Two years off Provence: the Victualling and Health of Nelson’s fleet in the Mediterranean, 1803 to 1805
The paper discusses the logistical difficulties of providing sufficient provisions to the Toulon squadron, particularly beverages and fresh food, which needed to be replenished frequently. The logistics and challenges of sourcing these from locations such as the Madalena Islands, Naples, Barcelona and Sicily are discussed, together with the work of the agent victualler, Richard Ford, appointed to acquire the necessary fresh provisions for the fleet. The remaining health records of the fleet are analysed to assess the prevalence of scurvy and the extent to which lemon juice was in use as a preventative. It concludes that the relatively low incidence of scurvy may be attributable as much to good victualling practice as to Nelson’s personal management of health issues in the squadron.