Mediterranean Campaign of Ushakov of 1798–1800

Mediterranean Campaign of Ushakov of 1798–1800

 

the combat actions of a Russian squadron under the command of Vice Admiral F. F. Ushakov during the war between Russia (as part of the Second Coalition) and France.

On July 15 (26), 1798, after Napoleon embarked on the Egyptian expedition of 1798–1801, the Turkish government appealed to Great Britain and Russia for military assistance. On August 13 (24), the Russian government sent a squadron of the Black Sea Fleet under the command of Vice Admiral Ushakov from Sevastopol’ to the Mediterranean Sea; the squadron consisted of six battleships, seven frigates, and three dispatch boats, and it numbered 792 guns and 7,400 men, including a landing force of 1,700. The squadron arrived in Constantinople on August 24 (September 4) and was joined in the Dardanelles on September 9 (20) by a Turkish force of four battleships, six frigates, four corvettes, and 14 gunboats under the command of Vice Admiral Kedyr-bei, who was subordinate to Ushakov.

Ushakov proposed a battle plan for the liberation of the Ionian Islands, which were the key to supremacy in the Adriatic and Ionian seas and in the eastern Mediterranean. On September 14 (25), a detachment of ships—two Russian and two Turkish frigates and ten Turkish gunboats—under Commander A. A. Soro-kin was dispatched to Egypt for joint action with the British squadron of Admiral H. Nelson. On September 24 (October 5), a detachment of two frigates under Lieutenant Commander I. A. Shostak was sent to the Ionian Islands with an appeal to the Greeks to fight for liberation of the islands from the French occupiers. On September 28 (October 9), this detachment landed a party on the island of Kithira (Cythera), which seized the fortress of San Nicole. On September 30 (October 11), Ushakov’s squadron approached the island and on October 1 (12), after a period of bombardment, forced the garrison of the other fortress—Kapsali—to surrender. On October 14 (25), after another Russian landing force put ashore, the French fortress on Zakinthos (Zante) capitulated, and on October 17 (28) the island of Kefalli-nia was taken. The Greek populace joyfully greeted the liberators. From October 18 (29) through November 3 (14) a detachment of two battleships and two frigates under Captain D. N. Seniavin, shortly thereafter supported by Ushakov’s entire squadron, struck against the garrison of the island and fortress of Lefkas (Santa Maura), an operation that ended with the surrender of the French garrison.

On October 24 (November 4), a detachment of three battleships and three frigates under Captain I. A. Selivachev approached the island of Kerkira (Corfu), defended by a strong fortress with a garrison of 3,700 men and 636 guns. The approaches to the island were protected by the island of Vido, which had five batteries. The Russian seamen initiated a siege.

On February 18 (March 1), 1799, Ushakov’s squadron of seven battleships and ten frigates destroyed all the batteries on the island of Vido by shelling and took the island with a landing force. At the same time, a landing force on the island of Kerkira seized the fortress’s advance fortifications; thereupon, on February 19 (March 2), General Chabot, commandant of the fortress, signed an act of capitulation. The Septinsular Republic was established on the liberated islands.

In April 1799, Ushakov dispatched Commander A. A. Soro-kin’s detachment of three frigates, two corvettes, and four gunboats to the southern coast of Italy. The detachment took Brindisi on April 23 (May 4), Bari on May 2 (13), and Manfredonia on May 9 (20), where a landing detachment of 570 men and six guns under Lieutenant Commander G. G. Belli put ashore. This detachment, advancing to the west, took Naples by storm on June 3 (14). On May 1 (12) another Russian-Turkish detachment, under Rear Admiral P. V. Pustoshkin and consisting of three battleships, four frigates, and one corvette, set out from Kerkira in order to blockade Ancona; in June it was relieved by a detachment under Commander N. D. Voinovich.

On August 3 (14), Ushakov’s Russian-Turkish squadron often battleships and seven frigates arrived at Messina; it subsequently moved up to Naples for joint operations with the British squadron under Nelson. Upon the request of Field Marshal A. V. Su-vorov, Ushakov sent Pustoshkin’s detachment from Messina to blockade Genoa. On September 16 (27) about 1,000 men from the Russian landing force entered Rome. On Dec. 31, 1799 (Jan. 11, 1800), Ushakov received orders from Emperor Pavel I to return to Russia; in October 1800 the squadron arrived in Sevastopol’.

As a result of the occupation of the Ionian Islands during Ushakov’s Mediterranean campaign, Russia undermined the supremacy of France in the eastern Mediterranean and acquired an important naval base in the Mediterranean, a base it successfully used in the war with France from 1805 to 1807.

REFERENCES

Admiral Ushakov: Sb. dokumentov, vols. 2–3. Moscow, 1952–56.
Istoriia voenno-morskogo iskusstva, vol. 3. Moscow, 1963.

IU. I. CHERNOV

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