After years of doggedly seeking a climactic naval battle with France, Admiral Horatio Nelson seized the moment on 21 October 1805 off Cape Trafalgar, Spain. The long British campaign and ensuing dramatic fight offer enduring lessons of importance.
"The crowning chapter in the history of naval warfare" was how Julian Corbett, Great Britain's early apostle of sea power, described the Battle of Trafalgar. 1 The climactic battle was also the final achievement in the astonishing career of its victor, Vice Admiral Lord Horatio Nelson. But Trafalgar's importance transcends Nelson's heroic death and the battle's lofty place in the pantheon of great naval fights. It is one of the best examples of relevant history, and Trafalgar's bicentennial provides a special opportunity to illuminate its enduring lessons and to draw on the legacy of leadership left by Nelson, a naval officer who changed the course of history from the decks of his ships.