¿Cómo ganó Lord Nelson la batalla de Trafalgar de manera tan convincente?

¿Cómo ganó Lord Nelson la batalla de Trafalgar de manera tan convincente?


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No me malinterpretes, soy un gran fan de Nelson. En el momento de su muerte en la Batalla de Trafalgar, el vicealmirante Horatio Lord Nelson era un veterano con decenas de miles de millas marinas en su haber, que había estado en el mar desde la infancia y había pasado años aprendiendo su oficio en el Ártico, en terrorífico tormentas y en combate con el enemigo.

Tenía un carisma que hacía que los hombres cumplieran sus órdenes de buena gana. Sus cartas están llenas de preocupación por el bienestar de sus tripulaciones. Pero no puedo fingir que la escala de su aplastante victoria en Trafalgar se redujo únicamente a su liderazgo.

La Marina Real de Georgia de Gran Bretaña fue un fenómeno. Tecnológica y numéricamente superior a todas las demás armadas del mundo combinadas, sus oficiales y hombres endurecidos por generaciones de guerra y motivados por una poderosa tradición de victorias.

El HMS Victory en Portsmouth en 1900, donde permanece hasta el día de hoy. Crédito: Biblioteca del Congreso / Comunes.

La sorprendente derrota que infligió a su enemigo francés y español en Trafalgar es testimonio tanto de la potencia de la Royal Navy como instrumento de guerra como del liderazgo de Nelson, quien reconoció sus puntos fuertes y elaboró ​​un plan de batalla que los acentuaría.

El resultado fue una victoria decisiva que aniquiló a las armadas francesa y española, capturando o destruyendo dos tercios de su fuerza, poniendo fin a cualquier discurso sobre la invasión de Gran Bretaña y creando un reforzamiento del mito de la invencibilidad británica que perduraría durante más de un siglo.

El 21 de octubre de 1805, la Royal Navy británica derrotó a las flotas de batalla combinadas de los imperios francés y español a 20 millas al noroeste de un promontorio de rocas y arena en el sur de España. Esta es la historia de la batalla de Trafalgar.

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Un cambio de estrategia

Desde la Armada Española en 1588, los barcos que llevaban cañones a ambos lados del barco solo podían causar daños graves a un enemigo que estaba perpendicular a su línea de avance, por lo que se desarrollaron tácticas mediante las cuales largas filas de acorazados se disparaban entre sí mientras viajaban en cursos paralelos. .

Nelson decidió prescindir de estas tácticas en Trafalgar. Con demasiada frecuencia permitieron que un lado interrumpiera la acción y fue difícil lograr un resultado decisivo con líneas largas y engorrosas que viraban y desgastaban el barco al unísono. Nelson dividiría su flota y enviaría dos columnas directamente al medio del enemigo.

Mapa táctico que muestra la estrategia de Nelson para dividir las líneas francesa y española. Crédito: Oladelmar / Commons.

Esto precipitaría un combate cuerpo a cuerpo en el que conocía a sus tripulaciones mejor entrenadas, y los cañones más rápidos y pesados ​​vencerían al enemigo.

Su decisión se ha convertido en leyenda militar. Hambriento de un resultado, navegaría directamente hacia la flota enemiga, atravesaría su línea, confundiría a todos, cortaría al menos un tercio de sus barcos y los destruiría sistemáticamente. Este era el plan de un almirante que confiaba en la superioridad de sus materias primas.

Artillería superior

Los cañones de Nelson se disparaban mediante las pistolas, estos mecanismos enviaban una chispa instantáneamente por un orificio de contacto para encender la pólvora en el cañón del cañón. Los hicieron más rápidos y seguros para recargar y mucho más fáciles de apuntar que la flota franco-española que todavía usaba un método mucho más primitivo.

Los barcos de Nelson también llevaban una nueva arma terrible, carronadas de 68 libras. Estos cañones masivos fueron diseñados para golpes de corto alcance.

Un infame disparo de una carronada en el buque insignia de Nelson, el HMS Victory, vio un barril de 500 balas de mosquete atravesar las ventanas de popa de un barco francés y aniquilar efectivamente a la tripulación que manejaba el cañón en su cubierta de armas.

Una tripulación muy capaz

No era solo la tecnología lo que era superior, los capitanes, oficiales, infantes de marina y marineros estaban endurecidos por años en el mar. Mientras que los barcos enemigos habían pasado una gran cantidad de tiempo encerrados en el puerto, tripulados por marineros no entrenados, los británicos habían estado bloqueando los puertos de Europa, batiéndose de un lado a otro en cualquier clima, hasta que las tripulaciones estaban perfeccionadas.

La señal de Nelson, "Inglaterra espera que cada hombre cumpla con su deber", volando desde la Victoria en el bicentenario de la Batalla de Trafalgar. Crédito: Tkgd2007 / Commons.

La última instrucción de Nelson a sus capitanes fue simple: "Ningún capitán puede hacer mucho mal si coloca su barco junto al del enemigo". Sabía que el plan inevitablemente se derrumbaría al entrar en contacto con el enemigo, en esa situación, sus capitanes sabían lo mínimo de lo que se esperaba de ellos.

Los riesgos

Había un gran inconveniente en el plan de Nelson. Mientras sus barcos se dirigían directamente hacia la gran flota enemiga en forma de hoz de 33 acorazados, los franceses y españoles podrían hacer estallar sus columnas con sus andanadas completas, mientras que la flota británica sería efectivamente incapaz de contraatacar.

Apostó por el hecho de que sus tripulaciones enemigas estaban mal entrenadas y su artillería pobre.

Representación de la batalla de Trafalgar.

Sin embargo, el barco líder de cualquiera de las columnas de Nelson ciertamente recibiría un golpe. Es por eso que Nelson insistió en que su barco, el HMS Victory, lideraría una columna, y su segundo al mando, el contralmirante Cuthbert Collingwood, a bordo del HMS Royal Sovereign, lideraría la otra.

La exposición notoria al fuego enemigo siempre fue un sello distintivo del liderazgo de Nelson. Antes de Trafalgar había sido herido varias veces y había perdido un brazo y un ojo. En Trafalgar declinó la oportunidad de cambiar su bandera a un barco más alejado del fragor de la batalla y pagó por esto con su vida.

Documental, utilizando la experiencia académica del profesor Christer Petley en la Universidad de Southampton, que explora el surgimiento del movimiento de abolición en Gran Bretaña a fines del siglo XVIII y su éxito final al aprobar un proyecto de ley (Ley de abolición de 1807) que prohibió el comercio de africanos en todo el mundo. el Atlántico a los brutales sistemas de plantación establecidos en las Américas.

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La batalla de Trafalgar

El 21 de octubre de 1805, los 27 acorazados de Nelson se deslizaron con una suave brisa hacia las 33 fuertes flotas francesas y españolas. Victory y Royal Sovereign de hecho recibieron una paliza cuando se acercaron a los franceses y durante unos minutos aterradores se encontraron aislados mientras se adentraban en las líneas enemigas.

La victoria sufrió terriblemente y Nelson resultó herido de muerte.

La Bucentaure en Trafalgar en un cuadro de Auguste Mayer. Crédito: Auguste Mayer / Commons.

Sin embargo, en cuestión de minutos, los gigantescos acorazados británicos llegaron uno tras otro y el enemigo fue terriblemente superado en armas y sus tripulaciones fueron masacradas.

La mayoría de las naves enemigas que escaparon de este ataque huyeron en lugar de reforzar a sus camaradas asediados. No menos de 22 enemigos franceses y españoles fueron capturados, ni uno solo de los barcos de Nelson se perdió.

Nelson murió, por debajo de la línea de flotación en la cubierta de orlop, en el mismo momento de la victoria. Pero tan grande fue la victoria, y tan dominante dejó la Royal Navy, que dejó atrás un país que no dependía de un solo líder genial para retener el dominio de los océanos.


Victoria en Trafalgar de Horatio Nelson

Se sabía que Bonaparte se estaba preparando para una nueva guerra y, dos días antes de que estallara, Nelson, en mayo de 1803, recibió el mando en el Mediterráneo, izando su bandera en el Victoria. Una vez más iba a bloquear Toulon, ahora con el objeto de evitar un encuentro entre los barcos franceses allí con los de Brest en el Atlántico y, después de que España declarara la guerra a Gran Bretaña, con los barcos españoles de Cartagena y Cádiz. Una fuerza combinada de ese tamaño bien podría permitir a Bonaparte invadir Inglaterra y, a principios de 1805, Napoleón, que el año anterior se había coronado emperador, ordenó que las flotas convergieran con este propósito. Los escuadrones franceses y españoles debían romper el bloqueo británico para correr hacia las Indias Occidentales y, después de devastar las posesiones y el comercio británicos, regresar a través del Atlántico en una única flota invencible para destruir a los británicos cerca de Ushant, una isla frente a Bretaña, y tomar el control de el Canal de la Mancha mientras era atravesado por un ejército invasor de 350.000.

En marzo, el almirante Pierre Villeneuve, que iba a estar al mando general, escapó de Toulon al amparo del mal tiempo y desapareció. Nelson partió en su persecución. Villeneuve interrumpió su merodeo, pero su flota fue interceptada y dañada por un escuadrón británico. Al no conseguir el control del Canal de la Mancha, corrió hacia el sur hasta Cádiz.

Nelson entró en Gibraltar, tomó disposiciones para el bloqueo de Cádiz y regresó a Inglaterra. Durante sus 25 días en casa, planificó la estrategia para el enfrentamiento con las flotas franco-españolas que parecía inevitable. 34 barcos enemigos fueron bloqueados en Cádiz por números menores al mando del almirante Cuthbert Collingwood. Aunque Napoleón, abandonando el plan de una invasión a través del Canal, comenzó a desplegar el Gran Ejército, en Gran Bretaña el peligro de una invasión parecía tan apremiante como siempre, y Nelson parecía la esperanza del país.

Cuando llegaron sus órdenes, Nelson el 15 de septiembre zarpó en el Victoria. Ahora estaba en el apogeo de sus poderes profesionales. Adorado por sus oficiales y marineros por igual, estaba seguro de que sus capitanes entendían tan bien su pensamiento táctico que se requeriría un mínimo de consultas. En su cumpleaños número 47 cenó con 15 capitanes en su buque insignia y describió sus planes para desencadenar una "batalla pell-mell" en la que la artillería británica y el espíritu ofensivo serían decisivos. Planeaba avanzar sobre las flotas franco-españolas en dos divisiones para romper su línea y destruirlas poco a poco. Este fue el abandono final de las tácticas tradicionalmente rígidas de luchar en la línea de batalla.

Después de recibir las órdenes de Napoleón de romper el bloqueo, Villeneuve, el 20 de octubre, zarpó de Cádiz. Al amanecer del día siguiente, las flotas franco-españolas se recortaron contra el amanecer frente al cabo Trafalgar, y los británicos comenzaron a formar las dos divisiones en las que debían luchar, una dirigida por Nelson y la otra por Collingwood. Cuando las flotas opuestas cerraron, Nelson hizo su famosa señal: "Inglaterra espera que cada hombre cumpla con su deber". La batalla de Trafalgar se desencadenó en su momento más feroz alrededor del Victoria, y un francotirador francés, disparando desde el mástil del Redoutable, le disparó a Nelson en el hombro y el pecho. Lo llevaron al cirujano y pronto quedó claro que se estaba muriendo. Cuando le dijeron que se habían tomado 15 barcos enemigos, respondió: "Está bien, pero había negociado 20". Thomas Hardy, su capitán de bandera, le dio un beso en la frente a modo de despedida y Nelson pronunció sus últimas palabras: “Ahora estoy satisfecho. Gracias a Dios, he cumplido con mi deber ".

Aunque la victoria de Trafalgar finalmente hizo que Gran Bretaña estuviera a salvo de la invasión, en ese momento se vio ensombrecida por la noticia de la muerte de Nelson. Un país atormentado por el dolor le ofreció un majestuoso funeral en la catedral de St. Paul, y su popularidad se registró en innumerables monumentos, calles y posadas que llevan su nombre y, finalmente, en la preservación en Portsmouth de la Victoria. Emma Hamilton y su hija, sin embargo, fueron ignoradas. Emma murió, casi desamparada, en Calais nueve años después. Horatia, mostrando la resistencia de su padre, se casó con un clérigo en Norfolk y se convirtió en madre de una familia numerosa y robusta.


¿Cómo ganó Lord Nelson la batalla de Trafalgar de manera tan convincente? - Historia

I Fue una de las mayores batallas navales de la historia británica y dio origen a una leyenda. Frente a la costa de la península del Cabo Trafalgar en España, la flota británica, dirigida por Lord Horatio Nelson, se enfrentó a una fuerza combinada francesa y española para determinar quién sería el dueño de las olas. La propia existencia de Inglaterra estaba en juego porque el francés Napoleón Bonaparte estaba listo para enviar a su poderoso ejército a través del Canal de la Mancha para conquistar la isla. El único obstáculo que se interponía en su camino era la flota británica.

Lord Nelson
La batalla comenzó el 21 de octubre de 1805 con las famosas palabras de Nelson indicadas a su flota: `` Inglaterra espera que cada hombre cumpla con su deber ''. Nelson había ideado un plan de batalla poco ortodoxo que requería que sus barcos atacaran el costado enemigo en dos líneas paralelas, Irrumpir en la formación del enemigo y disparar a sus oponentes a corta distancia.

Mientras Nelson miraba desde la cubierta del HMS Victoria la batalla pronto se convirtió en un confuso combate cuerpo a cuerpo entre naves individuales. La lucha fue a tan corta distancia que el Victoria se enredó con el barco francés Temible. Encerrados juntos en un ballet mortal, cada barco atacó a su enemigo a quemarropa. Desde su posición en el aparejo superior del Temible, un francotirador francés apuntó a un objetivo preciado en la cubierta del Victoria, disparó y envió una bala de mosquete al hombro izquierdo de Nelson. Continuando su viaje, la bala se abrió paso a través de la parte superior del cuerpo del Almirante antes de estrellarse contra su espalda baja. Fue una herida mortal.

Nelson fue llevado bajo cubierta mientras la batalla continuaba. Vivió lo suficiente para escuchar las noticias del De temible rendición y de la victoria de su flota después de cuatro horas y media de combate.

El Dr. William Beatty era médico a bordo del Victory y asistió a Nelson mientras agonizaba. El médico publicó su relato poco después de la batalla. Nos unimos a su historia mientras Nelson y el Capitán del Victory observan la batalla desde el alcázar del barco:

"Lord Nelson y el capitán Hardy caminaron por el alcázar en conversación durante algún tiempo después de esto, mientras el enemigo mantenía un incesante fuego de rastrillo. Un disparo de dos cabezas alcanzó a uno de los grupos de marines que estaban en la popa y mató a ocho de ellos cuando su señoría, al darse cuenta de esto, ordenó al capitán Adair que dispersara a sus hombres por el barco, para que no sufrieran tanto por estar juntos. en cubierta, y pasó entre Lord Nelson y el Capitán Hardy una astilla de los pedazos que magullaron el pie del Capitán Hardy y le arrancaron la hebilla del zapato. el otro para ser herido. Su señoría sonrió y dijo: 'Este es un trabajo demasiado cálido, Hardy, para durar mucho tiempo' y declaró que 'a través de todas las batallas en las que había estado, nunca había presenciado un coraje más frío que el mostrado por la victoria de c rew en esta ocasión.

. . . Aproximadamente quince minutos después de la una de la tarde, que era el fragor del enfrentamiento, caminaba por el medio del alcázar con el capitán Hardy, y en el acto de girar cerca de la escotilla con la cara hacia la popa del Victory. , cuando la bola fatal fue disparada desde la punta de mesana del enemigo. . .

los Victoria En batalla
Haga clic en la imagen para ver el plan de batalla
La pelota golpeó la charretera de su hombro izquierdo y le penetró el pecho. Cayó con la cara en cubierta. El Capitán Hardy, que estaba a su derecha (el lado más alejado del enemigo) y avanzó unos pasos antes de que su señoría, al dar la vuelta, vio al Sargento Mayor de Infantería de Marina con dos marineros levantándolo de la cubierta donde había caído en el mismo lugar. en la que, poco antes, había exhalado su secretario, con cuya sangre estaban muy manchadas las ropas de su señoría. El capitán Hardy expresó su esperanza de que no estuviera gravemente herido, a lo que el valiente jefe respondió: "Por fin han terminado por mí, Hardy". - "Espero que no", respondió el capitán Hardy. "Sí", respondió su señoría, "mi columna vertebral está atravesada".

El capitán Hardy ordenó a los marineros que llevaran al almirante a la cabina. . .

Su señoría fue acostado sobre una cama, despojado de sus ropas y cubierto con una sábana. Mientras esto surtía efecto, le dijo al doctor Scott: "Doctor, se lo dije. Doctor, me fui" y, tras una breve pausa, añadió en voz baja: "Tengo que dejar a Lady Hamilton y a mi hija adoptiva Horatia. , como legado a mi país ". El cirujano examinó entonces la herida, asegurándole a su señoría que no le causaría mucho dolor esforzarse por descubrir el recorrido de la bola que pronto descubrió que había penetrado profundamente en el pecho y probablemente se había alojado en la columna vertebral. Explicado esto a su señoría, respondió: "estaba seguro de que le habían atravesado la espalda".

A continuación, se examinó externamente la espalda, pero sin percibir ninguna herida sobre la que el cirujano solicitó a su señoría que le hiciera conocer todas sus sensaciones. Él respondió que "sentía un chorro de sangre a cada minuto dentro de su pecho: que no tenía sensibilidad en la parte inferior de su cuerpo: y que su respiración era difícil, y asistió con un dolor muy severo en esa parte de la columna donde estaba seguro de que la pelota había golpeado ", dijo," sentí que me rompía la espalda ". Estos síntomas, pero más particularmente el chorro de sangre del que se quejaba su señoría, junto con el estado de su pulso, indicaban al cirujano la desesperada situación del caso, pero hasta después de que la victoria fuera confirmada y anunciada a su señoría, la verdadera naturaleza El cirujano ocultó una de sus heridas a todos los que estaban a bordo, excepto al capitán Hardy, al doctor Scott, al señor Burke ya los señores Smith y Westemburg, los cirujanos asistentes.

La tripulación del Victory vitoreaba cada vez que observaba la rendición de un barco enemigo. En una de estas ocasiones, Lord Nelson preguntó ansiosamente cuál era la causa cuando el teniente Pasco, que yacía herido a cierta distancia de su señoría, se levantó y le dijo que otro barco había chocado, lo que pareció darle mucha satisfacción. . Ahora sentía una sed ardiente y con frecuencia pedía beber y que lo avivase con papel, haciendo uso de estas palabras: "Abanico, abanico" y "Bebe, bebe".

Manifestó una gran solicitud por el acontecimiento de la batalla y teme por la seguridad de su amigo el capitán Hardy. El doctor Scott y el señor Burke utilizaron todos los argumentos que pudieron sugerir para aliviar su ansiedad. El Sr. Burke le dijo que "el enemigo fue derrotado de manera decisiva y que esperaba que Su señoría aún viviera para ser él mismo el portador de las buenas nuevas para su país". Él respondió: "Es una tontería, Sr. Burke, suponer que puedo vivir: mis sufrimientos son grandes, pero todos terminarán pronto". El doctor Scott suplicó a su señoría "que no se desesperara de vivir" y dijo que "confiaba en que la Divina Providencia lo devolvería una vez más a su querido país y amigos". --¡Ah, doctor! replicó señoría, "todo se acabó, todo se acabó".

La muerte de Lord Nelson
Sin embargo, transcurrieron una hora y diez minutos, desde el momento en que su señoría fue herido, antes de la primera entrevista posterior del capitán Hardy con él. . . Se dieron la mano afectuosamente y Lord Nelson dijo: 'Bueno, Hardy, ¿cómo va la batalla? ¿Cómo va el día con nosotros? ”-“ Muy bien, milord ”, respondió el capitán Hardy. . . Soy hombre muerto, Hardy. Voy rápido: todo terminará conmigo pronto. Acércate más a mí. Por favor, permita que mi querida Lady Hamilton [la amante de Lord Nelson] se quede con mi cabello y todas las demás cosas que me pertenecen. . . El capitán Hardy observó que "esperaba que el señor Beatty pudiera ofrecer todavía alguna perspectiva de vida". --¡Oh! no, respondió su señoría, es imposible. Mi espalda está atravesada. Beatty te lo dirá. El capitán Hardy volvió a la cubierta y, al despedirse, volvió a estrechar la mano de su venerado amigo y comandante.

Su señoría se quedó sin habla unos quince minutos después de que el capitán Hardy lo dejara. . . y cuando hubo permanecido mudo unos cinco minutos, el mayordomo de su señoría se dirigió al cirujano, que había estado poco tiempo ocupado con los heridos en otra parte de la cabina, y manifestó sus aprensiones de que su señoría se estaba muriendo. El cirujano inmediatamente lo atendió y lo encontró al borde de la disolución. Se arrodilló a su lado, tomó su mano que estaba fría y el pulso desapareció de la muñeca. Al sentir el cirujano su frente, igualmente fría, su señoría abrió los ojos, miró hacia arriba y volvió a cerrarlos. El cirujano volvió a dejarlo y regresó junto a los heridos que requerían su ayuda, pero no se ausentaron cinco minutos antes de que el mayordomo le anunciara que "creía que su señoría había expirado". El cirujano regresó y descubrió que el informe estaba demasiado bien fundado: su señoría había exhalado su último suspiro, a las cuatro y media, hora en la que el doctor Scott estaba en el acto de frotar el pecho de su señoría, y el señor Burke apoyaba la cama debajo de sus hombros.

Referencias:
El relato del Dr. Beatty se encuentra en: Beatty, William, The Death of Lord Nelson (1807) Adkins, Roy, Trafalgar de Nelson: la batalla que cambió el mundo (2005) Howarth, David A., Trafalgar: the Nelson touch (1969) .


Lord Nelson: ¡Héroe y & # 8230Cad!

& # 8220Sólo puedo decir que ninguna mujer puede sentir la menor atención de un marido más que yo, & # 8221 Frances Nelson escribió a una amiga en 1801. Para entonces, su célebre marido & # 8212 Inglaterra & # 8217 el héroe naval más grande & # 8212 era abiertamente conviviendo con otra mujer, y casado además. Casi todo el mundo en la alta sociedad inglesa parecía saber sobre el asunto que Horatio Nelson, vicealmirante de la flota británica, estaba llevando a cabo con Emma, ​​Lady Hamilton, una belleza sorprendente y la esposa de uno de sus amigos más cercanos, Sir William Hamilton.

Frances Nelson no tuvo más remedio que vivir con su dolor. Quizás ningún hombre en toda Gran Bretaña fue tan a prueba de escándalos como el que había aniquilado a la armada de Napoleón y # 8217 en la Batalla del Nilo en 1798. En cuanto a la famosa Emma Hamilton, & # 8220 ella habría estado en todo lo que nosotros ahora llame a los tabloides, & # 8221, dice el biógrafo de Nelson, Tom Pocock. & # 8220Fue una historia sabrosa. & # 8221

Más tragedia que farsa, esta telenovela georgiana no terminaría bien: el almirante dejaría la vida de dos mujeres devastadas tan ciertamente como devastó la flota francesa, una moriría rica pero con el corazón roto, la otra conocería la depresión y la desgracia. Y el hombre que sirvió a Nelson como amigo y facilitador de sus asuntos, Alexander Davison, pasaría dos mandatos tras las rejas.

Muchos historiadores han aceptado la opinión de que Frances, Lady Nelson, fue la causa de toda esta angustia. & # 8220Si lees la mayoría de las biografías de Nelson, & # 8221 dice Colin White, autor de La enciclopedia de Nelson, & # 8220Frances Nelson casi sin excepción fue demonizada por la ruptura del matrimonio. Se decía que era incompatible con él, fría, llorona. & # 8221 Ahora esa visión está cambiando, gracias al descubrimiento hace dos años de unas 70 cartas de Fanny, como se la conoce, Emma y Nelson a Nelson & El amigo de # 8217, Davison.

Escritas entre el 18 de diciembre de 1798 y el 20 de enero de 1806, las cartas y algunos otros artefactos de Nelson se vendieron en Sotheby & # 8217 en Londres el 21 de octubre (Día de Trafalgar) de 2002, por más de $ 3 millones al Museo Marítimo Nacional Británico en Greenwich. y coleccionistas individuales surtidos. & # 8220Este asombroso archivo nos muestra cuán equivocadas han estado las personas & # 8221, dice Pocock, quien lo llama el descubrimiento más significativo de artículos relacionados con Nelson & # 8220 durante más de cien años & # 8221. & # 8221

Solo Wellington y Churchill rivalizan con la estatura de Nelson en la historia británica. Si Wellington, en Waterloo, frustró para siempre la ambición de Napoleón de gobernar Europa, fue Nelson quien destruyó el poder marítimo del emperador francés y puso fin a su plan de conquistar Inglaterra. Pocas figuras militares de la era moderna -quizás George Patton es uno- han sido a la vez tan temerarias y brillantes. Cuando Napoleón intentó conquistar el norte de África, con la última intención de extender su imperio hasta la India, Nelson logró una de las victorias más celebradas en la historia naval (una en la que el capitán ficticio Jack Aubrey, interpretado por Russell Crowe en Maestro y comandante, participó).

La batalla del Nilo comenzó cuando los exploradores de Nelson descubrieron la flota francesa, comandada por el almirante en jefe de Napoleón, Fran y Paul Brueys d 8217 Aigailliers, anclada en Aboukir, cerca de Alejandría, Egipto, en 1798. Nelson deslizó sus buques de guerra. entre el enemigo y la costa, a salvo de los cañones de Napoleón, que miraban al mar abierto. & # 8220En la oscuridad que cae rápidamente, la confusión se apoderó de su flota, & # 8221 Churchill escribió en su Historia de los pueblos de habla inglesa. & # 8220 Implacablemente los barcos ingleses. . . . golpeó la camioneta enemiga, pasando de un enemigo discapacitado al siguiente en la línea. A las diez en punto, el buque insignia de Brueys & # 8217, el Orientar, explotó. Los cinco barcos delante de ella ya se habían rendido al resto, sus cables cortados a tiro, o intentando frenéticamente evitar el infierno de la quema. Orientar, iba a la deriva impotente. & # 8221 Más tarde, Nelson se regocijaría ante su tripulación: & # 8220 Debe golpear por la fuerza a todos los marineros británicos, cuán superior es su conducta, cuando están en disciplina y buen orden, a la conducta desenfrenada de los franceses sin ley. & # 8221

Si bien la Batalla del Nilo convirtió a Nelson en un héroe nacional, fue una mañana de octubre, siete años después, cuando se convirtió en casi una divinidad en la tradición inglesa. Ese día de 1805, Nelson atacó las flotas combinadas francesa y española frente al Cabo Trafalgar, entre Gibraltar y C & # 225diz, España en una maniobra totalmente poco ortodoxa, dividió sus barcos en dos líneas paralelas y los navegó directamente hacia el enemigo, cortándolo en mitad. A última hora de la tarde, la armada de Napoleón había sido vencida, aunque Nelson, golpeado por una bala de mosquete, moriría solo unas horas después de que comenzara la batalla. Todos los escolares ingleses desde entonces han aprendido la historia del colapso de Nelson & # 8217 en su embarcación & # 8217s alcázar ensangrentado y su última petición al teniente Thomas Hardy: & # 8220 Cuida de mi querida Lady Hamilton, Hardy cuida de la pobre Lady Hamilton & #. 8221

Las dos mujeres de la vida de Nelson no podrían haber sido más diferentes. Frances provenía de una familia adinerada que vivía en la isla caribeña de Nevis, donde poseía plantaciones de azúcar. Su caligrafía en las cartas refleja su educación: firme, recta, legible y ordenada. En 1785, cuando el padre de Fanny le presentó a Nelson de 26 años, ella era una viuda de 24 años con un hijo de 5 años. (Su esposo había muerto, probablemente de una enfermedad tropical, en 1781).

Emma Lyon, por otro lado, era una mujer de temperamento volátil, su escritura vaga en líneas torcidas, sus letras grandes y, a menudo, casi ilegibles. Nacida en Cheshire en 1765, se convirtió en sirvienta en Londres alrededor de los 12 años, poco después se convirtió en la amante de Sir Harry Fetherstonhaugh y le dio una hija. Cuando la dejó plantada, se fue con su amigo, Charles Greville, quien le presentó a los pintores Sir Joshua Reynolds y George Romney, quienes la retrataron. (Uno de los Romney & # 8217 cuelga en la Colección Frick en Nueva York.) A diferencia de Fanny, que es remota e inexpresiva en sus retratos, Emma parece atractiva y coqueta. En una de las representaciones de Romney & # 8217, ella tiene una sonrisa seductora, cabello peinado hacia arriba y un vestido rosa con un corpiño muy bajo. En 1782, el anciano tío de Greville, Sir William Hamilton, embajador británico en la corte de Nápoles, quedó viudo. A cambio de la ayuda de Hamilton para pagar sus deudas, Greville envió a Emma a Nápoles para convertirse en la amante de Hamilton. Finalmente se casó con él, adquiriendo a cambio un título, una mansión y una fortuna considerable.

Las cartas de Fanny & # 8217s, Emma & # 8217s y Nelson & # 8217s quizás nunca hubieran salido a la luz si los descendientes del confidente de Nelson no hubieran decidido vender un broche de diamantes que había estado en la familia durante casi dos siglos. & # 8220 El broche es la clave de todo & # 8221, dice Martyn Downer, jefe de joyería en la oficina de Londres de Sotheby & # 8217 en el momento de la venta y autor de Monedero Nelson & # 8217s, un libro de próxima publicación sobre la amistad de Nelson con Davison (Smithsonian Books). & # 8220Fue llevado a una de nuestras oficinas fuera de Inglaterra. & # 8221 Es muy probable, aunque nadie puede probarlo, que Nelson le dio el broche, con forma de ancla y adornado con las iniciales & # 8220H & # 8221 y & # 8220N & # 8221 (para Horatio Nelson), a Emma y que ella a su vez se lo vendió a Davison cuando tenía problemas de efectivo.

Downer dice que los herederos de Davison, que desean permanecer en el anonimato, le dijeron que heredaron el broche & # 8220 de su antepasado, Alexander Davison. Seguí preguntándoles sobre Davison, y finalmente dijeron: & # 8216 ¿Por qué no & # 8217t vienes a nuestra casa? Tenemos algunos papeles. Cuando Downer entró en la casa y vio dos cajas de escrituras del siglo XVIII, una con el nombre de Davison, lo era, dice con eufemismo británico. # 8220un maravilloso momento. & # 8221

Los artefactos incluyen espadas, pistolas y un bolso empapado de sangre, que se cree que Nelson llevaba cuando fue asesinado por un francotirador francés en Trafalgar, así como elaboradas piezas de porcelana, decoradas con los escudos de armas de Nelson (los cambió) mientras ascendía de rango) y representaciones de sus barcos. Algunos fueron comprados por Nelson para Emma, ​​otros le fueron otorgados por Davison y otros admiradores. Hay medallas y monedas de oro, algunas de las cuales recibió Davison, aparentemente para ganarse el favor de Nelson y sus hombres. Y hay una espada, conocida como Nelson & # 8217s Scimitar, probablemente entregada a Nelson por el gobernante de Constantinopla.

Pero las cartas de Fanny son los verdaderos tesoros. & # 8220 Usted sabe que hemos tenido tan poca comunicación, durante algunos meses, que Mi Señor, muy probablemente nunca ha recibido mi carta, & # 8221 ella escribe lastimeramente a Davison en 1799. & # 8220 No he tenido una línea de él durante Edades, & # 8221 ella escribe más tarde ese año. & # 8220 Estoy seguro de que escribe, que puede ser tan perverso como para tomar mis cartas. . . . & # 8221 Aunque las respuestas de Davison & # 8217 se han perdido todas, parecería por las misivas de Fanny & # 8217 que hizo todo lo posible para decepcionarla suavemente, animándola sin compartir la información que estaba recibiendo de Emma Hamilton en su correspondencia con él. .

Davison & # 8220 era un hombre muy complicado e intrigante & # 8221, dice Downer. & # 8220 Cuando tenía 23 años se fue a Quebec con su hermano George y estableció un negocio. Hizo una fortuna a través del comercio de pieles, el comercio marítimo y la alimentación del ejército británico en América del Norte. Y hay & # 8217s alguna sugerencia, no probada, de que estuvo involucrado en el comercio de esclavos. & # 8221

Nelson, de 24 años en 1782, era capitán del HMS Albemarle, radicado en la ciudad de Quebec en lo que los británicos llamaron la Guerra de la Independencia de Estados Unidos, cuando entabló amistad con Davison. El vínculo se consolidó después de que Davison convenciera a Nelson de que no se casara con Mary Simpson, una posadera e hija de 22 años. Davison convenció a Nelson, relativamente empobrecido, de que buscara una esposa rica. Nelson había crecido como hijo de un párroco rural, el sexto de 11 hermanos, en un pequeño pueblo de Norfolk llamado Burnham.

Nelson estaba al mando de la fragata Bóreas, prohibiendo el comercio entre las colonias del Caribe británico y los Estados Unidos, cuando conoció a Frances Nisbet. & # 8220Ella estaba acostumbrada a la gran vida, que por supuesto no era & # 8217t, & # 8221, dice el biógrafo Pocock. They married in 1787. He was 29 she 26. (Her son, Josiah, then 7, would himself become a Royal Navy captain. She and Nelson would not have children together.) From 1787 to 1793, when Britain was at peace and Nelson and other officers were forced to cool their heels at half pay, he and Fanny lived together in Norfolk, England. But when war with revolutionary France broke out in 1793, the navy called him back to active duty, and he took command of the Agamemnon.

In 1794, Nelson lost most of the sight from his right eye in action during an engagement near Corsica. In 1797, he played a significant role in defeating the French fleet at Cape Saint Vincent, for which he was knighted. The same year, Nelson lost his right arm in an attack on Santa Cruz in Tenerife and returned to England, where Fanny nursed him back to health. A year later, he was sufficiently recovered to defeat Napoleon’s fleet at the historic Battle of the Nile.

In that engagement, a wound to the head forced him to recuperate in Naples, where he would visit Sir William Hamilton and his wife, Emma, Lady Hamilton. In late 1798, he began his affair with Emma, under the nose of her doddering husband, who apparently chose to overlook the matter. In time, Emma would take a dim view of Nelson’s wife. “What a sad thing it is to think such a man as him should be entrapped with such an infamous woman as that apothecary’s widow,” she wrote to Davison in a letter dated July 15, 1804.

By this time, Davison, 54, had begun to play a pivotal role in Nelson’s economic and private affairs. The vice admiral hired him to handle his claims and those of his subordinates before navy tribunals that parceled out spoils from the Battle of the Nile. (In the British Navy of the time, seamen split the proceeds of the sale of enemy ships and cargoes they captured official panels determined how much each man, from the highest admiral to the lowliest seaman, would get.)

Davison also helped Nelson juggle the demands of the two women in his life. “From December 1798 to late 1800, Frances writes to her trusted ‘friend’ a series which it is now impossible to read without a sense of dramatic irony,” Downer notes in the Sotheby’s catalog of the Davison family collection. In the early letters, about the time Nelson and Emma were beginning their affair, Frances expresses joy that her husband will soon be with her. “All the Boys letters from the Vanguard confirm my dear Lord’s intension of coming home,” she writes to Davison in the fall of 1798. She adds: “All hands expect my Husband home very soon.”

But by the spring of 1799 Nelson has still not returned from Italy, and Fanny complains about nervous illnesses, telling Davison that she “had upwards of eight oz. of blood taken” and adding, “I have had spasms, which has again shook me very much.” Still, she seems unaware of any romance between her husband and Emma, and offers to come to Naples to help nurse Nelson back to health. He rebuffs her. “I fixed as I thought a proper allowance to enable you to remain quiet, and not be posting from one end of the Kingdom to the other,” he writes in early 1801.

“It’s quite clear that she doesn’t understand what’s happening,” says Nelson Encyclopedia author White. “She’s bewildered and upset and hurt, and she’s blaming herself in classic abandoned wife fashion.” Even so, she remains generous toward her husband. “There’s one very poignant letter where she tells Davison that she actually destroyed some letters that Nelson had sent her she didn’t want to affect his reputation for posterity. That’s not the act of a bitter and estranged woman that’s an act of love.”

Apparently unaware of her husband’s betrayal, Fanny even entered into a correspondence with Emma. “Lady Hamilton’s second letter, I have received it,” Fanny writes to Davison in March 1799. “It mentions my Husband’s recovery. . . indeed he required Agreat deal of good Nursing and Asses Milk. Sir W. and Lady Hamilton’s kindness, attention and real friendship, has been great indeed just such as yours.”

But by November 1800, Fanny, in a letter to Davison, appears to realize that Lady Hamilton has become more to her husband than a solicitous friend: “[British Admiral] Lord Hood always expresst his fears that Sir W. & Lady Hamilton would use their influence, to keep Lord Nelson with them: they have succeeded.” Finally, that same month, Nelson returned to England. Almost everyone knew that he and Emma were having an affair, and polite society was scandalized. Nelson did spend a few days with Fanny but was soon spending most of his time with the Hamiltons, also returned to London, at their Piccadilly town house, or at Davison’s mansion on St. James’ Square.

Emma and Fanny would meet on at least two occasions that winter, at a dinner and at the theater. At the second meeting, Lady Nelson helped an ill Emma out of the theater. “The horrible truth that Emma was in the final stages of pregnancy with Nelson’s child probably dawned on Fanny on that occasion,” says Pieter van der Merwe of the National Maritime Museum. Emma gave birth to Nelson’s daughter, Horatia, in either the last days of January 1801 or the first days of February. In mid-January 1801, Nelson returned to his ship San Josef, which had been ordered to the Baltic. In February, Fanny wrote to Davison: “My Mind has not recovered its natural calmness, nor do I think it ever will. I am now distrustful and fearful of my own shadow.” But in March 1801, Fanny put on a brave front, hoping that next time Nelson came home he would live with her. She wrote to Davison that “I will receive him with joy.”

On April 2, 1801, while attacking the Danes at Copenhagen to try to break up an alliance between Napoleon and the Scandinavian countries, Nelson resorted to another unorthodox action. After the British and Danish fleets had exchanged heavy fire for three hours, the commander of the British ships, Adm. Sir Hyde Parker, raised signal flag number 39, an order to “discontinue the engagement.” Nelson reminded his officers that he had only one good eye and then said, “I have a right to be blind sometimes. I really do not see the signal.” He continued the attack and defeated the Danes. Sir Hyde Parker went home in disgrace.

After his return to England in June 1801, Nelson chose not to see Fanny. By December 1801, his attitude toward her had deteriorated to something approaching caddish incivility. Nelson sent a letter from his wife to Davison, who returned it to Fanny with the terse note: “Opened by mistake by Lord Nelson but not read.”

In August 1805, two months before the Battle of Trafalgar, Nelson spent a few weeks with Emma at Merton, an estate southeast of London that he had bought with the help of a loan from Davison. (Sir William had died in April 1803.) Referring to the Merton idyll, Emma wrote to Davison of “one fortnight of joy and happiness I have had for years of pain. My Beloved Nelson is so delighted with Merton & now he is here—tis a paradize.”

After Nelson’s death in October, Emma began a slow, painful slide into penury. Her husband had left her 800 pounds a year in his will—not enough to maintain Merton and pay for its elaborate grounds. (For his part, Nelson left her Merton and 500 pounds a year.) Nelson also had asked the government to provide for Emma the story goes that the Prince of Wales was inclined to grant the request until he stumbled across some papers in which Nelson had ridiculed him. Emma never received a penny from the Crown.

Spendthrift Emma soon had to borrow money from Davison. Apparently she also sold him many of the artifacts that would end up in his possession. Her letters reflect her decline: “The loss of Nelson under this Dreadful weight of Most wretched Misery that I suffer I fell & Hope that I shall be not Long after Him—nothing gives me a gleam of Comfort but the Hope that I shall soon follow,” she wrote in November 1805 to Davison. Eight years later she was sentenced to debtor’s prison at King’s Bench, in London upon her release a year later in 1814, she fled to Calais with 13-year-old Horatia, putting herself beyond the reach of English law. She died the following year, probably at age 49 her exact birthdate is not known. Today, a monument to her, built in 1994 with the help of an American donor, stands in the Parc Richelieu in Calais. Horatia Nelson married a country curate and lived a quiet life until her death in 1881.

Over the years Davison benefited from his relationship with Nelson and amassed a good fortune. In addition to the mansion on Saint James’ Square, he had bought an estate in Northumberland called Swarland. But his ambition got the best of him. In 1802, he tried to bribe voters in an attempt to win a seat in Parliament. In 1804, at the age of 54, he was sentenced to a year in prison for the crime. And in 1808, he was convicted of fraud, in connection with his role as a purveyor of supplies to the British Army, and served another term. Although he lived until 1829, he never recovered his social standing after his release from prison in 1809.

Fanny’s loyalty and patience paid off. Faithful to her husband’s memory to the end, she received a generous pension from the Crown and was accepted in polite society until her last days. She died at age 70 in 1831, having never remarried. “This was a woman who was continuously and desperately in love with her husband,” says Colin White.

For all his indiscretions and downright cruelties, Nelson’s place in history remains secure. His tactics are still taught in naval war colleges, and the moment of his death has been immortalized by English painters for generations. By one estimate, more than 2,000 books have been written about his life and half a dozen films have captured his exploits. Nelson’s Column holds pride of place in London’s huge Trafalgar Square. His flagship Victory is on display at the Portsmouth Naval Base, no less revered than Old Ironsides in Boston.

What made the hero such a scoundrel? “Fanny was devoted to her husband and extremely solicitous of his health and welfare, but ultimately not in the way he craved,” says Pieter van der Merwe. “My theory is that Nelson remained in many respects a small boy from a large family who lost his mother very young and spent his life searching for a source of uncritical love. He was almost entirely disappointed in finding it in Fanny, but found it writ larger than life in Emma.”


The personal life of Admiral Horatio Nelson

At the National Maritime Museum's Nelson Gallery, visitors catch a glimpse of the personality of England's greatest naval warrior Admiral Horatio Nelson. Few heroes have captured the heart and the imagination more than Horatio Nelson, who died on, Oct 21, in 1805 at the moment of his greatest victory.

Although a fêted national hero, he displayed common human frailty. His colorful private life, coupled with his genius and daring as a naval commander, seems to make the Nelson story irresistible to every generation.

Born in Burnham Thorpe, Norfolk, in September 1758, Horatio Nelson entered the Royal Navy in January 1771 at the age of 12. He showed early promise, passing his lieutenant's exam more than a year under the official age in 1777 and being made post-captain at the age of 21. With his own command, Nelson was in a position where his personal skills and bravery would be noticed.

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The two sides of Horatio Nelson

Two paintings in the possession of the National Maritime Museum portray this fascinating but complicated character. The first, begun by Jean Francis Rigaud in 1777, was not completed until 1781 when Rigaud had to alter it to reflect a sitter who had not only been promoted but also had lost weight through illness while on duty. However, Rigaud certainly captured Nelson's determined spirit, keen eye, and a strong sense of self-confidence. These qualities gave him a presence that won the attention of nearly all who met him. In fact, Nelson's charisma soon won him a very influential friend.

A young Lord Nelson by Jean Francis Rigaud

The Prince of Wales, who was then a young midshipman, observed Nelson on board Lord Hood's flagship. The future King William IV described Nelson as 'the merest boy of a captain I ever beheld.' The young prince recalled: 'His dress was worthy of attention. He had on a full laced uniform: his lank unpowdered hair was tied in a stiff hessian tail of extraordinary length the old fashioned flaps of his waistcoat added to the general quaintness of his figure . I had never seen anything like it before.' However, Prince William went on to add, there was 'something irresistibly pleasing in his address' and the young royal sensed that Nelson was 'no ordinary being'.

The second image of Nelson is very different. Painted nearly 20 years later, it shows the battered and be-medalled hero that we have come to know so well. Nelson agreed to sit for Lemuel Francis Abbott, who produced several variations of his original portrait, updating the Admiral's decorations and appearance as appropriate.

At the original sitting, Nelson was still in great pain from the amputation of his right arm. His face shows the marks of illness, fatigue, and the strain of long periods at sea. But although now almost blind in his right eye, Nelson's features reflect his zeal and indomitable spirit.

His portrait does not belie the more personal pains he suffered and his struggle with his own conscience. Now passionately in love with Emma, Lady Hamilton, wife of the aging Sir William Hamilton, Britain's ambassador at Naples, he realized that his own marriage was effectively over.

Lord Nelson by Lemuel Francis Abbott

Nelson's attire tells us something else. He had acquired a reputation for vanity, which sometimes got the better of his dignity. Caricaturists such as James Gillray made fun of Nelson's desire to cover himself in medals and orders in public. His embarrassed fellow officers described him more like a prince of the opera than the hero of the Nile. When presented with a 'Chelengk', or plume of diamonds, by the Sultan of Turkey after that battle, he insisted on wearing it pinned on his cocked hat. The decoration contained a small mechanical device that, when wound, made its center rotate in a clockwise motion!

For all his quirky personality traits, his charisma and bravery as a naval commander never came into question. Nelson always led his men by example and from the front. He first made his name at the Battle of St. Vincent in February 1797. During this battle, although a commodore, he led a boarding party across first one enemy ship, and then proceeded to use that as a bridge to capture yet another.

In July the same year, he was personally involved in a boat action off Cadiz. He later recalled: 'This was a service, hand to hand with swords.' The artist Richard Westall vividly recalls that night and dramatically captures the intensity of the fight. Nelson's coxswain, Sykes, standing on his right, saved the admiral's life twice that night by placing himself between Nelson and enemy cutlasses. On the second occasion, Sykes was wounded badly in the process. Apart from illustrating Nelson's personal bravery, this incident shows the depth of the loyalty he inspired in his men, they were quite literally prepared to die for him.

Nelson also showed a genius for taking daring but calculated risks. He broke rules and openly disobeyed his superiors when he thought the need arose. At the Battle of Copenhagen in 1801, Admiral Sir Hyde Parker, on his flagship some way off from the heat of the action, thought that the British were losing the day and hoisted the signal 'Disengage action'. From his own position, Nelson, Parker's second-in-command, could see the battle turning his way. When the Commander-in-Chief hoisted his instruction, Nelson purposefully put his telescope to his blind eye and exclaimed, 'I really do not see the signal!'

He fought on until the Danish surrendered. This single act, if things had gone wrong, would have meant immediate disgrace and court-martial. But Nelson trusted his own judgment and was proved right. After the battle, Hyde Parker embraced a weary Nelson, grateful that his second-in-command's insubordination had saved the day.

Nelson & Emma Hamilton

Away from the heat of battle, however, Nelson displayed a more susceptible side. Now separated from his wife forever, he bought a house in Merton, Surrey, and lived there with both Sir William and Lady Hamilton until Sir William's death in April 1803. From then on he spent his few remaining periods ashore in the tranquility of the home he openly shared with Emma and their daughter Horatia, who, although born in 1801, lived with a foster mother until Sir William died.

Influenced perhaps by Emma or even his travels to foreign ports, he developed a taste for the grand and splendid, and the design of his personal china, also now on display in the National Maritime Museum, reflects the extravagant side of this complicated man. His full coat of arms and the dates of his victories decorate each piece of the service.

When touring England with the Hamiltons in 1802, Nelson visited the famous porcelain factories at Worcester and ordered what is now known as the 'Horatia Service'. Decorated in a rich Imari pattern, it bears his four crests. The service took so long to prepare that it is doubtful whether he saw it at Merton before he left England for the last time in September 1805. One thing is certain: when he and Emma entertained, which they did often, the dinner table laid out with his china and silver services that had been presented to him must have looked stunning.

Perhaps the most personal relics intimately associated with Nelson symbolize the undying love he finally found with Emma Hamilton. Shortly before he left for Trafalgar, Nelson and Emma exchanged betrothal rings, in the form of clasped hands, at a private ceremony at which they also took communion. Although their relationship was the talk of society, in Nelson's eyes, he and Emma were married.

They both wore their rings constantly. Removed from his finger after his death, Nelson's ring was returned to a distraught Emma Hamilton. Both rings are currently on display in the National Maritime Museum's Nelson Gallery, having been reunited for the first time since 1805.

Nelson's last battle

Nelson sailed from England for the last time that same year. The whole fleet rejoiced that he was to be their Commander-in-Chief. He confided in his captains, now affectionately referred to as his 'band of brothers', who knew exactly what he wanted them to do. After a long chase, Nelson finally caught up with the combined fleets of France and Spain on the morning of 21st October. As he had planned, the British fleet sailed toward the enemy in two lines, thus cutting through the combined fleet so that the rear and center sections would be overwhelmed before the vanguard could turn and assist.

At Nelson's instruction, and to 'amuse the fleet', the most famous signal ever flown at sea was now hoisted. It read: 'England expects that every man will do his duty.'

As the battle raged around him, Nelson walked Victory's quarterdeck with Captain Thomas Hardy. At approximately 1.15 pm a musket ball fired from the French ship Redoubtable struck him in the left shoulder. It pierced one of his lungs and lodged in his spine. Nelson knew that his wound was mortal, and exclaimed 'They have done me at last, my backbone is shot through!'

An employee poses with a large fragment of the Union Jack flag believed to have flown from Lord Horatio Nelson's ship, the HMS Victory at the battle of Trafalgar (est. £80,000 - 100,000) at Sotheby's on January 11, 2018 in London, England.

Carried below, he requested that his hair be cut off and given to Lady Hamilton. He died at 4.30 pm, after having learned that he had won a great victory.

Perhaps the most famous Nelson relic of all is the uniform coat he wore on that fateful day. The bullet hole and torn epaulet are plain to see. Before the battle, Nelson refused to change into a less conspicuous coat, as suggested by officers concerned for his safety. Perhaps a premonition had told him that he was meant to die at the moment of his greatest victory. Immediately before the battle, he shocked one of his captains by saying, 'God bless you, Blackwood, I shall never speak to you again.'

And what of his legacy? Trafalgar gave the British Navy supremacy of the seas for nearly a century. His death brought about an outpouring of public grief hardly equaled to this day. Fascination with his life, both personal and public, had begun. In death, Nelson had finally achieved his greatest ambition, immortality.


Admiral Lord Nelson

In 1758 a small sickly baby boy was born, son of the Rector of Burnham Thorpe in Norfolk.

No one could have envisaged that this child would, in his lifetime, become one of England’s greatest heroes.

Sent to sea aged 12, he soon found that although he loved the ships and the sea, he would suffer from terrible seasickness all his life.

Nelson was a small man, just 5ft 4in tall, of slight build and with a weak constitution. He was frequently very ill with recurrent bouts of malaria and dysentery, relics of his time in the tropics, Madras, Calcutta and Ceylon.

In 1780 he was again very ill, this time with scurvy and his life, and the lives of his shipboard companions, hung in the balance. But once again this small, apparently frail man survived!

In spite of his frail health, in 1784 he was given the command of the Boreas and was on duty in the West Indies when he met and married Frances Nisbet, a widow.

After an idle period at home in Norfolk, he was recalled and given the command of the Agamemnon in 1793.

From 1793 until his death at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805 he was involved in battle after battle. He suffered serious injury during these years, losing the sight in his right eye at the Battle of Calvi in Corsica and his right arm at Santa Cruz in Tenerife.

Nelson was a brilliant tactician and was often able to surprise his enemies by audacious tactics. At the Battle of the Nile in 1798 his daring and courage completely outwitted the French when he sailed his ships between the shore and the French Fleet. The French guns that faced the shore were not ready for action, as it was believed that Nelson could not possibly attack from that position! Nelson was created Baron Nelson of the Nile by a grateful country after this stunning victory.

While Nelson was in Naples in 1793 he met the lady who was to become the great love of his life, Emma, Lady Hamilton. She was a great beauty with a voluptuous figure and a rather ‘shady’ past. Eventually in 1801 Nelson abandoned his wife and lived with his ‘dearest Emma’. A daughter was born in 1801 and christened Horatia, a child whom Nelson doted on, though she was never aware who her mother was.

1801 was also the year in which Nelson destroyed the Danish Navy at the Battle of Copenhagen. During the battle he was sent a signal to break off action by the Admiral Sir Hyde Parker. Nelson reputedly put his telescope to his blind eye and said to his Flag Lieutenant, “You know Foley I have only one eye. I have a right to be blind sometimes. I really do not see the signal”.

Nelson had great courage and was a brave man as he endured intense pain when his arm was amputated without an anaesthetic. The surgeon wrote in his diary, “Nelson bore the pain without complaint, but was given opium afterwards”. After the operation Nelson suggested that the surgeon should heat his knives first, as the cold knives were more painful!

War broke out again with France in 180, and Nelson was for many months on watch in the Mediterranean. On October 20th 1805, the French and Spanish fleets put to sea and off the southern coast of Spain the Battle of Trafalgar took place. This was to be Nelson’s last and most famous victory.

Before the battle, Nelson sent his famous signal to the Fleet, “England expects that every man will do his duty”. It was at the height of the battle that Nelson was shot as he paced the deck of his ship Victory. He was easily recognisable by the marksmen on the French ships as he was wearing his full dress uniform and all his medals, and seemed impervious to the danger he was in.

He died shortly after he was taken below decks and his body was taken ashore at Rosia Bay in Gibraltar. His body was sent back to England in a barrel full of brandy which acted as a preservative during the long journey home. The injured from the battle were cared for and those who did not survive were buried in the Trafalgar Cemetery, Gibraltar their graves remain carefully tended to this day.

Nelson’s funeral in London was a tremendous occasion, the streets lined with weeping people. The funeral procession was so long that the Scots Greys who led the procession reached the doors of St. Paul’s Cathedral before the mourners at the rear had left the Admiralty. He was buried in the crypt of St. Paul’s.

In London’s Trafalgar Square can be seen the country’s memorial to the most inspiring leader the British Navy has ever had. Nelson’s column, erected in 1840, stands 170ft high and is crowned with a statue of Nelson on the top.


Reflections on ‘Nelson’s Dark Side’

I have been interested in Admiral Lord Nelson for about as long as I can remember. I knew him first as the heroic victor of the Battle of Trafalgar. Famously, Nelson gave his life to help win that battle, against the rival combined fleets of Napoleonic France and Spain. Badly wounded at the height of the fighting, Nelson died aboard his flagship HMS Victory shortly after the last shot was fired. His signal to the British fleet at the start of the battle is as vivid in my memory as any of the lines from Shakespeare that I had to learn at school: ‘England expects every man will do his duty’.

Part of J.M.W. Turner’s famous painting of the Battle of Trafalgar

But in later years I have come to know a different Nelson. My research and teaching have focused on the history of the British empire, and my particular focus has been on the British sugar colonies in the Caribbean during the eighteenth century. I learned that Nelson’s first long sea-voyage as an adolescent boy was to the sugar colonies of the West Indies, that he served in the region as a young Naval officer during the War of American Independence, and that he met his wife while stationed in the eastern Caribbean during the 1780s.

The transatlantic slave trade and the wider institution of slavery drove the plantation economies of the British Caribbean. But beginning in the 1780s, a nationwide British campaign, spearheaded by William Wilberforce, helped bring an end first to slave trading between Africa and the Caribbean (in 1807) and then to slavery itself (during the 1830s). The debate over the future of slavery divided Britons. Wilberforce personified one type of British patriotism—arguing for an end to slave-trading on the basis that it was a blot on the reputation of a proud and Christian nation. Slaveholders offered their own patriotic arguments—maintaining that the trade was so instrumental to the imperial economy that Britain could ill-afford to stop it.

Nelson had befriended several slaveholding colonists during his time in the Caribbean. Privately, he came to sympathise with their political outlook. It is clear that, by the time of his death at Trafalgar, he despised Wilberforce and stood in staunch opposition to the British abolitionist campaign.

Horatio Nelson as a young man, in 1781, around that time he was posted in Jamaica

My article in BBC History Magazine, published this month, explores that part of Nelson’s story. It does so in part to try to show that Nelson was a complicated individual. Since his death, he has been elevated to the status of an almost god-like imperial, patriotic hero. But though uniquely gifted in command of a fleet, he was in other ways as fallible and flawed as any human being—shaped by his own experiences, friendships and prejudices.

By looking at those things, the article offers a new slant on the Nelson story. But it also does more than that. It shows how Nelson, the navy, and Trafalgar were all linked to the bigger British political struggle over the future of slavery—a struggle that Nelson’s actions at Trafalgar helped to resolve, albeit in unintended ways.

The article is one product of new research in the History department at the University of Southampton about the Royal Navy and the British Atlantic Empire of the eighteenth century. This has resulted in a book that I co-edited with Dr John McAleer, The Royal Navy and the British Atlantic World.

‘Nelson’s Dark Side’ is a distillation of parts of my chapter in the book, ‘The Royal Navy, the British Atlantic Empire and the Abolition of the Slave Trade’.


The Watch Lord Nelson Was Wearing When He Was Shot Is Sold At Auction

The Battle of Trafalgar remains one of the most well-known triumphs in British war history. A battle which saw intellect outsmart sheer power in numbers, and a battle where the strategist of the whole thing, Lord Nelson, got shot and died.

We will cover the historic event in this article, as well as take a closer look at Lord Nelson’s pocket watch which was sold at auction for 322,000 GBP in July 2018.

The timepiece was saved from Lord Nelson’s pocket just after he was shot by a French sniper. Daryn Schnipper, the chairman of Sotheby’s International Watch division, which was the auction house the watch was sold in states

“The perfect timing of the British assault at the Battle of Trafalgar was key in the historic victory of the Royal Navy, so to be able to offer for sale the watch that Nelson probably used to establish the timing for this decisive battle, is a real privilege.”

Credit for image telegraph

The Battle Of Trafalgar

If you have ever visited London, you will probably have set foot on Trafalgar Square. And if you are very observant, or if a guide pointed it out, you will have noticed the statue, Nelson’s column which towers over the square.

This is how significant both Lord Nelson and this battle are to British history. The new owner of this historic watch has put a price on a timepiece which is truly priceless.

Why was the Battle of Trafalgar so important?

This was a battle of Britain Vs Spain & France’s Fleets combined. In the Battle of Trafalgar, the British fleet was completely outnumbered and outgunned. Many leaders going into that position would have crumbled but Nelson had a plan. He would use the intellect to win the battle.

Nelson knew that his fleet was very well trained and had great national pride – they were willing to defend their country no matter what. Nelson saw this as a great benefit and one which, if used correctly could outweigh the additional cannons and men the French & Spanish fleets had.

Traditionally, when fleets from opposing sides came together in battle they would meet each other in what was called “ship of the line”. Either side would line up head to head and then use their cannons to launch at the ships opposite until one side was damaged enough that they would begin to retreat.

Nelson disrupted this usual pattern.

Instead of lining his ships up facing the fleet. He used a formation with a lead ship in front, and the others behind it and then directed his ships to sail single file through the line of French and Spanish ships.


This not only made it incredibly difficult for the Spanish and French ships to hit the British fleet with their cannons, but it also broke off their line of communication and split their fleet in too.

Though risky the maneuver worked and Britain won the battle.

Credit for image awesomestories

The Watch

credit for image theguardian.com

Lord Nelson’s watch would have been used to time the entire battle. It was one of his most intimate possessions and was believed to have been gifted to him. It was a luxury item, and it is unlikely he would have been able to afford it for himself.

It was returned to Nelson’s mistress, Lady Hamilton after his death and was then inherited by Nelson’s brother who then passed it onto his daughter, Charlotte.

Charlotte had the watch mounted as we see it today.

It was made by the famous English maker, Josiah Emery. He was the watchmaker who refined Mudge’s level escapement, which Emery used in precision pocket chronometers. He used this refined escapement in Lord Nelson’s watch.

Other features include an early form of temperature control, as well as a helical balance spring. The watch is one of the earliest examples of what would soon become the marine chronometer.

We hope you enjoyed learning about the connection between this watch and this fascinating piece of history!


Admiral Horatio Lord Nelson (1758 - 1805)

Horatio Nelson © Nelson was a British naval commander and national hero, famous for his naval victories against the French during the Napoleonic Wars.

Born on 29 September 1758 in Burnham Thorpe, Norfolk, Horatio Nelson was the sixth of the 11 children of a clergyman. He joined the navy aged 12, on a ship commanded by a maternal uncle. He became a captain at 20, and saw service in the West Indies, Baltic and Canada. He married Frances Nisbet in 1787 in Nevis, and returned to England with his bride to spend the next five years on half-pay, frustrated at the lack of a command.

When Britain entered the French Revolutionary Wars in 1793, Nelson was given command of the Agamemnon. He served in the Mediterranean, helped capture Corsica and saw battle at Calvi (where he lost the sight in his right eye). He would later lose his right arm at the Battle of Santa Cruz de Tenerife in 1797.

As a commander he was known for bold action, and the occasional disregard of orders from his seniors. This defiance brought him victories against the Spanish off Cape Vincent in 1797, and at the Battle of Copenhagen four years later, where he ignored orders to cease action by putting his telescope to his blind eye and claiming he couldn't seen the signal to withdraw.

At the Battle of the Nile in 1798, he successfully destroyed Napoleon's fleet and thus his bid for a direct trade route to India. Nelson's next posting took him to Naples, where he fell in love with Emma, Lady Hamilton. Although they remained in their respective marriages, Nelson and Emma Hamilton considered each other soul-mates and had a child together, Horatia, in 1801. Earlier that same year, Nelson was promoted to vice-admiral.

Over the period 1794 to 1805, under Nelson's leadership, the Royal Navy proved its supremacy over the French. His most famous engagement, at Cape Trafalgar, saved Britain from threat of invasion by Napoleon, but it would be his last. Before the battle on 21 October 1805, Nelson sent out the famous signal to his fleet 'England expects that every man will do his duty'. He was killed by a French sniper a few hours later while leading the attack on the combined French and Spanish fleet. His body was preserved in brandy and transported back to England where he was given a state funeral.


New Portrait of Lord Nelson Found, Scars and All

The average American may only be vaguely familiar with Vice-Admiral Horatio Nelson, the British Navy admiral and hero of the Napoleonic Wars. But to the United Kingdom, he is like George Washington, Ulysses S. Grant and George Patton rolled into one. In general, portraits of the genial general and naval genius show him in a flattering light. Some depict him as almost divine. But Camilla Turner at El Telégrafo reports that a recent re-discovery of a long lost painting aims for realism, showing his battle scars and war-weary face in a way other artists avoided.

Turner reports that the image is a painting completed by Italian artist Leonardo Guzzardi in 1799. It is one of a series of portraits painted by Guzzardi depicting the naval hero. In his paintings, Guzzardi did not shirk from showing the wounds on Nelson’s face or his missing arm (after losing it in battle, he apparently returned to giving orders just half an hour after the amputation, according to personal accounts). But over the years, institutions that own those portraits, some of which just show Nelson’s face and some of which depict his entire figure, painted over or lightened the facial disfigurement.

In fact, Turner reports that the same had been done to the rediscovered painting, which was found in an American collection by art dealer Philip Mould. During a restoration effort, the paint was removed, revealing the original reddish wound and missing eyebrow.

“Nelson is emaciated and battle worn, with a scarred head, a missing arm (undetectable in the rendering), a blood-shot eye, and largely missing eyebrow,” Mould writes in a description for the portrait, now on display (and for sale for an undisclosed price) from Philip Mould & Company. “The portrait is uncompromising, so much so that one past owner, no doubt discomforted by the broken eyebrow, had it painted in to match that on the right.”

Mould tells Turner the experience was like "reversing plastic surgery." "Seeing the scar emerge was a remarkable moment—Nelson the human replaced the more heroic projection," he says.

Guzzardi (and other artists) made multiple versions of this Nelson portrait. According to research by Mould and scholar Martyn Downer, the newly unearthed painting is one of Nelson's earlier iterations (the number of medals and orders Nelson wears indicates whether the painting was made before or after August 1799).

Before it surfaced, art historians already were aware this version of the portrait existed. In the early 1880s, a London art dealer found it rolled up and gathering dust in Italy. He eventually sold it to English collector and Nelson aficionado Alfred Morrison, and the portrait's known whereabouts were last reported in 1897, when it was in Morrison's collection. After his death, the work was sold by Morrison's wife, eventually ending up in New York, where it was acquired by a George M Juergens after his death in�, the portrait's new owner became an unidentified friend of Juergens.

While it’s natural to lionize Nelson by covering up his injuries, his wounds are a big part of his legend. Unlike other commanders, he put himself on the line of fire. In July 1797, Nelson led an assault on Tenerife in the Canary Islands, taking a musket ball to the arm as soon as he stepped ashore. The limb was amputated, but according to legend (and personal accounts) Nelson was issuing orders again half an hour later. He sustained the injury to his eye during the Battle of the Nile in 1798, a key victory for the British during the Napoleonic Wars. He was shot in the face by a French sniper, exposing an inch-long section of his skull. That left a large scar and removed most of his eyebrow. 

Nelson’s string of luck ran out in 1805 at the Battle of Trafalgar off the coast of Spain. France and Spain were preparing an invasion of the British Isles and only the British Navy stood in their way. Nelson devised an innovative close-combat strategy for his fleet. It was a little too close. Another French sniper hit him in the shoulder aboard his command ship, with the fatal musket ball traveling into his back. The intense melee took four and half hours, but Nelson lasted long enough to hear that his forces had won. Trafalgar Square in the center of London, where Nelson looks down from his Column, are a memorial to that decisive battle.

About Jason Daley

Jason Daley is a Madison, Wisconsin-based writer specializing in natural history, science, travel, and the environment. His work has appeared in Discover, Popular Science, Outside, Men’s Journal, and other magazines.