French Report of Trafalgar

From The Naval Chronicle,
Vol. XIV,
July to December 1805


The operations of the grand naval army second, in the Atlantic, those of the grand imperial army in Germany.

The English fleet is annihilated! Nelson is no more!

Indignant at being inactive in port, whilst our brave brethren in arms were gaining laurels in Germany, Admirals Villeneuve and Gravina resolved to put to sea, and give the English battle.

They were superior in number, forty-five to our thirty-three; but what is superiority in numbers to men determined to conquer?

Admiral Nelson did every thing to avoid a battle; he attempted to get into the Mediterranean, but we pursued, and came up with him off Trafalgar.

The French and Spaniards vied with each other who should first get into action. Admirals Villeneuve and Gravina were both anxious to lay their Ships alongside the Victory, the English Admiralís Ship.

Fortune, so constant always to the Emperor, did not favour either of them - the Santissima Trinidada was the fortunate Ship.

In vain did the English Admiral try to evade an action: the Spanish Admiral Oliva prevented his escape, and lashed his Vessel to the British Admiral. The English Ship was one of 136 guns; the Santissima Trinidada was but a 74.

Lord Nelson adopted a new system: afraid of combatting us in the old way, in which he knows we have a superiority of skill, as was proved by our victory over Sir Robert Calder, he attempted a new mode of fighting.

For a short time they disconcerted us; but what can long disconcert his Imperial Majestyís arms? We fought yard-arm to yard-arm, gun to gun.

Three hours did we fight in this manner: the English began to be dismayed - they found it impossible to resist us; but our brave sailors were tired of this slow means of gaining a victory; they wished to board; the cry was, "ŗ la bordage!" Their impetuosity was irresistible.

 
 
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