An account of the Battle of the Nile

[From the " Letter-Book ," and " London Gazette Extraordinary " of October 2nd, 1798.]

Vanguard, off the Mouth of the Nile, 3rd August, 1798.

My Lord,

Almighty God has blessed his Majesty's Arms in the late Battle, by a great Victory over the Fleet of the Enemy, who I attacked at sunset on the 1st of August, off the Mouth of the Nile. The Enemy were moored in a strong Line of Battle for defending the entrance of the Bay, (of Shoals,) flanked by numerous Gun-boats, four Frigates, and a Battery of Guns and Mortars on an Island in their Van; but nothing could withstand the Squadron your Lordship did me the honour to place under my command. Their high state of discipline is well known to you, and with the judgment of the Captains, together with their valour, and that of the Officers and Men of every description, it was absolutely irresistible. Could anything from my pen add to the character of the Captains, I would write it with pleasure, but that is impossible.

I have to regret the loss of Captain Westcott of the Majestic, who was killed early in the Action; but the Ship was continued to be so well fought by her First Lieutenant, Mr. Cuthbert, that I have given him an order to command her till your Lordship's pleasure is known.

The Ships of the Enemy, all but their two rear Ships, are nearly dismasted: and those two, with two Frigates, I am sorry to say, made their escape; nor was it, I assure you, in my power to prevent them. Captain Hood most handsomely endeavoured to do it, but I had no Ship in a condition to support the Zealous, and I was obliged to call her in.

The support and assistance I have received from Captain Berry cannot be sufficiently expressed. I was wounded in the head, and obliged to be carried off the deck; but the service suffered no loss by that event: Captain Berry was fully equal to the important service then going on, and to him I must beg leave to refer you for every information relative to this Victory. He will present you with the Flag of the Second in Command, that of the Commander-in-Chief being burnt in L'Orient.

Herewith I transmit you Lists of the Killed and Wounded, and the Lines of Battle of ourselves and the French. I have the honour to be, my Lord, your Lordship's most obedient Servant,


Line of Battle
  • 1. Culloden T.Troubridge, Captain 74 Guns 590 Men
  • 2. Theseus R.W. Miller, Captain 74 Guns 590 Men
  • 3. Alexander Alex. John Ball, Captain 74 Guns 590 Men
  • 4. Vanguard Rear-Admiral Sir Horatio Nelson, K.B., Edward Berry, Captain 74 Guns 696 Men
  • 5. Minotaur Thomas Louis, Captain 74 Guns 640 Men
  • 6. Leander Thomas B. Thompson, Captain 50 Guns 343 Men
  • 7. Swiftsure B. Hallowell, Captain 74 Guns 590 Men
  • 8. Audacious Davidge Gould, Captain 74 Guns 590 Men
  • 9. Defence John Peyton, Captain 74 Guns 590 Men
  • 10 Zealous Samuel Hood, Captain 74 Guns 590 Men
  • 11. Orion Sir James Saumarez, Captain 74 Guns 590 Men
  • 12. Goliath Thomas Foley, Captain 74 Guns 590 Men
  • 13. Majestic George B. Westcott, Captain 74 Guns 590 Men
  • 14. Bellerophon Henry D'E. Darby, Captain 74 Guns 590 Men
La Mutine, Brig.

French Line of Battle
  • 1. Le Guerrier 74 Guns 700 Men Taken
  • 2. Le Conquérant 74 Guns 700 Men Taken
  • 3. Le Spartiate 74 Guns 700 Men Taken
  • 4. L'Aquilon 74 Guns 700 Men Taken
  • 5. Le Souverain Peuple 74 Guns 700 Men Taken
  • 6. Le Franklin, Blanquet, First Contre Amiral 80 Guns 800 Men Taken
  • 7. L'Orient, Brueys, Admiral and Commander-in-Chief 120 Guns 1010 Men Burnt
  • 8. Le Tonnant 80 Guns 800 Men Taken
  • 9. L'Heureux 74 Guns 700 Men Taken
  • 10. Le Timoleon 74 Guns 700 Men Burnt
  • 11. Le Mercure 74 Guns 700 Men Taken
  • 12. Le Guillaume Tell, Villeneuve, Second Contre Amiral 80 Guns 800 Men Escaped
  • 13. Le Généreux 74 Guns 700 Men Escaped
  • 14. La Diane 48 Guns 300 Men Escaped
  • 15. La Justice 44 Guns 300 men Escaped
  • 16. L'Artemise 36 Guns 250 Men Burnt
  • 17. La Sèrieuse 36 Guns 250 Men Dismasted and Sunk

- Vanguard, off the Mouth of the Nile, 3rd August, 1798


Theseus.—5 Seamen killed; 1 Officer, 24 Seamen, 5 Marines wounded. —Total 35.

Alexander.—1 Officer, 13 Seamen killed; 5 Officers, 48 Seamen, 5 Marines , wounded.—Total 72.

Vanguard.—3 Officers, 20 Seamen, 7 Marines, killed; 7 Officers, 60 Seamen, 8 Marines, wounded.—Total 105.

Minotaur.—2 Officers, 18 Seamen, 3 Marines, killed, 4 Officers, 54 Seamen, 6 Marines, wounded.—Total 87.

Swiftsure.—7 Seamen killed; 1 Officer, 1 9 Seamen, 2 Marines, wounded.—Total 29.

Audacious.—1 Seaman killed; 2 Officers, 31 Seamen, 2 Marines, wounded.—Total 36.

Defence.—3 Seamen, 1 Marine, killed; 9 Seamen, 2 Marines, wounded.—Total 15.

Zealous.—1 Seaman killed; 7 Seamen wounded.—Total 8.

Orion.—1 Officer, 11 Seamen, 1 Marine killed; 5 Officers, 18 Seamen, 6 Marines, wounded.—Total 42.

Goliath.—2 Officers, 12 Seamen, 7 Marines, killed; 4 Officers, 28 Seamen, 9 Marines, wounded.—Total 62.

Majestic.—3 Officers, 33 Seamen, 14 Marines, killed; 3 Officers, 124 Seamen, 16 Marines, wounded.—Total 193.

Bellerophon.—4 Officers, 32 Seamen, 13 Marines, killed; 5 Officers, 126 Seamen, 17 Marines, wounded.—Total 197.

Leander.—14 Seamen wounded.

Total.—16 Officers, 156 Seamen, 46 Marines, killed; 37 Officers, 562 Seamen, 78 Marines wounded.—Total, 895.


Vanguard.—Captain William Faddy, Marines; Mr. Thomas Seymour, Mr. John G. Taylor, Midshipmen.

Alexander.—Mr. John Collins, Lieutenant.

Orion.—Mr. Baird, Captain's Clerk.

Goliath.—Mr. William Davies, Master's Mate; Mr. Andrew Brown, Midshipman.

Majestic.—George B. Westcott, Esq. Captain; Mr. Zebedee Ford, Midshipman; Mr. Andrew Gilmour, Boatswain.

Bellerophon.—Mr. Robert Savage Daniel, Mr. Philip Watson Launder, Mr. George Joliffe, Lieutenants; Mr. Thomas Ellison, Master's Mate.

Minotaur.—Lieutenant John S. Kirchner, Marines; Mr. Peter Walters, Master's Mate.


Vanguard.—Mr. Nathaniel Vassal, Mr. John M. Adye, Lieutenants; Mr. John Campbell, Admiral's Secretary; Mr. Michael Austin, Boatswain; Mr. John Weatherstone, Mr. George Antrim, Midshipmen.

Theseus.—Lieutenant Hawkins.

Alexander.—Alexander J. Ball, Esq., Captain; Captain J. Cresswell, Marines; Mr. William Lawson, Master; Mr. George Bulley, Mr. Luke Anderson, Midshipmen.

Audacious.—Mr. John Jeans, Lieutenant; Mr. Christopher Font, Gunner.

Orion.—Sir James Saumarez, Captain; Mr. Peter Sadler, Boatswain; Mr. Philip Richardson, Mr. Charles Miell, Mr. Lanfesty, Midshipmen.

Goliath—Mr. William Wilkinson, Lieutenant; Mr. Lawrence Graves, Midshipman; Mr. Peter Strachan, Schoolmaster; Mr. James Payne, Midshipman.

Majestic.—Mr. Charles Seward, Mr. Charles Royle, Midshipmen; Mr. Robert Overton, Captain's Clerk.

Bellerophon.—H. D'E. Darby, Esq., Captain; Mr. Edward Kirby, Master; Captain John Hopkins, Marines; Mr. Chapman, Boatswain; Mr. Nicholas Bettson, Midshipman.

Minotaur.—Mr. Thomas Irwin, Lieutenant; Mr. John Jewell, Lieutenant Marines; Mr. Thomas Foxten, 2nd Master; Mr. Martin Wills, Midshipman.

Swiftsure.—Mr. William Smith, Midshipman.

The medal commemorating the Battle of the Nile. Front


Badge commemorating the Battle of the Nile, 1798, in the shape of a foul anchor within a circle. An inscription is engraved on the latter – above: ‘ADMIRAL NELSON’, below: ‘THE BRITISH TARS & GLORIUS . 1ST . AUGUST . 1798’. [sic]. Reverse: Inscription engraved on the circle: ‘THANKS BE TO GOD WHO HATH GIVEN US THE VICTORY’.

These anchors were originally worn on the coat in the centre of a patriotic ‘favour’, or ribbon rosette. Emma Hamilton wrote to Nelson on 8 September 1798, ‘My dress from head to foot is alla Nelson. Even my shawl is in Blue with gold anchors all over. My ear-rings are Nelson’s anchors: in short, we are all be-Nelsoned.’

1 comment:

Gerald said...

Warfare is a fascinating subject. Despite the dubious morality of using violence to achieve personal or political aims. It remains that conflict has been used to do just that throughout recorded history.

Your article is very well done, a good read.