As the British Fleet bore down on the Franco-Spanish line Nelson directed Lieutenant Pascoe, the signal officer of Victory, to send the signal to the Fleet “Nelson confides every man will do his duty.” Captain Hardy and Pascoe suggested this be changed to “England expects every man will do his duty”. Nelson agreed. As the signal ran up Victory’s halyard the Fleet burst into cheers. Nelson followed this with his standard battle signal “Engage the enemy more closely”.
Nelson was a remarkable man. He combined a gentleness of character with an extreme ruthless aggression in action. This combined with his technical brilliance at sea made him an invincible enemy. Nelson’s tactic at Trafalgar was simple but devastatingly effective. Nelson was widely feared. If Villeneuve had known that the British admiral was present outside Cadiz harbour it seems unlikely that even the scathing messages from Napoleon would have enticed him to sea. An American captain sailing into Cadiz assured the French admiral that Nelson was still in London.
Nelson default instruction to his officers was “No captain can do wrong if he puts his ship alongside the nearest enemy”.
HMS Victory, Nelson’s Flagship, lies in Portsmouth Harbour preserved as it was at the time of the battle.
In his final letter Nelson asked that the Nation look after his mistress, Lady Emma Hamilton, and their daughter, Horatia. Nelson’s brother was ennobled and his wife awarded a pension. Nothing was done for Lady Hamilton. She died in reduced circumstances in Calais in 1815.
The naming of the warships: Many of the Spanish ships carried religious titles: Santa Anna, Santissima Trinidad, Santo Juan Nepomuceno. Classical labels were popular with the British and French: Mars, Ajax, Agamemnon, Minotaur (British); Scipion, Pluton, Hermione, Argus, Neptune (French). There were Swiftsures and Achilles in the British and French Fleets. The French had an Argonaute and the Spanish an Argonauta. Three British ships held French names: Belleisle, Tonnant and Bellerophon, marking that these ships or their predecessors had been captured from France. The French took names from heroic characteristics: Redoutable, Indomitable, Intrepide. Two British names reflected great size: Colossus, Leviathan.
All three navies had a ship named after the classical god Neptune
You can trace any member of the British Fleet by searching on this web site: http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/trafalgarancestors/results.asp