The 205th anniversary of the Battle of Trafalgar is on Thursday. It is truly one of the highest points in the Royal Navy's long and rich history.
The Battle of Trafalgar was a crushing victory. Under the command of Lord Nelson (supported ablu by Sir Cuthbert Collingwood and the Earl of Northesk) 33 Royal Navy vessels (of which 27 were ships of the line) took on 41 French and Spanish ships (of which 33 were ships of the line). 22 French and Spanish vessels were captured or destroyed; no Royal Navy vessel was lost.
I was therefore rather perturbed to find this item while looking through the Napoleonic Guide. Apparently the article was originally published in the French newspaper Le Moniteur. Clearly this turns our perception of the battle on its head!
The English fleet is annihilated - Nelson is no more. Indignant at being inactive in Port... Admirals Villeneuve and Gravina resolved to put to sea and give the English a fight... Nelson did everything to avoid a battle, he attempted to enter the Mediterranean, but we chased him, and caught him off Trafalgar. The French and Spaniards vied with each other to get into action first. Admiral's Villeneuve and Gravina were both anxious to lay their ships alongside the Victory, the English Admiral's ship... In vain did the English Admiral try to avoid action but the Spanish Admiral Oliva prevented his escape, and lashed his vessel to the English flagship. The English ship was one of 186 guns; the Santissima Trinidad was but a 74.....
... We fought yard-arm to yard-arm, gun to gun. Three hours did we fight in this manner, the English began to be dismayed... two ships, one French and one Spanish, boarded the Temeraire....We rushed to the flag-staff and struck their colours...
Meanwhile Nelson still resisted. It was now a race to see who should first board and have the honour of taking him; French or Spanish. Two Admirals on each side disputed the honour and boarded his ship at the same moment.... Villeneuve flew on to the quarter-deck and with the usual generosity of the French, he carried a brace of pistols in his hands. He knew the Admiral had lost his arm, and could not use his sword so he offered a pistol to Nelson, they fought, and at the second shot Nelson fell... Meanwhile 15 English ships of the line had struck, four more were obliged to follow their example and another blew up. - Our victory was now complete, and we prepared to take possession of our prizes, but the elements were by this time unfavourable to us and a dreadful storm came on.
....At length when the gale ceased, 13 of the French & Spanish line returned safely to Cadiz; the other 20 have, no doubt, gone to some other ports and will soon be reported. We shall repair our damage as speedily as possible and then go again in pursuit of the enemy, and afford them more proof of our determination to wrest from them the Empire of the Seas, and to comply with his Imperial Majesty's demand of Ships, Colonies and Commerce.
Our loss was trifling while that of the English was immense... Having acquired so decisive a victory we wait with impatience the Emperor's order to sail to the enemies shore, destroy the rest of his navy, and thus complete the triumphant work we have so brilliantly begun.
Well there you have it –everything we believed about Trafalgar is obviously wrong!.
To be honest I thought this report was hilarious, especially the crap about the duel between Nelson and Villeneuve!