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Old 06-04-2019, 10:53 PM   #1
The future is unwritten
Join Date: Oct 2002
Posts: 66,588
June 5th, 2019: Nile Clumps

In celebration of my 2nd wife’s birthday here’s a story of great defeat.
In 1798 Napoleon Bonaparte had been tearing up Europe and the high seas.
He loaded 35,000 of his troops on the French fleet for the trip across the Mediterranean to North Africa with plans to beat up
the Brits then take a shot at India. The Brits caught wind of it and Sent Horatio Nelson with the British fleet to stop them.
After a couple months of cat and mouse Nelson caught up, but the French had already offloaded the army at Abourkir Bay in Egypt.

Nelson won the naval battle.
Nelson: 13 Ships of Line(74 gun), 1 Forth Rate(50 gun), 1 Sloop of War(16 gun)
French: 13 Ships of Line(9-74 gun, 3-84 gun, 1-120 gun) 4 Frigates(36, 40, 44, 48 gun)
Nelson: 218 dead, 677 wounded
French: 2000-5000 dead, 3000-3900 captured, 2 ships of line + 2 frigates sunk, 9 ships of line captured.
French Commander Vice-Admiral François-Paul Brueys d'Aigalliers’ 120 gun flagship, L'Orient, exploded. Big bada boom!

Like I said, Nelson won.
This was a big deal, after losing the United States Britain got a big boost, they now ruled the seas, Napoleon was trapped in Africa
and his dominance in Europe busted as countries he captured or allied with reshuffled.
Consequently Nelson became a hero, rewarded with a Baron title which he felt was insufficient reward.
At the time the people would have probably backed him if he asked for the Queen’s virtue.

To commemorate the victory Charles Douglas, 6th Marquess of Queensberry, planted clumps of beech trees on his estate near Amesbury in the south of England. Each clump of about 200 beech trees marked the position of a British or French ship at a particular moment in the battle. These woods are called the Nile Clumps. The trees are to the north-west of Amesbury, on either side of that stretch of the A303 that lies between the A345 and the A344. The site is quite close to Stonehenge.

The two fleets still sail across the Downs, but in a sadly depleted state. Beeches last about 200 years and many of the original trees have died or are dying. Some clumps were lost when the A303 was built. Others have been destroyed by farmers.
In 1990 The Amesbury Rotary Club replanted one clump as part of National Tree Week. This was so successful that they got more funding and eventually replanted a total of fourteen clumps. An article in the UK's Weekend Telegraph newspaper of the 20th June 1998 described the replanting project.
On Thursday 11th Apr 2002 the Amesbury Journal, reported that
"Trees planted on the outskirts of Amesbury more than 200 years ago to commemorate Nelson's victory at the Battle of the Nile are now under the protection of a preservation order.
The order was confirmed by Salisbury district council this week, following a lengthy process to ensure the Nile Clumps, as the trees are called, are given the profile and protection that their history demands.
Each clump of trees represents the strategic position of English and French ships at the height of the epic 1798 battle."

The London Daily Mail has an article about the site and it notes that the National Trust has launched a campaign to promote the memorial as a tourist attraction for visitors to Salisbury Plain. Though, nonsensically, the journalist claims that the Clumps were 'discovered' on Google Earth.
I hope the next step will be to re-plant some trees and restore the missing clumps. The National Trust have applied for planning permission to carry out work on some of the clumps. It may be necessary to acquire other land by compulsory purchase. It obviously cannot remain in agricultural use if the site is to be developed. Ideally, the site should be returned to grassland and the public given full access to wander.
The Daily Mail article also mentions
"This is not the only wooded tribute to the Battle of the Nile. On the former Swarland Estate near Alnwick, Northumberland, a line of trees takes the shape of the coastline of the Nile delta. Other trees appear to be in the positions of the British and French fleet." These are Davison's Woods.
Plus Wiki and lots of other references
Everything is interesting... look closer.
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Old 06-05-2019, 12:09 PM   #2
Diaphone Jim
Join Date: Sep 2007
Posts: 1,215
"In celebration of my 2nd wife’s birthday here’s a story of great defeat."
Hmm, does she know about this?
If so, Happy Birthday to her.
You obviously spent a lot of time studying this epic of war and remembrance and I am going to read it few times before further comment.

Except thinking about Davison's meeting Nelson in Quebec in 1782. What a lot of time and work must have gone into THAT.
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Old 06-06-2019, 03:17 PM   #3
Diaphone Jim
Join Date: Sep 2007
Posts: 1,215
I found an account that said it was about a three month journey from London to Quebec in the 1780's.
Just the voyage to the seas off Egypt must have been a tough one.
I think that victory meant very little to either the victorious dead men of the Battle of the Nile and those of D Day.
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Old 06-06-2019, 10:59 PM   #4
The future is unwritten
Join Date: Oct 2002
Posts: 66,588
My mistake, should have been 2nd ex-wife, and she knows nothing... never did.

Yes, 3 months hopping around the Mediterranean to get to Egypt.

It matters not what it meant to the dead men, it only matters what it means to the Empire, and King/Queen, and merchants, and traders, and Banks.
Soldiers and Sailors are an easily conscripted resource to be spent as deemed profitable. A tradition that continues to this day.
No matter how many flags you wrap around it, the truth is it's business, big business.
Everything is interesting... look closer.
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