Battle of Trafalgar: Facts and Information

Here are some facts about the Battle of Trafalgar.

  • The Battle of Trafalgar was one of the most famous naval battles of the Napoleonic Wars. It took place on October 21, 1805 near Cape Trafalgar in Spain.
  • Britain and France had been at war for some time, and Napoleon had plans to invade Britain. The French wanted to sink all of the British ships, leaving Britain undefended and easy to invade.
  • The British Royal Navy, under the command of Admiral Nelson, defeated the Spanish and French navies. It is seen as one of the most important naval victories of the time and made Nelson a national hero.
  • There were 27 ships in the British fleet, while the French and Spanish had 33 ships. Nelson’s HMS Victory was one of 3 British ships carrying 100 cannons, (some the French and Spanish had more cannons).
  • Nelson is famous for sending a message with flags from his ship, to inspire his men before the battle. It read: England expects that every man will do his duty.
  • The British won partly because of Nelson’s command and strategy, and partly because the sailors had a lot of military experience.

Battle of Trafalgar

  • Although no British ships were sunk, about 1,500 British sailors were killed or wounded. Nelson was shot by a French sniper and died on his ship.
  • The victory allowed Britain to become a great sea power for the next century and to eventually build the British Empire. Napoleon survived and was again defeated at the Battle of Waterloo.
  • Trafalgar Square in London was named after the battle. At its centre is Nelson’s Column which is 51 metres tall and has 4 bronze panels made from captured French cannons.
  • Celebrations took place in 1905 and 2005 to remember the great victory. In 2005, the Queen watched a small-scale re-enactment of the battle.

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