Cape St Vincent
14 February 1797
Art of Paul Deacon
with the aggressive policy of the navy, Admiral Sir John
Jervis did not have a second thought when he ordered his
15 line-of-battle ships against 27 Spanish vessels off Cape
Spanish were in a 20-mile line with plenty of space between
each vessel so Jervis sailed through and split the leading
18 ships off from the rest of the fleet.
battle began in earnest and after an exchange of broadsides
the Spanish were prevented from turning back to rejoin battle
by the bravery and foresight of Horatio
who had pulled his vessel - the 74-gun Captain - out of
battle line to block the Spanish vanguard now had to fight
the enemy vessels on his own.
content with just getting in the way of the Spaniards, Nelson
wanted to show them the Royal Navy was not to be trifled
with and set to the largest ship afloat - the 130-gun Santissima
Trinidad - with gusto.
his masts and rigging badly damaged, Nelson was saved by
the arrival of Admiral Cuthbert
Collingwood in the Excellent.
broadsides forced the San Nicolas away and it became entangled
with the nearby San Josef.
alone with the Spanish ships, Nelson steered his badly damaged
ship alongside the San Nicolas and led boarding parties
on to her.
the crew, Nelson then boarded the still-entangled San Josef
forcing its surrender.
the battle's end, four Spanish ships had been taken and
3000 men lost. The British lost only 300.