NELSON, Horatio, Viscount (1758-1805). Document signed ('Nelson & Bronte'), THE 'ORDER OF BATTLE' FOR THE THE BATTLE OF TRAFALGAR, Victory off Cadiz, 10 October 1805, this copy issued to Robert Moorsom, Captain of the Revenge, the ships of the line listed in a single column, in two divisions, each numbered 1-20 (no ship's names entered against nos 5, 15 and 19 in the Van Division and nos 14 and 17 in the Rear Division), and giving the name of the captain of each ship (the recipient, Moorsom, incorrectly given the initial 'K' in this list), the 'Frigates Sloops &c' listed in a separate column on left margin, the order countersigned by Nelson's secretary John Scott, a few names added in a later hand, one page, folio (330 x 200mm), the left margin irregularly trimmed (some wear, tears and soiling to upper and lower margins); [together with] a transcript of Nelson's plan of battle for Trafalgar of 9 October 1805, 4 pages, folio, on paper watermarked 1814; and an early 19th Century drawing of a fleet in three divisions, one page, oblong 4to, on the verso of a page from an unidentified log (tears to margins, some yellowing). Provenance: Admiral Robert Moorsom, KCB; and by descent.
The 'Order of Battle' lists the British fleet in the same order as the 'Order of Sailing' (see previous lot), in accordance with Nelson's instructions in the famous Trafalgar battle orders that 'the Order of Sailing is to be the Order of Battle'. As with the 'Order of Sailing' issued on the same day, the present document does not represent the final order in which the British fleet entered battle at Trafalgar, including a few ships which had left the fleet before 21 October, and subject to variations brought about by the urgent necessity of engaging the French-Spanish fleet as quickly as possible in light winds.
The Revenge, under Robert Moorsom (1760-1835, later a Lord Commissioner of the Admiralty and Commander-in-Chief at Chatham), played a distinguished part at Trafalgar, entering battle eighth in Collingwood's division, rather than tenth as in the present order: she had overtaken Polyphemus and Prince (the latter, said to sail like a haystack, was the last British ship to engage). Revenge entered the enemy line perhaps forty minutes after Collingwood's Royal Sovereign, choosing 'a gap between the French Achille and the huge Spanish three-decker Principe de Asturias, over a mile south of where the Royal Sovereign had made the first strike' (Roy Adkins, Trafalgar. The biography of a battle (2004), p.120). There is a surviving account of the battle by a seaman from the Revenge, William Robinson. (3)