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Old 19-10-2010, 06:06
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Default The Battle of Trafalgar: Engage the Enemy

Many accounts have been written describing the actions at the Battle of Trafalgar on the 21st October 1805, and many more questioning Nelson’s tactics and their effectiveness. Like the reporting of a significant number of historical events, there are contradictions. Trafalgar is no exception, with even some of the Ship’s Logs differing in the timings of key movements and engagements. And of course several of the French & Spanish accounts do not always mirror those as recorded by English records and recollections.

In this thread, I am going to attempt to chart the course of the Battle using some of the acknowledged original sources and respected accounts in as near chronological order as I can. Where there are contradictions and factual differences in these sources, I will seek corroboration wherever I can, or use the consensus.

Clearly, in undertaking such a task, there is undoubtedly room for error or omission, and statements made that will be questioned, and perhaps misdirected emphasis of certain elements of the story. So I will apologize in advance for such and plea that allowance is made for my amateur interpretation of the records available to me which I cannot naturally vouch for.

The initial posts will summarize the unfolding events on the same day as they happened 205 years ago, starting with today.
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Old 19-10-2010, 06:07
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Default Re: THE BATTLE OF TRAFALGAR: Engage the Enemy

Saturday 19th October 1805

On 19th October, French Commander-in-Chief of the Franco-Spanish Combined Fleet, Admiral Villeneuve ordered his 33 sail of the line out of Cadiz. Spanish Admiral Gravina was his second in command. At 7.00 a.m., the first twelve ships left the port.

For Nelson and the British Fleet, the long suspense was over at last. Within two hours the enemy movement was sighted and reported, At 9.30 a.m. Captain Duff, in the look-out ship Mars, signaled Nelson that 'the enemy are coming out of port.’

When this news was received, Victory, with the main body of the British fleet, was lying off about fifty miles to the W.S.W. in a very light southerly wind. Nelson started to put his plans into action, firstly, arranging for an advanced squadron that could cut off the enemy if they were to make for the Mediterranean.

From Nelson’s private journal

“Fine weather, wind Easterly. At half-past nine, The Mars, being one of the look-out ships, repeated the Signal, “that the Enemy was coming out of Port” – made the Signal for a “General Chase S.E.”; wind at South, Cadiz bearing E.N.E. by compass. Distant sixteen leagues. At three the Colossus, made the Signal, “that the Enemy’s Fleet was at sea.” In the evening directed the Fleet to observe my motions during the night, and for Britannia, Prince, and Dreadnought, they being the heavy sailers, to take their stations as convenient; and for Mars, Orion, Belleisle, Leviathan, Bellerophon, and Polyphemus, to go ahead during the night, and to carry a light, standing for the Straits’ Mouth”.

He also wrote this letter to Emma Hamilton:

“My dearest beloved Emma, the dear friend of my bosom”, the signal has been made that the Enemy's Combined Fleet are coming out of Port. We have very little wind, so that I have no hopes of seeing them before to-morrow. May the God of Battles crown my endeavours with success ; at all events, I will take care that my name shall ever be most dear to you and Horatia, both of whom I love as much as my own life. And as my last writing before the Battle will be to you, so I hope in God that I shall live to finish my letter after the Battle. May heaven bless you prays your Nelson And Bronte”.


Today's weather, 19th October 2010, 07.00, Cadiz; Fair. Wind E.N.E 9 mph. Calm.
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Old 19-10-2010, 19:50
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Default Re: THE BATTLE OF TRAFALGAR: Engage the Enemy

A good start Clive, looking forward to the rest of it, especially your view on Nelson's tactics. A nice touch putting in today's weather.
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Old 19-10-2010, 20:34
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Default Re: THE BATTLE OF TRAFALGAR: Engage the Enemy

Thank you Clive I found that very interesting, its my favourite period and Nelson was among the best of them.
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Old 20-10-2010, 06:02
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Default Re: THE BATTLE OF TRAFALGAR: Engage the Enemy

Sunday 20th October 1805

Daylight found the British Fleet close to the Straits of Gibraltar, but there was no sign of the enemy.

At 7.00 a.m. the frigate Phoebe signaled that the enemy bore North. By noon the whole fleet was back within about 25 miles of Cadiz, which lay to the N.E. of them, while they were standing to the W.N.W. on the larboard tack. The enemy's ships in harbour in the meantime, having weighed at daylight, put to sea with a light breeze, and endeavoured to join their twelve companions that had left the previous day.

At 8.00 a.m. Victory hove to, and Admiral Collingwood, with the captains of the Mars, Colossus, and Defence, came on board to receive instructions from Nelson. At 9.11 a.m. they returned to their respective ships.'

For some time, the combined enemy fleet was frustrated by squalls, but between 2.00 and 3.00 p.m. the horizon cleared, and they were able to unite. Vice-Admiral Villeneuve then ordered his fleet to form in five columns, to a plan which he had previously communicated to his flag officers and captains. The fleet accordingly divided itself into two parts. The first part, consisting of twenty-one sail of the line and denominated the line of battle, then subdivided itself into three squadrons of seven ships each, of which the centre was commanded by Villeneuve himself, the van by Vice-Admiral Alava, and the rear by Rear-Admiral Dumanoir. The second part, or corps de reserve, divided itself into two squadrons of six ships each. The first was under the orders of Admiral Gravina and the second of Rear-Admiral Magon.

The Euryalus, which during the squalls had made the signal 'The enemy appears determined to push to the westward,' received a telegraphic message from Nelson at 5.40 p.m. that read: 'I rely on your keeping sight of the enemy. (some accounts state that the words 'during the night' were added.)

At 6.00 p.m., the wind fell to a light breeze, the weather became hazy, and darkness soon fell. Nelson's orders for the night are contained in the following memorandum:

“Captain Blackwood to keep with two Frigates in sight of the Enemy in the night. Two other Frigates to be placed between him and the Defence, Captain Hope. Colossus will take her station between Defence and Mars. Mars to communicate with the Victory”.

SIGNALS BY NIGHT.
“If the enemy are standing to the southward or towards the Straits, burn two blue lights together, every hour, in order to make the greater blaze. If the enemy are standing to the westward, three guns, quick, every hour”.

In his private journal, Nelson wrote:

Fresh breezes SSW. and rainy. Communicated with Phoebe, Defence, and Colossus, who saw near forty Sail of Ships of War outside of Cadiz yesterday evening; but the wind being Southerly, they could not get to the Mouth of the Straits. We were between Trafalgar and Cape Spartel. The Frigates made the signal that they saw 9 Sail outside the Harbour; gave the Frigates instructions for their guidance, and placed Defence, Colossus, and Mars, between me and the Frigates. At noon fresh gales and heavy rain, Cadiz N.E. 9 leagues. In the afternoon Captain Blackwood telegraphed that the Enemy seemed determined to go to the Westward; and that they shall not do if in the power of Nelson and Bronte to prevent them. At 5 telegraphed Captain B., that I relied upon his keeping sight of the Enemy. At 6 o'clock Naiad made the signal for 31 Sail of the Enemy N.N.E. The Frigates and look-out Ships kept sight of the Enemy most admirably all night, and told me by signals which tack they were upon. At 8 we wore, and stood to the S.W., and at four A.M. wore, stood to the N.E.

After the battle, the following letter to Lady Hamilton was found open on Lord Nelson's desk, and was brought to her by Captain Hardy:

“October 20th. In the morning we were close to the Mouth of the Straits, but the wind had not come far enough to the westward to allow the Combined Fleets to weather the Shoals off Trafalgar ; but they were counted as far as forty Sail of Ships of War, which I suppose to be thirty-four of the Line, and six Frigates. A group of them was seen off the Lighthouse of Cadiz this morning, but it blows so very fresh and thick weather, that I rather believe they will go into the Harbour before night. May God Almighty give us success over these fellows, and enable us to get a Peace”.


Today’s weather, 20th October 2010, 0700, Straights of Gibraltar; mostly cloudy. Wind NE 5 mph. Calm.
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Old 20-10-2010, 06:08
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Default Re: THE BATTLE OF TRAFALGAR: Engage the Enemy

Clive

Great stuff. I also look forward to reading the rest of it.

Mel
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Old 20-10-2010, 20:33
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Smile Re: THE BATTLE OF TRAFALGAR: Engage the Enemy

Thanks for that great account.Have white ensign flying in my back yard on a damp Cairns morning to commemorate the battle.
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Old 21-10-2010, 06:35
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Default Re: THE BATTLE OF TRAFALGAR: Engage the Enemy

Monday 21st October 1805

At 4.00 a.m. Nelson ordered a change of direction towards the enemy.

At 6.00 a.m., the enemy were seen from Victory bearing east by south at a distance of ten or twelve miles, with Cape Trafalgar in a direct line behind them some twenty-one miles away. Nelson gave the order ‘prepare for battle’.

At around 6.15 a.m., Victory made signal number 72, “Form the order of sailing in two columns”. The left column headed by Victory comprised twelve ships and headed towards the centre of the combined fleet. To give maximum impact and firepower, behind Victory (100 guns) were two other three deckers: Temeraire (98 guns) and Neptune (98 guns. The lee (right column) lead by Collingwood in the Royal Sovereign (100 guns) comprised fifteen ships and headed to “envelope the rear” of the combined fleet.

The combined enemy fleet consisted of 18 ships of the of the line, 5 frigates, 2 brigs … see attachment.

Soon after daylight Nelson came up on deck. He was dressed as usual in his Admiral's frockcoat, bearing on the left breast four stars of different Orders, which he always wore with his common apparel. He did not wear his sword at the Battle of Trafalgar. It had been taken from the place where it hung up in his cabin, and was laid ready on his table; but it is supposed he forgot to call for it. This was the only action in which Nelson ever appeared without a sword.

Nelson went up onto the poop to have a better view of both lines of the British fleet which were now about 12 miles from the enemy. Whilst there, he gave directions for taking down the different fixtures in his cabin, and for being very careful in removing the portrait of Lady Hamilton. Immediately after this he left the poop and retired to his cabin where he made the following entry in his private journal:

“At daylight saw the Enemy’s Combined Fleet from East to E.S.E; bore away; made the signal for Order of sailing, and to Prepare for Battle; the Enemy with their heads to the Southward: at seven the Enemy wearing in succession. May the Great God, whom I worship, grant to my Country, and for the benefit of Europe in general, a great and glorious Victory; and may no misconduct in any one tarnish it; and may humanity after Victory be the predominant feature in the British Fleet. For myself, individually, I commit my life to Him who made me, and may his blessing light upon my endeavours for serving my Country faithfully. To Him I resign myself and the just cause which is entrusted to me to defend. Amen. Amen. Amen.”

He also wrote a codicil to his Will, where he asked the government to look after Emma, ‘give her an ample provision to maintain her rank in life’, and his adopted daughter.

The wind was now very light from the N.W., with a heavy ground-swell from the Westward. The British Fleet, with all sail set, advanced at a rate which is estimated to have been at first three knots, but afterwards to have fallen to a mile and a half an hour.

As Victory and the rest of the column drew near to the enemy, Nelson, accompanied by Captain Hardy and the Captains of the four Frigates, who had been called on board by signal to receive instructions, visited the different decks of the Ship. Nelson addressed the crew at their several quarters, and instructed them against firing a single shot without being sure of their target, and informed the Officers that he was highly satisfied with the arrangements made at their respective stations.

The enemy fleet was by now forming their double line into a crescent with there broadsides pointing at Nelson’s advancing lines.

At 10.00 a.m. (accounts vary), signal 98 was made to Temeraire, to take her station between Victory and Neptune in readiness for assaulting the enemy line.

The British ships were now ready for battle. The galley fires were doused, gun crews finished their preparations; tampions removed, gun ports opened, and shot racks uncovered. Guns were loaded and run out into their firing positions, and gun decks wetted and sprinkled with sand to provide better footing when they became slippery with blood. On the upper decks, hammocks were tightly rolled up and lashed to the netting above the sides of the ship to give added protection from gunfire. Yards were secured by chains to prevent them falling if the rigging was shot away. Nets were deployed to prevent boarding, with more nets spread to prevent falling debris injuring men on the decks. All loose items below decks were stowed, and upper decks cleared for action. Surgeons instruments were sharpened and laid out ready for use

At just before twelve, Nelson was walking on the poop and announced to his Flag Lieutenant, Captain John Pasco:

" Mr. Pasco, I wish to say to the Fleet, ' ENGLAND CONFIDES THAT EVERY MAN WILL DO HIS DUTY;' and he added: "You must be quick, for I have one more to make, which is for Close Action." Pasco replied: " If your Lordship will permit me to substitute the expects for confides the signal will soon be completed, because the word expects is in the vocabulary, and confides must be spelt." Nelson replied, in haste and with seeming satisfaction: " That will do, Pasco ; make it directly."

When it had been answered by a few Ships in the Van, he ordered the signal for Close Action, to be made, and kept up. Accordingly, signal number 16 was hoisted at the top-gallant masthead, where it remained until it was shot away. The signal Prepare to Anchor was also hoisted with the pendant added that the order was to take effect after the close of day.

Minutes after the signals Nelson’s signals were raised, battle commenced, as the French Forgeueux opened fire on Collingwood’s approaching Royal Sovereign, raising her colours at the same time.

The ensuing five hour battle has three fairly distinct phases:

(i) The attack of Collingwood's fifteen ships on the nineteen of the Enemy's rear, of which he first enveloped the twelve towards the southern end of the line;

(2) The attack by Nelson's twelve ships on the fourteen of the Enemy's van, of which he enveloped only the four rearmost ships (one of these, Neptune, went off down the line, but her place was taken by the Fougueux coming up) ;

(3) The intended counter-attack of the Combined Van, which, however, was not persevered with, but was easily beaten off and merged in the general flight which was then beginning among the ships that were not disabled.

Into Battle - Collingwood’s Lee Column

At 12.08 p.m., Collingwood’s Royal Sovereign had almost reached the Enemy’s line. Victory, was some thirty five minutes behind Collingwood, and although Nelson wanted to be the first to break through the line, he was pleased to see Collingwood’s advance.

Noticing Royal Sovereign aiming to break through between the Spanish Santa Ana and the French Forgueux, slowed down to try and close the gap in the line. Forgueux set extra sail to also try and close up so that her bow sprit covered the gap. Collingwood ordered his Captain to steer straight for the gap and break it off. Forgueux desperately slackened speed to avoid this and, at 12.11 p.m., Royal Sovereign sailed through the gap and in doing so unleashed a devastating broadside of triple shotted fire into the stern of Santa Ana, putting fourteen Spanish guns out of action and killing many of her crew.

Santa Ana replied with her own fierce broadside, causing Royal Sovereign to heel over under the force of the blow. Both ships, with muzzles almost touching, and entangled by their yards, continued to blast away at each other. At 1.20 p.m., the mizen-mast of Santa Ana's went exactly one hour from the first broadside. At 2.20 p.m. she crossed ahead of the Royal Sovereign when her masts went by the board, and she surrendered. Ten minutes later the Royal Sovereign's mainmast went, and carried with it the mizen-mast. The ship was “perfectly unmanageable”,' according to Collingwood. At 3.00 p.m. he ordered the Euryalus to take the Royal Sovereign in tow, and directed Captain Blackwood to go on board the Santa Ana, and bring him the Spanish Admiral. Blackwood soon returned with the Santa Ana’s Captain who delivered Spanish Admiral's sword, informing Collingwood that Vice-Admiral De Alava was so dangerously wounded that he was close to death. Collingwood sent the Spanish Captain back to assist and take care of his Admiral, who eventually escaped when the Santa Ana was retaken and carried into Cadiz in the gale of the 23rd.

The second ship in Collingwood’s line was Belleisle, who was next into action, having been some eight minutes behind Royal Sovereign. She cut the line astern of the French Indomptable, at the same time keeping up a heavy fire on both sides at the Fougueux and Santa Ana, the latter of whom received from her a full broadside on the lee quarter. With this, and following the damage inflicted by Royal Sovereign, the Spaniard's starboard side was almost completely destroyed. The Indomptable, now sheered off, but not before the Belleisle's mizen-mast went six feet above the deck.

Forgueux and Belleisle became locked together, pounding each other at point blank range. Fifty minutes after the loss of her mizzen mast, her main mast went by the board, followed thirty five minutes later by the foremast and bowsprit as the French Neptune, and others joined this part of the affray.

The Belleisle was the only British ship totally dismasted in the action, and was almost unable to fire a gun, owing to the wreckage of her masts; but, she nailed an ensign to the stump of her mizen-mast, and kept a Union-Jack waving at the end of a handspike. Three hours and twelve minutes after coming under fire she was relieved by the Polyphemus, and afterwards by the Defiance and Swiftsure.

Meanwhile, the Mars, on her way down astern of the Belleisle, suffered severely from the heavy raking fire of the ships ahead of her, the San Juan Nepomuceno, Pluton, Monarca, and Algesiras. She attempted to break the line between the first two, but was driven in front of the San Juan by the Pluton, who followed and engaged her at point blank range. Having already had her rigging and sails greatly damaged, she nearly ran on board the Santa Ana, and was raked by the Monarca and Algesiras, but was relieved of them by the Tonnant. Tonnant and Algesiras became locked together by their rigging as they engaged each other, Algesiras losing her foremast. Mars and Tonnant succeeded in breaking through the line 12.20 p.m. On board AIgseiras, 200 were killed and wounded to the Tonnant’s seventy-six.

Bellerophon was the fifth ship in Collingwood’s line, and got into action at almost exactly the same time as Mars and Tonnant, within 20 minutes of opening fire. She was heading for Bahama, about half a mile south of where Royal Sovereign broke through the line. Bellerophon was already engaging on both sides when she fell upon L’Aigle who she also engaged. At the same time, she was attacked by the Montanez, the French Swiftsure, and Bahama. In this melee, Bellerophon and L’Aigle collided and became locked together, and there ensued a fierce battle. As L’Aigle tried to board Bellerophon, the British gunners elevated their guns so as to tear the decks and sides of their assailant to pieces. L’Aigle withdrew having suffered massive casualties, and was then an easy conquest for Defiance. Bellerophon took possession of the Spanish ship Monarca, but had suffered greatly. In less than 35 minutes, she lost her main and mizen topmasts, and both her Master and Captain had been killed along with a Midshipman and 25 crew. There were 108 wounded and another 23 subsequent deaths within a month.

Next into battle was Colossus with Achille close astern, both commencing action about 20 minutes after Royal Sovereign.

Achille passed close astern of the Montanez, luffed up and drove her off, and then passed on to leeward to assist the Belleisle, who was drifting with three enemies upon her. On her way she attacked the Argonaute, whom she claims to have taken, but was herself fired into by the French Achille, passing to windward between her and her opponent. These ships having left her, she then engaged in single combat with the French ship Berwick, inflicting dreadful damage and killing her Captain, several Officers and more than 50 men. The ship was taken and prisoners taken on board. The Achille had also inflicted severe damage upon the Argonaute, with nearly 400 killed and wounded, including the Captain.

At around 12.40 p.m., Colossus, engaged the French Swiftsure and Bahama. Swiftsure received a broadside from Colossus’s starboard side which brought down her mizen-mast. At the same time, Orion also attacked the French ship, and her first broadside, brought down her mainmast. Swiftsure and Bahama both surrendered, but Colossus herself suffered very severely, losing her mizen-mast, and having 200 hundred killed and wounded; a loss one third greater than that of any other British ship.

The next two ships in Collingwood’s line were the Dreadnought and Polyphemus, but they were outsailed by the Revenge, who, acting on Collingwood's signal to keep a line of bearing from him, got into action only ten minutes after the Royal Sovereign. She broke the line ' between the fifth and sixth ships from their rear,' passing in front of the Aigle, and giving her two raking broadsides while the spars of the two ships were entangled. Then, the Spanish three-decker, the Principe de Asturias, flagship of Admiral Gravina, appeared on the lee quarter of Revenge, and started to rake her from under her stern, carrying away all of the topsail yards. As Dreadnought then arrived on the scene, the two enemy ships backed off. Revenge however, lost seventy-nine men, had her bowsprit and all masts damaged, and three guns dismounted.

At 1.20 p.m., exactly an hour after the Royal Sovereign broke the line Dreadnought, commenced action with a Spanish three-decker, the Principe, and thirty-five minutes later, the San Juan Nepomuceno, took possession of. She then again attacked the Principe de Asturias, who not long afterwards turned and went off home to Cadiz. Dreadnought seems to have followed her northwards for a considerable distance, but was probably outsailed.

The Polyphemus came into action between Dreadnought and Revenge, then engaged with the Principe de Asturias; but because of Dreadought’s manoeuvres, had to break off, and ended up attacking the French Achille, and raked her stern severely, bringing down her mizen-mast and silencing her guns. Thinking she had struck (a Union Jack was seen waving from her cathead), Polyphemus passed on to assist the Defence, then engaging the San Ildefonso, who very soon hauled in her colours, which were hanging over her stern, and waved an English Jack from her traffle. Polyphemus then headed off the Berwick and Argonaute.

Swiftsure was the next ship in order of sailing, but her log gives no account of her fighting. She seems to have joined Polyphemus in attacking the French Achille, into whom she fired for forty minutes, but the prey fell eventually to the Prince. Swiftsure had seventeen killed and wounded.

Defiance got into action an hour and a quarter after Royal Sovereign, with Principe de Asturias), which was the third from the Enemy's rear. After about half an hour, however, the Spaniard hauled off, when Defiance encountered L'Aigle, just after it had been mauled by Bellerophon. Defiance got alongside L’Aigle, boarded her, and took possession of the quarterdeck and poop. The French colours were then struck and the English colours hoisted. The French were still firing from the tops, forecastle, and lower deck, so twenty-five minutes later, Defiance withdrew and re-engaged the ship, taking a more conclusive possession half an hour later. The hull of L’Aigle was pierced in every direction, her starboard quarter almost destroyed, and 270 of her crew killed and wounded.

Thunderer should come next, but she was outsailed by Defence. Both were very late in getting into action. It was some two hours after Royal Sovereign had opened fire that Defence began to engage Berwick. In less than an hour, she hauled off and then engaged San Ildefonso, who struck after an hour and ten minutes. Berwick passed on and fell to the British Achille, as already mentioned. The San Ilde fonso, which had been already fired into by other British ships, suffered much damage and lost one third of her crew.

Thunderer opened fire about an hour after Royal Sovereign, but it is not until another hour later that she records any close action. At 2.30 p.m. she went to assist Revenge, being engaged by the Principe d'Asturias. Dreadnought and the French Neptune also took a hand in this fight; it ended in the flight of Neptune, and finally of the Principe de Asturias, who did not have a good day's work. She had engaged four or five English ships, and suffered a loss of 41 officers and men killed and 107 wounded, including Admiral Gravina himself, who died after amputation of the left arm.

The Prince was the last ship of the lee division. She had bad luck from the beginning. When the Enemy were signaled, she was engaged in supplying the Britannia with water and provisions. On the morning of the battle she split her foretopsail, and had only just replaced it, when the Enemy were seen in line to leeward. She did not get into action until about 3.00 p.m., but she made the most of her opportunities, and inflicted some loss, though she suffered none. She discharged two broadsides into the Principe de Asturias that was engaged by the Dreadnought and a two-decked ship.

Prince was indeed bent on engaging anything that still had life in it. She came alongside the French Achille, which had already suffered greatly. Riddled by successive combats with Belleisle, the English Achille, Swiftsure, and Polyphemus, her guns had been silenced, her foretop in flames. Her engine had been shot to pieces and she could not extinguish the fire, and was accordingly preparing to cut away her Foremast, when along came Prince, who fired three broadsides which cut away her masts and set her on fire. Prince then lowered her boats and saved 140 of the Achille’s crew.

About a minute before Collingwood broke the line, the approaching Victory came under fire ....


BattleTrafalgar_1: Nelson just before the battle
BattleTraflagar_2: Vice_Admiral Collingwood
BattleTrafalgar_3: How the fleets stood around noon
BattleTrafalgar_4: The fleets

Today’s weather, 21st October 2010, 0700, Cape Trafalgar; mostly clear. Wind ENE 15 mph. Calm.
Attached Images
File Type: jpg BattleTrafalgar_1.jpg (473.4 KB, 13 views)
File Type: jpg BattleTrafalgar_2.jpg (574.7 KB, 4 views)
File Type: jpg BattleTrafalgar_3.jpg (1.02 MB, 17 views)
File Type: jpg BattleTrafalgar_4.jpg (1.75 MB, 12 views)
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Old 21-10-2010, 11:38
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Default Re: THE BATTLE OF TRAFALGAR: Engage the Enemy

Monday 21st October 1805

Nelson & the Windward Column

At 12.21 p.m., according to the log of the Euryalus, or one minute before Collingwood broke the line, the van and centre of the enemy's line opened heavy fire upon Victory and the ships she was leading into action.

At 12.23 Lord Nelson returned the enemy's fire in the centre and van in a ‘determined, cool and steady manner.’ Victory's own log records that she 'opened our fire on the enemy's van in passing down their line.' This phrase, which is not found in Sir Harris Nicolas' version, evidently means that Victory opened first with her port side guns as she hauled to starboard after her feint of attacking the van. The result of this manoeuvre, Sir Edward Codrington states in a letter printed in the first volume of his Life, was that the leading ships of the column made their final advance in echelon - each on the starboard quarter of the next ahead. This formation was rendered necessary, he says, by the fact that Nelson's ships were much closer together than Collingwood's.

When Victory came within 500 yards of Bucentaure, she began to suffer severely from the raking fire into which she was heading. Her mizen-topmast was shot away, her sails were riddled, her wheel broken, twenty of her crew killed and thirty wounded, a loss only equaled by eleven British ships during the whole day. One of the enemy’s shots struck the fore brace bits on the quarterdeck, and passed between Nelson and Hardy, a splinter bruising Hardy’s foot and tearing the buckle from his shoe. Nelson remarked ‘This is too warm work, Hardy, to last long’, and declared that ‘through all the battles he had been in. he had never witnessed more cool courage than was displayed by the Victory’s crew on this occasion’

It initially appeared to the Enemy that Nelson was aiming to break the line between the Santissima Trinidad and the bow of Bucentaure, and this had the effect of causing some of the enemy's centre ships to move forward in support; others fell back to leeward, with the result that the gaps between Bucentaure, Santissima Trinidad in the front, and Redoubtable following behind, were too small to pass through.

Hardy remarked to Nelson that ‘it appeared impracticable to pass through the enemy’s line without ramming one of their ships’. Nelson answered ‘I cannot help it; it does not signify which we run on board of. Go on board which you please; take your choice.' Hardy, as it proved, could not have taken a more deadly choice.

Victory swung off to starboard (accounts vary) andpassed under Bucentaure's stern, and in doing so fired a broadside into the following Redoubtable, and at the same time, fired her forecastle carronade, a 68-pounder loaded with round shot and a keg of 500 musket-balls, through the cabin windows of the Bucentaure, followed by a double-shotted broadside. This terrific assault inflicted huge damage to Bucentaure, dismounting twenty guns and killing some 400 men. Completely crippled, with half her compliment of 800 killed or wounded, her main mast down, and the rear half of the ship almost completely destroyed, Bucentaure was unable to fight further and was left to Neptune and Conqueror.

Also behind Bucentaure lay the French Neptune, who immediately raked Victory's bows as she came hard round to starboard. Victory ran hard into Redoutable, and with such force, that the two ships swung round, firmly held together by an entanglement of their rigging.

Redoubtable’s Captain, Jean Jacques Etienne Lucas, had a low opinion of the gunnery in the allied fleet, and knowing he had little chance to train his crew to the British standards, he had concentrated on training his crew in musketry and boarding tactics, hoping to get close enough to his enemy to board her.

Victory had now sailed into exactly the position he wanted her in.Seeing that Victory's lower guns were active, while her upper ones were almost silent from loss among the crews, Lucas ordered most of his ship’s lower deck ports to be shut, but kept her main deck guns firing, at the same time raining langrage shot, musket-balls, and hand-grenades from her decks and tops. Both ships were, and both crews, were anxious to board; but the Frenchmen were prevented by the Victory's starboard carronade and by a broadside from Temeraire.

At about 1.15 p.m., in the heat of the engagement, Nelson was walking the middle of the quarterdeck with Hardy. At about 1.25 p.m. a musket ball was fired (by Sergeant Robert Guillemard) from the Mizen-top of Redoubtable which, because of the way the two ships were locked together, was just abaft and slightly below Victory’s main Yard, and no more than 15 yards from the position of Nelson, who was in the act of turning near the hatchway with his face towards the stern of the Victory. The ball struck the epaulette on his left shoulder, and penetrated his chest. It passed through the spine, and lodged in the muscles of the back, towards the right side, and a little below the shoulder-blade. Nelson fell with his face on the deck. Captain Hardy, who was on his right (the side furthest from the Enemy), and slightly in front, turned to see the Sergeant- Major (Seeker) of Marines with two Seamen raising Nelson from the deck. Hardy expressed a hope that he was not severely wounded, to which the gallant Nelson replied: ‘They have done for me at last, Hardy.’ ‘I hope not,’ answered Hardy. ‘Yes,’ replied Nelson, ‘my backbone is shot through.’

Hardy ordered the Seamen to carry the Admiral to the Cockpit; and now two incidents occurred strikingly characteristic of this great man, and given his grave circumstances, quite typical of Nelson’s professionalism and courage. While the men were carrying him down the ladder from the middle deck, he observed that the tiller ropes, that had been previously shot through, had not yet been replaced, and ordered one of the Midshipmen stationed there to go upon the quarter-deck and remind Hardy to organize their replacement. Having delivered this order, he took his handkerchief from his pocket and covered his face with it, so that he could be taken to the cockpit unnoticed by the crew.

Details of Nelson's subsequent death are covered in the seperate thread: http://www.worldnavalships.com/forum...ead.php?t=8339

In the meantime, Lucas decided to make a determined attempt at another boarding. Accordingly, he assembled as many men as could be spared on deck, ready to attempt to cross to the Victory. However, the two ships were not perfectly aligned for boarding, and only a small party of five managed to get across. They were immediately cut down by the Victory’s marines.

By now, Victory was totally immobilised, severely damaged by the earlier fire she had taken from Bucentaure, and then from the French Neptune, and, still locked together with Redoutable. Her active role in the battle was at an end, although she was able to fire a few shots off at Dumanoir’s later counterattack.

Nelson had succeeded in effectively knocking the French flagship Bucentaure out of the battle, before engaging Redoubtable, the best ship in the Combined Enemy Fleet. Despite this, Nelson is often criticised for ignoring the gap in line that had developed in front of Santissimo Trinidad, instead allowing his flagship to be sucked into close quarters fighting. However, Nelson’s plan at Trafalgar was to lay as many of his ships alongside enemy ships as possible, and rely on the superior British gunnery to win the day. This is precisely what he achieved, and is effectively what won the battle.

But the battle is not yet over. What of the other ships in Nelson’s division …


BattleTrafalgar_5: Thomas Masterman Hardy
BattleTrafalgar_6: Scene on deck as Nelson falls
BattleTrafalgar_7: Another depiction of the scene on deck after Nelson was shot
BattleTrafalgar_9: Nelson on deck during the heat of battle
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File Type: jpg BattleTrafalgar_6.jpg (744.0 KB, 17 views)
File Type: jpg BattleTrafalgar_7.jpg (794.0 KB, 18 views)
File Type: jpg BattleTrafalgar_9.jpg (937.2 KB, 13 views)
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Last edited by Dreadnought : 28-10-2010 at 17:21. Reason: added link to Thread regarding Nelson's death
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Old 21-10-2010, 13:35
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Default Re: THE BATTLE OF TRAFALGAR: Engage the Enemy

Monday 21st October 1805

The Battle Coninues

Temeraire followed Victory into battle within a ship’s length. As soon as Victory had first opened fire, Temeraire swung to port to steer clear of Victory and opened fire on Santissima Trinidad, as well as the two ships ahead of her, the French Neptune and Redoubtable. Neptune loosed a raking broadside into the bows of Temeraire bringing down an avalanche of upper masts, yards, sails and rigging.

When Victory became entangled with Redoubtable, Temeraire, now closely engaged on both sides, had lost control and drifted into the other side of Redoubtable, their yard arms also becoming entangled so that there were now three ships locked together. Shortly afterwards, Fougueux appeared, having crossed the gap from Collingwood’s battle, and with the intention of coming to the aid of Redoubtable. Fougueux got to within 100 yards when Temeraire gave her a devastating full broadside at point-blank range, causing severe damage, and immediately afterwards, caught her fore-rigging and lashed it to her spare anchor. Within ten minutes, a boarding party from Temeraire boarded Fougueux and struck her colours.

At 2.10 p.m. Fougueux surrenderd; Redoubtable surrendered ten minutes later.

Whilst this was going on, Redoutable's main mast, yards, and rigging fell onto Temeraire's poop, which ‘entirely encumbered the after part of the ship’. Almost at the same time, the two top masts of Temeraire came down, falling on to the Redoubtable’s poop shattering the helm, rudder post and stern post into splinters. Nevertheless, with prizes lashed to each side and the greater part of her guns out of action, the Fighting Temeraire attacked a third enemy ship, the Santisima Trinidad, with some of her foremost guns. But Temeraire was now effectively out of the battle.

The losses of the Victory and Temeraire were heavy with 132 and 123 men lost respectively. The masts of both ships were lost or severely damaged, and all of the rigging was cut to pieces. Moreover, the Temeraire had been so crushed between the two ships which she grappled that eight feet of her lower decks were stove in on the starboard side, and the whole of her quarter-galleries on both sides destroyed. But all this was nothing compared to the damage and losses of the Redoutable. The broadsides of Victory and Temeraire had either smashed or dismounted all of her guns. The hull was riddled, shot through from sided to side. Deck beams were shattered and port lids torn away or knocked to pieces. According to the French official returns, out of a crew of 643, 300 were killed and 222 wounded, including nearly the whole of her officers.

The official log of Neptune gives no details of her own fighting. Ten minutes after Victory she ' commenced the action, and continued engaged with different ships until half-past four’. These included the Spanish San Augustin and French Heros, who severely damaged Neptune with their broadsides. It is on record that her first broadside was given to the Bucentaure, and that she then passed on to the Santisima Trinidad, whose main and mizen masts she shot away +before 2.00 p.m.. The Spaniard's foremast followed ten minutes later and she then struck her colours and waved the English Jack over her quarter. However, Neptune was engaged in fighting off Dumanoir’s counter attack and to ‘busy’ to accept the surrender. Santissima Trinidad therefore resumed the battle for a short time, but she was already almost crippled, and eventually surrendered to the Prince. It was a good performance by Neptune, for though not unassisted, she only mounted 98 guns against the great Spaniard's 130.

Britannia also claims that she was only ten minutes after the Victory in beginning to 'engage three of the enemy's ships, having opened their fire upon us while running down.' Twenty minutes after (it was probably longer) ' observed the ship we were engaging on our larboard quarter (the Santisima Trinidad] totally dismasted, continued our course in order to break through the centre of the enemy's line, engaging on both sides in passing through their ships.' She finally passed through the line about 3.00 p.m., and ended by engaging the flying van. She suffered only 10 killed and 41 wounded.

Leviathan at one time was ordered, like Temeraire, to go ahead of Victory, but Nelson was already under fire before she got up, and she only reached a station close ahead of Conqueror. She fired into Santisima Trinidad just at the same time as the English Neptune shot away the the Spanish ship’s masts. She then passed on to the French Neptune.She played a part in fending off Dumanoir’s counter attack, before engaging with the San-Augustino, who she captured through boarding after twenty minutes.

Conqueror followed Leviathan, but hauled up close past the stern of the dying Bucentaure, and settled down to give her the coup de grace. In 25 minutes she brought down her main and mizen masts, and immediately after, while engaging the Santisima Trinidad with her other broadside, she shot away her foremast. Within half-hour the French' Commander-in-Chief hauled down his flag. A party commanded by Captain James Atcherley of the Marines took immediate possession of the prize. Atcherley who, after refusing to receive the proffered swords of the French Commander-in-Chief and his two Captains, brought the three officers off in his boat. Conqueror, had in the meantime however, gone on in search of a fresh antagonist, and the French Admiral was accordingly taken on board Mars, where he remained until October 23rd, when he was transferred to Neptune. He was, in truth, neither the prize of Mars or of the Conqueror, but of Victory, who had crushed the Bucentaure as a lion crushes, with one blow in passing.

Ajax gives but a very brief account of herself during the first part of the action. Forty minutes after the Victory commenced her fire on the enemy, she 'began to engage the enemy, firing from both sides as we broke through the" line.' Her acting Captain then 'brought the ship to the wind on the larboard tack to leeward of the enemy's line, engaging them on their starboard side.' She formed part of the force available for defending the prizes and beating off the counter attack of the van, as we shall see later.

Agamemnon was in much the same situation. She opened fire an hour and ten minutes after the action commenced, and records that fifty minutes later she 'observed a Spanish four-decker (the Santisima Trinidad) which was engaged by the Neptune, Conqueror, and Agamemnon, lose her masts and strike her colours. Was prevented from boarding her by four ships of the enemy's line that kept up a heavy fire upon us.' These were probably the four nearest of the Combined Van, and the Britannia, Ajax, and Orion seem to have been similarly engaged at this time in staving off the counterstroke ordered by Villeneuve before he surrendered. Half an hour afterwards Agamemnon 'hailed a ship which we had engaged and struck. Told her to hoist English colours. Engaging the Enemy's ships as most convenient.' It is difficult to identify the prize here claimed; it was probably shared with other ships. In this part of the battle there were not enough 'Birds' to go round.

The Africa holds a unique position. She was the smallest battleship on either side, being one of only three sixty-fours present ; and she came into action independently, as shown on the plan. She had lost sight of the fleet in the night, and when day broke found herself some miles to the North. She headed accordingly for the leading ship of the nearest column - Victory.

Forty minutes before the action began Nelson signalled her to ' make all sail possible with safety to the masts,' which she was probably doing already. Eight minutes after the Royal Sovereign opened fire Africa came within range of the enemy's van, for she took the straightest and shortest line towards the Admiral, though it meant running the gauntlet of ten ships, all bigger than herself. She proudly records that ' the Africa engaged the headmost ship of the Enemy's van - a Spanish two-decker, bearing the flag of an Admiral [a mistake], and engaged the whole of the Enemy's van line as we passed them.' This did not satisfy Nelson; his plan was to isolate the van, not to attack it, and he wanted no salutes in passing, but grappling in earnest throughout. He signalled, accordingly, 'Engage more closely' with Africa's pendant.

Africa then 'bore down to the assistance of the Neptune, engaging the Santisima Trinidad, ... commenced our fire on her.' In twenty-eight minutes 'the whole of her masts went by the board, when she struck. Sent Lieutenant Smith with a party to take charge of her.' This delightfully impudent attempt of the smallest ship in the action to take possession of the largest was, however, unsuccessful. On reaching the Enemy's quarter-deck, Lieutenant Smith was informed by the Spanish officer who received him that she had not surrendered. The officer then pointed to the Combined Van, which was apparently coming down to the rescue, and bowed Lieutenant Smith back into his boat. Africa then engaged the Intrepide with heavy loss, being overmatched by her seventy-four guns.

Orion also played a singular part. She was far behind Victory, and Codrington must early in the advance have made up his mind to avail himself fully of the Commander-in-Chief 's permission to his Captains to 'adopt whatever they thought best.' Nelson's first seven ships were evidently more than a match for the four they were enveloping, and the Enemy's van was apparently out of action. Orion therefore steered south for the rear division, and thus furnished the solitary example of an English ship belonging to one column but going into action with the other. Fiftyfive minutes after she had seen Royal Sovereign range up under the lee of Santa Ana 'she herself 'passed the Santa Ana, dismasted, and had struck. Royal Sovereign, under her lee, with her foremast only standing.'Continuing her course down the line, Orion next ' passed Mars, Colossus, and Tonnant, aboard and surrounded by several of the Enemy's ships, all dismasted or nearly so.' Finding the day's work already over there, she crossed the gap northward again, and ' passed Victory and Temeraire, with one French two-decked ship (Redoutable) between, and on board of each of them, one French two-decked ship (Fougueux) on board Temeraire on the starboard side also, and one other two-decked ship (Neptune) about a ship's length to windward of Victory, all in hot action.' Orion afterwards engaged the van successfully, as we shall see later.

Minotaur and Spartiate, the last two ships of Nelson's division, had not yet engaged when Dumanoir’s counter attack developed.


Battle Trafalar_8: Painting by William Clarkson Stanfield showing Victory and Temeraire abord the French Flagship Redoubtable
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Old 21-10-2010, 14:26
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Default Re: THE BATTLE OF TRAFALGAR: Engage the Enemy

Monday 21st October 1805

Dumanoir’s Counter Attack

The French Commander-in-Chief, before surrendering, made the following signal:' L'armee navale franchise, combatant au vent ou sous le vent, ordre au vaisseaux, qui, par leur position actuelle, ne combattent pas, d'en prendre une quelconque, qui les reporte le plus promptement possible au feu.' Notable accounts state that this order to the Van to tack and come into action was in response to a signal from Dumanoir that he had no enemy to contend with. At any rate, it brought on the final stage of the action. It was about an hour and a half after the breaking of the line that the Combined Van began to come round with great difficulty. If they had begun the movement earlier, or could have performed it more quickly, they might have been of some service, for hard fighting was still going on. But it was not until 3.17 p.m., according to the logs of Phoebe and Ajax, or 3.30 p.m., according to the Euryalus and Orion, that Hardy found it necessary to signal Nelson's division to come to the wind and fend off the threatened counter-attack, and Collingwood ordered Euryalus to make the same signal to Minotaur, Spartiate, and Thunderer. The van had then succeeded in tacking, but had split itself upon the long wedge formed by Conqueror, Neptune, Ajax, Agamemnon, Leviathan, Britannia, and other ships lying north of the Victory.

Heros, Intrepide, San Agustin, San Francisco de Asis, and the three-decker Rayo, came to action almost at once - 'bore down on us,' says the log of Conqueror, ‘and commenced a heavy fire. Three of our ships coming to our assistance (probably Ajax, Agamemnon, and Leviathan or Britannia), the enemy passed our starboard quarter. Bore up to assist Leviathan, who was in close action with a Spanish two-decker (San Agustin).' In a short time ' the enemy's mizen-mast went over the side ... the Leviathan boarded her and took possession of her.'

Heros got off to Cadiz, with the loss of her Captain and all her topmasts; the San Francisco de Asis and Rayo also escaped for a time, but the one was wrecked and the other captured by Leviathan two days afterwards without a struggle. Intrepide was gallantly attacked by the little Africa, whose fire she almost silenced. But help came in time. Orion 'opened fire on the stern of one of the enemy's ships endeavouring to make off from the ship opposed to her.' She was probably wrong in suspecting the Frenchman of intending flight. His own countrymen declare that by this day's work Captain Infernet gained a place among the French seamen of immortal renown, having engaged two, three, four, or even five enemies at once. Certainly his surrender was inevitable. Leviathan was giving him one of her broadsides, Ajax and Agamemnon were closing upon him, Africa had been doing her best for three-quarters of an hour, and Orion made short work. In less than a quarter of an hour she shot away all his masts, and sent Lieutenant Croft to take possession. Intrepide's officers stated her loss at near 200 killed and wounded.

In the meantime the other five ships of the Combined Van got round with greater difficulty, the Formidable and one or two others being towed round by their own boats. They hauled to the wind and came right down the line, Admiral Dumanoir leading in Formidable, followed by Scipion, Mont Blanc, Duguay-Trouin, and the Spanish Neptuno. They fired first at Conqueror, and one shot killed two of her officers, the First Lieutenant Lloyd and the Third Lieutenant St. George, the latter being in the act of congratulating his friend on his certain promotion. Victory and Temeraire lay next in their path, for they kept out to windward to avoid Leviathan, Britannia, and Mars, then engaging the five ships breaking to leeward. Royal Sovereign, too, was exposed to their fire, for she was now in tow by Euryalus, and was no longer separated from the ships of the other column by so wide an interval. Dumanoir fired on all these three ships, but he did less damage to them than to their prizes, Fougueux and Redoutable. In the meantime Minotaur and Spartiate, fresh ships, were closing on him, and, though he made his way through with his four French ships, his fifth, the Spanish Neptuno, was skilfully cut off. 'The Minotaur and Spartiate,’ says the log of the latter,'commenced close action with these headmost ships, receiving and returning the fire of the five ships in passing with our topsails to the mast.' After about half an hour of this running fight, 'observed the sternmost, a Spanish, ship's rigging and sails very much cut up. Lay to on her quarter, with our fore and main topsails to the mast, all our aftersails set, firing obliquely through her, she returning at times from her stern-chase and quarter guns.' After another half-hour, 'wore, not being able to bring our guns to bear, to engage her on the other tack, the other four ships having left her.' Twelve minutes more, and she had her mizen-mast shot away; two hours after Spartiate's first attack' she struck her colours, after having been severely disabled. She proved to be El Neptuno, eighty guns.'

The battle was now drawing to an end with the daylight. Dumanoir and his four ships were disappearing to the southward; a ragged string were making North for Cadiz, the Heros and Rayo from the van, followed by the French Neptune, the San Leandro, and the Montanes from the centre, the Principe de Asturias and the Pluton from the rear. Fifty ships lay intermingled and almost motionless upon the water. In the van the Santisima Trinidad was hoisting English colours; in the rear the French Achille was burning; in the centre Nelson lay dying among the dead hopes of two great Powers.

'Oh, Victory, Victory, how you distract my poor brain !' he is said to have exclaimed when the damaged ship roared her last broadside at the flying van to windward. A few minutes afterwards he was gone, and the fighting ceased. 'Partial firing,' says Victory's log, 'continued until 4.30, when a victory having been reported to the Right Honourable Lord Viscount Nelson, K.B., and Commander-in-Chief, he then died of his wound.'

The scene at this moment is described by those who saw it as unparalleled in beauty and significance. Such power the modern world had not seen; so stately an array of ships the world of the future can never see again. At half-past five the French Achille, which for an hour and a half had lit the sky with her funeral fires, burnt to her powder magazine and blew up. This, says Captain Harvey of the Temeraire, 'was the most extraordinary and magnificent sight which can be conceived.'

Splendid, appalling, final: it was a fitting end to the fighting at Trafalgar.
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Last edited by Dreadnought : 21-10-2010 at 14:50. Reason: images added
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Old 21-10-2010, 14:46
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Default Re: THE BATTLE OF TRAFALGAR: Engage the Enemy

Thanks, a brilliant account. Reading it you feel pride inside and gratitude for what our ancestors achieved. Raise your glasses to "THE IMMORTAL MEMORY"
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Old 21-10-2010, 17:55
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Default Re: Trafalgar Day Celebrations

From Today's Daily Mail:

"Robert Hope, a sailmaker, was part of the crew of the gunship HMS Temeraire, which went to the aid of Admiral Lord Nelson’s flagship HMS Victory at the height of the fighting.

The two-page letter, which resurfaced days before the 205th anniversary of Trafalgar today, has been hailed as a highly significant find because it gives an ordinary seaman’s view of the famous battle."
 
Full story and pictures here: 

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/arti...205-years.html
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Old 22-10-2010, 10:08
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Default Re: THE BATTLE OF TRAFALGAR: Engage the Enemy

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dreadnought View Post
Many accounts have been written describing the actions at the Battle of Trafalgar on the 21st October 1805, and many more questioning Nelson’s tactics and their effectiveness. Like the reporting of a significant number of historical events, there are contradictions. Trafalgar is no exception, with even some of the Ship’s Logs differing in the timings of key movements and engagements. And of course several of the French & Spanish accounts do not always mirror those as recorded by English records and recollections.

In this thread, I am going to attempt to chart the course of the Battle using some of the acknowledged original sources and respected accounts in as near chronological order as I can. Where there are contradictions and factual differences in these sources, I will seek corroboration wherever I can, or use the consensus.

Clearly, in undertaking such a task, there is undoubtedly room for error or omission, and statements made that will be questioned, and perhaps misdirected emphasis of certain elements of the story. So I will apologize in advance for such and plea that allowance is made for my amateur interpretation of the records available to me which I cannot naturally vouch for.

The initial posts will summarize the unfolding events on the same day as they happened 205 years ago, starting with today.
Brilliant piece of work Clive, many thanks

Will be holding my own Trafalgar Night dinner saturday with a few friends.
Pass the port.

Derek
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Old 23-10-2010, 19:45
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Default Re: THE BATTLE OF TRAFALGAR: Engage the Enemy

A memorial service is to be held tomorrow at the Western cemetery in Dundee by the grave of James Chapman who was the last crew member on Victory who fought at Trafalgar to die.
regards rab.
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Old 24-10-2010, 11:43
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Default Re: THE BATTLE OF TRAFALGAR: Engage the Enemy

Thanks for that Rab.

James Chapman was born in 1874 and entered the seafaring profession while a boy. In 1803, whilst his ship was in the River Thames, he was pressed for service in the Royal Navy. He was put on board HMS Victory, where he served for two years under Lord Nelson, and was present at the Battle of Trafalgar and other actions. Mr Chapman was stroke oar in Lord Nelson's cutter. Although engaged in severe actions, James Chapman received no wound, and never had any pension. He was, however, honoured with two medals - the Trafalgar Medal, with Nelson's name and words - "England expects every man to do his duty" - and the Victoria Medal with two clasps bearing "Trafalgar, October 21st 1805", "Board Service 23rd November 1810".

Chapman was discharged from the service at the peace of 1814 and during his time, had also served under Lord Collingwood, Sir Richard Keats and Sir Francis Freemantle. During his latter years, although laid down with paralysis, he could apparently still spin a good seaman's yarn to a friend by his bedside, and the veteran passed his latter days in good cheer.

He died on the 12th November 1876, in his ninety second year, and at the time. was the last survivor of those who fought on board HMS Victory at the Battle of Trafalgar. Chapman was for some years resident at West Newport, Fife, but latterly lived at Invercarse,the residence of his son-in-law, Mr John Earl Robertson, prominent Dundee Silk Mercer.
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Old 24-10-2010, 19:43
rab.m. rab.m. is offline
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Default Re: THE BATTLE OF TRAFALGAR: Engage the Enemy

Thanks for the info Clive.The service was organised by a former marine with an interest in the life of Mr Chapman and was attended by the Arbroath branch of the Sea Cadets, also there were the Lord Provost (Mayor) and the service was
conducted by the Arbroath branch of the Royal Marines Asscs.padre.
Rab.
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Old 26-10-2010, 23:25
whalecatcher whalecatcher is offline
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Default Re: THE BATTLE OF TRAFALGAR: Engage the Enemy

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When Victory became entangled with Redoubtable, Temeraire, now closely engaged on both sides, had lost control and drifted into the other side of Redoubtable, their yard arms also becoming entangled so that there were now three ships locked together. Shortly afterwards, Fougueux appeared, having crossed the gap from Collingwood’s battle, and with the intention of coming to the aid of Redoubtable. Fougueux got to within 100 yards when Temeraire gave her a devastating full broadside at point-blank range, causing severe damage, and immediately afterwards, caught her fore-rigging and lashed it to her spare anchor. Within ten minutes, a boarding party from Temeraire boarded Fougueux and struck her colours.
I wonder if Dreadnought could comment on a particular aspect of the Battle.
VICTORY immediately engaged two French ships …BUCENTAURE to port and REDOUBTABLE to starboard. The results were quite different.

The English ship's broadside guns remained silent during the approach to the enemy which meant that she was taking a tremendous beating the closer she approached the Allied line, but on the other hand since the guns were not going to fired at long range, it the English guncrews double- or triple-loaded their pieces, resulting in the ability to hurl a ton of metal at the enemy, on either side, as they crossed the T at point blank range.

If I have the arithmetic right, VICSTORY could throw over a ton of metal if all guns were loaded with a single ball. If double-shotted, twice that. I estimate that as they passed BUCENTAURE's stern, double-shotted guns on the port side let go 2336 lbs of shot. In any case, the results were devastating.


Lower Gundeck 30 x 32 = 960
Mddle Gundeck 28 x 24 = 672
Upper Deck 30 x12 = 360
Quarterdeck 2 x 12 = 144
Fxle 2 x12 = 24
Fxle 2 x 68 = 176
2336
To starboard, they engaged and then collided with the REDOUBTABLE, but far from causing total destruction, the French ship closed her ports to prevent assult from English boarding parties and rained down a hail of fire from the tops which almost cleared VICTORY's upper deck, not to mention fatally wounding Nelson. Very shortly after close action commenced, the TEMERAIRE was locked alongside the other side of the French ship. This made it difficult for both English ships to employ their guns, since there was a danger that the missiles would pass through the French vessel and cause serious damage to their friends.

Why the difference? I am fairly sure they did not have enough hands to allow the guns to be fully manned on both sides, so perhaps the starboard were not fired as early as t hose to port. Raking fire was far more destructive than that aimed at an enemy's broadside. Presumably the gunners on the port side held their fire until they could hit BUCENTAURE in this fashion …that is to say, the forward guns fired first, and those towards the stern last. Hardy told Nelson that he would collide with one or other French ship, and asked which one he should go aboard. Nelson said he did not care and Hardy turned slightly to starboard. Just prior to Nelson broke the line, Lucas, the captain of REDOUBTABLE had closed up to the French flagship in an effort to protect it.

Whalecatcher
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Old 27-10-2010, 23:15
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Default Re: THE BATTLE OF TRAFALGAR: Engage the Enemy

Hi Whalecatcher, please call me Clive.

If I understand you correctly, I think your question is how is it the French Redoutable, on Victory’s Starboard side, didn’t suffer the same damage as Bucentaure on Victory’s Port side, as she broke through the line. On the face of it, a very logical and sensible question when imagining Victory breaking though a perfectly straight French line, and at right angles. This does not appear to be precisely the case.

Since your question, I have been back over the many sources that I accessed when constructing this thread, trying to understand what happened during the 20 minutes or so of this important phase of the battle. What I am going to provide as an answer to your question may not be definitive, but rather my interpretation of the various accounts, notably the accepted account by William James (largely from the log of Spartiate). But also with reference to Beatty’s account, and that from French Sources.

It is first worth just reinforcing how devastating “raking fire”, and particularly broad side raking was, which in many respects is why Nelson planned to break the enemy line the way he did, wanting a quick, decisive, “pell mell” battle. I do not intend to enter here, the debate about the wisdom of his plan, or in fact whether he stuck to his original “Memorandum”. Maybe in future posts.

Raking was accomplished by crossing the enemy’s stern (although the term applies to the bow also), being the weakest point where not many guns were normally mounted, and firing through the stern counter down the length of the ship, as each of the broadside guns came to bear. The effect was truly devastating, with shot travelling the full length of the ship, splitting timbers, dismounting guns, and killing many crew into the bargain.

The gun compliment you refer to is absolutely correct for Victory at the time of Trafalgar, and when she unleashed her first broadside, all of the guns were in double shotted, and some triple (with the exception of the carronades on the port side). This actually gave her broadside weight of nearly one and a half tons, taking into account the guns lost during the pounding she took whilst approaching the enemy’s van. Imagine also, that this weight of shot was leaving the gun muzzles at 1600 feet per second. The shock wave alone could kill a man in close proximity. To be raked, was the worst fate that could be encountered other than the powder magazine exploding.

In order to address the original question regarding Redoutable, let us now try and elaborate on the events as they unfolded after Victory, having suffered significant damage during her approach, turned to break through the line.

The carronade on the port side of Victory’s forecastle containing the 68lb shot and keg of 500 musket balls, referred to in the earlier post, was fired into the cabin windows of Bucentaure at 1.00 p.m. The ships were so close at this point that as they rolled, Victory’s main yard-arm on the port side touched the vang’s of Bucentaure’s gaff. Victory followed this up with an additional raking broadside through Bucentaure’s stern. At the same time, as Victory proceeded forward, she received fire into her bows from Redoutable’s forward guns, and the broadside of the French Neptune. See attached diagram.

Amongst other damage caused by this onslaught, Victory’s flying jib-boom, sprit and sprit topsailyards were cut away. In addition, the starboard cathead was shot completely off. The bower anchor, and a sheet anchor stowed near it, were smashed, and a third anchor on that side was also damaged. Several shot also entered Victory's bows between wind and water, and the foremast and bowsprit were badly damaged.

Hardy had at this stage, already decided to run onboard Redoubtable, and, deliver a broadside as soon as Victory came to bear. Now I am not sure that opportunity presented itself. Victory now put her helm hard to port so that she was heading directly for Redoubtable. It was at this point that Redoutable shut her most of her lower deck ports as described in the previous post. Victory was not in position to release a broadside. One minute later, Victory (it seems), turned to port again, and in doing so, the sheet anchor of one ship, hit the spare anchor of the other, causing the ships to swing round on board of each other. See attached diagram.

As Victory rebounded off Redoutable, her starboard fore topmast hooked into the leech of Redoutable’s fore topsail, holding the ships together, the poop of Redoutable alongside Victory’s quarterdeck. It was from this position that French grappling irons were thrown across and boarding parties came across onto Victory. They were, however repelled.

Almost immediately after this happened, Mr. William Willmet, Victory’s boatswain, found a ready means of clearing the French ship's gangways by firing the starboard 68-pounder carronade, loaded as the port one had been, right upon the Redoutable's decks. The guns of Victory’s middle and lower decks were also occasionally fired into Redoutable, but very few of the 12-pounders, due to the heavy loss of men that were originally manning them.

The French guns were still being fired, but had to be fired with the guns run in as the ports were covered by Victory’s hull. At the same time, elsewhere, the French fired muskets through the ports of Victory, preventing her from loading her guns.

Victory ceased firing at two points in the engagement not because her guns had been silenced but because of a false belief that Redoutable was surrendering (she was not).

So now, at about 1.20 p.m., we pick up at the point where the decks of Victory are being strafed by musket fire from the tops of Redoutable, and five minutes from Nelson being mortally wounded,

I hope this goes some way to explain the completely different circumstances between Victory’s attack on Bucentaure, and her engagement with Redoutable, and therefore why the damage inflicted on the two French ships was so different.
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Old 05-11-2010, 04:56
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Default Re: THE BATTLE OF TRAFALGAR: Engage the Enemy

Here is a series of articles published in The Times leading up to the centenary of the Battle of Trafalgar.

The series was Titled "Trafalgar and the Nelson Touch"

I'm Afraid, there is quite a bit of reading involved

Dave
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Old 05-11-2010, 12:18
INVINCIBLE INVINCIBLE is offline
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Default Re: THE BATTLE OF TRAFALGAR: Engage the Enemy

Actually it was the French who won the Battle of Trafalgar as shown by this article in the French newspaper Le Moniteur!!
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Old 06-11-2010, 16:43
Ednamay Ednamay is online now
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Default Re: THE BATTLE OF TRAFALGAR: Engage the Enemy

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Originally Posted by INVINCIBLE View Post
Actually it was the French who won the Battle of Trafalgar as shown by this article in the French newspaper Le Moniteur!!
Should we now reconsider the new entente cordiale ??

Edna
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Old 13-11-2010, 20:30
INVINCIBLE INVINCIBLE is offline
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Default Re: THE BATTLE OF TRAFALGAR: Engage the Enemy

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Should we now reconsider the new entente cordiale ??

Edna
Edna,

A very good point. We have a long tradition of sinking their ships, even when we are supposed to be on the same side. They have never really forgiven us for crippling their Fleet and killing over 1,200 of their men at Mers El Kebir in July 1940.
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Old 19-10-2015, 20:48
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Default Re: The Battle of Trafalgar: Engage the Enemy

Seems appropriate to bring this thread to the fore, along with a little Photoshop commemorative picture I have just finished today ....
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Old 20-10-2015, 16:14
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Default Re: The Battle of Trafalgar: Engage the Enemy

Well done Clive, a nice piece of artwork to commemorate the event, thanks for posting it.

Jim
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