|The Mid-Victorian Royal Navy William Loney R.N. Fun||Search this site|
The Russian ("Crimean") War of 1854 - 1856
|► Royal Navy||(1) (2) (3) (4) (5) (6) (7) (8) (9) (10)|
Henry Norton Sulivan on the Baltic campaign of the Russian War of 1854-1856 (10/10)
No active operations were undertaken by the Baltic fleets after the bombardment of Sweaborg, consequently the journals that follow record no striking events. But the accounts of further intercourse with the islanders, and the opinions given as to the principles of humanity on which a war should be conducted, may be found interesting and instructive.
Nargen, August 16th, 1855.
We are lying here quiet, preparing mortar-boats for going home, and I hope all hostilities are over for the season, because there is nothing that could be done with a prospect of success that is worth the risk of loss and failure. There was a comparatively trifling thing for some time on the admiral's mind instead of Sweaborg: the only advantage would be destroying a town, and there was every prospect of defeat in attempting it, and certain considerable loss of life if successful. Yet the chief had feared we could not succeed at Sweaborg, and thought it was better to do a small thing well than fail in a great one; and my work for two months had been persuading him that the certainty of success was at Sweaborg, and the risk of loss and defeat at the other place. It is because I induced him to give up the other and to determine on Sweaborg that he feels so grateful to me. It shows how much risk of defeat and loss of life may be saved by thoroughly considering and weighing well these subjects. Captain Caffin to-day, whom I had not seen since the action, told me that the chief spoke to him of me in such terms that he could not repeat them.
Monday, 27th. - The admiral sent for me to-day, and has had a long talk about the French admiral wishing to try some new rockets against Revel. They have great range, so that they are fired out of reach of the enemy's guns. He also wants to use his mortar-vessels again, as at Sweaborg. Now he cannot reach the town with them, and so would only make a half-and-half thing of it. I quite agree with the admiral [Dundas] that it will be better to try the rockets only; but if he [Penaud] is determined to try the mortar-vessels, it is his own look-out if he fails. I think he is anxious to do something alone, knowing we can have no share in it now our mortar-vessels are gone. Of course if he chooses to act he can; but I hope the admiral will not have anything to do with it, further than allowing me to give them the distance and put down some buoys for them, if they like. Otter has had a brush somewhere in Finland. They had a concealed battery, and he went up to try and destroy some timber, etc., thinking he was only likely to be exposed to musketry; but being unable to go where he wished, was trying to get back, when the battery opened on him, and he had to go out backwards; but he only had one man wounded. A deserter, who has been landed, and been to Helsingfors, says that no one is allowed to go to Sweaborg, but that the accounts brought over to Helsingfors are that stores of hemp, pitch, rope, and corn were burnt, besides houses and eighteen vessels, including some hulks the sailors lived in, and that two thousand were killed (quite impossible). But it is certain that the hospitals in Helsingfors are full of wounded, so that they cannot hold more. I was afraid there was sad loss among them.
28th. - I have just heard from those in ships far to the eastward of Sweaborg, who had a better view of the north part than we had, the fires were distinctly seen to spread far northward of the church, and some inflammable material burnt fiercely on the north shore of the island for three hours, so that it did not escape, as I thought. Our shells did not reach it, but the fire must have spread across the middle of the island, where there were numerous ruined houses, and so reached the large boat-sheds on the north side; so the destruction is more complete than I fancied. I am going to ask the admiral, after all the other work is over, to let me spend the remaining time completing surveys of different parts.
'Merlin,' Nargen, September 1st, 1855.
We returned yesterday from a trip to near Cronstadt, to take lights and buoys to Admiral Seymour, and we have been away with the admiral all to-day to Baro Sound, looking at the snug places I have picked out for the colliers, etc., to anchor in. I think we have nothing more to do now than to select good anchorages for the rest of the season, for I believe both admirals have deferred trying anything more this year, and I hope the mortars talked of will not be sent. The admiral wants me soon to make a plan of the anchorage between Wormso and Dago, which will, I think, be a good one for the large ships; and I shall perhaps be there next week, and shall see my friends the baron and baroness again, and have some more ice-creams and roses! You would, I am sure, have been gratified, could you have seen the kind reception I met with at Cronstadt from all my brother-captains, who soon came on board to congratulate me on the success at Sweaborg. It is the more gratifying to see such thorough kindness and absence of jealousy at juniors getting such positions, when we consider that they are all our seniors - leading men, such as Hope, Codrington, Erskine, Elliot, and Watson, who have themselves been shared out of everything through commanding the larger ships, and who have to see their juniors in small ships getting a name in the service. Gardner has been here the last few days. He said a blessing seemed to rest on what I and others did; for Otter had been surprised in a most dangerous position, and had to escape with thirty-four men in two crowded boats, under a fire of six hundred rifles, and though the boats had twenty-four balls in them, not a man was hurt. Ward had a narrow escape, a ball grazing his head. I am sorry to say they retook Otter's prize from him, in which were all the men's arms, rifles, cutlasses, etc. You may suppose many are veiy anxious for the mail to-morrow.
I wish the poor fishermen at Dago and other places could be allowed salt for their own use to cure fish for this winter, or their sufferings will be terrible, and this will have no effect on the war either way. I fear they will all try to cross in the boats before the ice forms, when the severe weather has forced our ships away, and then numbers will be lost, while some will get a little salt over. I hope many escaped this spring when others were taken.
The following is a copy of a letter which appeared at this time in the Cornish Gazette (it is said to have been written by a seaman of the Duke of Wellington):-
At five o'clock the Merlin got on a rock, commanded by Captain Sulivan, son to Admiral Sulivan, who resided at Falmouth: the most enterprising officer in the fleet; for his abilities in surveying, and his qualities in other respects, endear him to the seamen. If they could do it, they would make him chief in command, I think, without opposition. 'Paddy Sulivan' they call him, not out of disrespect, but for his daring and brave qualities. I must say I am glad he has relatives so close on board the 'one and all boys.' We were sorry to see him on the rock, for he must have been as uneasy in mind to be detained on the rock as a 'cat in pattens.' He is such a funny turn, always on the move.
Admiralty, August 21st, 1855.
Dear Sulivan, - Accept my sincere and cordial congratulations on the success of your attack on Sweaborg, which the admiral justly attributes to your skill in placing the mortar-boats. The admiral's praise is very gratifying; it does him great credit; and we are all thankful to you for the high character you have obtained for the surveying service. I am glad Creyke has been found so useful; he will certainly be promoted. Sir C. Wood has promised it to me.
Nargen, September 30th, 31st; October 1st, finished 2nd.
Yesterday week the admiral sent for me in the evening, and told me he wanted me to start early next morning (Sunday) to the reef where ------ had been on shore. So we started at break of day; and as the wind was southerly, I went along the coast, and, never having seen Port Baltic closely, I went close round the head inside the shoals. On the head (cliff) where the lighthouse stands, there was a party of soldiers occupying the house of the lighthouse. The sentry was pacing up and down with his musket, but others were unarmed, standing or lying down on the edge of the cliff, looking at us passing under them: very wisely, they did not think of firing at us. After giving orders to the Bulldog, I went on to the entrance of the Wormso Sound, and anchored under the outer bank about 2 p.m., ready to begin our work the next morning, as I was to-remain there to make a survey of the place, to see if I was quite right in thinking it would be a secure anchorage for the large ships. We had our service in the afternoon. I felt weak and unwell all day. On Monday I was in a good deal of pain inside, which affected my legs, so that I could not stand for many minutes at a time; but having a beautiful day for our work, by sitting out and sometimes reclining on the paddle-box, I was able to get on till the afternoon, when we went into Wormso Sound ; and I lay down for the rest of the day by the doctor's orders. By Tuesday morning I was quite free from pain, but my head felt very uneasy. The day was again lovely, so I could not lose it, and I landed on an island, while Creyke went to another, and got all the observations we wanted. After dinner, feeling pretty well, I tried to work at the chart; but in half an hour, from merely thinking over it, my head got in such a state that I had to give it up, and I think I have not for years suffered so much in that way as I did all the evening till I could get to sleep about eight. It was not like a headache, but pains flying about and quite overpowering me; but a good sleep removed it, and on Wednesday morning, though I felt weak, my head was free from pain, and we started on our work.
I went on Wednesday to Wormsö Island, where I thought a walk would do me good, and where I wanted several stations. The French admiral had told me that he had given directions to two small vessels of his down there, that if any of the buoys were removed they should hold the baron responsible, and they were to take fifty of his cattle and cut down a hundred of his trees. I, thinking he alluded to my friend Baron Sternberg, said I was sure no one in Dago would touch the buoys, but it would be done, if at all, by the authorities from the mainland, so that it would be hard to visit it on the islands. On landing at Wormsö, we saw two men and some women on the point, and about three hundred head of cattle and a flock of sheep, every one of which we could have made a prize of if we chose. The first man we got to proved to be the same we caught in the boat off Hapsal two months since. When we went up to two young women to speak to them, they began to cry, and were so terrified that we could only pacify them by going away, though the men seemed to assure them that we should not hurt them. We saw some nice-looking buildings about two miles off among trees; and after we had finished at the point and were walking along the shore (Hewett was with me, with the coxswain and Pierse the Finlander), a respectable man rode up to us, and with many bows told us that 'the baron' was coming down immediately. I asked him what baron; he said 'Baron Stakleberg,' and soon after he came, a young man about thirty. He could only understand a few words of English, but with Pierse we got on with Swedish. He begged me to go up to his house, where I should meet an English lady, and a carriage would be down directly; he asked me to take his pony, and he mounted his head-man's. We passed the carriage which went on for Hewett. I found a very nice house, though on a smaller scale and less splendidly furnished than Baron Sternberg's, and breakfast on the table. He introduced me to Miss Cooper, who spoke English with a slightly foreign accent. She has been twenty years in Russia, and had not often a chance of practising English. Shortly after a good-looking young lady entered, with remarkably sharp, bright eyes, and evidently plenty of intelligence: this was madame the baroness. She spoke a little English, but preferred carrying on the conversation entirely through Miss Cooper. After some little talk, they asked me the name of my ship. When I told them, they all exqlaimed, 'Then you are Captain Sulivan?' and certainly they did not seem less pleased to see me. She said, 'Baron Sternberg will be very glad to see you again.' They had seen him in Revel last week. They said they had read Admiral Dundas's despatches. The lady, like the other baroness, seemed the politician of the party. The fact is, she is Russian - he Esthonian. When I said I hoped the fall of Sevastopol might lead to peace soon, she quite fired up, struck her little fist on the table, and the fire seemed to flash out of her bright eyes, as she said, 'What! peace now? No, never till we have driven you out of the Crimea again.' The Cossack had been in a few days before, and Captain Cochrane had dined with them. While at breakfast we saw from the window the 'demand' up in Merlin. I thought it was Magicienne, as she was to be stationed there, so I promised to return to dinner at five and bring Vansittart with me, and they told me where we could anchor near the west landing-place with a road to their house. They then drove us down in two carriages, Miss Cooper being with me.
When I got off, I found the vessels were two French gun-boats. I spent the afternoon sounding outside in the ship, and then anchored at four just as a carriage came down, and Hewett and I went out to the house. I was really better for my day's exercise. We had a very plain, neat little dinner, all on a much smaller scale, servants and all, than the Dago baron's. We had a long chat till half-past ten. Miss Cooper has the Illustrated L. N. regularly, but in every paper whole paragraphs are painted out before they are allowed to be circulated. I had brought the same numbers from the ship, and they were all very anxious to know the forbidden parts. They were entirely remarks on the late emperor or the Russian objects of the war.
The baron was very sore on one point, which he did not hesitate to express when his wife was out of the room, and only Miss Cooper to interpret; and that was the injustice of his being compelled to bring up his son in the Greek Church because his wife is Greek Church, though he is a Protestant. While, if he had been Greek and the wife Protestant, the children must be Greek, and also that a Greek dare not change his religion for Protestant. On leaving, I promised to stop there on my way back from Dago if I could.
On Thursday morning it was blowing hard from the westward; and as the Dago side was sheltered, I started early, intending to get as close as I could there, and then go to see my friend and endeavour to get up in his church steeple, which would be a capital station for the survey. I was half-way on shore in my boat, and a carriage had already reached the shore for us, when we saw a vessel coming in, and I had to go back to go out in Merlin to meet her. It proved to be Cossack, with two gunboats, come to be stationed here instead of Magicienne. I returned in Merlin to Dago, taking Captain Cochrane with me and the gun-boats, and we ran in in one to the baron's pier, where we found him waiting with a carriage. We got a pony-cart from the house there for Bullock and Dyer. We had not gone far when we met the baroness driving a nice pair of horses, so I got out and joined her, and then we returned to the castle. I got up in the steeple, and had a beautiful view; and as there is another church nine miles off overlooking the sound, which made another excellent station, the baron arranged we should drive there the next day. You may suppose we passed a veiy pleasant afternoon. We dined at four; and as it was blowing so hard, and Cochrane had to go back to his ship ten miles from Merlin, we could not remain till after dark, but returned at six. In Cochrane's ship Prince Ernest of Leiningen, the Queen's nephew, is a lieutenant, and the baron lived near his mother in Switzerland, and knew them well, so we arranged that a gun-boat should bring the prince in early next day to go with me; and the French gun-boats having joined, I asked the senior officer, Lieutenant Mer, to go also. As he was going to remain, I wished him to know the baron, thinking he would be more likely to prevent his crews committing any depredations on the people, which, like some of our own, the Frenchmen are rather apt to do. The prince came in early on Friday, and we landed at nine, where the carriage with the four ponies abreast was waiting for us, and we rattled out at a famous pace. The strong wind of the day before had ceased, and we had again a most lovely day. At ten we started for the other church with six ponies, two ahead of the other four, and had a beautiful drive to the distant church. The steeple was not so nicely fitted as the first one, and up the narrow part there was nothing but a single piece of wood with some very doubtful-looking fir pegs sticking out of it to form a ladder, and to get up this with a sextant was no easy matter. Up in the top there were merely a few pieces of wood across and some loose boards, the diameter of the spire there being about five feet. The boards were the resting-place of numerous birds, apparently jackdaws, and there through a hole I got the observations, the prince also getting up with the spy-glass and book, and writing down the angles for me. We were pretty figures when we got down to the others, who reached the top of the tower, but did not attempt the spire. I think it was a unique surveying cruise, - some miles inland in an enemy's country; driven in a carriage and six, accompanied by a Russian baron, a prince, and a French lieutenant; and the prince acting as assistant surveyor! It did my work beautifully; and, as I got the exact distance between the two churches from a map of the island of the baron's, it gave me the very best base for my work. They are nearly eight and a half miles apart, and we drove about eleven to reach it. We returned an hour before our four o'clock dinner, and discussed the war till dinner-time.
The baroness wore a very sensible bonnet, coming well over the head; but she allowed that even in the depth of winter, in St. Petersburg, they are such slaves to fashion that they wear the bonnets only on the backs of the heads, leaving all the top exposed to the intense cold; and she says she never wears a veil except to keep wind off, yet the cold does not hurt her. One fancies that in these countries they sit in the hot stove-heated rooms, and never change from them; but she says she goes out walking or driving regularly all through the winter, and in the most severe weather has every window open while the rooms are being done and fires lighted. The stoves are stacks of masonry in the corners of the rooms; they are heated once by a wood fire every morning, and then no more fires for twenty-four hours, but the mass retains its heat all the time. The heated air certainly keeps all the room at an even temperature, which no fireplace can. But in all their rooms they have also English grates, for the sake of the cheerful look and ventilation; but they are useless for warming, they say. (*Russian heating apparatus. - In the evening, the chimney being well heated, the fire is left to die out. When all danger of charcoal fumes is over, the flue is shut by an iron slide, and a hole under this (near the top of the room) opened. The air, passing up the grate (which is usually in the hall), is warmed by the heated bricks, and comes out through the hole into the room. Thus the rooms are kept warm with fresh air for twelve and even twenty-four hours after the fire has gone out. The rooms being kept by this system at an equable temperature, the Russians are enabled to grow plants indoors as high as the ceiling. - Ed.)
They had been at Revel the week before, the people all returning there, now they do not any longer fear it is to be destroyed by us. The Grand Duke Michael had just been there; and the baron's brother, who lives there, was one day with him. He asked if some English officers had not been visiting his brother in Dago; he said 'Yes.' The Grand Duke asked if we burnt and destroyed his property; he said, 'No, only a vessel that was sailing, but that we treated them very well.' The Grand Duke said, 'So there is at last one honourable act done by an Englishman.'
You cannot imagine the impression that is gone abroad against us: stories have been invented or exaggerated, and I believe many think us most brutal barbarians, who burn and destroy without mercy; but sometimes they have too much cause for thinking so. They told me that two women were wounded by rockets in a hay-field, one of whom died. This was of course set down as a deliberate act, though it occurred by some Cossacks coming down to the boats and firing at them, and a random rocket, going inland, unfortunately doing the harm. Besides this, a Count Stakleberg, a relation of the Baroness Sternberg, has a pretty villa and bathing-house on the coast, where he had his whole family, wife and daughters, and some visitors. One beautiful evening they were dining in the verandah, and were looking at some of our vessels off there, and were remarking how pretty they looked. The count had his glass looking at one, and, the dinner being over, the ladies were sitting watching the vessels, when one fired a shot at the house. A large shell went just over their heads into the roof of the house, and burst inside. The ladies were of course greatly alarmed; horses were put to the carriages instantly, and, just as the first carriage was starting with the ladies, another shell burst so close that one piece struck the carriage. Can you wonder at their thinking us brutes? The baron said that they thought the vessel might have fired at a telegraph on the hill above, and that the shot fell too low, and I thought so too; but to-day Gallagher, who was surgeon of Arrogant, came to see me, and on my asking him he confirmed the whole story. Yelverton and Vansittart had anchored their ships, and went inshore in a gun-boat. They saw this house, and Gallagher tells me they saw people at it, when to Yelverton's horror the lieutenant left in charge of Magicienne fired from her at the house, and they saw the shell strike it He says he never saw Yelverton so excited. He ordered them to hoist a signal immediately to stop it; but they were not very quick in the gun-boat, and, before the signal was hoisted and answered, the Magicienne fired two more shells. They saw the carriage drive away, and they thought two shells struck the house. Now this shows the Russian accounts are pretty correct. The fact is, there is a kind of unfeeling, senseless anxiety to fire at anything that gives a chance, for the sake of firing, and some, I fear, for the sake of notoriety, or the chance of bringing about the pretence of a fight, so that they may write a letter.
I hear that one captain has made himself the laughingstock of his brother-captains at Seskar by writing such a long, flaming letter about taking out some dismantled little coasters from the cove at the village where we took our prizes this year, and where last year I had that sham attack, thinking there was a battery; but there were no guns in it. You will recollect it, as I would not fire on the soldiers on the point, though at our mercy - though some thought that I ought to have done so. Well, this celebrated battle consisted, I hear, of two muskets being fired by militiamen on shore, for which a fire was opened on village, houses, church, and all. The magistrates of the district were assembled in the clergyman's house, when the shots began to come into it, and they all had to fly; and for this a despatch longer than would be necessary for a general action has, I am told, been written and sent home, and more names mentioned than in many serious despatches. Is it not enough to lower us in the estimation of our enemy, when they, knowing the truth, read such letters? I am told Yelverton is much annoyed, as this is where he has been stationed. He would not take out their little vessels, and knows that if he had wished to take them he had only to send word to the village that he was going to do so, to ensure their being given up without resistance. I am afraid there are few of our men that can really be trusted in command, or are fit to decide on what should and should not be done. As to younger officers, I am sorry to say I see little signs of any prudence or judgment to prevent them doing any silly or disgraceful thing, if they can only have a shot at something, or try to get up a fight for the chance of getting their names mentioned. One captain, who I hear is not celebrated for brains, the other day got up a fight with a fort and some gun-boats, quite useless and sure to be against him, and the ship with him was much damaged by a shell. For this I hear there has been a flaming despatch. But the baron tells me that two large ships (which must be the same) went to Pernau, and the senior officer sent on shore to say that all the soldiers in the town must be surrendered as prisoners, all the vessels giveen up (there were some small craft moved far up the river), and all government stores surrendered, and the burgomaster was to come off to the ship - the penalty of not complying with these demands being the destruction of the town. The burgomaster went off, and replied that there were no troops, so he could not surrender any, that the vessels he must come and take, but they would resist, and that there were no government stores. Of course this is the Russian version, which goes on to say that the captain was so pleased at the burgomaster's bold conduct that instead of destroying the town he asked him to dinner. Now I happen to know that the said captain asked the admiral to send him gunboats to destroy that very town (as ships cannot get within shot). The admiral asked me about it, and I advised him not to allow it, as it would be only wanton destruction of a defenceless town, and could do no good; and so he refused him the gun-boats. That looks as if the story were correct, but that, as his ship could not carry out his threat, he tried to get gun-boats to do it. If so, I am glad I helped to thwart him. You must be all very careful not to let a word on these subjects be mentioned as coming from me.
We left them at six, the baron going down with us to the gun-boat in which we went off to Merlin. The night was getting dark, and I was doubtful if it would do to let the gun-boat return to the Cossack; and when I expressed this doubt, Prince Leiningen said he hoped I would not, as he then would get a night's rest, which he would be glad of, as he had kept middle and first watches alternately since he had been in Cossack, and it was his middle watch. So I gave him my spare cabin, and we sat till past ten, during which he gave me a good deal of interesting information about the Queen, the royal children, etc. It was amusing to think that one in his position, with his home at the palace when on leave, should be anxious to get a night in bed; but he is a thorough lieutenant, sinking the prince entirely. He seems a very intelligent, straightforward person, with a regular John Bull face.
As I had done all I could towards the chart, I determined to come back here on the Saturday, without waiting to pay my promised visit to the Wormsö baron's party again. So I sent a message to them by Cochrane, and a Swedish Bible (all the Wormsö people are Swedes). I told them I could give the people some Bibles, and the baron said he should like to see what General Grable (who commands all this district from Revel, and of whom they seem afraid) would say, as he told him they must take nothing from us. So he said if I would give him a Bible for an old man who once served in an English man-of-war, and would write my name in it, he would write to General Grable asking permission for the man to have it, just to see what answer he would give. I forgot to say that they were at Hapsal when I went there in the gun-boats, and they gave a similar description to my last of the consternation there. Miss Cooper offered to come off to us in a little boat, but they would not let her. The man in the boat to whom we gave the things was coming to them with a letter. He landed away from the town, for fear of the custom-house officers taking away his things, and he got to the baron's house just as some of them were following him. So he rushed in, to their astonishment, and began throwing tobacco behind one piece of furniture, biscuits here and there in corners out of sight, and sugar and tea in the same, so tthat he got all out of sight before the custom-house officers got in. The people were expecting us to land, and one carriageful and some horsemen we saw on the point had gone down to speak to us if we landed there.
I dined with the French chief yesterday. He is very kind always. He said that Admiral Dundas told him there was nothing he could possibly do that he would not do for me. Admiral Penaud wants me to come to Paris this winter, but I told him I should not have too much time at home.
Nargen, October 8th, 1855.
On Friday last I went over to the Finland shore to Sibbo Fiord, a good anchorage, where Key had been stationed, cutting off the coasting trade; it is only about ten miles from Sweaborg. The admiral wanted me to see the anchorage, and also to send back the gun-boats with Key, as all of them are going home immediately; at the same time I wanted to take up a large buoy from the Kalbaden shoal to put it off Wormsö on the Apollon, where it will be much required when the ships withdraw from this part of the gulf. After getting up the buoy, we went into Sibbo Fiord, the Russian charts being admirable, so that there is no difficulty in entering, though by the charts it seems bounded by nests of rocks. We found Key and his two 'children' anchored near a point on the mainland, where nothing could pass him, and in the act of bringing four vessels loaded with wood, taken the previous night. There had been a strong report of six steam-boats having escaped from Cronstadt to go to Sweaborg, though I don't believe it; and they at night put his two gunboats outside the islands, where they might pass clear of the Amphion, and in the night they saw several vessels close to them. They felt confident they were the Russian gun-boats, and they slipped their cables and ran their two small craft in among them; they proved to be these four vessels full of wood for the government at Sweaborg, where they were hard up for it; and these men thought they would run it in the dark outside, so they were greatly surprised when pounced on by the two boats. Key had had an anxious time of it for some nights since the moon had gone. We knew some time since that they had organised two hundred row-boats at Sweaborg, manned by three thousand volunteers - the seamen of the fleet chiefly - for the purpose of boarding any one of our vessels in the night, and from the fishermen and others on the island who went about as usual Key heard this confirmed, and that it was likely Amphion would be attacked, so every night was passed at quarters and prepared in every way; and three nights previous a fire of musketry opened suddenly about half a mile from the ship. The next day the fishermen told them that, while fishing just in the channel from Sweaborg, they were suddenly fired on by Russian boats, which took them for English guard-boats. They were then quite surrounded by a large number of boats, but these returned to Sweaborg, apparently thinking they had discovered themselves by firing on the fishermen. Both Key and myself thought it unsafe for Amphion to remain there alone, without either her gun-boats or a second vessel, not but what he would in all probability have defeated an attack, but it would not do to risk it, as with such masses of men they ought to succeed. They at first organised the boats to attack Edinburgh, and she moved into a clear place to have room to act more freely; but if they would dream of carrying a two-decked ship, of course there was double the risk for a frigate. The next day I returned with the two gun-boats to Nargen, and told the admiral I did not like Key lying there alone, and asked him to send another vessel over. As he had none ready to send, he sent me back to recall Key and bring him to Nargen for a day or two, till he could give him another vessel. When I got back it was a dense fog, but I got in and found Amphion, though they first knew of our being there by the noise of our paddles. We got out before dark. I pushed back to Nargen that I might not be out on Sunday if I could help it, and got in at 11 p.m.
Key had many deserters from Sweaborg, and all agreed as to the immense loss and destruction there. He also had regular communication through the fishermen on the islands round him, who went regularly to market; and an old woman did their marketing for them, bringing them things regularly. They were capitally off - fresh meat and poultry from Helsingfors, and good fish, cream, milk, and eggs from the islands; Key having wisely got a supply of Russian money, so that the people were not afraid to take it.
Now as a set-off to the disgraceful acts of some of our people I mentioned in my last, I must show how different it is when such men as Key and Yelverton are concerned. On the point of mainland near Key are a large number of riflemen, but he never fires at them (being out of their rifle-range, and they well within that of his guns), knowing it is useless and almost murder to kill them when no ulterior object is to be gained. On the islands the people were as much respected by the men as if they were in England. Key allowed them to go about among the little villages, with a clear understanding that taking the slightest thing from a house or island would be as much theft as if taken from one of our own countrymen. And one day an officer saw a woman crying, and she said a man was in her house and had broken open a cupboard. The officer found the man inside, and found the cupboard had been broken open, but he had taken nothing. They flogged him severely, and no other case occurred. When I went to recall Key he was at the village, and he sent his boat back to pay some money and bring off his washed clothes; and when the coxswain told the people they were going away and might not come back, some of them began to cry. So you see we have not everywhere such a bad name in Finland as the Russians make out. Such men as Yelverton and Key are above making war unnecessarily distressing. No wonder we are sometimes the laughing-stock of the Russians, when a ninety-gun ship and two frigates fire broadsides into a defenceless village because a few militiamen were there, some of whom were foolish enough to fire their muskets. One small steamer, Bulldog, had gone into the same place a few days before to take out a vessel she chased in, leaving those that we laid up there all the summer, but could easily have taken all if thought necessary.
I hear to-day that ------ has been writing some long-winded despatch about some chance he has had of firing at something. Yet these trumpery despatches are sometimes published, and lead to men being promoted where real service, if not puffed off by the captain, is neglected. We have a proof of this now. Key, in Amphion, has had perhaps more real service than any vessel out here in the two years, except it is Arrogant. This year she has had twelve shots through her hull, and is much damaged aloft, and two men killed and about ten wounded on board, which can be said of no other ship in the Baltic except Arrogant. But Key has never made much of anything - simply written a few plain lines stating the facts, and recommending his first lieutenant. Because not exaggerated and made a good story of, his letters have not been published, while things not worth mentioning have been. In consequence his first lieutenant is the only one not promoted, although he has served both years in the Baltic, and was present at both Bomarsund and Sweaborg, besides their own minor actions. Key is, justly, much hurt, and I have advised him to write plainly about it, and state that it encourages officers to exaggerate what they do, and that it makes men suffer because they are above such un-English tricks. The promotions for Sweaborg are fair and pretty liberal to the seniors in the larger ships, but they had little to do with it, merely going in the rocket-boats at night. The lieutenants of the gun-boats, who really had the brunt of it, have been treated much less liberally, the two seniors only made, out of about thirteen.
The weather remains singularly fine. Last year we had one succession of gales from southward and westward. Key goes home to-morrow, lucky fellow! I hope in a month we shall be on our way (D.V.). This evening all the gun-boats started in a flock, in high glee, for home; and just after passing the ships two or three stopped and a boat was lowered - evidently a man had fallen overboard. At last up went the signal, 'Man is not saved.' Poor fellow! it quite cast a damp on our talking of home and envying the gun-boats. It is doubly distressing at such a time.
The accounts from Helsingfors all agree in showing the deep gratitude of the people for our not destroying it, and at the same time paint in terrible colours the horrors and misery they went through, expecting hourly to be bombarded. They carried away everything they could inland, the government stores, etc., being all removed. Had we shown intentions of attacking it, they were going to send a deputation off to beg us to spare it, as it was all private property. I would rather have had a share in saving that place, and the ruin and misery, its destruction would have caused, than the share of credit I received for Sweaborg. It is a comfort to me that I always tried to prevent it when planning beforehand, as my letters to you will have shown you, and also after Sweaborg I said all I could against trying to burn Helsingfors; and I have the same feeling about Revel. But as the poor Finns have had all the suffering of the war, and Esthonia nothing, if a town must go, I would rather it were Revel; but if it is decided not to spare it, I would much rather defer it for next season, when the means of doing it effectually and without much risk could be prepared; and besides, if we have peace in the meantime, it would save the sad misery.
I confess, if we are to destroy towns and carry on a war more barbarous than was known in Napoleon's time, I hope I shall get on shore as soon as possible. There is only one more place worthy of our attack, or that we can do any good by destroying, and that is Cronstadt. The destruction of every town on the coasts would not lead a bit more to peace, would multiply the horrors of war, and leave a spirit that may prevent any friendly feelings between us for a generation after peace is made. If I thought the blessing of peace would be brought about by destroying Revel and Helsingfors, I should feel it a duty to destroy them; but as it cannot affect the question of war or peace, but, on the contrary, excite a spirit of war and revenge in Russia, it is not only useless, but un-Christian to do such a barbarous act.
The new block-ships, not being efficient vessels, and all the small craft will be home in October.
There is great anxiety about the promotions which are expected to-morrow. I do not expect any honours will be out yet. I look more anxiously every week for some hopes of peace than anything else. Last week the papers had some rumours of it, but Sevastopol is the difficulty. Had it not been for that sad expedition we should have had peace now, every object of the war gained, and, oh! what blood, misery, and treasure would have been saved! But we must think it has all been permitted for some wise purpose which we cannot now understand. The alliance between England and France may lead to such national blessings and destruction of old animosity, that it may, by preventing a worse war for us, repay us for all the misery of the present time. I do hope there is a strong feeling leading all Christian Churches at home to pray earnestly for peace, and to check those feelings of fancied military honour and glory which lead so many to counsel and wish for war. If they could feel a little only of the horrors suffered by the poor people at Kertch, and the misery and anxiety caused by driving people with their things from their homes in Helsingfors and Revel, they would think very differently about war.
The accounts (if true) from Helsingfors show a much larger loss at Sweaborg than the Russian despatches allow. One account says that a regiment of a thousand men was nearly destroyed at Gustafsvard - that is where the heavy explosion occurred.
Nargen, Thursday, September 13th.
I saw the admiral to-day, and I find he wishes to go up to Admiral Seymour, near Cronstadt, to arrange with him before he goes to Stockholm, so he starts in Duke to-morrow very early, and we go with him. The French Government quite decided that nothing more should be attempted, so their small craft are all going home. Ours will go early next month. I wish I were a small craft! I went on shore for a walk, and saw them playing a cricket match, and then came off in time for the officers' dinner, this being my regular day for dining with them. I have been reading Wellington's despatches, and it is singular how exactly he complains like us of the falsehood and injury of the newspaper articles. They were abusing him for doing nothing at the very time he had more difficulties to struggle with than ever, and was, by his care in avoiding a battle, actually saving Portugal, and gaining all he wished for. But no paper had the influence then with the public that the Times has now, and these attacks on us all are, of course, delightful to the enemy. We hear that the Times is received inside Sevastopol the day it reaches our camp, and eagerly read for information about our army, etc. Yesterday our gunboats were taking some good oak timber off Wolf Island, when a baron somebody came over in a small boat from Revel and said it was his; and as we paid for everything, - milk, fish, etc. - at Nargen, he hoped the admiral would pay him for his oak timber, which was part of the cargo of a wreck he had bought. Caldwell explained to him it was rather different; but out of sixty fine logs only took thirteen. The baron said they thought we were going to destroy Revel after Sweaborg; but that it would have done us no good, and could not have any effect on the war either way. This is, I think, the real truth. He certainly showed great confidence, for he came over without a flag-of-truce. He said the war was doing one good in Russia; it was making them bring out their internal resources more than ever, as they were now working saltmines, etc., that were not worked before, and opening out roads for inland conveyance, though their rivers enabled them to do much by water. There were two small vessels taken full of wood, and stripped of each rope, etc., as usual, before being fired at as targets. To-day the crews, including one woman, said that one belonged to the baron; but the other to the men themselves, and her loss would ruin them. So the admiral had her sails and rigging restored, and had her rigged and fitted out, and gave them all leave to go in her to Revel. These little merciful acts will do great good, I am sure.
Friday night. - Instead of starting to-day, we have been detained by a gale from the north-east, blowing right into this bay. But it has quite confirmed the view I have always urged, that the banks protected it well, and that it was a safe anchorage, even with this wind. There has been little sea, and nothing for large ships. I have always urged not having colliers here; and if any of those here go on shore to-night, it will not be my fault. The same with the gun-boats. Only yesterday I urged the admiral, if it blew from this quarter, to send them round the other side of the island, which is quite sheltered; but it has not been done, and they have all this gale to stand. However, they looked to be riding very well at dusk. It is odd that the September gales last year were from south to west, and this year the three hard blows lately have all been from the north-eastward. This wind will try the anchorage for the Cronstadt squadron at Seskar; but I do not fear it for large ships. I have urged the colliers going to Biörkö; but I fear they have a collier at Seskar, and if so they may lose her. These are points more directly under the captain of fleet, and he is very undecided and nervous about their being anywhere near the shore, even if at very long shot, for fear the enemy will bring guns down. At Baro Sound, where I succeeded in getting some colliers sent, the result had proved the advantage; yet we have three or four here now, exposed to this gale, when a land-locked cove is within twenty-five miles, where all ships might go to coal. Now if these colliers were all lost, I know the captain, who has not liked this anchorage for the fleet, would say, 'There, this is your favourite anchorage,' forgetting that I have expressly said only for large ships, and that colliers, etc., ought not to be here. But this again shows the unfair position I am in, as I am looked to for advice on these points, but have no power to get my advice carried out, and yet have the responsibility. The admiral is so kind that I cannot show any feeling of this sort. Were it only the captain, I would just give him an opinion in writing about the safety of the ships, and have no more bother about it, leaving the responsibility resting with him, I having proof of what my opinions were in the written document. But I cannot do that now. One comfort is, it is all passing the time away, and that is everything now to me. I do trust before next spring peace may end it, for I feel a longing to be quietly home again, free from the anxiety and excitement which I cannot very well bear, even with everything going most smoothly and favourably for me.
Nargen, September 20th, 1855.
All the ships and their masters and captains are going crazy. This morning I had to go to Baro Sound to find out about H----- having got on shore in there. She relieved H----- and R------, ordered home immediately. The first thing the admiral tells me on my return is that R------ had touched on a rock coming out of Baro Sound, having actually mistaken the passage I took her in through, and going the wrong way. Also that H------ in the night had run on a dangerous bank, the Nye ground, which you will see in the chart farther down the gulf. Two vessels have gone to help her. All this is very bad. Directly the ships are trusted about singly they get into these scrapes. Fortunately the weather is beautifully fine.
I believe the poor people, especially the Finns, are suffering sadly. When I went up to Cronstadt, I took two boats crossing the gulf, one loaded with corn, the other with brandy, and five men in each. The poor men in the corn-boat had been across to buy it, and were going back to Finland. The poor creatures said, when I told them they must not cross or their boat would be taken, that they could not starve, and must risk anything rather than their families should do so. I could not take the poor fellows' all, so I let them go, corn and all, only taking one bag for our poultry, giving them tobacco for it, to their great delight. The poor fellows went on their knees and tried to embrace mine with joy at being released, and prayed for every blessing for me they could. The brandy-boat was from the south side, going to cross and try to pass through the Finnish islands all the way to Sweden, to change their brandy for things they were greatly in want of. They were in a low, poor boat, with two boards nailed up its sides, but quite unsafe. I explained to them that they could not pass our ships at several points before they got to Sweden, and that they would be taken and lose all, and I persuaded them to go back, which they did; I could not find the heart to add to the misery of these poor people. Those at home who are so anxious to prolong the war little understand what they would feel were our country in the state of this one; and I fear it is the poor who suffer most, and the Finns more than all, as they had the most trade and ships.
Calling to inquire about a sick peasant he had seen the year before, and finding the daughter in, he adds :-
When she recognised me she brightened up, and was sorry she did not recollect the 'good captain,' whom all the people here liked so. About three weeks since some sailors broke into the house in the night, and stole what little tea, sugar, and coffee they had got from the ships, as well as a few silver spoons - all they had. What is more cruel still, they had just stored their hay - their only food for the cows and stock in the winter - when some of our men set fire to it, and of course destroyed hay-house and all. They will probably lose most of their cattle through it. She said she thought they were French sailors; but I fear not, for we have had many vessels here, and I do not think the French have. We have also several colliers, and perhaps their crews may have done it. I fear the poor Alanders have suffered much this year; their vessels have been taken, and all that understanding I established, and Admiral Napier approved of, has been done away with. A new vessel was building when the fleet was lying here last year. The men went on working at her on a promise from Sir Charles that she would not be destroyed. She was launched this summer, and since taken by us. The Russians have ill-treated them for their supposed friendly feelings to us, and now we treat them as regular enemies also.
Soon after the work and anxiety at Sweaborg were over, Captain Sulivan, who had not felt it at the time, became very unwell with pains in the head and severe spasms in the spine. The doctors said it proceeded from the brain having been overstrained, and advised his going home. Through this the Merlin returned home some time before the rest of the fleet. On arriving at Woolwich, Captain Sulivan was sent for by the First Lord, Sir C. Wood, who, before Admiral Sir M. Berkeley and Captain Sir Baldwin Walker, asked him what could be done the next year at Cronstadt, telling him how many guns and mortar-vessels could be ready, and wishing to know whether there was sufficient prospect of success to justify further preparations. Captain Sulivan assured him that even with fewer small vessels, if the floating batteries answered, there could be no doubt about burning the town, and after ithat probably taking the place, or at least destroying the fleet. He explained step by step, at subsequent interviews, how it could be done with such probability of success as quite to justify attempting it. The next day he went with the First Lord and Sir B. Walker to try a new class of gun-boat, in order to decide whether more of them should be built, and then, after dining with the First Lord, spent the evening with him and Sir B. Walker in discussing the future plans. He urged that, to be independent of the French floating batteries, in case they were not brought from the Mediterranean, two more should be built, and a few days after Sir B. Walker told him that he would be glad to know they were ordered (See illustration of these vessels in the Daily Graphic of November 2nd, 1895). This shows how thoroughly the First Lord knew his services, and put confidence in his opinion.
When Admiral Dundas returned, he said to Captain Sulivan, "So you have been assuring the First Lord that we can burn Cronstadt and perhaps take it?" "Yes." "Well, I fear you are much too sanguine; I don't think it is at all certain." "Recollect, sir, you thought the same before Sweaborg." This was the substance of a long conversation on the subject, but the admiral never would express the slightest confidence in the success of the plan.
Early in the spring of 1856, however, peace was made, so that the plan for attacking Cronstadt was, fortunately, not required to be put into execution.
The Baltic fleet was reviewed by Her Majesty the Queen at Spithead on April 23rd, 1856.
Captain Sulivan had previously applied for the two surveying-vessels to be given the honour of leading the two divisions at the review, as they had led the ships in the Baltic against the enemy. Accordingly, the starboard division was led by him in the Merlin, the port by Captain Otter in the Alban.
It is probable that the success at Sweaborg had some effect in helping to bring about the peace, for it made the Russians fear for Cronstadt, as they well knew that preparations were being made for attacking it. After the war my father had many conversations on the subject with (then) Colonel Count Ignatieff, who was then a member of the Russian Embassy, and who had during the war been stationed at Cronstadt and at Sweaborg. The count particularly asked Captain Sulivan whether we really intended to attack Cronstadt, and on the latter assuring him that we did, and that it would not only have been burnt like Sweaborg, but would have been closely attacked, and probably taken, or at least the fleet burnt, Ignatieff asked him how he could suppose this, when they were building new batteries on the north side, and floating batteries also. Sulivan replied, "Because we should have attacked it early in June, and you would not have had the new batteries armed or a floating battery ready by that time, and I believe not till August." "How do you know that?" "Never mind how we know it; but was it not so?" At last he, the count, confessed that they would not have been ready in June. Sulivan said he thought the fear of our succeeding at Cronstadt had much to do with their consenting to make peace, and Ignatieff allowed that it might have influenced their decision to accept the terms.
The Russians having removed their buoys and beacons in the Baltic during the war, Ignatieff was instructed to ask Captain Sulivan's advice as to the best places on which to put them down again, as he knew more about the subject than the Russians themselves !
The honours for Sweaborg did not come out till early in 1856, when there was every prospect of peace. Captain Sulivan's brother-officers had so frequently assured him that he must get the K.C.B. if any honours were given, that he expected it, more particularly as it was well known to many at the Admiralty that the C.B. had been promised him long before for the Parana campaign. His disappointment was therefore all the greater when he found liberal rewards were given to nearly every one but himself. The admiral was made a K.C.B. (it ought to have been the G.C.B.); all the captains, except two or three who were C.B.'s before, received the C.B.; liberal promotions were given to juniors; and the officer who commanded at Sweaborg, being a C.B, before, was made an A.D.C. to the Queen. The senior marine artillery officer, Captain Wemyss, was made a major, and shortly after a C.B. and lieutenant-colonel. This was the first instance in the naval service of the C.B. being given for service as a captain of marines, but in his case most justly given, as he held an important command, and by his throwing aside old ideas and pouring in a more rapid mortar fire the first hour than had ever been thought of before, he greatly contributed to the success, as it got up rapidly such a body of fire that it could not be put out. (Colonel Ignatieff told Captain Sulivan that it upset all their arrangements for putting out fires.) But if the service was of such special merit as to obtain for a captain of marine artillery two steps in rank and the C.B., it might have been supposed that a captain in the navy, a C.B. at the time, who was ten years standing in the rank of colonel and lieutenant-colonel, who planned the attack, really conducted it, and placed every mortar-vessel, giving the marine artillery officers the exact ranges, which enabled them to do their work so well, would receive some slight recognition of his services; and that if the K.C.B. (which was given freely at the time to colonels in the army, his juniors, in addition to special promotion to major-general) was too high an honour for a naval man of the same rank, the First Lord would at least give him the slight reward of a good-service pension or A.D.C. to the Queen. But no, he was considered "too junior" for any reward. Not too junior to be worked nearly to death, to be consulted and used when he could be made useful, and not too junior to win by his exertions and success honours in plenty for others; and yet this argument against his being deserving of any reward whatever was actually used against him by the very admiral who had told him, "I owe you a debt of gratitude I can never repay." That others did not think this was shown by the late Admiral Sir James Hope (then Captain Hope) refusing the good-service pension when offered him, and telling the First Lord he hoped he would give it to Captain Sulivan, as a reward to him would be received with satisfaction by the whole Baltic fleet. The answer was, that he knew he must do something for him, but that he could not get over difficulties of seniority; so he gave the G.S.P. to Captain ------, who entered the service four years after Captain Sulivan, but through interest had got four years' start of him as a captain, and therefore, without having ever in any rank been engaged with an enemy, was thought more deserving of an honorary reward than one who had as commander and captain shared in three important campaigns, and been specially recommended and gazetted for each of them. Captain Sulivan allowed this apparent slight to affect him more than it perhaps should have done, but he was one who never saw an injustice committed without strongly protesting against it, without the least considering how such boldness might affect his own interest. It was not merely his own part he was taking, it was that of the service in general. It had seemingly been laid down by the Lords of the Admiralty that naval officers of a certain rank were not entitled to certain honorary rewards, freely given to their juniors in the army, unless they happened to be serving with a military force. Again, the maxim was laid down by Admiral Dundas, that honorary rewards were to be given by seniority, not for special service! Sulivan saw in himself the representative of the navy, and protested against these opinions. There was no question of the services he, had rendered the country - these were freely admitted - but "overstrained ideas of seniority" were allowed to deprive him of honorary recognition.
In 1857, when further honours for Sweaborg had been given, he wrote to the Admiralty, asking to be informed why he had been passed over. The reply was that he was "too junior, his turn had not yet come." He did not again publicly allude to the matter, until further honours were contemplated in 1865, when, hearing his name had not been mentioned, he saw the private secretary of the then First Lord, who, with the First Lord, expressed ignorance of his services! Sir Charles Wood and others having then given testimony to his work, it was considered too late to make any alteration, and that his "seniority" was not sufficient. This is one instance out of many which could be quoted, showing the want of continuity in naval administration, by which an officer's services, however valuable, may be unknown to the authorities who later have the bestowal of promotion and rewards. Sulivan thought this record quite sufficient, when again in 1867 further promotions in the Order of the Bath were made, which called forth the criticism of the Times and other papers. His "want of seniority" made his name again omitted. At length, in some measure owing to the representations of Admirals Sir James Hope, Sir A.C. Key, Sir Spencer Robinson, and others, his "turn" was supposed to have come, and he was made a K.C.B. in 1869, fourteen years after the war.
That there was no feeling against him personally, and that his treatment was caused, as the Hydrographer expressed it "by overstrained ideas respecting seniority," is proved by the unusual consideration shown Captain Sulivan in other respects. He was asked after the war if there was any appointment he would prefer; and it was intimated to him that if he wished it, he might have one of the first dockyards vacant, though he was not of the usual standing for such an appointment.
On explaining to the Senior Naval Lord that as the Cape command as commodore would soon be vacant, he would prefer it to a home appointment, Sir M. Berkeley very kindly said he believed every one at the Board wished him to have an appointment that he preferred, and he would mention the wish to the First Lord. Privately he heard that he might make pretty sure of going; but, shortly before the vacancy occurred, Admiral Beechey's death made a vacancy for the appointment of naval officer to the Board of Trade, and the First Lord offered it to Sulivan.
At first he refused it, not wishing to give up active service, and particularly the Cape command; but the permanency of the civil appointment and the apparent advantage to his family induced him to accept it.
It is difficult to understand how the same men, who could so desire to give him an unusually good appointment on account of his Baltic services, without any interest to aid him, could yet refuse him all honorary reward for such special services, though they showered honours so freely on others with, in some cases, very trifling claims to them, and even on some who were never within gunshot of an enemy.
Entire ignorance on the subject will alone explain their refusing the K.C.B. to all under the rank of admiral, while the military authorities were making numerous colonels of much less standing both major-generals and K.C.B.'s. It was really for the sake of the principle involved that Captain Sulivan pushed his claims. His pamphlet on "Honours" clearly shows how these should be bestowed to maintain the value of the distinctions.
Two years after Sweaborg, when every officer senior to him who had the slightest claim had received either a G.S.P. or an A.D.C., one was given to a captain who was a year junior to him. Sir R. Dundas then told the First Lord that he thought it should have been given to Sulivan, and he received the next vacant "good-service pension.
To return to the winter of 1855. Admiral Sir James Hope wrote as follows:-
London, December 21st, 1855.
My Dear Sulivan, - Sir C. Wood told me to-day that he intended to put me on a committee with you and Key, to report on some sub-marine boat. I told him that we should be glad in such an inquiry to have the assistance of a civil engineer of acknowledged reputation, accustomed to sub-marine operations. He promised anything we should judge necessary.
And now, my dear Sulivan, I hope you will forgive me if I have done wrong, but I could not resist the temptation the other day, when I first saw Sir C. Wood on my arrival, and he alluded to the good-service pension I refused, of telling him how highly I thought you deserved it of the Admiralty, and how well bestowed I thought it would have been on you or Watson, and that I felt very sure we all in the Baltic should have rejoiced at your getting it. He told me that he was fully sensible of it all, that he intended as soon as he could do so to remember you, but that he could not as yet get over considerations of seniority. So I hope as soon as two or three more tumble in, which must happen soon, that you will not be forgotten. He offered me an aide-de-camp-ship, but I declined, on the ground that I had been amply rewarded for all I had ever had the luck to do. I would rather wait till I felt I had earned it, of which I hoped there might be a chance next year.
The trial of a sub-marine boat, referred to by Admiral Hope, took place in Poole Harbour, it being thought the most private locality for the purpose. Imagine a large inverted whale-boat of iron, with a chamber at each end filled with compressed air. The commissioners (Hope, Sulivan, and Key) were watching the trial from a yacht. The boat was lowered keel uppermost, the crew being under the thwarts, as in a diving-bell. When the boat was allowed to sink nearly to the bottom, the men got down, and, with their heads in the air-filled boat, pushed it along as they walked on the ground. The air was supplied as wanted by taps, and buoys attached to each end of the boat marked its progress. When the boat was some distance from the yacht, suddenly something like the snout of a whale appeared above the water, out blew a lot of spray, and down it went. While the yacht was steaming up to it, the apparition appeared a second time, with the same result. Then was heard the tapping of a hammer against the iron sides of the boat, an agreed-upon signal. The boat was hauled up, and the engineer and five men found almost at their last gasp. All had gone well until the boat was wanted at the surface. To accomplish this, a heavy weight attached at each end of the boat by a chain had to be thrown out. On the crew attempting to rise, one chain caught - consequently the unchecked end rose somewhat perpendicularly, and the air inside escaped. The engineer's presence of mind saved the party. There was a smaller hold between the main-hold and one air-chamber. On the loss of air consequent on the two rises, the men were got into this. With his hand on the cock, the engineer waited until he saw the men gasping, when he would give them a little more air. In this way he spun out his small remaining supply until the yacht came to their rescue, and raised the boat by means of the ropes attached to buoys, which the forethought of Sulivan had provided. After this, the commissioners themselves went down in her, but did not go far from the yacht! This was the last, I believe, heard of the invention, which was intended for use against the boom at Cronstadt, etc.
In confirmation of the statement on page 367, I may state that, on reading it in the proofs, my father's cousin, Admiral T.B.M. Sulivan, told me that in 1861 he met M. Tchesterkoff, commodore of the Russian squadron off the coast of Syria, who, on learning his relationship to Captain B.J. Sulivan, stated that, after the war, the Russian Government sent an official to consult the latter on the rebuoying of their Baltic shores.
Not only after the Parana campaign, but also after the Baltic war, the French admirals therein engaged recommended the Emperor to confer a high grade of the Legion of Honour upon Captain Sulivan. For the Parana expedition no exchange of decorations was allowed by our Government. After the Russian war, with the exception of one for Admiral Dundas, all the French decorations sent for our navy were taken by Admiral Lyons for his officers. Yet, so far as regarded service with the French fleet, other Baltic officers besides Captain Sulivan had claims prior to many Black Sea recipients. Admiral Penaud, in talking to some of our officers of the power which their naval authorities possessed of promoting a captain to the rank of admiral for special service, as Trehouart had been advanced, said that, if Sulivan had been in the French navy, he would certainly have been thus rewarded.
|Top||(1) (2) (3) (4) (5) (6) (7) (8) (9) (10)|