Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Remember Lord Nelson

A rare eye-witness account of the Battle of Trafalgar is up for auction. Which reminds me of how, at Trafalgar, Lord Nelson made our modern world possible.

Lord Nelson

First the eye-witness account, from a17 year old powder monkey - the lowest form of life on a line-of-battle ship in Nelson's command:

Then Victory came under heavy attack: "Our After magesene [magazine] skreens took fire and burnt the Leftanant of mereans [Marines] badley. I had jest left thair wen the exploshon took place. The men Inside the skreens was burnt to deth. . . Then I had to go to the fore magesene for my powder wilst the Victory Engaged the Redoutable on the starboard side. . .

"The Example of the Admerel was universely folowed by the British Captains, they broke into the Enemys Line on Everey side, Engaged 2 or three ships at a time and mantained the batle at the verey musels [muzzles] of the Canon."

"The fleets of france and spain ware in fact annihalated yet grate and gloureus as was the triump[h] to us British was Dearley bout [bought] for Lord Nelson fell mortley wounded Earley in the Action."

Here's what
Nelson achieved:

In 1804 Napoleon planned an invasion of Britain...150,000 French soldiers, known as the 'Army of England', were assembled at Bologne.

To get across the channel, Napoleon needed to defeat the British Navy. Instead:

The Franco-Spanish fleet met Nelson off Cape Trafalgar on 21 October 1805. Nelson used unusual tactics and blew the enemy fleet to pieces. Eighteen of Villeneuve's fleet of thirty-four were accounted for in the battle and none ever fought again. Nelson had twenty-seven ships.

Britain was safe from invasion. Napoleon went on winning battles for a while in continental Europe. But now he was landlocked by the technologically superior Brits, and his days were numbered.