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Trafalgar, battle of

Trafalgar, battle of, 1805. Fought on 21 October 1805, 20 miles south of Cadiz and 12 miles south-west of the shoaling Cape Trafalgar, this most famous of engagements in the era of sail lasted from midday to about 5 p.m. In the course of it, 18 of the 33-strong combined fleet of France and Spain surrendered to the British under the command of Lord Nelson, supported by Cuthbert Collingwood heading the fleet's southerly (lee) division, and Lord Northesk, in the rear of Nelson's northerly (weather) division, which he himself headed in Victory. The two divisions, comprising 27 ships in all and separated north–south by a mile, advanced at right angles against the Franco-Spanish line from the west. By midday this line was on a northerly bearing for Cadiz, having a few hours before been on a southerly one, as if for the Straits. In consequence Villeneuve's and Alava's dispositions of their ships were fatally confused, though their often inexperienced crews fought with great bravery. The British engaged ‘pell mell’ at the closest quarters without losing a ship, Nelson's exhortation to ‘every man to do his duty’ being echoed by rates of fire which no other fleet of the day could approach. Nelson's victories removed all possibility of Napoleon launching an invasion of Britain.

Trafalgar was the quintessence of the implicit abandonment, in progress during the previous half-century, of opposing fleets engaging in formal parallel lines, but it was Nelson's personal genius which conferred on the battle a resonance which transcended innovation. Following his death at the battle's close, when some 500 British and at least 2,000 Spaniards and French had died (followed by many more drowned in the ensuing week-long gale), there was no active pursuit of Nelson's ideas, a retrograde conservatism being deemed the better part of audacity.

David Denis Aldridge

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Trafalgar, battle of

battle of Trafalgar (trəfăl´gər), naval engagement fought off Cape Trafalgar on the SW coast of Spain on Oct. 21, 1805, in which the British fleet under Horatio Nelson won a famous victory over the allied French and Spanish fleets under Pierre de Villeneuve. Nelson's strategy was to divide his own fleet into two sections, one led by himself in the HMS Victory, the other by his deputy Cuthbert Collingwood in the HMS Royal Sovereign, and to penetrate the enemy line in two places. This maneuver resulted in the capture of 20 enemy ships (one was blown up). The British lost no ships. Among the dead was Nelson himself, struck by a bullet from the French ship Redoutable. The decisive English victory ended Napoleon I's power on the sea and made a French invasion of England impossible. The words signaled by Nelson at the beginning of the battle— "England expects that every man will do his duty" —became immortal.

See studies by D. A. Howarth (1969), O. Warner (1971), and A. Nicolson (2005).

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Trafalgar, Battle of

Trafalgar, Battle of a decisive naval battle fought on 21 October 1805 off the cape of Trafalgar on the south coast of Spain during the Napoleonic Wars. The British fleet under Horatio Nelson (who was killed in the action) defeated the combined fleets of France and Spain.
Trafalgar Day 21 October, the anniversary of the Battle of Trafalgar.
Trafalgar Square a square in central London, planned by John Nash and built between the 1820s and 1840s. It is dominated by Nelson's Column, a memorial to Lord Nelson.

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Trafalgar, Battle of

Trafalgar, Battle of (October 21, 1805) British naval victory over the French and Spanish fleets off Cape Trafalgar, Spain. It ended Napoleon I's plans for an invasion of England. The victory was secured by the skilful tactics of the British admiral, Lord Nelson, who was killed in the battle.

http://www.nelsonsnavy.co.uk

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