Search milhist.dk
Forum
Did you find what you were looking for? If not, try the
Web forum
 
British Warship Losses in Danish-Norwegian Waters
tilbage til forside
tilbage til artikel oversigt
by Eric Nielsen
om forfatteren
send link til en ven
print siden

This list provided here is of British warship losses in Danish-Norwegian waters during Denmark's "gunboat war" of 1807-1814, so-called because Denmark's predominate weapon in this predominately naval war was what was generically referred to as the "gunboat," but which more accurately involved several different specific types of mass-produced small craft, such as the "gun-sloop" or "or "gun-shallop" (kanonchalup), and the smaller "gun-yawl" or "cannon-jolly" (kanonjolle)."

Mass-produced cannon-shallop (kanonchalup), one of Denmark's principal and most powerful gunboat types.
Mass-produced cannon-shallop (kanonchalup), one of Denmark's principal and most powerful gunboat types.

Denmark's Gunboat War = "coastal warfare"
Denmark's "gunboat war" was the Napoleonic Wars' version of a type of naval operations which are now referred to as "coastal warfare," primarily involving smaller types of naval vessels - typically, convoy escorts or small attack craft. The warship types found in this list of British warship losses reflects this "coastal" character of Denmark's "gunboat war." Basically, Denmark did not employ any warship larger than a brig in these naval operations and, basically, England did not lose anything larger than a brig in actual combat with Danish naval forces.

Smaller British warships were employed in England's Baltic naval operations
The list provided here of British warship losses illustrates that England employed both regular men-of-war in the Baltic theater of operations, as well as naval auxiliaries which sometimes had a more ambivalent status, e.g., as "unregistered vessels," or ships which were acquired and manned by Royal Navy personnel but which may not have enjoyed official status in British Admiralty records as a ship officially belonging to England's Royal Navy.

Danish gunboats potentially threatened Britain's largest warships
The predominately small-vessel character of Denmark's "gunboat war" did not mean that larger English warships were never placed in combat peril by Denmark's gunboats.

The mortal danger an enemy ship faced in Danish-Norwegian waters was to become becalmed when within striking reach of marauding Danish gunboats, i.e., a becalmed ship was a potentially doomed ship. Most famously, the English battleship AFRICA (64), sailing independently and thus without support, nearly fell victim to a coordinated Danish gunboat attack by a score of Danish gunboats when the AFRICA became becalmed.

The brig Tickler surrenders to Danish gunboats June 3rd 1808
The brig Tickler surrenders to Danish gunboats June 3rd 1808

Though the wind ultimately freshened, enabling AFRICA to escape, the AFRICA suffered severely from artillery fire from the Danish gunboats during several hours of Danish cannonading.

When an enemy ship was becalmed, Danish gunboats - employing sweeps to maneuver - were able to assume firing positions at an angle from which their stationary adversaries could not reply, the very tactic the Danes employed against the AFRICA.

Danish gunboats threatened British merchantmen more than British warships
The list of English warship losses provided here is not long, reflecting the fact that the focus of Danish naval operations was in attacking English commerce with the Baltic states, rather than in seeking to contest English naval power, and that Danish gunboats were probably more inclined to attack merchantmen than warships. However, the Danes were not lacking in offensive spirit. If an English warship was the only target available on a given day, well, then, the Danes attacked.

Variations in British warships' armaments from their official armament establishments
Regarding the details concerning the armament of the British warships in the attached list, it should be noted that at the time of their capture, the actual armament of most of the British warships captured by the Danes often differed from these ships' designed establishment of guns in the Royal Navy. This discrepancy was due to the fact that ships' captains in the Royal Navy were allowed considerable discretion in how to arm their "commands." The following list therefore attempts to present the actual armament employed on the individual British warships at the time of their capture by the Danes.

After their capture by Denmark, British warships were employed "as is" with original British armaments
The actual armament, at the time of their capture by the Danes, is significant for another reason, aside from indicating the force of an individual British warship at the time of the combat that resulted in her capture: the captured British warships were probably taken into the Danish navy "as is," complete with their original British armament, including associated ammunition and gunner's stores, so that their original British armament presumably also constituted these ships' armament while they were employed in the Danish navy, at least during the war years.

Critical wartime shortage in Danish cannon supply
As the following list indicates, of the British warships captured by the Danes during the gunboat war, 9 were naval brigs and 1 was a naval cutter - these were all taken into the Danish navy under their original British names. Denmark would have been hard pressed to equip these ships with standard Danish naval cannon, which were in extremely short supply.

Denmark's critical wartime cannon shortage was due to the facts that (1) Britain had confiscated a significant portion of Denmark's stockpile of cannon when the British occupied the Danish naval arsenal at Nyholm in 1807; (2) what remained of Denmark's pre-war stock of naval cannon was needed to either outfit Denmark's new warships, including the mass-produced gunboats, or to arm naval coastal batteries all along Denmark's coast; and (3) Denmark was effectively cut off from Norway's iron mines and Norway's cannon manufacturers - Denmark's principal pre-war source of its naval cannon supply - by the British blockade.

Different gun calibers between British and Danish cannon - Lack of interchangeability in Danish and British ammunition
Regarding Denmark's employment of captured British naval cannon, there was a lack of standardization between British and Danish cannon, due to significant differences between the Danish and British systems of weights and measures, creating a lack of interchangeability between two nations' weapon calibers. Therefore, it's presumed that the captured British warships had to make due with their existing, original British armament, while employed in Danish naval service, at least during the war years.

Nature of the Entries Regarding Individual British Warships
The briefest of the entries regarding individual warships in the following list pertain to ships lost due to non-combat causes, as being wrecked through grounding - except in the case of the British battleships ST. GEORGE and DEFENSE. In the case of naval auxiliaries which were "unregistered ships," the documentary evidence is sparse, in turn limiting the extent of the entry. The greatest detail is provided in regard to those warships which were combat losses - here, illuminating detail is provided which reveals the character of the particular ship or the nature of the "gunboat war."

List of British Warship Losses in Danish Waters

Name: CHARLES
Date of loss: August 31, 1807
Cause of loss:

Blown up in action by Danish artillery fire, by a shot fired from Trekroner Fort in Copenhagen harbor, while being engaged by Danish naval and ground forces, north of Copenhagen harbor, during the British amphibious invasion of Denmark - the prelude to the British capture of Copenhagen and the confiscation of the Danish fleet at the main Danish naval base at Nyholm, in Copenhagen.

Warship type: Armed storeship
Class:  
Built:  
Tons burthen:  
Armament:  
Notes: May have been an "unregistered ship," i.e., not officially listed in British Admiralty records as a Royal Navy ship.

Name: TICKLER (14)
Date of loss: June 4, 1808
Cause of loss: Captured by the Danes
Warship type: Brig
Class. ARCHER class (58 ships)
Built: 1804
Tons burthen: 177
Armament: 2-12 pdr. bow guns, 12-18 pdr. carronades
Notes:

Shelled into submission by cannon fire from Danish gunboats while becalmed in the Great Belt, suffering 37 killed and wounded. Taken into Danish naval service under the same name. Sold out of service, 1815. TICKLER, though new when captured, was a relatively light and ineffectually armed warship intended primarily for escort work.

The ARCHER class comprised relatively inexpensive ships mass produced to meet expanded wartime demands - much as the Danes mass-produced gunboats for the same reason. Six brigs of the ARCHER class were captured by the Danes during the war.


Name: TURBULENT (16)
Date of loss: June 9, 1808
Cause of loss: Captured by the Danes
Warship type: Sloop/Brig
Class: CONFOUNDER class (39 ships)
Built: 1805
Tons burthen: 179
Armament: 2 - 9 pdr. cannon, 2 - 8 pdr. cannon, 12 - 18 pdr. carronades. [her official armament was apparently changed by deleting 2 - 18 pdr. carronades and substituting the 4 cannon]
Notes:

TURBULENT was boarded and taken by crews from a large force of Danish gunboats off the Danish island of Saltholm, lying between Copenhagen and Malmo Bay, after being cut off from a convoy together with 12 of the convoy's merchantmen. TURBULENT and the merchantmen were becalmed when captured.

Taken into the Danish navy under the same name. Sold out of service in 1814.


Name: SEAGULL (16)
Date of loss: June 19, 1808
Cause of loss: Captured by the Danes
Warship type: Brig
Class: SEAGULL class - name ship of class (13 ships)
Built: 1805
Tons burthen: 382
Armament: 2-6 pdr. bow guns, 14-24 pdr. carronades
Notes:

Captured after being initially engaged for an hour, off of Christiansand, by the Danish brig LOUGEN, subsequently joined by 4 Danish gunboats when the action continued for another hour. SEAGULL lost 8 killed and 20 wounded, whereas the LOUGEN suffered only one killed. Having sustained serious combat damage, the SEAGULL was taken inshore where she sank. Subsequently refloated, SEAGULL was taken into the Danish navy under the same name.

After the partition of the Kingdom of Denmark and Norway, the SEAGULL formed part of the new Norwegian navy. SEAGULL was the largest warship captured by the Danes during the 1807-1814 war.

See also the article: Lt. Wulff and the brig Lougen in action in Norwegian waters 1808


Name: TIGRESS (14)
Date of loss: August 2, 1808
Cause of loss: Captured by the Danes
Warship type: Brig
Class: ARCHER class
Built: 1804
Tons burthen: 177
Armament: 4 - 8 pdr. cannon, 10 - 18 pdr. carronades
(TIGRESS seems to have carried 2 more guns when captured than her official complement of guns).
Notes:

Captured, after a short action in which she lost eight men, by a force of 16 Danish gunboats near Agerso in the Great Belt, and carried as prize into the Danish port of Nakskov.

Taken into the Danish navy under the same name. Sold out of service in 1815. Six brigs of the ARCHER class were captured by the Danes during the war.


Name: CRESCENT (36)
Date of loss: December 6, 1808
Cause of loss: Wrecked on the coast of Jutland
Warship type: Frigate (18 pdr.)
Class: FLORA class (4 ships)
Built: 1784
Tons burthen: 868
Armament: 26 - 18 pdr., 10 - 9 pdr., 12 swivels
Notes: The wreck has recently been located and excavated. An elderly and outdated ship when lost, the CRESCENT was nearing the end of her military usefulness and service life.

Name: FAMA (16)
Date of loss: December 23, 1808
Cause of loss: Wrecked on the island of Bornholm during a snowstorm
Warship type: Brig
Class: BREVDRAGEREN class (3 ships)
Built: 1802, at the Nyholm naval dockyard in Copenhagen
Tons burthen: approximately 180
Armament: Official Danish armament: 8-4 pdr. bow cannon, 4-12 pdr. carronades. She is likely to have carried her original Danish armament when lost.
Notes:

Danish brig captured (together with the Danish royal yacht SØE-ORMEN) at Nyborg by the boats of the 74-gun British ship-of-the-line EDGAR on August 9, 1808 and taken into British naval service immediately after her capture. FAMA is one of two sister-ships of the BREVDRAGEREN class employed by the British navy, although after her capture the FAMA was not officially taken into the Royal Navy, but was employed on station, near the place of her capture, as an "unregistered vessel."

FAMA's sister ship, the BREVDRAGEREN - the name ship of her class - was seized by the British at the Danish naval dockyard at Nyholm, in Copenhagen, when the British captured the Danish capital in 1807, and was surveyed by British Admiralty surveyors in a British dockyard upon her arrival in England.

FAMA, conversely, appears to have remained on station in the Baltic after her capture and never returned to England to be either refitted in a British naval dockyard to Royal Navy standards, or officially surveyed by British admiralty surveyors; hence, the particulars which local British officers recorded of the FAMA after her capture are significantly in error - as is also the case of the SØE-ORMEN which was captured with her.


Name: MAGNET (18)
Date of loss: January 1, 1809
Cause of loss: Wrecked in heavy weather, while acting as a convoy escort
Warship type: Brig
Class: CRUIZER class (101 ships)
Built: 1807
Tons burthen: 182
Armament: 2 - 6 pdr. bow cannon; 16 - 32 pdr. carronades
Notes: The CRUIZER class was the most numerous class of warships built by the British during the Napoleonic wars, and was a famous class of warships which was notable in other respects.

Name: CLAUDIA (10)
Date of loss: January 20, 1809
Cause of loss: Wrecked off Norway
Warship type: Cutter/schooner
Class: ADONIS class
Built: 1806, in Bermuda
Tons burthen: 142
Armament: 10-18 pdr. carronades
Notes:  

Name: PROSELYTE (4)
Date of loss: January, 1809
Cause of loss: Wrecked, on Anholt Reef, while caught in the ice
Warship type: bomb vessel
Class:  
Built:  
Tons burthen: 404
Armament:  
Notes: An "unregistered vessel," i.e., not officially listed in official British Admiralty sources as being a Royal Navy ship. Probably a mercantile vessel which found wartime employment on an unofficial, ad hoc basis on the local Baltic station.

Name: ALERT (18)
Date of loss: August 10, 1809
Cause of loss: Captured by the Danes
Warship type: Brig
Class: Modified LOUGEN class (4 ships)
Built: 1807, at the Nyholm naval dockyard in Copenhagen
Tons burthen: 306
Armament: 2 - 6 pdr. bow cannon, 16 - 24 pdr. carronades (armament as fitted for British sea service).
Notes:

Captured near Frederiksvaern, after an hour's action, by eight Danish gunboats. Originally the Danish naval brig ALLART, designed by the Danish naval architect Stibolt, ALERT is one of six sister-ships seized by the British at the Danish naval base at Nyholm, Copenhagen, when the British captured the Danish capital in 1807, and all of these very desirable and useful vessels were placed in British naval service.

ALERT was newly completed when seized by Britain. After the partition of the Kingdom of Denmark-Norway in 1815, ALERT became part of the new Norwegian navy. ALERT was roughly comparable in size and force to the British SEAGULL or CRUIZER classes of naval brig.


Name: MINX (13)
Date of loss: September 2, 1809
Cause of loss: Captured by the Danes
Warship type: Brig
Class: ARCHER class
Built: 1801
Tons burthen: 177
Armament: 2-18 pdr. cannon, 10-18 pdr. carronades, 1 - 4 pdr. howitzer
Notes:

While acting as a lightship off Skagen, MINX was engaged and captured after a nearly three hour action with eight Danish gunboats. Carried as prize to Aalborg, she was taken into the Danish navy under the same name.

Though a relatively new ship, having been built in 1801, MINX was sold out of service in 1811, before the end of the war. Six British brigs of the ARCHER class were captured by the Danes during the war.


Name: SALORMAN (10)
Date of loss: December 22, 1809
Cause of loss: Wrecked near the Swedish port of Ystad
Warship type: Cutter/schooner (in British naval service)
Class: Danish HELLFLYNDEREN class (2 ships)
Built: 1789, at the naval dockyard at Nyholm, in Copenhagen
Tons burthen:  
Armament: 8 - 4 pdrs. (official Danish armament; she presumably carried a different armament while in British service, probably carronades)
Notes:

Purpose-built as the Danish royal yacht SØE-ORMEN, and designed by the Danish naval architect Stibolt, SØE-ORMEN was captured, together with the Danish naval brig FAMA, at Nyborg on August 8, 1808, by the boats of the 74-gun British ship-of-the-line EDGAR.

Though designed as a royal yacht, due to the exigencies of war the Danes apparently pressed the SØE-ORMEN into employment as a light combat vessel - the lines of her hull indicate she was designed for speed, and was therefore suitable to conduct offensive operations against British convoys.

Her official armament in Danish service, in her designed role as a royal yacht, was 8-4 pdr. cannon - a lightweight and totally ineffective armament, defensive in character, with which to conduct offensive mercantile warfare. It's not known how SØE-ORMEN was armed when captured.

SALORMAN appears to be an Anglicization of this vessel's orginal Danish name, SOE-ORMEN.


Name: GRINDER
Date of loss: April 13, 1810
Cause of loss: Captured by the Danes
Warship type: Gunboat
Class:  
Built:  
Tons burthen:  
Armament:  
Notes:

Captured, near Anholt, by four Danish gunboats. GRINDER may have been an "unregistered vessel" with no official listing in the British Admiralty records.

What types of vessels the Royal Navy labeled as a "gunboat" was often considerably different from that in the Danish navy, and they could be much larger ships than Danish gunboats.


Name: ALBAN (12)
Date of loss: September 12, 1810
Cause of loss: Captured by the Danes
Warship type: Cutter
Class: ADONIS class
Built: 1806, in Bermuda
Tons burthen: 142
Armament: 2-12 pdr. carronades, 10-18 pdr. carronades
Notes:

Taken in action off of Skagen; initially attacked by two Danish gun-sloops, the ALBAN ultimately struck her colors when the Danish gun-sloops originally engaged were subsequently joined, after three hours of combat, by four Danish gun-yawls.

Brought into Aalborg after capture. Taken into the Danish navy under the same name, the ALBAN was subsequently retaken by the British naval brig RIFLEMAN, near the Shetland Islands, on May 11, 1811, after a twelve hour chase.


Name: PANDORA (18)
Date of loss: February 13, 1811
Cause of loss: Wrecked in the Kattegat
Warship type: Brig
Class: CRUZIER class
Built: 1806
Tons burthen: 382
Armament: 2 - 6 pdr. bow cannon, 16 - 32 pdr. carronades
Notes: For comments on the CRUZIER class, see the notes to the MAGNET, in an previous entry above.

Name: HERO
Date of loss: April 23, 1811
Cause of loss: Captured and sunk by Danish gunboats
Warship type: Cutter
Class:  
Built:  
Tons burthen: 109
Armament:  
Notes: Little is known about this vessel, which was a mercantile ship temporarily hired into British naval service in 1809 for wartime employment; little information is available on ships hired into British naval service - the most desirable mercantile ships for potential warship employment were purchased outright by the Royal Navy. HERO was lost on the same date and at the same place ("Udevala"?) as was the SWAN.

Name: SWAN (10)
Date of loss: April 23, 1811
Cause of loss: Captured by three Danish gunboats in "the Sleeve" and then sunk
Warship type: Cutter
Class:  
Built:  
Tons burthen: 119
Armament: 10-12 pdr. carronades
Notes: Not built as a warship. A mercantile vessel temporarily hired into British naval service for wartime employment, first from 1803-1805, and then again in 1807 when she served until captured and sunk by the Danes. SWAN was lost on the same date and at the same place ("Udevala"?) as was the HERO.

Name: SAFEGUARD (13)
Date of loss: June 29, 1811
Cause of loss: Captured by the Danes
Warship type: Brig
Class: ARCHER class
Built: 1804
Tons burthen: 177
Armament: 2-6 pdr. cannon, 10-18 pdr. cannon, 1-10" mortar.
Notes:

Captured off the coast of Jutland after a three and a half hour action with four Danish gunboats. She struck at midnight. Taken into Danish naval service under the same name, she was sold out of service in 1813. Six British brigs of the ARCHER class were captured by the Danes during the war.

The SAFEGUARD seems to have been one of the ARCHER class of naval brigs which were built as a "mortar brig," to carry a 10" mortar in addition to her regular armament - carrying this heavier armament may have adversely affected the SAFEGUARD's sailing qualities and therfore may have contributed to her capture, and may also have been a reason why SAFEGUARD was sold out of Danish naval service before the war ended.


Name: MANLY (12)
Date of loss: September 2, 1811
Cause of loss: Captured by the Danes
Warship type: Brig
Class: ARCHER class
Built: 1804
Tons burthen: 177
Armament: 2 - 12 pdr. bow cannon, 10 - 18 pdr. carronades
Notes:

Notes: Captured during an action with the Danish brigs LOLLAND, ALSEN, and SAMSØ off of Arendal, Norway. Taken into Danish naval service under the same name, MANLY was sold out of service in 1813.

Six British brigs of the ARCHER class were captured by the Danes during the war.


Name: SWAN (10)
Date of loss: September, 1811
Cause of loss: Captured by the Danes
Warship type: Unknown, probably an ex-mercantile vessel hired into British naval service
Class:  
Built:  
Tons burthen:  
Armament:  
Notes: The identity of this ship and details of this loss are unknown; her status as a Royal Navy vessel is doubtful.

Name: FANCY (12)
Date of loss: December 24, 1811
Cause of loss: Lost at sea
Warship type: Cutter
Class:  
Built:  
Tons burthen: 111
Armament: 10-12 pdr. carronades
Notes: A hired ship, originally mercantile, for employment for the duration of the war; little information is available on the hired ships in Royal Navy service.

Name: ST. GEORGE (98)
Date of loss: December 24, 1811
Cause of loss: Wrecked near Skagen, off the west coast of Jutland
Warship type: Ship-of-the-line
Class: DUKE class (4 ships)
Built: 1785
Tons burthen: 1931
Armament: 28 - 32 pdr., 30 - 18 pdr., 30 - 12 pdr., 2 - 6 pdr.
Notes: Wrecked together with DEFENSE during a violent storm. Only 6 men of her crew of 850 survived. The wreck site of this ship has been located and excavated in modern times; a modern museum - The St. George Shipwreck Museum, Strandingsmusem St. George - housing artifacts from this ship is located in Thorsminde, Denmark.

Name: DEFENSE (74)
Date of loss: December 24, 1811
Cause of loss: Wrecked near Skagen, off the west coast of Jutland
Warship type: Ship-of-the-line
Class: ARROGANT class (14 ships)
Built: 1763
Tons burthen: 1604
Armament: 28 - 32 pdr., 28 - 18 pdr., 18 - 9 pdr.
Notes:

Wrecked during a heavy storm, together with the ST. GEORGE, above. The DEFENSE was a very elderly ship when wrecked.

Much better and newer ship-of-the line hulls than that of the DEFENSE were available to the Royal Navy for employment, e.g., in the form of many Danish ships-of-the-line seized by the British at Copenhagen in 1807; however, there was absolutely no British naval dockyard capacity available to fit out the better Danish warship hulls for British sea service.

Although the wreck site of the DEFENSE is believed to have been found, not much survives.


Name: FLY (16)
Date of loss: February 29, 1812
Cause of loss: Wrecked on the Danish island of Anholt
Warship type: Brig
Class: FLY class - name ship of class (7 ships)
Built: 1805
Tons burthen: 281
Armament: 2-6 pdr. bow cannon, 14-24 pdr. carronades
Notes: FLY is one of the larger British naval brigs lost in Danish waters; she is comparable in size and force to, e.g, the SEAGULL, CRUZIER, and LOUGEN classes of brigs discussed elsewhere in this article.

Name: EXERTION (12)
Date of loss: July 8, 1812
Cause of loss: Went aground and was destroyed in the Elbe river
Warship type: Sloop/Brig
Class: CONFOUNDER class
Built: 1806
Tons burthen: 179
Armament:
2 - 6 pdr. bow cannon, 10 - 18 pdr. carronades
Notes: The TURBULENT, a sister ship of EXERTION, was captured in action by the Danes on June 9, 1808 (see the previous entry on TURBULENT above).

Name: ATTACK (13)
Date of loss: August 19, 1812
Cause of loss: Captured by Danes
Warship type: brig
Class: ARCHER class
Built: 1804
Tons burthen: 177
Armament:
2 - 6 pdr. bow cannon, 10 - 18 pdr. carronades
Notes:

Captured after an interesting engagement with fourteen Danish gunboats which lasted over the course of two days. ATTACK lost 14 crewmen killed and wounded.

ATTACK was taken into Danish naval service under the same name, but was sold out of service in 1813. Six British brigs of the ARCHER class were captured by the Danes during the war.


Name: NIMBLE (10)
Date of loss: November 6, 1812
Cause of loss: Wrecked in the Kattegat after striking a submerged rock
Warship type: Cutter
Class: NIMBLE class (2 ships)
Built: 1811
Tons burthen: 140
Armament: 10 - 12 pdr. carronades
Notes: NIMBLE, named ship of a class of two ships

Name: BELLETE (18)
Date of loss: November 24, 1812
Cause of loss: Wrecked in the Kattegat
Warship type: Brig
Class: CRUZIER class
Built: 1806
Tons burthen: 382
Armament: 2 - 6pdr. bow cannon, 16 - 32 pdr. carronades
Notes: For comments on the CRUZIER class, see the previous entry re the MAGNET above


tilbage til artikel oversigt
© 1997 Gert Laursen | Optimised for IE 7 | design by Advice|360