A revealing letter written by Admiral Lord Nelson on board the HMS Victory could sell for up to £30,000 at a Hanson’s auction in Derbyshire next month.
The recently discovered letter gives an insight into the strategic thinking of one of England’s greatest naval heroes.
Dated April 28, 1804, the letter was addressed to Frank Sotheron, Captain of HMS Excellent, and written by Nelson just days after his promotion to Vice-Admiral of the White.
Hiding his largest ships out of view, Nelson used smaller vessels to pass him information of the enemy’s movements as he attempted to lure the French and Spanish fleet into battle from the port of Toulon.
He detailed his strategy to Sotheron, and asked "in the event of their sailing from Toulon you will use every effort to communicate the same to me as early as possible".
He was playing a cat-and-mouse game with Admiral Pierre-Charles Villeneuve, and when the French fleet evaded the English blockade in April 1805 and escaped into the Atlantic, Nelson gave chase to the West Indies and back again without managing to engage them in battle.
But just a few months later he finally got his wish at the Battle of Trafalgar – a victory which cost him his life but won him immortality in the annals of British history.
"Horatio, Lord Nelson, is still acknowledged 200 years later, as our greatest naval tactician and as a man of tremendous audacity and courage who showed little concern for his own," said auctioneer Charles Hanson. "He had lost the sight in his right eye at Corsica and lost his right arm at Santa Cruz de Tenerife and had suffered a very severe head injury at the Battle of the Nile’.
"This battle remains renowned for the tactical skill employed by Nelson and for his courage in leading the first column of British vessels into the attack, having sent the immortal signal: England expects that every man will do his duty."
The letter will be offered for sale at Hanson’s on Friday July 1, with an estimate of £20,000 – £30,000 ($28,350 – $42,530).