Naval War College Review


Alfred Thayer Mahan termed Lord Nelson "the embodiment of the sea power of Great Britain. " 1 Mahan’s choice for the subtitle of his biography of the victor of Trafalgar reflects a generally held view: that within Nelson could be found all that was right in the Royal Navy-its soul, its philosophy, and all the traits that one embodies. Historians tend to place Nelson among a pantheon of (lesser) heroes: Lords Rodney, Howe, and Sr. Vincent to name a few .2 Nelson is portrayed as a lineal descendant of the men who wore away at the "dead hand" of the Fighting Instructions; who pioneered the development and use of advanced signal codes; and who somehow prepared the stage for the great victories of the Nile, Copenhagen, and Trafalgar