Battles of Trafalgar and Austerlitz
The Battle of Trafalgar (21 October 1805) was a naval engagement fought by the British Royal Navy against the combined fleets of the French and Spanish Navies, during the War of the Third Coalition (August–December 1805) of the Napoleonic Wars (1796–1815).
Twenty-seven British ships of the line led by Admiral Lord Nelson aboard HMS Victory defeated thirty-three French and Spanish ships of the line under French Admiral Villeneuve. The battle took place in the Atlantic Ocean off the southwest coast of Spain, just west of Cape Trafalgar, near the town of Los Caños de Meca. The Franco-Spanish fleet lost twenty-two ships and the British lost none.
The victory confirmed the naval supremacy Britain had established during the course of the eighteenth century and it was achieved in part through Nelson's departure from the prevailing naval tactical orthodoxy of the day. Conventional practice at the time was for opposing fleets to engage each other in single parallel lines, in order to facilitate signalling and disengagement, and to maximise fields of fire and target areas. Nelson instead arranged his ships into two columns to sail perpendicularly into the enemy fleet's line.
During the battle, Nelson was shot by a French musketeer and he died shortly before the battle ended. Villeneuve was captured, along with his ship Bucentaure. He later attended Nelson's funeral while a captive on parole in Britain. Admiral Federico Gravina, the senior Spanish flag officer, escaped with the remnant of the fleet. He died five months later from wounds sustained during the battle.