The Battle Of Cape Henry: An Inconclusive Revolutionary Squabble Between Empires

The Battle of Cape Henry (16 March 1781) was officialy part of the "American" Revolutionary War, but no Americans were even slightly involved. It was a fight between the British and the American "allies", the French. The French were not the American's allies; they just wanted to get back at the British...oh and finaly win a battle in the New World (and the Old World; insert French military victories joke here). Think about it: why would the royalist, imperialist, and Catholic French want to help the republican, Protestant American's, who were trying to shrug off an Imperialist yoke? And especially when they had brewing troubles at home; why give your citizens a first-class view of how to fight a revolution? The simple answer: the French King, and his advisors were impulsive. They would do anything to be able to say they beat the British. Even siding with a then failing rebellion in the New World. But now that were done with geo-politic's from the Eighteenth century; let's get back to the battle. The Battle of Cape Henry was not a big engagment. There were eight British ships of the line against seven French (with a frigate attached aswell). It involved the fleet of French Admiral Charles RenĂ© Dominique Sochet, Chevalier Destouches, trying to go to Chesapeake to support land operations against the now British General Benidict Arnold. The British commander, Vice Admiral Mariot Arbuthnot, intercepted him, and after a short and inconclusive engagement, the British went to Chesapeake; forcing the French back to Newport, from whence they had came. There were light casulties on both sides and no ships lost. So even though it could be called a British victory because the French were prevented from reaching their objectives; on a sale of one to ten on relative bearing on the war it gets a four. It set the Americans back a little, but not much in their quest for independence.

  • A: When the fleets sight each other
  • B: First tacking maneuver
  • C: Second tacking maneuver
  • D: Disengagement
  • British ships are black, French ships are white.
    by: Alfred Thayer Mahan,  the Father of Seapower