French Report of Trafalgar
The Naval Chronicle,
July to December 1805
operations of the grand naval army second, in the Atlantic,
those of the grand imperial army in Germany.
The English fleet is annihilated! Nelson is no more!
Indignant at being inactive in port, whilst our brave brethren
in arms were gaining laurels in Germany, Admirals Villeneuve
and Gravina resolved to put to sea, and give the English
They were superior in number, forty-five to our thirty-three;
but what is superiority in numbers to men determined to
Admiral Nelson did every thing to avoid a battle; he attempted
to get into the Mediterranean, but we pursued, and came
up with him off Trafalgar.
The French and Spaniards vied with each other who should
first get into action. Admirals Villeneuve and Gravina were
both anxious to lay their Ships alongside the Victory, the
English Admiralís Ship.
Fortune, so constant always to the Emperor, did not favour
either of them - the Santissima Trinidada was the fortunate
vain did the English Admiral try to evade an action: the
Spanish Admiral Oliva prevented his escape, and lashed his
Vessel to the British Admiral. The English Ship was one
of 136 guns; the Santissima Trinidada was but a 74.
Nelson adopted a new system: afraid of combatting us in
the old way, in which he knows we have a superiority of
skill, as was proved by our victory over Sir Robert Calder,
he attempted a new mode of fighting.
For a short time they disconcerted us; but what can long
disconcert his Imperial Majestyís arms? We fought yard-arm
to yard-arm, gun to gun.
hours did we fight in this manner: the English began to
be dismayed - they found it impossible to resist us; but
our brave sailors were tired of this slow means of gaining
a victory; they wished to board; the cry was, "ŗ la bordage!"
Their impetuosity was irresistible.