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Naval Battles:1800s

An overview of naval battles fought in the 19th century. This period saw a revolution in how naval battles were fought as navies transitioned from wooden sailing ships to steel, steam-propelled battleships.
  1. Napoleonic Wars - Naval Battles (10)
  2. Civil War - Naval Battles (8)

War of 1812: USS Constitution defeats HMS Guerriere
Meeting 400 miles SE of Halifax, Nova Scotia, USS Constitution engaged and captured HMS Guerriere on August 19, 1812. The battle was the first in a series of single-ship victories for the US Navy over the Royal Navy during the early days of the War of 1812.

War of 1812: Battle of Lake Erie
A decisive naval engagment of the War of 1812, the Battle of Lake Erie saw an American squadron capture its British counterpart. Fought on September 10, 1813, Master Commandant Oliver H. Perry engaged the British near Put-in-Bay, OH. Following a prolonged fight, six British ships were captured.

War of 1812: Battle of Plattsburgh
The Battle of Plattsburgh was fought Septebmer 6-11, 1814 during the War of 1812. The Battle of Plattsburgh saw British forces advancing down Lake Champlain clash with American forces on the lake and on land. Defeated at the Battle of Plattsburgh, the British were forced to retreat north.

Greek War of Independence: Battle of Navarino
Fought in 1827, the Battle of Navarino was a turning point in the Greek War of Independence. After several years of fighting, the Greeks finally received foreign assistance in the form of British, French, and Russian warships. Under the command of Admiral Sir Edward Codrington, the allied fleet entered Navarino Bay and destroyed the Ottoman fleet of Ibrahim Pasha.

Third Italian War of Independence: Battle of Lissa
Meeting at the Battle of Lissa on July 20, 1866, the Austrian fleet of Admiral Wilhelm von Tegetthoff defeated the Italian squadron of Count Carlo di Persano. The first major naval battle to feature fleets consisting of ironclads and steamers, the Battle of Lissa saw the Austrians sink two Italian ships using a mix of gunfire and ramming.

Spanish-American War: USS Maine Explodes
Commissioned in 1895, USS Maine was an armored cruiser built for the US Navy. Sent to protect American interests in Havana, Cuba, USS Maine exploded on the night of February 15, 1898. The loss of USS Maine, coupled with tensions over Cuba, led the United States to declare war on Spain that April.

Spanish-American War: Battle of Manila Bay
At the Battle of Manila Bay, Commodore George Dewey's US Asiatic Squadron encountered and destroyed the Spanish fleet of Admiral Patricio Montojo y Pasarón. Fought on May 1, 1898, the battle was the opening encounter of the Spanish-American War. The victory at Manila Bay opened the way for the US conquest of the Philippines.

Spanish-American War: Battle of Santiago de Cuba
The Battle of Santiago de Cuba was one of the key naval battles of the Spanish-American War. Resulting from Spanish Admiral Pascual Cervera's attempt to escape from Santiago harbor, the Battle of Santiago de Cuba was a decisive American victory.

Napoleonic Wars: Battle of Trafalgar
The Battle of Trafalgar was fought October 21, 1805, and was Vice Admiral Lord Horatio Nelson's final battle. Catching the French and Spanish fleets off Cape Trafalgar, Nelson won a decisive victory and captured 21 enemy ships. Though Trafalgar was a great truimph, Nelson was mortally wounded in the fighting.

Napoleonic Wars: Battle of the Basque Roads
The Battle of the Basque Roads was fought April 11-13, 1809, during the Napoleonic Wars. Assaulting the French fleet in Basque Roads, the British opened the battle by attacking with fireships. These forced many French ships in Basque Roads ashore and though some were taken, the British failed to fully exploit the success.

American Civil War: Battle of Hampton Roads
The Battle of Hampton Roads occurred on March 8-9, 1862, and was the first fight between ironclad warships. Attacking wooden Union ships off Hampton Roads on March 8, CSS Virginia caused heavy damage. The next day, it returned and battled the newly arrived ironclad USS Monitor to a stalemate.

American Civil War: Capture of New Orleans
The city of New Orleans was captured by Union forces on April 25, 1862. Battling past the Confederate forts on the Mississippi River, Flag Officer David G. Farragut succeeded in reaching the city after probing the defenses for over a week. The largest city in the Confederacy, the capture of New Orleans was a huge blow to the rebel cause.

American Civil War: Battle of Memphis
On June 6, 1862, Union and Confederate gunboats clashed in the Battle of Memphis. Advancing down the Mississippi River, Union forces encountered the Confederate River Defense Fleet off Memphis. The resulting Battle of Memphis quickly turned into a melee in which the Union destroyed all but one of the Confederate ships.

American Civil War: H.L. Hunley Sinks USS Housatonic
The H.L. Hunley became the first submarine to sink another ship when it attacked USS Housatonic off Charleston on February 17, 1864. Plagued by problems during its development, Hunley successfully placed its spar torpedo on Housatonic, destroying the Union ship. The submarine was lost at sea while returning from its historic attack.

Collingwood's Report on the Battle of Trafalgar, 1805
An online transcription of Vice Admiral Cuthbert Collingwood's after action report for the Battle of Trafalgar.

USS Kearsarge & CSS Alabama
A brief description of the battle between USS Kearsarge and the Confederate raider CSS Alabama on June 19, 1864. The site contains a number of images depicting the battle.

Navies Battle a Typhoon at Samoa
A photo essay showing the events and aftermath of the 1889 Apia, Samoa typhoon that destroyed several warships belonging to Germany, Great Britain, and the United States.

Naval Photographs of the Spanish-American War
This site from the US Navy provides numerous images of naval operations during the Spanish-American War.

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