ON THIS DAY - March
1st March 1801: Reflecting on Sir Hyde Parker's lack of enthusiasm to engage the Danes: 'Our friend here is a little nervous about dark nights and fields of ice, but we must brace up; these are not times for nervous systems.'
2nd March 1799: In a sombre mood pining for Lady Hamilton Rear Admiral Horatio Nelson wrote, 'My only wish is to sink with honour into the grave, and when that shall please God, I shall meet death with a smile. Not that I am insensible to the honours and riches my country have heaped upon me, so much more than any officer could deserve; yet I am ready to quit this world of trouble, and envy none but those of the estate six feet by two'.
3rd March 1796: To the Duke of Clarence: 'It is evident that the French are preparing for battle. It is said the campaign will open against Italy with 80,000 men; if the Enemy's fleet should be able to cover the landing of 20,000 men between Port Especia and Leghorn, where I have always been of the opinion they would attempt it, I know of nothing to prevent their fully possessing the rich mine of Italy.'
4th March 1769: Vice Admiral Lord Nelson writes his last recorded letter to his wife, Fanny from the St George: 'Josiah [Nelson's step son] is to have another Ship and go aboard it if the Thalia cannot soon be got ready. I have done all I can for him . . . Living I have done all in my power for you, and if dead you will find I have done the same, therefore my only wish is to be left to myself, and wishing you every happiness Believe that I am your affectionate Nelson & Bronte.'
5th March 1786: Admiral Hughes ordered Captain Nelson not to enforce the Navigation Acts. Nelson wrote, 'I must either disobey my orders or disobey Acts of Parliament, which the Admiral was disobeying. I determined upon the former, trusting to the uprightness of my intention, and believing that my country would not allow me to be ruined by protecting her commerce.'
6th March 1786: St George, off Yarmouth, prior to sailing for Copenhagen. Nelson writes a will: twenty thousand pounds, if and when he had it, was to be put into public funds to provide £1,000 a year for Fanny; three thousand pounds in trust for Emma, together with three diamond boxes and the picture of the King of Naples'. But there was no mention of Horatia or Josiah.
7th March 1799: Rear Admiral Horatio Nelson to Earl Spencer, form Vanguard, Palermo: 'A few days past, I was presented in due form with the Freedom of the City of Palermo, in a gold box, and brought upon a silver salver. I have endeavoured so to conduct myself as to meet the approbation of all classes in this country.'
8th March 1805: To Ball, praising the Captain-General of Andulusia for the return of Captain Layman, ex Raven: 'The Marquis of Solano has been so great to these unfortunate people, and his sending them to me, I believe without the absolute condition of their being Prisoners [of war] that I cannot sufficiently return his kindness.'
9th March 1805: Vice Admiral Lord Nelson to Lady Hamilton, eighteen years to the day after marrying Frances Nisbet (Fanny): 'Nothing can be more miserable, or unhappy, than your poor Nelson.'
10th March 1795: Commodore Horatio Nelson writes to his wife, Fanny: ' To his [God's] will do I resign myself. My character and good name are in my own keeping. Life with disgrace is dreadful. A glorious death is to be envied; and if anything happens to me, recollect that death is a debt we must all pay, and whether now, or in a few years hence, can be of little consequence.'
11th March 1800: On keeping his crew healthy and free from boredom: 'sometimes by looking at Toulon, Ville Franche, Barcelona and Rosas; then running around Minorca, Majorca, Sardinia and Corsica; and two or three times anchoring for a few days, and sending a ship to the last place for onions, which I find the best thing that can be given to seamen.'
12th March 1800: Rear Admiral Horatio Nelson writes to his friend and prize agent Alexander Davison: 'There cannot, in my opinion, be the smallest doubt of my having an undoubted right to share for all things taken from Lord Keith's quitting his command till his resuming it, as Commander-in-Chief . . . . Right is right. I only want justice, and that I will try to obtain at the expense of everything I am worth.'
13th March 1795: Vice-Admiral William Hotham, Britannia, and Nelson, Agamemnon, engage a French fleet under Read-Admiral Pierre Martin, Sans Culotte, off Genoa, Ã‡a Ira, and Censeur, are taken. From Agamemnon's log: 'At a quarter before eleven AM, being within an hundred yards of the Ã‡a Ira's stern, I ordered the helm to be put a-starboard, gave her a whole broadside, each gun double-shotted. Scarcely a shot appeared to miss'.
14th March 1805: To Marsden regarding an Order in Council: 'I have received your letter;authorising an increase to be made to the salaries of the Secretaries to Flag Officers; also, that no Secretary is to be allowed more than one Clerk as an assistant, and that no Purser of any of His Majesty's Ships in Commission shall be allowed to officiate at the same time as Secretary to a Flag Officer.'
15th March 1783: Taken from Albemarle's log, off Porto Plate: ' At 4 came up with the chase - found her to be Flag of Truce from Brest, bound to Cape FranÃ§ois with the Preliminary Articles of Peace.'
16th March 1801: To Davison on the plans to negotiate with the Danes: I have not yet seen my Commander-in-Chief, and have had no official communication whatever. All I have gathered of our plans, I disapprove most exceedingly, honour may arise from them, good cannot'.
17th March 1797: Following his actions at the Battle of Cape St Vincent on 14 February the newly promoted Rear Admiral Nelson is also created a Knight of the Bath: I have his Majesty's commands to acquaint you, that in order to mark his Royal approbation of your successful and gallant exertions on several occasions, His Majesty has been pleased to signify his intentions of conferring on you the Most Honourable Order of the Bath.'
18th March 1799: To Captain Sir William Sidney Smith, Tigre: 'Captain Troutbridge tells me it was your intention to send into Alexandria, that all French ships might pass to France - now, as this is in direct opposition to my opinion, which is, never to suffer any one individual Frenchman to quit Egypt - I must therefore strictly charge and command you, never to give any French ship or man leave to quit Egypt'.
19th March 1804: While conducting the blockade of Toulon Vice Admiral Lord Nelson writes on the health of his ships: 'A small sum, well laid out, will keep fleets healthy; but it requires large sums to make a sickly fleet healthy, besides the immense loss of personal services. Health cannot be dearly bought at any price - if the fleet is ever sickly.'
20th March 1800: Recuperating in Palermo: 'As yet it is too soon to form an opinion whether I ever can be cured of my complaint…At present I see but glimmering hopes, and probably my career of service is at an end, unless the French fleet shall come into the Mediterranean, when nothing shall prevent my dying at my post…Do not fret anything. I wish I never had, but my return to Syracuse in 1798 broke my heart, which on any extraordinary anxiety now shows itself, be that feeling pain or pleasure'.
21st March 1800: Rear Admiral Horatio Nelson at Palermo in Foudroyant writes in his order book: 'By my Patent of Creation. I find that my family name of nelson has been lengthened by the words, "of the Nile". Therefore, in future my signature will be, Bronte Nelson of the Nile.'
22nd March 1799: Rear Admiral Horatio Nelson learns that the French are negotiating with the Turks to recover their arms from Egypt: 'No, to Egypt they went with their own consent, and there they shall remain whilst Nelson commands the detached squadron; for, never, never will he consent to the return of one ship or Frenchman.'
23rd March 1784: Informing Locker he is to transport Lady Hughes, wife of the commander-in-chief on that station, to the Leeward Islands: 'I understand [Boreas] is going to the Leeward Islands; and I am asked to carry Lady Hughes and her family, a very modest request, I think: but I cannot refuse, as I am to be under the command of this Gentleman, so I must put up with the inconvenience and expense, two things not exactly to my wish'.
24th March 1784: Captain Nelson assumes command of Boreas. The ship's log records: 'Came alongside Hoy with the guns and all the Gunner's stores; employed getting them on board. Came on board Captain Nelson and superseded Captain Wells.'
25th March 1795: Following his engagement with the French, 12-14 March: Fortune in the late affair has favoured me in a most extraordinary manner, by giving me an opportunity which seldom offers of being the only Line-of-Battle ship who got singly into action on the 13th, when I had the honour of engaging the Ã‡a Ira, absolutely large enough to take Agamemnon in her hold. I never saw such a ship before…I cannot account for what I saw: whole broadsides within half pistol-shot missing my little ship, whilst ours were in the fullest effect'.
26th March 1794: Commodore Nelson off Bastia, Corsica, writing to his brother, William: 'I am to command the Seamen landed from the Fleet. I feel for the honour of my country, and had rather be beat than not make the attack. If we do not try we never can be successful. I own I have no fears for the final issue; it will be conquest, certain we will deserve it.'
27th March 1794: Commodore Nelson off Bastia, Corsica, writes to Sir William Hamilton before starting the campaign: 'What would the immortal Wolfe have done! As he did, beat the enemy if he perished in the attempt'.
28th March 1800: To Sir Thomas Troutbridge following his blockade of Valetta: 'You know my dear friend, that I highly approve and admire your public conduct; but for you to fret yourself to death, because you believe that all the world are not so honest as yourself, is useless - for you cannot reform it, were you an angel; and makes all people sorry to see you torment yourself'.
29th March 1794: Commodore Nelson to his brother, William: 'You ask, by what interest did I get a ship? I answer, having served with credit was my recommendation to Lord Howe, First Lord of the Admiralty. Anything in reason that I can ask, I am sure of obtaining from his justice.'
30th March 1804: Vice Admiral Lord Nelson to Captain Sir William Bolton HM Sloop Childers: ' Doctor Snipe, Physician to the Fleet . . . recommended macaroni as a light, wholesome, and nourishing food . . . you are hereby required and directed to order the Purser [at Naples] to purchase a thousand pounds of the best large pipe Macaroni for the use of the sick and convalescent Seamen on board the different ships.'
31st March 1800: Rear Admiral Nelson comments on the Franco Turkish treaty that allows Napoleon's vanquished army to lave Egypt: 'I ever had it to be impossible to permit that any army to return to Europe, but as prisoners of war, and in that case, not to France . . . One Ally cannot have power of getting rid of an enemy's vanquished army, by sending them with arms in their hands to fight against a friend.'