Second Battle of Copenhagen  1807

 

Having already seen action at the Gut of Gibraltar in 1801 and 4 years later at San Domingo the formidable 3rd rate ship-of-the-Line (74 guns) HMS Superb was present in 1807 in the decisive battle of Copenhagen.

 

Never was Napoleon Bonaparte able to muster enough ships to rival the British Royal Navy on the high seas.  He was thus never able to directly threaten the British mainland.  He instead attempted to starve Great Britain of European trade by imposing the continental system wherein the continental European states were forbidden to trade with England.  

 

Both the Peninsular War, which resulted in what would soon be coined as the "Spanish ulcer", and Napoleon’s disastrous Russia-campaign were caused by Napoleon attempting to impose this trade-regime.  These developments were caused by Napoleon’s lack of a significant Navy.

 

A naval engagement of the Napoleonic Wars that followed the defeat of the Fifth Coalition and that lasted from 15th August to 7th September, 1807. 

 

Great Britain was harassing Danish ships and relations between the two nations were cool. Napoleonic France was courting an alliance with Denmark, and Great Britain, anticipating hostility, chose to strike pre-emptively against the Danish fleet. 

 

On September 2, Britain sent a total of 25 ships-of-the-line, including the flagship HMS Prince of Wales with Goliath and Superb, plus 29,000 soldiers against the Danish capital of Copenhagen. For two nights the city was attacked and bombarded. 

 

The largely wooden city was badly damaged and more than 2,000 of its citizens killed. Disheartened, the Danish government surrendered its 17-ship fleet and a large quantity of stores. 

 

Britain’s military objectives were achieved, but they came at a high diplomatic and political cost. Most of Europe, as well as the United States, condemned her unilateral and illegal action and the opposition party at home was equally outraged. 

 

Napoleon took good advantage of this diplomatic disaster and gained both stature and adherents to his Continental System.

 

The result was obvious. Four days later, the 6th of September a truce was signed. The British got what they had come for. The entire Dano-Norwegian navy was taken including all the supplies present which could be used to complete new ships. Though the British had captured several vessels, only four of the ships saw any active service in the British Royal Navy. These ships were; Christian VII, Dannemark, Norge and Princess Carolina.

On a larger scale the results were even more disastrous for the defenders. With the British attack the policy of neutrality had to be abandoned and the Danish-Norwegian government sought to Napoleon and France for help as it no longer could defend itself without a navy. 

 

This would later lead to a continuation of the war against Britain and place Denmark on the losing side of the Napoleonic Wars, resulting in the separation of Norway from Denmark and bankruptcy.