In a fierce battle, 27 British ships of the line fought 33 French and Spanish ships of the line. Although the lead ships of the British columns were heavily battered, with Nelson’s flagship HMS Victory nearly disabled, the greater experience and training of the Royal Navy overcame the greater numbers of the French and Spanish navies. The Franco-Spanish fleet lost 22 ships; the British lost none.
The victory confirmed the naval supremacy Britain had established during the course of the eighteenth century, and it was achieved in part through Nelson's departure from the prevailing naval tactical orthodoxy of the day. Conventional practice at the time was for opposing fleets to engage each other in single parallel lines in order to facilitate signalling and disengagement, and to maximize fields of fire and target areas. Nelson instead arranged his ships into columns sailing perpendicularly into the enemy fleet's line.
During the battle, Nelson was shot by a French musketeer who was up in the rigging, and he died shortly before the battle ended.
The shot passed through his lung and shattered his spine. He was taken below deck for treatment. But his injuries were too serious, and he died.