16 Bolton St, Piccadilly, London, W1J 8BQ
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Lot 15, 29 Jun 06
DescriptionNaval General Service 1793-1840, 1 clasp, Trafalgar (James Easman) edge bruising and polished, therefore good fine £3500-4000
FootnoteJames Easman served as a Landsman aboard H.M.S. Africa.
H.M.S. Africa was with Nelson watching Cadiz in 1805, and under Captain Henry Digby bore a conspicuous part in the Battle of Trafalgar on 21 October. She appears to have lost sight of the fleet in the course of the night before the battle, and, when the firing began, was broad on the Victory’s port beam, and nearly also broad on the port beam of the leading ship of the allied van. Nelson signalled her to make all possible sail; but Digby seems to have misunderstood the order - which was intended to keep him out of danger - as meaning that he was to lose no time in closing the enemy. He therefore made the best of his way along the Franco-Spanish van, exchanging broadsides with it, and at length bore down ahead of the Spanish 140, Santisima Trinidad. Judging from her appearance that that vessel had surrendered, Digby sent his First Lieutenant to take possession of her. This officer reached her quarter-deck ere he learned that the Spaniard had not surrendered, and as he was not in a position to coerce her, he withdrew, no one, strange to say, making an effort to stop him. The Africa, then, at about 3.20 p.m., very gallantly brought to action the French 74, Intrepide, and for about forty minutes fought her steadily, until the arrival of the British Orion upon the Frenchman’s starboard quarter relieved her before she was silenced. She had her main-topsail-yard shot away, and her bowsprit and three lower masts so badly injured that none of the latter could afterwards stand. Her remaining masts and yards were also more or less damaged; her rigging and sails cut to pieces; while her hull, besides its other serious damage, received shots between wind and water. Her losses in killed and wounded amounted to sixty-two, including seven officers.