American Revolutionary War

As far as can be ascertained HMS Superb's involvement was off the Indian coastline (see the articles on Providien, Trincomalee etcetera) still mainly attacking the French navy wherever possible as old habits die hard !

 

When the war began, the British had overwhelming naval superiority over the American colonists.

 

The Royal Navy had over 100 ships of the line and many frigates and smaller craft, although this fleet was old and in poor condition, a situation that would be blamed on Lord Sandwich, the First Lord of the Admiralty.

 

During the first three years of the war, the Royal Navy was primarily used to transport troops for land operations and to protect commercial shipping.

 

The American colonists had no ships of the line, and relied extensively on privateering to harass British shipping. The privateers caused worry disproportionate to their material success, although those operating out of French channel ports before and after France joined the war caused significant embarrassment to the Royal Navy and inflamed Anglo-French relations.

 

About 55,000 American sailors served aboard the privateers during the war. The American privateers had almost 1,700 ships, and they captured 2,283 enemy ships. France's formal entry into the war meant that British naval superiority was now contested.

 

The Franco-American alliance began poorly, however, with failed operations at Rhode Island in 1778 and Savannah, Georgia, in 1779. Part of the problem was that France and the United States had different military priorities: France hoped to capture British possessions in the West Indies before helping to secure American independence.

 

While French financial assistance to the American war effort was already of critical importance, French military aid to the Americans would not show positive results until the arrival in July 1780 of a large force of soldiers led by the Comte de Rochambeau.Spain entered the war as a French ally with the goal of recapturing Gibraltar and Minorca, which had been captured by an Anglo-Dutch force in 1704.

 

Gibraltar was besieged for more than three years, but the British garrison stubbornly resisted and was resupplied twice: once after Admiral Rodney's victory over Juan de Lángara in the 1780 "Moonlight Battle", and again after Admiral Richard Howefought Luis de Córdova y Córdova to a draw in the Battle of Cape Spartel.

 

Further Franco-Spanish efforts to capture Gibraltar were unsuccessful. One notable success took place on February 5, 1782, when Spanish and French forces captured Minorca, which Spain retained after the war.

 

Ambitious plans for an invasion of Great Britain in 1779 had to be abandoned.When word reached India in 1778 that France had entered the war, the British East India Company moved quickly to capture French colonial outposts there, capturing Pondicherry after two months of siege.

 

The capture of the French-controlled port of Mahé on India's west coast motivated Mysore's ruler, Hyder Ali (who was already upset at other British actions, and benefited from trade through the port), to open the Second Anglo-Mysore War in 1780. Ali, and later his son Tipu Sultan, almost drove the British from southern India but was frustrated by weak French support, and the war ended status quo ante bellum with the 1784 Treaty of Mangalore.

 

French opposition was led in 1782 and 1783 by Admiral the Baillie de Suffren, who recaptured Trincomalee from the British and fought five celebrated, but largely inconclusive, naval engagements against British Admiral Sir Edward Hughes. France's Indian colonies were returned after the war.

 

The Dutch Republic, nominally neutral, had been trading with the Americans, exchanging Dutch arms and munitions for American colonial wares (in contravention of the British Navigation Acts), primarily through activity based in St. Eustatius, before the French formally entered the war.

 

The British considered this trade to include contraband military supplies and had attempted to stop it, at first diplomatically by appealing to previous treaty obligations, interpretation of whose terms the two nations disagreed on, and then by searching and seizing Dutch merchant ships.

 

The situation escalated when the British seized a Dutch merchant convoy sailing under Dutch naval escort in December 1779, prompting the Dutch to join the League of Armed Neutrality.

 

Britain responded to this decision by declaring war on the Dutch in December 1780, sparking the Fourth Anglo-Dutch War. The war was a military and economic disaster for the Dutch Republic. Paralyzed by internal political divisions, it could not respond effectively to British blockades of its coast and the capture of many of its colonies.

 

In the 1784 peace treaty between the two nations, the Dutch lost the Indian port of Negapatam and were forced to make trade concessions.

 

The Dutch Republic signed a friendship and trade agreement with the United States in 1782, becoming the second country (after France) to formally recognize the United States.