Horatio Nelson: A Case Study in Naval Excellence: Part 3

Part 3! In this part I will cover Nelson from the start of the French Revolutionary Wars (1789) to the Battle of Cape St.Vincent (1797). Aboard his new ship, HMS Agamemnon, Nelson was patrolling off Toulon with the British Mediterranean Fleet under Lord Hood. After some time in a state of little action, Toulon surrendered; declaring itself for the French Royal Family. While the rest of the fleet anchored at Toulon, Nelson was sent to the Kingdom of Naples (an independent state at the time) to beg for some troops to help defend Toulon from an impending French attack. After his arrival, Nelson went to meet with the British ambassador, Sir William Hamilton. Hamilton soon persuaded the Neapolitan king (Ferdinand) to send 2000 soldiers to help protect Toulon. During this time, Nelson was first introduced to Emma Hamilton. Even with these reinforcements, Toulon was not able to hold out long; after being pounded by the artillery of a certain French officer. The British withdrew, and now needed a new base in the Mediterranean, so they attempted to capture Corsica, resulting in the battle of Calvi, in which Nelson lost sight in his right eye. He stayed on with the Mediterranean Fleet under Sir John Jervis, who quickly made Nelson a Commodore. One night, Nelson was separated from the rest of the fleet while searching for a man overboard; after coming out of a fog bank Nelson soon realised he was right in the midst of the entire Spanish Fleet. He quickly got away and reported this sighting to Jervis, who at once prepared for battle off Cape St.Vincent on 14 February 1797. During this action, Horatio went from little known Commodore to living legend. Horatio's ship HMS Captain, captured not one but two Spanish ships, boarding the first, capturing it, then jumping from the new capture to another Spanish ship, capturing it as well. This action got Horatio a knighthood and a promotion to Rear Admiral. After this, he helped to calm the mutinies of 1797, his friendly and caring attitude towards the sailors became known as the "Nelson Touch". From this Nelson led a night raid on Tenerife in the Canary Islands, during which he was hit in the right arm, leading to its amputation. Nelson was sent home to recover, with a promise form Jervis (now Lord St.Vincent) that a new command would be given when he was ready. END OF PART 3.

Souces: Horatio Nelson and His Victory by Phillip Reeve