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The Battle of Trafalgar and Lord Nelson in 1805

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The Battle of Trafalgar

Image source: Wikimedia

The Battle of Trafalgar in 1805

In 1805 the British fleet under Lord Nelson defeated the French and Spanish fleets in one of the most famous sea battles of all time - the Battle of Trafalgar. It was fought off Cape Trafalgar in the south of Spain, not far from Gibraltar. The battle finally brought to an end Napoleon's hopes of invading England, and tragically cost the life of Lord Nelson as well as so many men.

The French Admiral Villeneuve sailed out with his Combined Fleet into the Mediterranean on 19 October with a total of 33 French and Spanish ships looking for the British fleet. Soon afterwards, Villeneuve spotted the British and estimated that he was to engage at least 27 ships. The British fleet sailed out in two lines and Nelsons flagship the Victory headed a line of 12. The other line of 15 ships was led by Admiral Collingwood sailing in the Royal Sovereign. With both fleets converging head on the Battle of Trafalgar was about to begin.

Admiral Collingwood started the battle by attacking the rear of the combined French and Spanish fleets. Nelson's ships continued to press on giving his famous signal England expects that every man will do his duty. Nelson's ship managed to break through and get close to Villeneuve's ship the Bucentaure and open fire. Nelson then became aware that another French ship the Redoutable was also firing on him. It was at this point in the battle that the Victory was suddenly hit by a bullet from the Redoutable which hit Nelson as he was standing on the quarterdeck. The shot was fatal and Nelson died shortly afterwards.

The battle of Trafalgar now started to break up with the Spanish Admiral Gravina's ships turning back to Cadiz with the rest of the French and Spanish ships following. At the end of the battle the Bucentaure and the Redoutable both sank and Admiral Villeneuve was taken prisoner.

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