Battle of Copenhagen

The Battle of Copenhagen took pace on 2nd April 1801 anchored of Copenhagen.

The Royal Navy, under the command of Sir Horatio Nelson (overall command Sir Hyde Parker) defeated the Danish defenders under Olfert Fischer and Steen Bille. 


The League of Armed Neutrality comprising Scandinavia, Prussia, and Russia, to enforce free trade with France, was seen by Britain as a threat to the supply of timber and naval stores from Scandinavia.

A fleet was sent which needed to act before the Baltic Sea thawed and released the Russian fleet. Parker was ordered to detach Denmark from the League by 'amicable arrangement or by actual hostilities'. On 30 March they passed through the narrows.

The Danish fleet was moored along the shore with old ships (hulks), no longer fit for service at sea, but still powerfully armed, as a line of floating batteries off the eastern coast of the island of Amager, in front of the city in the King's Channel. The northern end of the line terminated at the Tre Kroner forts armed with 68 guns. Batteries covered the water between the Danish line and the shore, and further out to sea a large shoal, the Middle Ground, constricted the channel. The British spent most of the night of 31 March taking soundings in the channel up to the Danish line.

Parker gave Nelson the shallower draft ships whilst he remained to the north-east screening Nelson from external interference. The British ships anchored by the stern about a cable (240 yards) from the Danes and they exchanged broadsides until a ship ceased firing. Thinking that Nelson might be being fought to a stand-still but unable to retreat without orders Parker signalled to discontinue the action but upon receiving it Nelson made his famous comment "You know, Foley, I only have one eye - I have the right to be blind sometimes," and holding his telescope to his blind eye "I really do not see the signal!".

Eventually the superior gunnery of the British started to silence the Danish ships. The cessation of firing left the way open for the British bomb vessels to approach Copenhagen. Several Danish ships fired on British boats sent out to them after their officers had signalled their surrender and Nelson said that he 'must either send on shore and stop this irregular proceeding, or send in our fire ships and burn them'. He sent a note under a flag of truce to the Dano-Norwegian regent, Crown Prince Frederik. After a further exchange of notes a twenty-four hour ceasefire was agreed.

The Danish-Norwegian loses were estimated between 1,135 to 2,215 captured, killed or wounded. British casualties were 264 killed and 689 wounded. Eleven Danish prizes were burnt and Holsteen returned to England with the wounded.

Novels based around this battle.

Plan of the Battle

Ships Present

British Fleet - Nelson's Squadron

UK Polyphemus (64) John Lawford

UK Isis (50) James Walker

UK Edgar (74) George Murray

UK Ardent (64) Thomas Bertie

UK Glatton (56) William Bligh

UK Elephant (74) Flag - Vice Admiral Sir Horatio Nelson, Cptn. - Thomas Foley

UK Ganges (74) Thomas Francis Fremantle

UK Monarch (74) James Robert Mosse

UK Defiance (74) Flag - Rear-Admiral Thomas Graves, Cptn. - Richard Retalick 

UK Russell (74) William Cuming

UK Bellona (74) Thomas Boulden Thompson

UK Agamemnon (64) Robert Devereux Fancourt

UK Désirée (36) Henry Inman

UK Amazon (38) Edward Riou (Killed in Action)

UK Blanche (36) Graham Eden Hamond

UK Alcmène (32) Samuel Sutton

UK Jamaica (24) Jonas Rose

UK Arrow (28) William Bolton

UK Dart (28) John Ferris Devonshire

UK Cruizer (18) Cdr. James Brisbane

UK Harpy (18) Cdr. William Birchall

UK Discovery (Bomb) Cdr. John Conn

UK Explosion (Bomb) Cdr. John Henry Martin

UK Hecla (Bomb) Cdr. Richard Hatherhill

UK Sulphur (Bomb) Cdr. Hender Whitter

UK Terror (Bomb) Cdr. Samuel Campbell Rowley

UK Volcano (Bomb) Cdr. James Watson

UK Zebra (Bomb) Cdr. Edward Sneyd Clay

UK Otter (Fireship) Cdr. George M'Kinley

UK Zephyr (Fireship)Cdr. Clotworthy Upton


Danish Fleet - King's Deep Division (North to South)

Denmark Prøvesteenen (60) Cptn. L. F. Lassen Captured

Denmark Wagrien (50) Cptn. F.C. Risbrich Captured

Denmark Rendsborg (20) Lt. C.T.Egede Captured

Denmark Nyborg (20) Lt. C.A. Rothe Sunk

Denmark Jylland (50) Cptn. E.O.Branth Captured

Denmark Sværdfisken (20) Lt. S.S. Sommerfeldt

Denmark Kronborg (22) Lt. J.E. Hauch Captured

Denmark Hajen (20) Lt. J.N. Müller

Denmark Dannebrog (60) Flag - Cptn. Olfert Fischer, Cptn. - F.A. Bruun Caught fire & blew up

Denmark Elven (10) Lt. H. Holsten

Denmark Grenier's float (20) (floating battery)

Denmark Aggershus (20) Lt. T. Fassing Sunk

Denmark Siælland (74) Cptn. F.C.L. Harboe

Denmark Charlotte Amalia (26) Cptn. H.H. Kofoed Captured

Denmark Søehesten (18) Lt. B.U. Middelboe

Denmark Holsteen (60) Cptn. J. Arenfelt Captured

Denmark Indfødsretten (64) A. de Turah

Denmark Hjelperen (16) Lt. P.C. Lilienskiold Withdrew


Danish - Fortifications

Denmark Sea battery TreKroner (68)

Denmark Sea Battery Lynetten

Denmark Land battery Sixtus

Denmark Land battery Quintus

Denmark Fortress Kastellet


British Fleet - Also Present - Parker's Reserve Squadron

UK London (98) Flag - Admiral Sir Hyde Parker, Cptn. of the Fleet - William Domett, Cptn. - Robert Walker Otway

UK St George (98) Thomas Masterman Hardy

UK Defence (74) Henry Paulet

UK Ramillies (74) James William Taylor Dixon

UK Saturn (74) Robert Lambert

UK Warrior (74) Charles Tyler

UK Raisonnable (64) John Dilkes

UK Veteran (64) Archibald Collingwood Dickson


Danish Fleet - Also Present - Inner Run Division

Denmark Elephanten (70)

Denmark Mars (74)

Denmark Sarpen (18)

Denmark Nidelven (18)

Denmark Danmark (74)

DenmarkT rekroner (74) (not to be confused with Tre Kroner fortress)


Danish Fleet - Also Present - Inner Harbour Division (Flag - Cptn. Stein Bille)

Denmark Iris (40)

Denmark Aalborg

Denmark Arendel

Denmark Christiansund

Denmark Flensborg

Denmark Langesund

Denmark Naskau 

Denmark Nykøbing

Denmark Odense

Denmark Stavaern

Denmark Stege

Denmark Viborg 

Plan of the Battle


© 2008-2024 David Hayes (Astrodene)