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Evidently it's quite seminal for Aubrey's naval experience. I do relish when O'Brian adds these snippets for Aubrey and/or Maturin.
for instance, while re-reading 'Master & Commander' just a few minutes ago i came upon the passage where Stephen is probing around in the wounds Jack received during the Sophie's engagement with the Cacafuego and finds a piece of metal which had been there since the Battle of the Nile. so at least we know that Jack was wounded there (and that he dined with Nelson as well!).
I seem to remember that POB wrote a non fiction account of Nelson's navy which may have fleshed this out (I haven't read any of his non fiction so can't comment further).
I recalled Don Seltzer's Aubrey-Maturin chronology (I downloaded a PDF of the web archive), here's the entry for Master and Commander, with historical events marked *:
* August 1, 1798: Battle of the Nile. French GENEREUX escapes. A few weeks later, the British LEANDER(50) is captured by the GENEREUX(74).
* February 18, 1800: Admiral Lord Keith is Commander in Chief in the Mediterranean, Rear Admiral Nelson under him. Nelson, in the FOUDROYANT, captures the GENEREUX. Lt. Lord Cochrane is the prizemaster who takes her into Port Mahon. He is then given command of the 14 gun brig SPEEDY.
Jack was previously a Lt. in the LEANDER during the Battle of the Nile. His ship is later taken by the GENEREUX, which was then taken by the British. From the comments of the dockyard official, we can infer that Jack commanded the prize crew that brought the GENEREUX to Port Mahon. No clue as to how long Jack was a prisoner, or of his role in the capture of the GENEREUX, but he must have distinguished himself so that Lord Keith would promote him to Commander in a letter dated April 1, from the FOUDROYANT at sea. Jack receives this letter on April 18 (actually after midnight on April 19) at the beginning of the book.
Seltzer's chronology is great particularly because it aligns the Aubrey-Maturin timeline with historical events; can't vouch for the accuracy of either, though.
"They rob the prisoners then?" asked Stephen.
"Yes: sometimes. I was stripped to the bone when the Leander was taken, and they stole our surgeon's instruments before he could operate on our wounded."
"I will bring my instruments at once."
"And your purse."
"Oh, yes, and my purse."
This is great stuff, precisely the forensic work I was after.
here is some more from M&C...
~ ~ ~
"In an attempt at diverting his mind he (Jack) privately sang a ballad about the Battle of the Nile:
'We anchored alongside of them like lions bold and free.
When their masts and shrouds came tumbling down,
what a glorious sight to see!
Then came the bold Leander, that noble fifty-four,
And on the bows of the Franklin she caused her guns to roar;
Gave her a dreadful drubbing, boys, and did severely maul;
Which caused them loud for quarter cry and down French colors haul.'
The tune was charming, but the inaccuracey vexed him: the poor old Leander had fifty-two guns, as he knew very well, having directed eight of them."
~ ~ ~
so it appears that Jack may have been a gun captain aboard Leander.
and then, a few pages later, after the explosion of the two Spanish first-rates, Jack reminisces about the explosion of L'Orient at The Nile, although i don't suppose he needed to be too close to experience that tragedy.
that brings me to the end of this cruise, but Post Captain is already up and down in the roads, so i will continue to post here as i come across more material.
Correction: I'd not remembered a reference, but looking back at my notes, I see there was a passage. Not new detail, but Jack talking to Sophie and Stephen and putting the action in perspective of his later career:
'You have all the distinction a man could wish, Jack,' said Sophie. 'Such dreadful wounds: and quite enough money.'
'If Nelson had been of your mind, sweetheart, he would have cried quits after St Vincent. We should have had no Nile, and where would Jack Aubrey have been then? A mere lieutenant to the end of his days. No, no: a man can't have enough distinction in his line of service. And I don't know he can ever have enough money either, if it comes to that ....' (page 17 in the Folio Society edition)
At one point, Aubrey makes a reference to the Battle of the Nile: assaying the French tactics, he remarks they are being careful not to repeat the mistake made at the Nile, leaving themselves open to attack when a British man-of-war sails between two French and looses both broadsides.
Don't have the book in front of me, but wanted to add a note here before I forget. I didn't even think of this thread while reading the other evening, or I'd have marked the page.
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