Horatio Nelson's achievements
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- He re-wrote the rules of naval warfare and was a great strategist. - Before Nelson, a naval battle was considered a victory if three or four enemy ships were captured. At the Battle of the Nile, Nelson's fleet captured all but two of the French fleet. He did this by having his ships steer straight at the enemy line, rather than bombarding them from a distance.
- He found a better way of communicating with his captains. - Unlike other admirals of the time, Nelson did not rely on issuing orders and making signals (which often couldn't be seen in the smoke of battle) to get his captains to do what he wanted. Instead, he took them into his confidence and shared his tactical ideas with them beforehand. When battle came, they all knew exactly what he wanted them to do in all circumstances. The 'band of brothers' was Nelson's name for the captains who fought under him at the Battle of the Nile.
- He prevented Napoleon from conquering the Middle East. - In 1798, Napoleon set out to conquer the Middle East. However, although he did manage to land his Army, he was cut off from any reinforcements from France when his fleet was destroyed at the Battle of the Nile. He was only able to march up the coast a little way, where the Royal Navy held on to the fortress of Acre and prevented him from going any further.
- He prevented the Baltic nations from helping France against Britain. - In 1801, the Baltic nations of Denmark, Prussia and Russia formed an alliance called the 'Armed Neutrality', which aimed to help France against Britain. Nelson's successful attack on the Danish fleet in Copenhagen harbour detached Denmark from the alliance, which was soon dissolved.
- The decisive battle of Trafalgar stopped Napoleon from trying to invade Britain. - It is sometimes said that the Battle of Trafalgar did not really achieve much, because by the time it was fought Napoleon's Grand Army had already marched away from the English Channel. But the battle was such a decisive defeat for the French Navy that Napoleon never seriously planned invading Britain again
- Trafalgar gave Britain supremacy at sea for 100 years. - The Battle of Trafalgar was such a great victory that no other power dreamt of challenging the Royal Navy for more than 100 years. Britain used this supremacy at sea to ensure that all nations of the world could trade freely with one another. It also enabled the British parliament to outlaw the very profitable slave trade. However, Britain also used this naval supremacy to extend her power around the world, until she had the largest empire the world had ever seen.
- Nelson set an example of fair treatment of subordinates. - The type of heroes a nation has, has an effect on that nation's values. Nelson was not only greatly successful in battle, so giving the nation an authentic military hero, but also famous for his kind and humane treatment of the men under him. This humanity embraced not just the most ordinary seaman who served under him but also the captured enemies - one of his last orders to the fleet was to show humanity in victory. Humanity has ever since been an important part of the military approach - in theory at least, if not always in practice.
- His life and achievements have given the Royal Navy an unmatched morale. - Since the time of Nelson, the Navy has continued to play an important part in Britain's history. The memory of Nelson has never been far from the minds of naval officers and men, and has provided them with inspiration in showing courage and fighting spirit, often under very difficult circumstances
- He set an example of showing initiative in action. - Several famous stories about Nelson show him displaying great initiative, even going against the instructions of his superiors. He also stressed the importance of showing initiative to his subordinates. Since his time, therefore, naval officers have been encouraged to use their initiative in battle, and not just obey orders in a rigid and unthinking manner.
- Nelson's life has given us many dramatic incidents which form an important part of a nation's story. - The loss of the sight in one eye, his storming of the giant Spanish ships at St. Vincent, his terrible wound at Santa Cruz, his destruction of Napoleon's fleet at the Nile, his affair with Emma Hamilton, his turning a blind eye at Copenhagen, his death at the moment of victory at Trafalgar - these real events are better than fiction, and give us colourful stories which enrich our national heritage.
- He achieved the glory he so desired throughout his life. - By the time of his death Nelson had many titles and the glory he wished for. He was Baron Nelson of the Nile (1798); Knight of the most Honourable Military Order of the Bath (1798); Duke of Bronte in Sicily (1799); Grand Cross of the Order of St. Ferdinand and of Merit (1798); Knight of the Imperial Order of the Ottoman Crescent (1798); Knight Grand Commander of the Equestrian, Secular and Caputular, Order of St. Joachim of Westburg (1802); Honorary Grandee of Spain; Doctor of Laws in the University of Oxford (1802); and Vice-Admiral of the White Squadron of his Majesty’s Fleet (1804). He had been given the freedom of many towns and cities including Bath, Salisbury, Exeter, Plymouth, Monmouth, Sandwich, Oxford, Hereford and Worcester, and of course Yarmouth in his home county of Norfolk. After the Battle of the Nile in September 1798, the Sultan of Turkey awarded him a chelengk (a plume of artificial diamonds) which Nelson proudly wore on his hat.