Horacio Nelson

Topics: Horatio Nelson, 1st Viscount Nelson, Battle of the Nile, Royal Navy Pages: 25 (9676 words) Published: May 17, 2013

Horatio Nelson is the most famous naval officers of all time. He fought during the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars, and he remains one of the most celebrated heroes in all of British History. In the process of winning numerous important naval victories for England, the presence of Nelson always added a great deal of romance and drama to the conflict. He was a highly inspirational leader that brought out the best of the seamen that he fought with so his victories were always marked with a great deal of reckless courage, swashbuckling bravado, and terrific sea-faring lore. Given that naval service, in reality, was a grindingly difficult and often tedious job, the romance and flair that heroes like Nelson lent to the occupation, elevated not only their own reputations, but that of the entire branch of service. Nelson went to sea at a very young age on a ship commanded by one of his uncles, and from the beginning showed only enthusiasm for the seafaring life. He rose through the ranks relatively quickly both due to his own capabilities and also the helpful connections of his uncle. He fought in the American Revolutionary War on the British side, and distinguished himself as an excellent sailor, but just as his talents were starting to be recognized, Britain entered into a ten year period of peace, between 1783 and 1793. These were relatively uneventful years for Nelson, and he spend a good deal of this decade on shore. When the French Revolutionary Wars broke out in the early 1790's, Nelson's career fell into full swing. Early on, he was wounded in the face at Calvi, and lost sight in his right eye. After recovering he returned to duty, and was instrumental in Britain's great victory over the French at the battle of St. Vincent, by disobeying orders, and falling out of line in order to prevent Spain's retreating ships from escaping. Sir John Jervis, his commanding officer, recognized his genius, but Nelson was not particularly popular with the Admiralty due to his marked tendency for "dramatic and bold", but risky exploits. He was, however, exceedingly popular with sailors, and the public, with whom he already beginning to establish a reputation. More victories and associated dramatics followed in quick succession. He lost his right arm in a battle off Santa Cruz Teneriffe, but shortly after won a great victory against Napoleon at the Battle of the Nile. While stationed in Naples, he fell in love with Lady Hamilton, and began a scandalous affair that only increased the notoriety of both lovers. Returning to business, he won the great battle of Copenhagen, again by disobeying direct orders, and shortly afterward Britain declared peace with France. The peace, however, was short lived. Napoleon, who was now emperor of France, began immediately to rebuild his fleet in anticipation of a naval invasion of Britain. Nelson return to sea in 1803 and pursued the combined French-Spanish fleet all over the Mediterranean, always attempting to draw them into battle. In October 1805, he cornered the fleet at Trafalgar, and forced a battle using a highly unorthodox battle formation. The victory was overwhelmingly in favor of the British; only a few French ships escaping capture or destruction. Nelson himself however, was mortally wounded. He naval costume, bristling with medals made him an easy mark for a French sniper, firing from the main mast of an enemy ship.




Horatio Nelson was born on 29 September 1758 in a rectory in Burnham Thorpe, Norfolk, England, the sixth of eleven children of the Reverend Edmund Nelson and his wife Catherine. His mother, who died on 26 December 1767 when he was nine years old, was a grandniece of Robert Walpole, 1st Earl of Orford, the de facto first Prime Minister of Great Britain. She lived in the village of Barsham, Sulfolk, and married the Reverend Edmund Nelson at Beccles church, Suffolk, in 1749. Nelson attended Paston Grammar...
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