Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Horatio Nelson on Corsica

Calvi today

In the fall of 1793 Horatio Nelson (see earlier post, Horatio Nelson Champion of Liberty, 1/15/12) was given command of a small squadron of ships and ordered to effect a blockade of the French occupied island of Corsica.  The British were at war with revolutionary France and were supportive of Corsican independence and resistance to France.  In 1794 Horatio Nelson served on shore commanding gunners that were besieging the Genoese-built citadel at Calvi.  It was on July 12 1794 while directing a land battle on the island that Nelson was wounded by a cannonball that displaced sand and grit into his right eye.  He was never able to see properly out of his right eye for the rest of his life.

Calvi surrendered to the British on 10 August, 1794.

Commander Kelly at bay of Calvi
Years later, at the battle of Copenhagen in 1801 when things were getting hot his more timid superior officer signalled for Nelson's fleet to retreat.  Nelson said to his flag captain, 'You know, Foley, I have only one eye. I have a right to be blind sometimes.' He raised the telescope to his blind eye, and said 'I really do not see the signal."  Nelson proceeded to destroy the Danish fleet at Copenhagen.

View from the Genovese Citadel of Calvi
The British briefly occupied much of Corsica, including Ajaccio and even the house where Napoleon was born.

Today Calvi is a beautiful seaside town that is home to the paratroopers of the French Foreign legion.

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