Imatges de pÓgina

We must premise, that an unsuccessful attempt had been made by the King of Sweden, who commanded in person, to destroy the Russian squadron in Viborg. The approach of the Prince of Nassau, with the Cronstadt division, had already made the position of the Swedes at the entrance of Viborg Bay extremely critical, the more especially as their scarcity of ammunition, and their want of provisions, made their return to their own ports a measure of first necessity.

In this situation of affairs, the king resolved to avail himself of a strong easterly wind, which set in on the 3rd of June, to gain Swerksund and Sweaborg. It was necessary for the fleet to penetrate through a narrow pass, and, in so doing, to sustain the fire of four Russian ships of the line, two of which were placed on each side of the strait; and, after this, to engage the whole of Admiral Tschitcshakoff's line, which, at a small distance, was drawn up along the coast, while his frigates were ranged and judiciously placed among the islands which lie nearer the shore.

Unappalled by this display of superior force, the Swedish van, led on by Admiral Modée, passed the Narrows without suffering any material loss, firing with great spirit both broadsides at the same time against the enemy on



either side, The cannonade from the four Russian line-of-battle ships was, however, so powerful, and so well supported, that it was resolved by the Duke of Sudermania to attempt their destruction by fireships ; but this operation proved so unsuccessful, that they were driven back upon two of his own fleet, a ship of the line and a frigate, both of which were blown up.

The Swedish admiral, instead of having recourse to so uncertain an experiment as fireships, should have placed a vessel of equal force alongside each of these Russian vessels, and having thus masked their fire, the smaller vessels could have passed up the centre of the strait in absolute safety, and then the protecting ships could have followed, forming an excellent protective rear-guard. The unfair means of war by fire-vessels was then much in vogue, but now we are happy to say that among

civilised nations their employment is generally condemned, and their utility disallowed.

The Swedes being confused in a considerable degree, by this peculiarly distressful accident, the ships that were to follow were unable to proceed with the requisite order and circumspection ; four of them struck upon the rocks, and were thus left at the mercy of the enemy.

During the further course, along the coast, of this bewildered navy, already so diminished in force, three more vessels of the line surrendered to the Russian flag. This engagement, so ill fought as to nautical manœuvring, yet so well contested as to personal bravery, continued all night and a part of the next day, and it was not until the evening that the duke, with the shattered remains of his fleet, found safety in the port of Sweaborg, leaving three line-of-battle ships and one frigate in the hands of the Russians, the same number of line-of-battle ships and one frigate stranded on the Russian shores, and witnessing the destruction of another ship of the line and another frigate by fire, besides losing a schooner and a cutter, supposed to have been


The small craft taken or sunk were supposed to amount to sixty, and with the galleys eight hundred men of the Swedes were captured. The whole loss of the Swedes in this affair was above seven thousand men. To add to these disasters, all the baggage of the fleet, amounting in value to several millions of dollars, fell into the hands of the Russians.

In this protracted encounter, our young officer, whilst he shared in the danger, must have gained an admirable lesson in naval warfare. Every possible variety of circumstance must have been

presented to him, and from the alternate success and discomfiture of the belligerents he must have acquired a deep insight into all the strategy of maritime war. The lesson was deeply traced and largely written in blood, and after-exploits proved that it had not been studied in vain.

Captain Sidney Smith had at that period but little respite: he was soon to witness a repe tition of the same scene, but with happier results to the cause in which he had engaged.

Though the events of the actions of the 3rd and 4th of June were thus unfortunate to the Swedes, his Majesty was in a short time able to reappear at sea in so effective a condition as not only again to contend for victory, but also to obtain ample compensation for his former losses.

Having supplied his armament with provisions and ammunition, and being joined by the division under Lieutenant-Colonel Cronstadt, which had not been able to reach the Bay of Viborg, so as to participate in the late engagement, the king sailed immediately, with a view to prevent the Prince of Russia, who was advancing with the Russian Cronstadt and Viborg squadrons, from getting into the port of Frederickham. This he was so fortunate as to accomplish.

In consequence of this proceeding, an action

took place on the 9th of July, in which the king commanded in person nominally—Sidney Smith actually, who was at the royal elbow during the whole of the engagement. It began at half-past nine in the morning, and lasted twenty-four hours.

On the preceding day, several vessels of the Russian in-shore squadron were discovered at Aspo; on which the king, attended by M. de Armstadt, went to reconnoitre. On the 9th, the Prince of Nassau advanced towards the Swedish shore, and the signal was made for the Swedish fleet to arrange itself in order of battle. By nine in the morning, the enemy had formed his line, and made sail towards Cape Musalo. The right wing of the Swedes advanced to meet them, and the firing commenced briskly on both sides.

Immediately after, the king, on board the Seraphim galley, made the signal for a general attack. The enemy still approached with a spirited fire, which was so warmly returned by both the Swedish wings, that at noon the left of the enemy began to give way. Both the right and left of the Swedes being reinforced by several divisions which had been previously placed in the Sound, they were enabled to continue the action with increased vigour. At the same time, the Russian line having

. received some reinforcements, the eastward wing again advanced and returned to the conflict.



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