Defence against maritime power projection : the case of the Cape of Good Hope, 1756-1803

Potgieter, Theodorus Daniel (2006-12)

Dissertation (PhD) -- University of Stellenbosch, 2006.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT:The Cape of Good Hope, located at the southern tip of Africa, was very important for maritime communication with the East in the days of sailing ships. As the competition between the strong European maritime empires for trade, sea power and empire in the East intensified during the late eighteenth century, control of the Cape became a primary concern. The seventeenth century was the golden age of the United Provinces (the Dutch Republic) and through the VOC they dominated the trade with the East. By the late seventeenth century English (later British) and French trade picked up dramatically, with the result that the eighteenth century saw the slow decline of the Dutch state, sea power, sea-borne trade, industries, shipbuilding and the VOC. The vacuum left by the decline of the Dutch, was quickly taken up by their competitors. As French and British power eclipsed that of the Dutch and they fought each other, the United Provinces not only became a minor partner to one of them, but these wars also had a devastating effect on the Dutch Republic. During the same period British global interest grew and her trade experienced a staggering increase. With growing British interests in India and conflict with France, control of the sea route to the East and a secure base along this long and vulnerable route became essential to the British; which enhanced the strategic value of the Cape of Good Hope. The Cape was in Dutch hands, which was not a problem to the British if the Dutch were allied to them, or stayed neutral during a war, but if the Dutch were in an alliance with France, it posed a great threat to British interests. Within the parameters of this thesis maritime power projection is the use of sea-borne military forces to influence events on land directly, while defence against maritime power projection is the separate or joint defensive efforts at sea and on land to counter maritime power projection. Defence of the Cape against maritime power projection essentially involved defensive efforts on three tiers or levels. Warships were present at times to deter an enemy fleet, or eliminate the threat it posed. Some important landing sites, beeches, anchorages and bays at the Cape were protected by a system of fortifications, while a garrison and militia forces were thirdly available to man fortifications and counter an invader with military force. Navies were crucial and powerful foreign policy tools in the period under discussion. The maritime empires extensively relied on their navies to protect their trade, project their power, damage the interests of their enemies and defend their own interests. But, as the bases that had to protect the vulnerable maritime communications and provided safety to ships also had to be secure, they were usually defended by a system of fortifications and a garrison. The fixed defences the maritime empires created at their posts or bases were typical of the developments in the fortification architecture of the West at the time and were primarily designed to provide defence against European adversaries. In terms of organisation, doctrine, weapons and tactics the armies of the maritime empires were again essentially European. To restrain the high costs and due to the difficulties related to relying extensively on European soldiers, the maritime empires generally also relied on indigenously recruited troops. In fact, it would have been impossible to maintain these empires without local troops. At the Cape this had two components: first the local militia created from the able-bodied men (amongst the free burghers, voe officials, former soldiers, retired officials, freed slaves and persons of mixed blood) living in Cape Town and the districts, and second the so-called Khoi Regiment, recruited in 1781-1782 and again between 1793 and 1803. It was not a Khoi unit in the tribal sense, but rather representative of a certain segment of the Cape population. The primarily raison d'etre for the militia and the Khoi Regiment was defence against an external enemy and they should not be confused with the so-called commando system that developed in the course of the voe period for local defence purposes. Chronologically the study commences in 1756 with the outbreak of the Seven Years War (1756-1763). This date is important because the Franco-British struggle rapidly escalated to the East and as a result the Cape acquired important strategic value to the belligerents. It was now no longer just a refreshment post on the long, sea route to the East. During the ensuing wars, the Fourth Anglo-Dutch War (1780-1784) and the Wars of the French Revolution (1792-1802), Britain twice attempted to capture the Cape (1781 and 1795). The British attempt to capture the Cape in 1781 was foiled by the presence of a powerful French naval and. military force, while in 1795 the Dutch capitulated· to the British because the Cape was poorly defended and there was political division amongst the defenders. A Dutch attempt to recapture the Cape in 1796 ended in failure due to the formidable British defence of the Cape. The study is brought to a close with the handing back of the Cape to the Netherlands in 1803. A central theme which forms part of the discussion is the way in which states used their naval and military power to achieve their national objectives, in other words the strategies of the maritime empires of the day. Consequently the achievements and failures of the various politicians, colonial administrators as well as naval and military commanders involved, were evaluated. Furthermore, the defence of the Cape is examined with specific reference to the organisation, nature and constitution of navies, fortifications, and armies of the time. A special effort was made to place emphasis on the relevance of an integrated or joint approach to defence against maritime power projection and to identify a number of prerequisites for a successful defence. These include the joint or separate use of naval forces, fixed defences and landward forces with the purpose of defence. In addition elements such as proper command and control, intelligence, cooperation between armies and navies, and the value of clear strategic and operational objectives were emphasised.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Die Kaap de Goede Hoop se ligging aan die suidpunt van Afrika was uiters belangrik vir maritieme kommunikasie met die Ooste in die dae van seilskepe. Met die gevolg dat toe die magtige Europese maritieme moondhede teen die laat agtiende eeu kompeteer vir handel, seemag en Oosterse ryke, beheer oor die Kaap van primere belang geword het. Die sewentiende eeu was die goue eeu van die Verenigde Provinsies (die Nederlandse Republiek) en deur middel van die voe het die Nederlanders die handel met die Ooste gedomineer. Teen die laat sewentiende eeu het Engelse (later Britse) en Franse handel drasties toegeneem, met die gevolg dat die agtiende eeu deur die stadige verval van die Nederlandse staat, seemag, see-gebasseerde handel, industriee, skeepsbou en die voe gekenmerk is. Die gaping wat die agteruitgang van Nederland gelaat het, is vinnig deur haar opponente gevul. Soos Frankryk en Brittanje magtiger geword het, het hulle teen mekaar oorlog gemaak en die Verenigde Provinsies het 'n mindere bondgenoot van een van die twee starker moondhede geword, terwyl die oorloe ook 'n verpletterende effek op Nederland gehad het. Terselfdertyd het Britse wereldwye belang en handel drasties toegeneem. Met die groei in Britse handel en belange in lndie, wou Britanje ten alle koste 'n veilige basis op die roete na die Ooste be~om wat weer die strategiese waarde van die Kaap laat toeneem het. Die Kaap was in Nederlandse hande, wat nie 'n probleem was nie indien die Nederlanders en die Britte bondgenote was of Nederland neutraal was, maar wat beslis 'n beduidende bedreiging vir die Britte ingehou het indien Nederland in 'n bondgenootskap met Frankryk sou wees. Binne die bestek van· die proefskrif is maritieme magsprojeksie die gebruik van seegebasseerde militere mag om gebeure aan land direk te be"lnvloed, en verdediging teen maritieme magsprojeksie is die afsonderlike en gesamentlike verdedigingspogings wat ter see en op land teen maritieme magsprojeksie plaasvind. Die verdediging van die Kaap teen maritieme magsprojeksie het essensieel uit verdedigingspogings op drie vlakke bestaan. Oorlogskepe was van tyd-tot-tyd beskikbaar om verdediging te verskaf, deur as afskrikking vire 'n vyandige aanval te dien, of 'n vyandelike vloot uit te skakel. Sommige belangrike landingsplekke, strande, ankerplekke en baaie is deur 'n stelsel fortifikasies beskerm, terwyl 'n garnisoen en milisiemagte laastens beskikbaar was om fortifikasies te beman en 'n invaller militer tee te gaan. Oorlogsvlote was belangrike en kragtige buitelandse beleidsinstrumente gedure_nde die periode ender bespreking. Die maritieme ryke het swaar op hul vlote gesteun om hul handel te beskerm, eie mag te projekteer, hul vyande se belange te skaad en eie belange te beskerm. Aangesien die basisse wat kwesbare maritieme kommunikasie moes beveilig en 'n veilige hawe aan skepe moes bied, beskerm moes word, is hulle gewoonlik deur 'n fortifikasie-sisteem en 'n garnisoen verdedig. Die vaste verdedigingswerke wat die maritieme moondhede by hul basisse of poste opgerig het, was tipies van die ontwikkeling in die Westerse vestingboukunde in die periode en hul hoofdoel was verdediging teen Europese vyande. Ook die leers van die maritieme moondhede was in terme van hul organisasie, doktrine, bewapening and taktiek essensieel Europees. Weens die hoe koste en die probleme verbonde aan die onderhoud van grootskaalse Europese leermagte, het die maritieme moondhede gewoonlik op troepe wat plaaslik gewerf is, staatgemaak. Dit was tewens onmoonlik vir hulle om die ryke sender plaaslike troepe in stand te hou. Aan die Kaap het dit uit twee komponente bestaan: eerstens die plaaslike milisiemagte wat uit die weerbare manspersone (uit die geledere van vryburgers, VOC-amptenare, oudsoldate, afgetrede amptenare, vry slawe en persone van gemengde bleed) in Kaapstad en die distrikte bestaan het, en tweedens die sogenaamde Khoi Regiment wat tussen 1781-1782 en weer tussen 1793 en 1803 plaaslik gewerf is. Die eenheid het nie net uit lede van die Khoi etniese groep bestaan nie, maar was eerder verteenwoordigend van 'n spesifieke segment van die Kaapse bevolking. Die hoofrede vir die bestaan van 'n milisiemag en die Khoi Regiment was vir verdediging teen 'n eksterne vyand en dit meet nie met die sogenaamde kommandostelsel wat gedurende die VOC-tydperk vir plaaslike verdedigingsbehoeftes ontwikkel het, verwar word nie. Kronologies neem die studie 'n aanvang in 1756 met die uitbreek van die Sewe Jarige Oorlog (1756-1763). Die datum is belangrik omdat die F.rans-Britse stryd vinnig na die Ooste ge-eskaleer het en die Kaap gevolglik belangrike strategiese waarde vir die strydende magte gehad het en nie meer net 'n verversingspunt op die seeroete na die Ooste was nie. Tydens die volgende oorloe, die Vierde Anglo-Nederlandse Oorlog (1780-1784) en die Oorloe van die Franse Revolusie (1792-1802), het Brittanje tweekeer probeer om die Kaap te verower (1781 en 1795). Die Britse poging om die Kaap in 1781 te verower is deur die teenwoordigheid van 'n sterk Franse vloot-en-troepemag gefnuik, terwyl die Nederlanders in 1795 gekapituleer het weens hul onvoldoende verdedingsvermoe en politieke verdeeldheid. 'n Nederlandse poging om die Kaap in 1796 te herower, het misluk weens die effektiewe Britse verdediging van die Kaap. Die studie eindig met die terughandiging van die Kaap aan Nederland in 1803. 'n Terna wat sentraal staan in die bespreking is hoe state hul vloot-en militere mag gebruik het om nasionale doelwitte te bereik, oftewel die strategie van die maritieme moondhede van die dag. Gevolglik is die suksesse en mislukkings van die betrokke politici, koloniale administrateurs en vloot-en militere bevelvoerders ge-evalueer. Verder is die verdediging van die Kaap ondersoek met spesifieke verwysing na die organisasie, aard en samestelling van vlote, fortifikasies en leers gedurende die tydperk. 'n Spesiale poging is aangewend om klem te plaas op die relevansie van 'n ge'integreerde of gesamentlike benadering tot verdediging teen maritieme magsprojeksie en om 'n aantal voorvereistes vir suksesvolle verdediging te identifiseer. Dit sluit in, die afsonderlike of gesamentlike gebruik van vlote en vaste verdedigingstellings en landmagte vir die doeleindes van verdediging. Voorts is 'n aantal elemente soos deeglike bevel en beheer, inligting, samewerking tussen landmagte en vlote, en die waarde van duidelike strategiese en operasionele doelwitte beklemtoon.

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