1801 - Armistice with Denmark


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Naval History of Great Britain - Vol III
1801 British and Danish Fleets 78

Although, as, without reckoning the two prames which sank in shoal water while escaping and were probably recovered, the British had captured or destroyed 13 out of the 18 floating batteries that formed the Danish line to the southward of the Trekroner islands, the victory was to them; yet the. Danes, viewing Lord Nelson's message to the crown prince as the first overture to a cessation of hostilities, solaced themselves with the belief, that the affair, at the most, could only be considered as a drawn battle. Whatever name the contest went by, it fully succeeded, as we shall presently have to show, in attaining the object for which it had been commenced.

No nation could behave better, no men could fight more bravely, than the Danes did on this occasion; but Commodore Fischer, nevertheless, was a little in error in regard to his report to the crown prince. That account states, that the British line, reckoning from the Defiance, did not stretch further northward than the Zealand, and therefore did not engage more than two thirds of the Danish line of defence; while the Trekroner battery, and the block-ships Elephanten and Mars, with the frigate Hielpern, did not come at all into action. This is disproved by the single fact, that the Defiance had her mainmast, mizenmast, and bowsprit, badly wounded by the very first broadside fired from the Trekroner battery. Not only, then, was the latter engaged, but the Defiance must have been stationed nearly abreast of it, to have suffered as she did. It will be creditable to Captain-lieutenant Lillenshield to suppose, that it was the fire of the Defiance, and not the want of an antagonist, which drove his ship, the 36-pounder frigate Hielpern, out of the line. As to the Elephanten and Mars, they properly belonged to the north wing of defence; and many of their heavy shot, no doubt, fell among the frigates and sloops, appointed, owing to the unavoidable absence of more able ships, to act against this formidable quarter of the Danish position.

Commodore Fischer assures his countrymen, that the British had two ships to his one, and therefore were doubly superior in force. Let us, without being over-minute, submit this assertion to proof. Dismissing from the calculation the whole of the Danish north wing, and the frigates and sloops opposed to it; also the bomb-vessels (for they really were useless), the two ships aground, * the Quintus redoubt and five adjacent batteries on Amag island, and the Jamaica and the little fry with her, we have five 74-gun ships, two 64s, one 54, one 50, and one 36-gun frigate, to oppose - to the 18 block-ships, prames, radeaus, and

* These were only partially effective. Although abreast of the Polyphemus, the Russel, lying obliquely, or with her stern to the westward, was enabled to fire athwart the bows of that ship ; while the Bellona, with her six aftmost guns on each deck, fired astern of the Isis, and with her six foremost ones (leaving the two midship guns on each deck unemployed, ahead of her. Doubtless many shot from both grounded ships struck the Polyphemus and Isis.

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