As the sun rose on 21 October 1805, the most famous naval battle of the Age of Sail was about to begin off the southwest coast of Spain. On board HMS Victory, Vice Admiral Horatio Lord Nelson was busy signaling his fleet as it bore down on its Franco-Spanish opponents. The morning wind was light, making the British approach slow, if relentless. This gave the admiral plenty of time to complete his dispositions. Shortly before noon, when all was in place, sailors on board the Victory hauled aloft 31 colored flags, making Nelson’s signal: “England expects that every man will do his duty.” It was then replaced with “Engage the enemy more closely,” which remained flying throughout the Battle of Trafalgar, even after its author had died.
Command and Control in the Age of Sail
By Philip K. Allan, author, Upon the Malabar Coast