Horatio Nelson: Trafalgar & Jeanette (part 39)

On the morning of the battle Nelson went down to his cabin.
As usual, most of his furniture and personal belongings had already been packed up and stowed in the hold, in clearing for action, including Emma’s miniature he usually kept hanging beside his bed.

There were only a few essential items left, like his portable writing desk. Taking out a notebook in which he habitually made brief notes of the day’s events, he wrote the following prayer:

May the great God, whom I worship, grant to my country and for the benefit of Europe in general, a great and glorious Victory:
and may no misconduct, in any one, tarnish it:
and may humanity after victory be the predominant feature in the British Fleet.
For myself individually, I commit my life to Him who made me and may His blessing light upon my endeavours for serving my Country faithfully.
To him I resign myself and the just cause which is entrusted to me to defend.
Amen Amen Amen”

When he died at 4.30 pm, he knew he had won a great victory.

The news of that victory was brought to Britain by HMS Pickle small, agile sailing schooner, not fit for battle: a single broadside from another ship would be enough to destroy a vessel the size of Pickle.
But during the days leading up to the Battle of Trafalgar, she had distinguished herself because she had been able to capture a Portuguese vessel carrying a cargo of bullocks from Tangier to the French and Spanish ships at Cadiz. A precious and much needed load, which was used to supply the British fleet and to feed the English sailors with fresh meat.

Her role was one of recognisance, rescue, and message delivery, without taking an active part in combat.
Pickle observed and reported to Nelson throughout the run-up to the Battle of Trafalgar; she even managed to sail close enough to the coast to be able count the exact number of enemy warships
Nelson described her as “ubiquitous”.

On the historic Monday 21st October 1805, as usual, Pickle was not expected to fight.

However she engaged, along with another ship, in the dangerous work of rescuing the French survivors from the ship Achille, which had caught fire and exploded.

She managed to rescue about 160 people who, arriving on board, realized that they were clearly superior in number to the British, three times more numerous than the crew.
At one point they began to plot to seize the ship and take her to Cadiz, but the crew noticed this and kept a particularly sharp watch over the prisoners, and nothing happened.

Among the survivors there were also two women, one of whom, the French Jeanette, had been spotted while floating, completely naked, clinging to an oar.
She was a seaman’s wife and had been employed just off the passage to the forward warehouse, passing up cartridges.
When the ship caught fire, she managed to escape through a gunroom port and jump overboard. She had discarded her clothes to have a better chance of staying afloat, and swam to a piece of wreckage. The French man on it kicked her away. She found a smaller piece, and later another man put an oar under her arms.
She had to fend off the assaults of a number of men trying to seize her oar, but she was eventually spotted by the Pickle and rescued.
She was in bad condition , exhausted and chilled, badly burned and deeply traumatized by her ordeal.

On board they gave her a jacket and a pair of seaman’s trousers, and treated her burns. She was also handed a headscarf to cover her hair with.

When she was transferred to the Revenge, an officer was struck by that sad, dejected youth so he made enquiries. Soon he realized that the youth was a woman, so he gave her his cabin and some material to make clothes.

Jeanette’s story ended well, because after a few days her husband was also found unhurt on board another ship and the couple were able to reunite.

To be continued

La mattina della battaglia Nelson scese nella sua cabina.
Come al solito, la maggior parte dei suoi mobili e oggetti personali era già stata impacchettata e immagazzinata nella stiva, in attesa dell’azione, inclusa la miniatura di Emma che di solito teneva appesa accanto al suo letto.

Erano rimasti solo alcuni oggetti essenziali, come la sua scrivania portatile. Aprendo il taccuino su cui abitualmente prendeva brevi appunti sugli avvenimenti della giornata, scrisse la seguente preghiera:

“Possa il grande Dio, che adoro, concedere al mio Paese e per il bene dell’Europa in generale, una grande e gloriosa Vittoria:
e nessuna cattiva condotta, in nessuno, possa offuscarla:
e possa la benevolenza dopo la vittoria essere la caratteristica predominante nella flotta britannica.

Per quanto mi riguarda, affido la mia vita a Colui che mi ha creato e possa la sua benedizione illuminare i miei sforzi per servire fedelmente il mio Paese.
A lui rassegno me stesso e la giusta causa che mi è affidata da difendere.
Amen Amen Amen”

Quando morì alle 16:30, sapeva di aver ottenuto una grande vittoria.

La notizia di quella vittoria fu portata in Gran Bretagna dalla nave Pickle, una goletta a vela, piccola, agile, ma non adatta alla battaglia: una sola bordata sarebbe bastata a distruggere un’imbarcazione delle sue dimensioni.
Ma durante i giorni precedenti la battaglia di Trafalgar, si era distinta perché era riuscita a catturare una nave portoghese che trasportava un carico di buoi da Tangeri alla flotta francese e spagnola a Cadice. Un carico prezioso e molto utile, , che servì a nutrire con carne fresca i marinai inglesi.

Il suo ruolo tuttavia era solo la ricognizione, il salvataggio e la consegna di messaggi, senza che prendesse parte attiva al combattimento.
Pickle osservò e riferì a Nelson per tutto il periodo precedente alla battaglia di Trafalgar; riuscì persino a navigare così vicino alla costa da riuscire a contare il numero esatto di navi da guerra nemiche.
Nelson la descriveva come “onnipresente”.

In quello storico lunedì 21 ottobre 1805 come al solito, non era previsto che la Pickle si impegnasse nella battaglia. Entrò in azione, assieme ad altre navi, per salvare i sopravvissuti francesi dalla nave Achille, che aveva preso fuoco ed era esplosa.
Riuscì a mettere in salvo circa 160 persone che, arrivate a bordo, si accorsero di essere in numero nettamente superiore a quello degli inglesi, tre volte più numerosi dell’equipaggio. Ad un certo punto si misero a complottare con l’intenzione di impadronirsi della nave e portarla a Cadice, ma l’equipaggio se ne rese conto e tenne una sorveglianza particolarmente attenta sui prigionieri per cui non accadde nulla.

Tra i sopravvissuti c’erano anche due donne, una delle quali, la francese Jeanette, era stata avvistata mentre galleggiava, completamente nuda, aggrappata a un remo.
Era la moglie di un marinaio ed era stata impiegata appena fuori dal magazzino anteriore, a passare le munizioni.
Quando la nave aveva preso fuoco, era riuscita a scappare attraverso un portello della sala delle armi e a gettarsi in mare. Si era tolta i vestiti per avere maggiori possibilità di restare a galla e aveva raggiunto a nuoto un relitto. Ma l’uomo che vi era attaccato l’aveva cacciata via a calci. Aveva trovato poi un pezzo più piccolo, troppo piccolo, ma per fortuna un altro uomo le aveva posto sotto le braccia un remo. Dovette respingere gli assalti di un certo numero di uomini che cercavano di impadronirsi del suo remo, ma alla fine venne avvistata dalla Pickle e messa in salvo. Era in cattive condizioni, esausta e infreddolita, gravemente ustionata e profondamente traumatizzata da quella terribile prova.

A bordo le diedero una giacca e un paio di pantaloni da marinaio e le curarono le ustioni. Le consegnarono anche un fazzoletto con cui coprirsi i capelli.

Quando fu trasferita sulla Revenge, un luogotenente fu colpito da quel giovane così triste e abbattuto, e gli pose delle domande. Ben presto si accorse che si trattava di una donna, allora le diede la sua cabina e della stoffa per potersi confezionare degli abiti.

La storia di Jeanette si concluse bene, perché dopo pochi giorni anche suo marito fu trovato illeso a bordo di un’altra nave e la coppia poté riunirsi.

continua

Image: http://www.nmm.ac.uk/collections/prints/viewPrint.cfm?ID=PAD4049

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64 thoughts on “Horatio Nelson: Trafalgar & Jeanette (part 39)

  1. Luisa ! If the God doesn’t want to see you dead , despite numerous obstacles coming on the way , you will not die . Case with Jeanette was also so , when she was rescued while floating completely naked after the fire incident took place on the ship Achille . She was a seaman’s wife employed just off the passage to the forward warehouse , passing up cartridges . When the ship caught fire , she anyhow manage to escape through a gun room port and jumped overboard . She also discarded her clothes to have better chance of staying afloat . And she was rescued by HMS Pickle , a small , agile schooner unfit for battle . There is a proverb in the Hindi Language ,’ Dobte ko tinka ka sahara ‘ meaning by ‘finding a small port in a storm’. Thanks !

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      1. Wow. Luisa, you make history soooooo interesting with your marvelous presentation skills. Your research is fabulous and hats off to you for making this series so interesting. ♥️♥️♥️😊😊😊

        Liked by 1 person

  2. The story too much twist and turns into war moments and Nelson’s the last letter so touching 😔👏
    Such a historical war story first time reading ,so many English novels I read 😊👍🏻but this war story
    Very incredible 😊 thank you for sharing dear friend 🌷🙏♥️happy weekend 😊

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Nelson made his peace with God and was ready for anything, it seems. Great story about the Pickle and Jeannette. War is brutal and humanity often disappears in battle. Glad it came back in this instance. Have a great weekend Luisa. Allan

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Che splendida lettera scrisse Nelson, ha fatto anche tante cose buone, ne sono felice.
    Grazie, Luisa carissima, sempre molto bello leggerti. Da te imparo tantissimo! 🥰🥰🥰🙏🙏🙏❤❤❤

    Liked by 1 person

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