October 21st seems to have been a magnet for naval battles and important events in naval history. The most important was probably the 1805 Battle of Trafalgar in which a combined fleet of thirty-three French and Spanish ships were pretty much wiped out by a British fleet of twenty-seven ships under the command of Horatio Nelson. While it was a huge turning point in the long war with Napoleonic France (it pretty much wiped out France’s navy) it unfortunately also resulted in Nelson’s death.
There was also a battle on this day in 1757 off Cap-Français (these days known as Haiti) during the Seven Years War. In this battle three British ships tangled with seven French ships who were trying to protect a large convoy. Despite being outnumbered by more than 2 to 1 the British commanders had a conference and in less than a minute decided to accept the French squadron’s offer of battle. The battle was pretty much a draw but the British did manage to inflict a lot of damage on the French which delayed the departure of the convoy.