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Battle of Trafalgar - October 21, 1805

by Astronuc
Tags: 1805, battle, october, trafalgar
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Sep29-05, 10:34 PM
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October 21 of this year marks the 200th Anniversary of the Battle of Trafalgar, when the British Navy, under Admiral Lord Horatio Nelson, engaged the combined navies of Spain and France.

Nearly 5000 men, including Nelson, died in the of the largest naval engagements among sailing ships.

As Lt. Paul Nicolas stood on the forward edge of the poop deck of H.M.S. Belleisle, a 74-gun ship of the line, the only thing he could think of was lying down. It wasn't that he was tired. But he was only 16 and new to the ship. Now he was about to get his first taste of battle. It was shortly after midday on October 21, 1805, near Cádiz in southern Spain. As Belleisle plowed slowly toward the enemy, Nicolas could see a crescent-shaped line of 33 French and Spanish ships stretching for miles along the coast from Cape Roche in the north to Cape Trafalgar in the south.

William Hargood, Belleisle's captain, ordered the crew to lie down as the first incoming shots tore through the rigging. A young recruit near Nicolas was decapitated by a cannonball. Blood and body parts spattered the deck. Nicolas would have given his eyeteeth to lie down, but he was second in charge of a detachment of marines, and as an officer he had to stay on his feet. So he moved next to John Owen, a junior lieutenant, who was slightly older. Years later, Nicolas would write that Owen's spirit "cheered me on to act the part it became me."
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Sep30-05, 02:30 AM
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Quote Quote by Astronuc
October 21 of this year marks the 200th Anniversary of the Battle of Trafalgar,...

Astronuc, I am enjoying your online history finds.
My imagining historical periods and events comes partly from singing in a chorus where much of the standard repertory dates roughly 1770-1830.
So I know of Admiral Nelson partly from singing Haydn's Mass in D minor the "Nelson Mass". This was dedicated to Nelson after the 1798 Battle of the Nile, and performed in his honor at Eisenstadt.

Here is Wiki about the Battle of the Nile at Aboukir Bay

It is a great mass, a lot of fun to sing. I've sung it 3 times and would welcome a chance to sing it again. After Nelson heard it he gave Haydn the watch he was carrying at Aboukir, as a memento, and Haydn reciprocated by presenting Nelson with the pen he he had used to write the mass. The two gifts are in a glass case in some museum somewhere.
Oct22-05, 12:45 AM
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The era of SEA POWER was one of great transition for military naval vessels. It began with the soaring majesty of HMS Victory at the 1805 Battle of Trafalgar. It ended in the late 19th century with the forbidding armored bulk of HMS Warrior, precursor of the modern battleship. In just 50 years, sails gave way to steam. Oak hulls to iron plates. Fixed cannons to smaller, more accurate gun batteries with greater range and flexibility. The rules of naval warfare would never be the same.
In 1765, it took HMS Victory 104 guns to rule the waves. By 1883, ships needed just 40.
Battleships were once the most terrifying of steel sea monsters. One British ship set the standard: HMS Dreadnought. Heavily armored big gun battleships, with their overwhelming fire power, became the weapon of choice for asserting naval power. It was an era that would end only with World War II and the rise of the aircraft carrier. But even then, there was one last broadside to fire. The 1945 surrender ceremony ending World War II was signed on board the ultimate in big guns ships, the USS Missouri.
HMS Dreadnought's maximum gun range: 16,400 yds. IJN Yamato's maximum gun range: 45,960 yds.
I seem to remember that the 16" ( 40 cm) Naval Rifles of the Iowa class had a range of 55,000 yds (31.25 mi / 50.3 km)
They have been called the ultimate warship. The epitome of stealth. Today's submarines have come a long way from the submersible oak barrel that kicked off submarine warfare in 1776. Nuclear subs can remain underwater indefinitely and destroy targets thousands of miles away. Their strategic value is immense: ballistic-missile submarines account for half of U.S. nuclear defense capabilities. No modern military power could claim superpower status without these ships. Nor prevail against challenges to its might.
How does a modern navy project its power around the world? With nuclear-powered ships carrying fighter planes. Once flight became a proven asset in warfare, the aircraft carrier's importance as a naval war machine was confirmed. The aircraft carrier is now one of the U.S. Navy's most important strategic vessels. These massive, floating airbases intimidate wherever they roam. An average carrier contains over 100 attack aircraft and 5,000 on-duty personnel.

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