Capture of the Dutch fleet at Den Helder
|Capture of the Dutch fleet at Den Helder|
|Part of the War of the First Coalition|
Capture of the Dutch fleet by the French forces
|Dutch Republic||Republican France|
|Commanders and leaders|
|H. Reintjes (POW)|| J-G de Winter
|14 ships of the line
850 guns in total
|One hussar regiment
One infantry battalion
|Casualties and losses|
|14 ships captured||None|
The Capture of the Dutch fleet at Den Helder by the 8th Hussar Regiment and the 15th Line Infantry Regiment of the French Revolutionary Army occurred during the night of the 23 January 1795, during the French Revolutionary Wars. Jean-Charles Pichegru was the leader of the French army that invaded the Dutch Republic. The Dutch fleet was commanded by H. Reintjes. The actual capture was accomplished by Jean-Guillaume de Winter and Louis Joseph Lahure. The action happened during the War of the First Coalition, part of the French Revolutionary Wars. Den Helder is located at the tip of the North Holland peninsula.
General of Division Jean-Charles Pichegru was commanding the autumn 1794 campaign during which the conquest of the Netherlands occurred. The French Army entered Amsterdam on the 19 January 1795 to stay there over winter. Well informed, the general found out that a Dutch fleet was anchored at Den Helder, approximately eighty kilometers north from Amsterdam. The ongoing winter was extremely cold, so much so that the rivers and seashores were frozen solid. General of Brigade Jean-Guillaume de Winter was ordered by Pichegru to take the head of a squadron of the 8th Hussar. This Dutchman was fighting along with the French since 1787, and would later command the Dutch fleet in the Battle of Camperdown. He arrived at Den Helder with his troops during the night of the 23 January 1795. The Dutch fleet was there as planned, trapped by ice. Each hussar had brought on his horse an infantryman of the 15th Line Infantry Regiment.
After a very careful approach to avoid awakening the Dutch sailors, Lieutenant-Colonel Louis Joseph Lahure launched the assault. The ice did not break up, and the Dutch ship were boarded by the cavalry that managed to get on the decks.
The French Army captured 14 ships of the line and 880 guns. It is the only time in known military history to have seen a fleet captured by a cavalry charge.
- Peter Davis, French Cavalry Defeats Dutch Fleet?
- Erik Durschmied: The Weather Factor -- How Nature Has Changed History, Arcade Publishing, New York, 2001, ISBN 978-1-55970558, pp. 72-86)
- Antoine Henri Jomini, Histoire critique et militaire des guerres de la Revolution, Anselin et Pochard, Paris, 1819.
- (Dutch) Johannes Cornelius de Jonge, Geschiedenis van het Nederlandse zeewezen, 3. Auflage, Hoogstraten & Gorter, Zwolle, 1869.