Parading the Colors



Trafalgar, 21 October 1805: HMS Victory leads the British fleet's assault on the Franco-Spanish line of battle. In accordance with Admiral Lord Nelson's instruction, Victory flies a large White Ensign at the mizzen and another one at the peak of the mainmast. At  the peak of the foremast is the Cross of St. George, the flag of rank of an admiral. Visible below the ensign at the main is Nelson's last signal to his fleet: No. 16 in the Royal Navy Signal Book, "Engage the enemy more closely." This signal was later shot away and Nelson himself was mortally wounded on the quarterdeck of his flagship at the climax of the battle. He was taken below, lived long enough to learn that his ships and men had won a decisive victory and died saying, "Thank God I have done my duty." See also Nelson's Trafalgar Flag Signals.

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