Sunday 9 June 2024

All at Sea, Battle of Camperdown - Project Build, Part Twelve, The Small Ships (2).

Progress continues to complete the small ships for both fleets at Camperdown with work moving on to the next group, looking at the Dutch 32-gun frigate Heldin and the four British cutters, Rose, King George, Active and Diligent following my showcasing the two Dutch corvettes Minerva and Waakzamheid and the British frigates Circe and Beaulieu, link below. 

JJ's Wargames - All at Sea, Battle of Camperdown - Project Build, Part Eleven, The Small Ships (1)

The up-to-date planner below shows the work remaining to complete the project, ready for bringing both fleets to the table, that leaves another seven models, two British and five Dutch to be completed with my intention to look at some scratch building and adding some more printed options to better resemble these particular ships.

My planner brought up to date with these latest additions showing just another seven models to be added to complete the project build.

As usual I will take a look at the history of these ships and the models I've chosen to use to illustrate them which in the case of Camperdown produces lots of fun challenges with issues surrounding scarcity of data, particularly around the Dutch ships, appearing in English sources, my Dutch being a bit rusty these days, and the best models to use for both sides that has seen me change previous decisions in light of better representations becoming available or my own ideas to simply adopt, adapt and improve ones already around.

So without further ado I will start here with the Batavian Dutch 32-gun, some say 28-gun frigate, which is often confused with other ships captured later by the British and renamed 'Helder' as was the Heldin, such as the Dutch brig 'Active', captured about the same time and taken into the Royal Navy, with a caveat, due to my fallibility for being all too mortal, here to my Dutch readers especially, to correct me for any errors in the comments below.

The Batavian-Dutch 32-gun frigate Heldin (Heroine in English) was built in 1796 at the Amsterdam ship yard by R. Dorsman.

Her general characteristics were:
Tons burthen 636 tons (bm)
Length of gundeck 130 Amsterdam feet, (Imp). Approx. 147 feet (Imp)
Beam 36 Amsterdam feet, Approx. 41 feet (Imp)
Depth of hold 151 Amsterdam feet, Approx. 6 feet (Imp)

Drawings made of the Heldin, post capture - RMG

Her armament consisted of:
Gundeck: 24 x 12-pounder long guns
Quarterdeck & Forecastle: 6 (QD) & 2 (Fc) x 6-pounders long guns.

Figurehead of the Heldin

At Camperdown she was under the command of Kapitein ter Zee Johan Ferdinand Dumesnil de l'Estrille and would have been in the second line of the Batavian Dutch fleet, but from my research I cannot be certain exactly where, and any assumption would be towards the front of the line given the prior squadron arrangements planned by Admiral de Winter, which listed the following vessels in her (Blue) squadron:

The Batavian-Dutch battle line at Camperdown shows the leading ships of the squadron Heldin was attached to, hence my planner above sees her in the second line as it shows. Note the Brutus, Blue Squadron flagship, failed to get into the correct position with her squadron and so fell into line from where she found herself.

Gelijkheid, Berschermer, Brutus, Hercules, Adm. de Vries, and frigates Embuscade, Heldin and the brig Ajax.

A chart of the main Dutch anchorage at the Texel.

The Heldin would escape the battle and I can find no record of casualties if any, suffered but she would be captured by the British on the 28th August 1799 in the Texel anchorage when she was discovered unmanned and boarded in the Nieuwediep and taken into the Royal Navy as HMS Helder.

Surrender of the Dutch Fleet in the Texel, 30th August 1799.

My depiction of the Heldin uses the Warlord 32-gun HMS Surprise model, suitably adapted and should allow this smaller fifth-rate to stand out from her larger cousins Embuscade 36-guns and the Monnikendam with 44-guns, and obviously more imposing than the two corvettes featured in the previous post.

Heldin (left) alongside the larger Embuscade (right)

I have two of these models with the purposeful intention of turning one into the Heldin, with the other retaining her original stern gallery and name plate for 'Surprise', which for this conversion was simply filed off.

This is a very nice rendition of a typical 32-gun, 12-pounder frigate, noticeably smaller and more compact than the Warlord generic 36 or 38-gun 18-pounder fifth rate, as seen in the comparison above, and given her heritage as the French Unité, would easily convert to a French 32-gunner, similarly adapted as here.

The Hired Armed Cutters Rose, King George, Active and Diligent.
During the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries the Royal Navy made use of a considerable number of hired armed vessels, generally smaller vessels, often cutters and luggers, that the Navy used for duties ranging from carrying despatches and passengers to convoy escort, particularly in British coastal waters, and reconnaissance.

"A Cutter Passing Astern of a Frigate." Painting by Thomas Luny. National Maritime Museum.

Rose, of 96 89⁄94 tons (bm) and ten 4-pounder guns, was hired on the 22nd November 1794.

On the 11th October 1797 Rose, under the command of Lieutenant Joseph Brodie, participated in the Battle of Camperdown. 

The Battle of Camperdown by Thomas Whitcombe
HMAC Rose is depicted astern of the Dutch 64, Hercules, burning fiercely on her quarterdeck.

Before the battle she scouted the Texel and brought back intelligence to Admiral Duncan on the Dutch fleet. During the battle she served to repeat signals. After the battle, Admiral Duncan despatched her to London to bring the first word of the successful outcome of the battle.

The Royal Navy used several vessels that were described as His Majesty's hired armed cutter King George. Some of these may have been the same vessel on repeat contract.

King George was a cutter of 128 15⁄94 tons bm, carrying twelve 4-pounder guns, and was in  service from the 24th June 1796 to 1799. 

In 1797 she was under the command of Lieutenant James Rains, and in May of that year saw her participating in the capture of the French privateer Adolphe, together with Nautilus and Seagull. King George had led the chase with Nautilus, sloop of 16-guns, and Seagull, brig of 18-guns, joining in for another four hours before Nautilus succeeded in capturing Adolpe which was pierced for 12 guns but had thrown some overboard during the chase. When the British captured her, Adolphe had five guns, eight swivels, and a crew of 35 and was new, being just nine days out of Boulogne on her first cruise and had not taken any prizes.

On the 2nd of July Nautilus, Seagull, King George and the hired armed cutter Fox, twelve 9-pounder guns, captured the Dutch privateer Klyne Sperwer which was armed with six 3-pounder guns, swivel guns, and muskets, and had a crew of 28 men, 20 of whom escaped in boats, she having been out a month from Amsterdam but had taken nothing.

The four British cutters Rose, King George, Active and Diligent are depicted hovering around in the rear and keeping well out of the way of the big ships as the two battle lines close.

Three weeks later, on the 23rd July, after a three-hour chase, King George and Seagull captured the French privateer Captain Thurot a small French privateer cutter armed with two brass 6-pounders and four swivels, with a crew of 22, near Christiansand. She had already captured the ship Tom, of Liverpool, from Riga, with timber, and the brig Bachelor, of Saltcoats in Scotland. 

On the 9th of October King George sailed from Yarmouth for the Texel and on the 11th October participated in the Battle of Camperdown.

The hired armed cutter Active signalled the approach of the Dutch fleet to Admiral Duncan before his victory at Camperdown

Active served the Royal Navy from the 12th of May 1794 to the 22nd of November 1800 and was 71 2⁄94 tons bm, carrying ten 3-pounder guns.

In 1795 Active served as Royal Escort for Princess Caroline of Brunswick.

Duncan Receiving the Surrender of de Winter at the Battle of Camperdown, 11 October 1797 - Daniel Orme. 
Lieutenant Hamilton of the cutter 'Active', 12 guns is depicted, circled behind Admiral Duncan and Active likewise is shown in the centre of the picture.

Under her commander, Lieutenant John Hamilton, Active's next noteworthy appearance occurred when she signalled the approach of the Dutch fleet to Admiral Adam Duncan before his victory at Camperdown on the 11th of October 1797, and Hamilton was on the deck of Venerable when Vice-Admiral Jan de Winter surrendered his sword.

His Majesty's hired armed cutter Diligent served from 27 February 1793 to 1 November 1801, and was a small vessel, of 44 tons bm, armed with six 2-pounder guns.

Diligent recaptured the merchantman Myrmidon that had been sailing from Newcastle with a cargo of lumber when a privateer captured her, sending her into Sheerness, where she arrived around the 14th of July 1797.

Under the command of Lieutenant T. Dawson, Diligent was in the fleet under Admiral Lord Duncan at the Battle of Camperdown on the 11th of October, and her role was to stand off the larboard or lee division and repeat signals. 

These four cutters are from the Warlord box set and serve perfectly for a generic armed cutter which I have slightly modified with the addition of a boat carried on stern davits and all four flying colours for their commander Admiral of the Blue, Adam Duncan.

The project continues with a look at His Majesty's Armed Lugger Speculator.

More anon 


  1. I just started working on Black Seas models, your blog has been a big help!

    1. Hi and welcome to the blog.

      I wish you joy in your endeavours, the glorious age of sail is a great period and theme to get into and these models will really bring it to life on the table.

      Thanks for your comment and glad to be of help.