The deciding sea battle of the Napoleonic Wars was fought between the British Royal Navy and the combined fleets of the French and the Spanish off Cape Trafalgar. The French Admiral Pierre de Villeneuve managed to slip his ships past Britain's naval blockade, barreling across the Atlantic with the enemy in hot pursuit. But Admiral Horatio Nelson an English flag officer with a single arm and one sightless eye, the results of previous clashes ultimately caught up to his rivals as they attempted to sail into the Mediterranean.
On October 21, 1805, Nelson gave the now-notorious signal to his officers: "England expects that every man will do his duty." In the ensuing attack, Britain did not lose a single ship, but destroyed nearly 20 of its opponents' 33 vessels. Mortally wounded by a sniper during the action, Nelson died at sea with knowledge of his victory, which heralded more than a century of British naval supremacy. Villeneuve's end was far less romantic: humiliated, he took his own life with a dagger in a French hotel.