Amazing articles on just about every subject...




Famous Warriors:
 John Paul Jones

 Nelson

 Napoleon I

 Wellington

 Oliver Hazard Perry

 Von Moltke

 Garibaldi

 Robert Edward Lee

 William Tecumseh Sherman

 Ulysses Simpson Grant

 Read More Articles About: Famous Warriors

Nelson

( Originally Published Early 1900's )

1758-1805

THE HERO OF TRAFALGAR

From his earliest years Horatio Nelson was endowed with that daring spirit and love of adventure, which, put to the test in the service of his King and country, established his memory for all time as one of the most illustrious among the men who have filled the front rank in national contests.

Courageous to the degree of rashness, of sound judgment, self possessed, confident, full of resources, he combined to an extraordinary degree all of the qualifications which made his career glorious, startled the world and changed the history of Europe.

His history contains one dark chapter. The responsibility for this is due to the one ruling weakness in this strong man's nature susceptibility to the influence of a wicked, intriguing woman, who caused him to place a blot upon his own name and brought the blush of shame to the cheeks of his countrymen.

He was born at Burnham-Thorpe, Norfolk, England, September 29, 1758. His father was Edmund Nelson, a rector, and Horatio was the younger son in a family of eleven children. His mother died shortly after his birth and the shaping of his young mind was left entirely to the father, who acted both as parent and schoolmaster. Young Nelson's connection with the British navy began when he was twelve years old. At this time, through the aid of Captain Maurice Suckling, his uncle, who commanded the Raisonable, permission was reluctantly given, and the lad was taken aboard. After completing two cruises with his uncle he embarked on a merchant vessel for a protracted voyage and after his return to England, enlisted with a North polar expedition which occupied a year of his life.

These enterprises, fraught as they were with all the rude experiences, the hardships and rigors of a sailor's life, served the double purpose of bestowing upon the youth a thorough knowledge of seamanship, strengthened his constitution, which had been feeble from infancy, and thus fortified him mentally and physically to meet the exigencies which the future demanded of him.

Returning again to England from this severe schooling in the arctic regions he once more found service in the navy, being placed by his uncle on board a corvette bound for a voyage in the Indian ocean. He was there affected by the unhealthy latitude and at one period during this time, according to his own accounts, was so over-come with melancholy that he felt prompted to abandon his profession and even contemplated suicide. But at this critical moment in his life the heroic impulses of his boy-hood triumphed and he declared that if perish he must it should be in the service of his native land. He was permitted to return to England to recover his health and after a course of study, at the conclusion of which he passed a brilliant examination, he was appointed a Lieutenant in the Royal navy and ordered to American seas for service against the colonies then struggling for independence.

Soon afterward he participated in expeditions fitted out against French and Spanish colonies and in this service he was repeatedly marked for distinction owing to the many hazardous tasks in which he was involved, and which he persistently sought. His services were recognized and appreciated to the extent that although but twenty-one years of age he was given command of a sloop of twenty-six guns. His first winter as Post Captain was passed in a cruise in the North Sea and in the spring he was ordered to return to the American coast where he further distinguished himself by a number of exploits and captures which secured for him high compliments from the King and enabled him to triumph over the naval authorities in a controversy involving prize money.

Following this came practically the only period of peace in Nelson's life. He was on March 11, 1787, married to Mrs. Nisbet, a young widow of nineteen. With his bride he returned to the home of his father and his childhood. Here he gave himself up to absolute repose and to all appearances had banished entirely from his mind all thoughts of the ocean and occupied himself wholly with the interests which surrounded him in his rural abode. His retirement from the navy was deplored not only by his companions in arms but the nation at large as he had already been singled out as a hero and it is on record in the journal of one of his fellow officers, written at the time, that Nelson's retirement was a most serious loss to the navy as "he would have been the greatest naval commander this country has ever produced."

But Nelson had not lost the indomitable spirit which had thus far controlled him, for when the occasion arase he was as ready and eager as ever to respond to the call of his country. The interruption to his peaceful domestic life came in 1792 when war broke out with France. Nelson was then, at the recommendation of Lord Hood, appointed to the command of the Agamemnon, a ship of the line. He was ordered to the Mediterranean to protect the coast and harbor of Naples. While thus engaged he took part in land engagements, among them being the siege of Bastia and the investment of Cadiz. In the latter engagement he suffered the loss of one of his eyes.

It was during Nelson's early operations in the Mediterranean that the most baneful event in his career was brought about. Always susceptible to the attentions of women he here permitted himself to take a step which ruined his domestic relations and would doubtless, but for the splendor of his achievements in the service of his country, have blighted his future. This circumstance in his life began with an attachment for Lady Hamilton, wife of the English ambassador at Naples. Nelson was received by Sir Hamilton with great pomp and ceremony. Sir Hamilton's announcement to Lady Hamilton of the coming of Nelson was prophetic. "I am going to introduce to you," he said, "an officer who has not much pretension to personal beauty, but who is one day destined to astonish the world by his great achievements."

Thus prepared by her husband, Lady Hamilton, a beautiful and talented adventuress of obscure birth, at once planned to exercise her blandishments upon Nelson to enslave him in order that she might further her own interests in the intrigues of the court of Naples against France. Nelson willingly abandoned himself to the influences of this wily woman and to such an extent that it eventually led to separation from his wife, incurred displeasure of his sovereign, and ultimately resulted in his acquiescence in a cruel crime which forms a dark blot upon the glory of his career. His infatuation for Lady Hamilton was such that on several occasions he even disobeyed the orders of his Government in order that he might remain near Naples and Lady Hamilton.

Grave, however, as were his errors during this period he still continued to retain the confidence of his superiors and following his successful operations during the winter of 1795 and 1796 in cutting off the supplies for the French army on the Italian coast, he was made Commodore. In 1796, when Spain formed an alliance with France and declared war, Nelson succeeded in another of those remarkable enterprises of reckless courage and audacious bravery which caused the world to marvel. During the battle off Cape St. Vincent on February 13, 1797, while the Spanish Admiral was endeavoring to re-form his broken line of battle and was on the point of succeeding, Nelson, disregarding the explicit orders of his superiors, boldly attacked a detached section of the Spanish squadron with his single ship and so vigorously and skillfully did he engage the greatly superior number of the enemy that the Spanish Admiral was compelled to withdraw in defeat. For his promptitude and valor on this occasion, even though he acted in disregard of the rules of the service, Nelson was made an Admiral and decorated with the order of the Bath. It was shortly after this while engaged in an attack on Santa Cruz that he lost an arm.

We now come to a period in Nelson's career where his recognized genius and superiority as a sea fighter received an additional and signal impetus by the conferring upon him of an independent command. Bonaparte had embarked at Toulon a force on the most formidable fleet that had navigated the Mediterranean since the Crusades. This move, secretly and hastily accomplished, left the British ministry in doubt regarding the real object of the expedition. Lord St. Vincent, then in command of the English naval forces, did not dare to abandon the blockade of Cadiz and the French ports. He selected Nelson to pursue and if possibly destroy the armament of the French. With sixteen ships of the line, including his flagship, the Vanguard, Nelson set out blindly to seek the enemy, having no information of a definite nature concerning their course. His task was one of extreme difficulty. He visited Corsica and vainly searched the Spanish Main, finally returning to Naples January 16, 1798, discouraged and sadly lacking in stores and ammunition. Added to the unenviable condition in which he found himself he here received the disheartening information that the French had reduced Malta and had again departed upon some unknown course. Nelson concluded that the French were destined for Egypt, but before reentering the pursuit it was necessary that his ships should receive fresh equipments. Through Lady Hamilton's influence at the Neapolitan court he was enabled to supply his wants notwithstanding the openly avowed neutrality of Naples, and within a few days he was once more scouring the seas in quest of the French fleet.

After traversing the Mediterranean and the Egyptian sea and receiving from time to time bitter reports from his native land of accusations of incapacity and dilatoriness which were being made against him there, his persistence was finally rewarded at dawn on August 1st when he discovered the French fleet at anchor in the Bay of Aboukir, six leagues from Alexandria and close to the mouth of the Nile. With the quickness and precision which always characterized his judgment on occasions of great moment, Nelson's plan of attack was hastily formed and promptly put into execution. The French squadron was located in an apparently secure position. Admiral Brueys had moored his fleet, which consisted of seventeen men-of-war and a number of smaller vessels, in the Bay of Aboukir. Six of the most powerful of his vessels he had arranged in a concave crescent following the sweep of the shore, supported on one side by the Island of Aboukir well fortified with cannon; the other side had the protection of an advanced arm of the bay.

An attack from the rear was deemed impossible, owing to the presence of treacherous shoals which were counted upon to prevent the advance of an enemy's ships from that quarter. Brueys' first act on sighting the English fleet was to send out two light brigs with instructions to reconnoiter the enemy and then to seek refuge in the bay by crossing the shoals, thus attempting to decoy the British into following the same course in the hope that their ships would run aground. Nelson, however, was cognizant of the danger, and paid no attention to the brigs. Instead he advanced directly upon the head of the French line, suddenly altered his course and passed between the Island of Aboukir and the French fleet with half of his squadron and, gaining the desired position in the rear of the French, after being compelled to leave one of his vessels the Culloden stranded on the sandbanks. The other half of Nelson's squadron remained in front of the French line. Until the maneuver had been fully carried out, Nelson did not fire a shot, but immediately upon obtaining his point of vantage, the anchored French fleet was simultaneously attacked upon both flanks. The fate of the French ships became at once apparent. There could be but one result. Although the French fought with desperation and displayed the greatest bravery, they were completely at the mercy of the foe. One by one the warships of France were disabled and wrecked, while their decks presented scenes of indescribable carnage and destruction. With the exception of two ships which escaped by taking to flight, the French fleet was utterly destroyed. The battle had raged far into the night, and the final and most spectacular incident in the catastrophe occurred an hour before midnight, when Admiral Brueys' flagship, the Orient, blew up with a terrific detonation. When the morning sun rose over the Bay of Aboukir all that remained of the proud French fleet was but the remnants of stranded hulls and burning vessels tossed about by the action of the waves.

The victory of Nelson was conceded by contemporary historians to be the most complete since the invention of gunpowder. Nelson's fleet had not escaped injury in the battle. Eighteen days were required to repair his squadron sufficiently to enable him to put to sea. As a consequence of the annihilation of so great a part of the French ,navy Nelson was generally credited with the capitulation of the French army in Egypt which, without the aid and support of the navy, was practically imprisoned in the land it had conquered. Toward the conclusion of the battle of the Nile Nelson received a wound in the forehead which he believed to be mortal. Confident that complete victory had been gained, he called his chaplain and calmly imparted to him the last remembrances to his family and country. It was soon determined, however, that his injury was superficial, and this knowledge among the crews caused as great rejoicing as did the outcome of the engagement.

Nelson's victory in the Bay of Aboukir furnished conclusive and corroborative proof of the supremacy of the English navy. It had been repeatedly demonstrated previously in lesser battles that British ships and sailors were superior to those of France, but in the great triumph at the Nile the navy of Great Britain gained a complete ascendency. It gave inspiration to the entire naval service and imbued officers and men with a new spirit that made England's ships and Nelson's name feared and respected all the world over.

Scarcely had his wound healed when Nelson hastened to Naples and gave himself up afresh to the domination of Lady Hamilton. The French were moving upon Naples, and this astute woman strenuously advocated the flight of the King and Queen. Owing to her relations with Nelson she had little difficulty in persuading him to receive the royal family together with herself and her husband on board his flagship and convey them, on the night of December 21st, in safety to Palermo, Sicily. In the meantime a Republic had been proclaimed in Naples, and Lady Hamilton instilled into Nelson's mind the hatred which she herself, as well as the King and Queen, possessed for the Republicans. At her solicitation Nelson assembled eighteen vessels and, accompanied by the woman who had begun to play an important rôle in his life, he sailed for Naples and entered the bay with his whole fleet under full sail, June 25, 1799. On his arrival, however, he found that the revolution had been put down and Naples occupied by the army of Cardinal Rufo, who had remained loyal to the court. The cardinal had entered into a treaty of capitulation which had been ratified by a representative of England, but the revengeful woman who stood beside Nelson on the bridge of his flagship would hear of no treaty. She demanded a full measure of satisfaction for her friend the Queen, and coerced Nelson into disregarding the treaty. The result of which instituted a reign of terror in which a massacre of forty thousand citizens followed before the vengeance of the Queen was satisfied. More painful even than this action of Nelson's in granting a horrifying license of treachery was his treatment of a former friend and companion in arms, Caraccioli, Admiral of the Neapolitan navy. Caraccioli had attended the King to Palermo as a faithful adherent, but after the revolution was accomplished he returned to Naples with the full permission of his sovereign to save his estates from confiscation. The new Government, against his own desires, created him Commander-in-Chief of the naval forces. During the negotiations for surrender his friends, foreseeing the vengeance of the Queen, aided him to escape, but he was arrested and brought back. Here transpired the darkest act in Nelson's life. His abject slavery to Lady Hamilton, who had already caused this brave and truly heroic man to bring disgrace upon himself and the nation he had so often meritoriously served, now induced him to lend himself to judicial murder. Caraccioli was delivered over to the English squadron on the demand of Nelson, who merely repeated the demand of Lady Hamilton. Further obeying her desires, Nelson charged a court-martial with the task of condemning the wretched Caraccioli. The members of the court-martial, after a vain effort to seek clemency in his behalf, sentenced the prisoner to perpetual banishment, but Nelson himself, at the dictation of the woman he so shamelessly served, changed the reading of the warrant to death instead of banishment. The execution was to take place in a few hours, and Nelson shut himself in his cabin with the woman who was responsible for this inglorious page in his history and refused to listen to all intercessors. Caraccioli, bound and fettered like a criminal, was taken aboard his own flagship, the Minerva, and there ignominiously hanged to the yardarm after Nelson, as a final act of cruelty, had refused him even the boon of being shot instead of strangled. For these disgraceful services Nelson was created Duke of Bronte by the King of Naples and given a revenue in proportion to his rank.

Returning to England during the winter of 1800, Nelson was received with the greatest honors. The Government and the corporation of London bestowed on him presents of great value and addresses of thanks, and the whole nation hailed him as a savior. Lady Hamilton accompanied him, but to all else except the greatness of his services to his country the English nation was blind.

Nelson separated from his wife, making no effort to screen himself from his guilt. He secured a house in the country at Merton, and there lived for a time in quiet. He was soon again, however, called upon to perform a service for England. Early in 1801 a British fleet was fitted out to move against Denmark, which headed the northern courts in a renewal of the armed neutrality of 1780. This fleet was placed in charge of Sir Peter Parker for the reason that negotiations were to be attempted before the harsher arguments of force were resorted to. Nelson was placed second in command, and his duty began where that of Parker ended. Diplomatic efforts failed, and April 7th the British warships cast anchor around the capital of Denmark. All arrangements for a desperate resistance had been completed. The city was protected by formidable batteries and a heavily armed fleet protected by a shoal, similar in a manner to the situation at Aboukir, formed a strong addition to the defense of the Danish capital. On May 2nd Nelson made the attack. He was at a disadvantage in having to deal with both forts and ships simultaneously, and in forcing his way inside the shoal lost three of his ships by grounding. The Danish fleet was practically destroyed, but Nelson's ships had also suffered severely, and the land batteries were still effective. His attitude, however, was so threatening against the city that a truce was formed, which resulted in a peaceful agreement. In 1803 Nelson was appointed to the Mediterranean squadron, and for two years his unceasing vigilance kept the French fleets penned up in harbors while Napoleon was waiting for them to appear in the British Channel to aid in his great project of invading England. Nelson, at the expiration of this period, returned to England to seek a few months of repose at Merton. He had, however, enjoyed this privilege but a few days when the information came that the fleet of Villeneuve, which Nelson had so long and fruitlessly sought, had put in to Cadiz to refit. The supreme moment of Nelson's career was at hand. Eagerly he prepared for the duty before him. He expressed the greatest confidence in his ability to completely annihilate the combined French and Spanish fleet, and seemed only to long for the opportunity of meeting them. Yet it was with a premonition of death that he left Lady Hamilton and his sisters at Merton. In his private diary, dated September 14, 1805, appears the following; "At half past ten, drove front dear, dear Merton, where I left all which I hold dear in this world, to go and serve my King and country. May the great God, before whom I bend, enable me to fulfill the expectations of my country; and if it be His good pleasure that I should return, my thanks will never cease being offered up to His throne of mercy. If, on the other hand, it is His good providence to cut short my days upon earth, I bow with the greatest submission, full of confidence in the hope that He will protect those so dear to me that I may leave behind. His will be done. Amen. Amen. Amen." There are numerous other evidences that the image of death was before his mind from this time forward until it actually came, as he expected. Lamartine relates that at the moment of departure from England, Nelson sent for the custodian of his effects in London and directed him to engrave his name and a short expressive epitaph on the coffin constructed from the mainmast of the French three-decker, L'Orient, which had been presented to him after the victory at Aboukir. "I may want it on my return," was his prophetic remark. His embarkation on the Victory at Portsmouth was the occasion of a triumphal testimonial on the part of his countrymen. Thousands escorted and cheered him. On October 2nd Nelson arrived before Cadiz and learned, to his great satisfaction, that Villeneuve's fleet was still there. Nelson did all he could to encourage the sailing of the French fleet by keeping his squadrons out of sight of land and depending upon reports of the enemy's movements from his scouting frigates. Nelson is variously reported by historians to have had thirty-three or thirty-four sail, while the combined fleet under Villeneuve is given by some authorities as exactly equal in number to that of Nelson. Lamartine, however, asserts that the French and Spanish fleet was composed of forty-two men-of-war and eight frigates. The orders of Nelson for the expected battle were brief and simple. They were in pursuance of his usual course, to break the opposing line and engage in detached groups. Just as the sun was peeping above the horizon on the morning of October 20th, Villeneuve's fleet started out of Cadiz and Nelson received frequent reports from his frigates of the course being pursued by the enemy. The movements of the French fleet seemed undecided, and it was evident that Villeneuve, whose final departure from Cadiz was the result of accusations of cowardice by Napoleon, was not eager to meet the British in spite of the imposing array with which he was attended. All day Nelson waited in vain for the enemy to reach the open sea. Before dawn the following morning Nelson was informed that the enemy was still at sea and inclining northward. With his squadron he set off obliquely in the same direction. When the sun came up it revealed the combined fleets about eight leagues distant. As the British ships were crowding toward the enemy in two columns, one led by Nelson in the Victory and the other by Collingwood in the Royal Sovereign, Nelson descended to his cabin and gave another evidence of his singular piety by inscribing upon his journal the following prayer : "May the great God, whom I worship, grant to my country, and for the benefit of Europe in general, a great and glorious victory; and may no misconduct in anyone tarnish it; and may humanity, after victory, be the predominant feature in the British fleet. For myself, individually, I commit my life to Him who made me, and may His blessing light upon my endeavors for serving my country faithfully. To Him I resign myself, and the just cause which is intrusted to me to defend. Amen. Amen. Amen." At this moment, also, the thoughts of the warrior returned to her who had exercised such a dominant influence in his life, and whom he never again expected to see, for the prayer in his private journal is followed by a request to his country in these words :

"October the 21st, 1805, in sight of the combined fleets of France and Spain, distance about ten miles.

"Whereas, the eminent services of Emma Hamilton, widow of the Right Honorable Sir William Hamilton, have been of the very greatest service to our King and country, to my knowledge, without her receiving any reward from either our King or country first, that she obtained the King of Spain's letter, in 1796, to his brother, the King of Naples, acquainting him of his intentions to declare war against England, from which letter the ministry sent out orders to then Sir John Jervis to strike a stroke, if opportunity offered, against either the arsenal of Spain or her fleets. That neither of these was done is not the fault of Lady Hamilton. The opportunity might have been offered. Secondly, the British fleet under my command could never have returned the second time to Egypt, had not Lady Hamilton's influence with the Queen of Naples caused letters to be written to the Governor of Syracuse that he was to encourage the fleet being supplied with everything, should they put into any port in Sicily. We put into Syracuse, and received every supply, went to Egypt, and destroyed the French fleet. Could I have re-warded those services, I would not now call upon my country, but as that has not been in my power, I leave Emma, Lady Hamilton, therefor, a legacy to my King and country, that they will give her an ample provision to maintain her rank in life. I also leave to the beneficence of my country my adopted daughter, Horatia Nelson Thompson, and I desire she will use in future the name of Nelson only. These are the only favors I ask of my King and country at this moment when I am going to fight their battle. May God bless my King and country and all those whom I hold dear. My relations it is needless to mention; they will, of course, be amply provided for. NELSON AND BRONTE."

Nelson called upon Captain Henry Blackwood, of the Euryalus, and Captain T. M. Hardy, of the Victory, to sign the document as witnesses.

On returning to the quarterdeck Nelson appeared calm and serious, instead of displaying the usual fiery spirit to which the officers who stood about him had been accustomed. Nelson was equally confident that the battle which was now to be fought meant victory for his country and death for himself. The fleet was now bearing rapidly down upon the enemy, and Nelson displayed from the masthead of the Victory the famous signal, "England expects that every man will do his duty." From every ship this signal was responded to with enthusiastic cheers. It was now time for the captains of the various vessels to repair to their own ships, and Captain Blackwood clasped Nelson's hand and assured him of victory. That the presentiment of death still clung to Nelson is seen by his reply. "Adieu, Blackwood," he said, "I shall never see you again."

Within a few minutes later, Admiral Collingwood's flagship, the Royal Sovereign, broke the enemy's line and soon the Victory passed into a storm of lead poured from the French ships. Scott, the secretary of Nelson, fell at the commander's feet at the first shower of shot and a second later a chain shot killed eight men on the quarterdeck. Through the midst of this deadly hail the Victory proceeded, reserving her fire for closer quarters. She now became the target for the formidable French Redoutable, the Bucentaur, and the Spanish Santissima Trinidad of 100 guns, the greatest warship the world had up to that time seen. The Redoutable was chosen as the adversary of the Victory and having exchanged broadsides, the two ships closed with a tremendous shock, and the crews of each prepared to board the other. The battle had quickly become general, and terrific carnage was wrought on both sides. Some distance away, ten sail of the combined fleet had been stationed as a reserve squadron. In the confusion which had already been brought about among the French and Spanish ships, Villeneuve repeatedly signaled the reserve ships for aid, but they seemed paralyzed and made no move to enter the engagement. In the meantime a terrific struggle was in progress between the Victory and Redoutable, whose commander, Captain Lucas, proved a brave and unyielding foe. Dense clouds of smoke hovered over the scene of combat and sharp-shooters in the rigging and tops poured an incessant and deadly fire upon the decks of the enemy, while each kept up a furious cannonade. Villeneuve had, soon after the engagement began, by accident got the bowsprit of his vessel entangled in the stern gallery of the Santissima Trinidad, and was unable to extricate it. In this condition he was attacked by the British ships with the most disastrous effects. Hundreds of the officers and crew were killed and finally, with his ship shot to pieces, and every gun out of service, Villenueve was compelled to surrender. The Santissima Trinidad, deserted by her companion battle-ships, struck her colors after four hours of the most valiant resistance. In the meantime a succession of single combats had resulted in some cases with terrific slaughter. The Fougueux was commanded successively by three officers, who fell one after the other, surrendering only when 400 dead strewed her decks, The Achille was the last of Villeneuve's fleet to resist. Her crew continued to deal destruction upon the British ships even after her decks had taken fire, and as no effort was made to extinguish the flames, the ship blew up with a terrific detonation, and in that moment sent into eternity 500 men.

The battle between the Victory and the Redoutable had, owing to the fact that their position was such that neither could use its broadsides with effect, resolved itself into a fire of musketry on both sides. The French riflemen picked off the British officers who were distinguishable by their decorations. Nelson wore upon his move to enter the engagement. In the meantime a terrific struggle was in progress between the Victory and Redoutable, whose commander, Captain Lucas, proved a brave and unyielding foe. Dense clouds of smoke hovered over the scene of combat and sharp-shooters in the rigging and tops poured an incessant and deadly fire upon the decks of the enemy, while each kept up a furious cannonade. Villeneuve had, soon after the engagement began, by accident got the bowsprit of his vessel entangled in the stern gallery of the Santissima Trinidad, and was unable to extricate it. In this condition he was attacked by the British ships with the most disastrous effects. Hundreds of the officers and crew were killed and finally, with his ship shot to pieces, and every gun out of service, Villenueve was compelled to surrender. The Santissima Trinidad, deserted by her companion battleships, struck her colors after four hours of the most valiant resistance. In the meantime a succession of single combats had resulted in some cases with terrific slaughter. The Fougueux was commanded successively by three officers, who fell one after the other, surrendering only when 40o dead strewed her decks. The Achille was the last of Villeneuve's fleet to resist. Her crew continued to deal destruction upon the British ships even after her decks had taken fire, and as no effort was made to extinguish the flames, the ship blew up with a terrific detonation, and in that moment sent into eternity 5o0 men.

The battle between the Victory and the Redoutable had, owing to the fact that their position was such that neither could use its broadsides with effect, resolved itself into a fire of musketry on both sides. The French riflemen picked off the British officers who were distinguishable by their decorations. Nelson wore upon his uniform the stars of orders with which he had been decorated by his own and other governments. These ornaments made him a conspicuous mark. Before the battle some of his officers had discussed with each other the advisability of suggesting to Nelson the removal of these ornaments. This was not done, however, for the reason that on a former similar occasion when this had been suggested, he replied, "No, no, in honor I gained and in honor I will die with them." On the Victory 20o were picked off by the French riflemen. Nelson was standing in the midst of his fallen officers and men when a musket-shot from the Redoutable struck him between the shoulder and the neck. He fell face foremost upon the deck. As he raised himself to one knee he calmly spoke to Captain Hardy, "I am killed, my friend," he said, "the French have done for Nelson at last." "I hope not," replied Hardy. "Hope nothing," replied Nelson, "the ball has pierced my spine."

As he was being carried below he noticed that the tiller ropes had been shot away and gave orders to replace them. Such was his indomitable interest in his ship and the battle. He was placed on a cot in one of the midshipmen's berths and the surgeon at once pronounced the wound mortal. Knowing that his last hour had come, Nelson ordered the surgeons to pay no attention to him, but employ themselves where their aid would be of benefit. The dying commander inquired with great frequency regarding the progress of the battle. When he heard the cheers of the crew of the Victory as from time to time the ships of the enemy struck, his features lighted up and his eye flashed with delight. At last Hardy came to announce an undisputed victory. Nelson's mind during his last moments was concerned with his country and with the fatal love which had caused the only blemishes on his glorious career. He requested Hardy to watch over Lady Hamilton. "Embrace me, Hardy," said he, and as Hardy bent over him and kissed his cheek, he said, "Thank God, I have done my duty." It was with these words on his lips that the noble and undaunted warrior died. The joy in England over the greatest naval triumph the nation had ever achieved was saddened by grief over the death of Nelson. His remains were brought to England. The crew of the Victory carried the body of their commander to his last resting place in the vaults of St. Peter's Cathedral, and the *hole nation mourned. Monuments to his memory and greatness were raised in nearly every city of the kingdom, and there were none to recall the two great errors of the warrior's life. Nor did the King and the country, to whom he appealed on behalf of Lady Hamilton, take cognizance of his request and thereby commemorate his. fault. Twenty years after the death of Nelson, there died an unknown woman in an obscure section of Calais. She died in poverty, and had to be buried by public charity. The papers which she left behind disclosed that she was Lady Hamilton.

Home | More Articles | Email: info@oldandsold.com