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GUNS Magazine Digital May 2011 - Page 48

The great admiral, commanding a fleet of ships, was brought down— and avenged—by the common musket. MS Victory, under fire for half an hour, had lost her h mizzen topsail and wheel, yet maneuvered to make a devastating point-blank 50-gun broadside to the stern of the French flagship Bucentaure. Victory then drifted into the 74-gun French ship Redoubtable. with yards locked, a furious battle above and below decks ensued. From the mizzentop of the Redoubtable, a musket shot felled Lord Vice Admiral horatio nelson. The ball, fired by a French Marine from roughly 70' away, passed through his left epaulet, clipped an artery, a lung and broke his spine. nelson died, in agony, three hours later in the cockpit of the 102-gun Victory. The battle of Trafalgar, Britain’s greatest naval victory, began just after noon, Oct. 21, 1805, when two columns of British ships broke the straggled line of the Allied Franco/ Spanish fleet off the coast of Spain. The Redoubtable’s Captain, Jean Jacques Etienne Lucas had, during his long stay in the port of Cadiz, Spain, developed a strategy to take a superior ship, which was to suppress his opponent’s deck crew so a boarding party could take the ship with small arms. Thus, Lucas promoted marksmanship practice with muskets and grenade throwing from the tops and the deck. Smallarms fire from the tops was a standard The British Marines were armed with the P1778 Sea Service musket (below, top musket) and their French opponents likely were armed with the Fusil de Marine An IX. Often, muskets used in the tops had the slings removed. There was plenty of time to prepare for battle, and muskets, ammo, grenades and water were hoisted by slings into the tops and stationed on the deck before battle. 48 WWW.GUNSMAGAZINE.COM • MAY 2011

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