Description

    Horatio Nelson Manuscript Letter Signed "Nelson & Bronte," two pages, 7.75" x 12.5", front and verso. Victory at Sea, December 9, 1804. To Richard Thomas, Commander of His Majesty's Bomb Vessel Atna. Marked "Duplicate" in the upper left. In wartime, when letters were sent aboard ships, it was common practice to send more than one in case the vessel carrying the letter was captured or sunk. In full, "As I am about to proceed with the Squadron to Pula and Palma on the southend of Sardinia to complete the Water of the different ships. I am to desire that you will remain on Rendezvous Number 97 for the purpose of acquainting any of His Majesty's Ships or Vessels in search of the Squadron where it is gone to, and that I shall remain at either of the above places until the 20th Instant and afterwards return to Rendezvous Number 97 with all dispatch. I herewith transmit you a Letter directed to the Captain of either His Majesty's Ship Active or Seahorse which you will deliver to the first of these Vessels that joins, and also a Letter addressed to the Captain or Commander of any of His Majesty's Ships arriving from the Westward in search from which you will also be so good as deliver - it will be necessary to keep the Atna constantly on your Station that you may immediately fall in with any thing arriving upon it." On watermarked laid paper. Fine condition.

    The Aetna, an eight-gun bomb vessel, was first commissioned by Richard Thomas in 1803. In 1814, it was one of the ships involved in the attack on Fort McHenry during which "The Star-Spangled Banner" was written. On January 16, 1805, the Active (Capt. Richard Moubray) received information that 7,000 troops were embarked on board the French fleet. Two days, later the Active and the Seahorse (Capt. Courtenay Boyle) were being chased by the whole enemy fleet. Although they were sometimes within gunshot, the two frigates escaped to warn Lord Nelson who was anchored in the Maddalena Islands, north of Sardinia. The Maddalena Islands between Corsica and Sardinia provided Nelson with a secure harbor, fresh water and supplies of food all within a safe distance of Toulon, France. Nelson had been assigned to HMS Victory in May 1803 and had joined the blockade of Toulon. Rendezvous No. 97 was off Cape San Sebastian between the Balearic islands and the Spanish coast and was also a constant base for the fleet and played a part in the Trafalgar campaign.

    In 1799, King Ferdinand of the Two Sicilies created Bronte as a Duchy, and made Horatio Nelson Duke of Bronte to thank him for a naval victory against the French which prevented France from gaining supremacy in the Mediterranean. Proud of his new title, he began signing his name "Nelson & Bronte." On October 21, 1805, Lord Nelson was killed aboard the HMS Victory in the Battle of Trafalgar, his last victory.

    Not published in Dispatches and Letters of Vice Admiral Lord Viscount Nelson with notes by Sir Nicholas Harris Nicolas (London: Henry Colburn, Publishers, 1846).



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