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Fourth Anglo-Dutch War

Fourth Anglo-Dutch War

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The Fourth Anglo–Dutch War (1780–1784) was a conflict between the Kingdom of Great Britain
Kingdom of Great Britain
The former Kingdom of Great Britain, sometimes described as the 'United Kingdom of Great Britain', That the Two Kingdoms of Scotland and England, shall upon the 1st May next ensuing the date hereof, and forever after, be United into One Kingdom by the Name of GREAT BRITAIN. was a sovereign...

 and the Dutch Republic
Dutch Republic
The Dutch Republic — officially known as the Republic of the Seven United Netherlands , the Republic of the United Netherlands, or the Republic of the Seven United Provinces — was a republic in Europe existing from 1581 to 1795, preceding the Batavian Republic and ultimately...

. The war, tangentially related to the American Revolutionary War
American Revolutionary War
The American Revolutionary War , the American War of Independence, or simply the Revolutionary War, began as a war between the Kingdom of Great Britain and thirteen British colonies in North America, and ended in a global war between several European great powers.The war was the result of the...

, broke out over British and Dutch disagreements on the legality and conduct of Dutch trade with Britain's enemies in that war.

Although the Dutch Republic did not enter into a formal alliance with the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 and their allies, U.S. ambassador (and future President
President of the United States
The President of the United States of America is the head of state and head of government of the United States. The president leads the executive branch of the federal government and is the commander-in-chief of the United States Armed Forces....

) John Adams
John Adams
John Adams was an American lawyer, statesman, diplomat and political theorist. A leading champion of independence in 1776, he was the second President of the United States...

 managed to establish diplomatic relations with the Dutch Republic, making it the second European country to diplomatically recognize the Continental Congress
Continental Congress
The Continental Congress was a convention of delegates called together from the Thirteen Colonies that became the governing body of the United States during the American Revolution....

 in April, 1782. In October, 1782, a treaty of amity and commerce was concluded as well.

Most of the war consisted of a series of largely successful British operations against Dutch colonial economic interests, although British and Dutch naval forces also met once off the Dutch coast
Battle of Dogger Bank (1781)
The naval 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...

. The war ended disastrously for the Dutch and exposed the weakness of the political and economic foundations of the Republic.

Background


Although Great Britain
Kingdom of Great Britain
The former Kingdom of Great Britain, sometimes described as the 'United Kingdom of Great Britain', That the Two Kingdoms of Scotland and England, shall upon the 1st May next ensuing the date hereof, and forever after, be United into One Kingdom by the Name of GREAT BRITAIN. was a sovereign...

 and the Dutch Republic
Dutch Republic
The Dutch Republic — officially known as the Republic of the Seven United Netherlands , the Republic of the United Netherlands, or the Republic of the Seven United Provinces — was a republic in Europe existing from 1581 to 1795, preceding the Batavian Republic and ultimately...

 had been allies since the Glorious Revolution
Glorious Revolution
The Glorious Revolution, also called the Revolution of 1688, is the overthrow of King James II of England by a union of English Parliamentarians with the Dutch stadtholder William III of Orange-Nassau...

 of 1688, the Dutch had become very much the junior partner in the alliance, and had slowly lost their erstwhile dominance of world trade to the British. During the Second Stadtholderless Period
Second Stadtholderless Period
The Second Stadtholderless Period or Era is the designation in Dutch historiography of the period between the death of stadtholder William III on March 19, 1702 and the appointment of William IV, Prince of Orange as stadtholder and captain general in all provinces of the Dutch Republic on May 2,...

 the Dutch Republic had more or less abdicated its pretences as a major power and this became painfully evident to the rest of Europe during the War of the Austrian Succession
War of the Austrian Succession
The War of the Austrian Succession  – including King George's War in North America, the Anglo-Spanish War of Jenkins' Ear, and two of the three Silesian wars – involved most of the powers of Europe over the question of Maria Theresa's succession to the realms of the House of Habsburg.The...

. Near the end of that war in 1747 an Orangist
Orangism (Netherlands)
Orangism is a monarchist political support for the House of Orange-Nassau as monarchy of the Netherlands. It played a significant role in the political history of the Netherlands since the Dutch revolt...

 revolution restored the stadtholder
Stadtholder
A Stadtholder A Stadtholder A Stadtholder (Dutch: stadhouder [], "steward" or "lieutenant", literally place holder, holding someones place, possibly a calque of German Statthalter, French lieutenant, or Middle Latin locum tenens...

ate with vastly increased powers for the stadtholder (the stadtholderate became hereditary). However, this did not lead to a resurgence of the Republic as a major power because of what many in the Republic saw as the mismanagement of the stadtholderian regency during the minority of stadtholder William V
William V, Prince of Orange
William V , Prince of Orange-Nassau was the last Stadtholder of the Dutch Republic, and between 1795 and 1806 he led the Government of the Dutch Republic in Exile in London. He was succeeded by his son William I...

, and subsequently during his own reign. Instead, the Republic remained stubbornly neutral during the Seven Years' War
Seven Years' War
The Seven Years' War was a global military war between 1756 and 1763, involving most of the great powers of the time and affecting Europe, North America, Central America, the West African coast, India, and the Philippines...

 which enabled it to greatly neglect both its army and navy. The stadtholderian regime was pro-British (the stadtholder being a grandson of king George I of Great Britain
George I of Great Britain
George I was King of Great Britain and Ireland from 1 August 1714 until his death, and ruler of the Duchy and Electorate of Brunswick-Lüneburg in the Holy Roman Empire from 1698....

), but his opponents for this reason favored France, and those opponents were strong enough in the States-General of the Netherlands
States-General of the Netherlands
The States-General of the Netherlands is the bicameral legislature of the Netherlands, consisting of the Senate and the House of Representatives. The parliament meets in at the Binnenhof in The Hague. The archaic Dutch word "staten" originally related to the feudal classes in which medieval...

 (the governing body of the Republic whose "first servant" the stadtholder was) to keep Dutch foreign policy neutral.

Initially the British considered the Dutch allies in their attempt to stamp out the rebellion in their American colonies
Thirteen Colonies
The Thirteen Colonies were English and later British colonies established on the Atlantic coast of North America between 1607 and 1733. They declared their independence in the American Revolution and formed the United States of America...

. They attempted to "borrow" the mercenary Scotch Brigade of the Dutch States Army for use in the Americas, in a similar manner to the Hessian and Brunswicker
Brunswick-Lüneburg
The Duchy of Brunswick-Lüneburg , or more properly Duchy of Brunswick and Lüneburg, was an historical ducal state from the late Middle Ages until the late Early Modern era within the North-Western domains of the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation, in what is now northern Germany...

 contingents they hired and deployed. However, this was strongly opposed by the sympathizers of the American Revolution
American Revolution
The American Revolution was the political upheaval during the last half of the 18th century in which thirteen colonies in North America joined together to break free from the British Empire, combining to become the United States of America...

, led by baron Joan van der Capellen tot den Pol
Joan van der Capellen tot den Pol
Joan Derk, Baron van der Capellen tot den Pol was a Dutch nobleman who played a prominent role in the formation of the Batavian Republic and the revolutionary events that preceded its formation...

, who managed to convince the States-General to refuse the British request.

More importantly, Dutch merchants, especially those from Amsterdam
Amsterdam
Amsterdam is the largest city and the capital of the Netherlands. The current position of Amsterdam as capital city of the Kingdom of the Netherlands is governed by the constitution of August 24, 1815 and its successors. Amsterdam has a population of 783,364 within city limits, an urban population...

, became involved in the supply of arms and munitions to the rebels soon after the start of the American Revolution. This trade was mainly conducted via the entrepôt
Entrepôt
An entrepôt is a trading post where merchandise can be imported and exported without paying import duties, often at a profit. This profit is possible because of trade conditions, for example, the reluctance of ships to travel the entire length of a long trading route, and selling to the entrepôt...

 of St. Eustatius, an island colony of the Dutch West India Company
Dutch West India Company
Dutch West India Company was a chartered company of Dutch merchants. Among its founding fathers was Willem Usselincx...

 in the Caribbean
Caribbean
The Caribbean is a crescent-shaped group of islands more than 2,000 miles long separating the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea, to the west and south, from the Atlantic Ocean, to the east and north...

. There American colonial wares, like tobacco and indigo, were imported (in contravention of the British Navigation Acts
Navigation Acts
The English Navigation Acts were a series of laws that restricted the use of foreign shipping for trade between England and its colonies, a process which had started in 1651. Their goal was to force colonial development into lines favorable to England, and stop direct colonial trade with the...

) and re-exported to Europe. For their return cargo the Americans purchased arms, munitions, and naval stores brought to the island by Dutch and French merchants. To add insult to injury, in 1776 the governor of the island, Johannes de Graeff
Johannes de Graeff
Johannes de Graaff , also referred to as Johannis de Graeff in some documents, was a Dutch Governor of Sint Eustatius, Saba and Sint Maarten in the Netherlands Antilles during the difficult time of the American Revolutionary War.-Life and career:De Graaff was the son of Simon de Graaff, member of...

, was the first to salute the Flag of the United States
Flag of the United States
The national flag of the United States of America consists of thirteen equal horizontal stripes of red alternating with white, with a blue rectangle in the canton bearing fifty small, white, five-pointed stars arranged in nine offset horizontal rows of six stars alternating with rows...

, leading to growing British suspicions of the Dutch. In 1778 the Dutch refused to be bullied into taking Britain's side in the war against France. The British invoked a number of old treaties (1678, 1689, 1716) to have the Republic support them militarily, but as in the Seven Years' War the Dutch government refused.

After the French and Spanish entry into the War of the American Revolution the Amsterdam merchants also became heavily involved in the trade in naval stores with France. The French needed those supplies for their naval construction, but were prevented from obtaining those themselves, due to the blockade of the Royal Navy
Royal Navy
The Royal Navy is the naval warfare service branch of the British Armed Forces. Founded in the 16th century, it is the oldest service branch and is known as the Senior Service...

 (France being the weaker naval power in the conflict). The Dutch were privileged by a concession obtained after their victory in the Second Anglo-Dutch War
Second Anglo-Dutch War
The Second Anglo–Dutch War was part of a series of four Anglo–Dutch Wars fought between the English and the Dutch in the 17th and 18th centuries for control over the seas and trade routes....

, known as the principle of "free ship, free goods" which was enshrined in the Anglo-Dutch Commercial Treaty of 1668 (reconfirmed in the Treaty of Westminster (1674)
Treaty of Westminster (1674)
The Treaty of Westminster of 1674 was the peace treaty that ended the Third Anglo-Dutch War. Signed by the Netherlands and England, it provided for the return of the colony of New Netherland to England and renewed the Treaty of Breda of 1667...

). This early formulation of the principle of Freedom of Navigation
Freedom of Navigation
Freedom of Navigation is a principle of customary International Law that, apart from the exceptions provided for in international law, ships flying the flag of any state shall not suffer interference from other states. This right is now also codified as article 87a of the 1982 United Nations...

 exempted all but narrowly-defined "contraband
Contraband
The word contraband, reported in English since 1529, from Medieval French contrebande "a smuggling," denotes any item which, relating to its nature, is illegal to be possessed or sold....

" goods, carried in Dutch ships, from confiscation by the British prize court
Prize court
A prize court is a court authorized to consider whether or not a ship has been lawfully captured or seized in time of war or under the terms of the seizing ship's letters of marque and reprisal...

s, in wars in which the Dutch remained neutral. According to the treaty naval stores
Naval stores
Naval Stores is a broad term which originally applied to the resin-based components used in building and maintaining wooden sailing ships, a category which includes cordage, mask, turpentine, rosin, pitch and tar...

 (including ship's timbers, masts, spars, canvas, tar, rope, and pitch) were not contraband and the Dutch therefore were free to continue their trade with France in these goods. Because of the still-important role of the Dutch in the European carrying trade this opened up a large loophole in the British embargo
Embargo
An embargo is the partial or complete prohibition of commerce and trade with a particular country, in order to isolate it. Embargoes are considered strong diplomatic measures imposed in an effort, by the imposing country, to elicit a given national-interest result from the country on which it is...

. The British therefore unilaterally declared naval stores to be contraband and enforced their embargo by arresting Dutch (and other neutral) ships on the high seas. This led to strong protests by the affected Dutch merchants, who demanded institution of convoy
Convoy
A convoy is a group of vehicles, typically motor vehicles or ships, traveling together for mutual support and protection. Often, a convoy is organized with armed defensive support, though it may also be used in a non-military sense, for example when driving through remote areas.-Age of Sail:Naval...

s escorted by the Dutch navy, to protect them against the Royal Navy and British privateer
Privateer
A privateer is a private person or ship authorized by a government by letters of marque to attack foreign shipping during wartime. Privateering was a way of mobilizing armed ships and sailors without having to spend public money or commit naval officers...

s. According to customary international law, such convoys were (and still are) exempt from the right of Visit and Search
Visit and Search
Visit and Search is the right of a belligerent warship, under certain conditions, to board a neutral merchant ship in order to verify its true character.According to the U.S. Navy,- References :*...

 by belligerents. Initially the stadtholder managed to prevent this, but strong diplomatic pressure by France, that selectively applied economic sanctions to Dutch cities supporting the stadtholder in this policy, forced his hand in November, 1779. The States-General now ordered him to provide the escorts and the first convoy, under command of rear-admiral Lodewijk van Bylandt
Lodewijk van Bylandt
Lodewijk Count Van Bylandt was a Dutch lieutenant-admiral. He gained a certain notoriety in the Affair of Fielding and Bylandt of 1779 and even more in consequence of the refusal of the Dutch navy to put out to sea to combine with the French fleet in Brest in 1783, during the Fourth Anglo-Dutch...

, sailed in December, 1779. This led to the humiliating Affair of Fielding and Bylandt
Affair of Fielding and Bylandt
The Affair of Fielding and Bylandt refers to a brief naval engagement off the Isle of Wight on 31 December 1779 between a Royal Navy squadron, commanded by Commodore Charles Fielding, and a naval squadron of the Dutch Republic, commanded by rear-admiral Lodewijk van Bylandt, escorting a Dutch convoy...

 on 31 December 1779, which enraged Dutch public opinion and further undermined the position of the stadtholder. The incident motivated the Dutch to seek adherence to the First League of Armed Neutrality
First League of Armed Neutrality
The first League of Armed Neutrality was an alliance of European naval powers between 1780 and 1783 which was intended to protect neutral shipping against the British Royal Navy's wartime policy of unlimited search of neutral shipping for French contraband...

, which espoused the principle of "free ship, free goods," especially after Britain formally abrogated the Commercial Treaty of 1668. The Dutch hoped to gain the armed support of the other members of the League to maintain their neutral status.

Declaration of war


The British government saw the danger of this move (it might embroil Great Britain in war with Russia and the Nordic Powers Sweden and Denmark also) and therefore declared war on the Republic shortly after its adherence in December, 1780.
To forestall Russia from coming to the aid of the Dutch (something Empress Catharine II of Russia was not keen on either) the British government cited a number of grievances that were ostensibly unrelated to the Dutch accession to the League. One of these was the shelter the Dutch had (reluctantly) given to the American privateer John Paul Jones
John Paul Jones
John Paul Jones was a Scottish sailor and the United States' first well-known naval fighter in the American Revolutionary War. Although he made enemies among America's political elites, his actions in British waters during the Revolution earned him an international reputation which persists to...

 in 1779. More importantly, much was made of a draft treaty of commerce, secretly negotiated between the Amsterdam banker Jean de Neufville and the American agent in Aix-la-Chapelle, William Lee
William Lee (diplomat)
William Lee was an American diplomat during the Revolutionary War.-Background:He was born at Stratford Hall Plantation in Westmoreland County, Virginia to Hon. Thomas Lee and Hannah Harrison Ludwell...

, with the connivance of the Amsterdam pensionary
Pensionary
A pensionary was a name given to the leading functionary and legal adviser of the principal town corporations in the Netherlands because they received a salary, or pension.-Historical development:...

 Van Berckel, and found among the effects of Henry Laurens
Henry Laurens
Henry Laurens was an American merchant and rice planter from South Carolina who became a political leader during the Revolutionary War. A delegate to the Second Continental Congress, Laurens succeeded John Hancock as President of the Congress...

, an American diplomat who had been apprehended by the British cruiser HMS Vestal in September, 1780, on the high seas. He had been sent by the Continental Congress
Continental Congress
The Continental Congress was a convention of delegates called together from the Thirteen Colonies that became the governing body of the United States during the American Revolution....

 to establish diplomatic relations with the Dutch Republic. The draft-treaty was cited as proof by the British of the non-neutral conduct of the Dutch.

Progress of the war


Dutch naval power had been in decline since 1712. The fleet had been long neglected and therefore the Dutch navy, having only twenty ships of the line at the start of the conflict, was no match for the British Royal Navy. Although the States-General had decided on a substantial expansion of the fleet in 1779, just before the fateful decision to offer limited convoys, and had even voted the funds for such a naval-construction program, it progressed but slowly. Another reason for the slow expansion of the Dutch fleet was a lack of suitable recruits—the Dutch navy paid lower wages than the merchant marine and did not use impressment
Impressment
Impressment, colloquially, "the Press", was the act of taking men into a navy by force and without notice. It was used by the Royal Navy, beginning in 1664 and during the 18th and early 19th centuries, in wartime, as a means of crewing warships, although legal sanction for the practice goes back to...

 like the Royal Navy. The number of available ships was diminished even more at the start of the war when several ships were captured by the British in the West Indies because they were unaware the war had started. A convoy under rear-admiral Willem Crul was lost this way near St. Eustatius in February, 1781, and the admiral was killed in the short action. The pronounced inferiority of the Dutch fleet, and its state of "unreadiness" was a frequently reiterated excuse for the Dutch naval commanders, especially vice-admiral Andries Hartsinck, who commanded the Texel squadron, to keep the fleet at anchor, thereby ceding dominance of the North Sea
North Sea
In the southwest, beyond the Straits of Dover, the North Sea becomes the English Channel connecting to the Atlantic Ocean. In the east, it connects to the Baltic Sea via the Skagerrak and Kattegat, narrow straits that separate Denmark from Norway and Sweden respectively...

 to the blockading British fleet. Within a few weeks of the beginning of the war more than 200 Dutch merchantmen, with cargo to the amount of 15 million guilders, had been captured by the British and 300 more were locked up in foreign ports.

Another reason for the lack of activity of the Dutch navy was the fact that diplomatic activity never ceased and gave the Dutch government the illusion that the war would be of only short duration. First Empress Catharine, though she refused to come to the aid of the Dutch, was very active in offering her services to mediate the dispute. Both the British and the Dutch, with varying amounts of sincerety, cooperated in these diplomatic maneuvers, which came to nothing, but helped to keep military activities at a low level while they lasted.

The British government also made overtures to the Dutch to come to a speedy conclusion of hostilities, especially after the Cabinet of Lord North
Frederick North, Lord North
Frederick North, 2nd Earl of Guilford, KG, PC , more often known by his courtesy title, Lord North, which he used from 1752 until 1790, was Prime Minister of Great Britain from 1770 to 1782. He led Great Britain through most of the American War of Independence...

 had been replaced by that of Rockingham
Charles Watson-Wentworth, 2nd Marquess of Rockingham
Charles Watson-Wentworth, 2nd Marquess of Rockingham, KG, PC , styled The Hon. Charles Watson-Wentworth before 1733, Viscount Higham between 1733 and 1746, Earl of Malton between 1746 and 1750 and The Earl Malton in 1750, was a British Whig statesman, most notable for his two terms as Prime...

 and Fox
Charles James Fox
Charles James Fox PC , styled The Honourable from 1762, was a prominent British Whig statesman whose parliamentary career spanned thirty-eight years of the late 18th and early 19th centuries and who was particularly noted for being the arch-rival of William Pitt the Younger...

 in March, 1782. Fox immediately proposed a separate peace on favorable conditions to the Dutch government. Unfortunately for the Dutch they had just bound themselves closer to France by agreeing to act "in concert" with France in naval actions and therefore a separate peace was no longer an option. A real military alliance with France was, however, still blocked by the stadtholder, despite the fact that many in the Republic favored it.

The war, as far as it went, was fought in three main theatres. Britain blockaded Dutch ports in Europe, and embarked on expeditions to seize Dutch colonial properties throughout the world. These were almost entirely successful; only an attempt to capture
Shirley's Gold Coast expedition
In 1781, Great Britain's declared war on the Dutch Republic, opening the Fourth Anglo-Dutch War. As part of its offensive strategy, the British organized an expedition against Dutch colonial outposts on the Gold Coast of Africa...

 the Dutch castle at Elmina
Elmina Castle
Elmina Castle was erected by Portugal in 1482 as São Jorge da Mina Castle, also known simply as Mina or Feitoria da Mina) in present-day Elmina, Ghana . It was the first trading post built on the Gulf of Guinea, so is the oldest European building in existence below the Sahara...

 on the Africa's Gold Coast (modern Ghana
Ghana
Ghana , officially the Republic of Ghana, is a country located in West Africa. It is bordered by Côte d'Ivoire to the west, Burkina Faso to the north, Togo to the east, and the Gulf of Guinea to the south...

) failed. While many Dutch territories in the West Indies were taken by the British, some, like Curaçao
Curaçao
Curaçao is an island in the southern Caribbean Sea, off the Venezuelan coast. The Country of Curaçao , which includes the main island plus the small, uninhabited island of Klein Curaçao , is a constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands...

, were not attacked due to their defensive strength.

West Indies


As far as the Dutch were concerned, the war in the West Indies was over almost before it had begun. Admiral Rodney
George Brydges Rodney, 1st Baron Rodney
George Brydges Rodney, 1st Baron Rodney, KB was a British naval officer. He is best known for his commands in the American War of Independence, particularly his victory over the French at the Battle of the Saintes in 1782...

 the commander of the Leeward Islands
Leeward Islands
The Leeward Islands are a group of islands in the West Indies. They are the northern islands of the Lesser Antilles chain. As a group they start east of Puerto Rico and reach southward to Dominica. They are situated where the northeastern Caribbean Sea meets the western Atlantic Ocean...

 station of the Royal Navy attacked the Dutch colonies in that part of the Caribbean
Caribbean
The Caribbean is a crescent-shaped group of islands more than 2,000 miles long separating the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea, to the west and south, from the Atlantic Ocean, to the east and north...

: St. Eustatius, Saba, and Saint Martin
Saint Martin
Saint Martin is an island in the northeast Caribbean, approximately east of Puerto Rico. The 87 km2 island is divided roughly 60/40 between France and the Kingdom of the Netherlands ; however, the Dutch side has the larger population. It is one of the smallest sea islands divided between...

, as soon as he had received word of the declaration of war, in the process surprising a number of Dutch naval and merchant ships, who were still unaware of the start of hostilities. St. Eustatius (captured on February 3, 1781), that had played such a large role in the supply of the American rebels with arms, was completely devastated by him. He proved himself especially vengeful against the Jewish merchants on the island. All goods on the island were confiscated and all merchants, Dutch, American, French, even English, deported. Part of the loot was auctioned off on the spot, but an appreciable amount was put on a convoy destined for Britain. However, much of the convoy was captured in the English Channel by a French squadron under admiral Picquet de la Motte
Toussaint-Guillaume Picquet de la Motte
Count Toussaint-Guillaume Picquet de la Motte was a French admiral.Aged fifteen, he joined the navy as a midshipman and served in Morocco, the Baltic Sea, the Caribbean Islands and in India. Noted for his strategic skills, he was called to Paris in 1775 to help the Secretary of State prepare the...

. The French did not return the goods to the Dutch, however.

Though an attempt was made to likewise capture the Dutch Leeward Antilles
Leeward Antilles
The Leeward Antilles are a chain of islands in the Caribbean – specifically, the southerly islands of the Lesser Antilles along the southeastern fringe of the Caribbean Sea, just north of the Venezuelan coast of the South American mainland...

, these remained in Dutch hands, as did Suriname
Suriname
Suriname , officially the Republic of Suriname , is a country in northern South America. It borders French Guiana to the east, Guyana to the west, Brazil to the south, and on the north by the Atlantic Ocean. Suriname was a former colony of the British and of the Dutch, and was previously known as...

, though neighboring Berbice
Berbice
Berbice is a region along the Berbice River in Guyana, which was between 1627 and 1815 a colony of the Netherlands. After having been ceded to the United Kingdom in the latter year, it was merged with Essequibo and Demerara to form the colony of British Guiana in 1831...

, Demerara
Demerara
Demerara was a region in South America in what is now Guyana that was colonised by the Dutch in 1611. The British invaded and captured the area in 1796...

, and Essequibo
Essequibo (colony)
Essequibo was from 1616 to 1814 a Dutch colony in the region of the Essequibo river on the north coast of South America. The colony formed a part of the colonies that are known under the collective name of Dutch Guyana.- History :...

 were rapidly taken by the British early in 1781. These were retaken by the French captain Armand de Kersaint
Armand de Kersaint
Armand-Guy-Simon de Coetnempren, comte de Kersaint, in short Armand de Kersaint , was a French sailor and politician. A Girondin, Kersaint held important naval posts during the early stages of the French Revolution...

 in 1782, and restored to the Dutch after the war.

European waters


Admiral Hartsinck at first proved himself highly adverse to risk his fleet. However, political pressure to venture outside the safety of the Texel
Texel
Texel is a municipality and an island in the Netherlands, in the province of North Holland. It is the biggest and most populated of the Frisian Islands in the Wadden Sea, and also the westernmost of this archipelago, which extends to Denmark...

 roadstead
Roadstead
A roadstead is a place outside a harbor where a ship can lie at anchor. It is an enclosed area with an opening to the sea, narrower than a bay or gulf. It has a surface that cannot be confused with an estuary. It can be created artificially by jetties or dikes...

 mounted and several cautious attempts were made to capture British convoys, or escort Dutch convoys. In one of those forays, an unusually strong squadron, under admiral Johan Zoutman
Johan Zoutman
Johan Arnold Zoutman was a Dutch naval figure and Rear Admiral who fought at the Battle of Dogger Bank in the Fourth Anglo-Dutch War.Zoutman also fought in the American Revolutionary War.-Legacy:...

 and his second-in-command, rear-admiral Jan Hendrik van Kinsbergen
Jan Hendrik van Kinsbergen
Jan Hendrik van Kinsbergen , or Count of Doggersbank, was a Dutch naval officer. Having had a good scientific education, Van Kinbergen was a proponent of fleet modernization and wrote many books about naval organization, discipline and tactics.In 1773, he twice defeated an Ottoman fleet while in...

, encountered in August, 1781 a British squadron of about equal strength under admiral Hyde Parker
Sir Hyde Parker, 5th Baronet
Vice-Admiral Sir Hyde Parker, 5th Baronet was a British naval commander.Parker was born at Tredington, Gloucestershire. His father, a clergyman, was a son of Sir Henry Parker. His paternal grandfather had married a daughter of Alexander Hyde, Bishop of Salisbury. He began his career at sea in the...

 in the Battle of Dogger Bank
Battle of Dogger Bank (1781)
The naval 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...

, which ended in a tactical draw.

Another promising venture seemed to be what has become known as the "Brest Affair." In September, 1782, after the Dutch politicians had hesitantly agreed to coordinate their actions with the French, acting "in concert," there seemed to be an opportunity to combine a Dutch squadron of ten ships of the line
Ship of the line
A ship of the line was a type of naval warship constructed from the 17th through the mid-19th century to take part in the naval tactic known as the line of battle, in which two columns of opposing warships would manoeuvre to bring the greatest weight of broadside guns to bear...

 with the French squadron at Brest
Brest, France
Brest is a city in the Finistère department in Brittany in northwestern France. Located in a sheltered position not far from the western tip of the Breton peninsula, and the western extremity of metropolitan France, Brest is an important harbour and the second French military port after Toulon...

, as the British fleet in the Channel had suddenly sailed south. However, Hartsinck, as usual made objections, based on intelligence that British ships lay in ambush. When this proved false, the stadtholder ordered him to send the squadron, under command of vice-admiral Count Lodewijk van Bylandt
Lodewijk van Bylandt
Lodewijk Count Van Bylandt was a Dutch lieutenant-admiral. He gained a certain notoriety in the Affair of Fielding and Bylandt of 1779 and even more in consequence of the refusal of the Dutch navy to put out to sea to combine with the French fleet in Brest in 1783, during the Fourth Anglo-Dutch...

 to Brest. However, as had happened countless times before, Bylandt, after having inspected the ships, declared them "unready" to put out to sea. In this refusal he was supported by the other flag officers. The incident caused a political storm that threatened to engulf the stadtholder himself, as he was responsible as commander-in-chief for both the state of readiness of the fleet and its strategic decisions (though the officers were tactically and operationally responsible, and could not decline responsibility for the alleged state of "unreadiness" themselves). The opponents of the stadtholder demanded an investigation that was, however, very long drawn out, and quietly terminated after the stadtholder was restored in his full powers after 1787, long after the end of the war.

Though, except for the Dogger-Bank skirmish, no major battles were fought in European waters, and the British blockade encountered little opposition from the Dutch fleet, the blockade itself exacted its toll on the British seamen, who were at sea for long times at a stretch (which even exposed them to the danger of scurvy
Scurvy
Scurvy is a disease resulting from a deficiency of vitamin C, which is required for the synthesis of collagen in humans. The chemical name for vitamin C, ascorbic acid, is derived from the Latin name of scurvy, scorbutus, which also provides the adjective scorbutic...

) and the ships, that suffered from severe wear and tear. Also, the fact that an appreciable number of ships had to be detached to maintain naval superiority in the North Sea, meant that the already overstretched Royal Navy was even more strained after 1781. Ships that were needed to blockade the Dutch coast could not be used against the French, Americans and Spaniards in other theatres of war. This may have contributed to a number of the naval defeats the British suffered after 1781.

Asian waters



The Dutch East India Company
Dutch East India Company
The Dutch East India Company was a chartered company established in 1602, when the States-General of the Netherlands granted it a 21-year monopoly to carry out colonial activities in Asia...

 (VOC) had been responsible for defending its own colonies east of the Cape Colony
Cape Colony
The Cape Colony, part of modern South Africa, was established by the Dutch East India Company in 1652, with the founding of Cape Town. It was subsequently occupied by the British in 1795 when the Netherlands were occupied by revolutionary France, so that the French revolutionaries could not take...

, but for the first time had to request assistance from the Dutch navy. However, ships were lacking at first and what naval forces were available were unable to prevent Britain from taking effective control of the Dutch colonies (in the Indian Subcontinent
India
India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...

 all of the Dutch colonies were taken). In early 1782 British Admiral Sir Edward Hughes captured Trincomalee
Capture of Trincomalee
The Capture of Trincomalee on 11 January 1782 was the second major engagement between Great Britain and the Dutch East India Company in the East Indies after outbreak of the Fourth Anglo-Dutch War...

 on the eastern coast of Ceylon, considered to be the finest harbour in the Bay of Bengal
Bay of Bengal
The Bay of Bengal , the largest bay in the world, forms the northeastern part of the Indian Ocean. It resembles a triangle in shape, and is bordered mostly by the Eastern Coast of India, southern coast of Bangladesh and Sri Lanka to the west and Burma and the Andaman and Nicobar Islands to the...

.

In March 1781 British admiral George Johnstone was sent to capture the Cape Colony. France, which had already planned to send a fleet to India, received intelligence of this, and directed its commander, the Bailli de Suffren
Pierre André de Suffren de Saint Tropez
Admiral comte Pierre André de Suffren de Saint Tropez, bailli de Suffren , French admiral, was the third son of the marquis de Saint Tropez, head of a family of nobles of Provence which claimed to have emigrated from Lucca in the 14th century...

, to try to reach the Cape before Johnstone. After Johnstone and Suffren met in a happenstance battle in the Cape Verde Islands
Battle of Porto Praya
The Battle of Porto Praya was a naval battle which took place during the American Revolutionary War on 16 April 1781 between a British squadron under Commodore George Johnstone and a French squadron under the Bailli de Suffren....

, Suffren was able to arrive before Johnstone, and the strength of French troops he left dissuaded Johnstone from attacking the colony. After capturing a number of VOC ships in a nearby bay, he returned to North Atlantic waters.

Suffren had continued on to Île de France (present-day Mauritius
Mauritius
Mauritius , officially the Republic of Mauritius is an island nation off the southeast coast of the African continent in the southwest Indian Ocean, about east of Madagascar...

) and then India. There he arrived and fought a number of actions against Hughes. Suffren attempted to take the Dutch port of Negapatam (taken by the British in 1781
Siege of Negapatam
The Siege of Negapatam was the first major offensive military action on the Indian subcontinent following the arrival of news that war had been declared between Great Britain and the Dutch Republic, beginning the Fourth Anglo-Dutch War, an offshoot of the American War of Independence...

), but was frustrated by Hughes
Battle of Negapatam (1782)
The Battle of Negapatam was the third in the series of battles fought between a British fleet under Vice-Admiral Sir Edward Hughes and a French fleet under the Bailli de Suffren off the coast of India during the American Revolutionary War...

. In August the French re-captured Trincomalee
Battle of Trincomalee
The Battle of Trincomalee was the fourth in the series of battles fought between a British fleet under Vice-Admiral Sir Edward Hughes and a French fleet under the Bailli de Suffren off the coast of India during the American Revolutionary War...

, and Suffren fought Hughes to a standstill in a naval battle several days later. The two fleets withdrew and the British repaired in Bombay while the French refitted in the Dutch colony of Sumatra
Sumatra
Sumatra is an island in western Indonesia, westernmost of the Sunda Islands. It is the largest island entirely in Indonesia , and the sixth largest island in the world at 473,481 km2 with a population of 50,365,538...

. Hughes and Suffren met again
Battle of Cuddalore (1783)
The Battle of Cuddalore was a battle between a British fleet under Admiral Sir Edward Hughes and a slightly smaller French fleet under the Bailli de Suffren off the coast of India near Cuddalore during the American Revolutionary War, which in 1780 had sparked the Second Mysore War in India...

 in 1783, but news of preliminary peace between France and Britain ended hostilities in India.

In August 1781 word of the war reached Sumatra
Sumatra
Sumatra is an island in western Indonesia, westernmost of the Sunda Islands. It is the largest island entirely in Indonesia , and the sixth largest island in the world at 473,481 km2 with a population of 50,365,538...

, where both the Dutch and British companies had trading outposts. The directors of the British company at Fort Marlborough received instructions from Bombay to destroy all of the Dutch outposts on the west coast of Sumatra. Quite fortuitously, a fleet of five East Indiamen arrived not long after, and the directors seized the opportunity for action. Henry Botham, one of the directors, commandeered the fleet, and with 100 company soldiers sailed for Padang
Padang, Indonesia
Padang is the capital and largest city of West Sumatra, Indonesia. It is located on the western coast of Sumatra at . It has an area of and a population of over 833,000 people at the 2010 Census.-History:...

. On 18 August Jacob von Heemskerk, the VOC chief resident at Padang, surrendered all of the west coast outposts without a fight, unaware that Botham's force was relatively weak. The capture netted the British 500,000 florins in goods and money. The fortress at Padang was destroyed before the town was returned to VOC control in 1784.

Ceasefire and Treaty of Paris



The Republic did not form a formal military alliance with France and her allies before the end of the war. A treaty of amity and commerce was however concluded with the Americans in October, 1782, after John Adams
John Adams
John Adams was an American lawyer, statesman, diplomat and political theorist. A leading champion of independence in 1776, he was the second President of the United States...

, who succeeded Henry Laurens, had managed to obtain diplomatic recognition of the American republic from the States-General in April, 1782. The Republic was the second European power (after France, but before Spain) to recognize the United States. Adams also succeeded in raising a substantial loan for the Americans on the still-significant Dutch capital market.

The Republic involved itself in the peace congress that the French foreign minister Vergennes
Charles Gravier, comte de Vergennes
Charles Gravier, comte de Vergennes was a French statesman and diplomat. He served as Foreign Minister from 1774 during the reign of Louis XVI, notably during the American War of Independence....

 organized, negotiating separately with the British commissioners. The Dutch demands were not supported by the French and this put them into an untenable position when the French and their allies went ahead with the signing of the general peace. The Dutch therefore were forced to sign a preliminary peace just before that general treaty was signed. The Republic joined the armistice between Britain and France in January 1783. The signing of the Treaty of Paris (1784)
Peace of Paris (1783)
The Peace of Paris was the set of treaties which ended the American Revolutionary War. On 3 September 1783, representatives of King George III of Great Britain signed a treaty in Paris with representatives of the United States of America—commonly known as the Treaty of Paris —and two treaties at...

 made Negapatnam
Nagapattinam
Nagapattinam is a town in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu and the administrative headquarters of Nagapattinam District. It is a prominent seaport on the east coast of India and an important centre of trade and commerce.The town of Nagapattinam dates back to the Sangam period...

, in India, a British colony. Ceylon was returned by the French. The British gained the right of free trade with part of the Dutch East Indies
Dutch East Indies
The Dutch East Indies was a Dutch colony that became modern Indonesia following World War II. It was formed from the nationalised colonies of the Dutch East India Company, which came under the administration of the Netherlands government in 1800....

, which had been a major war aim for British merchants. The French also returned the other Dutch colonies they had recaptured from the British, including the ones in the West Indies (like St. Eustatius that had been taken by Admiral Rodney
George Brydges Rodney, 1st Baron Rodney
George Brydges Rodney, 1st Baron Rodney, KB was a British naval officer. He is best known for his commands in the American War of Independence, particularly his victory over the French at the Battle of the Saintes in 1782...

 in February, 1781, but was retaken by the French Admiral De Grasse
François Joseph Paul de Grasse
Lieutenant Général des Armées Navales François-Joseph Paul, marquis de Grasse Tilly, comte de Grasse was a French admiral. He is best known for his command of the French fleet at the Battle of the Chesapeake, which led directly to the British surrender at Yorktown...

 on November 27, 1781)

Aftermath


The war proved a disaster for the Netherlands, particularly economically. It also proved to be confirmation of the weakening of Dutch power in the eighteenth century. In the immediate aftermath of the war, the bad result was blamed on the mismanagement (if not worse) by the stadtholder by his opponents who coalesced into the Patriot party
Patriots (faction)
The Patriots were a political faction in the Dutch Republic in the second half of the 18th century. They were led by Joan van der Capellen tot den Pol, gaining power from November 1782....

. These managed for a while to roll back a number of the reforms of the revolution of 1747, strongly diminishing his powers. However, this Patriot revolt was suppressed in 1787 by Prussian and British intervention. The Patriots were driven abroad, but returned in 1795 with the help of the French revolutionary
French First Republic
The French First Republic was founded on 22 September 1792, by the newly established National Convention. The First Republic lasted until the declaration of the First French Empire in 1804 under Napoleon I...

 armies and established a Batavian Republic
Batavian Republic
The Batavian Republic was the successor of the Republic of the United Netherlands. It was proclaimed on January 19, 1795, and ended on June 5, 1806, with the accession of Louis Bonaparte to the throne of the Kingdom of Holland....

 in place of the old Dutch Republic. The Low Countries
Low Countries
The Low Countries are the historical lands around the low-lying delta of the Rhine, Scheldt, and Meuse rivers, including the modern countries of Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg and parts of northern France and western Germany....

 remained central to British strategic thinking, and they would send expeditionary forces to the Netherlands in 1793, 1799 and 1809.

See also

  • Anglo–Dutch Wars
  • History of England
    History of England
    The history of England concerns the study of the human past in one of Europe's oldest and most influential national territories. What is now England, a country within the United Kingdom, was inhabited by Neanderthals 230,000 years ago. Continuous human habitation dates to around 12,000 years ago,...

  • History of the Netherlands
    History of the Netherlands
    The history of the Netherlands is the history of a maritime people thriving on a watery lowland river delta at the edge of northwestern Europe. When the Romans and written history arrived in 57 BC, the country was sparsely populated by various tribal groups at the periphery of the empire...

  • British military history
    British military history
    The Military history of Britain, including the military history of the United Kingdom and the military history of the island of Great Britain, is discussed in the following articles:...

  • Dutch military history

External links