Wednesday 21 October 2015

A Letter from Trafalgar

Three years ago, a remarkable letter was found that contained an eyewitness account of the battle of Trafalgar. Robert Hope was a sailmaker aboard the Temeraire and when his ship reached Portsmouth a fortnight after the battle, he wrote the letter to his brother, John, a carpenter in Kent.

The letter is now held in the collection of the National Maritime Museum and tells a nerve-wracking account of the Temeraire's role in the battle, fighting alongside Victory on that fateful, legendary day.

HMS Temeraire
Portsmouth Nov 4th 1805

Dear Brother

This is with my love to you hopeing 
It will find you in good health As I bless god 
I am at present, what do you think of us Lads 
Of the Sea now, I think they wont send their fleets 
Out Again in a hurry, I suppose you know more 
About the Action than I can tell you, the first 
Ship that we Engaged was the Santa Trinadada 
The Spanish four Decker, we engage her three 
Quarters of an hour when the Victory fell 
Along side of him we dropt a Stern when five 
More of the Enemy’s Ships came upon us and 
Engage us upon every Quarter, for one hour and 
Sixteen Minutes, when one Struck but being so 
Closely Engaged that we could not take possession 
Of her at that time, two more Seemed to be quite 
Satisfied wh [error] with what they had got so Sheered 
Of, But the Other two, was determined to Board 
Us, So with that Intent. one Dropt on our Starboard
Side, Called the La Fue and other dropt on our 
Larboard Side called Le Doubtable, they Kept 
A Very hot fire for some time But we Soon 
Cooled them for In the height of the smoke 
Our, men from the upper decks Boarded them 
Both at the same time, And soon Carried the 
Day, at this time, at this time [error] I Counted when 
Smoke Cleared away Seventeen Prizes and one 
All on fire, But we have only got four Into 
Gibraltar, for a Gale of wind Came on the day 
following that we was Obliged to Scuttle them 
for they was so very leaky, Taken & Destroyed

In twenty five, we had forty three Killed 
And Eighty five wounded, And twenty Seven 
Drowned In the Prizes, I sent a letter to my 
Father from the Rock, So when you receive
this Please to let him know that I am arrived 
In England for I long very much to hear 
from him. And Give my love to my Sister 
and your Answer upon the receipt of this will 
Oblige your loveing Brother
Robert Hope



Helena P. Schrader said...

Thanks for sharing this! The tone is refreshingly direct. More modern that what an officer probably would have written -- but maybe that's my ignorance of this period.

Catherine Curzon said...

It struck me in the same way too; I do love reading these letters...