London, November 25 : A letter that Lord Nelson had written 20 months before the Battle of Trafalgar in February 1804, when his fleet were blockading the French inside Toulon, is to be sold at auction.
Nelson had written the letter from HMS Victory to his second in command, detailing a strategy for the naval campaign against the French.
The letter is addressed from "Victory at the Madalina Islands, 13th February 1804", and sent to Sir Richard Bickerton bart, Rear Admiral of the White" aboard HMS Kent.
"Rendezvous No 99 - Twelve leagues due West from Cape Corse. To be added to the list of Rendezvous," the Telegraph quoted the secret order as reading.
Nelson had set up a supply base at what are currently known as the Maddelena Islands off the Northern tip of Sardinia, after the Napoleonic war resumed in May 1803.
The significance of his secret order lies in the fact that it shows how he was operating an open blockade of the French.
His plan was to disrupt French and Spanish trade and naval movements, and to simultaneously lure out their fleet so that they could be defeated in battle.
Nelson's scheme finally worked after the French fleet had escaped from Toulon, crossed the Atlantic, and come back again with Nelson in pursuit.
He had already controlled his blockading fleet through a series of rendezvous points, with number 97, between Cape San Sebastian and the Balearic, being the best known.
The new rendezvous 99 shows that he was refining his strategy and moving his blockade nearer to the French coast.
According to reports, Nelson's letter is part of his family's belongings that will be sold next week by auctioneers Hampton and Littlewood in Exeter.
Other documents include minutes of meetings setting up a fund in memory of Nelson, and letters from the Nelson family.
The entire batch of items to be auctioned have a guide price of 5,000 to 7,000 pounds.
Manuscript expert Roger Collicott believes that people will show a lot of interest in buying these items.
"Lord Nelson was born 250 years ago and there is a lot of interest in him at the moment. These documents have been in the same family for years and years and they only realised their importance when they took them to an antiques roadshow," he said.