Maritime defence of the Cape of Good Hope, 1779-1803

In the late 18th century, the strategic location on the southern tip of Africa made the Cape of Good Hope (South Africa) vital to maritime communications with the East and therefore a prized possession. The Dutch (in possession of the Cape since 1652) understood the necessity of defending it against a European competitor, but as they had no permanent naval contingent available, defences consisted primarily of a system of fortifications and a garrison. Since the late 17th century English and French trade picked up dramatically, resulting in the 18th century being a period of slow decline for the Dutch Republic. During the same period, British global interests grew and her trade experienced a staggering increase. The Cape suited British global interests well, but generally it was well defended, as was demonstrated in the American War of Independence, when the French strengthened the garrison. However, without additional reinforcements, the Cape’s own defence capacity was not adequate to defend it against a strong foreign power, as occurred in 1795, when a depleted Cape garrison had to face a British occupation force. During the first British occupation (1795-1803) it was shown that territory could be secured with proper maritime defence. Notes, ref., sum. in English (p. iv) and Afrikaans. [ASC Leiden abstract]

Title: Maritime defence of the Cape of Good Hope, 1779-1803
Author: Potgieter, Thean
Year: 2003
Periodical: Historia: amptelike orgaan
Volume: 48
Issue: 1
Pages: 283-308
Language: English
Geographic terms: South Africa
Great Britain
Netherlands
Abstract: In the late 18th century, the strategic location on the southern tip of Africa made the Cape of Good Hope (South Africa) vital to maritime communications with the East and therefore a prized possession. The Dutch (in possession of the Cape since 1652) understood the necessity of defending it against a European competitor, but as they had no permanent naval contingent available, defences consisted primarily of a system of fortifications and a garrison. Since the late 17th century English and French trade picked up dramatically, resulting in the 18th century being a period of slow decline for the Dutch Republic. During the same period, British global interests grew and her trade experienced a staggering increase. The Cape suited British global interests well, but generally it was well defended, as was demonstrated in the American War of Independence, when the French strengthened the garrison. However, without additional reinforcements, the Cape’s own defence capacity was not adequate to defend it against a strong foreign power, as occurred in 1795, when a depleted Cape garrison had to face a British occupation force. During the first British occupation (1795-1803) it was shown that territory could be secured with proper maritime defence. Notes, ref., sum. in English (p. iv) and Afrikaans. [ASC Leiden abstract]