"H.M.S. REVENGE", 1808
by R. S. Thomas R.N. (1787-1853)
is much history available about the Revenge, her adventures
and her crews, that little here will do justice to this beautiful
picture. So to help make this more enlightening, I will relate
just a few episodes which happened during the height of the
Battle of Trafalgar.
lay in the thick of battle, her men fighting like demons",
Captain Moorsom's log sparsely reports. "...at 4.40 men
firing with all expectation and spirit having upon us four
French ships and a Spanish three decker." An anonymous
seaman's account however was more voluble..... " A Spanish
three decker ran her bowsprit over our poop with a number
of her crew on it and in her fore rigging. Two or three hundred
men were ready to follow, but they caught a Tartar; for.....
our marines with their small arms, and the carronades on the
poop leaded with cannister shot, swept them off so fast that
they were glad to sheer off. While this was going on,....
we were engaged with a two decker French ship on our starboard
side, and on our larboard (port) bow another, so that many
of their shots must have struck their own ships and done severe
one enemy vessel after another came within range Revenge fought
them all. But in the midst of agonising death and the howling
hell of the gundecks there were moments of humanity".....
Christopher Scott Wilson.
the English 74 gunner, drew Achille away from Revenge and
toppled her masts before an explosion set her ablaze. Working
below in the magazine was a French woman called Jeanette who
stowed away to be near her husband, a main topman."
Moorsom tells her story in a letter to his father dated Dec.
4th 1805; "When the Achille was burning, she (Jeanette)
got out of the gunroom port and sat on the rudder chains till
some melted lead ran down upon her and forced her to strip
and leap off".
swam to a spar where several men were, but one of them bit
and kicked her till she was obliged to quit and get to another
which supported her til she was taken by The Pickle (an English
schooner) and sent on board the Revenge. Amongst the men she
was lucky enough to find her husband. We were not wanting
in civility to the lady. I ordered her two Purser's shirts
to make a petticoat; and other of the officers found something
to clothe her; in a few hours, Jeanette was perfectly happy.....".
in heavy weather the crippled English fleet limped into the
Mediterranean. Revenge anchored at Gibraltar on 28th October
1805, arriving back in England on Dec 5th in the company of
the battered H.M.S Victory (Carrying Nelson's body)".
Moorsom carried Nelson's Great Banner at his funeral. The
success of the battle of Trafalgar had essentially achieved
England's objective at sea.
2nd January 1815, having previously been promoted to Vice
Admiral of the Blue, Robert Moorsom was made Knight Commander
of The Bath. Sir Robert was later in 1824 posted to Chatham
and Medway as Commander in Chief.
the Revenge is seen leaving Portsmouth in 1808 with a salute
from cannon. Officers and marines for this stand on parade
for this official departure.
Strickland Thomas RN was a marine painter who specialised
in ships, naval actions and historical events. He exhibited
at the RA (1839-42), including "Trafalgar after the close
of the action", and "The Battle of Navarino".
Some of his work appears at the Greenwich Maritime Museum.