At midnight on 16 August 1801, boats from Nelson’s squadron launched a daring attack on Napoleon’s invasion flotilla at Boulogne. The plan depended upon surprise, however, and when the British were spotted, the Royal Navy’s officers and men were mown down by the French shore batteries. The boats returned to Nelson badly mauled and stained with blood.
Nelson spent the next evening in the hospital at Deal, ‘seeing that all was done for the comfort of the poor fellows’ who had been wounded. He then sent letters to the Admiralty demanding recognition and promotion for the surviving officers and men. Tending to the injured and battling for