Admiral Nelson's Tactics at the Battle of Trafalgar



On 21 October 1805 the British fleet under Admiral Nelson met the Franco-Spanish fleet under Admiral Villeneuve off Cape Trafalgar. The outcome of this encounter of 27 British ships against 33 enemy ships is justly famous, but the actual tactics that helped to achieve this notable British victory have not been fully understood and still remain a matter of dispute. This essay attempts to clarify the matter and to provide an improved account of what tactics Nelson planned to adopt and what tactics he actually adopted when he engaged the Franco-Spanish fleet at the battle of Trafalgar.