Time and History 1:25 P.M. Admiral Horatio Nelson is Shot

About major and minor historical events around the clock such as the death of British Admiral Horatio Nelson at the Battle of Traflagar at 1:25 in the afternoon.


1:25 in the Afternoon

Oct. 21, 1805. At the Battle of Trafalgar, British Admiral Horatio Nelson was struck by a musket ball. Fired from above, the shot ripped through his epaulet into his left shoulder, passed down through the lungs, split his spine, and finally lodged in the muscles of his back. Nelson fell to his knees with one hand pressing on the deck. Then that arm gave way, and he fell on his side on the very spot where his secretary, John Scott, had been killed earlier. Scott's blood stained Nelson's coat. A fellow officer, Capt. Thomas Hardy, dashed forward and bent over him. Nelson smiled and said, "Hardy, I believe they have done for me at last." "I hope not," said Hardy, but Nelson sensed the end and said, "Yes, my backbone is shot through."

That day, against all advice, Nelson had worn all his military decorations, arranged in the form of a diamond on his breast. (It is not true that he wore a full dress uniform; in fact, the stars and orders were actually embroidered on the coat he wore that day.) The decorations were so brilliant that he was an easy target for enemy snipers. The debilitating shot was fired by a sharpshooter located in the mizzentop of the French flagship Redoutable. As the wounded Nelson was carried below, he covered his face and decorations so that his men would not know that their admiral had been shot. When the fatal musket ball was recovered from Nelson's body, a bit of gold lace and part of his epaulet, together with a small piece of Nelson's coat, were found embedded in it. The admiral lingered for three hours, then died. Captain Hardy had the bullet set in a locket and gave it to the surgeon of the Victory, Sir William Beatty, the man who had removed it from Nelson's body.

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