Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Countdown to Trafalgar - Nelson's Private Diary, October 8th - 15th 1805

Tuesday Oct 8th
Fresh Breezes Easterly.  Royal Sovereign in sight to Leeward at 4pm she joined, sent the Naid off Cadiz.  Eurydice captured a Spanish Privateer.

Wednesday Oct 9th
Fresh Breezes Easterly receiv’d an account from Capt. Blackwood that the French ships had all bent their Topgt sails sent the Pickle to him with orders to keep a good look out.  Sent adl. Collingwood the Nelson Touch.  At night Wind Westerly

['The Nelson Touch' was the name Nelson gave his plan for the upcoming battle.  On October 1st, he wrote to Emma Hamilton telling her of his officers' reaction to it: "...when I came to explain to them the Nelson touch, it was like an electric shock.  Some shed tears, all approved - 'it was new, it was singular, it was simple!' and, from Admirals downwards, it was repeated - 'It must succeed, if ever they will allow us to get at them!'"]

Thursday Oct 10th 1805
Fine Wr: Wind Westerly receiv’d an account that the Enemy are ready for Sea and at the very harbours Mouth.  Bellisle made her number at noon Bellisle joind from Plyh: in the Evening the Renommee frigate & Confounder Brig sent the Aetna & Confounder to Gibraltar.  All night very fresh Breezes NW & Rain.

Friday Oct 11th fresh Breezes NW.

Sunday Oct 12th fresh Breezes NWesly keeping to the Westward Renomee Joined.

Wrote Ly: Hn:
Sunday Oct 13th 1805
Fine Weather Agamemnon joined from England having fallen in with the French Squadron off Cape Finistr. consisting of 1 Three decker and 5 Two deck’d Ships and had a narrow Escape from Capture.
L’aimable also joined who had likewise been chased Prince of Wales Sailed for England.

[the Prince of Wales, a ship, not the actual prince! carried Vice Admiral Robert Calder back to England to be disciplined after his failure to do everything he could to attack the French fleet at Cape Finisterre in July.  She was a 98-gun ship and was desperately needed by Nelson and his outnumbered fleet, but Nelson took pity on him and granted Calder's request to return to England in his flagship, rather than in a frigate, and thus retain some dignity.]

Monday Oct 14th
Fine Weather Westerly Wind sent Amphion to Gibraltar & Algiers Enemy at the Harbours Mouth placed Defence & Agamemnon from Seven to Ten Leagues West of Cadiz and Mars & Colossus five Leagues East from the fleet whole station will be from 15 Lgs: to twenty West of Cadiz and by this Chain I hope to have a constant communication with the frigates off Cadiz.

Tuesday Oct 15th fine Wt Westerly sent Renommee & L’aimable to Gibraltar & Malta and the transpt  to Gibt Adl Louis is order’d to see the Convoy above Cartagena & the frigates to escort them to Malta.  all night mode. Breezs. Westerly

From the National Archives, catalogue reference PROB 1/22

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