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Updated 05/12/2020

 


Lord Collingwood's Victory

Vice Admiral Cuthbert Collingwood, 1st Baron Collingwood (26 September 1748 7 March 1810) was an admiral of the Royal Navy, notable as a partner with Lord Nelson in several of the British victories of the Napoleonic Wars, and frequently as Nelson's successor in commands.

Collingwood was born in Newcastle upon Tyne. His early education was at the Royal Grammar School, Newcastle. At the age of twelve, he went to sea as a volunteer on board the frigate HMS Shannon under the command of his cousin Captain Richard Brathwaite (or Braithwaite), who took charge of his nautical education. He spent a total of only three years on dry land after joining the navy as a teenager. After several years of service under Captain Brathwaite and a short period attached to HMS Lenox, a guardship at Portsmouth commanded by Captain Robert Roddam, Collingwood sailed to Boston in 1774 with Admiral Samuel Graves on board HMS Preston, where he fought in the British naval brigade at the battle of Bunker Hill (June 1775), and was afterwards commissioned as a Lieutenant (17 June 1775).

In 1777, Collingwood first met Horatio Nelson when both served on the frigate HMS Lowestoffe. Two years later, Collingwood succeeded Nelson as Commander (20 June 1779) of the brig HMS Badger, and the next year he again succeeded Nelson as Post-Captain (22 March 1780) of HMS Hinchinbrook, a small frigate. Nelson had been the leader of a failed expedition to cross Central America from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean by navigating boats along the San Juan River, Lake Nicaragua and Lake Leon. Nelson was debilitated by disease and had to recover before being promoted to a larger vessel, and Collingwood succeeded him in command of the Hinchinbrook and brought the remainder of the expedition back to Jamaica.

At Trafalgar, on the death of Nelson, Collingwood assumed the command-in-chief, transferring his flag to the frigate Euryalus. Knowing that a severe storm was in the offing, Nelson had intended that the fleet should anchor after the battle, but Collingwood chose not to issue such an order: many of the British ships and prizes were so damaged that they were unable to anchor, and Collingwood concentrated efforts on taking damaged vessels in tow. In the ensuing gale, many of the prizes were wrecked on the rocky shore and others were destroyed to prevent their recapture, though no British ship was lost.

On 9 November 1805 Collingwood was promoted Vice-Admiral of the Red and raised to the peerage as Baron Collingwood, of Caldburne and Hethpool in the County of Northumberland. He also received the thanks of both Houses of Parliament and was awarded a pension of 2000 per annum. Together with all the other captains and admirals, he also received a Naval Gold Medal, his third, after those for the Glorious First of June and the Cape St Vincent. Only Nelson and Sir Edward Berry share the distinction of three gold medals for service during the wars against France.