Nelson's Unfinished Letter.

On October 21, 1805, Horatio Nelson, England's greatest sailor, and hero of a hundred and twenty fights before he was thirty-eight, paid with his life for the victory of Trafalgar over the combined fleets of France and Spain.

Scorning dangers that had already left cruel marks on a frail body, he went into action in Trafalgar wearing his admiral's uniform, a target for sharp-shooters in the masts of enemy vessels. Risking his displeasure, his officers had asked him to change his dress, or at least to cover his decorations. But Nelson had won them with honour and, reminding his officers of this, said he would wear them till with honour he died.

From the Victory he opened fire on the Bucentaure, commanded by Admiral Villeneuve, and then on La Santa Trinidad and the Redoutable, when a musket shot from the top of the latter struck him in the upper breast and plunged into his spine. Though mortally wounded, he calmly gave orders till victory was complete. But with the enemy vanguished and Admiral Villeneuve a prisoner, Nelson could face his end. "I have done my duty, thank God for that", were his last words.

 

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The first part of this poignant letter was written two days before Trafalgar, the second on the eve of the battle... On it. Lady Hamilton wrote a few lines ending with:

Oh miserable wretched Emma

Oh glorious and happy Nelson.

(British Museum)
[Nelson, Horatio (1758-1805), was Britain's greatest admiral and naval hero. He defeated the combined French and Spanish fleets at Trafalgar in the greatest naval victory in British history. His victory broke France's naval power, and established Britain's rule of the seas for the rest of the 1800's.]

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