Was Nelson Overrated?

Feb 2019
345
California
If they had been another British admiral would there have been such a likely French Naval invasion. I think not. What changes if nelson is replaced by another Admiral who would have most likely have been reasonably good?

I can see an argument the nelson was more hell bent of decisive Naval egagement and another Admiral was unlikely to get such a decisive result at trafalgar. BUt I don;t see have that can be reasonably said to lead to a French invasiuon.

But most British admirals were aggressive, most were every diligent, most pretty darn competent and the French unlikely to get organized enough against the Blockade of their Naval forces to achieve any effective coordinated Naval invasion. Teh French did not have a great navy nor very good naval officers, and a likely invasion agianst a Pretty good British interference was hardly likely to be a very good invasion. The French had poor ports and wer unlikely to get much opportunities to mount a decent invasions, with their poor command and generally good British one I donl;t see have an invasion is likely just because Trafalgar does not happen o as decisively.

Without Nelson there still would have been a blockade and generally well run. The French unlikely to make the most of small chances necessary to mount an effective invasion.

I don't believe that a French invasion would have any chance of success unless and until the U.K.'s ships of the line had been virtually wiped out---which simply wasn't going to happen (they had like 180-something of them) regardless of which British admirals were in charge of which fleets.

Again gents, don't get me wrong---the "Nelson Touch" cannot be denied and personally I believe he is the GOAT. However, there is no denying that facing bad crews lead by bad admirals is going to make victory a whole lot easier to achieve.

Can anyone nominate another candidate for GOAT? That Korean turtle-ship guy, perhaps (as someone on the above-mentioned navy forum suggested)?
 
Feb 2019
345
California
Yes, he is. He was still the best but he is overrated. I addressed why he is overrated in some other threads so here is a repost:

We all know his victories at the Nile, Copenhagen and Trafalgar however he had his fair share of blunders. His failed adventure to Santa Cruz de Tenerife, his flawed blockade of Toulon, his mistakes in the Atlantic chase of 1805 among others. In this chase the French fleet which he was blockading in Toulon broke out and went towards the West Indies, Nelson misunderstood the situation and sailed towards Sicily as he thought the French were heading there. By the time he realised what was going on the French were already halfway through the Atlantic and while he did pursue them he didn't manage to catch their fleet. The French fleet which also picked up Spanish ships along the way to the West Indies was only stopped at Cape Finisterre by a British squadron. Despite Nelson's failure on his return to Britain he was greeted as a hero as if he had won. At Trafalgar he won a brilliant victory without a doubt however many like to pretend his victory decisively crippled France, this is a pure myth as Napoleon still conducted naval campaigns regularly and eventually rebuilt his fleet, particularly after 1807 naval warfare intensified and Napoleon had invested great deals of money towards naval reconstruction and naval campaigns. His death was mourned as a national tragedy in London and 10s of thousands of people came to see his tomb while it was being transferred up the Tames to the St. Paul's Cathedral and his victory was extensively used for propaganda afterwards and is still overblown today. His tactics of breaking the line and splitting the enemy fleet, while brilliantly implemented weren't anything new and are falsely credited to him as their inventor. It was thought about in Britain as a tactic by the Admiralty at the beginning of the French Revolutionary Wars and was implemented over 100 years earlier by Niels Juel, a Dano-Norwegian admiral in the Scanian War. In conclusion I think Nelson was still a brilliant figure, as a tactician there was probably none better at the time and he is equaled by few in history by overall ability, he was also a great strategist and knew how to lead and inspire his men. However I feel he was transformed into some supernatural mythical hero over the 200 years and his achievements are many times overrated. This also leads to an idea that there weren't other sailors and admirals that were great at the time and many brilliant commanders such as Lord Keith, Earl St. Vincent, Collingwood, Duckworth, Peter Rainer and most of all Home Popham are either completely forgotten or extremely downplayed.

Well-said.
 
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Feb 2019
345
California
Someone cannot be regarded as a good commander because defeated worse opponents; uh oh, isn't there something wrong with that argument?
No one is saying one cannot be considered a great commander because he faced lesser opponents---that's a straw man.
 
Feb 2019
863
Serbia
Can anyone nominate another candidate for GOAT? That Korean turtle-ship guy, perhaps (as someone on the above-mentioned navy forum suggested)?
I believe that Nelson's reputation as the GOAT is well deserved. However some other candidates are: The Korean turtleship guy, (His name was Yi-sun Shin.) Michiel de Ruyter and the aforementioned Niels Juel.

Another thing to add is: while Britain did have a huge navy which only grew in size they were actually outnumbered in 1805 by the combined Franco-Spanish fleet. The quality made these odds balanced and even in British favour. (The British quality and discipline over their opponents can be seen at Trafalgar and to a lesser extent at Cape St. Vincent.)
 
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Feb 2019
475
Thrace
Yi-sun Shin was better than Nelson. I'd dare say it's not even close. 23-0 w/o ever loosing a ship and being outnumbered most of the time pretty much guarantees you GOAT status.

Admiral and historian, George Alexander Ballard of the Royal Navy - "It is always difficult for Englishmen to admit that Nelson ever had an equal in his profession, but if any man is entitled to be so regarded, it should be this great naval commander of Asiatic race who never knew defeat and died in the presence of the enemy; of whose movements a track-chart might be compiled from the wrecks of hundreds of Japanese ships lying with their valiant crews at the bottom of the sea, off the coasts of the Korean peninsula... and it seems, in truth, no exaggeration to assert that from first to last he never made a mistake, for his work was so complete under each variety of circumstances as to defy criticism... "

Admiral Togo of the Japanese Navy, one of the GOAT admirals himself said - "It may be proper to compare me with Nelson, but not with Korea’s Yi Sun-sin, for he has no equal."
 
Feb 2019
345
California
Yi-sun Shin was better than Nelson. I'd dare say it's not even close. 23-0 w/o ever loosing a ship and being outnumbered most of the time pretty much guarantees you GOAT status.

Admiral and historian, George Alexander Ballard of the Royal Navy - "It is always difficult for Englishmen to admit that Nelson ever had an equal in his profession, but if any man is entitled to be so regarded, it should be this great naval commander of Asiatic race who never knew defeat and died in the presence of the enemy; of whose movements a track-chart might be compiled from the wrecks of hundreds of Japanese ships lying with their valiant crews at the bottom of the sea, off the coasts of the Korean peninsula... and it seems, in truth, no exaggeration to assert that from first to last he never made a mistake, for his work was so complete under each variety of circumstances as to defy criticism... "

Admiral Togo of the Japanese Navy, one of the GOAT admirals himself said - "It may be proper to compare me with Nelson, but not with Korea’s Yi Sun-sin, for he has no equal."

Didn't Yi have a huge technological advantage over the Japanese though with his "turtle ships?"
 

pugsville

Ad Honorem
Oct 2010
9,496
At the time the admiralty kept very extensive records of repaired (captured) French ships. Under moderate to good conditions they found the lighter construction and sail plan to be better than British ships. They did also note a lot of this advantage was wasted by over gunning the ships, causing stress to the frames. And usually the first thing the British did was drop the caliber of guns on the ship.
I don;t think thingfs are so simple in design. The british had French captures and operation thereof going back for quite some time, the British were well versed in teh in and outs and French design. No french idea or design idea was foreign to the British if they wanted feature X they could and indeed did on many occasions mandate that feature be included. British ships were different from French ships in the main because the British Admiralty had different views on design decisions. The British favored rounder and more mobile ships over French longer and faster for example. There was no real significant overall advantage to french ship of the lines designs over British ship of the Line designs. The French did not have significantly better ships.

Ship sof the line in both French and British Navies darn near universally used 32 pounder long guns as their main armament. Is this down caliber ing referring to ships of the line? If so have you got a single example of such down claibring, from what I've read it seems wrong.
 
Mar 2019
1,833
Kansas
Ship sof the line in both French and British Navies darn near universally used 32 pounder long guns as their main armament. Is this down caliber ing referring to ships of the line? If so have you got a single example of such down claibring, from what I've read it seems wrong.
Here is a good example

HMS Implacable (1805) - Wikipedia

After the British captured it, all the 36 pounders were taken out and replaced by 32 pounders. Looking at a couple of smaller ships it seems typical that the cannonades were ripped out as well.
 

pugsville

Ad Honorem
Oct 2010
9,496
-Napoleon during his entire career fought and triumphed against Ancient Regime aristocratic Austrian , Russian , Prussian , Spanish commanders who were at best mediocre but mostly assigned to command due to breeding and family connections not meriocracy (except maybe Archiduke Charles)
Gross generalization which is mostly untrue. While nobles comprised most of the officer class (only 80% in Russia IIRC) and those from very important Nobility got an armchair raide in their careers to a large degree, and those rising form the ranks normally were restircted to teh lower levels of officer ranks. High command was generally a function of ability and politics. Mack rose to command the Austrian Army in 1805, Barclay de Tolly had 14 years in the ranks, certinaly rose on his ability to large degreee. It was the French army under Napoleon where high command was bestowed because of birth and family connections without a decent military career . Nobilty, Welathm, Family connetcions mattered a lot in Napoleonic France. hIgh command is always of political and it's influcnce is hrad to eliminate.

In the Russian army I cannot think of any of the Army commanders being appointed by breeding or family connections. Being of high noble birth was a express armchair ride to Colonel or commanding a brigade but after that without some competence advance was not guaranteed and as none made it high command. Duke Constantine was a diligent commander and rose to corps command, no one thought he should rise higher Murat and Jerome were appoint solely on their connectors brother and brother in law to Napoleon and no Russian commander career , Emperor's brother or no would have survived just abandoning the Army like Murat.
 

pugsville

Ad Honorem
Oct 2010
9,496
Here is a good example

HMS Implacable (1805) - Wikipedia

After the British captured it, all the 36 pounders were taken out and replaced by 32 pounders. Looking at a couple of smaller ships it seems typical that the cannonades were ripped out as well.
Is this not just the case French standrad long heavy gun 36, British standard long heavy gun 32 pounder . Just standardized on the failry similar gun but in a British rather than French standard caliber of little difference in actual performance?

that wiki article gioves french 30 * 36pdr 34 * 18pdr to Brith 42 * 32pdr 30 * 18pdr/.Teh Birtish upping the amount of heavy guns and incresing the weight of shot.