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CORNWALLIS Sir William - Letter Signed 1805

  • £425.00

Sir William CORNWALLIS (1744-1819). Admiral.

Letter Signed (“W Cornwallis”) to Robert Fanshaw, Commissioner of His Majesty’s Navy at Plymouth Dock, a demand for stores for HMS Ville de Paris.

1 page folio, Ville de Paris off Ushant, 18 October 1805.        

This routine letter, sending a “demand for stores for the use of His Majesty’s Ship named in the margin [Ville de Paris], which you will be pleased to Order to be got ready for conveyance to the Squadron”, was sent only three days before the battle of Trafalgar.

Cornwallis was then in command of the Channel Fleet, and the Ville de Paris was his flagship. In August 1805, Napoleon ordered Admiral Ganteaume to leave Brest on 22 August, to arrive in the Channel where success would mean that “we will have avenged six centuries of insult and shame” at the hands of the English. When Ganteaume attempted to leave Brest, he was quickly driven back by Cornwallis. As his entry in DNB reminds us, “Cornwallis’s greatness lay in his ability to see the big picture, and adapt his tactics accordingly. He had to be content with a partial action, the moral significance of which was as great as any fleet battle.”

The letter has been frayed at the top and bottom and a tear at the central fold has been repaired, but it is in clear and legible condition.

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