H.M.S. Agamemnon

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Nelson’s first flagship leads the squadron, Mediterranean, 1796. Nelson flies his flag as a Commodore, commanding his first squadron. He had commanded the 64-gun battleship ‘Agamemnon’, the ship he referred to as his favorite, since 1793. Nelson was given a Commodore’s pennant in March 1796, making ‘Agamemnon’ his first flagship, just before he transferred to the 74-gun ‘Captain’ in June that year.

In April 1796, Nelson was operating in the Gulf of Genoa with the small squadron depicted in this beautiful print. ‘Agamemnon’ is shown leading ‘Meleager’ 32, ‘Blanche’ 32, ‘Diadem’ 64 and the now-famous 16-gun brig-sloop ‘Speedy’.

The powerful ships of war seem at peace in the tranquil sunset which is disturbed only by Agamemnon’s evening gunnery practice.

Agamemnon was one of seven ships built to the same design, drawn by the same naval architect who designed the famous Victory, Sir Thomas Slade. She was built at Bucklers Hard and launched on the 10th of April 1781. She was a third rate ship, having 64 guns.

She was at the centre of events fighting at the Battle of Saintes, the Battle of Copenhagen and of course, Trafalgar, the summit of her career. Later she served in the West Indies, participating in the Battle of Santo Domingo and then in South American waters, until she was wrecked in Maldonado Bay off the coast of Uruguay in 1809.

During Nelson’s command of the ship between 1793 and 1796 Nelson wrote “Without exception, one of the finest ships in the fleet with the character of sailing most remarkably well”. He also wrote “After 12 days in a storm in the Mediterranean in ‘gales and lumping seas… but in Agamemnon, we mind them not; she is the finest ship I ever sailed in, and were she a 74, nothing should induce me to leave her while the war lasts’.

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