British Henry Nock Flintlock Pistol Carried at Battle of Trafalgar 1805

Item Description

Original Item: Only one available. Well, almost everybody has at least heard of the Battle of Trafalgar, the Naval action that took place on October 21st 1805 where Admiral Lord Nelson crushed the combined French and Spanish fleets and lost his own life doing it.

This original brass barreled flintlock pistol using the central hammer "Box Lock" system comes complete with spring bayonet and was made by the renowned English Gun Maker, especially for the Navy, HENRY NOCK of LONDON. Very large for a Box Lock which were normally considered 'pocket pistols’, this example is quite substantial measuring 13" overall and would have certainly packed a punch. The pistol comes with folding bayonet beneath the barrel, ramrod to the right of barrel, and on the left hand side of barrel is engraved:-


Captain Robert Redmill, 1765-1819, was Captain of H.M.S. POLYPHEMUS, 64 guns, 159' in length and 1,369 tonnes. Launched in 1782 as a Third Rated Man-of-War at Sheerness, Kent, which was eventually broken up at Chatham in 1827.

Already an old Ship-of-the-Line by the time of Trafalgar the POLYPHEMUS was one of the last vessels to be engaged but served well in the action. However, its fame came after the battle as being late to engage it was not badly damaged and in fact towed the stricken H.M.S. VICTORY to the British naval base at Gibraltar through a terrible storm through which no one expected VICTORY to survive. Captain Redmill returned to England as a hero.

Presumably this impressive pistol that was a private purchase weapon, was inscribed at the Redmill family's request in an effort to commemorate Captain Redmill's participation in one of the world's most famous Sea Battles.

A flintlock pistol of classic style, all original and in really nice collector's condition, however, not a weapon one would normally find on a battle ship of the period but no doubt a great comfort to the Captain who perhaps even carried it under his jacket.

Below is a biography of Capt Redmill (wikipedia)

Captain Robert Redmill, CB (c. 1765 – February 1819) was a British naval officer during the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars who commanded the HMS Polyphemus during the battle of Trafalgar. Although he was late into the action, he gained much acclaim for saving the battered HMS Victory from sinking in the storm which followed the action.

Little is known of Redmill's personal life, even his birth date is unsure. It is recorded that he was promoted lieutenant[2] in the Royal Navy in 1783 which means that if he followed the standard career path of receiving promotion at 18 indicates that he was born in 1765, but his real year of birth is unknown. An unspectacular officer, he benefitted from the general promotion at the outbreak of the Revolutionary Wars, making commander in 1795 and taking over the fire ship HMS Comet. He was apparently engaged with the enemy during the action under Lord Hotham in March of that year, but did not distinguish himself and was not mentioned in the dispatches of the action.

Receiving the jump to Post captain[3] in 1796, Redmill was not given a ship until 1799 when he was placed in command of the prize ship the 64 gun HMS Delft, a poorly built Dutch ship used almost exclusively as a troop transport. It was in this role that Redmill and his ship participated in the invasion of Egypt in 1801, landing troops from the Foot Guards at Aboukir Bay. For this and other vital transportation services, Redmill was granted a large gold medal by Selim III, Sultan of the Ottoman Empire.

Granted the Polyphemus in 1805 and attached to Admiral Nelson's fleet off Cadiz, Redmill was not expected to take a major role in the fighting to follow. Polyphemus was an old and much battered ship, as well as being much too small for effective service in the modern battleline. Nonetheless, when battle was joined on the 21 October, Polyphemus lines up in Collingwood's division with the other ships, albeit right at the rear of the line where her poor sailing qualities could not get in the way of faster and more powerful ships. Arriving late to the battle, Polyphemus was still able to join the fight, exchanging broadsides with the large Spanish flagship Principe de Asturias and the French Berwick, although both were badly damaged by other ships by the time Redmill engaged them.

It was in the aftermath of the battle that Redmill and the old Polyphemus won their spurs, having suffered just six casualties in the battle and very little in the way of structural damage, Polyphemus needed no repairs and could parcel out her supplies to other ships in more desperate need, as well as offer a tow to de-masted ships which could no longer sail unaided. The British flagship Victory was just such a victim, and during the week of ferocious storms which followed the battle, Redmill nursed his stricken superior back to Gibraltar by means of an enormous towrope attached with great difficulty to the bow of Victory and at the other end to Redmill's own cabin on Polyphemus.

Following the storm, Redmill continued in service for another year but a severe illness, which had recurringly plagued his career for many years, forced him to retire to England. Back home he was lauded as a hero, but was unable to find work due to his increasing poor health. Despite these difficulties, Redmill survived another 13 years before dying in Stevenage in February 1819. Unfortunately his grave has long since been lost, and with it many details about the circumstances of his final years.

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