A.P. Bogolyubov "Capture by a boat" Mercury "of the Swedish frigate" Venus "
The Russian-Swedish war of 1788 – 1790, initiated by the Swedish king Gustav III, was, in fact, another attempt to repay the misadventure in the Northern War and the failure of the 1741 – 1743 conflict. Russia did not intend to fight with Sweden, a neighbor that was frankly unfriendly - it was enough that Gustav III’s passion for dramatic writing did not shift to a real theater of military operations. However, the adventurism and frivolity of Stockholm, the whisperings, exhortations and gold of Western benefactors dragged the state into a war that didn’t bring him either political or economic gain — usually, advocating other people's interests at the expense of its own people does not promise anything good to the people themselves.
The 1788 campaign was generally unsuccessful for Sweden: the naval battle near the island of Gogland ended formally in a draw, but in fact it was a Russian victory. Gustav III could trumpet as much as he could about a victorious battle, as a result of which the Swedish fleet took refuge out of harm's way behind Sveaborg's batteries, and even made propaganda fireworks, but the fact of obvious failure was evident. The idea to disembark the 20-thousandth expeditionary force near St. Petersburg failed, and it had to be transferred to the next, 1789 year.
In the Swedish troops located in Finland, a rebellion broke out aimed at separating the latter from Sweden, and the king was in a very difficult position. In addition, fulfilling the alliance agreement and remembering the old grievances well, Denmark entered the war on the side of Russia, and Gustav III considered it best to return with part of the army to Sweden. Since the ship fleet was blocked in Sveaborg, the implementation of this operation was possible only with the help of army rowing fleet. Taking aboard the king with his retinue and troops, he moved a skerry fairway from Sveaborg to Abo.
However, on the way the Swedes had some difficulties. After the Gogland battle, Admiral Greig formed a special detachment consisting of one battleship and three frigates (one of which was rowing) under the general command of Captain I Rank Yakov Ivanovich (James) Trevenen to block enemy communications in the Gangut region. 14 August Trevenen took up a position, and the Swedish army fleet was forced to anchor in Tverminna bay, where Peter I's galleys stood in 1714. The path to the west was blocked and the king was trapped. Several times Swedish rowing boats attempted to deliver food for troops remaining in Finland, using calm weather. However, the successful actions of the Russian rowing frigate "The Evangelist Mark", who was part of the blocking squad, each time prevented this.
The commander of the Baltic Fleet, Samuel Karlovich Greig, died on October 15 from typhoid fever raging in the fleet. Rear Admiral T. G. Kozlyaninov, who replaced him, removed the blockade of Sveaborg and took the ships to Kronstadt and Revel for the winter. So even October 13 1788, Trevenen received the order of the new commander to leave for Revel. The Russian ships left an advantageous position, as a result, Gustav III was able to freely return to Stockholm along with his loyal troops, and the supply line of the remaining group in Finland was restored. Because of Kozlyaninov’s rash and premature actions, the Swedish king was able to appear in time in the capital, where the Riksdag had already begun to worry and express concerns about Gustav’s Russian venture. The main forces of the Swedish fleet, which were in Sveaborg, also did not fail to take advantage of the rashness of the Russians and 9 November quietly returned to their main base, Karlskrona. Nevertheless, the king's entourage clearly understood that a quick victory over the enemy would not work, and the war, which at first was thoughtlessly viewed by some as an amusement voyage to St. Petersburg, threatens to be protracted. For the non-glittering Swedish economy, fueled by subsidies from Britain, France and even Turkey at war with Russia, this could have disastrous consequences.
Copenhagen squadron and Mercury cotter raid
Even before the outbreak of hostilities, in preparation for the march to the Mediterranean, a squadron of Vice Admiral Vilim Petrovich Fondezin (von Desin) was sent to the allied Russia of Copenhagen as part of the cannon ships John the Baptist, Three Hierarchs and Saratov and 32-gun frigate "Hope". At the end of June, these ships arrived in Denmark. In the summer, a detachment of Rear Admiral I. A. Povalishin came out of Arkhangelsk, consisting of ships built at the Solombala shipyard. It consisted of three 74-gun ships (“Alexander Nevsky”, “Maxim the Confessor” and ship No. XXUMX, after the Gogland victory, was renamed “Sysoy the Great”), two 9-gun ships (“Northern Eagle” and “Prokhor”), and also two frigates - the Archangel Gabriel and the Helper. In late August this detachment arrived in Copenhagen, where Fondezin was already waiting for him. Two small cotters bought in England soon arrived there, one of which was reclassified into a tender, and the other, with the brig's sailing armament, was named Mercury. "Sons of Great" was not lucky: he flew in a fog on a sandy canal off the coast of Norway and was forced to go to the repair in the ChristianSund.
With the beginning of the war between Russia and Sweden, Vilim Fondezin received clear instructions from the forces entrusted to him to carry out an attack on the enemy port of Gothenburg, where, according to intelligence data, there were three Swedish frigates. The port was ordered to be burned, and the frigates to capture or destroy. Instead of a rapid raid on enemy shores, Fondezin began a leisurely process called “preparation for the march”, which took him more than a month, and only then went to sea. Of course, by this time the goal of the Russian squadron was already known in every port tavern on both sides of the Baltic. Instead of capturing frigates, Fondezin ruined a fishing village on the Swedish coast, without causing significant damage to the enemy and arousing disapproval of the Danish allies. In late October, his squadron cruised at Karlskrona, however, having received news of the death of Greig and the departure of the Baltic Fleet from the Sveaborg area, he decided to retire to Copenhagen, guided by the strategic postulate “how it wouldn’t happen”. In the first half of November, three battleships, arriving from Reval, joined Fondazin.
However, the admiral did not show much activity and just as measuredly began to prepare the squadron for the winter. The result of this slowness was that the Russian ships instead of secure stops appeared in Sound, where their crews had to fight the ice all winter. Only due to the dedication of the teams and commanders, none of the Fondesin ships sank. In St. Petersburg, they had already heard about the outstanding commanding abilities shown by Vilim Petrovich as commander of the Copenhagen squadron, and most importantly, about the consequences of using these abilities. Catherine II honored the admiral with one of her stinging aphorisms, and at the end of December, Foundesin replaced the Kozlyanin vice-admiral.
But it was not at all multi-canal battleships and fast frigates from among those in Denmark that managed to gain military glory in the 1789 campaign of the year. This honor was awarded to a cotter purchased in England, which had the brig's sailing armament and was named “Mercury”.
Estimated Portrait of Robert Crown
Among other officers who served on ships stationed in Copenhagen, was Scot Robert Crone with the rank of lieutenant commander, called for simplicity Roman Vasilyevich. Robert Crone was born in January 1754 on a farm of poor landowners near the Scottish city of Perth. The boy was the only child in the family, and the parents, wanting to secure his future, planned to send him on the trade business. At the age of 11, Robert was put in a prosperous trading office to learn the basics of this very lucrative craft. However, the young Crone, from an early age, was experiencing a craving for the sea, the career of a trader seemed incredibly boring, so he ran away from home with a boyish goal: to walk to the nearest port, where you can figure out on board some ship. Soon the future full admiral of the Russian fleet was detained by farm workers sent after him in pursuit and delivered to angry parents. After talking with his son, the father realized that the merchant would not be able to do this because of a total lack of motivation, and decided not to break Robert’s life and allow the fugitive to go to sea service.
For a while, Crone served on a mail vessel cruising between Perth and London. I had to serve on other ships, to take part in the North American war against the insurgent colonies, but the career in the British royal fleet advanced slowly. In February, 1788, being in the rank of lieutenant of the British fleet, Robert Crone entered the service in the Russian fleet in the same rank. However, in March of the same year, it was made a lieutenant commander - Russia lacked experienced naval officers. Robert, who received the name Roman and patronymic Vasilievich, was identified on the battleship "John the Baptist", leaving for Copenhagen. Upon arrival at the site, Crone was appointed to command the sailing-rowing boat Mercury, which had just arrived from England, which was armed with 12-pounders and had a crew of 100 men. Officially, the ship of the Russian fleet entered 28 June 1788.
At the end of July, 1788, along with the rest of the squadron “Mercury”, went to cruise in the Baltic. Winter 1788 – 1789 Crone carried out with benefit: on his initiative, the boat was re-equipped with instruments of a larger caliber - now the Mercury had twenty-two 24-pounder carades, which very significantly increased its firepower. The squadron commanders had plans to send the boat to an independent raid in order to reconnoiter the location of the enemy forces and the associated disorder of the enemy trade.
19 April 1789. The ship left Copenhagen and headed for Karlskrona, where the main forces of the Swedish fleet were concentrated. Already in the sea, Crone thoroughly worked on the appearance of the ship entrusted to him, preparing him for the upcoming operation. Much attention was paid to the disguise: the cannon ports were hidden under the black sail, the guns on the upper deck were covered with a tarp. The deck and the board were rendered in a sloppy state, and the crew had to look pointedly sloppy so as not to betray their military identity. In general, the crew put a lot of effort into making “Mercury” look like an ordinary Baltic “merchant” and did not attract much attention. 29 April, a boat discovered an enemy tender "Snappup", armed with small caliber guns, sent for reconnaissance near the island of Bornholm. The Swede did not pay any attention to the grubby "merchant" and continued to follow his course. By letting Snappup be far enough away from Karlskruna, Crone caught up with him and, after an unexpected battle and boarding for the Swedes, forced him to lower the flag. After interrogation of prisoners, the trophy together with the prize team was sent to Copenhagen.
May 19 "Mercury" again went to sea with a detachment of ships under the command of Major-General P. I. Lezhnev, who were ordered to accompany the battleship "Sysoy the Great" who had wintered in Norway. On May 20, an English trade ship met the Russians, whose capricious captain reported that the newest 44-gun Swedish frigate Venus was anchored in the Christian fjord. Lezhnyov, not knowing the fairways, did not dare to venture into unfamiliar skerries. Therefore, only one “Mercury” entered there, again disguised as an untidy merchant. On the way, the resourceful captain-lieutenant managed to lure on board the Swedish pilots, who, unaware, were summoned from the shore. Only when they found themselves on board the boat, suddenly turned out to be a Russian warship, did the Swedes realize that they were escorted.
The Venus, commissioned in the current 1789 year, was an excellent ship with an underwater part lined with copper. His armament consisted of thirty 24-pounders and sixteen 6-pounders. The crew consisted of 380 people. Crown ordered to anchor not far from the remaining Swede in ignorance. On the morning of May 21 turned out to be calm, and the lieutenant commander, taking advantage of the favorable situation, led his ship at the oars, which allowed the "Mercury" to take a favorable position relative to his formidable opponent, going up to that from the stern. Turning overboard, the boat opened fire at the enemy ship with caronads at close range. The Venus could only respond with a small-caliber 6-pound chute gun. After 2,5 hours of battle, the Swedish frigate lowered the flag. From 84, the crew of the Mercury 4 was killed and 6 was injured. Contrary to maritime traditions, the wife of Crown, who was helping the wounded, was on board the boat during the battle. Subsequently, Empress Catherine II awarded Marfa Ivanovna Crown for this with the Order of St. Catherine. Crown himself received for capturing "Venus" the rank of captain of the 2 rank, the Order of St. George of the 4 degree and appointment as commander of a trophy frigate, which was left its former name. The cotter was not forgotten either: through 31, the brig Mercury in Sevastopol would be named in his honor.
Subsequently, Roman Vasilyevich more than once manifested himself. In winter, 1789 – 1790. The Venus was completely renovated and re-equipped. In the 1790 campaign, the frigate had 42 cannons, 8 caronades and two falconet on its decks. For participation in the battle of Revel, Crone received a golden sword with the inscription “For Bravery”, and in the Vyborg battle of 22 on June 1790, commanding the same “Venus”, forced him to lower the flag of the 64-gun battleship Retvizan. This feat was awarded the Order of St. Vladimir 3 degree, elevation to the rank of captain 1 rank and a lifetime pension. In 1824, Mr. Crown rose to the rank of full admiral, but he accepted Russian citizenship only at 1830, and in the next 1831 he retired, giving the service in the Russian fleet long 43 years. Roman Vasilyevich Crown died in April 1841.
Maneuvers of Denmark and the Battle of Eland
Commander of the Baltic Fleet, Admiral V. Ya. Chichagov
While the Copenhagen squadron spoiled the mood of the Swedes by the very fact of its existence, the main grouping of the Baltic Fleet was preparing to join the 1789 campaign with new forces and a new commander. In May, Admiral Vasily Yakovlevich Chichagov was appointed to this post. The main forces consisted of the 21 battleship (of which the 3 had three decks), the 10 of large frigates and a number of ships of other classes. The situation with a complete set of crews was better than in the 1788 campaign, although there was still an acute shortage of qualified officer personnel. In addition, about 80 British naval officers left the service, receiving the news of the award of a patent for the title of Rear Admiral to the hero of the war of independence for the American Paul Jones.
Finally, preparations began for the rowing fleet, which was extremely neglected by the time the war began. He was hastily arranged in Kronstadt. The command over him was entrusted to the recent hero of the battles near the walls of Ochakov and in Liman, who was in the Russian service to Prince Karl Nassau-Siegen. The combat fleet was brought to a state of combat only at the beginning of June and had 75 ships (galley, dubbing boats, gunboats and others). The Russian military machine spun up traditionally slowly, but each of its next turn was faster than the previous one.
Preparing for the upcoming campaign and the Swedes. Considering last year’s crisis at Gangut, when a small detachment of Russian ships could block the movement of the Swedish galley fleet, by order of Gustav III, powerful fortifications were erected in this area, on which more than 50 guns were installed. Winter 1788 – 1789 stood out harsh, there were severe frosts in Karlskrona, the ice bound the Baltic far to the south. Only by April was the ice situation acceptable for the fleet to sail. With the onset of warmer weather, a number of ships were installed in the dock, where they underwent scheduled repairs. The submarines were painted anew, and some frigates also received a copper plating. In the first line, the Swedish fleet in the 1789 campaign of the year had an 21 battleship, 13 frigates (of which 9 were large) and several other ships. The total number of personnel consisted 16 thousand people. In the spring, epidemics began in Karlskrona and about 2 thousand soldiers were transferred to the fleet to compensate for the loss of personnel, which somewhat reduced the quality of crews. Much attention was paid to tactical elements: commanders were instructed to strictly observe the distance. In the code of signals, a new one appeared with a strict wording: “The ship is poorly managed, the watch officer is arrested for 24 hours”. The initial plans of the Swedes were aimed at preventing the connection of the Copenhagen squadron and the Baltic Fleet. Among other things, it was necessary to ensure the transfer of troops from Swedish Pomerania to Finland.
23 June 1789 The Duke Karl Södermanland left Karlskrona with a 21 battleship and 8 large frigates and cruised around the island of Rügen, covering sea transport. In early July, information was received about the upcoming Russian fleet's release, which the duke did not really like, since he expected that for technical reasons and because of the incomplete crews Chichagov would leave Kronstadt no earlier than August. Kozlyaninov’s squadron continued to remain inactive in Copenhagen, being watched over by the Danish fleet. The fact is that there have been some changes with the formally allied Denmark. Since the beginning of the war, fulfilling the agreement, Copenhagen announced the start of hostilities with Sweden, but at the same time did not show the activity expected from Russia. The fighting Danes were sluggish and extremely limited forces. The relevant authorities in England and France immediately began to exert strong diplomatic pressure on Denmark, expressing the extreme desirability of concluding peace with Sweden and expelling the Russian squadron from Copenhagen. The fighting between the Swedes and the Danes moved from sluggish to the armistice phase. The Danish government, on the one hand, wanted to end the conflict with the Swedes, on the other - did not want to completely spoil relations with Russia. The Danish fleet lined up in line with Kozlyaninov’s squadron at the northern exit from the Copenhagen raid, and the southern one, just in case, was defended by four old battleships used as floating batteries. It seems that it looked like protecting the capital from the Swedes still considered opponents, in fact, the Russians were clearly made to understand that any actions on their part were clearly not desirable. Once again, Russia had to make sure that its best allies were its own armed forces, and not “partners” under treaties and alliances, ready to sell yesterday’s comrades at the most reasonable price.
2 July 1789, the Russian fleet under the command of Admiral V.Ya. Chichagov took to sea. It consisted of 19 battleships, 6 frigates, 2 bomber ships, 2 hospital ships and 2 transport ships. On July 10, the Swedes received the first news of the Russians seen from Gotland, and on July 14, on the island of Öland, opponents saw each other. The Duke of Södermanland had a battleship in the 21 line, to which he added all his frigates to 8, which was why he was later criticized for being too long. The frigates were evenly distributed throughout the wake column of the Swedish fleet. Among the Swedish battleships was captured last year during the Hogland battle from the Russian "Vladislav".
Although the number of battleships at Chichagov was less than that of the Swedes (19 versus 21), but in terms of the number of artillery and manning, the advantage was on our side. The distance between the opponents reached about two miles, but the excitement at sea increased, so I had to batten down the gun ports of the lower decks. The evening caught both fleets running parallel courses. The next day, 15 July 1789, both sides lined up and began to converge. The Duke of Södermanland was in the wind and tried not to be cut off from Karlskrona. The rapprochement was rather slow, with the end Swedish ships under the command of Rear Admiral Lillelhorn constantly lagging behind. The commander raised the signal several times with the order to close the line. Only around 14 hours of the day the Swedish avant-garde and the main forces became close enough to the squadron of Chichagov and began the battle.
Two Russian ships left the line on the leeward side to repair the malfunctions that had arisen on them, and, seeing this, left the 4 terminal of the Swedish line, apparently counting two Russians as easy prey. However, the rest of the Swedish battleships and frigates did not follow this example, the line of the duke Charles was torn. Russian battleships, meanwhile, fixed the damage and took their places in the line. The Swedish commander had to spend a lot of effort on restoring order in his own convoy. Both fleets maneuvered, the Duke of Södermanlandsky repeatedly raised the signal to get closer to the Russians for a shorter distance, and surround part of the heavily lagged rearguard ships of Chichagov.
A strong fire prevented the Swedes from carrying out their plans, and the opportunity was missed. The shootout lasted until 8 hours of the evening, after which the opponents dispersed. In total, Chichagov had about 30 killed and about 200 injured. Most of the losses fell on the battleship "Fight", but not because of the accuracy of the Swedish gunners, but as a result of the explosion of three of their own guns. After the battle, "Fight" was sent for repairs to Kronstadt.
Duke Karl Södermanlandsky stepped aside Karlskrona to repair the damage, but he continued to observe Chichagov’s maneuvers from afar. In his battle report, the Swedish commander placed all the blame on Rear Admiral Lillehorn, accusing him of breaking the order and failing to comply with the orders: they say, only because of him failed to achieve "the final victory." Liljehorn was taken into custody while still at sea and put on trial. Subsequently, he was sentenced to the deprivation of noble rank and death, but, given past merits, pardoned.
While the duke came to his senses after another brilliant “lack of victory” and the metal of thunder and lightning towards his subordinate, Kozlyanin’s squadron 19 July left Copenhagen and July 22 united with the main forces of Chichagov. The idea to prevent the unification of the Russian forces completely failed, and now the combined Baltic fleet was more than a third superior to its adversary. From then on, the Swedes at sea were forced to adhere to defensive tactics, and the dominance of the Baltic passed to Russia. Such were the results of the Battle of Eland, formally, on the damage caused, which did not bring success to any of the parties, but in the end turned out to be the undoubted success of the Russian side. You can, of course, accuse Chichagov of indecision, but he did not set out to get involved in a decisive battle before the arrival of the Copenhagen squadron and held a battle at long range. By combining his forces, he could lead the battle on favorable terms. The enemy was still strong and full of military excitement: there were still a year and a half of war ahead, Vyborg, Revel and two Rochensalm battles.