By the time he was invalided back from the disastrous expedition up the Rio San Juan in an attempt to destroy Spain's hold on central America, Nelson – at the age of only 22 – was 'a dead man walking.'
He was carried ashore at Port Royal in a cot, and saved from certain death only by the intervention of Captain 'Coachee' Cornwallis, who was determined he would get well again.
The brother of the would-be scourge of the rebels of the Thirteen Colonies, Cornwallis put him in the care of a handsome black woman – Mrs Cuba – who had taken his own surname. Steeped in voodoo, her methods were frowned on by the medical establishment.
With his faithful companion Tim Hastie, Nelson spent many weeks with Cuba and her young nurses, often delirious and racked by fever and by pain.
By the time he was appointed captain of the Janus, Nelson was too sick to take up the command. Not long afterwards – not for the first time in his short life – he was sent back to England as a wreck.
It was touch and go if he would survive the voyage...
'Nelson: The Dreadful Havoc' is the second of a series about the life and times of Horatio Nelson, which looks at some of his lesser known exploits, as well as the ones which made him the country's most iconic hero.
Author: Jan Needle
Title: Nelson: The Dreadful Havoc
Series: The Nelson series
First Published by: Endeavour Press
Date: 13 August 2014