Battle of Trafalgar

21st October 1805
Part of : The Napoleonic Wars (1803 - 1815)
Previous action : Phoenix vs Didon 10th August 1805
Next action : Battle of Cape Ortegal 4th November 1805


Allied (Spain & Empire Français) - Pierre Charles Jean Baptiste Silvestre de Villeneuve

Allied Rear, Pierre Etienne René Marie Dumanoir Le Pelley
Ship NameGunsCommanderNotes
Le Scipion (74) 74Charles Berrenger5 Killed
Rayo (80) 100Don Enrique Macdonel4 Killed, 14 Wounded Captured
Formidable (84) 84Jean-Marie LetellierSquadron Flagship 11 Killed, 30 Wounded
Le Duguay Trouin (74) 74Claude Touffet13 Killed, 23 Wounded
San Francisco de Asis (70) 70Luis de Flores5 Killed, 12 Wounded
Mont Blanc (74) 74Guillaume Jean Noel La Villegris2 Killed
Allied Center, Pierre Charles Jean Baptiste Silvestre de Villeneuve
Ship NameGunsCommanderNotes
San Agustín (70) 70Felipe Antonio Jado y Cagigal, Felipe Antonio Jado y Cagigal180 Killed, 200 Wounded Captured
Le Héros (74) 74Jean Baptiste Joseph Rene Poulain11 Killed, 23 Wounded CO Killed
Nuestra Señora de la Santisima Trinidad (116) 140Francisco Javier de Uriarte y Borja205 Killed, 108 Wounded Captured
Le Bucentaure (86) 86Jean-Jacques MagendieFleet Flagship 192 Killed, 46 wounded Captured
Le Neptune (86) 86Esprit-Tranquille Maistral30 Killed, 40 wounded
San Leandro (64) 64Jose Quevedo8 Killed, 22 wounded
Redoutable (74) 74Jean-Jacques Lucas580 Killed Captured
Allied Van, Ignacio Maria de Alava y Saenz de Navarrete
Ship NameGunsCommanderNotes
L'Intrépide (74) 74Louis-Antoine-Cyprien Infernet100 killed, 200 wounded Captured
San Justo (70) 70Miguel Gaston de Iriarte7 wounded
L'Indomptable (84) 84Jean Joseph Hubert800 Killed
Santa Ana (112) 112Jose de GardoquiSquadron Flagship 103 killed, 136 wounded Captured
Le Fougueux (74) 74Louis Alexis Baudouin600 killed, 10 wounded Captured
Monarca (74) 74Teodoro de Argumosa y Bourke100 Killed, 150 wounded Captured
Le Pluton (74) 74Julien Marie Cosmao-Kerjulien67 killed, 130 wounded
Squadron of Observation, Federico Carlos Gravina y Napoli
Ship NameGunsCommanderNotes
L'Algeciras (74) 74Laurent Tourneur85 killed, 142 wounded Captured
Bahama (70) 70Dionisio Alcala Galiano75 killed, 67 wounded Captured
L'Aigle (74) 74Pierre Paulin Gourrege100 killed, 200 wounded Captured
Swiftsure (74) 74Charles Eusebe L'Hospitalier de Villemandrin70 killed, 122 wounded Captured
L'Argonaute (74) 74Jacques Épron Desjardins53 Killed, 127 wounded
Montanes (74) 74Francisco de Alcedo y Bustamante20 Killed, 29 wounded
Argonauta (80) 80Antonio Pareja y Serrano de Leon100 Killed, 200 wounded Captured
Le Berwick (74) 74Jean Giles Filhol de Camas300 Killed, 15 wounded Captured
San Juan Nepomuceno (70) 70Cosme Damian Churruca y de Elorza128 Killed, 147 wounded Captured
San Ildefonso (74) 74Jose Ramon de Vargas y Varaez34 Killed, 136 wounded Captured
L'Achille (74) 74Louis Gabriel Deniéport480 Killed, 30 wounded Exploded
Principe de Asturias (112) 112Rafael de HoreSquadron Flagship 52 Killed, 110 wounded
Vessels not in the Line
Ship NameGunsCommanderNotes
Rhin (40) 40Michel Chesneau
Hortense (40) 40Louis Charles Auguste La Marre la Meillerie
Cornelie (40) 40André Jules François de Martinenq de la Farge
La Thémis (40) 40Nicolas Joseph Pierre Jugan
Hermione (40) 40Jean Michel Mahé
Furet (18) 18Pierre Antoine Toussaint Demai
L'Argus (16) 16Yves Francois Taillard

United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland - Lord Horatio Nelson (1st Baron Nelson of the Nile and of Hilborough)

The Weather Column, Lord Horatio Nelson (1st Baron Nelson of the Nile and of Hilborough)
Ship NameGunsCommanderNotes
Victory (100) 100Thomas Masterman HardyFleet Flagship 57 Killed, 102 Wounded
Temeraire (98) 98Eliab Harvey47 Killed, 76 Wounded
Neptune (98) 98Isaac Shaw, Thomas Francis Fremantle10 Killed, 34 Wounded
Leviathan (74) 74Henry William Bayntun4 Killed, 22 Wounded
Conqueror (74) 74Israel Pellew3 Killed, 9 Wounded
Agamemnon (64) 64Sir Edward Berry2 Killed, 8 Wounded
Britannia (100) 100Charles Bullen10 Killed, 42 Wounded
Ajax (74) 74William Brown, John Pilfold2 Killed, 9 Wounded
Orion (74) 74Edward Codrington1 Killed, 23 Wounded
Minotaur (74) 74Charles John Moore Mansfield3 Killed, 22 Wounded
Spartiate (74) 74Sir Francis Laforey (2nd Baronet Laforey)3 Killed, 20 Wounded
The Lee Column, Cuthbert Collingwood
Ship NameGunsCommanderNotes
Royal Sovereign (100) 100John Conn, Edward RotherhamSquadron Flagship 47 Killed, 94 Wounded
Belleisle (74) 74William Hargood33 Killed, 93 Wounded
Colossus (74) 74James Nicoll Morris40 Killed, 160 Wounded
Mars (74) 74George Duff29 Killed, 69 Wounded CO Killed
Tonnant (80) 80Charles Tyler26 Killed, 50 Wounded
Bellerophon (74) 74John Cooke27 Killed, 123 Wounded CO Killed
Achille (74) 74John Oakes Hardy, Richard King13 Killed, 59 Wounded
Polyphemus (64) 64Robert Redmill2 Killed, 4 Wounded
Revenge (74) 74Robert Moorsom28 Killed, 51 Wounded
Swiftsure (74) 74William Gordon Rutherford9 Killed, 8 Wounded
Defence (74) 74George Johnstone Hope7 Killed, 29 Wounded
Thunderer (74) 74William Lechmere, John Stockham, Thomas Searle4 Killed, 12 Wounded
Defiance (74) 74Philip Charles Calderwood Henderson Durham17 Killed, 53 Wounded
Prince (98) 98Richard GrindallNo Casualties
Dreadnought (98) 98Edward Rotherham, John Conn7 Killed, 26 Wounded
Vessels not in the Line
Ship NameGunsCommanderNotes
Africa (64) 64Henry Digby 18 Killed, 44 Wounded
Naiad (38) 38Thomas Dundas
Phoebe (36) 36Thomas Bladen Capel
Euryalus (36) 36Henry Blackwood
Sirius (36) 36William Prowse
Entreprenante (10) 10Robert Benjamin Young
Pickle (8) 8John Richards Lapenotiere

Notes on Action

Allied Casualty FiguresB006
The casualty figures given for the allied fleet include those incured when ships foundered or were wrecked after the battle had finished.
Vice Admiral Cuthbert Collingwood's DispatchBG

To William Marsden Esq., Admiralty, London

Euryalus, off Cape Trafalgar, Oct. 22.


The ever to be lamented death of Vice Admiral Lord Viscount Nelson, who, in the late conflict with the enemy, fell in the hour of victory, leaves to me the duty of informing my Lord Commissioners of the Admiralty, that on the 19th inst. it was communicated to the Commander in Chief from the ships watching the motions of the enemy in Cadiz, that the combined fleet had put to sea; as they sailed with light winds westerly, his Lordship concluded their destination was the Mediterranean, and immediately made all sail for the Streights' entrance, with the British squadron, consisting of twenty-seven ships, three of them sixty-fours, where his Lordship was informed by Captain Blackwood (whose vigilance in watching, and giving notice of the enemy's movements, has been highly meritorious) that they had not yet passed the Streights.

On Monday, the 21st instant, at day light, when Cape Trafalgar bore E. by S. about seven leagues, the enemy was discovered six or seven miles to the eastward, the wind about west, and very light, the Commander in Chief immediately made the signal for the fleet to bear up in two columns, as they are formed in order of sailing; a mode of attack his Lordship had previously directed, to avoid the inconvenience and delay in forming a line of battle in the usual manner. The enemy's line consisted of thirty-three ships (of which 18 were French and 15 Spanish) commanded in chief by Admiral Villeneuve; the Spaniards under the direction of Gravina, wore, with their heads to the northward, and formed the line of battle with great closeness and correctness;-but as the mode of attack was unusual, so the structure of their line was new; it formed a crescent convexing to leeward-so that, in leading down to their centre, I had both their van and rear, abaft the beam; before the fire opened, every alternate ship was about a cable's length to windward of her second a-head, and a-stern, forming a kind of double line, and appeared, when on their beam, to leave a very littler interval between them; and this without crowding their ships. Admiral Villeneuve was in the Bucentaure in the centre, and the Prince of Asturias bore Gravina's flag in the rear; but the French and Spanish ships were mixed without any apparent regard to order of national squadron.

As the mode of our attack had been previously determined on, and communicated to the Flag Officers and Captains, few signals were necessary, and none were made, except to direct close order as the lines bore down. The Commander in Chief in the Victory led the weather column, and the Royal Sovereign, which bore my flag, the lee.

The action began at twelve o'clock, by the leading ships of the columns breaking through the enemy's line, the Commander in Chief about the tenth ship from the van, the Second in Command about the twelfth from the rear, leaving the van of the enemy unoccupied; the succeeding ships breaking through, in all parts, astern of their leaders, and engaging the enemy at the muzzles of their guns: the conflict was severe; the enemy's ships were fought with a gallantry highly honourable to their officers, but the attack on them was irresistible, and it pleased the Almighty Disposer of all Events, to grant his Majesty's arms a complete and glorious victory.

About three P.M. many of the enemy's ships having struck their colours, their line gave way: Admiral Gravina, with ten ships, joining their frigates to leeward, stood towards Cadiz. The five headmost ships in their van tacked, and standing to the southward, to windward, of the British line, were engaged, and the sternmost of them taken:-the others went off, leaving to his Majesty's squadron, nineteen ships of the line, (of which two are first-rates, the Santissima Trinidad and the Santa Anna) with three Flag Officers, viz. Admiral Villeneuve, the Commander in Chief, Don Ignatio Maria D'Aliva, Vice Admiral, and the Spanish Rear Admiral Don Baltazar Hidalgo Cisneros.

After such a victory it may appear unnecessary to enter into encomiums on the particular parts taken by the several Commanders; the conclusion says more on the subject than I have language to express; the spirit which animated all was the same; when all exerted themselves zealously in their country's service, all deserve that their high merits should stand recorded; and never was high merit more conspicuous than in the battle I have described.

The Achille (a French 74), after having surrendered, by some mismanagement of the Frenchmen took fire and blew up; two hundred of her men were saved by the tenders.

A circumstance occurred during the action, which so strongly marks the invincible spirit of British seamen, when engaging the enemies of their country, that I cannot resist the pleasure I have in making it known to their Lordships; the Temeraire was boarded by accident, or design, by a French ship on one side, and a Spaniard on the other; the contest was vigorous, but, in the end, the combined ensigns were torn from the poop, and the British hoisted in their places.

Such a battle could not be fought without sustaining a great loss of men. I have not only to lament in common with the British Navy, and the British Nation, in the fall of the Commander in Chief, the loss of a Hero, whose name will be immortal, and his memory ever dear to his country; but my heart is rent with the most poignant grief for the death of a friend, to whom, by many years intimacy, and a perfect knowledge of the virtues of his mind, which inspired ideas superior to the common race of men, I was bound by the strongest ties of affection; a grief to which even the glorious occasion in which he fell, does not bring the consolation which perhaps it ought; his Lordship received a musket ball in his left breast, about the middle of the action, and sent an officer to me immediately with his last farewell; and soon after expired.

I have also to lament the loss of those excellent officers, Captains Duff, of the Mars, and Cooke, of the Bellerophon; I have yet heard of no others.

I fear the numbers that have fallen will be found very great, when the returns come to me; but it having blown a gale of wind ever since the action, I have not yet had it in my power to collect any reports from the ships.

The Royal Sovereign having lost her masts, except the tottering foremast, I called the Euryalus to me, which the action continued, which ship lying within hail, made my signals, a service Captain Blackwood performed with great attention; after the action, I shifted my flag to her, that I might more easily communicate my orders to, and collect the ships, and towed the Royal Sovereign out to seaward. The whole fleet were now in a very perilous situation, many dismasted, all shattered, in thirteen fathom water, off the Shoals of Trafalgar, and when I made the signal to prepare to anchor, few of the ships had an anchor to let go, their cables being shot; but the same good Providence which aided us through such a day, preserved us in the night, by the wind shifting a few points, and drifting the ships off the land.

Having thus detailed the proceedings of the fleet on this occasion, I beg to congratulate their Lordships on a victory, which, I hope will add a ray to the glory of his Majesty's Crown, and be attended with public benefit to our country.

I am, &c.

C. Collingwood


B006 La Campaña de Trafalgar (1804-1805) Corpus Documental (2 vols)J Ignacio González-AllerBook
BG The London GazetteOfficialWeb Site

Previous comments on this page

Posted by Colin Stone on Sunday 7th of October 2012 23:55

A mistake is noticed above under "Lee column at Trafalgar"
Polyphemus was in the command at this battle by Captain Robert Redmill not John Lawford.
This can be easily verified for internet sources.
Regards Colin

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