Battle of Trafalgar
Pewter examples were awarded to the lower ranks, silver to captains and first-lieutenants. The Battle of Trafalgar was the decisive naval action of the Napoleonic Wars. Fought on 21 October 1805, off the south-west coast of Spain between a British fleet of 27 ships of the line and 4 frigates, commanded by Nelson, and a Franco-Spanish fleet of 33 ships of the line and 7 frigates, under Villeneuve, who had sailed from Cadiz for Naples. Nelsonâ€™s tactics of attacking in column and breaking the enemy line triumphed over the obsolete Franco-Spanish policy of fighting in line ahead. The combined fleet lost 20 vessels captured or sunk, and Villeneuve himself surrendered. No British ships were lost, but Nelson, in Victory, was killed in the hour of triumph. Trafalgar left Britain in an unchallenged position of maritime supremacy. Napoleon had, however, already called off his projected cross-channel invasion, striking camp at Boulogne on 23 August. Trafalgar confirmed what Napoleon had surmised: that Villeneuve was incapable of breaking through Nelsonâ€™s fleet and giving Napoleon the mastery of the narrow seas that he required for a successful invasion.
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