Special Sub-Topic: The Battle of Trafalgar
|On what date did the Battle of Trafalgar begin?|
October 21, 1805. It also ended on October 21, 1805.
August 22, 1805 was the day Nelson returned to Portsmouth, England after searching for French Admiral Pierre de Villenueve in the West Indies. Villenueve also commanded the Franco-Spanish combined fleet at Trafalgar.
September 27, 1805 was the day Nelson arrived off Cadiz, Spain to wait for the Franco-Spanish fleet to sortie.
October 19, 1805 was the day the Franco-Spanish fleet left Cadiz.
|What did Nelson call his plan to defeat the opposing fleet at the Trafalgar?|
The Nelson Touch. "The Nelson Touch" called for the Franco-Spanish line to be broken in two places, resulting in terrific confusion. His fleet would then attack the center and rear of the enemy's line, forcing the remainder of the enemy's fleet to reverse course to defend the cutoff ships, taking them out of the battle for what Nelson hoped to be a considerable period of time.
|What was the name of Nelson's flagship at Trafalgar?|
HMS Victory. Nelson was captain of HMS Agamemnon at the Battle of Cape St. Vincent in 1797, where he helped defeat the Spanish Fleet.
HMS Royal Sovereign was Vice Admiral Cuthbert Collingwood's ship at Trafalgar.
HMS Dreadnought was one of Nelson's ships of the line at Trafalgar.
|The enemy fleet that Nelson faced at Trafalgar was comprised of ships from which nations?|
France and Spain. Napoleon controlled the Spanish Navy as part of the terms of surrender following France's defeat of Spain in 1795 after Spain invaded France. The Spanish sailors understandably resented being forced to serve Napoleon and were known to murder any French sailor foolish enough to walk the streets of Cadiz alone.
|What famous words did Nelson signal to his fleet when engagement was imminent?|
"England expects that every man will do his duty.". Nelson's original message was, "Nelson confides that every man will do his duty." His chief signalman, Lieutenant John Pasco, persuaded Nelson to change 'confides' to 'expects' since the word 'expects' was in the signal corps vocabulary while 'confides' would have to be spelled out. Another officer persuaded Nelson to use 'England' rather than his own name in the message. The wording caused some resentment among the men of the fleet as they took the message to question their devotion to duty.
|How long did the Battle of Trafalgar last?|
Five hours. The battle began at 12:00 hours and was over by 17:00 hours. In five hours, the combined Franco-Spanish fleet of 33 ships surrendered 17 ships and one was sunk. Nelson's fleet numbered 27 ships of the line. All survived the battle and none were surrendered to the enemy.
|What were Nelson's last words?|
"Thank God, I have done my duty.". Nelson did tell ship's surgeon Beatty, "Mr. Beatty, you can do nothing for me."
Nelson's affair with Lady Emma Hamilton, the wife of the British ambassador to Naples, was widely known and he did implore Captain Thomas Hardy, "Take care of my dear Lady Hamilton, Hardy," before he expired.
|Who assumed command of the British fleet after Nelson was killed?|
Vice-Admiral Cuthbert Collingwood. Vice-Admiral Cuthbert Collingwood was a close friend of Nelson and commanded the southern column of the British fleet at Trafalgar. He saw the battle through and secured victory for England.
Captain Thomas Hardy was Captain of HMS Victory, Nelson's flagship.
Vice-Admiral Sir Robert Calder prevented the Franco-Spanish fleet from invading England in August 1805, an act for which he stood court-martial because he was not aggressive enough for some at the admiralty. He was exonerated.
Guy Fawkes was an English soldier and member of a group of who attempted to carry out the Gunpowder Plot on 5 November 1605. Ironically, word of the Royal Navy's victory at Trafalgar arrived in England on Guy Fawkes' Day in 1805.
|How was Nelson killed during the battle of Trafalgar?|
Gunshot wound. Modern study posits that Nelson was hit by a ricocheting bullet rather than shot directly. Regardless, the bullet punctured Nelson's left lung, broke two ribs, and severed an artery before lodging in his spine. Nelson suffered for several hours before succumbing to his wounds and was able to describe his injury to ship's surgeon, William Beatty.
|Nelson was buried at sea after he fell mortally wounded at Trafalgar.|
False. The custom at the time was to send corpses over the side, but Nelson implored Captain Thomas Hardy, Captain of HMS Victory, to not throw him over the side to which Hardy replied, "Oh, no, certainly not." Nelson was given a state funeral and was buried at St. Paul's Cathedral. His victory at Trafalgar ensured his status as a British hero of the highest order.
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