French Report of Trafalgar (2)
The Naval Chronicle,
July to December 1805
that moment two Ships, one French and one Spanish, boarded
the Temeraire: the English fell back in astonishment and
affright - we rushed to the flag-staff - struck the colours
- and all were so anxious to be the bearer of the intelligence
to their own Ship, that they jumped overboard; and the English
ship, by this unfortunate impetuosity of our brave sailors
and allies, was able, by the assistance of two more Ships
that came to her assistance, to make her escape in a sinking
Meanwhile Nelson still resisted us. It was now who should
first board, and have the honour of taking him, French or
Spaniard - two Admirals on each side disputed the honour
- they boarded his Ship at the same moment - Villeneuve
flew to the quarterdeck - with the usual generosity of the
French, he carried a brace of pistols in his hands, for
he knew the Admiral had lost his arm, and could not use
his sword - he offered one to Nelson: they fought, and at
the second fire Nelson fell; he was immediately carried
Gravina, and Villeneuve, attended him with the accustomed
fifteen of the English Ships of the line had struck - four
more were obliged to follow their example - another blew
victory was now complete, and we prepared to take possession
of our prizes; but the elements were this time unfavourable
to us; a dreadful storm came on - Gravina made his escape
to his own Ship at the beginning of it - the Commander in
Chief, Villeneuve, and a Spanish Admiral, were unable, and
remained on board the Victory.
The storm was long and dreadful; our Ships being so well
manúuvered, rode out the gale; the English being so much
more damaged, were driven ashore and many of them wrecked.
length, when the gale abated, thirteen sail of the French
and Spanish line got safe to Cadiz; the other twenty have,
no doubt, gone to some other port, and will soon be heard
shall repair our damages as speedily as possible, go again
in pursuit of the enemy, and afford them another proof of
our determination to wrest from them the empire of the seas,
and to comply with his Imperial Majestyís demand of Ships,
Colonies, and Commerce.
Our loss was trifling, that of the English was immense.
have, however, to lament the absence of Admiral Villeneuve,
whose ardour carried him beyond the strict bounds of prudence,
and, by compelling him to board the English Admiralís Ship,
prevented him from returning to his own.
having acquired so decisive a victory, we wait with impatience
the Emperorís order to sail to the enemyís shore, annihilate
the rest of his navy, and thus complete the triumphant work
we have so brilliantly begun.