Battle of Trafalgar 21 October 1805


Map Code: Ax02014

The Battle of Trafalgar was one of the most decisive naval battles ever fought, and ended in the defeat of a combined French-Spanish fleet near Cape Trafalgar, in southwest Spain. The British fleet, under Admiral Lord Nelson, had consistently thwarted Napoleon Bonaparte’s attempts to gain naval dominance, essential for an invasion of Britain. On 21 October 1805, Nelson sighted an enemy force of 33 French-Spanish ships in the waters near Trafalgar. Nelson split his fleet of 27 into two columns and, from the flagship, Victory, signalled: ‘England expects that every man will do his duty’. Nelson’s tactic was to use two columns to break the enemy line into three. Nelson’s column sailed at the centre of the enemy line, targeting the enemy flagship, Bucentaure (under Vice-Admiral de Villeneuve). A second British column, under Admiral Collingswood, pierced the rear of the French-Spanish line. After five hours of combat, the British finally overwhelmed the French-Spanish alliance, with 21 of their fleet captured and one ship sunk. Nelson was mortally wounded after taking a shot from a French sniper on Redoubtable.

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