William Hargood was captain of the Royal Navy vessel HMS Belleisle during the Battle of Trafalgar against the French and Spanish.

The ship was "dismasted" during the battle, and a quarter of the ship's crew were killed.

Ironically, the HMS Belleisle used to be a French ship, until it was captured by the British after they defeated the French at the Battle of Groix in 1795.

Now the log written by Hargood offers some more insight into Nelson's victory....

Battle of Trafalgar log offers insight into Nelson's victory

by Nick Britten
The Telegraph

New light has been shed on the greatest battle in British naval history after a rare eye-witness account by one of its heroes was uncovered.

The Battle of Trafalgar, 1805, in which the Royal Navy, led by Horatio Nelson, completely overwhelmed the combined French/Spanish fleet

William Hargood was captain of HMS Belleisle, which was at the heart of the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805 when Admiral Lord Nelsonand the Royal Navy defeated the Franco-Spanish fleet.

Around a quarter of his vessel's men were killed or injured as they staged an often lone fight against the enemy before finally being "dismasted".

Now what is believed to be Hargood's own log of the battle is up for auction after being discovered gathering dust in a loft of a house in Loughborough, Leicestershire.

Describing the scene in the hours ahead of the battle, Hargood noted the fight would take place in "light airs and hazy weather, with heavy swell".

He later wrote: "At daylight we saw the enemy's fleet bearing east nine miles, consisting of 33 sail of the line, five frigates and two sloops.

The Royal Navy ship HMS Belleisle after the Battle of Trafalgar. The ship used to be a French ship, until the British captured it from the French during the Battle of Groix in 1795, which was a British victory

"5.40: Answered the general signal to form the order of sailing. 6.00: Answered the general signal to bear up and sail large and prepare for battle.

"Made all sail, bearing down on the enemy. Answered the general telegraph signal from Lord Nelson that England expected every man to do his duty."

Of the actual battle, he kept his entries brief and clinical.

He wrote: "12.08: commenced fire on the enemy. 12.10: Cut the stern of a Spanish 80-gun ship.

"1.30: Heavy fire on both sides. Our ship became totally unmanageable. Most of the sails and rigging being cut away.

"3.15: One of our ships passed our bow and took the fire of an enemy's ship. 3.25: The Swiftsure passed our stern and cheered us." Describing the end of battle, which claimed 449 British fatalities, including Nelson, he wrote: "The action ceased. People were employed securing the guns, cleaning and pumping ship. Strong gales and squally at the end."

The Belleisle was second into battle, closely following the flagship HMS Royal Sovereign into enemy lines, and in the very thick of the action, at one time firing at the Fougueux and the Santa Ana simultaneously.

Despite capturing the Argonauta, the Belleisle was eventually dismasted with 33 dead and 93 wounded, but kept flying her flag for 45 minutes until other vessels came to her rescue.

Hargood, the son of a humble purser, survived the battle and was later made an admiral to cap a distinguished naval career.

The log, dated October 21 1805 and verified by the National Manuscripts department at the Royal Observatory in Greenwich, will be auctioned later this month and is expected to fetch 800.