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Bitka pri Københavnu, 2. aprila 1801

Bitka pri Københavnu, 2. aprila 1801


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Bitka pri Københavnu 1801

Brezplačne ladje proti blokadiOborožena nevtralnostNačrtovana ekspedicija in ciljiPotovanje v KopenhagenBojni načrtiFloteBitkaSlepo okoPosledice v KøbenhavnuŠirši rezultati

Brezplačne ladje proti blokadi

Eden od velikih sporov pomorskega vojskovanja je bil vedno v zvezi s pravico nevtralnih trgovskih držav v času vojne. Britansko stališče je bilo vedno, da je zavračanje trgovine njihovim sovražnikom legitimni del vojskovanja. Kot pomorska sila je bila blokada ključni del britanskega načrtovanja vsake vojne.

Nasprotno pa bi morali večini nevtralnih sil, ki se držijo teorije prostih ladij in nevtralnih ladij proste trgovine, omogočiti, da nadaljujejo kot običajno, zaščitene z njihovo zastavo ali po potrebi s floto.

Položaj so še bolj zakomplicirali sprejeti vzorci trgovanja v tistem obdobju - resnično prosta trgovina je bila v času miru redka. Pravno mnenje je ponavadi delilo trgovino med vojskovanjem v dve kategoriji - trgovino, ki je bila v času miru dovoljena, in trgovino, ki ni bila dovoljena. Večina držav je trgovino s svojimi kolonijami omejila na lastne ladje - francoske kolonije, francoske ladje -, vendar so bile med vojno pripravljene dovoliti nevtralnim ladjam, da prevzamejo del trgovinskega tveganja. Velika Britanija kot sila, ki bo najverjetneje blokirala trgovino, te trgovine ni bila pripravljena dovoliti.

Druga težava je bila opredelitev tihotapljenja. V času revolucionarne in napoleonske vojne je Britanija uporabljala široko definicijo tihotapljenega blaga, ki je vključevala skoraj vse, kar bi lahko bilo v pomoč sovražniku. Nevtralne trgovinske države, vključno z baltskimi državami, ki bodo kmalu vključene v oboroženo nevtralnost, so se nagibale k ožji definiciji, ki je izključila večino pomorskih trgovin.

Nekatere države so ponavadi prilagajale odnos, ki je takrat ustrezal njihovim zavezništvom. Združene države so bile še posebej nagnjene k spreminjanju svojega stališča glede tega vprašanja, odvisno od njene vpletenosti v zadevno vojno, podpiranja proste trgovine, medtem ko je nevtralna, in pravice do blokade, ko so bile vpletene v katero koli vojno. V tem času je bil ameriški položaj močno prosti trgovini, kar je velik prispevek k izbruhu vojne leta 1812.

Britanija je vztrajala pri pravici "obiskovanja in iskanja" ladij na morju. Ta pravica je bila absolutno bistven del vsake politike pomorske blokade, vendar je bila tudi glavni vzrok za trenja med Britanijo in nevtralnimi silami. Po vsej Evropi je bilo v prid tej pravici razširjeno pravno soglasje, podprto s francoskim, španskim, švicarskim in švedskim pravnim mnenjem (med drugim).

To še ne pomeni, da je brez nasprotovanja. Pogost nasprotni argument je bil, da če bi bile ladje v konvoju, bi morala zadostovati izjava poveljnika pomorskega spremstva, da konvoj ne vsebuje tihotapljenega blaga. To načelo je bilo za Britance nesprejemljivo, saj so lahko poudarili, da noben poveljnik konvoja ne more biti povsem prepričan, kaj ladje nosijo, vendar so menili, da je to nesprejemljivo načelo. Tudi če je bil poveljnik konvoja pošten, ni bilo soglasja o naravi tihotapljenja.

Niz incidentov s švedskimi in danskimi ladjami je to vprašanje postavil v ospredje. Januarja 1798 so v Kanalu preiskali švedski konvoj v spremstvu ene fregate. Fregata je po besedah ​​poveljnika fregate ponudila nekaj upora - simbolično in častno. Ko pa so preiskali konvoj, so našli različne pomorske trgovine (vključno s katranom, smolo in konopljo). To je bilo očitno tihotapljenje po britanskih standardih, kljub temu pa so Švedi še vedno trdili, da konvoja ne bi smeli iskati.

Naslednja dva velika incidenta sta vključevala danske ladje. Konec decembra 1799 je bil danski trgovec kljub nekaj nasprotovanja danske fregate zasežen pri Gibraltarju. Najbolj dramatičen incident se je zgodil julija 1800. Poskušali so preiskati danski konvoj pri Ostendeju. Poveljnik spremljevalne fregate ni dovolil, nato pa je streljal na britanske ladje, ko so nadaljevale z iskanjem. To je bil več kot le simbolni odpor - na obeh straneh je bilo žrtev - in celoten konvoj so zasegli. Po tem je britanska vlada poskušala ohraniti njene ključne pravne zahtevke, hkrati pa ohranjala dobre odnose z Dansko. Britanci so potrebovali pomorske zaloge iz Baltika in so raje ostali v prijateljskih odnosih z Dansko in Švedsko (v tem času je bila Norveška del Danske). Ta prizadevanja so se kmalu končala z neuspehom.

Oborožena nevtralnost

Decembra 1800 so Rusija, Danska, Pruska in Švedska oblikovale „oboroženo nevtralnost“. Pravzaprav je bilo to zavezništvo, katerega cilj je bil braniti njihovo pravico do trgovine s Francozi, čeprav je bilo oblikovano na širši način. Glavni pokretač oborožene nevtralnosti je bil ruski car Pavel. Po bitki pri Nilu se je pridružil koaliciji, ki je nastala proti Franciji. Eden njegovih glavnih ciljev je bil pridobiti nadzor nad Malto in Rusiji dati bazo v Sredozemlju. Vendar pa je Napoleon Malto ujel na poti v Egipt. Britanske sile so se ustalile, da bi oblegale Malto, po dolgem obleganju so se Francozi predali septembra 1800. Bilo je že jasno, da Britanija nima namena predati Malte Rusom, car Paul pa se je že začel premikati proti britanskim interesom .

27. avgusta je objavil poziv za oblikovanje oborožene nevtralnosti. Kmalu zatem je pokazal, kako nevtralno bi bilo to, da bi ukazal embargo na vse britanske ladje. Švedski kralj, Gustav IV Adolphus, je bil pred kratkim polnoleten. Bil je močno prorusko usmerjen in ena njegovih prvih potez je bil obisk Sankt Peterburga. Medtem ko je tam nastala "oborožena nevtralnost".

Imel je pet ciljev.

  1. Vsak nevtralen, da lahko prosto pluje od pristanišča do pristanišča in na obalah narodov v vojni.
  2. Blago, ki pripada subjektom bojevitih pooblastil, z izjemo tihotapljenja, je zastonj na nevtralnih plovilih.
  3. Blokado, ki jo je treba prepoznati, je treba izvajati pod budnim nadzorom.
  4. Nevtralce je treba aretirati "zaradi upravičenega razloga in glede na očitna dejstva"
  5. Izjava častnikov, ki poveljujejo oboroženim plovilom, ki spremljajo konvoj, da tovor ne vključuje tihotapljenja, zadostuje za preprečitev kakršnega koli pregleda.

To je bilo za Britanijo popolnoma nesprejemljivo, kjer so jo obravnavali kot sovražno potezo, ki je dejansko dodala baltsko mornarico francoskemu cilju. Rusija je imela malo ali nič pomorske trgovine, zato so bile njene trditve, da zagovarja nevtralno trgovino, še posebej neprepričljive.

Na podoben način je gotovo videl Napoleon. Napovedal je, da meni, da sta Francija in Rusija v miru, in odredil konec vseh napadov na ruske ladje. Morda je imel v mislih prejšnjo "oboroženo nevtralnost", nastalo leta 1780, med ameriško vojno za neodvisnost. Takrat je bila kraljeva mornarica preveč raztegnjena, da bi lahko ukrepala, oborožena nevtralnost pa je dosegla svoje cilje in močno oslabila položaj Velike Britanije v vojni. Tokrat naj bi bilo drugače.

Načrtovana ekspedicija in cilji

Majhna flota je bila poslana v Kopenhagen leta 1800 po zasegu konvoja pri Ostendeju. Po oblikovanju oborožene nevtralnosti je bila sestavljena močnejša flota. Ta flota naj bi nadaljevala proti Baltiku in s silo motila oboroženo nevtralnost. Imel je dovolj ladij za boj proti celotni floti s katero koli baltsko floto in dovolj manjših ladij za napad na mesto. Nosila je tudi polni pehotni polk (49.), dve strelski četi iz 95. polka in nekaj topništva.

Poveljstvo nad floto je dobil admiral Sir Hyde Parker, večinoma zaradi starešinstva. Tretji poveljnik je bil kontraadmiral Thomas Graves. Zvezda odprave in glavni razlog njene trajne slave pa je bil drugi poveljnik. Viceadmiral Lord Horatio Nelson, junak Nila in rta St. Vincent ter najbriljantnejši taktik mornarice, je bil v Angliji in ni bil naklonjen. Vrnil se je iz Neaplja z Lady Emmo Hamilton vlečno (ali morda obratno!). Njuna afera je bila že dobro znana, preden sta se vrnila v Anglijo, Nelsonovo ravnanje pa se je zdelo popolnoma neprimerno. Admiralitet je menil, da se mora Nelson čim prej vrniti na morje, zato bo prišla baltiška odprava. Tako se je na začetku leta 1801 Nelson pridružil floti Sir Hyde Parker kot drugi poveljnik.

Odprava je imela tri sovražnike. Preprosto zaradi svojega položaja na vhodu v Baltik bi morali najprej obravnavati Dance, verjetno v Københavnu. Ko so Danci nevtralizirani, naj bi flota vstopila na Baltik, kjer bi bil njen glavni cilj premagati Ruse, ki so jih obravnavali kot glavne gonilce oborožene nevtralnosti. Švedsko floto bi obravnavali, če bi poskušala posredovati, vendar ni bila glavna tarča.

Potovanje v Kopenhagen

Ko se je Nelson v začetku leta 1801 pridružil floti, je našel precej manj ukrepov, ki bi jih pričakoval ali imel rad. Admiral Parker je imel malo nedavnih akcijskih izkušenj in je večino svoje kariere preživel v bolj vročih podnebjih. Pozimi se mu ni mudilo z vstopom na Baltik. Počakal naj bi do žoge, na katero se je želela udeležiti njegova nova mlada žena, in bila so potrebna vsa Nelsonova prizadevanja, da je Parker odšel.

Začetni odnosi med Nelsonom in Parkerjem so bili oddaljeni. Že prej sta služila skupaj, zato nista bila tujca. Vendar se je Parker znašel v neprijetni situaciji. Bil je dvajset let starejši od Nelsona in njegovega starejšega častnika, vendar mu je moralo biti jasno, da bo Nelson verjetno obvladoval odpravo.

Flota je odplula 12. marca. Nelson še vedno ni vedel, kakšni so načrti Parkerja. Zdi se, da je vrzel med njimi zakril kantar! Parker je bil znan po svoji ljubezni do dobre hrane, in ko je eden od Nelsonovih častnikov ulovil ribo, so jo takoj zaplenili in poslali Parkerju. Zdi se, da je ribiško darilo opravilo svoje delo. 14. marca je Nelson prejel opombo, ki opisuje Parkerjeve načrte. Deset dni kasneje je bil pripravljen Parkerju poslati memorandum, v katerem je izrazil svoje poglede na to, kako naj se kampanja vodi. Ni presenetljivo, da je bil naklonjen drznim dejanjem.

Štiri dni kasneje je flota dosegla Naze (ob južni konici Norveške). V naslednjih dveh dneh je prišlo do hudega udara, zato se je Parker 21. marca zasidral zunaj Sounda (odsek vode med Švedsko in danskim otokom Zelandijo, deloma zato, da bi se njegova flota lahko združila, deloma pa se odločila, kaj bo naredila naprej.

Zemljevid pristopov k Københavnu

Parker je moral izbirati med jadranjem skozi Sound ali Belt (morje, ki ločuje otok Zelandijo od danske celine). Zvok je bil najhitrejša pot in najvarnejša voda, vendar so ga varovali danska trdnjava v Helsingorju (Hamletov Ellsinore) in švedska trdnjava v Helsingborgu. Ko bi nekoč prestopila to oviro, bi bila flota oddaljena 20 milj od Københavna. V nasprotju s tem je bil pas razmeroma nevarovan, vendar je bil bolj nevarna voda, zlasti za večje ladje. To je bila tudi daljša pot, ki je vključevala plovbo najmanj 200 milj.

Parkerjeva prva izbira je bil Belt, a se je potem, ko je jadral ob obali Zelandije, odločil, da se posvetuje z enim od svojih kapitanov, ki je bil seznanjen z Baltikom in Nelsonom. Kapitan Murrey je priporočil zvok, medtem ko je bil Nelsonov odgovor: "Ne zanima me, po katerem odlomku gremo, da se bomo šli boriti z njimi!".

Nelsonovo razmišljanje na tej točki je razvidno iz njegove odločitve, da prenese svojo zastavo s pištole 98 Sveti Jurij do pištole 74 Slon 29. marca. Medtem ko je Parker še skrbel, kako priti do Københavna, je Nelson že načrtoval svoj napad.

Parker se je zdaj odločil uporabiti zvok, a se je najprej obrnil na guvernerja gradu Kronborg (Helsingor), da bi preveril, ali ga je mogoče prepričati, naj ne strelja. Guvernerjev odgovor je bil, da je imel ukaz streljati na britansko floto, če bi ta poskušala priti v Sound. Kljub temu je 30. marca ob 6. uri zjutraj flota tehtala sidro in odplula v Sound.

Uro kasneje so bili pod strelom z gradu Kronborg. Vendar so švedske puške na nasprotni obali ostale tiho, kar je britanskim ladjam omogočilo izplutje izven dosega danskih pušk. Edine britanske žrtve so bile, ko je med streljanjem eksplodirala pištola.

Štiri ure po tehtanju sidra se je britanska flota zasidrala v dveh črtah med otokoma Van (Hveen) in Amager, v osrčju Sounda. Ko je bil tam, se je Parker odločil, da bo izvidil obrambo Københavna. V fregati Amazon, Parker, Nelson, kontraadmiral Graves (tretji poveljnik) in kapitan flote (stotnik Domett, dejansko Parkerjev namestnik) so pregledali dansko obrambo.

Tisti večer je Parker vodil vojni svet na svojem vodilnem mestu. Nelson nikoli ni bil ljubitelj vojnih svetov, ker so ti neizogibno vodili v nedelovanje. Kot je pričakoval, je več drugih častnikov predlagalo zamudo in opozorilo na vse možne težave, od moči danske obrambe do potencialne grožnje ruske flote.

Nelsonovo navdušenje je potrebovalo, da je premagal to razpoloženje, vendar ga je premagal. Na koncu se je ponudil, da bo napadel Kopenhagen z desetimi ladjami linije in manjšimi ladjami. V veliko zaslugo je Parker to ponudbo sprejel in Nelsonu podaril dvanajst ladij linije ter popoln nadzor nad napadom.

Bojni načrti

Danski načrt je bil preprost. Njihova flota je bila privezana vzdolž obale v Københavnu, s čimer so svoje ladje linije spremenile v pištolske baterije. Na splošno je bilo sprejeto, da je povečana stabilnost kopenske puške dala veliko prednost pred mornariškimi puškami. Dansko floto je podpirala baterija pištole Trekroner (Tri krone, tako imenovana po združitvi Danske, Norveške in Švedske). To je bila pištolska baterija, zgrajena na kupih, zabitih v obalo. Končno je bila na kopnem zgrajena vrsta baterij s fiksno pištolo. Danci so se borili z zelo močnega položaja. Britanske flote v obrambi so se upirale močnim napadom s šibkejših položajev.

Britanski načrt je bil veliko bolj tvegan. Težje ladje v britanski floti so bile prevelike, da bi sodelovale v kakršnem koli napadu na danski položaj. Nelson je zahteval eskadrilo, sestavljeno iz ladij s 74 pištolami in manj. Te ladje bi lahko delovale v plitvi vodi kot trinadstropne, kar je pomembno v neznanih plitvinah, ki so branile danski položaj.

Zemljevid območja okoli Kopenhagna leta 1801

1. aprila ob sedmih zjutraj je Nelson drugič izvidel Zunanji kanal. Ko je to storil, je obiskal Parkerja na zadnjem obisku, nato pa je ob pol treh ob izkoriščanju kratkotrajnega severnega vetra Nelsonova eskadrila odplula po Zunanjem kanalu in se zasidrala južno od Københavna, dve milji od danske flote.

Ko so bili tam, se je začelo podrobno načrtovanje. Kapitan Hardy je bil poslan v majhnem čolnu, da bi izvedel sondiranje v Kraljevem kanalu. Pod pokrovom teme se je lahko izjemno približal danski liniji in natančno prebral pristope, ki jih bodo morali uporabiti Britanci. Njegovi zvoki so kazali, da je voda najgloblje blizu obale. Žal se zdi, da te informacije niso bile uporabljene na nekaterih ladjah, kot bo prikazano spodaj.

Medtem je Nelson narekoval podroben akcijski načrt. Njegova dejanja pred bitko pri Københavnu ovržejo idejo, da je Nelson vedno nepremišljeno vdrl v bitko. Kopenhagen mu je dal priložnost, da podrobno preuči sovražnikovo pozicijo in pripravi podroben načrt, kako jih premagati. Ta načrt je še naprej narekoval do zgodnjih jutranjih ur, ustavil se je šele ob eni zjutraj, ko so njegovi uradniki začeli kopirati ukaze.

Nelsonov načrt je vključeval vse ladje pod njegovim poveljstvom. Sedem fregat, ki jim poveljuje kapitan Riou iz Amazon napadli ladje na severnem koncu danske črte in v ustju pristanišča. Kapetan Rose iz Jamajka, s šestimi strelnimi brigadami naj bi zasedel položaj na južnem koncu danske črte in ga prestregel (ogenj vzdolž črte). Bombne ladje naj bi se postavile izven glavne britanske črte in metale svoje školjke na vrh britanskih ladij. Britanske čete naj bi zavzele baterije Trekroner, potem ko so jih utišali.

Britanske ladje linije naj bi sledile kompleksnemu načrtu. Vsaka britanska ladja je imela natančna navodila. Namen je bil najprej napasti južni konec danske črte, saj je bilo to najtežje okrepiti. Preostanek flote naj bi prešel na desni bok prvih ladij in napadel severni konec proge. To je pomenilo, da sta dve britanski ladji prišli preblizu sredozemskih plitvin in ju odpeljali iz bitke.

Flote

Danskih obrambnih sil ni mogoče imenovati flota. Linija ladij, privezanih vzdolž obale, je vsebovala sedem ladij, vsaka z odstranjenimi jambori in okovji, da bi bili manj ranljivi. Podpiralo jih je enajst plavajočih baterij pištole. Ti so vključevali nekatere "hulke" - zastarele ladje linije, ki so lahko še vedno nosile močno baterijo pušk, transportne ladje in stare vzhodne Indijance. Nekateri od enajstih so bili drobni - Vilinski je bil Sloop s 6 pištolami in noben ni imel več kot 24 pušk.

Druga sila ladijskih linij in fregat je bila privezana pri vhodu v pristanišče v Kopenhagnu, da bi preprečila vse britanske premike proti pristanišču. Čez čas je veter pomenil, da čeprav Parkerjeva divizija flote ni mogla sodelovati v bitki, tudi ta danska rezerva ni mogla posredovati (kliknite tukaj za celoten seznam danskih ladij).

Britanska flota je bila močna (kliknite tukaj za celoten seznam britanskih ladij). Ladje linije so vključevale dva trinadstropna vozila (Parkerjev vodilni HMS London in Nelsonov HMS Sveti Jurij). Bilo je enajst ladij s 74 pištolami, pet 64-ih, ena 54 in 50, pa tudi sedem fregat. Zavedajoč se morebitne potrebe po delovanju v plitvih vodah ali bombardiranju kopenskih ciljev, je flota vsebovala nenavadno veliko manjših ladij - žlebov, sekačev in škun, pa tudi sile bombnih ladij, če bi bilo treba bombardirati mesto . To je bila zelo sposobna flota, močnejša od Nelsonove flote na Nilu, čeprav njegov načrt v Københavnu ni vključeval treh dekerjev. Čeprav sta s tem iz flote odstranili le dve ladji, je bila ena od njih njegova vodilna ladja, Sveti Jurij.

Nelsonova eskadrila, uporabljena pri napadu na dansko linijo, je bila sestavljena iz dvanajstih ladij linije (sedem 74, tri 64, ena 54 in 50). Imel je tudi fregate flote, čolne in bombne ladje. Preostala flota je ostala pri admiralu Parkerju. Njegova vloga je bila blokirati danske ladje, ki so še v pristanišču v Københavnu, in po možnosti napasti baterije Trekroner na severnem koncu danske obrambe. Čez dan mu je to preprečil veter.

Bitka

Zjutraj, 2. aprila, je veter pihal iz prave smeri, da je bil Nelsonov načrt izveden. Do osmih zjutraj so poveljniki britanskih ladij dobili ukaze. Ob pol devetih je bilo floti ukazano, da tehta sidro.

Podroben zemljevid, ki prikazuje položaj ladij.

Na čelu britanske linije je bila Edgar. Odplula je mimo prvih štirih danskih ladij in si izmenjala ogenj, preden je stopila proti peti danski ladji, Jylland, dvonadstropna ladja proge. Drugi je bil Vneto, ki je šel mimo Edgar in zavzel položaj proti šesti in sedmi danski ladji (fregata in plavajoča baterija). The Glatton, ki mu je poveljeval zloglasni kapitan Bligh, je zasedel položaj proti danski vodilni ladji Dannebrog (kasneje bo nadomeščen z vodilnim Nelsonom Slon. Preostanek britanske flote naj bi na podoben način zasedel postajo.

Tri britanske ladje niso prišle v akcijo. The Agamemnon se je zasidrala predaleč proti vzhodu, ni mogla pluti okoli plitvine in ni sodelovala v bitki. Oba Bellona in Russell nasedli na Srednjem terenu, čeprav so bile razdalje tako kratke, da sta oba lahko imela omejeno vlogo v bojih.

Nelson je lahko prilagodil svojo linijo za nadomestilo, vendar je izguba treh ladij proge pomenila, da je bil vod proge v nasprotju s trdnjavo Trekroner precej šibkejši, kot je bilo predvideno. Britanska linija je bila v celoti vzpostavljena do 11.30, ko se je Prkos zavzel položaj proti Trekronerju. Tudi fregate kapitana Rioua so se borile proti Trekronerju.

Boji pri Københavnu so bili zelo intenzivni. Mnogi Danci so bili neizkušeni, vendar so se borili blizu kopnega, da bi branili svojo prestolnico in s prestolonaslednikom (učinkovitim vladarjem Danske), ki je gledal z obale. Danci so zlahka okrepili ladje in celo zamenjali kapetana ene ladje sredi bitke.

Slepo oko

Po treh urah intenzivnih bojev je Parker začel skrbeti. Njegova eskadrila se je še vedno počasi pomikala proti bojem, vendar je bila še daleč od tega, da bi lahko aktivno sodelovala v bitki. Z njegove razdalje se je zdelo, da je danski ogenj nepokvarjen. Tri britanske ladje linije so bile prizemljene, fregate pa so bile pod strelom Trekronerja. Parker je začel razmišljati o tem, da bi dal signal za prekinitev dejanja. Kapitan Otway, kapitan Parkerjeve zastave, je uspel prepričati Parkerja, naj mu dovoli veslati do Slon dati Nelsonu ustni ukaz in mu dati dovoljenje, da se umakne, če se mu zdi potreba, toda preden je Otway prišel do Nelsona, je Parker vseeno dal ukaz.

Parker ni pričakoval, da bo Nelson samodejno ubogal ukaz. Očividci poročajo, da je rekel: "Če je v stanju, da uspešno nadaljuje dejanje, ga ne bo upošteval; če ne, bo to izgovor za njegov umik in mu ne bo mogoče pripisati nobene krivde. ' To kaže na dobro razumevanje Nelsonovega značaja, ne pa tudi na stabilen živec, ki je potreben za poveljevanje v bitki. Čeprav se je Nelson lahko zanašal, da bo ravnal tako, kot je nameraval Parker, je vedno obstajalo tveganje, da bodo njegovi kapitani videli ukaz in ga ubogali. To se je zgodilo kapetanu Riou in njegovim fregatam.

Nahajajo se na severnem koncu proge in so lažje videli Parkerjev signal kot kateri koli signal, ki leti na Nelsonovi ladji. Riou ni preostalo drugega, kot da uboga, toda ko se je njegova ladja obračala, da bi zapustila bitko, ga je sovražnikov ogenj prerezal na dva dela.

Na tej točki se je zgodil znameniti incident slepih oči. Nelson je očitno pričakoval nekakšen signal od Parkerja, saj je svojim častnikom naročil, naj svojo pozornost osredotočijo na dansko vodilno ladjo, ne na britansko, vendar je moral sčasoma priznati Parkerjevo ukaz, da se umakne.

Naš najboljši očividec dogodkov na Slon je polkovnik William Stewart, poveljnik pehote. Ko je priznal, da je videl Parkerjev signal, je ukazal, naj se signal potrdi, vendar ga ne ponovi, kar pomeni, da se je pričakovalo, da bo njegova lastna eskadrila še naprej ubogala Nelsonovo ukaz, da ostane v akciji.

Po nekaj minutah se je obrnil k Foleyju, svojemu kapetanu zastave, in rekel: 'Veš, Foley, imam samo eno oko. Včasih imam pravico biti slep. " Nato je dal teleskop na slepo oko in rekel: "Res ne vidim signala!"

To je bilo značilno za Nelsona. Le poveljnik s svojo ogromno samozavestjo bi bil pripravljen prezreti neposredno ukaz svojega vrhovnega poveljnika. Njegove lastnosti so bile v floti dobro znane in Parker se je dobro zavedal, da lahko zaupa svojemu podrejenemu, da ne bo ubogal ukaza za ukinitev.

Parker ni mogel videti, da je danski ogenj že začel popuščati. Možje za okrepitev danskih ladij je bilo treba vzeti iz obrežnih baterij, kar je oslabilo njihov ogenj. Ladje same so bile vse bolj pohabljene. Prvi odmor v danski liniji je prišel okoli 14. ure, ko je Nyborg, 4. v danski vrsti, je poskušal priti do pristanišča, pri čemer je bil 12. na vrsti Aggershuus vlečno. Obe ladji sta hitro potonili. Tretja ladja, fregata Hjaelperen uspelo pobegniti. Do pol treh se je večina danskega požara končala.

To še ni bil konec bitke. Baterija Trekroner je še vedno streljala, medtem ko so neizkušene posadke več danskih ladij še naprej streljale, potem ko so njihovi častniki naznanili njihovo predajo. Če bi bila bitka proti Francozom, Nelson ne bi imel pomislekov, da bi nadaljeval, dokler sovražnik ni bil popolnoma uničen, vendar do Dancev ni imel take osebne zamere.

Zato je Nelson, ko je danski ogenj popustil, poslal pismo prestolonasledniku princu Frederiku in ponudil premirje (Nelsonovo prvo pismo prestolonasledniku). Ta opomba je bila včasih vzeta kot znak Nelsonove šibkosti, vendar se zdi, da je bila njegova motivacija v veliki meri humanitarna. Mnoge danske ladje so se dejansko predale, vendar je še vedno prihajalo do občasnega streljanja, zaradi česar so Britanci prevzeli svoje nagrade. Če ne bi bilo premirja, bi Nelson verjetno poslal gasilske ladje in požgal danske ladje.

Na srečo do tega ni prišlo. Prestolonaslednik je poslal pismo, v katerem je vprašal, kakšen je bil namen Nelsonovega pisma. To pismo je bilo poslano nazaj pod zastavo premirja, okoli treh popoldne. Ko je zastava prišla v boj, se je vse streljanje ustavilo. Nelson je odgovoril z drugim pismom (Nelsonovo drugo pismo prestolonasledniku), v katerem je vsem Dancem ponudil odstranitev ranjencev, medtem ko bodo Britanci slekli brez ranjencev in nato zasegli ali sežgali predane ladje. V tem primeru je bila zasežena le ena danska ladja ( Holsteen).

Dnevni dogodki se niso končali z boji. Danski vodilni Dannebrog se je v boju zmanjšal na gorečo razbitino. Približno ob pol štirih je eksplodirala in ubila več kot 250 moških. V vseh Dancih je verjetno utrpelo 790 ubitih in 910 ranjenih, v primerjavi s 253 ubitimi in 688 ranjenimi. København je bil ena najbolj krvavih pomorskih bitk celotne revolucionarne in napoleonske vojne.

Večina britanskih ladij je med bitko utrpela resno škodo. Nevarnost, ki bi jim bil izpostavljen Parkerjev ukaz, naj zapusti bitko, se je pokazala, ko so se oddaljili od danske obale. The Monarh naletel na plitvino in jo je moral potisniti čez Ganges. Oba Slon in Prkos nasedla in ga ni bilo mogoče izvleči do noči. Kako bi se spopadle že tako močno poškodovane britanske ladje, če bi puške Trekroner še streljale, si lahko samo predstavljamo.

Posledice v Københavnu

Ker je vodenje bitke razumljivo prepustil Nelsonu, mu je bil zdaj prav tako pripravljen prepustiti diplomacijo. Zjutraj po bitki je bil Nelson poslan v København na sestanek s prestolonaslednikom Princom Fredrickom. Fredrick je nekaj let deloval kot očetov regent in ga je leta 1808 nasledil kot Fredricka VI.

Obstajajo nasprotujoči si prikazi o Nelsonovem sprejemu v Københavnu. Vsi se strinjajo, da se je množica zbrala, da bi opazovala Nelsona na poti v palačo. Ponudili so mu kočijo, a se je odločil za hojo skozi množice. Danski računi kažejo, da so ga opazovali v tihem spoštovanju. Britanski računi nakazujejo razveseljivo množico, ki kliče 'Viva Nelson'. Noben račun verjetno ne bo povsem resničen. Nelson je po Nilu postal junak po vsej Evropi, zato je bilo verjetno nekaj priljubljenega priznanja. Trgovci, vključeni v britansko trgovino, verjetno niso podpirali oborožene nevtralnosti. Po drugi strani pa je britanska flota prejšnji dan grozila z bombardiranjem mesta, danski ranjenci pa naj bi bili v mislih.

Pogajanja s prestolonaslednikom niso uspela. Nelson ni verjel, da obstaja veliko upanja za mirno rešitev trgovinskih vprašanj. Danci so zanikali, da so njihova dejanja usmerjena proti Veliki Britaniji, in se niso odrekli svojemu zahtevku po prosti trgovini.

Po tem, ko glavno vprašanje ni bilo rešeno, so se pogajanja preselila v premirje. Britanci so želeli doseči dovolj dolgo premirje, da bi jim dali čas za spopad z Rusi, ki so jih videli kot glavnega sovražnika. Na koncu je bilo 9. aprila dogovorjeno 14 -tedensko premirje.

Premirje je Britancem omogočilo prost dostop do Københavna. Danci so za čas premirja zapustili oboroženo nevtralnost. Kopenhagen pa ni bil napaden, danski zaporniki pa so bili pogojno vrnjeni. Parker se je lahko prosto premaknil v Baltik, da bi se soočil z glavnim sovražnikom.

Širši rezultati

Po okrevanju v Københavnu se je britanska flota preselila v Baltik. Tam so odkrili, da so jim dogodki v ruščini že dali rezultate, ki so jih poslali. 24. marca je bil car Pavel umorjen, nadomestil pa ga je sin Aleksander. Novi car je svojo vladavino začel tako, da se je umaknil od mnogih očetovih politik, med njimi tudi od oborožene nevtralnosti (pozneje v vojnah naj bi bil Aleksander navdušen zaveznik in nepremagljiv Napoleonov sovražnik).

Novice o novem ruskem vladarju in njegovem odnosu so se širile počasi. Do 23. aprila je bil ruski minister v Københavnu prepričan, da novi car ne bo tvegal vojne z Veliko Britanijo, vendar Nelson ni bil prepričan. Britanska flota je večino časa od bitke preživela na južnem delu Københavna, na veliko Nelsonovo sitnost. Parker ni hotel tvegati potovanja v Rusijo, medtem ko je švedska flota ogrožala njegov hrbet, in je ostal neaktiven.

5. maja so do flote prišla naročila za njegovo zamenjavo. Parker je bil odpoklican, Nelson pa je prevzel poveljstvo nad floto. Med njegovimi ukazi je bil ukaz, naj se ne dovoli združiti švedski in ruski floti. Švedska flota se je zatočila v Karlskroni na južni obali Švedske. Nelson je poslal poveljnika švedske flote, v katerem je izjavil, da „nima nobenega ukaza, da se vzdrži sovražnosti, če se srečam s švedsko floto na morju“ - z drugimi besedami, napadel bo na mestu. Švedska flota se je odločila, da ostane trdno v pristanišču.

Ko je Nelson ločil šest ladij za opazovanje Karlskrone, je preostalih enajst odpeljal v Reval (sodobni Talin), kjer je upal, da bo našel rusko floto. Ko je prišel 14. maja, je odkril, da je flota pobegnila navzgor po Finskem zalivu v močno zaščiteno rusko pomorsko oporišče v Kronstadu, blizu St. Odkril je tudi, da potekajo pogajanja za odpravo oborožene nevtralnosti. Da se ne bi poškodoval pogajanj, se je Nelson 17. maja umaknil iz Revala. Dva dni kasneje sta bila ruski in švedski trgovinski embargo umaknjena. Mesec dni kasneje je bil Nelson zamenjan kot vrhovni poveljnik, predvsem zaradi resnega slabega zdravja.

Dolgoročni rezultati bitke pri Københavnu so bili nezadovoljivi. Še preden je bil Nelson zamenjan, so Danci trgovali s Francozi. Britanski zaseg danske Zahodne Indije je pomagal vzbuditi protibritanski občutek. Glavno vprašanje prostih ladij proti pravici do blokade ni bilo odločeno. Še eno britansko odpravo je bilo treba poslati v København leta 1807, da bi Francozom preprečili prevzem nadzora nad dansko mornarico. Nelsonova najtežja borbena zmaga je bila verjetno tudi najmanj vplivna.

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Rickard, J (5 February 2006) Battle of Copenhagen



Denmark-Norway

In late 1800 and early 1801, diplomatic negotiations produced the League of Armed Neutrality. Led by Russia, the League also included Denmark, Sweden, and Prussia all of which called for the ability to trade freely with France. Wishing to maintain their blockade of the French coast and concerned about losing access to Scandinavian timber and naval stores, Britain immediately began preparing to take action. In the spring of 1801, a fleet was formed at Great Yarmouth under Admiral Sir Hyde Parker with the purpose of breaking up the alliance before the Baltic Sea thawed and released the Russian fleet.

Included in Parker's fleet as second-in-command was Vice Admiral Lord Horatio Nelson, then out of favor due to his activities with Emma Hamilton. Recently married to a young wife, the 64-year old Parker dithered in port and was only coaxed to sea by a personal note from First Lord of the Admiralty Lord St. Vincent. Departing port on March 12, 1801, the fleet reached the Skaw a week later. Met there by diplomat Nicholas Vansittart, Parker and Nelson learned that the Danes had refused a British ultimatum demanding they leave the League.


Battle of Copenhagen

Date of the Battle of Copenhagen: 2 nd April 1801.

Place of the Battle of Copenhagen: the coast of Copenhagen, the capital city of Denmark.

Combatants at the Battle of Copenhagen: A British Fleet against the Danish Fleet.

Commanders at the Battle of Copenhagen: Admiral Sir Hyde Parker and Vice Admiral Lord Nelson against the Danish Crown Prince.

Winner of the Battle of Copenhagen: The British Fleet.

The Fleets at the Battle of Copenhagen:

Danish Crown Prince Frederick: Battle of Copenhagen on 2nd April 1801 in the Napoleonic Wars

The British Fleet: Nelson’s Division, His Majesty’s Ships Elephant (Nelson’s Flagship: Captain Foley, 74 guns), Russell (Captain Cumming, 74 guns), Bellona (Captain Thompson, 74 guns), Edgar (Captain Murray, 74 guns), Ganges (Captain Freemantle, 74 guns), Monarch (Captain Moss, 74 guns), Defiance (Rear Admiral Graves’ Flagship: Captain Retalick, 74 guns), Polyphemus (Captain Lawford, 64 guns), Ardent (Captain Bertie, 64 guns), Agamemnon (Captain Fancourt, 64 guns), Glatton (Captain William Bligh, 54 guns), Isis (Captain Walker, 50 guns), Frigates, La Desiree (Captain Inman, 40 guns), Amazon (Captain Riou , 38 guns), Blanche (Captain Hammond, 36 guns), Alcimene (Captain Sutton, 32 guns), Sloops: Arrow (Commander Bolton, 30 guns), Dart (Commander Devonshire, 30 guns), Zephyr (Lieutenant Upton, 14 guns), Otter (Lieutenant McKinlay, 14 guns).

Parker’s Division: His Majesty’s Ships London (Flagship, Captain Domett, 98 guns), St George (Captain Hardy, 98 guns), Warrior (Captain Tyler, 74 guns), Defence (Captain Paulet, 74 guns), Saturn (Captain Lambert, 74 guns), Ramillies (Captain Dixon, 74 guns), Raisonable (Captain Dilkes, 64 guns), Veteran (Captain Dickson, 64 guns).

In addition the Trekroner Fortress and numerous batteries along the coast.

Captain Riou’s ship HMS Amazon: Battle of Copenhagen on 2nd April 1801 in the Napoleonic Wars

Ships and Armaments at the Battle of Copenhagen:

Life on a sailing warship of the 18 th and 19 th Century, particularly the large ships of the line, was crowded and hard. Discipline was enforced with extreme violence, small infractions punished with public lashings. The food, far from good, deteriorated as ships spent time at sea. Drinking water was in short supply and usually brackish. Shortage of citrus fruit and fresh vegetables meant that scurvy quickly set in. The great weight of guns and equipment and the necessity to climb rigging in adverse weather conditions frequently caused serious injury.

Warships carried their main armament in broadside batteries along the sides. Ships were classified according to the number of guns carried, or the number of decks carrying batteries. The size of gun on the line of battle ships was up to 24 pounder, firing heavy iron balls or chain and link shot designed to wreck rigging. The first discharge, loaded before action began, was always the most effective.

HMS Elephant Admiral Lord Nelson’s flagship at the Battle of Copenhagen on 2nd April 1801 in the Napoleonic Wars

Ships manoeuvred to deliver broadsides in the most destructive manner the greatest effect being achieved by firing into an enemy’s stern or bow, so that the shot travelled the length of the ship, wreaking havoc and destruction.

The Danish ships at the Battle of Copenhagen were moored to the jetties. The British ships anchored alongside the moored Danish Fleet and the firing was broadside to broadside at a range of a few yards.

Ships carried a variety of smaller weapons on the top deck and in the rigging, from swivel guns firing grape shot or canister (bags of musket balls) to hand held muskets and pistols, each crew seeking to annihilate the enemy officers and sailors on deck.

Wounds in Eighteenth Century naval fighting were terrible. Cannon balls ripped off limbs or, striking wooden decks and bulwarks or guns and metalwork, drove splinter fragments across the ship causing horrific wounds. Falling masts and rigging inflicted severe crush injuries. Sailors stationed aloft fell into the sea from collapsing masts and rigging to be drowned. Heavy losses were caused when a ship finally sank.

Battle of Copenhagen on 2nd April 1801 in the Napoleonic Wars: picture by C.A. Lorentzen

Ships’ crews of all nations were tough and disciplined. The British, with continual blockade service against France and Spain, were particularly well drilled.

British captains were responsible for recruiting their ship’s crew. Men were taken wherever they could be found, largely by the press gang. All nationalities served on British ships, although several ships permitted Danish crewmen to transfer rather than serve against their own countrymen. Loyalty for a crew lay primarily with their ship. Once the heat of battle subsided there was little animosity against the enemy. Great efforts were made by British crews to rescue the sailors of foundering Danish ships at the end of the Battle of Copenhagen.

Map of the the Battle of Copenhagen on 2nd April 1801 in the Napoleonic Wars: map by John Fawkes

Captain Riou who led the attack on the Trekroner Fortress and was killed at the Battle of Copenhagen on 2nd April 1801 in the Napoleonic Wars

Account of the Battle of Copenhagen:
In early 1801, Britain faced a coalition of northern European states, masterminded by France, combined in hostile neutrality against Britain, the Northern Confederation. Those states were Russia, Denmark, Sweden and Prussia. The British Admiralty ordered Admiral Sir Hyde Parker with a British fleet to the Baltic, with Admiral Lord Nelson as his second in command, to break up the confederation.

On 18 th March 1801, the British Fleet anchored in the Kattegat, the entrance to the Baltic from the North Sea, and British diplomats set off for Copenhagen.

It was Nelson’s plan that the British Fleet should attack the Russian squadron wintering in the port of Revel, the Russian navy being the strongest and the dominant naval force in the Baltic.

There was a lack of trust between Parker and Nelson Parker keeping Nelson at arm’s length, while the British diplomats negotiated with the Danes to obtain their withdrawal from the coalition.

The negotiations with the Danes exasperated Nelson, a man of action, who wanted to attack the Danes and destroy their fleet, before moving on to Revel and the Russian ships. Nelson’s flagship HMS St George had been cleared for action for a week.

On 23 rd March 1801, Parker called a council of war at which the British diplomats revealed that the Danish Crown Prince and his government, actively hostile to Britain, were not prepared to withdraw Denmark from the coalition and that the defences of Copenhagen were being strengthened.

Nelson urged that the Danish Fleet be attacked without delay, saying: “Let it be by the Sound, by the Belt, or anyhow, only lose not an hour.

On 26 th March 1801, the British Fleet moved towards the Sound, the gateway to the Baltic, and the great Danish fortress of Kronenburg. Preparing for the battle, Nelson moved his flag to the smaller ship Elephant, 74 guns, whose captain, Foley, had led the attack at the Battle of the Nile.

On 30 th March 1801, the wind was fair for the British advance on Copenhagen and the British Fleet passed the Sound, keeping to the Swedish side.

Admiral Nelson forcing the Passage of the Sound before the Battle of Copenhagen on 2nd April 1801 in the Napoleonic Wars: picture by Robert Dodd

In the event, the Swedes held their fire, while the Danes at Cronenburg fired without effect, the range being too great. The British Fleet anchored five miles below Copenhagen, allowing the senior officers to reconnoitre the city’s defences in the lugger Skylark. During this reconnaissance, key buoys, removed by the Danes, were replaced by pilots and sailing masters in the British service.

Battle of Copenhagen on 2nd April 1801 in the Napoleonic Wars

Under the British plan the commander-in-chief, Admiral Sir Hyde Parker, would advance from the north with the largest British ships, thereby forestalling any relieving attack by the Swedish Fleet or a Russian squadron. Nelson would take his division into the channel outside Copenhagen Harbour, and, sailing northwards up the channel, attack the Danish warships moored along the bank, until he reached the largest ships moored by the powerful Danish fortress of Trekroner, at the entrance to Copenhagen Harbour.

Battle of Copenhagen on 2nd April 1801 in the Napoleonic Wars: picture by Adelsteen Normann

Admiral Sir Hyde Parker generously left the planning to Nelson, even offering him two more ships of the line for his squadron than Nelson had requested.

On 1 st April 1801, Nelson carried out his final reconnaissance on the frigate Amazon. The captain of Amazon, Captain Riou, impressed him most favourably and Nelson resolved to give him a leading role in the attack.

On the night of 1 st April 1801, Nelson drafted his final plans and briefed his officers, while Captain Hardy ventured right up to the Danish ships in a long boat and took soundings the pilots placing the last of the buoys.

Battle of Copenhagen on 2nd April 1801 in the Napoleonic Wars: picture by Nicholas Pocock

Nelson’s plan was simple: his ships in line ahead would sail into the inner channel, Royal Passage, each ship anchoring in its appointed place and attacking its assigned Danish rival. Captain Riou in HMS Amazon was to lead a squadron of smaller ships and attack the Trekroner Fortress, which was to be stormed by marines and soldiers at a suitable moment, after it had been reduced by bombardment.

HMS Edgar: Battle of Copenhagen on 2nd April 1801 in the Napoleonic Wars: picture by W.T. Baldwin

At 8am on 2 nd April 1801, the assault began, with His Majesty’s Ship Edgar (Captain Murray, 74 guns) leading the division from its anchorage and tacking from the Outer Deep into the Royal Passage. Immediately, disaster struck Nelson’s division as HMS Agamemnon (Captain Fancourt, 64 guns), Nelson’s old ship, unable to weather the turn into the channel, ran aground on the shoal known as the Middle Ground. Polyphemus (Captain Lawford, 64 guns), taking over Agamemnon’s lead role, made the U turn into the Royal Passage and came under heavy fire from the Danish ship Provesteen (Captain Lassen, 56 guns).

The following ships, Isis (Captain Walker, 50 guns), Glatton (Captain William Bligh, 54 guns) and Ardent (Captain Bertie, 64 guns), made the turn and, anchoring, engaged the Danish vessels they had been allocated.

Attempting to pass these ships, Bellona (Captain Thompson, 74 guns) grounded on the Middle Ground shoal, as did the following Russell (Captain Cumming, 74 guns). Stuck fast, these ships fired on the Danes as best they could, but several of the guns on Bellona burst, killing their crews, due to the age or the miscasting of the barrels, or overcharging in an effort to achieve greater range.

Nelson’s British Fleet sails up the Royal Channel to attack the Danish Fleet and the Trekroner Citadel (The three British ships aground to the right are Bellona, Russell and Agamemnon): Battle of Copenhagen on 2nd April 1801 in the Napoleonic Wars: picture by John Thomas Serres

The grounding of Agamemnon, Bellona and Russell caused the Trekroner Fortress to be left unmarked, requiring Riou to carry out the bombardment with his squadron of smaller vessels, the billowing smoke concealing his ships and protecting them initially from excessive damage.

Nelson, in Elephant (Captain Foley, 74 guns), took the anchorage allocated to Bellona, with Ganges (Captain Freemantle, 74 guns) and Monarch (Captain Moss, 74 guns) anchoring immediately in front of Elephant. With the line in place, the battle fell to a slogging gunnery match between the British ships and the Danish ships and batteries, floating and land, which lasted some two hours.

Lieutenant Willemoes of the Royal Danish Navy fights his ship Gerner Radeau during the Battle of Copenhagen on 2nd April 1801 in the Napoleonic Wars: picture by Christian Mølsted

To the north, Admiral Sir Hyde Parker, the British commander-in-chief, witnessed with increasing anxiety the heavy bombardment, as the large ships of the line in his squadron beat slowly down the channel, the wind fair for Nelson but contrary for them. Seeing the intensity of the battle, Parker concluded that he should give Nelson the opportunity to break off the action, and hoisted the signal to disengage, giving the battle its most famed episode.

Admiral Lord Nelson puts the telescope to his blind eye at the Battle of Copenhagen on 2nd April 1801 in the Napoleonic Wars

Nelson’s signal officer, seeing the flagship’s message, queried whether the commander-in-chief’s signal should be repeated to the other ships, to which Nelson directed that only an acknowledgement was to be flown, while signal 16, the order for close action, be maintained.

No ship in Nelson’s division acted on Parker’s signal, except Captain Riou’s squadron, attacking the Trekroner Fortress. Riou, expecting that Nelson would call off the assault, turned his ship to begin the withdrawal. The Danes redoubled their fire, causing significant damage and casualties on Riou’s ships, with one shot cutting down a party of marines and the next killing Riou himself.

Nelson turned to Colonel Stewart, commanding the contingent of soldiers carried in the fleet, and said ‘Do you know what’s shown on board of the commander in chief? Number 39, to leave off action! Leave off action! Now damn me if I do.’ Turning next to his flag captain, Nelson said ‘You know, Foley, I have only one eye. I have a right to be blind sometimes.’ Nelson then raised his telescope to his blind eye and said ‘I really do not see the signal.’

By 2pm on 2 nd April 1801, much of the Danish line ceased firing, with ships adrift and on fire, several having surrendered, their captains now on board Elephant.

Captain Thesiger Royal Navy goes ashore with Nelson’s letter to the Danish Crown Prince Frederick at the Battle of Copenhagen on 2nd April 1801 in the Napoleonic Wars: picture by C.A. Lorentzen

Captain Thesiger, a British officer with extensive experience of the Baltic Sea from service in the Russian navy, went ashore with correspondence from Nelson to the Danish Crown Prince, inviting an armistice. During the negotiations, only the batteries on Amag Island, at the southern end of the Danish line, the Trekoner Fortress and a few ships continued to fire.

A senior Danish officer, Adjutant General Lindholm, went on board Elephant to negotiate, directing the Trekoner Fortress to stop firing on his way. The British ships also ceased fire and the battle effectively ended.

Danish floating battery and ship of the line under fire at the Battle of Copenhagen on 2nd April 1801 in the Napoleonic Wars

Defiance (Rear Admiral Graves’ Flagship: Captain Retalick, 74 guns) and Elephant went aground and the Danish Flagship, Dannebroge (Captains Fischer and Braun, 80 guns), grounded and blew up, with substantial casualties.

The next morning, 3 rd April 1801, Nelson went aboard the Danish ship Syaelland, anchored under the guns of the Trekoner Fortress, and took the surrender of her captain Stein Bille, who refused to strike to any officer other than Nelson himself.

British destroying Danish ships under repair after the Battle of Copenhagen on 2nd April 1801 in the Napoleonic Wars

British gunboats took the Danish vessel in tow to add to the clutch of Danish ships that had been taken in the battle. 19 Danish vessels were sunk, burnt or captured.

Just before the Battle of Copenhagen, on 24 th March 1801, the Tsar of Russia, Paul I, was murdered by members of the St Petersburg court, and replaced by his anti-French son, Alexander I. The effect of the Battle of Copenhagen and the Tsar’s murder was to bring about the collapse of the Northern Confederation.

Casualties at the Battle of Copenhagen:
British casualties were 253 men killed and 688 men wounded. No British ship was lost. The Danes lost 790 men killed, 900 men wounded and 2,000 made prisoner.

Destruction of the Danish Fleet at the Battle of Copenhagen on 2nd April 1801 in the Napoleonic Wars: picture by Thomas Whitcombe

Admiral Nelson writing the letter to the Danish Crown Prince at the Battle of Copenhagen on 2nd April 1801 in the Napoleonic Wars: picture by Thomas Davidson

Anecdotes and traditions from the Battle of Copenhagen:

The letter Admiral Lord Nelson sent to the Crown Prince of Denmark at the Battle of Copenhagen on 2nd April 1801 in the Napoleonic Wars

  • The letter Nelson sent to the Crown Prince by Captain Thesiger stated: Lord Nelson has directions to spare Denmark when no longer resisting but if the firing is continued on the part of Denmark Lord Nelson will be obliged to set on fire all the floating batteries he has taken, without having the power of sparing the Brave Danes who have defended them. Dated on board his Britannick Majesty’s ship Elephant Copenhagen Roads April 2 nd 1801 Nelson &BrontéVice Admiral under the command of Admiral Sir Hyde Parker. (Nelson’s signature referred to the title of Duke of Bronté (Duca di Bronté), conferred on him by the King of Sicily after the Battle of the Nile).
  • Nelson considered the Battle of Copenhagen to be his hardest fought fleet action. Although hampered by many of their ships being unprepared for service, the Danes fought fiercely and, at times, with desperation in defence of their capital city, relays of army and civilian reinforcements replacing the losses in the batteries.
  • The battle sealed Nelson’s reputation as Britain’s foremost naval leader. Soon afterwards, Sir Hyde Parker was recalled and Nelson left in command of the operations in the Baltic.
  • The incident with the signal became an important part of the Nelson legend.
  • The attack on Copenhagen, considered essential by the British to prevent the Danish Fleet from acting in the French interests, caused great resentment against Britain in Denmark. On Nelson’s return to England and appearance at court, King George III did not mention the battle.

Captain Bligh being cast adrift after the Mutiny on the Bounty in 1789: Bligh commanded HMS Gratton at the Battle of Copenhagen on 2nd April 1801 in the Napoleonic Wars

Dinner in the wardroom of HMS Elephant the night before the Battle of Copenhagen on 2nd April 1801 in the Napoleonic Wars: picture by Thomas Davidson

Naval General Service medal 1793-1840 with Copenhagen clasp and badge of the 95th Rifles: Battle of Copenhagen on 2nd April 1801 in the Napoleonic Wars

References for the Battle of Copenhagen:

Life of Nelson by Robert Southey

British Battles on Land and Sea edited by Sir Evelyn Wood

The previous battle of the Napoleonic Wars is the Battle of Alexandria

The next battle of the Napoleonic Wars is the Battle of Trafalgar

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By the time the news of Nelson's great victory at the Nile had reached England, his reputation as a strategist had already been made. An even greater triumph would follow at Trafalgar whilst in between was another, somewhat overshadowed, victory know to history as the battle of Copenhagen.

With Nelson as second-in-command to Admiral Sir Hyde Parker, a fleet was sent to the Baltic early in 1801 following Denmark's decision to join the 'Armed Neutrality' against British interests. Parker's orders were to capture or destroy the Danish fleet lying off Copenhagen and he conveyed his outline strategy to Nelson well in advance. Nelson, however, had his own more radical ideas for the assault and, on the evening of 1 s t April 1801, entertained his officers to discuss the plan he had formulated with his flag-captain Thomas Foley. Nelson had christened Foley and those other veterans of the Nile his 'Band of Brothers' and their personal loyalty to him was unflinching. Together they agreed what had to be done to secure victory and battle was joined the next morning shortly before 10 o'clock.


Product images of The Battle of Copenhagen, 2 April 1801


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This naval battle was oneof a series that was fought during the wars against France between 1793 and 1805, culminating in the Battle of Trafalgar. Britain did not have a presence in the Baltic Sea under normal circumstances but in 1800, Czar Paul resurrected the League of Armed Neutrality. This comprised Russia, Sweden, Denmark and Prussia joining against Britain because of her "stop and search" tactics, intended to prevent trade with France. Czar Paul detained British merchant ships in Russian ports the British decided that an attack on Denmark would break up the League. Denmark was closer to Britain and therefore the most vulnerable to attack. It was decided that a fleet should sail for the Baltic under the command of Admiral Sir Hyde Parker, with Lord Nelson as second-in-command.

The expedition sailed from Yarmouth on 12 March, having embarked the 49th Regiment, two companies of riflemen and a detachment of artillery under Colonel Stewart. The Hon Nicholas Vansittart went ahead of the fleet in an attempt to persuade the Danes to adopt a friendlier policy towards Britain. The fleet approached the Cattegat dropping anchor to see what diplomacy could achieve. It is possible that the Danes would have seen reason if the envoy had appeared with the fleet behind him. Instead, the fleet was out of sight. If Copenhagen was to be attacked the approach could be made in more than one way. A Council of War was held which Nelson ended by saying 'I don't care a damn which passage we go, so that we fight them.' He was anxious to end the affair before the Russians could arrive. At a further Council of War on the 31 March he offered to annihilate the Danes with ten sail of the line. After some further hesitation Sir Hyde accepted Nelson's offer but gave him two 50-gun ships as well together with some frigates and other vessels, including bomb ketches and fireships, numbering twenty-four vessels in all. Sir Hyde Parker retained eight ships as a reserve, apparently to guard against the possible appearance of the Russians or Swedes.

The harbour, arsenal and docks of Copenhagen lay in the city of Copenhagen itself, the entrance being guarded by the formidable Trekroner Battery. There were other batteries lining the shore to the southward and the Danish fleet was drawn up in shoal water covering the city front. It comprised a number of two-decked men-of-war interspersed with rafts and other improvised batteries. While they remained intact the bomb-vessels were effectively kept out of range. As at the Nile, Nelson was faced with an enemy fleet at anchor but this time he was outnumbered. Also, the Danes would stand their ground they could be reinforced from the shore, more men rowing off to replace the casualties. However, the enemy fleet was at anchor, which made it possible for the attacking fleet to concentrate on a part of the enemy's line, leaving some of his ships without an opponent. Nelson decided to sail past Copenhagen by the Holland Deep and then attack from the south, engaging the weaker end of the Danish line. His squadron was in position by 1 April and the battle took place on the following day. Ironically, Tsar Paul had been assassinated on 25 March his successor Alexander I adopted a different foreign policy and the Northern Alliance began to disintegrate before the battle took place.

On 2 April the British squadron moved into the attack. There was immediate disaster, the Bellona in Russell running aground and the Agamemnon failing to gain her proper position in the line. Nelson took the remaining ships into battle and was soon engaged with the Danish ships and floating batteries. After three hours of cannonade on either side the battle was still undecided. Seeing this and finding that ships he sent to reinforce Nelson were making slow progress against the wind, Sir Hyde Parker signalled "discontinue the action" to the fleet as a whole. Each ship was obliged to obey the signal without waiting for the signal to be repeated from Nelson's flagship, the Slon. For the ships to have obeyed the signal would have been virtual suicide: placed opposite their opponents, they could not withdraw until the enemy's fire had been silenced. Withdrawal would have meant ceasing fire and sending the men to make sail, presenting each ship's stern to the enemy's guns and to a raking fire which would have redoubled when the Danes saw the British retreat. It would have involved appalling casualties and damage and would have allowed the Danes to claim a victory. It would have destroyed British prestige in northern Europe. It is said that at this point of the battle, Nelson put his telescope to his blind eye, saying 'I really do not see the signal!' He kept his own signal flying for closer action and the ships of the line all obeyed him and ignored the Commander-in-Chief. It was 12.30 p.m. when Nelson decided to ignore the signal, and the cannonade continued for another hour or so. By then it was apparent that the British had won the battle as more and more of the Danish ships ceased fire or surrendered. By about 2 pm, the bombardment slackened and Nelson sent in a flag of truce, suggesting that hostilities should cease. In no other way could be save the lives of many Danes on board the floating batteries. Firing died away and at 3.15 pm, Nelson's flagship hoisted a flag of truce. The battle was over.

There is no known account of how Sir Hyde Parker received Lord Nelson after the battle. He could have demanded a court-martial on Nelson for having disobeyed an order. Parker may have been aware that his own contribution to the victory had been negative and potentially disastrous. His authority, such as it was, was weakened from the moment he began to lead from the rear. However, the example made of the Danes, who had suffered very heavy casualties, was not lost on other potential antagonists.

Negotiations proceeded at Copenhagen and the truce turned into an armistice. News of the Tsar's death was officially confirmed and it was rumoured that the new Tsar would be willing to release all British ships that had been detained. Soon afterwards orders arrived from the Board of Admiralty ordering Sir Hyde Parker to hand over his command to Lord Nelson and return to England. Once ashore, he was to stay there. Sir Hyde Parker was never employed again. Nelson was now Commander-in-Chief in the Baltic. Once contact had been made with Alexander I, Nelson was assured that the embargo on British merchantmen would be lifted and that friendly relations would be resumed between Russia and Britain.

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Product images of The Battle of Copenhagen, 2 April 1801


The battle

A disagreement between Parker and Nelson saw Nelson's proposal for a pre-emptive show of force overruled and the demands made by a single frigate. The Danish-Norwegians refused to negotiate. The Danish-Norwegians had prepared for the attack and placed a line of defensive blocking ships along the western side of the harbour.

The Copenhagen roads were both treacherous and well-defended. With 12 ships with the shallowest draft, Nelson picked a way through the shoals and commenced action the morning immediately after negotiations had broken down.

For over four hours, the battle was a close run affair with 4 British vessels (Slon, Defiance, Russel in Bellona) stuck on sandbars. At one point three hours into the battle, Parker signalled to Nelson to disengage, but Nelson was determined to win and ignored the signal. It was on this occasion that Nelson is said to have put his telescope to his blind eye, and maintained he could not read the signal.

Eventually, following extensive shelling of the harbour and nearby buildings, Nelson offered surrender terms to which the Danish-Norwegians agreed. British casualties were about 350 killed, 850 wounded.


Battle of Copenhagen 1801: Danish Medals

Bataillen d.2 April 1801, paa Kiobenhavns Reed [Battle of 2nd April 1801 in Copenhagen Roads]. © National Maritime Museum Collections (PAH7975).

On 31 July 1801, The King of Denmark, Christian 7th, approved a proposal from the Danish Admiralty for the issue of a decoration to be awarded to deserving participants in the Battle [3] . The Admiralty’s recommendations stipulated that all officers who had been present at the battle – and for whom no criticism of conduct was received, would be awarded a gold medal. Furthermore, a silver medal was to be awarded to only those who had particularly distinguished themselves, these being other-ranks and volunteers. In addition the silver medal recipients would receive an annual pension of 15 Rigsdaler. The award criteria were not particularly democratic by today’s standards, but even within the officer’s ranks the awards were selective. Only regular officers were awarded a medal with “Right to Wear”, the reserve officers were not given that privilege. The medals were awarded at a ceremony, on the anniversary of the battle in April 1802.


This example awarded to a volunteer (No Right to Wear):
(MELCHIOR HEYMANN FRA DEN JÖDISKE MENIGHED AF KIÖBENHAVN: NO. 10.)
(Touch image to toggle obverse/reverse)

1800), Capt. Lorenz Fjelderup Lassen (1756-1839) of Prøvesteen, the southern most vessel of the Danish defense line, first ship in action. The gold medal has been added to the painting at a later date, which was a common practice for the period. Fredriksborgmuseet, Denmark.

The gold medal with suspension (Right to Wear) to Lieut. Hoppe who was part of the regular Danish Navy. Image courtesy of Spink, London.

This silver medal with suspension (Right to Wear) was issued to the Norwegian Able Seaman, Dan Andersen. The medal is impressed: (MATR: DAN: ANDERSEN AF CHRISTIANS: DIST: N-82). Image courtesy of Morton & Eden, London.


Over the years, there seems to have been some confusion about the number of medals issued. This has been researched and corrected by Lars Stevnsborg, a Danish authority on the subject. The final distribution of medals is summarized in the table below (

anno 1828), with permission from reference [3] . Between 1802-1828, several medals were forfeited and reissued to deserving candidates who would have been overlooked, likewise several medals were downgraded from “Right to Wear” to “No Right to Wear”. One Naval Cadet (Midshipman), who did not pass his examination for Lieutenant, had the misfortune of seeing his gold medal with “Right to Wear” removed of suspension and ribbon. Other examples are late claims, and a case of a reserve officer, who had not returned from a journey to the West Indies, his gold medal was converted to a “Right to Wear” medal and reissued as a replacement to a naval officer who’s medal was stolen.

Navy Vojske Drugo Skupaj Righ to wear
Policisti 52 27 - 79 Da
Reserve Officers340-34Ne
NCO and Ratings7536-111Da
Volunteers--2323Ne
Skupaj1616323247-

The losses on both sides were heavy, the Danes lost 367 killed and 635 wounded, out of which

100 died of their wounds. The British lost 254 killed and 689 wounded. In a future blog, I will write about the British medal (the NGS medal with clasp Copenhagen 1801 ) issued for the battle.


The Battle of Copenhagen

Richard Cavendish marks the anniversary of an important Scandinavian battle, which took place on April 2nd, 1801.

The most famous act of insubordination in the annals of the Royal Navy occurred when Vice-Admiral Lord Nelson, second-in-command of the British fleet at Copenhagen in the 74-gun battleship Elephant, put his spyglass to his blind eye and said to Elephant’s captain, the future Admiral Sir Thomas Foley, ‘I really do not see the signal.’ The signal was from his commanding admiral, Sir Hyde Parker, ordering him to disengage and Nelson, who thought Parker out of touch, had no intention whatever of obeying it.

Britain and Denmark were not formally at war, but the British fleet had sailed to deter the Danes and Swedes from allying themselves with the French. The ships reached the northern point of Jutland in whirling snow on March 18th and moved on down the Kattegat. Several days passed while an ultimatum was sent to Copenhagen and rejected. Then Nelson’s bold plan of attack was accepted and with a fair wind on the 30th the whole fleet of fifty-two ships, their towering white sails gleaming in the sun, passed through the narrow gap between Sweden and Denmark, to a harmless cannonade from batteries at Elsinore on the Danish bank. They anchored some five miles from Copenhagen and Parker, Nelson and other senior officers took a schooner to survey the city’s defences. The harbour was protected by shoals, by seventy or more heavy guns in the Trekroner fort and by the cannon of nineteen dismasted warships moored in a line a mile-and-a-half long. Nelson decided to attack from the weakest, south-eastern end of the Danish defences and spent hours in small boats planning exactly how buoys should be placed to guide his squadron through a narrow and dificult channel for the attack. After a conference in Parker’s flagship, the London, on the 31st, the buoying work was completed and on April 1st Nelson in infectiously high spirits entertained his captains to dinner in Elephant.

Next morning the wind was fair, but several ships’ pilots – ‘with no other thought than to keep the ship clear of danger and their own silly heads clear of shot’, Nelson commented – flatly refused to lead the way along the channel because it was too dangerous. Eventually a veteran of the Nile, the master of the Bellona, volunteered for the task and at 9.30 the squadron set off – twelve ships of the line plus frigates and bomb-ketches. They were roughly handled by the Danish guns and three grounded on the shoals, but after a masterly display of cool seamanship the rest anchored in line and brought their broadsides to bear. They blazed away at the moored Danish ships with clinical precision, each firing a broadside every forty seconds at a range of 200 yards. The Danes replied with vigour and tenacity. Smoke billowed round the two lines of ships while the guns thundered and crowds of Copenhagen citizens watched from rooftops and church towers

About 1.30 in the afternoon, when a cannon ball struck splinters off Elephant’s mainmast, Nelson remarked that it was warm work, but he would not be elsewhere for thousands of pounds. It was at this point that he declined to see Parker’s signal, saying, ‘You know, Foley, I have only one eye. I have a right to be blind sometimes’, and archly putting his glass up to his right eye. Parker, in fact, had expected Nelson to ignore the order if he judged it right to continue the action.

By about 3pm the Danes were almost overwhelmed. The carnage in their ships was dreadful, with many of them on fire, and the Danish flagship blew up. Some struck their colours and the arrival on the scene of the two leading ships of Parker’s division caused more to surrender. Nelson offered a truce, which the Danish commander accepted, and the action was over by 4pm. The British losses in killed and wounded were about 1,000 and the Danish casualties were thought to be twice as heavy. Next day, which was Good Friday, Nelson went ashore to be received at a state dinner by Crown Prince Frederick of Denmark. There was some apprehension about how the people of Copenhagen would treat him, but he was greeted with what one of his party described as ‘an admixture of admiration, curiosity and displeasure’. At the dinner he told his hosts that the French would not have lasted for one hour at the most, where the Danes had resisted bravely for four. He made an excellent impression and an armistice was signed on the 9th.


Copenhagen, battle of

Copenhagen, battle of, 1801. This encounter with the Danish fleet was fought on 2 April in the narrow 3-mile-long King's Channel, of varying depth, which bounded the eastern defences of the Danish capital. These consisted of the formidable Trekronor fort, flanked to the north by 5 moored warships and to the south by a redoubtable line of 7 unmasted warships and 10 floating batteries, all moored, heavily gunned and manned. The British under Sir Hyde Parker with Nelson as his second had 15 ships supported by a variety of assault craft and 600 soldiers. Following a daring navigation aided by a southerly wind the British attacked in line and broke the Danish defence, Danes and British each sustaining over 1,000 men killed. Nelson ‘turned his blind eye’ to Parker's premature signal to withdraw. The victory was as much a blow at Russia, leading the offensive ‘Northern League’, Nelson showing all his chivalry in subsequent armistice negotiations with the Danes.

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