French Report of Their "victory"
English Newspaper Report of
Royal Navy Order of Battle
Order of Battle
Spanish Order of Battle
Letter to Admiral Collingwood
Flags of Nelson's "England
Naval Art of Paul Deacon
on the battle
1805, Nelson's Crowning Victory
Warship Crews 1789 to 1805
great deciding naval battle of the Napoleonic Wars took
place between 27 British ships under Admiral
Nelson and 33 French and Spanish vessels under Admiral
to clear the British from the English Channel to allow an
invasion of his implaccable national enemy, Napoleon
Bonaparte wanted his navy to escape the British blockade,
draw it away from Europe to the West Indies and then, after
joining up with the Spanish, returning to hold the narrow
stretch of water long enough to allow the crossing of his
Villeneuve did manage to slip through the blockade and a
rare error by Nelson gave the French more than a week's
head start. By the time he reached the West Indies the combined
enemy fleet had begun returning towards Europe and safe
harbour in Cadiz.
to bottle up and destroy his foe, Nelson and his fleet prowled
waiting for an opportunity and that came faster than expected.
believing there was only a small blockading force outside
Cadiz, ordered Villeneuve from port and into the Mediterranean.
his horror, the French admiral found himself caught between
Nelson's fleet and cut off from safety by the blockading
21 October, Nelson sighted his prey and gave the order "England
expects that every man will do his duty."
outlining a radical plan of
attack to his captains, Nelson ordered the British fleet
to head in two lines towards the in-line French and Spanish.
would open up his vessels to enemy broadsides, but would
split their formidable line, reduce the odds and then allow
the better-trained British sailors to use their superior
gunnery and sailing skills to destroy at close range.
The plan worked brilliantly and with the French vanguard
cut out of the battle by the British slicing through the
fleet, Nelson's men proceeded to take the enemy fleet apart.
did not lose a ship, while 18 enemy vessels were destroyed.
Some 14,000 French and Spanish sailors were lost, ten times
the British casualties.
the most notable death at Trafalgar was Nelson
who was shot by a sharpshooter as the Victory passed
by the Redoubtable.
Mortally wounded, he
died several hours later, but was safe in the knowledge
he had won a massive victory.
thought must be given to his captured opponent Villeneuve
who had been driven into Nelson's sights by Bonaparte's
his return to France, the humiliated Villeneuve killed himself
with a dagger, unable to put up with the shame of defeat.
ended any chance France had of invading Britain and, from
1805 onwards, Bonaparte largely kept his military operations
to terra firma.