On This Day

Dutch Fleet Captured

Cavalry capturing the Dutch fleet at the battle of Den Helder
Cavalry capturing the Dutch fleet at the battle of Den Helder

Historical Context

One of the more bizarre accomplishments in naval/cavalry warfare, a rare battle between ships and cavalry took place during the Napoleonic War of the First Coalition in 1795.

A fleet of the Dutch Republic was frozen in ice between a 3km (1.9 mi) stretch of sea that separated the port of Den Helder and the island of Texel. A French cavalry regiment was able to surprise the Dutch fleet by storming across the sea and capturing the 14 warships and with them 850 guns.

The story of the French storming the ships is based primarily on their own sources - others suggest the Dutch had been ordered not to offer any resistance should they be attacked. Nevertheless, capturing ships by means of cavalry is an extremely rare event in military history.

Painting Info

Artist: Léon Morel-Fatio
Location painted: Between Texel and Den Helder, Dutch Republic

Source: Wikimedia Commons

Related Events

  • 1795-01-23 War of the First Coalition: French cavalry captures 14 Dutch ships and 850 guns near the port of Den Helder - rare instance of cavalry capturing a fleet

Historical Paintings