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HMS Pickle

The Royal Navy schooner HMS Pickle, of 4 guns, was the smallest ship present at the Battle of Trafalgar, commanded by Lt. John Richard Lapenotiere. Since a single broadside from any of the ships of the line would have sunk her instantly, she spent most of the time staying out of the way, carrying messages, and later picking up survivors from the French ship Achille, which had caught fire and exploded.

The Pickle was also the first ship to bring the news of Nelson's victory to Great Britain, arriving at Falmouth on November 4, 1805. She had been chosen to carry the dispatches of Vice Admiral Collingwood who had taken over after the death of Nelson. After arriving in Falmouth Lapenotiere took a coach to London to deliver the dispatches to the Admiralty, he was promoted to Master & Commander for his efforts. He was later promoted to Post Captain and died in 1843. To this day the Navy's petty officers have an annual Pickle Night dinner, as do many private clubs in the British Commonwealth.

The ship was built in Bermuda, and was originally a civilian vessel named Sting. She struck a shoal at Cadiz and was lost in 1808.

Reference: David Howarth, Trafalgar: The Nelson Touch (Atheneum, 1969).

A later HMS Pickle, a schooner of 3 guns, was involved in the slave trade suppression, and achieved fame for capturing the armed slave ship Voladora off the coast of Cuba on June 5, 1829.

Reference: W.E. Ward, The Royal Navy and the Slavers (Pantheon, 1969), p. 135.