Nelson Uses Napoleon's Tactics

From the battle of Lepanto to the mid-19th century.
User avatar
wadinga
Senior Member
Posts: 1937
Joined: Sat Mar 12, 2005 3:49 pm
Location: Tonbridge England

Nelson Uses Napoleon's Tactics

Post by wadinga » Mon Oct 21, 2019 2:30 pm

Fellow Contributors,

On the anniversary of Trafalgar I think it is worth observing that although the cliché of Napoleon's infantry column attack against line has been overstated, generally his formations sought to put a heavy concentration of assaulting force against a limited part of the opposing forces. Exactly similar was Nelson's approach at Trafalgar, where he caused his "T" to be crossed, confident that poor Allied fleet gunnery would fail to destroy the head of the assaulting columns before they punched through the enemy's line and caused the wild melee that he sought for his fast-firing crews.

Nelson's revolutionary tactic was almost undone by the very light prevailing winds which slowed the assault to waking pace and meant slower-sailing ships at the rear of his columns took a long time to get into the fight. With stronger winds his fleet would have arrived as more of a "Force de frappe" and there would have been fewer arguments afterwards that some ships had not pulled their weight in the fight. To be honest this was largely driven by such late arrivals getting a share of the Prize Money even when other ships had suffered heavy casualties and damage.

Food for thought and hopefully debate.

All the best

wadinga
"There seems to be something wrong with our bloody ships today!"

User avatar
wadinga
Senior Member
Posts: 1937
Joined: Sat Mar 12, 2005 3:49 pm
Location: Tonbridge England

Re: Nelson Uses Napoleon's Tactics

Post by wadinga » Mon Oct 21, 2019 5:46 pm

Hello All,

Should be "walking pace" not waking pace. Things moved slowly but not soporifically. :lol:

All the best

wadinga
"There seems to be something wrong with our bloody ships today!"

Byron Angel
Senior Member
Posts: 1061
Joined: Sun Mar 06, 2011 1:06 am

Re: Nelson Uses Napoleon's Tactics

Post by Byron Angel » Thu Oct 24, 2019 3:11 am

Makarov estimated the British rate of advance as a bit under two knots under the prevailing light airs, even though carrying maximum sail and (more or less) sailing before the wind.

HMS Britannia (3-decker) was such a sluggish sailor, that she effectively arrived at the end of the battle.

Nelson's tactics would have been suicidally rash against an opponent of equal ability. Hence, there were precious few occasions upon which such tactics could be repeated.

B

Post Reply