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Factual error: When Hornblower orders "Beat to Quarters" before the second engagement with the Natividad, none of the cannons are bowsed up. During normal ship operations, the muzzles are raised up above the gunports and the guns are bowsed tightly against the ship's side to prevent the weapon from rolling to and fro and causing damage.
Factual error: During the battle with the four French warships, Hornblower gives the command, "Port your helm", and the quartermaster complies, turning the wheel to the left. Unfortunately, this would result in the Sutherland turning starboard, vice larboard, since the rudder would have been turned to port.
Factual error: Upon his triumphant return in Lydia, Admiral McCartney tells Hornblower, "We're giving you a 74. A Frenchman we captured, renamed the Sutherland." According to C.S. Forester, the Sutherland was actually a Dutch 74, originally named the Eendracht, thus explaining its shallow draught, as commented on during the captain's meeting aboard Leighton's flagship.
Plot hole: During the second engagement with the Natividad, Hornblower is advised that the surgeon is dead. The duty station of a surgeon in battle is in the cockpit on the orlop deck, far below the waterline. The odds of a cannonball penetrating there would be longer than its penetrating the cable tier.
Factual error: The lower masts on a 74-gun ship of the line are made up of numerous trees, with metal bands used to clamp them into a single unit. Upper masts were usually made from a single tree and did not require banding. During the engagement with the 4 French ships, sections of mast plunge onto the decks, and all of them are banded with hemp.