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The Battle of Camperdown, 11 October 1797

Photo credit: National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London

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Off the coast of Holland, near Camperdown, on 11 October 1797, the British fleet defeated the Dutch, aligned with the Revolutionary French. Throughout the year the British Admiral Adam Duncan had been stationed watching the Dutch fleet in Den Helder. His difficulty maintaining this vigil was compounded by the events surrounding the Nore Mutiny in May. By early October the situation had sufficiently improved for Duncan to take his squadron back to Yarmouth to re-store and refit. The Dutch fleet took advantage of his absence and came out almost immediately. The British lookout still on station sent the cutter 'Black Joke' to warn Duncan of the Dutch threat. He rapidly put to sea and early in the morning of the 11 October the two fleets were in sight with the Dutch in close order 18 miles off their coast awaiting him. Action began at 12.30 and by 15.30 Duncan was able to send off a cutter with a dispatch to the Admiralty to say that 11 enemy ships had been taken. Duncan showed leadership by taking his flagship into action in difficult waters, although the battle was not tactically impressive. However it inspired his captains whose determination proved decisive against a resolute opponent.

National Maritime Museum





oil on canvas


H 74.9 x W 96.5 cm

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