Battle of Dogger Bank (1781)

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For other naval battles fought at Dogger Bank, see Battle of Dogger Bank.
Battle of Dogger Bank
Part of the American Revolutionary War & the Fourth Anglo-Dutch War
The Battle of the Dogger Bank 5 August 1781.jpg
The Battle of Dogger Bank, by Thomas Luny. NMM
Date 5 August 1781
Location Dogger Bank, North Sea
Coordinates: 54°43′26″N 2°46′08″E / 54.724°N 2.769°E / 54.724; 2.769
Result Strategic British victory
Belligerents
 Great Britain  Dutch Republic
Commanders and leaders
Kingdom of Great Britain Sir Hyde Parker, 5th Baronet Dutch Republic Johan Zoutman
Strength
7 ships of the line 7 ships of the line
Casualties and losses
104 killed, 339 wounded[1] 142 killed, 403 wounded,[1]
(Some sources repute as high as 1,100)
1 ship sunk[2]

The Battle of the Dogger Bank took place on 5 August 1781 during the Fourth Anglo-Dutch War, part of the American War of Independence, in the North Sea. It was a bloody encounter between a British squadron under Vice Admiral Sir Hyde Parker, 5th Baronet and a Dutch squadron under Vice Admiral Johan Zoutman, both of which were escorting convoys.

Background[edit]

For more details on this topic, see Fourth Anglo-Dutch War.

In December 1780, Great Britain declared war on the Dutch Republic, drawing it militarily into the American War of Independence.[3] The Dutch had for many years been supplying the Americans, and shipping French supplies to the Americans, in support of the American war effort.[4] The opening of hostilities with the Dutch meant that Britain's trade with countries on the Baltic Sea (where key supplies of lumber for naval construction were purchased) was potentially at risk, and that the British had to increase protection of their shipping in the North Sea. In order to accomplish this, the British began blockading the Dutch coast to monitor and intercept any significant attempts to send shipping into or out of Dutch ports, and began to protect merchant shipping convoys with armed vessels.

The Dutch were politically in turmoil, and were consequently unable to mount any sort of effective actions against the British.[5] The result of this inaction was the collapse of their economically important trade.[6] It was finally decided that a merchant fleet had to be launched. On 1 August 1781, Admiral Johan Zoutman led a fleet of some 70 merchantmen from the Texel, protected by seven ships of the line as well as a number of frigates and smaller armed vessels.

Admiral Hyde Parker was accompanying a convoy of ships from the Baltic when he spotted the sails of the Dutch fleet on the morning of 5 August. He immediately despatched his convoy toward the English coast, and ordered his line to give chase. Zoutman, whose ships had been interspersed with the merchantmen, signalled his line to form in between Parker and the convoy.

The ships of Parker's fleet were not in the best of condition, since great demands were placed on the Royal Navy by the demands of the war, and all manner of ships were pressed into service, or did not receive necessary maintenance. Some ships were in such poor condition that the number of guns available to fire was reduced from its normal complement. In spite of this, Berwick and Parker's flagship Fortitude, both 74 guns, were both relatively new and in good shape. The Dutch fleet had not seen any significant action due to the British blockade.

Battle[edit]

Depiction of the Dutch line August 5, 1781.

With a calm sea and a breeze from the northeast, Zoutman maneuvered his line onto a port tack, heading east-southeast, and awaited Parker, who held the weather gage. The British fleet closed, raggedly at first due to the poor condition of some of the ships. When Parker raised the battle flag shortly before 8 am, the two fleets were about half a musket shot apart. Zoutman then also raised his flag, and opened fire, raking the Fortitude with a broadside. Close action ensued, lasting for more than three hours. Around mid-morning the Dutch merchantmen moved away from the action and headed back to the Texel. Around 11 am Parker gave the signal to reform his line, which reformed and limped away from the Dutch.

Casualties on both sides were high, considering the number of ships involved. (Fewer casualties were suffered, for example, in the Battle of the Chesapeake, fought a month later between fleets more than twice as large.) The British claimed 104 killed and 339 wounded, while the Dutch claimed 142 killed and 403 wounded.[1] There were private reports made that the Dutch casualties were actually much higher, possibly reaching 1,100. The Holland sank the same night. Her flag, which was kept flying, was taken away by the Belle Poule, and carried to Admiral Parker.[2]

Aftermath[edit]

Although the Dutch celebrated the battle as victory, their fleet did not leave harbour again during the war and their merchant trade remained crippled. At least one convoy did make it to the Baltic, but it flew under Swedish flags and was accompanied by a Swedish frigate.[7]

Parker considered that he had not been properly equipped for his task, and insisted on resigning his command. The battle had no real impact on the general course of the war.

Order of battle[edit]

The order of battle is provided by Clowes, p. 505.

British (Hyde Parker)[edit]

Ships of the line:
Berwick 74 (Captain John Ferguson)
Dolphin 44 (Captain William Blair)
Buffalo 60 (Captain William Truscott)
Fortitude 74 (Captain George Robertson, Parker's flag)
Princess Amelia 80 (Captain John Macartney )
Preston 50 (Captain Alexander Graeme)
Bienfaisant 64 (Captain Richard Brathwaite)
Smaller vessels:
Artois 40-gun fifth rate (Captain John MacBride)
Latona 38-gun fifth rate (Captain Hyde Parker)
Belle Poule 36-gun fifth rate (Captain Philip Patton)
Cleopatra 32-gun fifth rate (Captain George Murray)
Surprise 14-gun cutter (Lieutenant Peter Rivett)

Dutch (Zoutman)[edit]

Ships of the line:
Erfprins 54 (Braak)
Admiraal Generaal 74 (van Kinsbergen)
Argo 40 (Staring)
Batavier 54 (Bentinck)
Admiraal de Ruijter 68 (Staringh., Zoutman's flag)
Admiraal Piet Hein 54 (van Braam)
Holland 68 (Dedel) (later sunk)
Smaller vessels:
Bellona (frigate 36, Docker)
Dolphijn (frigate 24, Mulder)
Ajax (cutter 20, van Welderen)
Eensgezindheit (frigate 36, Boritius)
Zephijr (frigate 36, Wiertz)
Amphitrite (frigate 36, von Woensel)

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Clowes, p. 508
  2. ^ a b Allen pg .319
  3. ^ Edler, p. 343
  4. ^ Davies, p. 469
  5. ^ Edler, pp. 169-176
  6. ^ Davies, p. 468
  7. ^ Davies, p. 472

Sources[edit]