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Battle of Trafalgar


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(21 October 1805)

A naval engagement between the combined French and Spanish fleets, and the British, fought off Cape Trafalgar near the Spanish port of Cadiz. After failing to lure the British fleet away from Europe to enable Napoleon to transport his army to England, Admiral Villeneuve returned to Cadiz and the English Channel fleet, commanded by Cuthbert Collingwood (1748–1810) blockaded the port. On 29 September Nelson arrived in his flagship, Victory, to take command. Villeneuve, 20 days later, was ordered by Napoleon to leave Cadiz and threatened by the loss of his command, finally put to sea but hoped to avoid a battle. Nelson, who had kept his main fleet out of sight, divided his fleet of 27 ships and signalled at the beginning of the battle that “England expects every man to do his duty”. The British lost no ships but took 20 from the French and Spanish. Nelson was mortally wounded by a shot from the French ship Redoubtable but British naval supremacy was secured for the remainder of the 19th century.

Subjects: History.


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