After one of the finest victories in naval history, when he was on his way home with five captured battleships and the enemy’s admiral as a prisoner, Admiral Rodney wrote: “I will say that three of my captains were brave and gallant men who did their utmost to destroy the enemy. Nothing on earth will persuade me to go further.” Sixteen years later Nelson was beginning an announcement of the Battle of the Nile with the words: “I had the happiness to command a band of brothers.” Between these two statements a moral revolution had taken place in the British Navy, a revolution brought about by Nelson, but lost sight of in the halo of brilliance surrounding his strategic and tactical achievements. Briefly, it consisted in this, that he sank the commander in the leader and the friend. The ship captains of 1798 were not vastly better than those of 1782; indeed, many of them were the same men.
Nelson and the Court-Martial Tradition
By Fletcher Pratt