Letter to Admiral Collingwood Immediately After Trafalgar

From an officer on the Euralyus
26 October, 1805

Sir – I scarcely know whether, after so great a loss as the nation has sustained in Lord Nelson, and every one of us a friend, added to the inevitable destruction of nineteen fine prizes, I ought to congratulate you, but since the enemy, minus so many ships, and we, I trust not one, even in that there is matter to rejoice.

Such a victory, and under circumstance so disadvantageous to the attack, never was achieved.

Admiral Villeneuve, who is now at my elbow, can scarcely yet credit it; and his despair and grief exceed any thing I ever saw.

To resist such an attack, and seconded as Lord Nelson was, was vain.

I did not leave the Victory till the shot were flying thick over her; and the last signal Lord Nelson made, was such as cannot and never will be forgot – it was by telegraph – ‘That England expected every man would do his duty.’

I have time for no more – the vessel is going, but I shall soon see you, as I am to carry home the captured Admirals.

Courtesy of The Napoleonic Guide.

Dr. Maturin suggests further reading

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