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Name: The Death of Lord Nelson by William Beattie
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Size: 87 MB
Date Add: May 20, 2009
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The Death of Lord Nelson, 1805

It was one of the greatest sea battles in British history and gave birth to a legend. Off the coast of Spain's Cape Trafalgar Peninsula, the British Fleet, led by Lord Horatio Nelson, took on a combined French and Spanish force to determine who would be the master of the waves. England's very existence was at stake for France's Napoleon Bonaparte was poised to send his powerful army across the English Channel to conquer the island. The only obstacle standing in his way was the British fleet.

Lord Nelson
The battle commenced on October 21, 1805 with Nelson's famous words signaled to his fleet: "England expects that every man will do his duty." Nelson had devised an unorthodox battle plan that called for his ships to attack the enemy broadside in two parallel lines, break into the enemy's formation and blast his opponents at close quarters.

As Nelson watched from the deck of the HMS Victory the battle soon turned into a confused melee of combat between individual ships. The fighting was at such close quarters that the Victory became entangled with the French ship Redoubtable. Locked together in a deadly ballet, each ship blasted its enemy at point-blank range. From his perch in the upper rigging of the Redoubtable, a French sharpshooter took aim at a prized target on the deck of the Victory, fired and sent a musket ball into Nelson's left shoulder. Continuing its journey, the bullet tore a path through the Admiral's upper body before smashing into his lower back. It was a mortal wound.

Nelson was carried below decks while the battle raged on. He lived long enough to hear the news of the Redoubtable's surrender and of his fleet's victory after four and one-half hours of combat.


Dr. William Beatty was a physician aboard the Victory and attended Nelson as he lay dying. The doctor published his account soon after the battle. We join his story as Nelson and the Captain of the Victory observe the battle from the ship's quarter deck:

"Lord Nelson and Captain Hardy walked the quarter-deck in conversation for some time after this, while the enemy kept up an incessant raking fire. A double-headed shot struck one of the parties of Marines drawn up on the poop, and killed eight of them; when his lordship, perceiving this, ordered Captain Adair, to disperse his men round the ship, that they might not suffer so much from being together. In a few minutes afterwards a shot struck the fore-brace-bits on the quarter-deck, and passed between Lord Nelson and Captain Hardy; a splinter from the bits bruising Captain Hardy's foot, and tearing the buckle from his shoe. They both instantly stopped; and were observed by the Officers on deck to survey each other with inquiring looks, each supposing the other to be wounded. His lordship then smiled, and said: 'This is too warm work, Hardy, to last long;' and declared that 'through all the battles he had been in, he had never witnessed more cool courage than was displayed by the Victory's crew on this occasion.'



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