In 1798 Napoleon Bonaparte, who was all but Master of Europe, assembled a formidable expeditionary force at Toulon. While its purpose was unknown there was every reason to believe that Great Britain was its destination and the Nation was on invasion alert. The overwhelming British priority was for a fleet to be assembled and sent to the Mediterranean to destroy this threat before the French force could set sail. The burning issue was which of four Royal Naval flag officers should command this vital mission? The strong field in order of seniority was Admiral The Earl St Vincent, Rear Admirals Sir William Parker, Sir John Orde and Sir Horatio Nelson. The choice of Nelson who went on the win the Battle of Nice provoked great anger and even a challenge by Orde for a duel, only prevented buy the King's intervention. Nelson's and Orde's acrimonious relationship erupted in the months before the Battle of Trafalgar and is well documented in this fascinating book.
Dennis Orde who rose through the legal profession to become a Crown Court judge is the author of In the Shadow of Nelson: The Life of Admiral Lord Collingwood (Pen and Sword Maritime 2008) and a contributor to The New Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. He is a descendant of Admiral Sir John Orde. He lives in Northumberland and Oxford.