Battle of Trafalgar
The Battle of Trafalgar took place on 18 October 1805. It was fought by the British Royal Navy against the combined fleets of the French and Spanish Navies. The battle confirmed the naval supremacy Britain had established during the course of the eighteenth century.
About Battle of Trafalgar in brief
The Battle of Trafalgar took place on 18 October 1805. It was fought by the British Royal Navy against the combined fleets of the French and Spanish Navies. The battle confirmed the naval supremacy Britain had established during the course of the eighteenth century. In 1805, the First French Empire, under Napoleon Bonaparte, was the dominant military land power on the European continent. The British imposed a naval blockade on France, which affected trade and kept the French from fully mobilising their naval resources. Despite several successful evasions of the blockade by the French navy, it failed to inflict a major defeat upon the British, who were able to attack French interests at home and abroad with relative ease. Napoleon renewed his determination to invade Britain. To do so, he needed to ensure that the Royal Navy would be unable to disrupt the invasion flotilla, which would require control of the English Channel. Admiral Lord Nelson adopted a loose blockade in the hope of luring the French out for a battle. However, Villeneuve’s fleet successfully evaded Nelson’s search of the Mediterranean. Once the French were blown by storms off station, Nelson realised that the French had intended to make for Egypt, erroneously supposing that the British had blown the French fleet out of the Caribbean. Nelson then sailed as planned for the Strait of Gibraltar, rendezvoused with the Spanish fleet and sailed for the Caribbean as planned. He was captured along with his flagship Bucentaure. He attended Nelson’s funeral while a captive on parole in Britain.
Admiral Federico Gravina, the senior Spanish flag officer, escaped capture with the remnant of the fleet. He died of his wounds five months later. The Franco-Spanish fleet lost 22 ships while the British lost none. Nelson himself was shot by a French musketeer, and died shortly before the battle ended. He was succeeded by Admiral William Cornwallis, who commanded the British fleet blockading Toulon, who maintained a close blockade off Brest. Unlike Nelson, William Cornwallis had adopted a loose blockade of the Channel. He would then return, assist the fleet in Brest to emerge from the Channel of Royal Navy ships, and together ensure a safe passage for the invasion ships, ensuring a safe entry for the Grande Armée to England. The victory confirmed Britain’s naval supremacy in the Napoleonic Wars, and was achieved in part through Nelson’s departure from prevailing naval tactical orthodoxy. Nelson instead arranged his ships into columns sailing directly towards and into the enemy fleets’ line. The lead ships of the British columns were heavily battered, with Nelson’s flagship HMS Victory nearly disabled, but the greater experience and training of the Royal navy overcame greater numbers. The main French fleets were at Brest in Brittany and at toulon on the Mediterranean coast. Other ports on the French Atlantic coast harboured smaller squadrons. France and Spain were allied, so theSpanish fleet based in Cádiz and Ferrol was also available.