The Battle of St. Vincent, 14th February 1797


This scene hinges on the actions of Nelson, then a commodore (having no fewer than four admirals superior to him actually present on the day). In a characteristic combination of eagerness, daring and independence that bordered on insubordination, he ordered his ship, the Captain, 74 guns, to “cut the corner” on a rather slow fleet manoeuvre and so got into action with the Spanish flagship, the 130-gun Santisima Trinidad, and at least two other first-rate battle ships before the rest of the British fleet caught up with him. The British ship Culloden is about to reach the battered Captain before passing on to the Spanish flagship. In the confused fighting that followed, Nelson was to perform his well-known feat of capturing an 80-gun ship the San Nicholas, and using her as a bridge to capture another even larger, the 112-gun San Josef. The ship entering at extreme left is the 98-gun Prince George, which was to play a major role in knocking out the San Josef.

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