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Introduction

1797: Letters Relating to the Battle of Cape St. Vincent

All letters are taken from Nicolas, 'The Dispatches and Letters of Lord Nelson Vol. II' unless otherwise stated.


To Cuthbert Collingwood

Captain of HMS Excellent

Irresistible, February 15th 1797

My dearest Friend,

'A friend in need is a friend indeed' was never more truly verified than by your most noble and gallant conduct yesterday in sparing the Captain from further loss; and I beg, both as a public Officer and a friend, you will accept my most sincere thanks.  I have not failed, by letter to the Admiral, to represent the eminent services of the Excellent.  Tell me how you are; what are your disasters?  I cannot tell you much of the Captain's, except by Note of Captain Miller's, at two this morning, about sixty killed and wounded, masts bad, &c. &c.  We shall meet at Lagos; but I could not come near you without assuring you how sensible I am of your assistance in nearly a critical situation.  Believe me, as ever, your most affectionate

Horatio Nelson

See: The Battle of Cape St. Vincent

See: Collingwood's Reply

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Capt. Collingwood's Reply to Nelson's Letter of the 15th Feb 1797

Excellent, 15th February 1797

My dear good Friend,

First let me congratulate you on the success of yesterday, on the brilliancy it attached to the British Navy, and the humility it must cause to its Enemies; and then let me congratulate my dear Commodore on the distinguished part which he ever takes when the honour and interests of his Country are at stake.  It added very much to the satisfaction which I felt in thumping the Spaniards, that I released you a little.  The highest rewards are due to you and the Culloden; you formed the plan of attack, - we were only accessories to the Dons' ruin; for had they got on the other tack, they would have been sooner joined, and the business would have been less complete.  We have come off pretty well, considering: eleven killed, and fourteen wounded.  You saw the four-decker going off this morning to Cadiz, - she would have come to Lagos, to make the thing better, but we could not brace our yards up to get nearer.  I beg my compliments to Captain Martin: I think he was at Jamaica when we were.  I am ever, my dear friend, affectionately yours,

C.COLLINGWOOD

See: The Battle of Cape St. Vincent

See: Nelson's Letter to Collingwood

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To Sir Gilbert Elliot

British viceroy in Corsica

Irresistible, 15th February 1797

My dear Sir,

You will naturally, I know, be anxious for the safety of your friends, amongst whom I feel a pride to be numbered.  I am proud in my Admiral thinking that my reputation has not been diminished by the events of yesterday.  The Captain is a wreck in hull and masts.  We know not, exactly, but suppose near sixty killed: amongst the slightly wounded is myself, but it is only a contusion and of no consequence, unless an inflammation takes place in my bowels, which is the part injured.  But they who play at balls must expect rubbers.  Remember me to all my friends in the Lively, and

Believe me ever your most faithful

Horatio Nelson

See: The Battle of Cape St. Vincent

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To Sir Gilbert Elliot

British viceroy in Corsica

Irresistible, February 16th 1797

My dear Sir,

Your affectionate and flattering letter is, I assure you, a sufficient reward for doing (what to me was a pleasure) my duty.  My Admiral and others in the Fleet think nearly the same as you do of my conduct.  To receive the Swords of the vanquished, on the quarter-deck of a Spanish First-rate, can seldom fall to the good fortune of any man.  Miller is doing for you two Sketches of the Action, sufficient, I am sure, to please you, from your knowledge of its correctness.

You will now, I am sure, think me an odd man, but still I hope you will agree with me in opinion, and if you can be instrumental in keeping back what I expect will happen, it will be an additional obligation, for very far is it from my disposition to hold light the Honours of the Crown; but I conceive to take hereditary Honours without a fortune to support the Dignity, is to lower that Honour it would be my pride to support in proper splendour.

On the 1st of June, 12th of April, and other Glorious days, Baronetage as been bestowed on the Junior Flag Officers; this Honour is what I dread, for the reasons before given, and which I wish a friend to urge for me to Lord Spencer, or such other of his Majesty's Ministers as are supposed to advise the Crown.  There are other Honours, which die with the possessor, and I should be proud to accept, if my efforts are thought worthy of the favour of my King.  May health and every blessing attend you, and I pray for your speedy passage and a happy meeting with Lady Elliot and your family.  And believe me ever,

Your most obliged and faithful

Horatio Nelson

See: The Battle of Cape St. Vincent

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To Frances Nelson

Nelson's Wife

 

Irresistible, February 16th 1797

My Dearest Fanny,

I am most perfectly well and rich in honour as is Josiah and Hoste.  It would not be right to attempt detailing the action as it will come from a much better pen than mine.

God bless you and my dear father and believe me ever your most affectionate husband,

Horatio Nelson

Note:

It didn't take Nelson long to change his mind and decide that in fact it would be right to 'detail the action'.  Less than a week later, he sent Frances his extensive 'Remarks relative to myself in the Captain...'!

George P.B. Naish, 'Nelson's Letters to His Wife'

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To Rev. William Nelson

Horatio's Brother

Irresistible, Lagos Bay, February 17th 1797

My dear Brother,

As reports may get abroad concerning me, I know it will be satisfactory to hear immediately from myself.  I am, in reality, not near so much hurt as the Doctors fancied, and two days will restore me to perfect health.  I shall only send you an extract of a letter from Sir Gilbert Elliot, who was a spectator of the battle, viz:- 'You will easily believe, I trust, the joy with which I witnessed your glory yesterday.  To have had any share of it is honour enough for one man's life, but to have been foremost on such a day could fall to your share alone.  Nothing in the world was ever more noble than the transaction of the Captain from beginning to end, and the glorious group of your Ship and her two Prizes, fast in your gripe, was never surpassed, and I dare say never will.  I am grieved to learn that you are wounded, however slightly you talk of it.  May you speedily recover, and enjoy your honours and the gratitude and admiration of your Country for many years, without any abatement or rubbers of any kind!  I was in hopes you were unhurt, by seeing you on board the Minerva, and hearing the cheers you were saluted with.'

The Admiral's letter will tell the rest.  With kindest remembrances to Mrs. Nelson, family, and Aunt Mary, and all our friends at Swaffham, believe me, my dear brother,

Your most affectionate,

Horatio Nelson

 

See: The Battle of Cape St. Vincent

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To Rev. Dixon Hoste

 

Irresistible, Lagos Bay, February 17th 1797

My dear Sir,

You will be anxious to hear a line of your good and brave William after the sharp services of the Captain on the 14th.  I have hitherto said so much of my dear William that I can only repeat, his gallantry never can be exceeded and that each day rivets him stronger to my heart.

With best respects to Mrs Hoste, believe me my dear Sir,

Your most obedient servant

Horatio Nelson

The Captain is so cut up that I am obliged to shift my Pendant.

See: The Battle of Cape St Vincent

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To Vice-Admiral Charles Thompson

Flag officer of the Britannia, and second-in-command, during the Battle of Cape St. Vincent

 

Irresistible febry 17th 1797

Sir,

From my present state of Health, I find myself unable without danger of making it worse to attend as a member of the Court martial for which the Signal has been made this morning.

I have the Honor to be Sir

Your Most Obedient Servant

Horatio Nelson

 

Vice Admiral Thompson

 

Colin White, 'Nelson, the New Letters'

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To William Locker

Once Nelson's mentor as captain of HMS Lowestoffe, now Lieutenant-Governor at the Royal Hospital in Greenwich.

 

Irresistible, Lagos Bay, February 21st 1797

My dear Friend,

I was too unwell to write you by the Lively; but as I know how anxious you are for my welfare, both in health and reputation, I send you a short Detail of the transactions of the Captain; and if you approve of it, are at perfect liberty to insert in the newspapers, inserting the name of Commodore instead of 'I'.  Captains Miller and Berry, &c., have authenticated the truth, till my quitting the San Josef to go on board the Minerve, and farther than this the Detail should not be printed.  As I do not write for the press, there may be parts of it which require the pruning-knife, which I desire you will use without fear.  I pretend not to say that these Ships might not have fell, had I not boarded them; but truly it was far from impossible but they might have forged into the Spanish Fleet as the other two Ships did.  I hope for a good account of the Santissima Trinidad; she has been seen without masts, and some of our Frigates near her.

February 21st. - Sir John has just sent me word the Hope goes for England in a few minutes; therefore, I can only say, believe me ever

Your most affectionate friend,

Horatio Nelson

Captain Martin desires I make his best respects.  My Pendant is in this Ship.

Notes:

Captain George Martin was captain of the Irresistible(74 guns).

The 'short Detail' Nelson mentions as having sent to Locker was his "Remarks...".

See: The Battle of Cape St. Vincent

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To Frances Nelson

Nelson's wife.

 

Irresistible, Lagos Bay, February 22nd 1797

My dear Fanny,

Our prizes being now refitted and the Captain put in a tolerable state we are to put to sea the first favourable moment for Lisbon.  I do not believe we shall have the good fortune to meet the Spanish fleet or depend on it we shall have some more of them.  Berry I have no doubt will be a post captain and two of my lieutenants made masters and commanders.  I send you a detail of the transactions of the Captain they are so extraordinary that I have had them authenticated by the officers of my ship.

I have some thoughts of sending the Spanish admiral's sword to be hung up in the Guild Hall at Norwich if it will be acceptable.  I have barely time to write this line.  The Hope lugger just arriving from Gibraltar does not anchor but proceeds direct for England.

With kind love to my father, believe me your most affectionate husband,

Horatio Nelson

Notes:
  • Edward Berry, who had been present on the Captain and led part of the boarding party, was indeed promoted to post-captain in March 1797.  Nelson's lieutenants, Peter Spicer and James Noble, were also promoted.
  • With this letter, Nelson enclosed his 'Remarks' about the battle.  The original copy, which Nelson kept, was signed by Edward Berry and the Captain's Captain, Ralph Miller.
  • Nelson sent the sword of the Spanish Admiral Winthuysen, who had died on board the San Josť, to Norwich where it can still be seen on display.
  • As well as his 'Remarks', Nelson also included some anecdotes and a mock recipe for an 'Olla Podrida' (a type of Spanish stew); see below.

Anecdotes

Francis Cook took me by the hand on the quarter deck of the San Joseph saying he might not soon have such another place to do it in, and assured me he was heartily glad to see me.

There is a saying in the fleet too flattering for me to omit telling. - viz. 'Nelson's Patent Bridge for boarding first rates'.

Don Francisco Wyntheyson Rear Admiral killed on board the San Joseph.  Commodore Enrique Macdonald killed when the Captain boarded the San Nicholas. 

Commodore Nelson's Receipt for Making an Olla Podrida

Take a Spanish first rate and an 80 gunship and after well battering and basting them for an hour keep throwing in your force balls, and be sure to let these be well seasoned.  Your fire must never slacken for a moment, but must be kept up as brisk as possible during the whole time so soon as you perceive your Spaniards to be well stewed and blended together you must then throw your own ship on board the two decker back your spritsail yard to her mizen mast then skip in to her quarter gallery window sword in hand and let the rest of your boarders follow as they can.  The moment that you appear on the 80 gun ship quarter deck the Spaniards will all throw down their arms and fly, you will then only have to take a hop skip and jump from your stepping stone and you will find yourself in the middle of the first rate quarter deck with all the Dons at your feet.

Your Olla Podrida may now be considered as completely dished and fit to set before his Majesty.

Nelson his art of cooking Spaniards.

From another part of the Fleet: The conduct of the Captain was sober from beginning to end - He never was equalled and I dare say never will.

From another: What has happened could only happen to you.

From George P.B. Naish, 'Nelson's Letters to his Wife'.

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To William Suckling

Nelson's uncle.

Irresistible off Lagos Bay February 23rd 1797

My dear Sir,

It was not till yesterday that I heard from Captain Naylor of the Marines, and by a letter of November 21st, from Mrs Nelson, that I heard of my friend Miss Suckling's marriage, or I should not have been so long in sending my congratulations on what I hope will turn out so pleasing an event.  I have known her from her earliest days, and know that a better heart does not inhabit any breast: pray write to her from me, and assure her from my heart I wish her every felicity.

The event of the late Battle has been most glorious for England, and you will receive pleasure from the share I had in making it a most brilliant day, the most so of any I know in the Annals of England.  "Nelson's Patent Bridge for boarding First-rates" will be a saying never forgotten in this Fleet, where all do me the justice that I deserve.  The Victory, and every Ship in the Fleet, passing the glorious group, gave me three cheers.  My hurt at the moment was nothing, but since, it has been attended with a suppression of urine, but the inflammation is gone off and I am nearly recovered.  It is not impossible but we may meet the Dons again on our route to Lisbon, but I fancy I am to stay at sea when the Fleet enters the Tagus.  You will observe that I have changed my Ship; the Captain will never be fit to receive me again, and the Admiralty must send me a new Ship.  I beg my best and kindest remembrances to Mrs. Suckling, Mr. Rumsey, and all our friends at Hampstead; and believe me ever your most obliged and affectionate Nephew,

Horatio Nelson

See: The Battle of Cape St. Vincent

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To Wadham Windham

MP for Norwich

 

Irresistible, off Lisbon, 26th February 1797

Sir,

Particular circumstances having put the Spanish Rear-Admiral's Sword, Don Xavier Francisco Winthuysen, into my hands, on the most glorious 14th of February, and Admiral Sir John Jervis having done me the honour of insisting on my keeping possession of it, I know no place where it would give me or my family more pleasure to have it kept, than in the Capital City of the County in which I had the honour to be born.

If therefore you think, Sir, that the Mayor and Corporation of Norwich would wish to accept such a present, I have to request that you, as a Representative of Norwich, would send my Letter and the box containing the Sword, to the Mayor.

I am, &c.

Horatio Nelson

Notes

The 'particular circumstances' which put the Spanish Admiral's sword in to Nelson's hands were his death during the battle, and his sword being handed to Nelson by the Spanish captain in surrender after Nelson boarded the ship.

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To Frances Nelson

Nelson's Wife.

 

Irresistible, Lisbon, February 28th 1797

My Dearest Fanny,

We got up here with our prizes this afternoon.  The more I think of our late action the more I am astonished.  It absolutely appears a dream.  The Santissima Trinidada of four decks lost 500 killed and wounded.  Had not Captain been so cut up I would have had her but it is well.  Thank God for it.  As to myself I assure you I never was better and rich in the praise of every man from the highest to the lowest in this fleet.  I have some reason to believe I shall be in England sooner than I expected.  If certain events take place I will not stay here but more of this as the plot thickens.

I this day received your letter of January 16th, that of the 9th not come to hand.  Lisbon is the place at present.  A packet is come in and I hope to have later letters tomorrow.  I go to sea the day after tomorrow in this ship with a squadron and shall return by the time the fleet is ready for sea.  Don't think I am forced to go out as Sir John is all kindness to me, but I cannot bear an idle life and it may be every way beneficial to me.  I am afraid I over reckoned my balance in my agents' hands, but I believe this Spanish war will give us a cottage and piece of ground which is all I want.

1st March: The packet goes at daylight in the morning therefore I must conclude.  Assure yourself as ever being your most affectionate

Horatio Nelson

George P.B. Naish, 'Nelson's Letters to his Wife'.

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To the Duke of Clarence

 

Irresistible Lisbon March 3rd: 1797

Sir,

Since I wrote last but little has transpired the Spaniards having stopped the Post to Portugal.  I believe the Santissima Trinidada has rejoined their fleet, we have accounts her loss was 500 killed & wounded.  I can credit it for of all the distressed objects my eyes ever saw, she was the most to be pitied.  Had not the Captain been so severely cut up I should have got fairly alongside but I never got beyond her Mizen Chains.  That ship would have compleated our Victory but I firmly believe that had the Squadron which Man took home been with us, or our late Accidents to Ships not happened, Sir John Jervis would have brought the whole Spanish fleet to England.  His Health at present is but so, so, Thompson has the Harbour duty & the Adl: is on shore.  I have a Pilot on board and nothing but a foul Wind prevents my sailing with Orion & all the frigates - in & out of Port to return here by the time our fleet is ready, when I hope to find a good Two decked ship from England.  I am as yet too active for a 3 decker.  I feel most sensibly your promise of a continuance of friendship and whatever Post the King may direct Your Royal Highness to hold I am confident will be well attended to and I beg leave to assure to you that in every way Your Royal Highness is sure of the full support of Your Most faithful and attatched

Horatio Nelson

Royal Highness Duke of Clarence

Dimensions of San Joseph

                                     f                 i

Length of Gun Deck       195            3

Keel for tonnage            155            9

Extreme breadth            55             0

Depth of hold                 24             5

Tonnage                        2506

 

Colin White, "Nelson, The New Letters"

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To Vice-Admiral William Waldegrave

Flag-officer of the Barfleur during the Battle of Cape St. Vincent.

 

March 5 1797

My dear Admiral,

I send you a Narrative of the transactions of the Captain on the 14th of February, and also the Sword of one of the Officers (I believe Second Captain of the San Nicolas) with which he killed one of my seamen.

How hard this wind is not to let us out, but I hope it is at its last gasp.  Believe me, my dear Sir,

Your most obliged and affectionate humble servant,

Horatio Nelson

Notes:

The 'Narrative' referred to is Nelson's 'Remarks...'

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To the Duke of Clarence

 

 

Off Cape St. Vincent, March 22nd 1797

Sir,

The Spanish fleet went into Cadiz on the 3rd of the month, the Santissima Trinidad with them.  They acknowledge she had struck, but that a Seventy-four sent a boat on board, and hoisted her colours again, which they give as a reason why she did not lay her head towards our Fleet.  I feel a great satisfaction in this account being confirmed, as I believe all will allow that I had more action with her than any Ship in our Fleet; and I am sure your Royal Highness will have pleasure in likewise knowing that my conduct has not escaped the notice of the Spanish Fleet, who now in Cadiz do justice to the Broad Pendant.

I am looking out with an anxious eye for the Viceroy of Mexico, but I fear he will go to Teneriffe.  The Spanish Fleet is, fit and unfit, thirty Sail of the Line in Cadiz, and I suppose twenty will be ready for sea by the first week in April.  I am assured fifteen Sail of the Line are ordered to Ferrol, and both Squadrons are destined for Brest, making thirty Sail from the two Ports of Cadiz and Ferrol.  I trust Sir John Jervis will be reinforced; at present his situation is not very pleasant.  Eighteen two-decked Ships are to perform two services; at least this is what strikes me as necessary, viz. to see our Army safe from Elba, and to prevent the Spanish Fleet sailing with impunity from Cadiz.  If Sir John stays off Cadiz, the French will push out two or three Sail of the Line, and most probably take our Army; if he goes into the Straits, the Detachment from Cadiz gets unmolested to Ferrol: here is a choice of difficulties.  I have ventured to propose to the Admiral, letting me go with two or three Sail of the Line, off Toulon or to Elba as may be necessary, and for the Fleet to stay outside.  I beg your Royal Highness will not think that I am in the habit of advising my Commander-in-Chief; but Sir John Jervis has spoiled me by encouraging me to give my opinion freely; knowing that it is not impertinence in me, I have thought it right to say thus much.

An American who left Cadiz two days past tells us that Cordova is sent to Madrid as a prisoner, and that every Admiral and Captain are under arrest until their conduct can be inquired into; and it is said they are determined to fight us again.  Captain Oakes is now at my elbow, and desires me to say everything respectful for him.

I am, &c.,

Horatio Nelson

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To Earl Spencer

First Lord of the Admiralty

 

Captain, off Cape St Mary's, April 2nd 1797

My Lord,

Yesterday I had the honour of receiving your Lordship's letter of March 17th, signifying to me his Majesty's most gracious intention to confer on me the Most Honourable Order of the Bath, as a mark of his Royal approbation of my conduct on several occasions during the present War.  May I presume, through your Lordship, who have so favourably represented my services to the King, to present my most profound and humble acknowledgments to his Majesty for this most distinguished mark of his Royal Favour?

I feel it would be presumptuous in me to say more than to acknowledge the very handsome manner in which your Lordship has been pleased to execute his Majesty's command's, and that I am,

Your Lordship's most obliged Servant,

Horatio Nelson

 

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To Rev. William Nelson

Horatio's brother.

 

Captain, off Cape St Vincent's, April 6th 1797

My dear Brother,

Many thanks for your kind letter of March 13th, and I beg you will thank all our friends for their kind congratulations; and I must be delighted when from the King to the Peasant, all are willing to do me honour.  But I will partake of nothing but what shall include Collingwood and Troubridge.  We are the only three Ships who made great exertions on that glorious day: the others did their duty, and some not exactly to my satisfaction.  We ought to have had the Santissima Trinidad and the Soberano, seventy-four.  They belonged to us by conquest, and only wanted some good fellow to get alongside them, and they were ours.  But it is well; and for that reason only we do not like to say much.

Sir John Jervis is not quite contented, but says nothing publicly.  An anecdote in the Action is honourable to the Admiral, and to Troubridge and myself.  Calder said, 'Sir, the Captain and Cullodn are separated from the Fleet, and unsupported: shall we recall them?' - 'I will not have them recalled.  I put my faith in those Ships: it is a disgrace that they are not supported and separated.'

Success hides a multitude of faults.  We have just spoke a Vessel from Cadiz: Cordova and three Captains are condemned to be shot; but it is said Cordova's sentence will not be carried into execution, but I should think it will, to appease the people; but he certainly does not deserve it, although many of his Fleet do.  The Admiral joined me from Lisbon on the 2nd, and on the 3rd we looked into Cadiz.  Their West India Convoy was to have sailed that day: now I do not expect they will sail this summer; for I have no idea they will fight us again.  However they may in a month or two be forced out.  I am come off here to look for the Viceroy with Culloden and Zealous and La Minerve; but I do not expect any success.  You will not be surprised to hear I have declined all hereditary Honours; and as to entailing a Title, unless you have a good estate to send with it, you send misery; and till I became a Flag-Officer I had not made both ends meet.  Chains and Medals are what no fortune or connexion in England can obtain; and I shall feel prouder of those than all the Titles in the King's power to bestow.  Pray remember me kindly to Mrs Nelson, our Aunt, your Children, the Rolfes, and all our friends at Swaffham, and believe me ever your most affectionate brother,

Horatio Nelson

Captain Berry, who is a Post-Captain, late my First Lieutenant, has promised to call upon you.  He is going to visit a sister, who is married, and lives at or near Tofts.  You will find him a very pleasant and gentlemanlike man.

 

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To Vice-Admiral Moreno

Commander of the rear division of the Spanish fleet at the Battle of Cape St. Vincent

 

 

Theseus 8th of June 1797

Sir,

A Spanish Officer having said that you had expressed a wish to obtain a Letter supposed to have been written from his Majesty's Ship Egmont, and inserted in an English Newspaper, relating to the Action of February 14th, every inquiry has been made to obtain the Newspaper, and hitherto without effect.  Captain Sutton of the Egmont has also done everything in his power, but without being able to learn whether any Letter from that Ship has been published.  The inquiry has, however, produced from my Commander-in-Chief, Sir John Jervis, the most handsome testimony of the gallant conduct of a Three-decked Ship bearing the Flag of a Vice-Admiral who did everything which a good Officer could do to attempt to cut through the British line between the Victory and the Egmont.

I am, &c.

Horatio Nelson

 

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To Admiral Sir John Jervis

 

9th June 1797

My dear Sir,

The Newspaper was at last found in the night, on the quarter-deck, and is gone as you desired: it will, I fear, militate against Cordova, if any weight be given to a Newspaper account.  Your testimony of Moreno's conduct will no doubt be of service to him; the Trials are commenced, and every day an account is sent off to Madrid.  The heavy charge against Cordova is not coming into Cadiz with his convoy, which they say he could have done the day after he had passed the Straits.  Morales, it is expected, will be shot, Cordova broke, Moreno acquitted.  The long trial of the Officers who gave up Figueras is just finished, and five are to be shot.  All the Officers who composed the Council of War are to be degraded in their public and private rank.  According to reports, the French have been refused a passage through Spain to Portugal; and a Minister of ours is as Paris.  The Venetians are suffering every misery from the French.  I was in great hopes the salute was from an Admiral from England.  The number of men you propose to give me, I have no doubt are all-sufficient; but I well know that a few more red coats have their use in dazzling the eyes of the Enemy.

I send you the State of the Swiftsure; even the sight of the two poor men in irons on board her has affected me more than I can express: if Mr Weir would look at them, I should be glad.  The youth may, I hope, be saved, as he has intervals of sense, his countenance is most interesting.  If any mode can be devised for sending him home, I will with pleasure pay fifty pounds to place him in some proper place for his recovery; the other, I fear, is too old.  Your managements are always good, and nothing shall be wanting in the execution.  Martin has got an idea that I am likely to move; and should it be proper to enlarge the Squadron, I beg he may go, but not to displace one of the others.  I hope the reinforcement will soon arrive.  I do not build much on the acts of the Portuguese Squadron, even if they go off Spartel.

I am, &c.,

Horatio Nelson

Notes:

- Dr Weir was Physician to the Fleet.

- 'Martin': Captain George Martin of the Irresistible.

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To Admiral Sir John Jervis

 

10th June 1797

My dear Sir,

I hope, for the poor men's sakes, that they are imposing on me; but depend on it, that God Almighty has afflicted them with the most dreadful of all diseases.  They do not sham; indeed, you will find I am not mistaken, and all the Commissioners in the World cannot convince me of it.  For what purpose can these poor wretches attempt to destroy themselves.  For what purpose can one of them have spoken to me as rationally as any person could do?  Do let Mr Weir look at them: I am sure he will think with me, from the order to represent those who are objects unfit for the service, I could not do otherwise than I did; but if you think I have said too much, pray curtail my Report.  But I will get to pleasanter subjects.  I am forming a ladder for the escalade, which when finished, I will send to the Ville de Paris, that we may have twenty at least.  Ten hours shall make me either a conqueror, or defeat me.  I long to be at work, for I begin to think these fellows will not soon come out, at least not while negotiations are going on.

I am, &c.

Horatio Nelson

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To Admiral Sir John Jervis

 

 

HMS Theseus, 12th June 1797

My dear Sir,

The Flag of Truce was only to bring the letters sent herewith; but it brought out in conversation a circumstance which, though believed by many, I have my doubts about - at least, that the Spaniards would have acknowledged - viz. that the Trinidad not only struck her Colours, but hoisted un Pavillon Parliamentaire; the fact is now so well-established that it cannot be done away.  The next morning, when attended by the Frigate, seeing some of our Ships not far off, I suppose Egmont and Namur, she hoisted an English Jack over the Spanish Flag, to induce the English to suppose she was a prize.  Everybody, their Officer says, expects Peace to be settled, and that it will be known here by the end of the month.

Believe me your most faithful,

Horatio Nelson

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