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The Battle of Camperdown, 11 October 1797

Photo credit: National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London

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Throughout 1797, with Holland in enforced alliance with Revolutionary France, the British Admiral Adam Duncan had been stationed watching the Dutch fleet in Den Helder. His difficulty in maintaining this vigil was compounded by the events surrounding the Nore Mutiny in May. By early October Duncan took 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' hurrying back to England to warn Duncan of the threat posed by the Dutch. He immediately put to sea and early in the morning of the 11 October the two fleets were in sight, The Dutch were awaiting him 18 miles off their coast. Action began at 12.30pm and by 3.30pm Duncan was able to send a dispatch to the Admiralty to say that 11 enemy ships had been taken. Although the battle was not tactically impressive Duncan showed leadership by taking his flagship into action in difficult waters. This inspired his captains and their determination proved decisive against a resolute opponent.

National Maritime Museum



The Battle of Camperdown, 11 October 1797




oil on canvas


H 88.9 x W 134.6 cm

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