Horatio Nelson

British Admiral

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New boardgame on battle of Trafalgar

Admiral Cuthbert CollingwoodBy RichardMoore

Joining the Royal Navy at the age of 12, Horatio Nelson was to rise through the ranks of British sailors and enjoy being one of the greatest and most loved people of his time.

His early years of service were in the West Indies but in 1793 took the helm of HMS Agamemnon patrolling the Mediterranean.

He lost the use of his right eye after it became damaged by sand at Calvi, but continued his meteoric rise to commodore after a successful two-year campaign disrupting enemy traders off the French and Ligurian coasts.

Knighted in 1797 after Cape St Vincent, the now Rear Admiral Nelson lost his right arm following an attack on a Spanish ship at Santa Cruz.

A year later he was blockading the city of Toulon when a certain General Napoleon Bonaparte managed to avoid his net and sailed off towards Egypt, only to have the angry British commander finally catch the fleet at the Nile.

The following battle between Nelson, on the Vanguard, and Admiral Brueys D'Aigalliers, on the l'Orient, ended when the 120-gun French flagship exploded after sustained attacks from numerous British ships.

Nelson's star was now firmly shooting high and the victory of the Nile gained him a baroncy.

In 1801, Nelson won the battle of Copenhagen and, after several years of peace between France and Britain, renewed his maritime campaign against them.

On 21 October, Nelson caught a combined French-Spanish fleet at Trafalgar that had earlier evaded his attempts to catch them.

Using a new tactic to split the numerically superior 33 enemy vessels, Nelson ordered his ships to slice through the French in two lines of vessels.

It would then be a chance for the elite British to bring their superior training to bear. The plan worked brilliantly and the French and Spanish suffered horrendous losses.

Eighteen enemy ships were lost and more than 14,000 men. Nelson's force did not lose a ship, but suffered 1500 casualties - including its commander.

Famed for his ostentatious uniform that was highly recognisable, Nelson was spotted on the Victory by an enemy sharpshooter and was shot through the spine during the height of the battle.

Mortally wounded, he was taken below - so as not to discourage his men - and died several hours later having learnt of his great victory.

Few commanders have ever been as adored as Nelson and, despite a highly public love affair with Lady Emma Hamilton that upset higher society, he was a champion of the public.

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