Born a small sickly baby, the son of a Rector in Norfolk, England, Nelson would go on to become the greatest British military hero of all time.
When we think of Admiral Lord Nelson, a vision of a tall man standing atop a 169ft column at Trafalgar Square in London probably enters our mind. But it may come as a surprise to discover that he was about the same height, or perhaps even shorter, than his archenemy Napoleon. According to a measurement taken in the old Admiralty Board Room, he was 5ft 4ins, but a supposedly life-sized effigy in Westminster Abbey is 5ft 5ins, and calculations from his uniforms make him as much as 5ft 6ins.
What he lacked in stature, he most certainly made up for in courage, leadership, and an excellent grasp of strategy.
After losing the sight in one eye at the Siege of Calvi in 1794, and an arm at the Battle of Santa Cruz de Tenerife in 1797, most of us might have forgiven him if he’d taken more of a backseat role at that point.
But not Nelson.
He went on to win his greatest victory at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805 by leading from the front … and paying the ultimate sacrifice.
With 33 ships, he decimated a joint force of 41 ships from the French and Spanish navies. The difference in casualties is staggering: Nelson lost a total of 1,666 killed or wounded, whereas the French and Spanish lost 13,781 killed, wounded or taken prisoner.
Moreover, the victory foiled Napoleon’s plan to invade Britain.
Nelson was lauded a conquering hero and commemorated with one of the most famous monuments in the world.