Battle of Chesma: Wikis


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Battle of Chesme
Part of the Russo-Turkish War, 1768-1774
Chios aivaz.jpg
Date 5 -7 July 1770
Location Çeşme Bay, Turkey
Result Decisive Russian victory
 Russian Empire Greek Revolutionaries  Ottoman Empire
Count Orlov Mandalzade Hüsameddin Pasha
9 ships of the line,
3 frigates,
1 bomb,
4 fireships,
4 supply ships
16 ships of the line,
6 frigates,
6 xebecs,
13 galleys,
32 small crafts,
1,300 guns

The naval Battle of Chesme took place on 5 -7 July 1770 near and in Çeşme (Chesme) Bay, in the area between the western tip of Anatolia and the island of Chios, which was the site of a number of past naval battles between the Ottoman Empire and the Republic of Venice. It was a part of the Orlov Revolt of 1769, a precursor to the later Greek War of Independence (1821-29), and the first of a number of disastrous fleet battles for the Ottomans against Russia.

Prelude to the battle

The Russo-Turkish War had begun in 1768, and Russia sent several squadrons from the Baltic Sea to the Mediterranean Sea to draw Turkish attention away from their Black Sea fleet, then only 6 battleships (ships of the line) strong. Two Russian squadrons, commanded by Admiral Grigory Spiridov and Rear Admiral John Elphinstone,[1] a British advisor, combined under the overall command of Count Alexei Orlov, Commander-in-Chief of the Russian Fleet and went to look for the Turkish fleet.

On 5 July 1770 they came across it anchored in line just north of Çeşme Bay, western Turkey. Details of the Turkish fleet are uncertain but it included 14-16 ships of the line including Real Mustafa of 84 guns, Rodos of 60 guns and a 100-gun flagship. In addition there were perhaps 6 frigates, 6 xebecs, 13 galleys and 32 small craft, with about 1,300 guns in total. About 10 of the ships of the line, of 70-100 guns, were in the Turkish main line with a further 6 or so ships of the line in the 2nd, arranged so that they could fire through the gaps in the first line. Behind that were the frigates, xebecs etc. The fleet was commanded by Kaptan Pasha Mandalzade Hüsameddin, in the fourth ship from the front (north end) of the line, with Hasan Pasha in the first ship, Real Mustafa, and Cafer Bey in the seventh. Two further ships of the line, probably small, had left this fleet for Mytilene the previous evening.

After organizing a plan of attack, the Russian battle line (see Table 1) sailed towards the south end of the Turkish line and then turned north, coming alongside the Turks, with the tail end coming into action last (Elphinston had wanted to approach the northern end first, then follow the wind along the Turkish line, attacking their ships one by one - the method used by Nelson at the Battle of the Nile in 1798).

Battle engagement

The Turks opened fire at about 11.45am, followed by the Russians slightly later. Three of the Russian ships of the line had trouble staying in position; Evropa turned around and came back behind Rostislav, Trech Svyatitelai circled the 2nd Turkish vessel before coming back into the Russian line, being attacked in error by Trech Ierarchov as she did so, and Sv. Ianuarii turned around before coming back into the line.

Spiridov, in Sv. Evstafii, had a close-range battle with Hasan Pasha in Real Mustafa, before the latter was suddenly seen to be on fire. Her mainmast came down and landed on Sv. Evstafiis deck, causing the Russian ship to immediately blow up. Shortly later Real Mustafa blew up as well.

According to Elphinston, who claimed the Russians were almost useless, Spiridov and Count Feodor Orlov (brother of the commander), had left Sv. Evstafii before the fighting became close-range. Spiridov ended up on Trech Svyatitelai. Sv. Evstafii's captain, Kruse, survived too. At about 2pm the fighting ended, as the Turks cut their cables and moved south into the bay, forming themselves into a defensive line of 8 ships of the line, a 2nd line, and the rest beyond.

On 6 July the Russians bombarded the Turkish ships and land positions, and at about 12:30 a.m. on the morning of 7 July Orlov sent Samuel Greig, (who transferred to Rostislav) to attack with Evropa, Rostislav and Ne tron menya forming a south-north line facing the Turks, and with Saratov in reserve, Nadezhda attacking the batteries at the eastern side of the bay entrance, Afrika attacking the batteries on the western side, and Grom near Afrika. At about 1:30 a.m. or earlier (times were about 90 minutes earlier, according to Elphinston), fire from Grom and/or Ne tron menya caused a Turkish ship of the line to blow up after her main topsail caught fire, and the fire quickly spread to other ships of the line. By 2 a.m. two Turkish ships of the line had blown up and more were on fire, and Greig sent in three fireships (the fourth, seeing the danger, stayed out), which contributed in a small way to the burning of almost the entire Turkish fleet. At about 4 a.m., boats were sent in to save two ships of the line which were not burning, but one of these caught fire while it was being towed. The other, Rodos 60, survived and was captured along with five galleys. Fighting ended at about 8 a.m. Russian casualties on 5 July were 14 killed, plus 636 killed in Sv. Evstafii, and about 30 wounded, and on 7 July 11 killed. Turkish casualties were much higher. Hüsameddin, Hasan Pasha and Cafer Bey survived. Hüsameddin was removed from his position, which was given to Cafer Bey. This was the only significant fleet battle during the Russo-Turkish War.

Battle line Guns Type
Evropa (a) 66 Battleship (ship of the line)
Sv. Evstafii (b) 68 Battleship; blew up
Tri Svyatitelya 66 Battleship
Sv. Ianuarii 66 Battleship
Tri Ierarchov (c) 66 Battleship
Rostislav 68 Battleship
Ne tron menya 66 Battleship
Svyatoslav (d) 84 Battleship
Saratov 66 Battleship
Other ships Guns Type
Grom 12 Bomb ship
Sv. Nikolai 26/38? Frigate
Afrika 32 Frigate
Nadezhda 32 Frigate
Sv. Pavel (e) 8 Pink (store ship)
Potchtalon (e) 14 Despatch vessel
Graf Tchernyshev (f) 22 Armed merchantman
Graf Panin (f) 18 Armed merchantman
Graf Orlov (f) 18 Armed merchantman
? (captain Dugdale) Fireship; sunk
? (captain Mackenzie) Fireship; expended
? (captain Ilin) Fireship; expended
? (captain Gagarin) Fireship

Table 1: Russian ships. Battleships (ships of the line) are listed in the order they came into action. Orlov's squadron in pink, Spiridov's in blue and Elphinston's in yellow. Notes: (a) captain Klokatchev; (b) Spiridov's flagship, captain Kruse; (c) Orlov's flagship, captain Greig; (d) Elphinston's flagship; (e) One or both of these were present; (f) Hired English ships that were supporting the fleet


The Battle of Chesme was fought on the same day as the land Battle of Larga. It was the greatest naval defeat suffered by Ottomans since the Battle of Lepanto (1571). This battle inspired great confidence in the Russian fleet and allowed the Russians to control the Aegean Sea for some time. The defeat of the Turkish fleet also sped up rebellions by minority groups in the Ottoman Empire, especially the Orthodox Christian nations in the Balkan peninsula, who helped the Russian army in defeating Turkey.[2]

After this naval victory, the Russian fleet stayed in Aegean for the following five years. It came back to Ceşme twice more to bombard it during this time. Historians still debate the rationale for this Russian military focus on this small fort town while there were many other more strategic targets along the Aegean coast.

Catherine the Great commissioned four monuments to commemorate the victory: Chesma Palace and Church of Saint John at Chesme Palace in St Petersburg (1774-77), Chesma Obelisk in Gatchina (1775), and Chesma Column in Tsarskoe Selo (1778).

See also


  1. ^ John Elphinston, Papers Relating to the Russo-Turkish War
  2. ^ Jelavich, Barbara. History of the Balkans. Cambridge University Press, 1983. Page 69.


  • Naval wars in the Levant 1559-1853 - R. C. Anderson ISBN 1-57898-538-2
  • 1770 Çeşme Deniz Savaşı - Ali Rıza İşipek, Oğuz Aydemir ISBN 975-00051-4-7

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