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Battle of the Sound

Coordinates: 55°45′N 12°45′E / 55.750°N 12.750°E / 55.750; 12.750
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Battle of the Sound
Part of the Second Northern War

The Battle of the Sound, by Peter van de Velde.
Date29 October 1658
Result Dutch victory[1]
 Dutch Republic Sweden Sweden
Commanders and leaders
Dutch Republic Jacob Obdam
Dutch Republic Witte de With 
Dutch Republic Pieter Floriszoon 
Sweden Carl Wrangel
Sweden Klas Bjelkenstjerna
41 warships 45 warships
Casualties and losses
1,400 killed, wounded and captured
1 warship sunk[2][1]
1,200 killed, wounded and captured
4 warships captured
1 warship destroyed[2][1]

The Battle of the Sound was a naval engagement which took place on 8 November 1658 (29 October O.S.) during the Second Northern War, near the Sound or Øresund, just north of the Danish capital, Copenhagen. Sweden had invaded Denmark and an army under Charles X of Sweden had Copenhagen itself under siege. The Dutch fleet was sent to prevent Sweden from gaining control of both sides of the Sound and thereby controlling access to the Baltic Sea as well as of its trade.

The Dutch, under the command of Lieutenant-Admiral Jacob van Wassenaer Obdam with Egbert Bartholomeusz Kortenaer as his flag captain, who had sailed to the Baltic in support of Denmark, had 41 ships with 1,413 guns while the Swedes, under Lord High Admiral Carl Gustaf Wrangel, had 45 ships with 1,838 guns. The Dutch were grouped into three squadrons, while the Swedes separated their ships into four. The seven Danish ships with about 280 guns were unable to assist their Dutch allies because of adverse northern winds and could only watch. Obdam, who initially received written instructions from the Grand Pensionary, Johan de Witt that were very complicated and confusing to Obdam. He requested the orders to be given to him again "in three words", with de Witt replying with a single sentence: "Save Copenhagen and punch in the face anyone who tries to prevent it". The "anyone" was a reference to the English, whose powerful fleet had recently defeated the Dutch in the First Anglo-Dutch War, leading to the Dutch suspecting an English fleet present might come to the aid of the Swedish, although the English simply observed the fighting from a distance, being allied to neither side. The Swedes attacked aggressively, but failed to gain the upper hand, primarily because the approaching Dutch had the weather gage. The Dutch forced the Swedish fleet to end the blockade of the Danish capital, enabling its resupply by Dutch armed transport ships, which eventually forced Charles to abandon the siege entirely.

The Swedes lost five ships in the action compared to one Dutch ship, however, the remaining allied ships were more damaged. Also, considering the slightly fewer losses of men in the Swedish navy, 1,200 compared to 1,400 (439 killed, 269 captured and slightly more than 650 wounded allies), the battle is considered a tactical draw. Strategically, however, it was a major allied victory.[1]


The peace in Roskilde 27 February 1658 lasted only a short time. On August 7 of the same year, Karl X Gustav's troops landed again on Zealand. The stronghold of Kronborg near Elsinore fell, as did most of Denmark. Charles X had started this second Danish war with the aim of wiping out Denmark both in name and kingdom. Copenhagen began to be besieged. The Dutch ambassador in Copenhagen was worried about the future. During the 17th century, the Dutch Republic was a sailing nation with great trade interests; not least in the Baltic Sea. If Denmark fell, the only sea connection with this sea would be completely controlled by Sweden.

The Dutch fleet, led by admiral Obdam, enters the Sound on October 29, 1658

The Dutch acted quickly. On October 7, 1658, the large Dutch fleet set sail and nineteen days later, anchors were lowered north of the Sound, at a base called "Lappen". From Kullaberg in northwestern Scania, the Swedes reported the number of enemy ships; 39 warships and 8 transport ships with soldiers and provisions to the trapped Copenhagen. A fleet of 1,278 guns, 4,501 sailors and 1,000 soldiers were waiting for the right weather. Down in the Sound, by the island of Ven, the Swedish fleet consisted of 31 warships, 14 armored merchant ships, 1,838 guns and 6,649 men.


At dawn on October 29, the Dutch eased anchor. A favorable and strong northwesterly wind was blowing. The Dutch Admiral Jacob Obdam's order was to reach the closed Copenhagen. Jacob Obdam, however, had personal problems. Paralyzed by gout, sitting on an armchair on deck, he was allowed to lead the battle from his admiral ship Eendracht.

Charles X stood with his staff on the ramparts of Kronborg Castle. In the end, the king hoped that the Dutch would side with the Swedes and greet Kronborg with a salute. That did not happen. The Dutch ships sailed along the Scanian coast. Helsingborg's lake bastions opened fire and in response received heavy fire. At eight o'clock in the morning, the two admiral ships closed in on each other. On board the Swedish Victoria was the Swedish Admiral Wrangel. Before the battle, Admiral Obdam had ordered the Swedes' masts, tackles and trains to be aimed at. Victoria soon became unmanageable in this way:

Battle of the Sound by Willem van de Velde the Elder.

"The admiral's ship Victoria was in a heavy fencing to such an extent disgraced and tormented that it could not go forward, backward, or overstays, preferably while its mezzanine rod was fired at in the middle." Wrangel was forced to interrupt the battle and the ship drifted helplessly across the strait towards Elsinore.

The battle took place over the entire water surface north of the island of Ven. The Swedes suffered heavy losses. Some Swedish ships ran aground on the Scanian coast. The Dutch had boarded and captured the ships Rose, Delmenhorst and Pelikanen with blank weapons. Svenska Morgonstiernan sank after being pierced by Dutch fire. On the Swedish Leopard, almost the entire crew of 153 men were unable to fight. Captain Anders Crabath stranded the ship off the coast of Ven.

First Phase of the Battle of the Sound, Jan Abrahamsz Beerstraaten

The Dutch also suffered losses. Swedish Admiral Klas Hansson Bjelkenstjerna on the 60-gun ship Draken met the Dutch Vice Admiral Witte de With on the 54-gun ship Brederode. Fire broke out on both ships. "Eventually the Swedish ship Wismar also came to it, lay down in front of the bow and thus the Dutchman was overpowered since the vice admiral with quite a lot of people up there was shot dead, the flag on it was taken down and it finally sank under the landside of Zealand."

Admiral Obdam's ship Eendracht threatened to sink. The Admiral's flag had to therefore be transferred to another ship. Unable to move from his chair, the admiral was hoisted over to another ship.

South of Ven, several ships sank. In Swedish diary entries, it is noted that in the days after the battle, several flagpoles from masts could be seen sticking out above the water surface.


The Dutch fleet relieves Copenhagen

The Dutch broke through the Swedish blockade and were able to unite with the trapped Danish fleet in Copenhagen. The Danes had tried to reach the battle, but the strong headwind had prevented this. While ringing all the church bells in Copenhagen, the badly damaged Dutch ships slid towards the city. With the naval victory, the end was approaching for Charles X's claim to power in Denmark.

Charles X had seen the whole battle from land. Afterwards, the king personally boarded the badly wounded admiral's ship. In the morning, the day after the battle, orders were given that the damaged Swedish fleet would soon seek refuge in the deep channel next to Landskrona's fortress.

From Elsinore they set sail for Landskrona. Outside Ven it became windless. Admiral Wrangel then ordered that the ships be towed by hand into the protection of the fortress' cannons. In the morning of October 31, most of the ships had reached safety in this way. At the same time, a strong southerly wind began to blow. The Danes lightened sails and some Swedish ships were forced to flee north into the strait. Captain Speck on Swedish Amaranth turned on the enemy; with his 36 cannons he managed to delay the Danish ships Hannibal and Graa Ulff by a total of 86 cannons.

When anchored in Landskrona, the Swedish Sword ran aground. The ship capsized and sank, full of sick and wounded, many of whom drowned.

Ship lists[edit]

Dutch Republic

Dutch Republic
This page contains slightly different details for the Dutch ships

Ship name Guns Notes
Van (Vice Admiral Witte de With)
Brederode (de With) 59 Ran aground, captured by Wismar and sank; de With killed
Landman 40
Zeeridder 22
Princesse Louise 32
Cogge 40
Windhont 23
Prins Willem 28
Wapen van Medemblick 36
Groningen 36
Center (Lt. Admiral Jacob van Wassenaer Obdam)
Eendracht (Obdam) 72
Rotterdam 52
Zon 40
Wapen van Rotterdam 40
Wapen van Dordrecht 40
Halve Maen 40
Duyvenvoorde 40
Stavoren 40
Deutecom 24
Waegh 40
Gouden Leeuw 38
Hoorn 28
Princes Albertina 36
Rear (Vice Admiral Pieter Floriszoon)
Jozua (Floriszoon) 50 Pieter Floriszoon killed
Breda 28 Captured but abandoned and recaptured
Jupiter 32
Alkmaar 36
Westfriesland 28
Wapen van Holland 38
Eendracht 38
Caleb 40
Jonge Prins 30
Wapen van Monnickendam 26
Judith 24
Vergulden Haen 16
Liefde 24
Medea 24
Perel 23
Fruytboom 23
Denmark Denmark
Ship name Guns Notes
Danish Squadron (Bjelke)
Trefoldighed (Bjelke) 66
Tre Løver 60
Norske Løve 48
Hannibal 44
Graa Ulv 36
Johannes 20
Hojenhald 8
Sweden Sweden
Ship name Guns Notes
1st squadron (Sjohjelm)
Cesar (Sjohjelm) 54
Amarant 46
Apollo 46
Wismar 44
Vestervik 40
Fides 36
Hjort 36
Södermanland 38
Svan 38
Östergötland 36
Halfmåne 28
2nd squadron (Carl Gustaf Wrangel and Strussflycht)
Victoria (C.G. Wrangel) 74
Måne 46
Merkurius 46
Mars 44
Svärd 44
Pelican 40 Captured by Wapen van Rotterdam
Örn 38
Samson 32
Morgonstjerna (merchantman) 48 Captured by Eendracht
Goteborgsfalk (merchantman) 24
Krona 68
3rd squadron (Bjelkenstjerna)
Drake (Bjelkenstjerna) 66
Carolus 54
Falk 40
Nordstjerna 40
Delmenhorst 36 Captured by Hollandia and Wapen van Medemblik
Leopard 36 Damaged by Brederode; burnt after action
Rafael 36
Samson 36
Jägare 26
Konung David (merchantman) 42
St Johannes (merchantman) 36
Kalmarkastell (merchantman) 32
4th squadron (G. Wrangel)
Hercules (G. Wrangel) 58
Maria 46
Småland 46
Svenska Lejon 40
Svan 36
Fenix 30
Fortuna 30
Salvator 30
Hök 28
Rose (merchantman) 40 Captured by Landman
Ångermanland (merchantman) 20


  1. ^ a b c d Swedish Naval Administration, 1521-1721: Resource Flows and Organisational Capabilities, Jan Glete, BRILL (2010). pp. 180.
  2. ^ a b Svenska slagfält (2003) - Lars Ericson, Martin Hårdstedt, Per Iko, Ingvar Sjöblom, Gunnar Åselius. pp. 198
  • Naval Wars in the Baltic 1522-1850 (1910) - R. C. Anderson
  • Svenska slagfält (2003) - Lars Ericson, Martin Hårdstedt, Per Iko, Ingvar Sjöblom, Gunnar Åselius

External links[edit]

55°45′N 12°45′E / 55.750°N 12.750°E / 55.750; 12.750