THE NELSON DECANTER
COMMEMORATING ADMIRAL LORD HORATIO NELSON
At the beginning of the 19th century, England was in a difficult position. Parts of the North American colonies had gained their independence from the crown. Spain was the undisputed ruler of the oceans and a strict enemy to England. English ships were often taken by the Spanish fleet and there was no defence against this. Europe had been conquered by Napoleon's French army and Britain was threatened by invasion. The British fleet was weak in number and suffered from uncreative leadership.
There was one British naval officer who was different - Horatio Nelson! Admiral Nelson was an outstanding and strongly nonconformist leader. He did not follow the old and traditional patterns, but instead created his own solutions in the battles and engagements that he fought and later lead. In fact, at times his path to success was in direct defiance of the orders given him. He did not follow orders that he found useless or not according to his own concept, and because of his leadership and tactical genius, he was victorious in every major engagement he fought and was therefore never brought to task for his disobedience. He was popular and well-respected, and those he led worshipped him in contrast to the usual relationship between English military leaders and their men at that time. He was always personally in the thick of the fight. He appealed to the pride and patriotism of his sailors. This connection to his men, apart from winning the most important sea battle at the time and one of the greatest in the annals of naval warfare, made him a hero to not only his men and the Royal Navy, but to the common people of England where the Battle of Trafalgar, 200 years later, is still celebrated.
PUSSER’S RUM is also known to the Navy as “Nelson’s Blood”. Unfortunately, in the heat of battle at Trafalgar, Nelson was mortally wounded by a French sharpshooter. At the end of the battle, legend has it that they placed his body in a large puncheon (cask) of Admiralty rum to preserve it for the long voyage back to England. Months later upon arrival at Portsmouth, his pickled body was removed, but most of the rum was gone. The sailors had drilled a small hole at the base of the cask, and drank all the rum, thereby drinking of “Nelson’s Blood” which since has been synonymous with the name Pusser’s Rum.
And the name PUSSER’S’? A corruption of purser. For hundreds of years the jack tars of the Royal Navy have referred to the purser as the pusser—and anything which came from the purser was called pusser’s—andstill is today!