Reply To: If a captain is incapacitated or killed…

Home Forums Nautical Research: 1500 – 1830 If a captain is incapacitated or killed… Reply To: If a captain is incapacitated or killed…

#19189
Sara Cutler
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A famous example of devolving command in the Royal Navy during this period, occured during the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805. Whilst His Majesty’s Ship Bellerophone was engaged with the French L’Aigle, her captain, Captn. John Cooke, whilst in the act of reloading his pistols, was shot twice in the chest by Musket shot and mortally wounded. As soon as he was out of action the command of the ship instantly passed to her First lieutenant William Cumby, who would fight the rest of the battle, ensure his command survived the storm that followed straight after and then nurse her round to Gibraltar where she would arrive on the 28th of October 1805, all in the capacity of Acting Captain. When Captain Edward Rotheram, who had fought the Battle in the capacity of Flag Captain to Vice Admiral Cuthbert Collingwood in the Royal Sovereign, took command of the Bellerophone, prior to her return to Portsmouth, this Acting Captainwould return to being a lieutenant once again. He would have to wait until 1806 to become an actual Captain in his own right.