
Luis de Velasco
Strength
unknown 20.600 men
Casualties and losses
unknown 5,000
Bergen op Zoom is located in North Brabant
Bergen op Zoom
Bergen op Zoom
Location within North Brabant
Bergen op Zoom is located in Netherlands
Bergen op Zoom
Bergen op Zoom
Bergen op Zoom (Netherlands)

BackgroundEdit

The Spanish had besieged the city before in the Autumn of 1588. Led by the Alexander Farnese, the Duke of Parma the Spanish failed to take the city which had been composed of Dutch, English and Scots.[1] The population of Bergen Op Zoom was divided between Protestants, who favoured resistance and Catholics, who favoured a Spanish conquest.

SiegeEdit

Spinola tried a feigned manoeuvre by sending a part of his army under Hendrik van den Bergh to Cleves, and another part under Luis de Velasco to Steenbergen, which was consequently conquered by Velasco.

But the city did not fall because it was supplied by sea. Furthermore, the Dutch Navy regularly bombarded the Spanish, causing many casualties. The young Michiel de Ruyter was one of these gunners.

The Dutch called on the German mercenary armies of Mansfeld and Christian of Brunswick to relieve the city. The Spanish sent their Palatian Army under Córdoba to intercept them, resulting in the Battle of Fleurus, Belgium on 22 August. Although the Germans lost thousands of men there, in the end Córdoba could not hinder their orderly departure towards Bergen.

In September 1622, when Spinola and Velasco seized Steenbergen, they moved to besiege to Bergen op Zoom. Prince Maurice, realising Spain's intentions, sent Sir Robert Henderson to both reinforce and command the garrison in Bergen op Zoom. Henderson, according to a chronicler at the battle, led a massive sally of three or four thousand men from the garrison, with the Scots and English in the vanguard, the Dutch in the middle, and the French in the rear. In the battle, which "lasted a night and a whole morning," Henderson was killed. The chronicler's description of his death is so colourful and rich that it is important to note here:

"I will saying nothing, in commendation of Colonel Henderson; his own actions commend him in the highest degree, for he stood all the fight in as great danger as any common soldier, still encouraging, directing, and acting with his Pike in his hand. At length he was shot in the thigh: he received his wound at the front, or, as most say, being over earnest he stepped into his enemy's trenches. So he was nothing but spirit and courage. He shewed it chiefly in his devotion, and in his earnest calling upon God in his sickness, and he was so willing to die that he made but a recreation of it, for after he had received the Sacrament he remembered his friends very cheerfully, and being extremely hot, he asked his physician [for leave] to drink some water; so his Physician, seeing he was but a dead man, let him have his will. He drank five toasts; the first was to the King, the second to the Prince [Charles], the third to the Queen of Bohemia, the fourth to the Prince of Orange, and the last to the Earl of Marre. When he had done he desired his brother to thrust him down into his bed, and so took his leave of this miserable life."[2]

The Spanish, by now led by Velasco, had to lift the siege on 2 October, as a result of the arrival of an army under the Dutch Stadtholder Maurice of Nassau, Prince of Orange and Ernst von Mansfeld.

AftermathEdit

In his memoirs, the Prince of Orange credits the reinforcements under lieutenant-governor of Overijssel, Nicolaas Schmelzing as decisive, which led to a pursuit and the imprisonment of 1,200 Spanish forces near the town of Ommen.[3] The siege cost Spinola between 5,000--10,000 troops.[4]

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ Charles Maurice Davies (1851). The History of Holland and the Dutch nation: from the beginning of the tenth century to the end of the eighteenth. G. Willis. pp. 225–28.
  2. ^ Ferguson, James (1899). The Scots Brigade in Holland, Vol. 1. 1899: Scottish History Society. pp. 309–310.CS1 maint: location (link)
  3. ^ Memoires de Frederic Henri de Nassau, Prince d'Orange, depuis 1621 jusqu'en 1636 (Isaac de Beausobre [ed.], 1733, 14)
  4. ^ Ferguson, James (1899). The Scots Brigade in Holland, Vol. 1. Edinburgh: Scottish History Society. p. 310.