Chesme, Battle of

views updated


The battle of Chesme ("fountain" in Turkish) was fought on the night of July 56, 1770 between a Russian squadron under the command of Count Aleksei Grigoryievich Orlov and an Ottoman fleet under Hassan Bey at Chesme bay on the western Anatolian Mediterranean coast. Orlov had nine ships of the line, three frigates, a bomb ship, and a number of smaller vessels under his command. Ottoman forces numbered sixteen line ships, six frigates, six xebecs, thirteen galleys, and thirty-two galliots. Orlov's plan was to send in vessels to attack the tightly clustered Ottoman squadron at anchor in the bay. On the evening of June 26, Orlov sent a detachment of four line ships, two frigates, a bomb ship, and four fire ships under the command of Captain S.K. Greig into the anchorage. A fire ship under the command of Lieutenant Il'in soon set an Ottoman 84-gun line ship alight, and the fire soon spread to other vessels. In total numbers the destruction was the greatest naval victory in the days of sail; the Ottomans lost fifteen line ships, six frigates and about fifty smaller vessels. About ten thousand Ottoman sailors died in the battle, and the Russians captured a number of Ottoman ships, including five galleys and the frigate Rodos-60. Empress Catherine the Great awarded Orlov the title of "Count Chesmensky" for his participation in the victory. The strategic result for Russia was command of the sea in the Aegean during the remainder of its war with the Ottoman Empire. When a peace treaty was signed at Küçük Kaynarca in 1774, the Ottoman Empire recognized Russian claims to represent Christian interests in the empire.

See also: catherine ii; orlov, grigory grigorievich; russo-turkish wars


Daly, Robert Welter. (1958). "Russia's Maritime Past," In The Soviet Navy, ed. Malcolm George Saunders. London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson.

John C. K. Daly