Horatio Nelson

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“Let me alone: I have yet my legs and one arm. Tell the surgeon to make haste and his instruments. I know I must lose my right arm, so the sooner it’s off the better.”

Horatio Nelson

The Victory

Admiral Horatio Lord Nelson was a brilliant strategist and a highly successful navel commander. Perhaps the most beloved of all British military leaders, his men followed him with a loyalty that few have ever known. A captain at 20, Nelson served in the West Indies, Baltic and Canada.  In 1793, when Britain entered the French Revolutionary Wars, he was given the command of the Agamemnon. He assisted in the capture of Corsica and lost the sight in his right eye at the battle at Calvi.  He would lose his right arm at the Battle off Santa Cruz de Tenerife in 1797.

Considered a man of bold action, he was extremely confident in his capabilities to the point of occasionally ignoring orders from his superiors. Fate rewarded him for his defiance by granting him victories against the Spanish off Cape Vincent in 1797, and at the battle of Copenhagen in 1801.  He relished the spotlight and was partial to flattery. Nonetheless, his loyalty was unwavering.  He once said, “Duty is the great business of a sea officer; all private consideration must give way to it, however painful it may be.”

Lady Hamilton was twenty-eight when she first met Horatio Nelson, a thirty-five year old captain, on September 12, 1793 when he sailed into Naples.  Their next meeting, five years later, was during the frightening spectre of an impending French invasion. Fresh from the glorious victory over the French in the “Battle of the Nile,” Nelson was welcomed by all of Naples, as a liberator.  Everyone believed that he would be the man to conquer the mighty Napoleon.

Nelson, exhausted from battle, and in pain from his wounds, was overwhelmed by the welcoming party that awaited him on the waterfront.  It was said that Emma threw herself upon him, weeping with joy and thanksgiving.   Lord Nelson would keep them safe.

“My greatest happiness is to serve my gracious King and Country and I am envious only of glory; for if it be a sin to covet glory I am the most offending soul alive.”

Horatio Nelson

14 thoughts on “Horatio Nelson

  1. We had to tour the Victory as part of our training when I was in the army!
    Later I saw Nelson’s blood-stained clothes in a case at the Royal Naval College Greenwich… I love it that his action at the Battle of Copenhagen when he put his telescope to his blind eye to ignore an order, has become part of the language so that we all turn a blind eye!!!

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    • I laughed out loud when I read about the telescope incident. Such audacity. He never held back, did he? I understand that Winston Churchill found Lord Nelson to be an inspiration during the dark days of WWII. The name – Victory – says it all. History gives us many flesh and blood heroes. Thank you for your comments – always appreciated.

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  2. Thanks for this excellent post about our local HERO, Clanmother! 🙂
    Greetings from North Norfolk, UK
    Dina

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    • Oh, Dina! What a HERO he was! The more I read about Lord Nelson, the more I am fascinated by his complex personality. He was the man for the hour….
      He is a local hero that continues to inspire our world to this very day!!! Have a wonderful weekend! Thanks for stopping by….

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    • Indeed! And so does the complexity!! Much of Emma Hamilton’s story was written by her enemies – but one thing no one can dispute was their love.

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  3. This is a thoroughly enjoyable article, about a forgotten hero in times gone by! As you say Horatio Nelson was a brilliant strategist and a highly successful navel commander, of his day.

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    • Thank you for your visit and comments! Nelson was truly a man for the time. I don’t think he knew the meaning of “being cautious.” Looking forward to our ongoing dialogue!

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  4. I been busy but never too busy to catch up with your great posts, his story is quite fascinating so now the love will grow, just with these two quotes you get a glimpse of what a character he was.

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    • Yes, a true romantic that believed in no half measures. He was always front and centre, in the thick of danger. Your comments and presence are very much appreciated!

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  5. Nelson certainly was and remains inspiring – a nice intro to his life and times in this post. I live in Norfolk, England and they are very proud of him in these parts! I am fascinated with the 18th century sailing stories (blame it on reading Treasure Island and Swiss Family Robinson). I am sure the reality was much harsher than those stories convey.

    A recent BBC documentary Nelson’s Caribbean Hell-hole quoted from Nelson’s diary from his early command posting in Antigua. It seems he found love there with the young wife of a much older senior officer, they spent many hours together and shared many interests and the young Nelson was besotted. When she left he saw nothing but the death and despair of the sailors, with many dying from tropical diseases. Those were the sort of things that he meant when he said the words you quoted, “Duty is the great business of a sea officer; all private consideration must give way to it, however painful it may be.” That determined service of duty saw him lead British sailors in changing the world!

    Some info and a short clip from the program: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b01s6gjx

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    • Thank you for your comments. I am delighted that you added so much to this discussion!! I was quite surprised to hear that Lord Nelson was in Canada when he was a midshipman serving on the HMS Carcass. It seems that the ship became trapped in the ice and one day, Nelson and a friend set out to find a polar bear. Nelson’s gun misfired and the polar bear decided it would be a good idea to attack. He attempted to clobber the polar bear with the butt-end of his musket. but didn’t get the desired results. The captain saved the young Nelson by firing a canon which scared the enraged bear, who fled.

      As a Canadian, I am glad that we can claim that he was in Canada.

      I agree wholeheartedly that “duty” was the strong motivation that set the world on a different course.

      By the way, the link/clip was fantastic background. Thank you so much for sharing.

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