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    Mark Arbour
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Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental.

Odyssey - 56. Chapter 56

I have scheduled this chapter to post on August 1, 2013, at 11:20AM. Unless my calculations are wrong, that is the equivalent of 6:20PM in Cairo, Egypt. 215 years ago, on August 1, 1798, at 6:20PM, French ships opened fire on the British ships approaching them. This was the start of the Battle of the Nile, one of the most decisive and influential naval victories of all time.

August 1, 1798

HMS Vanguard

             

Granger stood on the deck with the other officers, taking his own noon sightings. He smiled as the midshipmen frantically worked their calculations, trying to pinpoint Vanguard’s location as the grizzled master looked on. Occasionally one of them would glance over at Granger with the same expressions of hero-worship they usually reserved for their admiral. Granger thought that was misplaced, as he had none of Nelson’s brilliance, but he had grown used to it. The stories of his exploits in the Pacific had torn through the ship like a wildfire, making him an even bigger celebrity than he’d already been. The crew and officers of the Vanguard treated him with a very marked level of respect, all except for Berry, who tried not to seem annoyed that Granger was on his ship in the first place.

Berry was an interesting chap, and Granger could see why Nelson liked him, but it was just as obvious that Berry was a poor choice as Nelson’s flag captain. Berry was like Nelson, a restless man who sought action with a passion. His record in the Navy was full of episodes of bravery, but the fact that he had joined the Navy in 1779 and did not achieve promotion to lieutenant until 1794, and to captain until 1797, spoke volumes about his weaknesses. For while Berry was very brave, and a man of action, his seamanship was less then stellar, and he had very poor attention to detail. When Nelson had been knighted, he had taken Berry with him as one of his two supporters and presented him to the King as “his right hand.” And that Berry was most certainly not.

Like most flag officers, Nelson was buried with paperwork and various administrative requirements. Granger had learned about that working as a flag lieutenant for Hood, and understood the pressures on an officer like Nelson. As a result, Granger fit perfectly into Nelson’s world, and he knew he’d made a huge difference in just the few days since he’d been here. Granger knew that Nelson didn’t need a man of action like Berry, because Nelson was all of that and more. He needed someone calm and deliberate, who was a good administrator, to keep the fleet running smoothly. And while Granger wasn’t enamored of that kind of work, he was good at it. His ability to make Nelson’s life easier and make Nelson’s fleet more efficient had already endeared Granger to Nelson, and seeing Granger succeed where he had failed only made Berry that much more jealous of Granger.

“Where are we, Granger?” Nelson asked as he walked up next to him. Berry turned away, annoyed that Nelson asked Granger instead of him, but Granger had grown used to Berry’s petulance and ignored it.

Granger briefly reviewed his calculations before answering. “As near as I can tell, we are near Egypt, and should reach Aboukir later this afternoon, or early in the evening, sir,” Granger told Nelson. “I am waiting for the young gentlemen to corroborate my results.”

Nelson chuckled at that. “I suspect a few of them will have us in Cairo.”

“Having been there a couple of weeks ago, sir, I have no desire to return,” Granger said honestly. “I am not enamored of large, exotic cities teeming with people whose language I cannot fathom.”

“You already know French and Spanish. I shouldn’t think it would be a problem for you to pick up Arabic,” Nelson said.

Granger smiled. “I am not very popular in the Arab world, sir, so it may be difficult to find a tutor.”

“That much is certain,” Nelson said, laughing. The midshipmen finished their exercise, and most of them did quite well, and with so many different officers calculating their position and coming close, Granger was quite sure they would reach Aboukir today. “Captain Berry, I would be obliged if you would take a cast of the log, and then ask the young gentlemen to tell me when we will arrive at our destination.”

Granger had to turn away to avoid laughing at the midshipmen, as they stared in horror at this new problem thrown into their laps. The log was duly cast, with Vanguard’s speed, some six knots, being relayed to the midshipmen. Armed with their position, and their destination, the young men hurriedly worked out their estimates. They ranged from 2:00 in the afternoon to 6:00 at night. “I suggest we assume we’ll see them by 4:00, sir,” Granger joked. “We’ll take the middle estimate.”

“I think that is a good guess,” Nelson said jovially. He was in an excellent mood, but still a bit on edge, and Granger knew why. He’d spent most of the summer traipsing around the Mediterranean, chasing after the French fleet, and courtesy of Granger, he knew exactly where they were, as of ten days ago. After having escorted the invasion force, it was quite possible they’d been dispatched back to Toulon in the mean time. Nelson’s biggest fear was that he’d arrive at Aboukir to find the French gone again.

“If we arrive at 4:00, sir, we may either have to fight a night action or we will have to wait until morning,” Granger noted.

“That is a good point,” Nelson said. “We must prepare for that contingency. Get Capel and let us strategize on how to do that over dinner.”

“Aye aye, sir,” Granger said. He passed the word for Capel, and the two of them joined Nelson in his cabin for dinner. Granger was almost surprised Nelson hadn’t already worked out a system for night actions. He had been thoroughly impressed with Nelson and how he conducted himself as a flag officer. He had frequent dinners with his captains to educate them on his methods, and what he expected from them. He had plans drawn up for how they would attack the French if they found them at sea, with or without their transports, or at anchor. In fact, Nelson took so much time to drill his own thoughts and philosophies into his captains that signals among the fleet were kept to a minimum. There was no need to tell captains what to do if they already knew what was expected of them. When Granger had been a young lieutenant, Hood had sent him off with Nelson to Sardinia and Naples, and advised him to learn what he could from Nelson, citing him as one of the best captains in the fleet. Granger was cognizant that he was now having that same experience; only he was watching a role model on how to be an excellent flag officer.

“Welcome gentlemen,” Nelson said. “Let us eat.” They took their seats at Nelson’s big table, with him at the head, and Granger and Capel on his right and left sides.

“Sir, I must say that I have thoroughly enjoyed feasting on your bounty,” Granger said. “Your chef has been marvelous.” The food had been very good, although not as good as Lefavre’s.

“That is high praise coming from you,” Nelson replied, “but I fear that is only because you have been without your own chef for quite some time.”

“I have only heard of your chef by reputation, my lord,” Capel said.

“Then should I ever manage to link up myself, my ship, and my chef, I will have to invite you to sup with me,” Granger said, getting a laugh from the other men, even though being apart from Bacchante was like a dull ache for Granger. Joking about it stretched his reserves to the maximum.

“If we fight a night action, how will we prevent our ships from firing into each other?” Nelson asked, getting them back to the topic at hand.

“We could carry lights aloft, sir,” Granger suggested. “That comes with some risks though, as lanterns are flammable.”

“That’s a good point,” Nelson agreed. “If we have lights scattered about the rigging, we’re all but asking for a fire.”

“What if we only had lights on one mast, sir?” Capel asked. “Perhaps the main mast, since it is the most substantial?”

“I think that is an excellent idea, sir, but I would recommend we choose either the mizzen or the foremast. That way we will know which end of the vessel we are looking at,” Granger augmented.

“How many lights shall we show?” Nelson asked.

“I would recommend four, sir,” Capel said. “There are night signals corresponding to one, two, or three lights.”

“So all of our ships will have four lights in the mizzen,” Nelson concluded.

“What if a vessel loses her mizzen, sir?” Granger asks.

“We can have them fly their flag and illuminate it, sir,” Capel offered.

“Illuminate it?” Nelson asked.

“Yes, sir, by placing a light at the taffrail,” Capel said.

“Sir, you are a rear admiral of the blue,” Granger said, stating the obvious. “The flags our fleet flies as a result may be mistaken for French tricolors.” Ships wore a flag based on the squadron of their admiral, which was blue, white, or red, depending on his seniority. Blue was the most junior, while red was the most senior. As Nelson was a rear admiral of the blue, the flag his ships flew was blue, with a union flag emblazoned in the upper left corner.

“You’re suggesting, Granger, that if one of our ships is fired upon by one of her contemporaries, it is my fault for not achieving a higher rank?” Nelson asked with a grin.

“It would be most helpful if you could achieve a promotion to the white squadron within the next few hours, sir,” Granger said, getting a laugh from both Capel and Nelson.

“Why don’t we solve it by ordering the ships to fly an illuminated white jack,” Nelson said. “That should avoid any confusion.”

“Aye aye sir,” Capel said.

They had just finished dinner when Perkins entered Nelson’s cabin, smiling broadly. His eyes briefly met Granger’s, and he blushed slightly, which no one but Granger noticed. Granger had fucked the young man every chance he’d gotten, and they had both enjoyed every minute of it. “Sir Horatio, the Zealous has signaled: Enemy in sight. Estimate sixteen sail of the line, ten miles distant.” Granger looked at his watch, and noted that it was 2:00.

“Acknowledge,” Nelson said with a grin. After Perkins left, Nelson spoke to Granger. “Did the French get reinforcements?”

“I am not sure, Sir Horatio,” Granger said. He knew he had counted the French ships accurately when he’d passed them on the brig. He was conscious that if that number was in question, Nelson would assume his assertions about which ships were there, and their positions, were also false. “I am quite certain there were previously only thirteen ships of the line.”

“Let us go up on deck and see,” Nelson said. The three of them walked up and noted that Perkins had resumed his position, watching the ships for signals.

“Sir, Goliath is signaling. Estimate thirteen sail of the line,” Perkins said.

“Someone on Zealous is blind, and can’t distinguish a frigate from a ship of the line,” Nelson groused. “Acknowledge. Granger, see that our instructions for night action are passed on to the fleet.”

“Aye aye sir,” Granger said. “Mr. Capel, assemble the clerks. I will draft out instructions for the captains and we will deliver them by boat.”

“Aye aye, my lord,” Capel said. Granger took the next quarter of an hour to draft orders for the captains of the ships, had Nelson review them, and then had the clerks copy them. He checked each copy to make sure there were no errors, and then sent them off using Vanguard’s boats. Berry stood on the sidelines, watching this flurry of activity with disdain. But this is just the kind of thing that Granger could handle for Nelson, and something Berry would not think to get involved with.

“Captain, I would be obliged if you would ensure the admiral’s flagship conforms to the instructions given to the other ships,” Granger said to him. “We will need four lights ready to hang in the mizzen, and a white ensign, illuminated.”

“Certainly, my lord,” Berry said stiffly.

The fleet barreled toward the French in a bit of a free-for-all, in a race to see who could get there and engage the French first. Granger pondered the difference between Nelson, who was fully encouraging his ships to hurry into battle, and a more stolid admiral like St. Vincent, who would have kept them firmly in line and under control. But Granger thought Nelson had the right idea, because not only was he getting at the French as quickly as he could, he was showing confidence in his captains and their abilities. At 4:00, Nelson did not end the race, but put it on a more organized basis. “Granger, signal the fleet to form line of battle.”

“Aye aye, sir,” Granger said, and had Capel send up the signal. “The fleet has acknowledged.” They would still vie to get ahead of each other, but they would do it in a more organized way.

Nelson walked to the bow with his speaking trumpet and hailed Samuel Hood in the Zealous. “Captain Hood, I will trust you to find us a safe course to the French!”

“Aye aye sir,” Hood replied. “We will take soundings as we go!” They had almost no charts of Aboukir Bay, so it was important to make sure they didn’t run aground. There had been one old chart aboard Goliath, and a horrible map from which they’d made a sketch on board one of the other ships, and that was it. Neither of those maps showed the depth of the water.

“Sir, the Alexander and Swiftsure are attempting to rejoin the fleet, as is the Culloden,” Granger said. The Alexander and Swiftsure had been scouting, as if they were frigates, and were hurrying back to join the fleet. Culloden had been towing a captured merchant ship, but had cast her off and was hastening to join the action as well.

“Excellent,” Nelson said. “Signal the fleet to reduce sail and allow those ships to catch up. As soon as they’ve acknowledged that signal, send up a signal instructing the ships to rig a spring cable. That will give them something to occupy their time.”

“Aye aye sir,” Granger said, and relayed that to Capel. The fleet broke into a frenzy of activity as they reduced sail, while simultaneously rigging a spring cable so they could maneuver once anchored.

“Do the French show any sign of sailing?” Nelson hailed the lookout.

“No, sir,” the lookout replied. “There’s boats plying back and forth between the ships, but no sign of them puttin’ to sea.”

“Captain Berry,” Nelson said. “It would please me if you and your officers would join me for supper.”

“Of course, Sir Horatio,” Berry said. Granger wondered if Nelson had extended that invitation to prompt Berry to feed his men. If he had, it was successful, since Berry gave the order for supper. Now the men paused as their ship sailed toward the French fleet, albeit slowly, and filled their stomachs with food and grog. The officers went into Nelson’s cabin and sat at his long dining room table.

“Gentlemen, I hope you will eat well, but quickly,” Nelson said. “We are to be upon the French shortly.”

The most junior midshipman toasted the King, and then general toasts began. “Sir Horatio, to a stunning victory,” Berry said pompously, but that mattered not to any of them. They all chanted ‘hear hear!’ and drank their wine.

“Before this time tomorrow I shall have gained a peerage or Westminster Abbey,” Nelson said. Granger thought that was quite ominous, but they all drank to that.

“I will look forward to welcoming you into the House of Lords, Sir Horatio,” Granger said with a smile.

“If they make me a viscount, you can walk with me, Granger,” Nelson said, offering Granger the role of one of his introducing peers.

“That would truly be an honor, sir,” Granger said, clearly flattered that Nelson would pick Granger to be one of his supporting peers.

“Well gentlemen, it is time to beat the French,” Nelson said, and they all filed back up onto the deck. With dinner over, the galley fire was doused. “Signal to the fleet to clear for action.”

“Aye aye sir,” Granger said. Before Capel could even raise the signal, Vanguard began beating to quarters, the martial sound of the drums rolling across the water. The other captains picked up on this, and began to clear for action, making Capel’s signal all but unnecessary, but it was acknowledged nonetheless.

Granger watched curiously as the Mutine ranged alongside. “Sir Horatio!” Hardy hailed. It was difficult to hear him with the ships travelling under full sail.

“Berry, reduce sail so I can talk to Hardy,” Nelson ordered. Berry hurried to obey his orders, and as Vanguard slowed, so did the ships behind her. Granger saw a potential disaster, in that Zealous and Goliath were ranging ahead and a gap was opening up between them and the rest of the fleet.

On his own initiative, since Nelson was deep in conversation with Hardy, Granger hurried to the rail and hailed Captain Miller of the Theseus. “Captain, follow the Zealous! We will rejoin the line as soon as we have finished our conference!”

Miller acknowledged his order, and the Theseus loosed her sails again, surging around Vanguard, but Orion and Audacious were faster, and managed to pass not only Vanguard, but Theseus as well. Granger waved his hat to Saumarez in Orion as he surged past them. He would be third in line, a good place for him. Granger remembered how well he had supported the Colossus at St. Vincent, backing his sails to protect her from being raked.

“Captain Berry, you may resume our place in the line, and presumably Granger has not left it so we are at the rear,” Nelson groused.

“I beg your pardon sir, but I was worried that Goliath and Zealous would go into action unsupported,” Granger said.

Nelson relented. “And that was a good decision. I am just vexed because I was delayed while learning precious little from the pilots Hardy managed to acquire. They advised me to avoid this area to our starboard. That would seem to be obvious.”

“Things appear to be going well anyway, sir,” Granger said with a smile.

“Indeed they do,” Nelson said. “As I recall, the last time we fought a night action together, we were victorious.” That had been the action where Belvidera had captured La Sabina, a Spanish frigate that was considerably larger than Belvidera.

“I would submit that it is a good omen, sir,” Granger said.

They stood on the quarterdeck and watched as two French brigs crossed in front of Goliath, which had now taken the lead, and sailed to the west. “The pilots Hardy found told me that is shoal water,” Nelson said. “The French are trying to lure us aground.”

“Shall we signal the fleet to that effect, sir?” Granger asked.

Nelson watched the ships in his van completely ignore the French brigs and sail on resolutely, avoiding the shoals just as they’d planned. “There is no need,” Nelson said. “My captains are smarter than to fall for French tricks.” Once again, that was typical of Nelson. There were so few signals, because these captains knew just what to do.

“So it would seem, sir,” Granger said.

They heard that distinctive sound of gunfire, and turned to see smoke clearing away from Guerrier and Conquérant. “Note in the log that action was engaged at 6:20,” Nelson said.

“They do not appear to have caused much damage with their fire, Sir Horatio,” Berry said of the French broadsides. Granger almost laughed at Berry, and how visibly keyed up he was as they sailed into battle. He was indeed like Nelson, in that he relished combat. No one would ever question his bravery.

“No, they do not,” Nelson agreed. “Their rate of fire is quite slow, but faster than the Dons we fought last year.”

Nelson was right. The French sailors were serving their guns well, for Frenchmen. “They are firing from that fort on the point as well, sir,” Granger noted.

“They are fools,” Nelson said dismissively. “At this range, they are as likely to hit their own ships as ours.” He was right.

Captain Thomas Foley

Granger watched as the fleet closed on the French. He was glad that Foley was in the lead with Goliath. The man was like a bulldog, tenacious and smart. “Sir, what is Goliath doing?” Berry asked, alarmed. Goliath did not turn and sail down the French line as he had been directed to do. Instead, on his own initiative, he had sailed straight ahead.

“He means to cross her bows, sir,” Granger concluded. He watched, impressed beyond words, as Foley, on his own initiative, deduced that there would be room between the bow of the Guerrier and the shoal for his ship to pass through. If he was right, he would pave the way for other ships to follow his lead. If he was wrong, he would run aground, but Granger decided that even in that case, he would still be able to bring his guns to bear on Guerrier.

Nelson was grinning as he watched Goliath yaw slightly to starboard and pour her full broadside into Guerrier’s bows. That first broadside, prepared with care and double-shotted, would tear through Guerrier’s gundeck. The casualties from that assault alone would be horrific. Goliath passed by Guerrier’s bows unscathed, and Zealous followed her along.

“Granger, if I am stricken down, see that Foley gets a knighthood for that,” Nelson exclaimed.

“It is well-deserved, sir,” Granger agreed. He may just be able to achieve that, what with Caroline’s restored influence, Granger mused. Foley, with his action, had all but sealed the fate of the French van. Those ships would be engaging British ships on both sides, the entire fleet. Granger was willing to bet they’d have been victorious without Foley’s action, but he was sure of it now.

Zealous sailed slowly past Guerrier, raking her just as Goliath had. Granger saw boats in the water around the French ships and trained his glass on them, and was shocked to see a considerable amount of gold lace. “Sir, I fear you have caught the French unaware,” he said to Nelson with a grin.

“Why do you say that?” he asked.

“If you train your glass on those boats, you will see the French captains frantically trying to return to their ships. They must have been at a conference aboard L’Orient, sir,” Granger said.

“They expected me to wait until morning?” Nelson asked rhetorically, and then chuckled. “They do not know me at all. Waste not an hour.”

Foley anchored Goliath next to Conquérant and began a furious cannonade with that ship, while Zealous anchored next to Guerrier, and worked to finish her off. “Sir,” Perkins said. “Culloden appears to be aground.”

Nelson and Granger turned their attention briefly astern to see Culloden listing to larboard, with her starboard side evidently aground. “Signal Leander to assist Culloden,” Nelson ordered. Leander wasn’t really fit to stand in the line of battle, and it would be much more useful to have her free Culloden so that ship could enter the fray.

“Aye aye sir,” Capel said, and made the signal. Granger could imagine Captain Thompson of the Leander growling at being left out of the battle because he had to help Troubridge of the Culloden. It would be easy to blame Troubridge for running his ship aground, but navigating waters without valid charts was tricky, especially in the fading light. In any event, the grounded Culloden would act as a beacon for Swiftsure and Alexander, warning them to avoid the shoals as they hurried to enter the battle. They turned their attention back to the battle, where the sounds and smoke from gunfire filled the night.

Saumarez was next, taking Orion across Guerrier’s bows just as the two ships before him had. He poured a raking broadside into Guerrier and continued on, clearly intending to move farther down the line and attack the next ship. “Sir, there goes Guerrier’s foremast!” came a shout from the bow. The spar was probably the victim of the Zealous’ relentless cannonade.

But Granger was watching Orion as she moved down the landward side. “Excuse me, sir,” he said to Nelson, and climbed up the mizzen shrouds to see the action. Orion appeared to be heading toward the Spartiate, which was third in line, when one of the frigates inshore of the French line opened fire on her. Granger was surprised at that, since it was the convention for frigates to stay out of battles when the fleets engaged, and ships of the line usually didn’t engage enemy frigates unless they fired first. But the Sérieuse had violated that rule, and Orion moved to make her pay for her error. The Sérieuse was a beautiful ship, Granger thought. He was a frigate captain at heart, and the Sérieuse, with her elegant French lines and her long sleek hull, was to him a work of art, especially compared to the bulky and cumbersome ships of the line. He watched, almost holding his breath, as Orion neared the spunky but foolish French ship, and then poured a double-shotted broadside into her. With that one broadside, Saumarez had turned Sérieuse into a complete wreck. It was a good lesson for any frigate captain, to see what the determined fire of a crack ship of the line could do to the frailer vessel. Saumarez anchored near the Peuple Souverain and began to pound her, so Granger descended back to the deck and briefed Nelson on what had occurred.

In the mean time, Audacious and Theseus had followed the other ships around Guerrier’s bows. Audacious anchored in an advantageous position, where she could rake both the Conquérant and the Guerrier, while Miller anchored the Theseus so she could attack both the Spartiate and the Aquilon, the fourth ship in the French line.

“Captain Berry, we will take the seaward side,” Nelson ordered. It was typical of Nelson, Granger thought, to charge into the heart of the battle. He remembered how Nelson had forced Granger to eschew maneuvering when they’d battled La Sabina, and had instructed him to just lay her alongside the Spaniard and slug it out. He was planning to do the same thing here. “Let us anchor next to Spartiate.”

“Aye aye, sir,” Berry said. Granger looked at the stolid British sailors standing grimly by their guns; full not of fear, but of anticipation, anxious to get at their enemy. Berry headed straight for the gap in the line between Conquérant and Spartiate, and then gave the order to put the helm over. Granger noted that the French guns on the seaward side fired much more quickly than those on the landward side. Clearly the French had not planned to use those landward guns. As Vanguard turned to run parallel to the French line, the Conquérant came into range. “Fire!” Berry ordered, and Vanguard’s first broadside smashed into that already embattled ship.

Then they were upon the Spartiate. Berry anchored his ship and gave the order to fire, the order which seemed to coincide with the French ship’s orders. Then there were cannon balls howling around them, as the French gunners scored hits on Vanguard. Granger watched, horrified, as a gun on their forecastle was upended, and one of the crewmen was smashed underneath the massive metal cannon. The men continued to fire in earnest, while the Spartiate fought back as best she could, despite being engaged on either side by the Vanguard and the Theseus.

“Warm work today, eh Granger,” Nelson said, delighting in the battle. He was truly in his element, as the air was filled with the sound of cannon and the smell of gunfire. It was dark now, so as the cannon on Vanguard fired, there were bright flashes from the spark of their flints, which briefly illuminated the gunners, much as if there had been fireflies on the ship.

And then all hell broke out, as cannon balls seemed to be everywhere at once. Granger looked forward and saw splinters flying from the forward bulkhead, and heard the screams below, screams that were louder than the cannon, as cannon balls ripped into the Vanguard’s bow. Beyond the bow, Granger discerned the silhouette of the Aquilon, which had been unengaged. She must have had a spring rigged, and had pivoted so she could rake Vanguard. And at that moment, the Spartiate fired langridge shot at Vanguard, and a piece of the shot struck Nelson. He collapsed to the deck, where Berry hurried to tend to him. Nelson’s face was covered in blood, and there was a huge gash in his forehead. Truly his wound looked to be fatal. “Get the admiral below to the surgeon!” Berry ordered.

“I am killed!” Nelson cried out. “Remember me to my wife!” Men rushed around him. “Where is my chaplain?”

Berry knelt next to Nelson, the hero-worship and love for his admiral apparent in his eyes. Berry had hitched himself to Nelson, as it were, and Nelson had rewarded him by advancing him to post rank. Their relationship was not complementary, as Granger had already noted, but it was obviously very deep. Granger thought of how his two older brothers competed for the love of his father, and how he had seen them work hard to win the Earl of Bridgemont’s approval. Berry was much like they were, and it explained a lot of his resentment toward Granger, who would seem to compete for his admiral’s attention and approval, much as Bertie and Freddie competed with each other. Granger shook himself free of his introspections, and from the horror and sadness of seeing this man that he admired and respected being killed as the victory he had orchestrated was unfolding. He had his duty to perform, and that is what Nelson would expect him to do. He went to the rail with his trumpet and hailed Louis of the Minotaur. “Captain, Aquilon has maneuvered to rake us. Can you assist?”

“Certainly, my lord,” Louis called back jovially. He moored Minotaur next to Aquilon but as Aquilon had pivoted to rake Vanguard, Louis was able to position Minotaur so she could send her own broadsides into Aquilon’s stern. Minotaur had given Aquilon something else to worry about, so her bombardment of Vanguard was eased.

“Mr. Perkins,” Granger called.

“My lord?”

“Go below and stay with Admiral Nelson. Keep me posted as to his condition.” Granger hoped that if Perkins was there, Berry may decide to return to the quarterdeck and tend to his ship.

“Aye aye, my lord,” he said.

“Mr. Vassal,” Granger said to Vanguard’s lieutenant. “Instruct your crew on the smasher up front to concentrate their fire on Aquilon’s quarterdeck.”

“Aye aye, my lord,” Vassal said, and proceeded to obey Granger’s orders. That would make the Aquilon’s quarterdeck a very unpleasant place to be. Only no sooner had Vassal executed Granger’s order than he himself was wounded and carried below.

When they’d started the action, it had been light, then dusk, but now it was dark. The flashes from gunfire lit up the night, a surreal effect, somewhat similar to fireworks. “My lord, the Conquérant and Guerrier have surrendered,” Collier said.

Granger nodded, and then the guns of Spartiate fell silent as she too surrendered. “Cease firing, Mr. Galwey,” Granger called to the closest of Vanguard’s lieutenants. “Lead a party to take possession of Spartiate.”

“Aye aye, my lord,” he said. All around Granger there was carnage, with dead and dying men lying on the deck. He felt his stomach churning, so he looked away. The Aquilon surrendered next, being all but turned into a dismasted wreck by the Minotaur, so the Vanguard grew quiet, not firing, and not being fired at. The Vanguard had been badly knocked about, and was not in any position to seek out a new foe and renew the action. Before she could do that, she would have to heal her own wounds.

He gave orders that the crew of the Vanguard focus on taking the wounded men below, then went to check on Nelson. He found him propped up in the sick bay, with his wound stitched up. “Sir Horatio, I am pleased to see that you are destined for the House of Lords,” Granger said with a smile. “Four ships have already struck to us.”

“That is good news, Granger,” Nelson said. “Berry, go attend to your ship.”

“My place is here with you, sir,” Berry insisted.

“Captain, I have given instructions to begin to repair the damage, but your men need you to help them complete the task,” Granger said to Berry firmly.

“Aye aye, my lord,” he said grudgingly, and went back up on deck.

“I will send word as the battle unfolds, Sir Horatio,” Granger said, and went back up on deck to see what could be done to assist the other ships.

Copyright © 2014 Mark Arbour; All Rights Reserved.
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It's simply a fabulous chapter. Excellent pace, captivating action, compelling drama, thank you, no let me type it bigger so you know I really mean it...

Thank you!

:2thumbs:

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Having just read a history of the battle, Mark you captured it wonderfully. What first drew me to your stories was how you weave the characters into the history of the period. Again you have done this perfectly. I believe this was one of the greatnest victories of the British Navy, a total defeat of the French fleet. Thanks again for making this story come alive for your readers. A wonderful chapter!

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You will be pleased to know that while yes, I am drinking something, this time it is coffee ;-) Great action and I feel much better about Berry now that you have given us the sibling rivalry scenario. Hope we won’t have to wait too long for the next chapter; but no worries, I will just go back and re-read this first so that the action is continuous, which is how I prefer to read your stories anyway. Thanks for a great start to the day.

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Once again another outstanding chapter. I truly enjoy the way you describe a battle. You give enough human interaction to give us an impression we are with these people not just hearing about it from a storyteller.

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The skill in making one feel part of the action is one that few writers actually have; Mark, you have this in all it's glory. I could fee the anticipation, fear, and even death as it happened in this story.

 

Granger got to be part of the battle and played a pivotal role as well. Nelson got his peerage and was made a Viscount after this victory. I can't wait to see the rest of the battle. The destruction of the Orient was sad to be horrible.

 

It is amazing how well Granger is able to analyze and understand those around him. This is one of the reasons he is so successful in all the does...

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Mark Arbour does naval battle scenes so well that you can picture the organized chaos as well as the thrill and the horror all at the same time.

As usual I eagerly await the next installment!

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George has such a great strategic and tactical mind. And I never knew that Nelson was such a drama queen. Lol! I'll never be able to look at his statue in Trafalgar Square the same way again ;) Thanks, Mark! A nice commemoration of the battle on its anniversary!

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On 08/01/2013 04:14 PM, Miles Long said:
It's simply a fabulous chapter. Excellent pace, captivating action, compelling drama, thank you, no let me type it bigger so you know I really mean it...

Thank you!

:2thumbs:

Aww. A multi-colored message and an emoticon! How cool!

 

Glad you liked the chapter. This is my favorite historical battle (or at least one of them), and it was really fun to write.

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On 08/01/2013 07:12 PM, rjo said:
Having just read a history of the battle, Mark you captured it wonderfully. What first drew me to your stories was how you weave the characters into the history of the period. Again you have done this perfectly. I believe this was one of the greatnest victories of the British Navy, a total defeat of the French fleet. Thanks again for making this story come alive for your readers. A wonderful chapter!
Thank you so much. I personally think this victory was more significant than Trafalgar, but no one gives a shit about what I think. :-)
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On 08/01/2013 10:32 PM, nevius said:
Excellent as always...just don't stop now !!!! ;-)
Thanks. As far as the "don't stop," I think sometimes I wear my team out, but we're chugging along just fine.
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On 08/01/2013 10:48 PM, Pete Bruno said:
You will be pleased to know that while yes, I am drinking something, this time it is coffee ;-) Great action and I feel much better about Berry now that you have given us the sibling rivalry scenario. Hope we won’t have to wait too long for the next chapter; but no worries, I will just go back and re-read this first so that the action is continuous, which is how I prefer to read your stories anyway. Thanks for a great start to the day.
I'm so glad you're hydrating in one way or another. ;-)

 

I've made Berry out to be a bit of a nit in this story, but I think he probably was, so I'm OK with that. He's not a malicious sort, just a bit daft.

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On 08/02/2013 12:47 AM, JimCarter said:
Once again another outstanding chapter. I truly enjoy the way you describe a battle. You give enough human interaction to give us an impression we are with these people not just hearing about it from a storyteller.
Thank you so much! It's a challenge, because I don't want to be repetitive in my descriptions. It's hard to paint a picture of all the carnage and death/dismemberment at times, when the ships (pre-battle) look so stately.
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On 08/02/2013 01:06 AM, centexhairysub said:
The skill in making one feel part of the action is one that few writers actually have; Mark, you have this in all it's glory. I could fee the anticipation, fear, and even death as it happened in this story.

 

Granger got to be part of the battle and played a pivotal role as well. Nelson got his peerage and was made a Viscount after this victory. I can't wait to see the rest of the battle. The destruction of the Orient was sad to be horrible.

 

It is amazing how well Granger is able to analyze and understand those around him. This is one of the reasons he is so successful in all the does...

Thank you so much! If I can make that live, I've succeeded.

 

I actually get to correct you on something, which is a rarity. Nelson will actually only be made a baron for this victory, not a viscount, something that will irritate him, as he felt he deserved to be made a viscount. I agree with him, and think he really was short-changed by the government on that one.

I think of Granger as one of those people who is not only incredibly self-aware, but generally very tuned in to his environment.

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On 08/02/2013 02:21 AM, Daddydavek said:
Mark Arbour does naval battle scenes so well that you can picture the organized chaos as well as the thrill and the horror all at the same time.

As usual I eagerly await the next installment!

Wow, that's quite a compliment. Thank you!

 

I'm targeting the next chapter to publish on August 6. Hopefully I'll make that deadline.

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On 08/02/2013 04:15 AM, Rosicky said:
George has such a great strategic and tactical mind. And I never knew that Nelson was such a drama queen. Lol! I'll never be able to look at his statue in Trafalgar Square the same way again ;) Thanks, Mark! A nice commemoration of the battle on its anniversary!
My perception of Nelson is of a man who was a truly brilliant naval strategist, an amazing leader, one who oozed charisma, and was probably always on edge, anxious to get at it. On the flipside, he was surprisingly insecure, and very sensitive to slights (or perceived slights).
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Mark, your ability to describe the excitement and feel of this action is amazing. Your words have placed us all inside the battle. If I close my eyes it is like an IMAX 3D experience with my mind suppling the imagined sounds, lacking only the the actual taste and smell of the burning gun powder. Glorious, thank you.

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