Crimean storm of 1854. The element that drowned the fleet








Storm. Ship wreck. Ivan Aivazovsky. 1855

On November 14, 1854, the Crimean storm finally turned into a monstrous hurricane. Loaded with ammunition, provisions, winter uniforms and other ships and vessels of the occupation forces did not have time to go into the open sea and took the blow of the elements off the coast of Taurida. In order to systematize enemy losses at sea, it is necessary to geographically divide the areas in which foreign ships took the “last battle” with a raging storm. They found their sea graves at the bottom near Balaklava Bay, Kacha and Evpatoria.

Remaining to die at Balaklava

Even before the storm finally got stronger, ships and vessels stopped letting into Balaklava Bay, which was already dangerously overcrowded. In fact, they were left to fend for themselves. Soon the waves and wind began to crush the ships like nuts on a joint.

The first victim to go to the bottom was the American transport “Progress”, from which only two sailors managed to escape. The next to go to the bottom was “Resolute”, taking with them all, except 9 people. The third was the American sailing ship “Wanderer” that dragged to the bottom without exception. The fourth victim was the Kenilworth. Before his death, he ran into the steamer “Avon”, losing all of his masts. Only three sailors escaped from the Kenilworth.

Soon the fast American clipper “Rip Van Winkle” was killed along with the entire crew. The ships Peltoma and Maltese were also smashed against the rocks and sank with all the people on board.

The fate of the Wild Wave transport is very indicative. He was thrown off the anchors and carried straight to the rocks. Without a steam engine and losing its masts, Wild Wave was doomed. The body of the transport hit the stones, and the waves, like a steel hammer, split the sides. The crew fled as best they could. Some were lucky to take refuge on the rocks, in small grottoes and crevasses, but the almighty sea was looking for every survivor with its waves and dragged to the bottom. As a result, by the morning of the 15th, the rescue team from the British battleship of the 2nd rank “Sans Pareil” was able to extract from the narrow crevasse only two sailors from the “Wild Wave” – ​​a cabin boy and a sailor.

Fate did not have mercy on exclusively the warships of Her Majesty. The frigate Retribution lost its rudder and fell off the anchors. The captain of the ship, James Drumond, ordered all masts to be cut down and every gun and every equipment thrown overboard. Having lost part of the crew, “Retribution” was still able to successfully land ashore, although its condition was negligible. The Vesuvius also had their masts cut down, losing part of the crew. As a result, only a dilapidated hull remained on the shore of the ship. The ships “Mercia”, “Caducens”, “Pride of the Ocean”, “Medora” and “Sir Robert Sale”, despite the large number of rescued, were completely destroyed. Slightly more fortunate were the ships “Niger” and “Melbourn”, which managed to almost survive, but they lost all masts and received heavy damage to the steam pipes.

The already mentioned “Avon” turned out to be the lucky one. This steamer, having forgotten about some orders of the manager of the Balaklava port, managed to deftly bypass the rocks and literally dive into the saving bay. True, already inside the bay, he was notoriously “overbearing”, passing by an involuntary ram on the hulls of many ships.

The death of the newest propeller-driven ship “Prince” became legendary at all, this legend even renamed “Prince” into “Black Prince”. The ship never received permission to take refuge in Balaklava, so the captain, relying on a steam engine, remained close to the coast. However, the oncoming storm proved the fallacy of this hope.

Crimean storm of 1854.  The element that drowned the fleet

The death of the “Black Prince”

Captain Goodel gave the order to cut down all the masts, but the ship was catastrophically unlucky. The rigging of the mizzen mast got into the area of ​​the propeller, which was soon blocked. Having lost the last mover, “Prince” then lost its anchors. His fate was decided at that moment. The mighty element grabbed the ship and crushed it against the rocks. According to eyewitnesses, after ten minutes of sea millstones, only pitiful pieces of the hull remained from the once pride of the British fleet.

The surviving six members of the Prince’s crew testified that at the last moment before the ship was carried to the rocks, Captain Goodel and Captain Bynton (an agent of the Admiralty), taking off their outerwear, announced to the crew that there was nothing on their part missed to save the ship and that now everyone must take care of themselves. In fact, no one canceled the command “save yourself who can”.

Death at Evpatoria

Evpatoria at that time was occupied by the enemy and turned into a fortress, bristling with artillery and supplied by sea. The enemy garrison consisted mainly of Turks, Tatar settlers and French. To prevent such a powerful enclave of the enemy from cutting off the supply of our troops through Perekop, the Russians themselves took Evpatoria into a blockade.

Many ships off the Evpatoria coast fell victim to the elements. The French sailing frigate Fultan, without a steam engine, was doomed. He was thrown ashore and smashed to pieces, only a small part of the crew managed to escape. The 100-gun battleship “Henri IV”, a symbol of the power of the French fleet, which provided artillery support to the Yevpatoria garrison, was smashed against the rocks. The entire crew, except for 17 lucky ones, died. The Turkish 90-gun battleship Peiri Messeret went down with everyone on board. The only miraculously surviving ship was the English Cyclops.

The death of battleship Henri IV

I would especially like to note the fate of the British frigate “Culloden”. The ship, armed with four guns and used as a transport, carried troops and at that moment had on board a load of ammunition in the form of 30 thousand cannonballs, 700 pounds of gunpowder, not counting 32 horses. “Culloden” the elements picked up and carried to the area of ​​the location of the Novoarkhangelsk Uhlan regiment, where the ship crashed. Some of the British escaped, leaving the wreck of a wrecked ship not far from the coast in the hands of storms and waves, but on the coast they were taken prisoner.

It soon became clear that 25 Turks, allies of the British, remained on the wrecked ship. The regiment’s officers offered the British to help the Turks and even offered money for this, but they flatly refused, saying that “they would not allow them to endanger their lives to save any Turks.” As a result, a detachment of Russian volunteers set out to save the Turks, left to certain death by their “allies”. The rescue operation lasted more than two hours.

At the mouth of the Kacha and north of Sevastopol

In the region of Kachi, the storm harvested no less than in Balaklava and Evpatoria. 12 merchant ships sank directly at the mouth of the Kacha River alone. Warships, on the other hand, almost without exception lost their weapons. Thus, the British ship Queen lost up to 116 guns and part of the rigging in the depths. The battleship “Trafalgar” lost 120 guns, not counting damage to the masts. “London”, in addition to sending 90 guns to the bottom, also lost its rudders. The propeller-driven ships Aedent, Terrible, Spitfire and Sanson all got holes in the hull.

The French fleet was battered no less. The Ville de Paris sent 120 guns overboard, the Firland 100 guns, the Bayard 90 guns, and the Suffren 90 guns. In addition, almost all of them lost their rudders, lost their masts (when involuntarily, when they cut them down by order of the captain), etc. The Turkish frigate “Arri Marseile”, in fact, shared the fate of his compatriot “Peiri Messeret”. At first, the ship lost its artillery and most of the crew, and later was broken by waves on the shore.

The French transport ships were completely destroyed. The Turone was washed ashore and crushed by the waves, the Pyrenees were burnt out in the shallows, the Ganges shared the fate of the Pyrenees, the Danube was also stranded, and the Arri Marseile sank at anchor with everything on board. on board property.

The aftermath of the storm. Ivan Aivazovsky

It is worth noting here that, given the hostilities, our soldiers did not doze at all. As soon as a foreign ship appeared near the shore, Russian troops of horsemen, despite the terrible wind, rushed to this place. First, to capture the enemy, and sometimes, as indicated above, to save this very enemy. Secondly, to seize the cargo.

Disastrous outcome

On November 21, the flagship Agamemnon, having waited out the storm far from dangerous rocks, returned to Balaklava Bay, anchored opposite it. On board the ship was the English traveler George Taylor (already mentioned in the first part), who described the landscape as follows:

“The line of rocks was lined with the remains of ships washed ashore on the day of the hurricane; and in places where the remains lay in large heaps – from fragments of masts to pieces of wood no larger than a matchbox – at a short distance it turned out that they were nothing more than heaps of chips In the bay itself, all the ships were damaged to varying degrees … For several days after the hurricane, numerous bodies floated in the bay, almost all naked. Some were wearing life jackets, many were badly torn, and often body parts floated near the ships. “

Thus, on November 14, 1854, over 30 ships and ships were killed off the Crimean coast, more than 40 received extremely heavy damage. And it is difficult to count the number of deaths for objective reasons – the motley composition of the dead (British, French, Turks, Americans, etc.), the death of many survivors on the following days from the cold and wounds, the hired character of some sailors and the presence of ordinary merchants in the occupation forces … It is generally accepted that about 1000 people died.

But these were far from all the consequences of the storm. The secretary of the Crimean Army Fund, George Brackenbury, in his large report on the results of the disaster, cites, among other things, the following facts:

“His (hurricane) irresistible impulse instantly swept all the tents from the bare and elevated plateau on which the armies were camped, and the accompanying torrential rain soaked the unfortunate troops to the bones, having lost their only shelter. The camps were turned into one huge swamp of mud … that especially disheartening those who had just returned wet and hungry from the trenches and discovered the absence of tents, the impossibility of cooking and the prospect of spending the night under the open sky.To many, both the French and the British, exhausted by fatigue and insecurity, could not stand this new trials and were found dead in the camps. “

Frostbite, sick and injured after the storm in Balaklava

Together with the ships and their crews, a huge cargo of winter uniforms, provisions, medicines, weapons, ammunition and other things went to the bottom. The Resolute alone carried about 500 tons of cargo on board, and the contents of Prince’s holds were estimated at half a million pounds. And winter has already entered the Crimea. As a result, the troops of the Coalition began to lose people not during the battle, but from hunger and cold weather.

Caricature of the state of the English army without winter uniforms in the Crimea

Oddly enough, but almost no investigation followed. The head of the Balaklava port motivated the ban on entering the bay by fear of a breakthrough by Russian forces and the seizure of valuable cargo. Nobody dared to accuse or question Admiral Lyons who had gone to sea on his flagship “Agamemnon”. However, many were indignant, especially the witnesses. But the arrogant Coalition had to continue the war at any cost. The very idea that one power could defeat the combined forces of almost the entire West and the Ottoman Empire frightened them to horror. But with all the fierce vanity of the Coalition, it had to go to a state of siege for some time, and the wrath of the guardians to seek justice in enlightened Europe was quickly forgotten.

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