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My Life > Cadiz and Tenerife - June/July 1797

Cadiz and Tenerife - June/July 1797

In April I hoisted my flag as Rear Admiral of the Blue. I shifted my flag from the Captain to the Theseus on May the 27th and was employed in the command of the inner Squadron in the blockade of Cadiz.

Boat action off Cadiz
The boat action off Cadiz, 4 July 1797

The occasion when my personal courage was, perhaps, most conspicuously shown. I and my brave fellows captured a much larger spanish boat in fierce hand-to-hand fighting.

It was during this period that perhaps my personal courage was more conspicuous than at any other period of my life. In an attack of the Spanish gunboats I was boarded in my barge with its common crew of ten men, Cockswain, Captain Fremantle and myself, by the Commander of the Gunboats. The Spanish barge rowed twenty-six oars, besides Officers, thirty in the whole; this was a service hand to hand with swords, in which my Coxswain, John Sykes, (now no more) twice saved my life. Eighteen of the Spaniards being killed and several wounded, we succeeded in taking their Commander. I refer to my official letter on the occasion.

On the 15th of July, I sailed for Tenerife: for an account of the event I refer to my Letter of that Expedition. Having lost my right arm, for this loss and for my former services his Majesty was pleased to settle £800 a-year; and by some unlucky mismanagement of the arm I was obliged to go to England; and it was the 13th of December before the surgeons pronounced me fit for service.

Nelson wounded at Tenerife
The attack on Santa Cruz, Tenerife, 24/25 July 1797

I am hit in the elbow by a Spanish musketball. My stepson, Josiah Nisbet, seen here supporting me, saved my life by his promptness in applying a tourniquet.

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