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Bidder Pays $118,000 for Nelson Letter

July 6, 2005

LONDON (AP) _ A bidder paid $118,000 Tuesday for a letter in which British Adm. Horatio Nelson vowed to annihilate the French-Spanish fleet at Trafalgar _ a prediction his forces carried through on.

The four-page document, written on board Nelson’s ship HMS Victory on Oct. 5, 1805, had been expected to fetch around $72,000, auctioneers Bonhams said.

It is addressed to Lord Barham, First Lord of the Admiralty, and details Nelson’s strategy for the forthcoming battle, during which the French and Spanish were routed but Nelson lost his life.

Nelson wrote: ``I have 23 Sail with Me and Should they come out I shall immediately bring them to battle but although I should not doubt of Spoiling any Voyage they may attempt Yet I hope for the arrival of the Ships from England that as an Enemys fleet they may be annihilated...″

He continued by assuring the First Lord that he could rely upon his ``every exertion.″

Bonhams said the letter could be the finest relating to Trafalgar remaining in private hands. The names of the seller and buyer were not disclosed.

The British victory off Spain on Oct. 21, 1805 contributed to Napoleon’s eventual downfall and gave Britain naval supremacy for more than 100 years.

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