Saturday Sept 14th 1805
At Six o’Clock arrived at Portsmouth and having
arrainged all my business Embarked at the Bathing Machines with Mr Rose
and Mr Canning at 2 got on board the Victory at St Helens who dined with
me preparing for sea.
- this isn't a typo, it is Nelson's own spelling error.]
Saturday Sept 15th 1805
At day Weighed with Light air Northerly at 6 was
obliged to anchor at 8 weighed all day Light breezes at sun sett off
Christ church all night Light Breezes & very foggy Euryalus in Company.
[Euryalus: 36-gun frigate, Capt. Henry Blackwood.]
Wrote Ly. Hn.
Monday Sept 16th first part Light
Breezes & very foggy at noon fresh Breezes Westerly in the Evening off
the Berry head 4 miles. All night fresh Breezes Westerly.
Wrote Ly H
Tuesday Sept 17th fresh Breezes WSW at
9 abreast of Plyo. sent in Euryalus to call out the Ajax and
Thunderer all night standg to the Westward Wind from SW to
[Ajax: 74-gun ship-of-the-line, Capt. William Brown.]
[Thunderer: 74-gun ship-of-the-line, Capt. William
Wrote Ly H
Wednesday Sept 18 first part light
Breezes & heavy western swell Wind South Lay too for the Ajax and
Thunderer [signal?] North at noon they joined made all possible Sail all
night Breezes vble from SE to SSW swell from the Westward.
Thursday Sept 19th first
part fresh gales & heavy sea at noon hard gales at SW at 6 hard Rain
wind at NW all night heavy sea & fresh breezes
Wrote Ly Hn
Friday Sept 20th modte
Breezes WSW & heavy Sea at 9 Saw a Squadron of Ships of War at 11 passed
the Squadron of Rear Adl Stirling consisting of 5 Sail of the
Line and one frigate At noon Wind WSW Saw a frigate to Windward which
made the private signal at 2 Spoke the Decade carrying the flag of Rear
Adl Sir Richd Bickerton Capt Stuart came on board
gave him orders for his farther proceeding. Fresh gales at 3 reeft
the Courses. All night very fresh gales from the NW which came on with
heavy rain at 9 oClock
[Decade: 36-gun frigate, Capt. John Stuart.]
[Rear-Admiral Charles Stirling: had remained off Cape
Finisterre, in HMS Glory, after the battle there in July.]
[Rear-Admiral Sir Richard Bickerton: had been Nelson's
second-in-command during his time in the Mediterranean.]
Saturday Sept 21st 1805
Fresh gales all day at NNW at night wind at North
& NE heavy swell.
Sunday Sept 22nd Modte
Breezes at NE & heavy swell from NW at 10 o Clock saw a Convoy of 7 Sail
under a Vessel of War in the SE quarter at 6 o Clock Euryalus made the
Signal that a Vessel was reconnoitering in the East quarter all night
fresh gales at East to ESE.
Monday Sept 23rd Fresh gales EbS at 6
o’Clock abreast of Cape Finisterre 17 Lgs at noon modte
Wr in Lat 42o: 25N all night fine weather wind
Tuesday Sept 24th modte
Breezes SE at noon in Lat 4o: 05 No: 3pm Light
airs South in the Evening wind Northerly Light Breezes all night at NE
and a swell from the NW
Wrote Ly H
Wednesday Sept 25th 1805
Light airs Southerly saw the Rock of Libra SSE 10
Leagues at Sunsett the Capt. of the Constance came onboard
sent my letters for England by him to Lisbon and wrote to Capt Sutton &
the Consul the Enemys fleet had not left Cadiz the 18th of
this month therefore I yet hope they will wait my arrival.
[Capt Sutton: Samuel Sutton, captain of the Amphion.]
Monday Sept 26th Light airs at NW all
day Rock of Lisbon in sight to the NNE 13 or 14 Lgs. At 4
o’Clock sent Euryalus to join Vice Adl. Collingwood with my
orders to put himself under my Command considering myself as within the
Limits of my Command all night Light Breezes at NW.
[Vice Admiral Collingwood: commanding the fleet off Cadiz
in Nelson's absence, and became his 2nd-in-command upon his
Friday Sept 27th 1805 at day light Cape
St. Vincent SEbS by Compass 6 leagues saw a Sloop of War or Small
frigate East 5 or 6 miles called her in she proved to be the Nautilus
Sloop from Vice Ad. Collingwood bound to England with dispatches at noon
abreast of Lagos Bay fresh Breezes NW at 1am brought too fresh Breezes
Saturday Sept 28th 1805
Fresh Breezes at NNW at daylight bore up & made
sail at 9 saw the Aetna Cruizing at noon saw nine Sail of ships of War
bearing East Latde. 36: 32 N at one saw Eighteen Sail nearly
Calm in the Evening joined the fleet under Vice Admiral Collingwood saw
the Enemys fleet in Cadiz amounting to 35 or 36 Sail of the Line.
[Aetna: a bomb ship.]
Sunday Sept 19th fine Weathr
gave out the necessary orders for the fleet sent Euryalus to watch the
Enemy with the Hydra off Cadiz.
[Hydra: 38-gun frigate, Capt. George Mundy.]
Monday Sept 30th fine weather Wind
Tuesday Oct 1st fine Wt. Adl
Louis’ Squadron joined with Thunder & Eurymion with sprung masts. Sent
Aetna to cruize under Cape St. Marys Pickle joined from Plymouth.
[Adl Louis: Rear-Admiral Thomas Louis, of the Canopus.]
[Thunder: Bomb ship.]
[Eurymion: I'm not sure what Nelson is referring to here,
as I can't find any reference of a ship with this name.]
[Pickle: a 10-gun cutter.]
Wrote Ly. Hn.
Wednesday Oct 2nd
Fine Wt: westerly sent Thunder to Gibr.
Sarda. Palermo & Naples. Sent Canopus, Tigre, Spencer Queen,
Zealous to Gibr & Tetuan for water & provn.
[Admiral Louis protested strongly about
being sent away, believing that he would miss the upcoming battle.
Nelson assured him that he would be back before the enemy came out, but
he was wrong, and Louis and his squadron missed Trafalgar, to his
[Canopus: Adml. Louis' ship, 80-guns.]
[Tigre: 80 guns, Capt. Benjamin Hallowell.]
[Spencer: 74 guns, Capt. Robert Stopford.]
[Queen: 98 guns.]
[Zealous: 74 guns, Capt. John Oakes Hardy.]
Thursday Oct 3rd 1805
Fine Weather. Sent Eurydice to Cruize under Cape
Friday Oct 4th
Fine Weather Wind Easterly several Ships of War in
sight to the Southward which proved to be Adml. Louis’
Saturday Oct 5th
Fine weather, Bittern joined with 2 transports
from Gibr, laying too clearing transports.
[Bittern: 18-gun sloop.]
Sunday Oct 6th
Mode. Breezes ESE clearing transports
in the night fresh breezes Easterly.
Wrote Ly. H.
Monday Oct 7th 1805
Fresh Breezes & a hasty sea joined the Amphion
with a transport from Lisbon Naiad & Niger with transports from Gibraltr.
Sent the Bittern to Lisbon with the Gibr. Mail at noon mode.
Breezes & a swell from the Eastward all night fresh Gales Easterly.
[Amphion: 32-gun frigate, Capt. Samuel Sutton.]
[Naiad: 38-gun frigate, Capt. Thomas Dundas.]
[Niger: 38-gun frigate, Capt. James Hillyar.]
Tuesday Oct 8th
Fresh Breezes Easterly. Royal Sovereign in sight
to Leeward at 4pm she joined, sent the Naid off Cadiz. Eurydice
captured a Spanish Privateer.
Sovereign: 100-guns, Vice-Admiral Cuthbert
['Naid' - this is Nelson's own misspelling of Naiad,
not a typo!]
privateer captured by the Eurydice was the 6-gun El
Mestuo la Solidade.]
Wednesday Oct 9th
Fresh Breezes Easterly receiv’d an account from
Capt. Blackwood that the French ships had all bent their Topgt
sails sent the Pickle to him with orders to keep a good look out.
Sent adl. Collingwood the Nelson Touch. At night Wind
[Capt. Henry Blackwood of the Euryalus.]
['The Nelson Touch' was the name
Nelson gave to his plan for the upcoming battle. On 1st October,
he wrote to Emma Hamilton telling her of his officers' reaction to it:
"...when I came to explain to them the Nelson touch, it was like
an electric shock. Some shed tears, all approved - 'it was new, it
was singular, it was simple!' and, from Admirals downwards, it was
repeated - 'It must succeed, if ever they will allow us to get at
Thursday Oct 10th 1805
Fine Wr: Wind Westerly receiv’d an
account that the Enemy are ready for Sea and at the very harbours
Mouth. Bellisle made her number at noon Bellisle joind from Plyh: in
the Evening the Renommee frigate & Confounder Brig sent the Aetna &
Confounder to Gibraltar. All night very fresh Breezes NW & Rain.
['Bellisle' - Nelson was erratic in his spelling of
Belleisle, of 74 guns, Capt. William Hargood.]
Friday Oct 11th fresh Breezes NW.
Sunday Oct 12th fresh Breezes NWesly
keeping to the Westward
[Nelson crossed out 'Renomee Joined'
Wrote Ly: Hn:
Sunday Oct 13th 1805
Fine Weather Agamemnon joined from England
having fallen in with the French Squadron off Cape Finistr.
consisting of 1 Three decker and 5 Two deck’d Ships and had a narrow
Escape from Capture.
L’aimable also joined who had likewise been chased
Prince of Wales Sailed for England.
[The Prince of Wales (the ship, not
the actual prince!) carried Vice-Admiral Robert Calder back to England
to be disciplined after his failure to do everything he could to attack
the French fleet at Cape Finisterre in July. She was a 98-gun ship
and was desperately needed by Nelson and his outnumbered fleet, but
Nelson took pity on Calder and granted his request to return home in his
flagship, rather than in a frigate, and thus retain some dignity.]
[Agamemnon: 64 guns, Capt. Edward Berry. Nelson had
commanded her himself from 1793-96, and had been rather fond of
Monday Oct 14th
Fine Weather Westerly Wind sent Amphion to
Gibraltar & Algiers Enemy at the Harbours Mouth placed Defence &
Agamemnon from Seven to Ten Leagues West of Cadiz and Mars & Colossus
five Leagues East from the fleet whole station will be from 15 Lgs:
to twenty West of Cadiz and by this Chain I hope to have a constant
communication with the frigates off Cadiz.
[Defence: 74 guns, Capt. George Hope.]
[Mars: 74 guns, Capt, George Duff.]
[Colossus: 74 guns, Capt. James Morris.]
Tuesday Oct 15th fine Wt
Westerly sent Renommee & L’aimable to Gibraltar & Malta and the transpt
to Gibt Adl Louis is order’d to see the Convoy above Cartagena & the
frigates to escort them to Malta. all night mode. Breezs.
Wednesday Oct 16th
Modte: Breezes Westerly all the
forenoon Employd forming the fleet into the order of Sailing at noon
fresh Breezes WSW & Squally in the Evening fresh gales Enemy as before,
by Sign: from Weazel.
Thursday Oct 17th 1805
Mode: Breezes NWerly Sent Donegal to
Gibraltar to get a ground Tier of Casks. Receivd accounts by the
Diligent Store Ship that Sir Richd. Strachan was supposed in
Sight of the French Rochford Squadron which I hope is true. At
Midnight the Wind came to the Eastward.
[Donegal: 80 guns, Capt. Pulteney Malcolm.]
some of these last entries, Nelson's excitement is illustrated by the
harder press of his pen upon the paper.]
Friday Oct 18th fine Weather Wind
Easterly the Combined fleets cannot have finer Wt. to put to
Saturday Oct 19th fine Wt. Wind
Easterly at ½ pt: 9 the Mars being one of the look out Ships
made the Signal that the Enemy were coming out of Port made the Signal
for a general Chase SE. Wind at South Cadiz bearing ESE by Compass
distance 16 Leagues. At three the Colossus made the Signal that the
Enemy fleet was at Sea in the Evening made Sigls to Observe
my motions during the night, for the Britannia Prince & Dreadnought they
being heavy sailers to take Stations as Convenient and for Mars, Orion
Bellisle Leviathan, Bellerophon & Polyphemus to go ahead during the
Night and to carry a light Standing for the Streights Mouth
[Britannia: 100 guns, flagship of Rear-Admiral Sir
William Carnegie, Earl of Northesk.]
[Prince: 98 guns, Capt. Richard Grindall.]
[Dreadnought: 98 guns, Capt. John Conn.]
[Orion: 74 guns, Capt. Edward Codrington.]
[Leviathan: 74 guns, Capt. Henry Boynton.]
[Bellerophon: 74 guns, Capt. John Cooke.]
[Polyphemus: 64 guns, Capt. Robert Redmill.]
this is Nelson's misspelling of Straits.]
[Phoebe: 36-gun frigate, Capt. Thomas Capel.]
Sunday Oct 20th 1805
Fresh Breezes SSW and rainy. Communicated with
Phoebe, Defence and Colossus, who saw near forty sail of ships of War
outside of Cadiz yesterday evening, but the wind being Southerly they
could not get to the Mouth of the Straits. We were between Trafalgar
and Cape Spartel. The frigates made the signal that they saw 9 sail
outside the Harbour; gave the Frigates instructions for their guidance,
and placed Defence, Colossus and Mars between me and the Frigates. At
noon fresh gales and heavy rain, Cadiz NE 9 Leagues. In the afternoon
Captain Blackwood telegraphed that the Enemy seemed determined to go to
the Westward; and that they shall not do if in the power of Nelson and
Bronte to prevent them.
at 5 Telegraph’d Capt. Bd.
that I rely’d upon his keeping sight of the Enemy at 5 o’Clock Naiad
made the signal for 31 Sail of the Enemy NNE. The frigates and Look out
Ships kept sight of the Enemy most admirably all night and told me by
Signals which tack they were upon. At 8 We wore & stood to the SW and
at 4am wore and stood to the NE.
This is Nelson's last diary entry, and is
known as his 'Trafalgar Prayer'.
Monday Oct 21st 1805
At day light saw the Enemys Combined Fleet from E
to ESE bore away made the Signal for order of sailing and to prepare for
Battle the Enemy with their heads to the Southward, at 7 the Enemy
wearing in succession, May the Great God whom I worship Grant to my
Country and for the benefit of Europe in General a great and Glorious
Victory, and may no misconduct in any one tarnish it, and may humanity
after Victory be the predominant feature in the British fleet, for
myself individually I commit my Life to Him who made me, and may his
blessing light upon my Endeavours for serving my Country faithfully. To
Him I resign myself and the just cause which is Entrusted to me to
amen, amen, amen.