A website from the Massachusetts Historical Society; founded 1791.
close

Browsing: Papers of John Adams, Volume


Search for a response to this letter.

Docno: ADMS-06-11-02-0343

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: President of Congress
Recipient: McKean, Thomas
Date: 1781-08-18

To the President of Congress

[salute] Sir

We have recieved at last Parkers Account of the Action with Admiral Zoutman: according to which, the Battle was maintained with a continual fire for three Hours and forty Minutes, when it became impossible to work his Ships.1 He made an Attempt to recommence the Action, but found it impracticable. The Bienfaisant had lost his { 459 } | view Main-Top-Mast, and the Buffalo her Mizzen Yard, and the other Vessels were not less damaged in their Masts, Rigging and Sails. The Enemy did not appear in a better Condition. The two Squadrons remained some time over against each other; at length the Dutch retired, taking with their Convoy the Course to the Texel. He was not in a Condition to follow them. The Officers, and all aboard, behaved with great Bravery: and the Enemy did not discover less Courage. He incloses the particulars of the killed and wounded, and of the Damages, which the Vessels have sustained. The last is prudently suppressed by the Ministry.—List of the killed and wounded in the Action of the 5th. of August.
  killed.   wounded.   total.    
Fortitude   20   67   87    
Bienfaisant   6   21   27    
Berwick   18   58   76    
Princess Amelia   19   56   75    
Preston   10   40   50    
Buffalo   20   64   84    
Dolphin   11   33   44    
  104   339   443    
The Dutch List is   killed.   wounded.   total.    
Admiral De Ruyter   43   90   133    
Admiral General   7   41   48    
Batavier   18   48   66   besides Capt. Bentink  
Argo   11   87   98    
Holland       64    
Admiral Piet Hein   9   58   67    
      4762    
I have the Honor to be, with the greatest Respect, Sir, your most obedient and most humble Servant.
[signed] John Adams
RC in John Thaxter's hand (PCC, No. 84, III, f. 374–377) endorsed: “Letter 18 Aug 1781 John Adams Read 12 Novr.”
1. At dawn on 5 Aug. Vice Adm. Sir Hyde Parker's squadron with a merchant fleet from the Baltic sighted Rear Adm. Johan Arnold Zoutman's squadron, also with a merchant fleet, outbound from the Texel. The resulting Battle of the Dogger Bank was conducted at half-musket shot and resulted in extraordinary casualties for the number of vessels engaged. They exceeded, for example, those in the 1778 battle off Ushant in which thirty ships of the line fought on each side. The Dutch proved that they could fight the British navy on equal terms. The battle did much for their morale and was hailed as a victory. The action, however, left the status quo unchanged and was a British victory in the sense that { 460 } Parker's convoy went on to England, while Zoutman's put back into port (Mackesy, War for America , p. 395; Mahan, Navies in the War of Amer. Independence , p. 189–194). The account given here by JA is from a French translation of Parker's report of 6 Aug. that appeared in Dutch newspapers, including the Gazette de Leyde of 21 August. See also the report in the English newspapers, such as the London Chronicle of 9–11 August.
2. It is unclear where JA got his casualty figures. While the listing of British casualties agrees with official sources, that for the Dutch is incomplete and understates their losses. The figures accepted by most authorities, and which appeared in the Gazette de Leyde of 21 Aug., put the Dutch losses at 142 killed and 403 wounded for a total of 545.