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Description: The recipient "James Dunn, Aged about Thirty Five years was wounded on board His Majesty's Ship Leviathan by receiving in Lord Nelsons' action with the combined fleets of France and Spain, a Cannister Shot through the upper part of his right thigh on the Twenty First of October in the year One Thousand Eight Hundred and Five 1805."

  • Condition: Some staining
  • Notes: Armchair warriors who wage fierce battles on computer games such as 'Call of Duty' or 'Fortnite' might like to take stock occasionally on the true scars of war. There is no bouncing back into battle the next day if you have really been struck by cannon fire, a fate that befell James Dunn who took a direct hit during the famous 'Battle of Trafalgar' which pitted the naval forces of Napoleon Bonaparte and his allies against the British Navy commanded by Admiral Lord Nelson. 'Trafalgar' is rightly ranked as the most important naval battle of the 19th Century, as the British victory put paid to the ambitious plans of the rampaging Napoleon to invade the island nation and, also ensured Britain ruled the waves for the next 100 years. Dunn, a thirty-five year old seaman "was wounded on board His Majesty's Ship Leviathan by receiving in Lord Nelson's action with the combined fleets of France and Spain, a Cannister Shot through the upper part of his right thigh on the Twenty First of October in the year One Thousand Eight Hundred and Five." His entitlement to a naval pension was signed on board the 74-gun Leviathan on the “Fourth day of November 1805? and carries the signature of the Captain Henry Bayntun and seven others including the Surgeon and Gunner. The Leviathan had four men killed and 22 wounded in a close exchange with the French vessel Bucentaure. During the melee of battle, Nelson himself was critically wounded while standing on the deck of his flagship the 'Victory' by a French sniper perched on the mizzentop of the French 'Redoubtable.' He died three hours later with his last stirring words "god and my country" witnessed by the ship's chaplain. The 'Chest of Chatham' document refers to a pension fund founded in 1590 by John Hawkyns and whose purpose was to provide financial relief for injured seamen. The Chest itself was an iron chest with five locks on it, the keys to which were given to five separate people, in this way giving some security to the contents. Initially, sixpence a month was deducted from the pay of an able seaman, fourpence a month from an ordinary seaman and threepence a month from boys. In 1619 gunners also had sixpence a month deducted and from 1626 all seamen of whatever class were deducted the same amount, vide sixpence a month. The fund itself ran on in virtually the same form until the 19th century. (National Maritime Museum) In our Sale we offer a rare 'Chest of Chatham' document on vellum which truly captures the fire and brimstone and sad consequences of naval battle.
  • Provenance: General
  • Exhibited: Collectibles
  • Literature: 623
  • Medium: Military & Wartime

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September 22, 2019, 12:00 PM AEST

Timed Auction

Paddington, Sydney, Australia

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