English Report of Trafalgar

From The Hampshire Chronicle

Victory at Trafalgar and the death of Lord Nelson
Great Naval Victory
6 November 1805.


Dispatches of which the following are Copies, were received at the Admiralty Office this day, at one o'clock, A.M. from Vice Admiral Collingwood. Commander in Chief of his Majesty's ships and vessels off Cadiz: Euryalus, off Cape Trafalgar, Oct. 22.

SIR, THE ever to be lamented death of Vice Admiral Lord Viscount Nelson, who, in the late conflict with the enemy, fell in the hour of victory, leaves to me the duty of informing my Lord Commissioners of the Admiralty, that on the 19th inst. it was communicated to the Commander in Chief from the ships watching the motions of the enemy in Cadiz, that the combined fleet had put to sea; as they sailed with light winds westerly, his Lordship concluded their destination was the Mediterranean, and immediately made all sail for the Streights' entrance, with the British squadron, consisting of twenty-seven ships, three of them sixty-fours, where his Lordship was informed by Captain Blackwood (whose vigilance in watching, and giving notice of the enemy's movements, has been highly meritorious) that they had not yet passed the Streights.

On Monday, the 21st instant, at day light, when Cape Trafalgar bore E. by S. about seven leagues, the enemy was discovered six or seven miles to the eastward, the wind about west, and very light, the Commander in Chief immediately made the signal for the fleet to bear up in two columns, as they are formed in order of sailing; a mode of attack his Lordship had previously directed, to avoid the inconvenience and delay in forming a line of battle in the usual manner.

The enemy's line consisted of thirty-three ships (of which 18 were French and 15 Spanish) commanded in chief by Admiral Villeneuve; the Spaniards under the direction of Gravina, wore, with their heads to the northward, and formed the line of battle with great closeness and correctness;-but as the mode of attack was unusual, so the structure of their line was new; it formed a crescent convexing to leeward-so that, in leading down to their centre, I had both their van and rear, abaft the beam; before the fire opened, every alternate ship was about a cable's length to windward of her second a-head, and a-stern, forming a kind of double line, and appeared, when on their beam, to leave a very littler interval between them; and this without crowding their ships.

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