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Siege of Petropavlovsk
Part of Crimean War
Cannons which were used to defend Petropavlovsk in 1854.
Date August 28 - September 7, 1854
Location Petropavlovsk, Kamchatka
Result Russian victory
United Kingdom United Kingdom
France French Empire
Russian Empire Russian Empire
France Auguste Febvrier-Despointes
United Kingdom David Price
United Kingdom Frederick Nicolson
Russia Vasily Zavoyko
Russia Yevfimy Putyatin
2,600 men
218 cannons
6 warships:
920 men
67 cannons
frigate Aurora (44)
transport Dwina (12)
Casualties and losses
500 dead 100 dead
2 ships:
commercial vessel Avatska
transport Sitka (10)

The Siege of Petropavlovsk was the main operation on the Pacific Theatre of the Crimean War. The Russian casualties are estimated at 100 soldiers; the Allies lost five times as many.

In the China and Japan seas, at the beginning of the war, the Russian Rear-Admiral Yevfimy Putyatin had under his orders the Pallada, 60 guns, Aurora, 44, and Dvina, 12. The British force on the station was under Rear-Admiral David Price (newly-promoted after serving as post captain for 39 years) and the French under Rear-Admiral Auguste Febvrier-Despointes. In total Allied fleet had nine ships and over 200 cannons. Putyatin was, of course, helpless at sea against such a force; and therefore he sent the Pallada far up the river Amur, and utilised her people in reinforcing the weak garrisons on the littoral. The Aurora and Dvina took refuge in Petropavlovsk, a post against which it was foreseen that the allies would probably attempt operations. Price and Febvrier-Despointes, after having detached the Amphitrite, Artémise, and Trincomalee to cruise for the protection of trade off the coasts of California, went in search of the Russians, and, on August 28th, sighted the shores of Kamchatka.


The siege

The siege started on 18 August 1854, when an Allied squadron of three British and French frigates, one corvette, one brig and one steamship cast anchor in the Avacha Bay. The Allied forces far outnumbered the Russians, and the main Russian vessel, the 60-gun Pallada, was sent far up the River Amur out of harm's way. The remaining forces led by Rear Admiral Putyatin took refuge in the harbour of Petropavlovsk on the Kamchatka peninsula, defended by its shore batteries. Aurora was anchored behind a sand spit topped by a shore battery.

The Allied force, commanded by Rear Admirals Febvrier-Despointes and Price advanced to bombard Petropavlosk on 30 August 1854. They had some 218 cannons at its disposal, as compared to 67 cannons available to the defenders of Kamchatka's main city under Vasily Zavoyko. Almost immediately, Price went below decks and shot himself. The Allies withdrew, but returned to resume the bombardment the next day, 31 August, with Captain Nicolson of HMS Pique in temporary command.

Petropavlovsk was lightly defended, with just over 1,000 troops, including the crews of the vessels sheltering in its harbour. The Allied squadron re-entered Avacha Bay to storm the city. A Naval Brigade of around 700 British and French seamen and marines landed on 4 September, under Captains Burridge and de La Grandiere, but they were ambushed and, after some heavy fighting, retreated with 107 British and 101 French dead. On 24 August, 970 Allied troops landed west of Petropavlovsk, but were repelled by 360 Russians.

The Allies withdrew, although President and Virago managed to capture the Russian Anadis, a small schooner, and the 10-gun transport Sitka on 7 September 1854. The Allies left Petropavlovsk to the Russians until April 1855, when Nikolay Muravyov, aware of the insufficiency of troops and weapons to repel another attack on the city, had Petropavlovsk garrison evacuated under the cover of snow.

Allied fleet



The British force on the station was under Rear-Admiral David Price, and consisted of:


The French Rear-Admiral Auguste Febvrier-Despointes had at his disposal:

  • Forte, 60 (flagship)
  • Eurydice, 30
  • Artémise, 30
  • Obligado, 18.


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