a naval battle
between warships & cavalry
The Area Den Helder was at the tip of the North Holland peninsula which is at the south of the island of Texel.
In the fall of 1794, during the War of the First Coalition of the French Revolutionary Wars, The French forces entered Amsterdam on the 19 January 1795 with the intention of staying there over winter. The French general Jean-Charles Pichegru found out by the inteligence that a Dutch fleet was anchored at Den Helder which was approximately at a distance of eighty kilometers at the north of Amsterdam.
The winter of 1794–1795 was exceptionally cold, causing the area which is called as ''Zuiderzee'' to freeze. Pichegru ordered General of Brigade Jan Willem de Winter to lead a squadron of the 8th Hussar to capture the dutch fleet.
The Capture of the Dutch fleet at Den Helder was conducted on the night of 23 January 1795. This is one of the wery rare examples of a "naval" battle between warships and cavalry. In this battle, a French Revolutionary Hussar regiment captured a Dutch Republican fleet frozen at anchor between the 3 kilometres stretch of sea that separates the mainland port of Den Helder and the island of Texel. After crossing the frozen Zuiderzee. The French cavalry captured 14 Dutch ships and 850 guns.
The French units were the 8th Hussar Regiment and the 15th Line Infantry Regiment of the French Revolutionary Army leaded by Jean-Charles Pichegru who also was the leader of the French army that invaded the Dutch Republic. The commander of the Dutch fleet was captain Hermanus Reintjes. The operation which was conducted during the War of the First Coalition that is a part of the French Revolutionary Wars, was accomplished by Louis Joseph Lahure.
Beside what was exolained above it has to be added that this heroic story is primarily based on French sources. On the other hand, Dutch historian Johannes Cornelis de Jonge states based of documentary sources that the Dutch fleet had already received orders on 21 January not to resist against french army. He reports, that the story is an exaggeration and Instead, just a couple French hussars crossed the ice to negotiate a handover wth the Dutch officers.
De Jonge states that the misconception stems from an 1819 publication by Swiss general Antoine-Henri Jomini, whose account was subsequently cited by French historians.