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Samuel Story
Born (1752-10-02)October 2, 1752
Died January 8, 1811(1811-01-08) (aged 58)
Place of birth Maasbommel, Dutch Republic
Place of death Cleves
Allegiance  Batavian Republic
Service/branch  Batavian Republic Navy
Years of service 1770–1804
Rank vice-admiral
Commands held Jason, Pollux
Battles/wars French Revolutionary Wars

Samuel Story (October 2, 1752 – January 8, 1811) was a vice-admiral of the navy of the Batavian Republic. He commanded the squadron that surrendered without a fight to the Royal Navy at the Vlieter Incident in 1799.

Early life

Story was born in Maasbommel. He entered the navy of the Dutch Republic (Admiralty of the Maze) in 1770. On July 5, 1774 he became a lieutenant on the Orangezaal (20 guns). His first command (in 1781) was the frigate Jason (36 guns). In 1793, he was appointed captain of the frigate Pollux (40 guns) at Hellevoetsluis.

Revolution of 1795

In the severe Winter of 1794/95 the ships of the Dutch navy on the roadstead of Hellevoetsluis became lodged in the ice on the River Maas. Story's commanding officer rear-admiral Pieter Melvill van Carnbee then appointed him commander of the naval base and squadron. The armies of the French Republic had invaded the Netherlands in the course of the War of the First Coalition. They made easy progress in early 1795 and the commander-in-chief of the Dutch navy, lieutenant-admiral Jan Hendrik van Kinsbergen ordered Story to offer no resistance. On January 3, 1795, he released and armed 600 French prisoners of war, who had been incarcerated on his base. In that way he secured the base for the Batavian Republic that was proclaimed shortly afterward.

The new government of that Republic appointed Story in February, 1795, to a commission that was charged with making an inventory of the ships of the fleet, and other naval installations, in connection with accusations of neglect by the previous regime. The commission presented its report on May 27, 1795, and concluded that the state of the navy was deplorable. This was the basis for an ambitious programme of naval construction in 1796[1]

Battle of Camperdown

The new fleet was first put to the test in the Battle of Camperdown of 1797. During this battle, Story commanded the Batavian frigate division as rear-admiral aboard the ship-of-the-line Staten-Generaal (74 guns). This ship caught fire, and while this was extinguished, it drifted to leeward, which made it impossible to rejoin the battle. This may have contributed to the loss of the battle by vice-admiral Jan Willem de Winter.[2] In any case, the battle is remarkable because of the new tactics employed by admiral Adam Duncan, 1st Viscount Duncan of Camperdown, which amounted to breaching the Dutch line, instead of sailing parallel to it (as were the usual tactics up to then). The point where the line was breached was just before Story's ship.[3]

However, Story distinguished himself in the sequel of the battle by rallying the Batavian frigate division and leading them safely into port.

Vlieter Incident

In 1798, the Batavian Republic was asked by its French ally to take part in the expedition to assist the Irish Rebellion of 1798. A Batavian squadron was formed near Texel under the command of Story. When the Dutch part of the expedition to Ireland was cancelled, this squadron was next retargeted to the East Indies at the request of the Committee of East Indian Commerce of the Batavian government. It was to escort an expeditionary force of 5,000 soldiers under the command of Gen. Herman Willem Daendels who was to be in overall command. Story now attained the temporary rank of vice-admiral. However, strong rumors of a planned Anglo-Russian attack on the Republic in summer 1799 led to the cancellation of this expedition. When the Anglo-Russian expedition materialized in August 1799, Story still commanded the squadron at Texel, again as a rear-admiral. The machinations of a number of officers in his command with Orangist leanings led to the debacle of the Vlieter Incident in which Story felt constrained to surrender without a fight to the Royal Navy squadron under Admiral Mitchell because of a mutiny aboard the Batavian squadron.[4]

Conviction and banishment

After this surrender, Story was made a prisoner of war in England till the Peace of Amiens. After his release, he did not feel welcome in England as a loyal Patriot, unlike his Orangist colleagues, who were in a similar predicament. The Batavian government had meanwhile tried him in absentia. He dared not return to the Republic because of this, instead trying to conduct his defense from abroad. He moved to Bremen in October 1802.

The Hoge Militaire Vierschaar (High Military Court) convicted him on January 16, 1804 of dereliction of duty, cowardice, and disloyalty. He was declared to be "perjurious, without honor, and infamous," cashiered from the navy, and sentenced to banishment for life, on penalty of beheading. After this harsh sentence, he spent the rest of his life trying to be rehabilitated. In 1805, he published a defense in the form of a book that was part auto-biography.[5] He did not succeed, mainly because he died before the restoration of the leader of the Orangist faction, William I of the Netherlands to power. Other "mutineers", like Theodorus Frederik van Capellen were rehabilitated by the new king, but this was not extended to Story because he could not ask for rehabilitation.

Story died in exile in Cleves on January 8, 1811.


  1. De Jonge, pp. 219-224
  2. De Jonge, p. 416
  3. De Jonge, p. 409
  4. Blok, P. J.; Bierstadt, O. A., & Putnam, R. (1912). History of the People of the Netherlands. New York & London: G. P. Putnam's Sons. pp. 330–331. OCLC 1721795.,M1. 
  5. Story, passim


  • James, J.M. (2002) The Naval History of Great Britain: During the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars. Vol. 2 1797-1799, Stackpole Books, ISBN 0-8117-1005-X
  • (Dutch) Jonge, J.C. de, and Jonge, J.K. de (1862) Geschiedenis van het Nederlandsche zeewezen, A.C. Kruseman
  • (Dutch)Story, S. (1805) Verantwoording van Samuel Story, wegens zijn gehouden gedrag als commandant van 'slands esquader, voor, op, en na den 30. Augustus 1799, nevens zijne wederlegging van de op den 16. Januarij 1804 tegen hem uitgesprokene criminele sententie, Amsterdam, Johannes Allart

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