Sunday, October 21, 2007

Trafalgar: Significant Battle and Death of a Hero

Two hundred two years ago, on 21OCT1805, British Vice Admiral Lord Horatio Nelson led 27 ships of the line into collision with 33 French and Spanish ships of the line off SW Spain near Cape Trafalgar. While bringing the fleet into battle formation, Nelson sent the famous signal, England expects that every man will do his duty.


When the smoke cleared, the Franco-Spanish fleet had lost 22 ships, some 5,700 killed and wounded, and 7,000 taken prisoner. The British sustained 1,685 casualties and lost no ships.

It was the pivotal naval conflict of the Napoleanic Wars, and indeed of the XIX century. The massive losses of ships and skilled sailors was devastating to the French and Spanish coalition, and confirmed Napolean's recently taken decision not to invade England.

Admiral Nelson was felled by a musket ball late in the battle, after victory was already attained. He died a few hours later, climaxing his long and glorious career. He had played crucial roles in the battles of Cape St. Vincent, The Nile, Santa Cruz de Tenerife, and Copenhagen, and was a national hero long before Trafalgar.

Honored with statues and other memorials in several locations, the most famous is Nelson's Column at Trafalgar Square in London.


The 18 foot statue of Nelson stands atop a 151 foot granite column. The statue and bronze decorations below the upper platform were cast from British and French cannon used in the battle.

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

If you are interested in the
Navel history of that era I would suggest reading The Billy Ruffian: The Bellerophon and the Downfall of Napoleon by David Cordingly. The book describes the life of the Bellerophon, known colloquially as Billy Ruffian, built in 1782 and the ships participation in many major events including the Battle of the Nile, Trafalgar, and conveying Napoleon into his exile.

wolfwalker said...

Another memorial of Trafalgar, and the sailing Royal Navy in general, is preserved at the Royal Naval Dockyard in Portsmouth, England: HMS Victory, the 104-gun ship of the line that was Nelson's flagship at Trafalgar.

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JPG said...

Regarding that last "comment" - - I ran it through Babel Fish free translator service. Turns out it is spam for a Brazil-based, Portuguese language net service. It has naught to do with this blog topic.

JPG

Matt G said...

That's why we use the character recognition feature on our blogs.

comatus said...

Oh thanks Matt--so instead of having to read gibberish, I have to type it...

Kiss me, Hardy.
Here Nelson fell.

~Fathairybastard~ said...

Friggin' spam. Anyway, well done man. Loved readin' that.

phlegmfatale said...

What a badass!