The VICTORY was a five-deck, three-masted ship of the line. She was
a first-class vessel with three gun decks, 104 cannons and a crew of
850. The ship was designed by Sir Thomas Slade and built between
1759 and May 1765 at Chatham Shipyard. The launching took place on
7th May 1765, after which she layed at anchor in the Medway for
thirteen years without being put to any particular use.
In 1795 the VICTORY sailed under the command of Admiral Hotham to
the Mediterranean where she served successfully in combat at Cape
Vincent. In February 1797, under Admiral John Jervis, she
participated in the victorious Battle af Cape Vincent, only to be
taken out of service temporarily upon her return to Chatham in
November of the same year. In 1801, she went into dock far two
years, during which time the vessel was given her present-day
appeareance. In 1805 the VICTORY was Captain Nelson's flagship at
the Battle of Trafalgar, and under his command she engaged in combat
with Admiral Villeneuve's ships, the BUCENTAURE and the REDOUTABLE.
This battle decided the fate of Napoleanic Europe.
"At one o'clock in the afternoon the BUCENTAURE sailed into the lee
of the VICTORY and presented her stern. As she sailed slowly past,
the VICTORY fired the 68 cannons on her fore deck knocking down
everybody on deck and in the cabins of the BUCENTAURE and so
rendered 300 crewmen unfit for battle. As there was no wind, the
BUCENTAURE could not escape and received salvo after salvo from the
VICTORY's 50 port broadside". (Barrot de Gaissard "Marine de Guerre
à voiles 1750 - 1850").
Although the French defeat was decisive, a seaman firing from the
main top of the REDOUTABLE fatally wounded Nelson who had been in
command during the battle with Captain Hardy as his righthand man.