Occupation: British Admiral
Challenges overcome: Visual Impairment and Amputee
Successes, Achievements & Awards:
Admiral Horatio Lord Nelson, born in Norfolk in September 1758, was a Naval Commander and national hero, most famous for his victories with the British Navy against the French during the Napoleonic wars.
Joining the navy at the age of 12, Nelson went onto to become captain at the age of 20, serving in the West Indies, Canada and the Baltic. When the Britain joined the French Revolution Wars in 1793, Nelson was given command of the Agamemnon and was glad to be back in service after years of no command and half pay.
Nelson was noted for his inspirational leadership and superb grasp of strategy and unconventional tactics, which resulted in a number of decisive naval victories, particularly during the Napoleonic Wars. He was wounded several times in combat, losing one arm in the unsuccessful attempt to conquer Santa Cruz de Tenerife and the sight in one eye in Corsica. Nelson was born into a moderately prosperous Norfolk family and joined the navy through the influence of his uncle, Maurice Suckling. He rose rapidly through the ranks and served with leading naval commanders of the period before obtaining his own command in 1778. He developed a reputation in the service through his personal valour and firm grasp of tactics but suffered periods of illness and unemployment after the end of the American War of Independence. The outbreak of the French Revolutionary Wars allowed Nelson to return to service, where he was particularly active in the Mediterranean. He fought in several minor engagements off Toulon and was important in the capture of Corsica and subsequent diplomatic duties with the Italian states. In 1797, he distinguished himself while in command of HMS Captain at the Battle of Cape St Vincent.
Shortly after the battle, Nelson took part in the Battle of Santa Cruz de Tenerife, where his attack was defeated and he was badly wounded, losing his right arm, and was forced to return to England to recuperate. The following year, he won a decisive victory over the French at the Battle of the Nile and remained in the Mediterranean to support the Kingdom of Naples against a French invasion. In 1801, he was dispatched to the Baltic and won another victory, this time over the Danes at the Battle of Copenhagen. He subsequently commanded the blockade of the French and Spanish fleets at Toulon and, after their escape, chased them to the West Indies and back but failed to bring them to battle. After a brief return to England, he took over the Cádiz blockade in 1805. On 21 October 1805, the Franco-Spanish fleet came out of port, and Nelson’s fleet engaged them at the Battle of Trafalgar. The battle was Britain’s greatest naval victory, but during the action Nelson, aboard HMS Victory, was fatally wounded by a French sharpshooter. His body was brought back to England where he was accorded a state funeral.
Nelson’s death at Trafalgar secured his position as one of Britain’s most heroic figures. The significance of the victory and his death during the battle led to his signal, “England expects that every man will do his duty”, being regularly quoted, paraphrased and referenced up to the modern day. Numerous monuments, including Nelson’s Column in Trafalgar Square, London, and the Nelson Monument in Edinburgh, have been created in his memory and his legacy remains highly influential.
During the 1790’s Nelson suffered two major injuries in battles. He firstly lost sight in his right eye during battle at Calvi and later lost his right arm during the Battle of Santa Cruz de Tenerife.
In 1794, during the battle at Calvi, a shot hit a sandbag nearby causing debris to hit his eye. The eye was bandaged up quickly and he went back into battle, but because of the amount of damage he soon lost his sight. During the battle of Santa Cruz de Tenerife in 1797, Nelson was hit by a musket ball as he was stepping ashore, which shattered his right arm. He refused help when a boat came ashore to take him back to the ship, but was still taken to the ship’s surgeon. The surgeon told Horatio to prepare for amputation, saying “the sooner it was off the better”.
Nelson still action despite his injuries, and was regarded as a hero by the public. He also suffered sea sickness throughout his whole life.
Amputation is the removal of a body extremity by trauma or surgery. As a surgical measure, it is used to control pain or a disease process in the affected limb, such as malignancy or gangrene.
A large proportion of amputees experience the phenomenon of phantom limbs, they feel body parts that are no longer there. These limbs can itch, ache, and feel as if they are moving. Some scientists believe it has to do with a kind of neural map that the brain has of the body, which sends information to the rest of the brain about limbs regardless of their existence.
Visual impairment (or vision impairment) is a decreased ability to see to a degree that causes problems not fixable by usual means, such as glasses or medication. Eye disorders which can lead to visual impairments can include retinal degeneration, albinism, cataracts, glaucoma, muscular problems that result in visual disturbances, corneal disorders, diabetic retinopathy, congenital disorders, and infection. Visual impairment can also be caused by brain and nerve disorders, in which case it is usually termed cortical visual impairment.
Download our Library List for further reading on many of the disabilities featured in this site
Please click on the information links below to find out more.
Horatio Nelson, 1st Viscount Nelson. (2015, May 4). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 13:43, May 19, 2015, from http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Horatio_Nelson,_1st_Viscount_Nelson&oldid=660750322
N. A. M. Rodger, ‘Nelson, Horatio, Viscount Nelson (1758–1805)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004; online edn, May 2009 [http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/19877, accessed 14 May 2015] – Please note that you will require library subscription or a library card to access the content on this site.
Image source – Wikicommons