The Chesme battle was one of the key moments in the Russian-Turkish war of 1768-1774. It was preceded by the Second Peloponnesian uprising, raised by Greek patriots against Ottoman rule and actively supported by Russian authorities. As you know, at the beginning of the war Russia did not yet have fleet in the Black Sea. This created serious obstacles to support the Greek national liberation struggle. Therefore, the ruling circles of the Russian Empire came up with the idea of sending a squadron of the Russian fleet from the Baltic Sea to the Aegean Sea. The first to voice this idea in November 1768 was Grigory Orlov, close to Empress Catherine II. The Empress agreed with the opinion of her favorite, after which the commander of the expedition with the rank of general-general - Alexei Orlov was appointed.
About him should be mentioned. By the time the expedition began, Alexei Orlov was just 32 of the year. He made a lightning career through his participation in the palace coup 1762 of the year, which brought Catherine II to power. If at the beginning of 1762 the city of Orlov served in the Preobrazhensky regiment with the rank of sergeant, then after the coup he was promoted to major of the guard and major general of the army and received the title of count. He did not occupy any senior positions in the army or navy, but since he was the author of the idea of throwing the Russian navy into the Aegean Sea, the empress entrusted to carry out this risky venture to him.
The expedition was tasked with organizing the support of the Peloponnese Greeks and the diversion of the forces of the Ottoman Empire. There was also such an ambitious plan as a breakthrough of the squadron to Constantinople, which, in the opinion of the Russian command, could force the Ottoman Empire to speedy surrender. Russia hoped to free the Balkan Peninsula from Ottoman rule, putting an end to the centuries-old oppression of the Christian peoples - the Greeks, Slavs, and the Vlachs. To organize an expedition to 1768-1769. favorable circumstances. First, Denmark, which was in good relations with the Russian Empire, was ready to let the Russian fleet through the Strait of Strait and even provide its sailors.
Secondly, the idea of a Russian expedition to the Aegean Sea was also positively perceived by the ruling circles of Great Britain, who were striving to weaken the Ottoman Empire. By the way, a number of experienced naval officers also came from the British fleet to the Russian service, which greatly enhanced the quality of the expedition personnel. In particular, one of the squadrons was headed by John Elphinstone (in the image) - the captain of the British fleet, taken to the Russian service 30 in May 1769 of the year and soon made a rear admiral.
A Scot by birth was Samuel Greig - 35-year-old officer of the British fleet, serving in the rank of lieutenant. True, he began service in the Russian fleet a little earlier and in 1769 was already a personnel officer commanding the battleship of the Three Hierarchs.
The question of organizing the expedition was resolved. It included the Baltic Fleet 5 squadron, including 6 frigates, 1 bombardier, 20 battleships, 26 auxiliary ships. In total, the expedition consisted of 17 thousands of personnel, including 8 thousands of sea paratroopers and 9 thousands of seamen. The first squadron of the expedition under the command of Admiral Grigory Spiridov withdrew from Kronstadt on July 29 (July 18 old style) 1769 of the year. In October 1769, the second squadron commanded by Rear Admiral John Elphinstone, transferred to the Russian service from the British fleet. The following squadrons went to the Aegean Sea after the Chesmensky battle, so we will not talk about them here.
The Russian Navy, by the time of the events in question, had not yet had experience of sea voyages over such long distances. Therefore, the transition from the Baltic Sea to the Mediterranean Sea was accompanied by numerous problems, including human sacrifices. An account of the dead due to illness went hundreds. However, by February 1770, the first squadron of Admiral Spiridov reached Peloponnese. On February 28, a Russian landing force commanded by second major Gabriel Barkov, an officer of the Kursk Infantry Regiment, landed in the bay of Itilona. Although there were only 14 people in the airborne detachment, Barkov was able to quickly gather around himself over 1000 locals - Greeks and Arnauts.
On April 9, Russian ships under the command of the naval artillery brigade leader Ivan Hannibal laid siege to Navarin. 21 April, after a successful siege, Navarin was taken and turned into a temporary base of the Russian fleet. By mid-May 1770, a second squadron commanded by Rear Admiral D. Elphinstone arrived in the Peloponnese region. By the end of May, another powerful battle took place between the Russian squadrons and the Turkish fleet in the Gulf of Napoli di Romagna. In the end, the Turkish Kapudan Pasha Gassan Bey was forced to retreat with his fleet towards the island of Chios. Russian ships rushed after him in pursuit. It was decided to go to Chios, and if the Turkish fleet is not there, then follow to the Dardanelles Strait with the purpose of their blockade.
5 July (24 June) 1770 began the battle of Chios. In the Chios Strait, the Russian and Ottoman fleets clashed with each other. The Russian fleet included the 9 battleships, the 3 frigate, the 1 bomber ship, the 1 packet ship, the 3 kick, and more 13 smaller ships. The Ottoman fleet was much more impressive and included 16 battleships, 6 frigates, 6 shebeks, 13 galleys and 32 small and auxiliary ships. The actual command of the Ottoman fleet was carried out by Jezairli Ghazi Hasan Pasha. As a young man, he, an Armenian by birth, was hijacked into Turkish slavery, but he converted to Islam and entered the sultan's service. For a long time he served in Algeria, and at the time of the Chesmensky battle he was the deputy of the Kaudan-pasha Ibrahim Hyusameddin, who was eliminated from managing the actions of the fleet and therefore his duties were carried out by Jezairli Ghazi Hasan-pasha.
On the morning of 4, on the ship of the Three Hierarchs, Captain Samuel Greig (in the image) raised the signal “Chase after the enemy”, after which the Russian ships launched an offensive against the Ottoman positions in the Chios Strait. Exactly on 11.00, the commander of the Russian fleet, Count Orlov, gave the order to attack the Ottoman fleet. During the battle, the flagship of the Ottoman fleet 80-gun battleship Real Mustafa, captured by Russian sailors on board the ship, exploded. At the same time, Saint Eustathius also blew up. Admiral Grigory Spiridov managed to leave St. Eustache a few minutes before the explosion.
After the Real Mustafa flagship was destroyed, the remaining ships of the Turkish fleet hastily retreated from their positions and took refuge in the Chesme Bay. The entrance to the bay was almost immediately blocked by the ships of the Russian fleet, which began to prepare for the further continuation of hostilities against the Ottoman ships. Turkish fleet lined up in two lines. The first was the 8 of the battleships, the second was the 7 of the battleships. The rest of the Turkish ships were concentrated between the lines and the coast. But such an arrangement of the Ottoman fleet turned out to be incompetent, since the first line did not allow the second line to fire on the Russian ships, and finding the ships close to each other facilitated the shelling of the positions of the Turks with Russian artillery. As a result of the shelling, the Turkish ships caught fire, and since they were located in close proximity to each other, the fire immediately spread to the neighboring ships.
All day 6 July, the Turkish fleet was shelled by Russian ships. In 17: 00, the bombardment of the Turkish positions was launched by the Thunder, the bombing ship, which stood right in front of the entrance to the bay. In 0: 30, the battleship “Europe” joined the shelling, a bit later - the battleship “Rostislav”. In 1: 30, one of the Turkish battleships exploded as a result of shelling by Russian artillery. A fire broke out that quickly spread to other ships in the bay. Near 2: 00 exploded another Ottoman ship. After that, firefighters entered the bay, but two of them were put out of order by Ottoman fire. However, Lieutenant Iljin's brander managed to grapple with the 84-Ottoman cannon battleship, after which the team set fire to the brander and left it on the boat. Brander exploded and caught fire, passing the fire not only on the Turkish battleship, but also on other ships of the Turkish fleet. K 2: 30 exploded three more Turkish battleships. Between 4: 00 and 5: 30, six more battleships exploded, and at the beginning of the seventh hour of the morning - four more battleships. By 8 o'clock in the morning of 7 July 1770, the battle in the Chesme Bay ended in victory for the Russian fleet. The Ottoman fleet suffered great damage.
The defeat of the Ottoman fleet in the Battle of Chesme was overwhelming. Losses amounted to 15 battleships (from 16 participating in the battle), 6 frigates (from 6 participating in the battle). The surviving battleship was captured by the Russians. About 11 thousands of Ottoman sailors died. The Russian fleet lost incomparably less in battle, both men and ships. Thus, fleet losses amounted to the entire 4 firewall, and personnel lost about 20 people. At the same time, in the Battle of Chios, the Russian fleet lost the battleship Saint Eustathius and the 1 people who lost their lives in the 636.
The news of the victory of Russian weapons in the Battle of Chesme, it was enthusiastically received not only by the Russian Empire, but also by almost the entire Christian world. Empress Catherine II personally congratulated Count Alexei Orlov, who commanded the Russian fleet, and especially stressed that the whole of Europe is surprised at the courage of Russian sailors, and the great European powers directly envy the victories of Russian weapons. Naturally, the heroes of the Chesme battle could not be left without military awards. Admiral Gregory Spiridov (pictured) received the Order of St. Andrew the First-Called, Count Alexei Orlov and Captain Samuel Greig received the Order of St. George 2 degree. Captains Fedot Klokachev and Stepan Khmelevsky were awarded the Order of St. George 3-th degree, and the commanders of the firefighters and several other officers of the fleet - crosses of the Order of St. George 4-th degree.
From now on, Count Alexei Orlov became known as Orlov-Chesmensky and was promoted to General-in-Chief with the right to raise the Kaiser-flag and place it in the family coat of arms. By the way, he was also entrusted with the formation of the “Albanian army” from among the Greeks and Orthodox Albanians who served in the Russian fleet. Already after the end of the Russian-Turkish war, settlements in the vicinity of Kerch and Enikale were set aside for the settlements of Albanian troops.
Victory in the Battle of Chesme contributed to a serious turning point in the Russian-Turkish war. The main Ottoman fleet, which took part in the battle in the Chesme Bay, was destroyed. This opened for the Russian fleet the opportunity to begin the blockade of the Dardanelles. However, since the Ottomans still had significant naval forces, Count Orlov refused the plan to blockade Constantinople. For the whole of the next 1771, the Turkish fleet practically did not take any active actions in the Aegean Sea.
For modern Russia, the memory of the Chesme battle is very important. First, this heroic page in our history once again prompts us to recall the courage and selfless devotion to our country of Russian sailors, soldiers, officers, generals and admirals of the time. Secondly, it demonstrates the superiority of the commander and naval talent of the Russian military leaders, who were able to brilliantly organize such a complex naval operation. Third, the Battle of Chesme symbolizes Russia's concern for the Christian peoples of the Balkan Peninsula and the Mediterranean, which at that time were ruled by the Ottoman Empire. The whole XVIII and XIX centuries. The Russian Empire provided very serious assistance to the Balkan peoples, who were striving to free themselves from the power of the Ottoman Empire. Thanks to the help of Russia, the Greek, Bulgarian, Serbian, and Romanian peoples gained long-awaited political independence, the opportunity to freely practice their religion, preserve their national culture and national identity. And the Chesme battle in the struggle for the liberation of the Balkan peoples has a special role.
Unfortunately, far from all representatives of the political and intellectual elites of the Balkan Peninsula, Russia's contribution to the liberation of their countries from Ottoman domination was appreciated in due measure — the constant ideological and financial influence of Western European powers that competed with Russia for influence in the region affected. But participation in the fight against Ottoman domination still remains one of the brightest pages of the history of the Russian military and naval presence in the Mediterranean region.