NELSON, Horatio, Viscount (1758-1805). Vice-admiral.
Brief Autograph Letter Signed to an unnamed admiral, ½-page 4to (two ink-stains not affecting the text) with contemporary endorsement dated 18 August [1801, '4 oClock Medusa'. A hasty note, perhaps to Admiral Skeffington Lutwidge (ca 1735-1814), following Nelson's only defeat by the French.
Nelson had been appointed to command the anti-invasion force in the channel following the panic of 1801. Stationed at Deal he had raised his flag on HMS Unité and immediately set about issuing numerous orders. A few days later he transferred to the new 32-gun frigate HMS Medusa. On 4 August he had ordered a bombardment of the ships moored outside Boulogne by Admiral Latouche to procect the approaches, and on 15 August launched a more prolonged attack, which failed partly because of bad weather and more so because Latouche had taken the precaution of chaining together his ships and chaining them also to the shore. 45 British were killed and 128 wounded, among them Nelson's protegé, Edward Parker, who was later to die of his wounds. For details of thie little-known episode see Nelson - the New Letters , ed. Colin White, pages 271-274.
The present letter is not mentioned by Sir Nicholas Harris Nicolas (The Dispatches and Letters) nor by White.
'My Dear Adl: / The Vessels from Dunkirk are got into Calais this morning. / Ever yours faithfully / Nelson & Bronte'A further letter on the same day (it is assumed that the date of the endorsement on the present letter is also the date on which it was sent) to Captain Russel (Nicolas, vol. 4, page 472) also mentions this event:
'I am very sorry to hear of the escape of the Enemy from Dunkirk into Calais. I believe yourself, and every Officer under you, kept as good a look-out as was possible; but you may be sure they passed inside of you. Can Calais Mole be bombarded with the chance of destroying these Vessels? ...'Admiral Skeffington Lutwidge had a particular association with Nelson, who had served under him as a midshipman on an expedition to the Arctic in 1773. In 1801 Lutwidge was commander-in-chief in the Downs, the permanent anchorage for the fleet in the South East, and received a number of letters and despatches from Nelson at this time.
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