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Nelsons Battles


Horatio Nelson joined the navy at the young age of 12. During his early years, as he moved up the ranks, his experience at sea took more a peaceful bent rather than a military one. Nelsons battles mainly took place during the later part of his life and career at sea, especially the more famous and significant ones.

It is considered that Nelsons battles started not in a war situation but in skirmishes in the East Indies when his ship, the Seahorse came under attack in 1775. The ship was carrying money on behalf of the East India Company as was probably, therefore, targeted by local sailors and pirates. Nelson saw off this attack with no problem.

Despite some action with the Americans and the French in subsequent years for many people Nelsons battles are mainly focused around the last years of his life. His first major battle as a commander was the Battle of Cape St Vincent. This battle took place in 1797. His victory here really promoted him into the public eye as a hero and led to him being knighted for his efforts.

The second of Nelsons battles that is of primary interest to historians was the Battle of the Nile. This battle took place just a year later and consolidated his position as the nation’s hero. It also earned him a peerage. From this point on he had the right to call himself Baron Nelson of the Nile.

For a while Nelsons battles and his public fame were marred by his relationship with Emma Hamilton. In 1801, however, his leadership at the Battle of Copenhagen once again turned him into a national hero. This was a slightly different battle as it did not end in a specific victory or defeat on the battleground. Both the Danish and the English suffered severe losses and Nelson is credited for helping to broker the truce that ended the battle.

Of all Nelsons battles, the Battle of Trafalgar is probably best known. This took place in 1805 between the French and the English led by Nelson. It effectively broke Napoleon’s intentions and ability to invade England which, once again, made Nelson a national hero. He led this battle with fewer ships and resources than the French and succeeded in battle via a daring strategy to disable the French fleet in one fell swoop by disabling their flagship. During this battle Nelson himself was shot and lost his life.