1805 - Battle of Trafalgar


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Naval history of Great Britain - Vol. IV
William James
1805 Battle of Trafalgar 43

length, bounded abaft by the stanchion of the wheel and forward. by the combings of the cabin ladder-way, were the admiral and Captain Hardy, during the whole of the operations we have just detailed taking their customary promenade. At about 1 h. 25 m. P.M. just as the two had arrived within one pace of the regular turning spot at the cabin ladder-way, Lord Nelson, who, regardless of quarterdeck etiquette, was walking on the larboard side, * suddenly faced left about. Captain Hardy, as soon as he had taken the other step, turned also, and saw the admiral in the act of falling. He was then on his knees with his left hand just touching the deck. The arm giving way, Lord Nelson fell on his left side, exactly upon the spot where his secretary, Mr. Scott, had breathed his last, and with whose blood his lordship's clothes were soiled.

On Captain Hardy's expressing a hope that he was not severely wounded, Lord Nelson replied : "They have done for me at last, Hardy." "I hope not," answered Captain Hardy "Yes," replied his lordship, "my backbone is shot through". The wound was by a musket-ball, which had entered the left shoulder through the fore part of the epaulet, and, descending, had lodged in the spine. That the wound had been given by some one stationed in the Redoutable's mizen top was rendered certain, not only from the nearness (about 15 yards) and situation of the mizen top in reference to the course of the ball, but from the circumstance that the French ship's main top was screened by a portion of the Victory's mainsail as it hung when clewed up. That the ball was intended for Lord Nelson is doubtful, because, when the aim must have been taken, he was walking on the outer side, concealed in a great measure from view by a much taller and stouter man. Admitting, also (which is very doubtful), that the French seaman or marine, whose shot had proved so fatal, had selected for his object, as the British commander-in-chief, the best dressed officer of the two, he would most probably have fixed upon Captain Hardy, or, indeed, such, in spite of Dr. Beatty's print, was Lord Nelson's habitual carelessness, upon any one of the Victory's lieutenants who might have been walking by the side of him. Sergeant Secker of the marines, and two seamen, who had come up on seeing the admiral fall, now, by Captain Hardy's direction, bore their revered and much lamented chief to the cockpit ; where we will for the present leave him. The position of the Victory and of the ships near to her at the time Lord Nelson received his wound, drawn up,

*  This may be relied upon as correct, although completely at variance with the account published by the Victory's surgeon (Beatty, p. 32), and which, owing to its apparent authenticity, has been made the groundwork of other published account, including that in the first edition of this work.

  Beatty's Narrative, p. 33.

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