Battle of Trafalgar (1805)

Battle of Trafalgar (1805)

The British Royal Fleet led by Admiral Lord Nelson defeated the combined Franco-Spanish fleet in the naval battle during the Napoleonic Wars.



Trafalgar, Napoleonic Wars, Napoleon, naval tactics, Admiral Lord Nelson, Villeneuve, fleet, battle, Spanish, British, French, war, Collingwood, battle order, Bucentaure, Victory, battleship, military campaign, military history, soldier, military, Atlanti-óceán, history, modern history

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Approach route

  • British column Nelson
  • British columns Collingwood
  • Franco-Spanish fleet

British fleet

  • Spartiate
  • Minotaur
  • Agamemnon
  • Orion
  • Ajax
  • Britannia
  • Conqueror
  • Leviathan
  • Euryalus
  • Neptune
  • Téméraire
  • Victory
  • Defiance
  • Thunderer
  • Polyphemus
  • Dreadnought
  • Swiftsure
  • Defiance
  • Prince
  • Revenge
  • Achille
  • Colossus
  • Bellerophon
  • Tonnant
  • Mars
  • Belleisle
  • Royal Sovereign

Franco-Spanish fleet

  • San Juan Nepomuceno
  • Berwick
  • Principe de Asturias
  • Achille
  • San Ildefonso
  • Argonauta
  • Argonaute
  • Swiftsure
  • Aigle
  • Bahama
  • Montanes
  • Algésiras
  • Pluton
  • Monarca
  • Fougueux
  • Santa Ana
  • Indomptable
  • San Leandro
  • Neptune
  • San Justo
  • Redoutable
  • Bucentaure
  • Nuestra Senora de la Santisima Trinidad
  • San Augustin
  • Héros
  • San Francisco de Asis
  • Mont Blanc
  • Rayo
  • Duguay Trouin
  • Formidable
  • Intrépide
  • Scipion
  • Neptuno

Events of the battle

  • HMS Victory (Nelson)
  • HMS Royal Sovereign (Collingwood)
  • Bucentaure (Villeneuve)
  • Redoubtable


Stage 1 (20 October 1805)

The Battle of Trafalgar was the most important naval battle in the Napoleonic Wars. It took place near the south-west Atlantic coast of Spain, west of Cape Trafalgar.

The combined Franco-Spanish fleet (18 French and 15 Spanish ships) were ordered to sail to Naples to support the French soldiers in Southern Italy.
Admiral Villeneuve, captain of the fleet´s flagship, the Bucentaure, divided the fleet into two groups, forming a single column headed towards the North.

The English fleet of 27 ships, led by Lord Nelson on the Victory, was divided into two columns. He led the windward column of 12 ships himself, while the leeward column was led by Admiral Collingwood on the Royal Sovereign.

Stage 2

Nelson led the two English columns at a right angle against the column of the combined Franco-Spanish fleet. The admiral´s ships attacked the advance guard and the centre, while Collingwood's column fired at the rear formation.

Although the Franco-Spanish fleet used heavy cannon fire, they could not stop the attack of the English fleet. Both groups managed to break through the lines, and a bloody battle followed. The French flagship, the Bucentaure, was seriously damaged in the battle.

Stage 3

In the general mêlée, Nelson´s ships destroyed Villeneuve´s fleet. However, Nelson himself was mortally wounded during the battle; he was shot by a sniper, from the French ship Redoutable.
Collingwood did not allow the enemy to take advantage of the situation. More and more French and Spanish ships surrendered.
Their defeat was unavoidable, despite the desperate counter-attack led by Admiral Dumanoir.

The British achieved a decisive victory. The losses suffered by the British fleet totalled 1,600 deaths and injuries, however, they did not lose any of their ships. The combined Franco-Spanish fleet, however, lost 18 ships and 12 thousand sailors, most of them captured.

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