SOLD A Simply Superb, Royal Naval Battle of Trafalgar Historical Junior Officer's Combat-Cum-Dress Sword
A light grade combat cum dress sword, with around 75% original mercurial gilt remaining, fullered blade engraved with wreaths, a stand of arms and a crowned GR cypher, with typical decorative scrolling and acanthus leaves. Finest copper gilt stirrup hilt, with junior rank dove's head pommel, with a pair of cast fouled anchor langets, wire bound chequered ebony grip [as often previously seen in the [circa 1786] five ball hilt naval officer's swords] Superb sword reputably of a Midshipman serving Nelson aboard HMS Victory at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805. When this sword arrived with us it was exactly as can be seen now, not one minute of time was required to clean it. Its hilt has been stunningly well preserved these past 190 years since it was inherited. There were numerous midshipmen serving on Nelson's flagship, including Festing Horatio Grindall, who served in the navy before, during and subsequent to the battle, until he died one year after his brother in 1812. His father was Captain of HMS Prince at Trafalgar, later promoted after the battle to Rear Admiral of the Blue. Thanks to his long and favourable service record, Grindall was made a Rear Admiral of the White on 28 April 1808, of the Red on 25 October 1809 and Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath on 2 January 1815, in the general promotion which followed the action on 9 November. However, this meant the effective end of his
career, as so many admirals were created that not enough posts could be found for them. Grindall was one of the promoted men who never commanded at sea again, taking a shore appointment in late 1805 and retiring with his family soon afterwards as a Vice Admiral of the Blue on 31 July 1810, of the White on 12 August 1812, and of the Red on 4 June 1814. His retirement was a difficult one however, as two of his sons who had joined the navy in their father's footsteps, Edmund and Festing, died in 1811 and 1812 from unconnected illness. When Richard Grindall died in Wickham in 1820 he was interred next to them at St Nicholas Church, Wickham, Hampshire, joined by his wife Katherine in 1831. Katherine before her death had passed on both her son's junior officer's swords to her last remaining senior family member. The midshipman assisted the crew to carry Nelson below after his fatal wound, also present was great friend Capt. Hardy and his surgeon William Beatty. We were incredibly fortunate to acquire this sword due to the sword owner's family seeing our very similar, but senior officer's version, 1805 light pattern, combat-cum-dress sword on this site a few weeks ago [now sold]. The Battle of Trafalgar (21 October 1805) was a naval engagement fought by the Royal Navy against the combined fleets of the French and Spanish Navies, during the War of the Third Coalition (August?December 1805) of the Napoleonic Wars (1803?1815).
Twenty-seven British ships of the line led by Admiral Lord Nelson aboard HMS Victory defeated thirty-three French and Spanish ships of the line under the French Admiral Villeneuve in the Atlantic off the southwest coast of Spain, just west of Cape Trafalgar, in Ca?os de Meca. The Franco-Spanish fleet lost twenty-two ships, without a single British vessel being lost. It was the most decisive naval battle of the war, conclusively ending French plans to invade England.
The British victory spectacularly confirmed the naval supremacy that Britain had established during the eighteenth century and was achieved in part through Nelson's departure from the prevailing naval tactical orthodoxy. This involved engaging an enemy fleet in a single line of battle parallel to the enemy to facilitate signalling in battle and disengagement, and to maximise fields of fire and target areas. Nelson instead divided his smaller force into two columns directed perpendicularly against the enemy fleet, with decisive results.
Nelson was shot by a French musketeer during the battle and died shortly after, becoming one of Britain's greatest war heroes. Villeneuve was captured along with his ship Bucentaure. Admiral Federico Gravina, the senior Spanish flag officer, escaped with the remnant of the fleet and succumbed months later to wounds sustained during the battle. Villeneuve attended Nelson's funeral while a captive on parole in Britain. No scabbard surviving