From the original holograph draft in the British Museum. Interlineations are shown in square brackets, deletions in italics, as in the Blue Book on the Tactics of Trafalgar, Cd. 7120.
Memn. Victory off Cadiz,
9 Oct. 1805.
Thinking it almost impossible to bring a Fleet of forty Sail of the Line into a Line of Battle in variable winds thick weather and other circumstances which must occur, without such a loss of time that the opportunity would probably be lost of bringing the Enemy to Battle in such a manner as to make the business decisive.
I have [therefore] made up my mind to keep the fleet in that position of sailing (with the exception of the first and Second in Command) that the order of Sailing is to be the Order of Battle, placing the fleet in two Lines of Sixteen Ships each with an advanced Squadron of Eight of the fasting (sic) sailing Two decked ships [which] will always make if wanted a Line of Twenty four Sail, on which ever Line the Commander in Chief may direct.
The Second in Command will in fact Command [his line] and after my intentions are made known to him will have the entire direction of His Line to make the attack upon the Enemy and to follow up the Blow until they are Capturd or destroy'd.
If the Enemy's fleet should be seen to Windward [in Line of Battle] but [and] in that position that the Two Lines and the Advanced Squadron can fetch them (1 shall suppose them forty Six Sail [in] of the Line of Battle) they will probably be so extended that their Van could not succour their Rear.
I should therefore probably make your the 2nd in Commds signal to Lead through about their Twelfth Ship from their Rear (or wherever you [He] could fetch if not able to get so far advanced) My Line would lead through about their Centre and the Advanced Squadron to cut two or three or four Ships Ahead of their Centre, so as to ensure getting at their Commander In Chief on whom every Effort must be made to Capture.
The whole impression of the British (fleet] must be, to overpower from two or three Ships ahead of their Commander In Chief, supposed to be in the centre, to the Rear of their fleet. [I will suppose] twenty Sail of the [Enemys] Line to be untouched, it must be some time before they could perform a Manceuvre to bring their force compact to attack any part of the British fleet engaged, or to succour their own ships which indeed would be impossible, without mixing with the ships engaged 1. Something must be left to chance, nothing is sure in a sea fight beyond all others, shot will carry away the masts and yards of friends as well as foes, but I look with confidence to a victory before the van of the Enemy could succour their friends [Rear] and then that the British Fleet would most of them be ready to receive their Twenty Sail of the Line or to pursue them should they endeavour to make off.
1 Note in margin of original. ’The Enemy's Fleet is supposed to consist of 46 Sail of the Line - British fleet of 40 - if either is less only a proportionate number of Enemy's ships are to be cut off; B to be ¼ superior to the E cut off.'
If the Van of the Enemy tacks the Captured Ships must run to Leeward of the British fleet, if the Enemy wears the British must place themselves between the Enemy and the captured & disabled British Ships and should the Enemy close I have no fear as to the result.
The Second in Command will in all possible things direct the Movements of his Line by keeping them as compact as the nature of the circumstances will admit and Captains are to look to their particular Line as their rallying point. But in case signals can neither be seen or perfectly understood no Captain can do very wrong if he places his Ship alongside that of an Enemy.
Of the intended attack from to Windward, the Enemy in Line of Battle ready to receive an attack:
The Divisions of the British fleet will be brought nearly within Gun Shot of the Enemys Centre. The signal will most probably [then] be made for the Lee Line to bear up together to set all their sails even steering sails 2 in order to get as quickly as possible to the Enemys Line and to Cut through beginning from the 12 Ship from the Enemies rear some ships may not get through their exact place, but they will always be at hand to assist their friends and if any are thrown round the Rear of the Enemy they will effectually compleat at the business of Twelve Sail of the Enemy. Should the Enemy wear together or bear up and sail Large still the Twelve Ships composing in the first position the Enemys rear are to be [the] Object of attack of the Lee Line unless otherwise directed from the Commander In Chief which is scarcely to be expected as the entire management of the Lee Line after the intentions of the Commander in Chief is [are] signified is intended to be left to the judgement of the Admiral Commanding that Line.
2 Note in margin of original, ‘Vide instructions for Signal Yellow with Blue fly, page 17, eighth Flag Signal Book, with reference to Appendix.'
The Remainder of the Enemys fleet 34 Sail are to be left to the Management of the Commander In Chief who will endeavour to take care that the Movements of the Second in Command are as little interrupted as is possible.
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