The 1856 Royal Naval review
The 1856 Royal Naval review


The Royal Navy
The Royal Navy


On Wednesday, 23 April 1856 (St. George's Day) a "Great Naval Review" of the fleet being prepared for the 1856 Baltic campaign was held at Spithead to celebrate the end of the war (although the Treaty of Paris, which brought the war to an end, and which had been signed on 30 March, was only to be ratified four days later). HMS Hydra, on which William Loney was serving, was back from the Cape of Good Hope station just in time to participate in the review.

After the fall of Sevastopol on 8 September 1855, France had become less interested in continuing the war. Britain had decided to despatch a "great armament" to the Baltic in 1856 to reduce the island fortress of Kronstadt and allow an assault on the Russian capital of St Petersburg. The well publicised plans for this fleet, consisting of the 1855 Baltic fleet, augmented with - among others - the newly commissioned floating batteries and gun and mortar vessels, were instrumental in forcing the Russians to the negotiating table. In was originally intended that the fleet should be ready to sail on 1 March, but in fact only two line-of-battle ships and a "flying squadron" had sailed to start enforcing the blockade of the Baltic by the time peace negotiations started; these ships were back at Spithead in time for the review. Hydra was one of the few participating, not newly commissioned, ships which had not been involved in the war; I do not know if it was the intention that she should have sailed with the Baltic fleet if that fleet had been needed in 1856.

The list of participating vessels in the article of 24 April differs from that of 23 April and that in the Illustrated London News with regard to the column in which Amphion and Arrogant, and Retribution and Vulture are placed; the list of 24 April and the plan in the Illustrated London News omit the last two paddlewheel vessels in each column: Driver and Hydra, and Prometheus and Cuckoo. The Illustrated London News list omits Driver, Prometheus and Cuckoo, but not Hydra; Hydra's log, however, makes clear that this vessel did indeed participate. The lists in the Times contain all the then ordered gunboats and gunvessels, including those not yet launched; the craft for which no commander is shown were not actually present. Gunboats which had only been launched in April were, however, able to be present.


Extracts from the Times newspaper
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