A Most Rare Historical Artefact, Signed by Dundas, a Sheet of Two Day Log of Signals from HMS Naiad to HMS Theseus, One of Nelson's Famous Trafalgar Captains, Captain Dundas
Signed two sided single page of Captain Dundas' log, aboard HMS Naiad, off Rochfort, on 23rd and 24th February 1809, at the The Battle of Les Sables-d'Olonne. On official Admiralty watermarked paper, bearing the1805 dated watermark. This fabulous piece of original Royal Naval history would look stunning framed for display. Thomas Dundas joined the Royal Navy on 23 May 1778, when he was entered as captain’s servant on HMS Suffolk. A year later, he joined HMS Alfred and was soon made midshipman. Over the next few years, he served in HMS Fame, Formidable and Edgar before passing for lieutenant in November 1788. However, he did not obtain his lieutenant’s commission until war with France broke out in 1793. Two years later, he was promoted commander and then captain in 1798. In 1799, when commanding the West Indiaman La Prompte, he captured the Spanish ship Urca Cargadora. He was appointed captain of HMS Naiad in 1804 and remained in command of her. In 1825, he was promoted rear admiral and then vice admiral in 1837. He was created KCB in 1831 and died on 29 March 1841.For his services at Trafalgar, Dundas was awarded a Lloyds Patriotic Fund £100 presentation sword which is now in the collection of the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich.
In August 1805, during the campaign before Trafalgar, the Naiad spotted the Combined Fleet, was chased by them but escaped to bring the news to Admiral Cornwallis. Shortly before Trafalgar, Nelson put Dundas and the Naiad under Blackwood’s (HMS Euryalus) command as part of the frigate squadron that became the ‘eyes of the fleet’. The Naiad was one of the frigates watching Cadiz for any sign of the Combined Fleet making a move. On 19 October, the Combined Fleet set sail and the Naiad repeated the signals from the Euryalus to that effect. By early October 1805, Naiad was attached to a small squadron of frigates charged by Admiral Lord Nelson with disrupting supplies to the combined enemy fleet at Cadiz. However, they were unable to prevent the enemy departing Cadiz on 20 October for a final and devastating confrontation with the British fleet under Nelson’s command.
On the morning of the 21st, as the fleets drew towards each other, Nelson summoned his four frigate captains, Dundas included, to his flagship Victory for a final briefing of their roles during the imminent action. He was present as Nelson asked another of the frigate captains, Henry Blackwood of Euryalus, to witness a codicil to his will in which he (in vain) entrusted his mistress Emma, Lady Hamilton to the care of the nation in the event of his death. Dundas was also on board to see Nelson give the order, at about 11.45, for the famous signal “England Expects That Every Man Will Do His Duty”. Shortly before the firing commenced, Dundas left Victory and returned to Naiad carrying final orders and messages to distribute to the captains of the warships. He was, therefore, among the last men to talk with Nelson before the admiral was fatally wounded around 1pm.
During the early part of the action, Naiad, as instructed, lay off to windward with the other frigates to observe the battle and relay messages as required. As the fighting grew fierce, Dundas sent his boats into the water to recover the wounded. However, his most significant and difficult challenge of the day was taking HMS Belleisle in tow. Belleisle had been the second ship into action behind Royal Sovereign in the lee column of Nelson’s attack and as such had faced a terrible early onslaught from the enemy. Belleisle was the only British warship to be completely dismasted during the battle and had also suffered appalling casualties. Having established a line, Dundas hauled away but as the weather worsened in the aftermath of the battle the ships became separated from the British fleet, in danger of capture and of being driven ashore by the gale. Several times the line broke and had to be re-established with great difficulty. On the evening of the 22 October, after colliding with Belleisle endangering both ships, Dundas cut the line leaving both ships, Belleisle on a jury rig, to try and survive the storm on their own. Somehow they succeeded, despite Naiad losing almost all her sheets during the night, and the next morning they re-established contact, and a line, with Dundas then heading straight for Gibraltar (where Victory was also towed after the battle) reaching the safety of the harbour during the afternoon of the 23 October.In 1808 Naiad participated in the blockade of Brest. On 23 May Iris was in company with Naiad when they captured the American packet ship Margaret Tingey.
Between June and August Naiad was in Plymouth making good defects. Then Naiad was in company when Narcissus captured the French schooner Louise on 9 November. On 16 December Naiad was still in company with Narcissus, when they captured two French privateers, Fanny and Superb while on the Home station. Fanny carried 16 guns and a crew of 80 men. She was under the command of Charles Hamon, who as captain of the privateer Venus, had captured numerous British vessels. Fanny was only a few hours out of Nantes on her way to the Irish coast and had made no captures. Then at midnight Naiad and Narcissus captured the French letter of marque sloop Superb. Superb was armed with four guns, had a crew of 20 men, and was sailing to Martinique with a cargo of sundries.
On 7 February 1809 Naiad was in the squadron under the command of Commodore William Hotham and so shared in the proceeds of the capture of the French vessel Prudent. Then on 23 February Naiad was at anchor to the north-west of the Chassiron lighthouse with Defiance, Donegal and Emerald, the squadron now being under the command of Rear Admiral Robert Stopford in Caesar. The next day they saw eight sail-of-the-line and two frigates flying French colours and standing into the Pertuis d'Antioche.
Stopford immediately sent Naiad to warn Admiral Lord Gambier that the French squadron from Brest had arrived but, before she had gone a few miles, Naiad sighted three French frigates heading for Les Sables-d'Olonne and signalled Stopford. Stopford left Amethyst and Emerald to watch the enemy and went in chase of the frigates with the rest of his squadron, now strengthened by the arrival of Amelia and Dotterel. The French anchored under the protection of batteries but the fire from the British ships soon drove them ashore. By 2 March her crew had abandoned one of the French frigates. The other two were afloat at high water but on their beam ends at low water; a westerly swell was expected to destroy them. Stopford returned to blockade the main French force at the Ile d'Aix until 7 March when Gambier arrived to take command.