An amazing find in naval and military history

I was amazed to read about a recent discovery in England.

A sketch hand-drawn by Admiral Lord Nelson showing his plan for victory at Trafalgar has been discovered tucked inside the pages of a scrapbook after nearly 200 years.

The map was found by Martyn Downer, a historian who is an expert on Nelson, in a book dating from the 1830s which was recently sold at auction.

It shows his plan for splitting the Royal Navy fleet into three divisions to break and destroy the enemy French and Spanish lines coming out of Cadiz harbour.

Lines representing wind direction also appear on the attack plan, showing Nelson’s intention to attack across the wind to take advantage of increased speed.

The drawing, which has been donated to the National Museum of the Royal Navy in Portsmouth, was found alongside an address leaf bearing Nelson’s signature and is dated September 5 1805.

. . .

Professor Dominic Tweddle, the museum’s director general, said: “This is an astounding discovery, it shows that Nelson had thought deeply about how he would defeat the combined French and Spanish fleets long before he ever set foot on HMS Victory.

“We are immensely excited to add this find to our rich collections.”

There’s more at the link.

I wonder how it ended up in “a young lady’s scrap book” from the 1830’s?  The sketch must have come back to England with Admiral Nelson’s effects after his death at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805, but how did it end up, a quarter of a century after that, where it was found in the 21st century?  I don’t suppose we’ll ever know, but I wish that sketch could talk!


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