The war in the Baltic sea

Southport Visiter

June 8th 1854

The war in the Baltic sea

Operations have commenced with vigor, in the Gulf of Finland, a letter from an officer in the fleet gives an account of the 1st affair in the Baltic.

HMS St G, off Hango Head, Gulf of Finland, May 21st 1854,

I am now able to relate a small piece of sport that we had with the Russians. We joined the fleet about 3 days ago and anchored off Hango Head, off were three Russian forts, the largest mounting 70 guns.

This morning the HECLA, DRAGON and MAGICENNE, steamers, went close in under the forts and opened fire on them. The first shot pitched high on the ramparts, spreading destruction on all sides, the shot was followed by several shells.

Presently the forts opened fire and we observed the DRAGON’S ensign shot away from her peak, but it was soon hoisted again to the mainmast.

The shot now began to fly in all directions, no ships opened on the forts, but the steamers. Bricks, stones and mortar was flying about, the beach was lined with Russian troops, and small batteries were thrown upon the shore, which all opened on the ships.

I was pulling in a boat from the DUKE OF WELLINGTON, to the St G, and a shell burst in the air just astern of me, but without damage. The cannonade lasted 5hrs, when the signal was hoisted to recall the steamers.

The DRAGON had 15 shots right through her, and only one man was killed and one wounded. We calculate the fort must have lost 100 men and had some guns dismounted. To-morrow morning some of the screw, line-of-battle are going to close in to continue the action.

During the action today as was on the DUKE on duty and had a splendid view of the affair. There was also another affair which took place a few miles up the coast last Saturday. The HECLA lost 3 men and the ARROGANT was riddled with shot about her white streak. She lost a few men, but they knocked the fort to pieces.

The 1st Lieut of the HECLA lost his eye from a splinter from the funnel, where a shot went right through it. They also took a Russian pilot, who promised to pilot the fleet into all the Russian ports if Sir C. NAPIER would not deliver him up to the Russian government again. There will be some splendid work in a day or two, what with Revel, Tiga, Helsingfors and Constadt, we shall not do badly.

May 22nd, I believe, three line-of-battle ships are going today to batter a large fort down.

In the first named affair the following ships were engaged, the HECLA, [6] paddle, Capt Nemesis HALL, the MAGICIENNE, [16], paddle, Capt FISHER, the DRAGON, [6], Capt WILCOX, one man killed, one wounded.

In the second affair, two ships involved, the ARROGANT, [47] screw, Capt YELVERTON, the HECLA, [6], paddle, Capt HALL.

Letter from Hango, 24th,

Details of attack on the fort of Eckness, near Hango on the 20th, by the HECLA and the ARROGANT, their object to cut up a Barque taking shelter under the guns of the fort which opened a brisk fire, smartly returned by the English vessels. After several hours engagement the enemy retired, leaving several killed and wounded.

Capt HALL landed and captured some guns as a trophy and the barque was taken, the HECLA had two seamen wounded and one killed, the ARROGANT, two killed, three wounded. On the vessels returning to Hango, they received, three cheers. The DUKE OF WELLINGTON signalled, “Well done ARROGANT and HECLA.”

Another account, Capt HALL having met a fishing boat off the coast, resolved to turn the two men in her to account, making them act as pilots. The two ships proceeded up a narrow river and anchored on the evening of the 19th, the enemy from behind a high sand bank in a heavily wooded place, fired upon one of the boats, 600 to 800yds from the shore, and struck the HECLA. Both ships beat to quarters and cast loose their guns loaded with shot, which they poured in the wood, whence the enemy quickly dislodged.

At 2am both ships weighed, the HECLA leading, quietly feeling their way along the intricate navigation of the river, both ships came suddenly in the way of an enemy battery. The HECLA opened fire, which was quickly answered from the fort. The promontory on which the battery stood was crowded with soldiers, fine, stalwart men with long grey coats and spiked steel helmets glittering in the sun.

While the battery was firing at the HECLA, the ARROGANT let fly a whole broadside among the soldiery, when the smoke cleared, a troop of horse artillery was seen scampering away. A prolonged and heavy musketry now ensued from the wood, and minie balls fell thick on both ships. The ARROGANT got within 20yds of the battery, the enemy guns were dismounted by a broadside and the ship was got off in safety. On passing the fort a terrible sight was witnessed, gun carriages blown to fragments, guns dismounted and helmets and knapsacks without owners.

The town of Eckness, now open, and there lay the ships the object of the expedition. The ARROGANT anchored here where the water was shallow, the HECLA proceeded on, but another battery opened fire on her. The ARROGANT, swung broadside , kept up the cannonade, while the HECLA passed, firing shells on the enemy as she did so, and ran up alongside a barque, taking her in tow and steaming away with her, to the horror of the inhabitants. When this expeditionary force were returning they were joined by the DAUNTLESS which, had been sent out by the commander-in-chief. To ascertain the cause and source of the firing, distinctly audible as the squadron steamed into the Hango Roads.

The HECLA had several shot through the funnel, steam pipes and hull, one shot passing straight through her side. The round shot and shell went over the ARROGANT. Both ships were studded with minie balls. The ARROGANT had one man shot through the heart and a man wounded by a bullet in the navel, which went through his intestines and out through his back. He lived till yesterday. The HECLA had one man killed.

Capt HALL was resolved not to leave without a trophy. He gallantly landed his marines and through them out as skirmishers, while he and a party of men hoisted an iron gun into his boat and placed it on board the HECLA.

News later

Senior Lieut READ of the HECLA was seriously wounded in the legs, eye and cheek.

Capt HALL captured three guns and was wounded slightly in his right leg, being bruised by a spent rifle ball.

On the 22nd, the DRAGON, BASILISK and MAGICIENNE, tried the range of their shot and shell on the fort of Gustafsvarn. They anchored off at 1,560 yds and kept up a constant bombardment for 2hrs. Shot and shell fired by the DRAGON must have killed many men stationed at the guns, besides causing great destruction to the fort. The DRAGON was struck by 20 shots, 15 penetrating her hull, one entered her shell-room, but caused no material injury. One man had his leg shot off and is dead.

The MAGICIENNE dropped some shell in the centre of the fort and the HECLA also tried her large pivot-gun on a smaller fort, but was ordered to cease fire. It is expected the fort of Gustafsvarn would be attacked on the 23rd by a portion of the fleet, four line-of-battle ships could take it easily.

Th Allied forces

After conferring with the French and English commanders, Omar Pasha, on the 26th advanced towards Silistria with 90,000 men in two columns. His right wing leans on the heights near the Teban, Dene and the left on the river Driste.

Constantinople, May 25th

Marshal St Arnaud and Lord RAGLAN, arrived from Schumia, on the 23rd. There were 70,000 Russians employed in the siege of Silistria, and the generals had given orders for the immediate embarkation of 25,000 French and 15,000 English troops for the Danube. News of the 30th from Bucharest, the Russians had been repulsed in an attack one of the attached forts at Silistria.

The defence of Silistria was bravely maintained by Mussa Pasha, one of the ablest and bravest officers in the Turkish army. The Russian artillery, directed by Marshal PASKIEWITCH and General SCHILDERS, had battered down some of the advanced works, but, they had been rapidly repaired, and new works had been thrown up behind them. Four times they had been brought to assault, and each time repulsed with losses.

On the 26th of May, the rising in the Danube rendered the Russian batteries on the island useless.

The Ottoman army in Kars in Asia is in the most deplorable plight, wanting efficient officers, food, clothing and ammunition. General GUYON, had done what he could to re-organise the army, but the wretched system had greatly counteracted his efforts, 20,000 to 30,000 troops were on their way to Trebizond.

Vienna, Tuesday 10am.

Towards the end of May, 5,000 Horse, took the Russians by surprise at Turno. Only 107 of the latter escaped to the left bank of Aluta. The General of Bauangarten has been missing since. In the attack on Silistria on the 29th, Lieut General SYLVAN was killed, and Count ORLOFF shot in the eye.

On the 30th at 4am the Turks made a sally and a fearful massacre took place in the Russian entrenchments. Many of the besieger’s guns were spiked. It is calculated the Russians have lost 8,000 men on the Danube since 20th of May

Fresh water for the British fleet

The introduction of steam for the service has done great things besides giving up a power of moving at will, by placing the fleet completely independent of the shore for water. This is done by connecting one of the boilers with, GRANT’S condenser, which turns the surplus steam into pure water. Such a ship as the DUKE OF WELLINGTON can distil 62tons of water in 24hrs and has several times supplied other ships.


Official despatches have been received from Admiral DUNDAS stating that the TIGER ran on shore on the 12th of May near Qdessa during a fog, Capt GIFFARD, officers and men had been taken prisoner and the frigate burned. The report states, Capt GIFFARD lost his left leg above the knee and has a wound on the right leg, J. GIFFARD, a young Midshipman was killed having both legs shot off, another boy was wounded and not expected to recover. One seaman was wounded but is doing well. The Surgeon has added that every, attention has been given by the authorities at Odessa.

Later news.

The ball which carried off Capt GIFFARD’S foot also carried off the legs of his nephew, John H. GIFFARD a fine young midshipman who leaves a widowed mother living at Cawsand.

The Black Sea

The fleets are still off Sebastopol, the fog has been extraordinary, one lasted 16 days, great precautions are necessary to avoid collision.


Copyright 2002 / To date