Whilst cleaning out a desk drawer a few days ago, I discover'd the old letter of introduction writ for me by the hand of my captain aboard the Zealous. Along with it was the medal for my service at the Battle of the Nile, for which my friends are always desirous to have an antic-dote.
To answer the initial question I am oft asked, No, I was not fortunate enough to meet Lord Nelson. Everyone seems to have the impression that if you served at the Nile, you were shoulder to shoulder with the man himself for the entirety of the action. Far from it, I am afraid I never laid eyes upon him, except perhaps from afar.
As a surgeon, during the heat of the action I was always below deck tending the wounded. I can tell you, it was all shouting, everyone was shouting, and smoke and fire and blood, so much blood. I recall the great crack and cheer that signaled the falling of the Guerrier's foremast could be heard belowdeck. I remember Cuddy staggered down into the cockpit when the noise above decks had ceased. He was covered from waist to foot in blood... "You are undone!" says I.
Cuddy was not his jovial self that day, instead soberly says, "Tis not my blood I wear Doctor."
The Zealous was fortunate in that she and her crew did not receive the number of casualties of the other ships of the British force.
Theseus.—5 Seamen killed; 1 Officer, 24 Seamen, 5 Marines wounded. —Total 35.
Alexander.—1 Officer, 13 Seamen killed; 5 Officers, 48 Seamen, 5 Marines , wounded.—Total 72.
Vanguard.—3 Officers, 20 Seamen, 7 Marines, killed; 7 Officers, 60 Seamen, 8 Marines, wounded.—Total 105.
Minotaur.—2 Officers, 18 Seamen, 3 Marines, killed, 4 Officers, 54 Seamen, 6 Marines, wounded.—Total 87.
Swiftsure.—7 Seamen killed; 1 Officer, 1 9 Seamen, 2 Marines, wounded.—Total 29.
Audacious.—1 Seaman killed; 2 Officers, 31 Seamen, 2 Marines, wounded.—Total 36.
Defence.—3 Seamen, 1 Marine, killed; 9 Seamen, 2 Marines, wounded.—Total 15.
Zealous.—1 Seaman killed; 7 Seamen wounded.—Total 8.
Orion.—1 Officer, 11 Seamen, 1 Marine killed; 5 Officers, 18 Seamen, 6 Marines, wounded.—Total 42.
Goliath.—2 Officers, 12 Seamen, 7 Marines, killed; 4 Officers, 28 Seamen, 9 Marines, wounded.—Total 62.
Majestic.—3 Officers, 33 Seamen, 14 Marines, killed; 3 Officers, 124 Seamen, 16 Marines, wounded.—Total 193.
Bellerophon.—4 Officers, 32 Seamen, 13 Marines, killed; 5 Officers, 126 Seamen, 17 Marines, wounded.—Total 197.
Leander.—14 Seamen wounded.
___________Total.—16 Officers, 156 Seamen, 46 Marines, killed; 37 Officers, 562 Seamen, 78 Marines wounded.—Total, 895.
It is a gruesome tale and not one I wish to recall.