1748 – 1827
Who was Nathaniel Dance?
Sir Nathaniel Dance was an officer of the Honourable East India Company who had a long and varied career on merchant vessels, making numerous voyages to India and back with the fleets of East Indiamen. He was already aware of the risks of the valuable ships he sailed on being preyed on by foreign navies, having been captured by a Franco-Spanish fleet in 1780 during the East Indies campaign of the American War of Independence. His greatest achievement came during the Napoleonic Wars, when having been appointed commodore of one of the company's fleets, he came across a French squadron under Rear-Admiral Comte de Linois, which was raiding British shipping in the area. Through skilful seamanship and aggressive tactics he fooled the French commander into thinking that the British convoy was escorted by powerful naval forces, and the French decided not to risk attacking the convoy. Dance compounded the deception by taking his lightly armed merchants and chasing the French away, despite the considerable disparity of force. Having saved the convoy from almost certain destruction, Dance was hailed as a hero, lavishly rewarded with money and a knighthood, and spent the last years of his life in comfortable retirement.
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