French Report of Trafalgar (2)

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

At 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 state.

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 below.

Oliva, Gravina, and Villeneuve, attended him with the accustomed French humanity.

Meanwhile, fifteen of the English Ships of the line had struck - four more were obliged to follow their example - another blew up.

Our 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.

At 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 of.

We 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.

We 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.

After 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.

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