For amateur historians and trivia collectors everywhere

Location: Masterton, New Zealand

I survived school history despite the best efforts of the education system to bore me to death. Many years later, I discovered Treaties, dates, the movement of nations, are mere context. The fascination is in the details.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Returning to England after the Battle of Trafalgar, the victorious British fleet - with prize ships in tow - ran into a gale. Sir Henry Blackwood, writing from the Euryalus (36 guns) on 25th October 1805, described the chaos.

"All yesterday and last night the majority of the English fleet have been in the most perilous state, our ships much crippled with dismasted prizes in tow, our crews tired out, and many thousands of prisoners to guard - all to be done with a gale of wind blowing us right on the shore .... The melancholy sights we experienced yesterday of ships driven on shore, others burning, and the rest that we have been forced to sink, after withdrawing as many men as we could for fear of their again falling into the hands of the enemy, cannot be described. Close to the port of Cadiz I had to destroy the Santissima Trinidada, a Spanish ship of 100 guns .... The French commander-in-chief, Villeneuve, is at this moment at my elbow .... his despair and astonishment at so many having fallen cannot be easily conceived."
('Nelson and his Captains', W.H. Fitchett, 1911)

Meanwhile, the French newspaper 'Le Moniteur' was churning out this incredible piece of propaganda.


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