2 April 1801


When Denmark refused to leave the Armed Neutrality of the North Coalition, the Royal Navy moved to deprive the enemy of the Danish fleet.

The Danes had 18 ships in Copenhagen harbour, protected by a 66-gun battery and a wide area of shoals that made navigation difficult.

The British forces had 26 line of battle ships, seven frigates and a number of smaller craft.

When talks between the nations failed, the British commander Sir Hyde Parker moved by sending his deputy, Vice-Admiral Horatio Nelson, into battle with a dozen major warships.

Nelson took his ships around the shoals and prepared to make his attack. But several key vessels ran aground, including a floating battery meant to fire on the Danish gun emplacements, and a nervous Parker ordered a withdrawal.

Informed of the order, Nelson placed his telescope to his blind eye and said: "I have only one eye - I have a right to be blind sometimes. I really do not see the signal."

He then proceeded with the attack, pounding the Danish ships in a bloody action. Within two hours Nelson had just under 1000 men killed or wounded, while the Danes suffered almost 2000 casualties and a similar number of men captured.

In return for handing over the wounded, the British took 12 ships as prizes.




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