- A.N. Other and NHSA Webmaster
- History - general
- RAN Ships
- None noted.
- September 1983 edition of the Naval Historical Review (all rights reserved)
11.30. Signal made to Valorous to weigh immediately; also to Sidon, Curacoa, and Gladiator to follow; Firebrand to go in at once, engaging batteries at both sides. The two earth-and-sand batteries on the spit were spitting away merrily out of their ugly mouths. It was not a pleasant thing to look at their square black embrasures, looking like five or six old black tobacco-stained teeth stuck in a fury’s upper gum, and to see they were only waiting to get you in a favourable position to open fire upon you at 500 yards. The Curacoa went in at them in a businesslike way; the Dauntless very gingerly and circumspectly indeed – remarkably careful; but the Terrible hammered them so hard as almost to bury them in a heap of stony sand. She did her work admirably, and nearly shut them up. It was a brilliant sight to see the Valorous, Sidon, Firebrand, and Gladiator run in to 800 yards, engaging north shore; then run down to within 500 yards of the sand battery, engaging that; and then float into the calm waters at the Dnieper’s mouth, where few British ships have floated before.
Noon. The liners going to work. The barracks in the fort burning fiercely, especially around where the Russian colours were hoisted. Their guns firing rapidly still.
12.30. The line-of-battle ships opened at once; the Hannibal alone bestowing her attentions at a most respectful distance upon the sand-batteries. Her brave Admiral Stewart had gone into Valorous. But this was not peril enough, so he hoisted his pretty white ensign on a small steam gunboat, the little Pilot Fish, in front of all, and there he led in his little squadron like a gallant dashing fellow as he is.
2.30. A flag of truce was hoisted, and the whole Russian garrison marched out under arms. The gunners from the sand forts marched in, bearing on stretchers their wounded; one died; they buried him, stretcher and all, in the sand, stuck up a rude cross at his head, and marched doggedly on. The Allied troops marched into the fort, and the union of Red Ensign and Tricolor was seen on high. The General and officers of the Russian battalion were made to pile their arms outside the fort. The muskets were new, and in first-rate condition. They walked on, bearing the banners and ornaments of their church, and were placed under a French guard at the headquarters, about three miles south of the town. They formed one complete battalion, two Colonels, 4 Majors, 4 Captains, and about 1,200 men. Their loss is said to be about 100 killed and wounded, very few being killed. The English lost two men by the bursting of 68-pounder guns of the Arrow gunboat, one or two wounded. The French lost about 27, chiefly in their floating batteries, which acted admirably, and endured still better. One is said to have had sixty-seven cannon shot strike her without doing any important damage.
18th, 6 a.m. The Russians blew up the forts at Otchakoff, two stupendous explosions rent the air, and shook our steamers – the second presenting that peculiar appearance which the Times calls ‘the velvety fatty black edges.’ Thousands of shells exploded at the same time. The Russians have thus abandoned their position on the north shore, which cost them a long siege and 40,000 men. Alexander may lay down any number of 130-gun steamers, but how many of them can he get out of the Bug and Dnieper? This blow menaces Nicolaieff and Kherson and gives us a point d’appui to work the rear of Gortschakoff, from Aleski to Perekop, Bagtcheserai, and Simpheropol.
From the Invalide Russe we learn that on the evening of the 27th ult. the Allies embarked near Kinburn their field artillery and horses on board some of their transport-ships. Next morning, at daybreak, the ships were still in the roads, and they appeared to be preparing to put to sea, but a dense fog, which lasted from eight o’clock in the morning till the evening, prevented any observations during the day. Before this fog came on, it was remarked that the number of steamers, gunboats, &c., at anchor in the embouchure of the Bug had considerably decreased. Only five steamers and four gunboats remained in the mouth of the Bug. The fleet in the Bay of Otchakoff consisted of sixty-four vessels. The Allies were fortifying their position at Kinburn.
From other sources we learn that British steamers of light draught have reconnoitered Nicolaieff. Numerous ships, finished and unfinished, are in the river and sheds. The place is strongly protected by recently-erected works.
The blockade of Odessa is efficiently continued, and the utmost fear prevails there, as the return of the fleet is supposed to be a certainty. A private letter from that city, of the 22nd ult., says: ‘Since Kinburn has fallen into the power of the Allies the communications kept up between Nicolaieff, Otchakoff, and Odessa by means of clippers have entirely ceased.’
The headquarters of General Liiders, Commander-in-Chief of the Army of the South, which is 50,000 strong, are removed from Odessa to Nicolaieff. If the Augsburg Gazette be as well informed on Russian subjects as it is well disposed to Russian interest, the Czar has not been able to provide for the defence of Nicolaieff and Kherson without withdrawing a portion of his army from the Crimea. The Gazette states that the 1st Brigade of the Fourteenth Division of Reserve, a corps that took part in the defence of Sebastopol, has marched to Nicolaieff; and artillery had also been detached from Prince Gortschakoff’s army, with the same destination.
The Oesterreichische Zeitung states that Totleben is working wonders at Nicolaieff. Below Spaska, where the Bug is 600 saschen or fathoms broad, the new gunboats, which will be manned by the remainder of the crews of the former Black Sea fleet, are to be stationed. The two banks of the river will be defended by forts and redoubts. The inhabitants of Nicolaieff were informed that, as an attack on the city was not beyond the bounds of probability, they might, if they pleased, retire into the interior. Three-fourths of the people have emigrated, and things are not better at Kherson. It is related that all the batteries at Odessa are to be disarmed, and the guns sent to Nicolaieff.
Admiral Berck, Governor of Nicolaieff and Admiral-in-Chief of the Black Sea Fleet and Ports, is dismissed. Vice-Admiral Mettin is appointed in his stead, with the additional command of the flotilla in the Danube.
It was rumoured at Vienna, on Wednesday, that the bombardment of Nicolaieff had begun on the 29th ult., and continued during the whole of the 30th, but the report was not credited.
The accompanying Plan of the Spit of Kinburn and the arrangement of the Allied fleet in front of the fort, will enable our readers to understand the following account of a daring feat performed there on the night previous to the bombardment.