On this day — 21st October — in 1805, Admiral Horatio Nelson died at The Battle of Trafalgar, off the coast of Spain.
In 1805, the British and the Franco-Spanish fleets engaged in a game of cat and mouse as Horatio Nelson pursued the French admiral Villeneuve backwards and forwards across the Atlantic Ocean.
Threatened with losing his command, Villeneuve broke out of Cadiz with his combined Franco-Spanish fleet.
Admiral Nelson gave chase, and this time Villeneuve had no alternative but to fight.
After five hours of fierce fighting exchanges and excellent manoeuvring by the British commanders, Admiral Nelson devastated the Franco-Spanish fleet.
Death of Admiral Horatio Nelson
However, a French sniper fatally wounded Admiral Nelson as he stood on the deck of his flagship HMS Victory.
Admiral Horatio Nelson’s last message to the fleet was, “England expects that every man shall do his duty.”
Furthermore, Nelson’s last words were, “Thank God I have done my duty.”
The Battle of Trafalgar was one of the most important sea battles of the 19th century because it ensured that Napoleon Bonaparte would never invade Britain.
It also guaranteed the British Navy’s control of the oceans, which was the foundation of Britain’s global power for over a hundred years.
Consequently, Horatio Nelson was acclaimed as the savior of Britain and was given a grand funeral in St. Paul’s Cathedral in London.
Many historians regard Admiral Nelson as the greatest war hero in British history.
He is buried at Westminster Abbey.
Furthermore, his statue is on top of the 46 metres high and solid granite Nelson’s Column in Trafalgar Square, London.
Constructed in 1843, Nelson’s Column commemorates Admiral Horatio Nelson’s death at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805.
The statue of Nelson faces south looking towards the Admiralty, with the Mall on his right flank, where the top of each flagpole represents Nelson’s ships.