Dare we say Cubs Win?

unnamed5 to one last night! Series tied at 1-1. Yeah, that’s the World Series, and the other side is nearly as remarkable -The Indians!


Haven’t won the series since 1908, when a feature was “Tinkers to Evers to Chance” for real, not in legend. Haven’t even played in the series since 1945.

I’ve never been a big baseball guy, although I played plenty of it when I was a kid. In truth, I preferred (and still do) college football. My taste there has been just as bad lately, but maybe things are getting better, and finally Purdue fired Hazell, and they kept trying last weekend in Lincoln. But the Cubs! Really? You couldn’t grow up in the sixties where I was without being something of a Cubs fan.

My first time to the friendly confines was as a Cub Scout, so likely I was nine or so. What a great day it was.

Dan Mclaughlin tells us that the 2016 Cubs are the second best defensive club ever, second only to the ’39 Yanks. Here’s the chart.


Paul Mirengoff over at Powerline shared his favorite all-star Cubs team. I’m not as big a fan as many are, but you know, I can picture almost every one of these guys.

C Gabby Hartnett — A Hall of Famer, his Homer in the Gloamin’propelled the Cubs to the pennant in 1938.

1B* Mark Grace — Made three all-star teams and won four Gold Gloves while banging out 2,201 hits for the Cubs.

2B Ryne Sandberg — Ten straight all-star games, nine straight Gold Gloves, led the NL in runs three times, homers once, and total bases once. League MVP in 1984.

SS Ernie Banks — Who else but Mr. Cub? Won back-to-back MVPs in the late 1950s with losing teams.

3B Ron Santo — If not for Ernie Banks, this Hall of Famer and nine time all-star might be Mr. Cub.

OF Billy Williams — A two-time MVP runner-up, Williams should have won the award in 1972 when he drove in 122 runs, batted a league leading .333, and had the league’s best OPS.

OF Hack Wilson — Still holds the major league record for RBIs in a season (191) and he did it while walking 105 times.

OF Sammy Sosa — There’s a steroid issue here, but I can’t exclude a guy who, during a four year period, averaged 61 homers and 144 RBIs.

P Mordecai “Three Fingers” Brown — Six straight 20-plus win seasons with an ERA under 2.00 in five of them. Went 26-6 with a NL best 1.04 ERA in 1906.


Randy Hundley — Makes it for his defense behind the plate. Won the Gold Glove in 1967 and would have won more except that a certain Johnny Bench came along the next year.

Frank Chance — Playing manager and best hitter on the 1906 team that won 116 games. Twice led the NL in stolen bases.

Phil Cavarretta — This first-baseman/outfielder was a big star during the World War II years, but not so much during the rest of his career. However, his nearly 2,000 hits and .292 batting average as a Cub get him on the squad.

Billy Herman — William Jennings Bryan Herman made seven straight all-star teams as a Cub.

Joe Tinker — Consistently a solid contributor on offense, with good power for an infielder in the dead ball era, and apparently an outstanding fielder.

Stan Hack — “Smiling Stan” played 16 years with the Cubs. He batted .301, made four all-star teams, and led the league twice in stolen bases and runs scored.

Andre Dawson — The NL MVP in 1984, his first season with the Cubs. Was an all-star in five of his six years with Chicago.

Kiki Cuyler — Better than a .425 on-base percentage for three straight seasons and slugged better than .530 in two of them. Even in the hitting crazy early 1930s, these numbers stand out.

Extra pitchers:

Ferguson Jenkins — The big Canadian won 20 games for the Cubs six straight years, including a league leading 24 in 1971.

Grover Cleveland “Pete” Alexander — Twice had the best ERA in the NL for the Cubs. Went 27-14 with a 1.91 ERA in 1920.

Greg Maddux — Did his best work for the Braves, but probably was already the best pitcher in the NL when he came over from the Cubs.

Hippo Vaughn — Averaged just over 20 wins in his seven full seasons with the Cubs. Gave up only three runs in 27 innings in the 1918 World Series, but lost two of his three games (Babe Ruth was the winning pitcher in one of Vaughn’s losses).

Jake Arrieta — Has only been with the Cubs for four years, but in the past three, his record is 50-19. His 2015 season (22-6, 1.77) is one of the best a Cubs starter has ever had.

Charlie Root — He won 201 games for the Cubs, including 26 in 1927. Best remembered for giving up the “shot” that Babe Ruth may or may not have called.

Bruce Sutter — Led the league in saves twice during his five seasons with the Cubs. Also made my St. Louis Cardinals all-time team.

Lee Smith — From 1983-1987, Smith was 1st, 2nd, 2nd, 4th, and 2nd in the NL in saves.


Frank Chance — “The Peerless Leader” managed the Cubs to their two World Championships — 1907 and 1908.

In the immortal words of Jack Brickhouse, “Anybody can have a bad century!” And I’d bet another old Cubs announcer is eating his Jelly-Bellys and smiling as well.

See you Friday night at Wrigley. Some things do change, like lights at Wrigley Field. And soon they say, Ross-Ade Stadium as well, but the essentials go on.


American politics at its most uncivil

1792 John Trumbull portrait of Secretary of Treasury Alexander Hamilton

1792 John Trumbull portrait of Secretary of Treasury Alexander Hamilton

Tim Stanley wrote in The Spectator last week about American politics. Here is some of it.

To anyone complaining that American politics in 2016 is uncivil, consider this: in 1804, the vice president of the United States shot the former Secretary of the Treasury in a duel. Alexander Hamilton, the retired secretary, probably fired first and aimed into a tree, to show he meant no harm. Vice president Aaron Burr, however, shot Hamilton in the abdomen and left him to die. He went home and had breakfast with a cousin, and failed to mention how he’d spent his morning. A few weeks later, Burr was back at his job, chairing the Senate. President Jefferson, who hated Hamilton, invited him to dinner. Trump calling Clinton a crook doesn’t compare.

Ron Chernow’s magnificent biography of Hamilton is now out in paperback in the UK and has gained fame for inspiring a musical. It also has a lot to say about the early American republic. It was a revolutionary republic, a nation crafted out of ink and imagination. […]

Hamilton argued that the republic needed a sizeable government to survive. As the nation’s first Treasurer, he helped create a national bank and new taxes. He also thought it would be wise to make peace with the British. Inevitably, he was cast as an Anglophile and a monarchist, even a traitor. […]

A talent for business and writing brought him to New England and, through heroic action in the War of Independence, he worked his way onto the staff of George Washington. In other words, Hamilton far better reflected the meritocratic ideals of the American dream than his aristocratic peers ever did.

Chernow argues that Hamilton was actually trying to make the fledgling nation work. Yes, he undermined Jefferson’s ambition of creating a libertarian utopia of family farms. But how could the republic raise arms to defend its people without taxes? How could industry flourish without access to credit? How could the United States survive if it couldn’t pay its debts? Hamilton betrayed America as an ideal when he erected a monstrous new state machinery, maybe, but that machinery was still laughably small. […]

This is America. A rowdy battle of ideals in politics, but a big compromise in practical government.

via American politics at its most uncivil — in 1804

And you know, that is still true, many many of us, on both sides, have a complete set of ideals for the government. When Tim mentioned that the entire USG that Jefferson inherited was 130 people in what we call the civil service, I’ll bet I wasn’t the only one who wished it were still so. But those times were not these, and many remember that Reagan didn’t get everything he wanted either, but neither did Obama, and neither will anybody else. It’s always been a balancing act, and it’s worked pretty well, and it always probably will, as long as we manage to remain true to another of Tim’s paragraphs, I think.

Hamilton’s conservatism was fostered first by witnessing the evils of the Caribbean slave trade and later by the violence of the revolution. He wanted a republic that would balance liberty with order. The mob must never be allowed to get its way.

I think that is what we all know, deep in our bones.

St. Crispan/Crispians Day

It’s St Crispin’s Day again, and that makes it a day to speak of the bravery of English and American armed forces, not that there is ever a bad day for that. St. Crispin’s Day is a pretty good encapsulation of our military histories, though; always brave, sometimes badly led and more often than not, victorious.

The martyrdom of Sts Crispan and Crispian

The martyrdom of Ste Crispin and Crispian; from Wikipedia

From Wikipedia: “Saint Crispin’s Day falls on 25 October and is the feast day of the Christian Saints Crispin and Crispinian , twins who were martyred c. 286.” That’s where the day gets its name. What it’s famous for is the battles of the English-speaking peoples that have been fought on it.

The first we will look at took place during the “Hundred Years War”. Henry V of England with a small army was on his way to Calais, getting chased all over northern France by Constable Charles d’Albret of France. The French King (Charles VI) was mentally incapacitated. Henry was heavily outnumbered and decided to arouse his exhausted army before the battle by giving a speech.

The English won the battle with ridiculously low casualties while wreaking havoc on the French forces. The reason for this was the English (and Welsh) longbowmen, making this the first battle since Roman times when infantry was anything but a rabble for the knights to ride down.

For this reason, Agincourt is often cited as a victory for the freemen of England over the aristocracy.

Battle number two for the day wasn’t so kind to the British.

This one was a cavalry charge against Russian Artillery. It was commanded by Lord Raglan (Yes, the sleeves are named for him). The orders he issued were vague and Lord Cardigan (Yes, he designed the sweater) executed the worst possible interpretation of them. The charge was carried out by the British light cavalry brigade which consisted  of the 4th and 13th Light Dragoons, 17th Lancers, and the 8th and 11th Hussars, whose bravery we have never forgotten. It was too well immortalized.

Charge of the Light Brigade

Half a league, half a league,
Half a league onward,
All in the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred.
‘Forward, the Light Brigade!
Charge for the guns’ he said:
Into the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred.

Here’s a visual version.

It should be added that Great Britain didn’t do a great job of taking care of their veterans (neither did the U.S.) in those days.  Rudyard Kipling had this to say:

The Last of the Light Brigade

There were thirty million English who talked of England’s might,
There were twenty broken troopers who lacked a bed for the night.
They had neither food nor money, they had neither service nor trade;
They were only shiftless soldiers, the last of the Light Brigade.

They felt that life was fleeting; they knew not that art was long,
That though they were dying of famine, they lived in deathless song.
They asked for a little money to keep the wolf from the door;
And the thirty million English sent twenty pounds and four !

They laid their heads together that were scarred and lined and grey;
Keen were the Russian sabres, but want was keener than they;
And an old Troop-Sergeant muttered, “Let us go to the man who writes
The things on Balaclava the kiddies at school recites.”

They went without bands or colours, a regiment ten-file strong,
To look for the Master-singer who had crowned them all in his song;
And, waiting his servant’s order, by the garden gate they stayed,
A desolate little cluster, the last of the Light Brigade.

They strove to stand to attention, to straighten the toil-bowed back;
They drilled on an empty stomach, the loose-knit files fell slack;
With stooping of weary shoulders, in garments tattered and frayed,
They shambled into his presence, the last of the Light Brigade.

The old Troop-Sergeant was spokesman, and “Beggin’ your pardon,” he said,
“You wrote o’ the Light Brigade, sir. Here’s all that isn’t dead.
An’ it’s all come true what you wrote, sir, regardin’ the mouth of hell;
For we’re all of us nigh to the workhouse, an’ we thought we’d call an’ tell.

“No, thank you, we don’t want food, sir; but couldn’t you take an’ write
A sort of ‘to be continued’ and ‘see next page’ o’ the fight?
We think that someone has blundered, an’ couldn’t you tell ’em how?
You wrote we were heroes once, sir. Please, write we are starving now.”

The poor little army departed, limping and lean and forlorn.
And the heart of the Master-singer grew hot with “the scorn of scorn.”
And he wrote for them wonderful verses that swept the land like flame,
Till the fatted souls of the English were scourged with the thing called Shame.

They sent a cheque to the felon that sprang from an Irish bog;
They healed the spavined cab-horse; they housed the homeless dog;
And they sent (you may call me a liar), when felon and beast were paid,
A cheque, for enough to live on, to the last of the Light Brigade.

O thirty million English that babble of England’s might,
Behold there are twenty heroes who lack their food to-night;
Our children’s children are lisping to “honour the charge they made – ”
And we leave to the streets and the workhouse the charge of the Light Brigade!

OK, that’s two, only one more to go, 90 years later, to the day, half way around the world

The Battle of Leyte Gulf

This time, it’s the US Navy and the Imperial Japanese Navy.

The Japanese realizing that losing the Philippine Islands meant losing the war put everything they had left into this battle. Here a chart that shows the relative strengths.

Navy Large carriers Small Carriers Aircraft Embarked Battleships Cruisers Destroyers
United States 8 24  1712 12  24 141 
Japan 1 117 9  20 34

from: http://www.angelfire.com/fm/odyssey/LEYTE_GULF_Summary_of_the_Battle_.htm

From the chart, you can see how amazingly the USN had recovered from Pearl Harbor and the early battles of the war. You should also note that if the ship is not engaged in the battle it doesn’t count for much, so here we go.

The Japanese had a complicated plan depending on close timing between forces coming from various ports and operating under what we call EMCOM now. Essentially radio silence; meaning they couldn’t coordinate their attacks.

The Japanese carriers which had essentially no planes or pilots were used as a decoy force to try to pull Halsey’s 3d fleet away to the north. This worked, although it took them a long time to attract the Americans attention. When they were finally spotted Halsey went charging off after them until he was almost in gunshot and then turned around to help 7th fleet (which we are coming to). This also ended up being too late, so America’s premier naval force mostly sailed around burning oil and accomplishing not much of anything.

The Japanese Centre Force was first spotted in the Palawan Passage by the submarines Darter and Dace. Darter sank the Heavy Cruiser Atago which was Admiral Kurita’s flagship and Dace sank the Takao and severely damaged the Maya, which was forced to withdraw.

Halsey’s force made 259 sorties against the Centre Force eventually sinking the battleship Musashi with her 18.1-inch guns. They also did damage to some other ships. But Kurita made for the San Bernadino Strait at night with 4 battleships and 6 heavy and 3 light cruisers all fully operational.

Meanwhile, the Japanese Southern force including two elderly battleships under Admirals Nishimura and Shima were spotted on the morning of the 24th and Admiral Kincaid who realized they would attempt to attack the landing through the Surigao Strait was preparing to meet them. Kincaid’s 7th fleet had plenty of power for this.

The Battle of Surigao Strait

Rear Admiral Jesse Oldendorf had 6 old battleships (5 of which had been sunk at Pearl Harbor), 4 Heavy and 4 Light Cruisers, 26 destroyers and 39 PT Boats. He deployed his lighter ship along the side of the strait and formed his battle line. PT 131 made the first contact and for 3 and a half hours the squadron attacked the Japanese force without a hit but, providing contact reports to the force. As Nishimura’s forces entered the strait the American destroyers attacked; hitting both battleships, the Yamishira was able to continue but, Fuso blew up and sank. Admiral Shima with the 2d Striking Force was much discouraged when he came upon the burning halves and other wreckage of the destroyer attack and decided to withdraw. So as Admiral Nishimura emerged from the strait to engage Oldendorf’s battle line, he had 1 Battleship, 1 Cruiser, and 1 Destroyer. Oldendorf crossed his “T”. Parenthetically this is what Lord Nelson risked with his battle plan at Trafalgar that we talked about a few days ago. The American Battle line started firing as they got range information (some had radar rangefinders and some didn’t) at about 30,000 yards. The Battleship was sunk, the Cruiser wrecked and somehow the Destroyer escaped. This was the last surface gun action in history.

The battle off Samar

USS Hoel

USS Hoel, from Wikipedia

The 7th fleet had 18 escort carrier divided into three task units. They were equipped for fighting submarines and providing air cover to the landing, not for full on naval battle. These are usually referred to by their radio call signs Taffy 1, Taffy 2, and the most northerly, Taffy 3 under Rear Admiral Clifton Sprague. It was a routine morning until at 0647 Ensign Jensen from the Kadashan Bay sighted (and attacked) a force that he accurately reported as 4 Battleships and 8 Cruisers. The surprise was complete. A few minutes later heavy shells began falling around the carriers.

Admiral Sprague was in trouble. He was being chased by heavily armed warships which were considerably faster than his escort carriers and were already in range. He also had very few weapons that could hurt them. He started chasing shell splashes, making smoke, running away, and yelling for help, from 3d fleet, 7th fleet, a merciful God, or somewhere. At 0716 he also ordered his three destroyers, the Hoel, the Herrmann, and the Johnston, to counterattack the Japanese which they did with incredible bravery. At 0750 the Destroyer escorts also attacked. Remember these are anti-submarine ships with 5 in and 3-inch guns going on the attack against Battleships and Heavy Cruisers. Not terribly different from charging the Russian guns 90 years before. They attacked with torpedoes and guns and managed to disrupt the Japanese formation enough to give Sprague a chance to get away. All the available aircraft also attacked even though they weren’t carrying the proper (if any) ordnance for this work, they strafed and buzzed and annoyed the Japanese though.

By 0945 the Johnston, the Hoel and destroyer escort the Samuel B. Roberts had been sunk. and the escort carrier Gambier Bay was hit repeatedly by 8-inch shells and sank at 0907.

But Kurita had lost control of his formation (and was probably worrying about when 3d fleet would turn up) and broke off the action at 0911.

While Taffy 3 was doing all this, Taffy 1 was subjected to the first organized use of that new weapon: the Kamikaze, Taffy three would be so attacked in the afternoon.

And so we have St Crispin’s Day, a day of mostly victorious battle for the English-speaking peoples. The English win one with a “Band of Brothers”; the British lose one heroically and gloriously, and the Americans win one part easily, live through a terrible nightmare, while the American varsity is off hunting empty carriers.

Why L.L. Bean’s Boots Keep Selling Out

FILE-In this Dec. 14, 2011 file photo, Eric Rego stitches boots in the facility where LL Bean boots are assembled in Brunswick, Maine. LL Bean CEO Chris McCormick told workers that the Maine-based retailer has been conservative for the past few years and is now ready to "accelerate our growth plans and grab market share." That plan includes pumping an additional $100 million into its website, retail expansion and business systems, he said. (AP Photo/Pat Wellenbach, files)

FILE-In this Dec. 14, 2011 file photo, Eric Rego stitches boots in the facility where LL Bean boots are assembled in Brunswick, Maine. LL Bean CEO Chris McCormick told workers that the Maine-based retailer has been conservative for the past few years and is now ready to “accelerate our growth plans and grab market share.” That plan includes pumping an additional $100 million into its website, retail expansion and business systems, he said. (AP Photo/Pat Wellenbach, files)

This is old, so it may not be as true this year, but then again it may be. I missed the story, but then, I don’t read The Atlantic, almost never see it out this way. Here’s a piece.

BRUNSWICK, Maine—For over a hundred years, the company Leon Leonwood Bean founded has been making rubber boots and outdoor clothes in this area, about 25 miles north of Portland. But on the particular afternoon I visited their manufacturing plant, loud music was pumping inside the office, beats spilling into the cubicled area where visitors sign in—a Zumba class for employees was in progress.

L.L. Bean’s offerings have traditionally not been synonymous with cool. The company’s signature items are intended for the unglamorous activity of camping: pragmatic sleeping bags, flannel pajamas, fleeces, and down jackets. But then something happened in 2011: The outdoorsy aesthetic that L.L. Bean had been selling for 100 years became trendy. That’s when the duck-boot shortage first began, and “Bean Boot heartbreak” spread as countless consumers found that retailers didn’t have what they wanted. Every autumn since, business reporters have provided updates on whether the duck boot is selling out. This year’s update? It still is. […]

In Brunswick, L.L. Bean operates a 170,000-square-foot factory where the boot is assembled from start to finish. The rubber bottom of the Bean Boot is made by a machine, but after that it’s handmade by 200 people who split their time between three shifts. All in all, making the boot takes about 85 minutes’ worth of labor (not including the breaks in between stations). Royce Haines, the senior manager of manufacturing at L.L. Bean, describes it as “a mix of old and new technology”: While the boots aren’t made exactly as they used to be, the assembly process and sewing are all done by hand.

There are two main reasons, then, the Bean Boot can’t keep up with demand. The first is the company’s decision to keep making the boot in Maine, rather than exporting operations out to, say, China, where the majority of shoes sold to Americans are made. Fifty years ago, 98 percent of shoes for Americans were made in the U.S. Nowadays, one estimate suggests that China makes 12.5 billion pairs of shoes, which is about 90 percent of shoes made worldwide. To preserve its brand, L.L. Bean keeps operations local.

via Why L.L. Bean’s Boots Keep Selling Out – The Atlantic

Over the years, I’ve bought a fair amount from LL Bean, although not Bean boots. Why? Because like some other brands, say, Stetson hats, Lucchese and Wesco Boots, Filson, and to a point Pendleton clothes, and Klein and Wright tools, they have met the competition by remaining what they always were, the top quality. They, all of them, look expensive, and their first cost is higher, but their cost over time is lower than the Chinese junk that WalMart sells.

So I hear you asking, why don’t you have a pair of Bean boots? Well, it’s like this, my underlying skill set is that of a lineman, You know working on power lines, and climbing poles requires quite an arch support. Good as they are, Bean boots don’t have it. I once had a pair of Sorel’s, bought in a blizzard with -80°F wind chills, and they worked fairly well, but I wasn’t climbing. By the way, Columbia bought Sorel a few years ago, and guess what, the quality has, I hear nosed dived.

l13nonail_sWhat I wore back in the day was Hoffman Lineman’s Felt Pacs. They were OK, but not nearly as good as my WESCO Highliners. Well, no surprise really, Highliners are mostly custom made and go usually for about $800 dollars, but take care of them and they should last out your career. Off duty, a lot of us wear Lucchese cowboy boots, most of us have gotten so used to that high arch that anything else is uncomfortable.

But there is a pattern here, fashion aside. Bean is one of those companies, that has offshored some things but the core remains Americans doing it right the first time. They likely had to, to keeps some control over costs, all those companies above, except maybe Wesco have to an extent. Pay now, or pay every two years. Personally, I believe in doing it right the first time.

World War III

Today is the feast day of St. John Paul the second. As any of us old enough to remember he was one that triumvirate, including Reagan and Thatcher, who defeated the Soviet Union, and did it peacefully. Some friends of mine say that he was the greatest of them, I think it may be so. He surely had the most compelling story. For more on him, Chalcedon wrote about this today, here.

But it was a very close run thing, there were many alarms in the night, before that hateful wall came down, and it could easily have gone wrong. Here’s one way it could have. Today’s movie is a reminder of what and why we held the line all those years.


Thank God saner heads prevailed.

Hat tip to Weaponsman

The Immortal Memory

The Battle of Trafalgar by J. M. W. Turner (oi...

Image via Wikipedia

The British Empire got its start as a Tudor Enterprise as Henry VIII established the Royal Navy and as men increasingly saw how England could challenge Spain on the sea. Britain was well placed for this as an island off the coast of Europe. And so St Vincent made the now famous remark: “I do not say, my Lords, that the French will not come. I say only they will not come by sea.” And so it has always proved. And part of that was one of the Earl of St. Vincent’s protegé. This is his story.

I referred several times to President Jefferson’s open letter regarding the return of Louisiana to France from Spain, where he commented that “on that day we shall have to marry ourselves to the British fleet and people”, and later commented “that from that day forward France shall end at her low water mark”. This is the day that France (and Spain) would forever lose control of the sea to Great Britain.

Today is the anniversary of a battle to rank with Salamis, with Waterloo, and with Yorktown. For today the English-speaking peoples with their concepts of individual liberty and rights took control of the sea. We have never relinquished it.

That battle is Trafalgar. The battle was fought off of the southwest coast of Spain between the British Squadron with 27 Ships-of-the-Line and the combined French and Spanish fleets with 33.

The Franco-Spanish fleet was under orders to sail for Brest to help accomplish the invasion of England, which was, by far, Napoleons most steadfast enemy.

Remember these were sailing ships, completely dependent on the wind. and at Trafalgar, there was very little. The French and especially the Spanish were short-handed and had to fill their ship’s companies with soldiers. The British, on the other hand, had been blockading the coast for years and had been drilled mercilessly. Their commander, himself, had not been off the flagship for more than two years.

Alfred Thayer Mahan in his classic The Influence of Sea Power upon History puts it this way: “Those distant, storm-tossed ships, never seen by the Grande Armee, were all that stood between it and world domination.

And so today, in 1805, the battle was joined. The British had the weather gage and a very unusual plan. Because of the light wind, they would divide their battle line in two, with each squadron approaching the Franco-Spanish line at an acute angle. With a well-trained enemy, this would have been nearly suicidal but, under these conditions it allowed the British to engage the entire fleet and win the battle in a single day.

The British were under the command of a man who had had his introduction to naval war in the American Revolution, he fought in several minor battles off Toulon, was integral in the capture of Corsica, was captain of HMS Captain at the Battle of Cape St. Vincent. At the Battle of Santa Cruz de Tenerife, he lost his right arm, he won a decisive victory over the French at The Battle of the Nile and against the Danes at the Battle of Copenhagen.

At Trafalgar the British fleet went into battle with this signal flying from the flagship:

That flagship is, of course, the HMS Victory, which is now the oldest naval ship in regular commission in the world.

HMS Victory

HMS Victory , HM Naval Base, Portsmouth

The Admiral in command is Horatio, Lord Nelson.

Or to give him his full name:

Admiral Lord Nelson

The Most Noble Lord Horatio Nelson, Viscount and Baron Nelson, of the Nile and of Burnham Thorpe in the County of Norfolk, Baron Nelson of the Nile and of Hilborough in the said County, Knight of the Most Honourable Order of the Bath, Vice Admiral of the White Squadron of the Fleet, Commander in Chief of his Majesty’s Ships and Vessels in the Mediterranean, Duke of Bronté in the Kingdom of Sicily, Knight Grand Cross of the Sicilian Order of St Ferdinand and of Merit, Member of the Ottoman Order of the Crescent, Knight Grand Commander of the Order of St Joachim

as it is inscribed on his coffin in St. Paul’s cathedral, for he was killed by a French marine during the battle.

The first tribute to Nelson was fittingly offered at sea by sailors of Vice-Admiral Dmitry Senyavin’s passing Russian squadron, which saluted on learning of the death.

King George III, upon receiving the news, is reported to have said, in tears, “We have lost more than we have won”.

And the Times reported:

We do not know whether we should mourn or rejoice. The country has gained the most splendid and decisive Victory that has ever graced the naval annals of England; but it has been dearly purchased.

And so tonight in the Royal Navy and the Commonwealth navies, and at least in some places in the United States Navy and even in other navies and places will be drunk the one naval toast that is drunk in total silence:

The Immortal Memory of Lord Nelson and those who fell with him”

The traditional music to follow the toast is Rule Britannia.

In a remarkable coincidence, the other remaining warship of the period USS Constitution was christened on this day in 1797 at the Boston Navy Yard. While HMS Victory is the oldest ship in commission, USS Constitution (nicknamed “Old Ironsides”) is the oldest warship still afloat and able to sail on its own. Victory is in permanent drydock.