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Born Sept. 29, 1758, in Burnham Thorpe, Norfolk; died Oct. 21, 1805, near Cape Trafalgar, Spain. English naval commander; baron of the Nile (1798); viscount (1801); vice admiral (1801). Son of a clergyman.
Nelson entered the navy at the age of 12 and passed the examination for the rank of lieutenant in 1777. He first commanded a brig and a frigate, and in 1793 he was given command of a ship of the line in Admiral S. Hood’s squadron, which operated in the Mediterranean against France. Nelson distinguished himself through personal bravery. He lost his right eye in July 1794 in combat at Calvi (Corsica) and his right arm in 1797 in combat at Santa Cruz (Tenerife Island). In February 1797 he fought in the battle of St. Vincent under Admiral J. Jervis and boarded two Spanish ships, for which he was promoted to rear admiral. In 1798, Nelson commanded a squadron that was sent to the Mediterranean to oppose France’s Egyptian Expedition of 1798–1801. Although he could not prevent the landing of the French troops in Alexandria, Nelson routed the French fleet on Aug. 1–2, 1798, at Aboukir, thereby cutting off Napoleon Bonaparte’s army in Egypt. Nelson was in Naples from 1798 to 1800; in 1799 he drove the French out of Naples and restored Ferdinand IV to the throne of the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies; Ferdinand made him duke of Bronte. At this time Nelson sullied his name by meting out brutal reprisals against French prisoners and Italian republicans. In 1801 he was second-in-command in H. Parker’s squadron in action in the Baltic Sea and in the bombing of Copenhagen; he subsequently commanded a squadron in the English Channel. In 1803–05 he was commander of a squadron in the Mediterranean in action against France and Spain. Nelson blocked the Franco-Spanish fleet at Cádiz in September 1805 and crushed it on October 21 in the battle of Trafalgar of 1805, in which he was fatally wounded. He was buried in London on Jan. 9, 1806.
As a naval commander, Nelson was aggressive and resolute. He abandoned the stereotyped methods of linear tactics and applied the tactics of maneuver. His naval leadership was an important element in the growth of Great Britain’s naval power and in the struggle of the English bourgeoisie for colonial domination.
REFERENCESButakov, A. “Nel’son po poslednim ego biografiiam.” Morskoi sbornik, 1899, nos. 2, 3.
“Admiral lord Nel’son kak flotovodets.” Ibid., 1890, no. 11. (Translated from English.)
“Nel’son i ego kapitany.” Ibid., 1916, nos. 8–12; 1917, nos. 1–2. (Translated from English.)
Mahan, A. The Life of Nelson, the Embodiment of the Sea Power of Great Britain. London, 1898.
B. I. ZVEREV