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What happened on this day in history.
On this day in history in 1805, died Horatio Nelson, at the Battle of Trafalgar.
Nelson commanded a British fleet of 27 ships against a combined French and Spanish fleet of 33. Instead of lining up his ships opposite the enemy in the traditional manner, Nelson divided his force into two parts and sailed into the enemy line piecing it in two places while discharging broadsides at the enemy fleet. Nelson’ flagship Victory caused 400 casualties on the French Bucentaure. In all, 15 enemy ships were sunk and the others fled. Sadly, Nelson was mortally wounded at the hour of victory.
Nelson had a most unusual funeral cortege. Many of the common seamen were buried at Gibraltar, but Nelson had to be taken to London for burial in Westminster Abbey. To effect this, his body was preserved in rum. A half barrel was nailed to the deck, and the coffin, bored with holes, was slid inside. The barrel was then filled with spirit, preserving the corpse. From then on in the Royal Navy, rum became known as ‘Nelson’s blood’.
Knight, Roger. The Pursuit of Victory: The Life and Achievement of Horatio Nelson. (Paperback)
Howarth, David. Trafalgar: The Nelson Touch. (Great Battles series) (Paperback)
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