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Commander Crabbe Origins: Taking Nelson Home (13) RE: Origins: Taking Nelson Home 23 Oct 12


Courtesy of Wikipedia
Following his death at Trafalgar. Nelson's body was placed in a cask of brandy mixed with camphor and myrrh, which was then lashed to the Victory's mainmast and placed under guard. Victory was towed to Gibraltar after the battle, and on arrival the body was transferred to a lead-lined coffin filled with spirits of wine. Collingwood's dispatches about the battle were carried to England aboard HMS Pickle, and when the news arrived in London, a messenger was sent to Merton Place to bring the news of Nelson's death to Emma Hamilton. She later recalled,
They brought me word, Mr Whitby from the Admiralty. "Show him in directly", I said. He came in, and with a pale countenance and faint voice, said, "We have gained a great Victory." "Never mind your Victory", I said. "My letters give me my letters" Captain Whitby was unable to speak tears in his eyes and a deathly paleness over his face made me comprehend him. I believe I gave a scream and fell back, and for ten hours I could neither speak nor shed a tear.
King George III, on receiving the news, is alleged to have said, in tears, "We have lost more than we have gained." The Times reported
We do not know whether we should mourn or rejoice. The country has gained the most splendid and decisive Victory that has ever graced the naval annals of England; but it has been dearly purchased.
The first tribute to Nelson was fittingly offered at sea by sailors of Vice-Admiral Dmitry Senyavin's passing Russian squadron, which saluted on learning of the death.
Nelson's body was unloaded from the Victory at the Nore. It was conveyed up-river in Commander Grey's yacht Chatham to Greenwich and placed in a lead coffin, and that in another wooden one, made from the mast of L'Orient which had been salvaged after the Battle of the Nile. He lay in state in the Painted Hall at Greenwich for three days, before being taken up river aboard a barge, accompanied by Lord Hood, chief mourner Sir Peter Parker, and the Prince of Wales. The Prince of Wales at first announced his intention to attend the funeral as chief mourner, but later attended in a private capacity with his brothers when his father George III reminded him that it was against protocol for the Heir to the Throne to attend the funerals of anyone except members of the Royal Family. The coffin was taken into the Admiralty for the night, attended by Nelson's chaplain, Alexander Scott. The next day, 9 January, a funeral procession consisting of 32 admirals, over a hundred captains, and an escort of 10,000 soldiers took the coffin from the Admiralty to St Paul's Cathedral. After a four-hour service he was interred within a sarcophagus originally carved for Cardinal Wolsey. The sailors charged with folding the flag draping Nelson's coffin and placing it in the grave instead tore it into fragments, with each taking a piece as a memento.

The term "Nelson's Blood" refers to rum. As it was affectionately known as by Royal Navy sailors. From the notion that he was preserved not in a brandy barrel but in a rum barrel for the journey home.

Chris (ex Survey Branch and occasional "Rum Rat")


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