On this day, 11 October in 1797, the naval battle of Camperdown was fought, where the British Fleet, led by Dundee-born Admiral Adam Duncan, decisively beat the Dutch and countered the threat of French invasion.
In 1795, the Dutch Republic had been overrun by the army of the French Republic and had been reorganised into the Batavian Republic, a French client state. In early 1797, after the French Atlantic Fleet had suffered heavy losses in a disastrous winter campaign, the Dutch fleet was ordered to reinforce the French at Brest.
By September, the Dutch fleet under De Winter were blockaded within their harbour in the Texel by the British North Sea fleet under Duncan.
At the start of October, Duncan was forced to return to Yarmouth for supplies and Vice Admiral Jan De Winter used the opportunity to conduct a brief raid into the North Sea. When the Dutch fleet returned to the Dutch coast on 11 October, Duncan was waiting, and intercepted De Winter off the coastal village of Camperduin.
The battle was the most significant action between British and Dutch forces during the French Revolutionary Wars and resulted in a complete victory for the British, who captured eleven Dutch ships without losing any of their own.
Duncan was Admiral Nelson’s mentor and in Nelson’s words, “the name of Duncan will never be forgot by Britain and in particular by its Navy.”
There is a Camperdown pub in George Square, Glasgow.
Pic: ‘Admiral Duncan Receiving the Sword of the Dutch Admiral de Winter at the Battle of Camperdown’, by Samuel Drummond (1827), and held by the National Maritime Museum.