Lord Nelson HMS Victory letter fails to sell at auction

Charles Hanson with letter Image copyright Hansons Auctioneers and Valuers
Image caption Auctioneer Charles Hanson claimed the original letter gives a "remarkable" insight into Lord Nelson's tactical and strategic skills

A letter written by Lord Nelson on his flagship HMS Victory more than 200 years ago has failed to sell at auction.

The letter, dated 28 April 1804, was written when Nelson was "attempting to lure the French and Spanish fleet out of Toulon to give battle".

The letter was expected to fetch between £20,000 and £30,000 on Saturday in Etwall, Derbyshire.

It is not clear when the letter will next go under the hammer.

Image copyright Hansons Auctioneers and Valuers
Image caption Nelson had urged a captain to track a French fleet leaving Toulon

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The letter, addressed to Frank Sotheron - captain of HMS Excellent - states Nelson's wish for the captain to inform him of the movements of the French, saying: "In the event of their sailing... you will use every effort to communicate the same to me as early as possible".

Nelson chased the French fleet to the West Indies but did not have the chance to engage in battle.

He did meet the enemy at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805, where he was killed by a French sniper.

The battle, which saw the Franco-Spanish fleet defeated, has been hailed as one of the most decisive naval engagements of the Napoleonic wars.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Nelson was killed by a French sniper while aboard the HMS Victory during the Battle of Trafalgar

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