20-gun brig "Mercury"(History info)
20-guns brig “Mercury" was laid in Sevastopol on the 28
of January (February, 9), 1819. It was built of
Crimean oak and was launched on the 7th (19th) of May, 1820. Ship master colonel
1. la. Osminin conceived “Mercury” as a special
ship to protect Kavkas coast and as a patrol ship.
Unlike the other brigs of Russian Navy, it had a
shallow draught and was equipped with oars. A shallow draught
limitted the less than others have the depth of hold and made its speed
In the end of Russian-Turkish war of- 1828—1829 three Russian ships: 44-gun frigate “Standart”(commander captain-lieutenant P. la. Sahnovsky),20-gun brig “0rfey” (commander captain-liuetenant E. 1. Koltovsky)and 20-gun brig “Mercury” (commander captain-lieutenant A. 1. Kazarsky) were ordered to cruise near the way out of the strait Bosporus. Sahnovsky was charged with a command of all the ship's complement. On the 12th (24th) of May, 1829, the ships weighed anchors and set their course for Bosporus.
At dawn May, 14(26), in 13 miles from the strait ship's complement noticed Turkish squadron consisting of 14 ships sailing from the shores of Anatolia. Sahnovsky wanted to make an opponent out in order to get to know his forces this time. Then there was a signal from “Standart”: “Mercury” — to lie to”. Sahnovsky kept the most slow ship. Having counted Turkish pennants “Standart” and “0rfey” turned back. Enemy squadron began persueing Russian ships. Having seen the scouts turning back Kazarsky ordered himself to stop drifting and to hoist the sails. Very soon fast “Standart” drew level with “Mercury”. And there was a new signal on its mast: “Each ship should choose its own course which would help him to make a primary move”.
Kazarsky chose NNW, “Standart” and “0rfey” having set their course to NW, rushed ahead and soon turned into two flutty clouds on the horizon. Meanwhile “Mercury” was being surrounded by Turkish ships. The wind blew to WSW, the enemy went strictly northward. The best Turkish ships — 110-gun “Selimie” with a flag of Kapudan- pashi and 74-gun “Real-bei” gradually reached “Mercury”. The rest of Turkish squadron lied to waiting when the admirals would catch or sink refractory Russian brig. “Mercury” had a little chance to escape (184 guns against 20, even if not to take a calibre of the guns into consideration). There was no hope of a successful outcome of the Fight was already inevitable.
About two o'clock the wind dropped and the speed of Turkish ships became lower. Availing himself of the opportunity Kazarsky useing the oars wanted to move away from the enemy, but the wind became stronger and Turkish ships started cutting the distance down. Towards 15 o'clock the enemy opened the fire from the guns.
After the first Turkish shots there was a council of war on the brig. According to the military tradition a man of a junior rank had a privilege to express his opinion first. “We can't escape from our enemy”, — said navigator 1. P. Prokofiev. — “We'll fight. Russian brig must not be taken prisoner! The last survival will blow it up”. The commander of brig “Mercury”, 28-years old captain-lieutenant A. 1. Kazarsky who had been confered a gold sabre for the battles under Varna in 1828, who was considered one of the bravest officers of Black Sea Fleet, wrote in his dispatch to admiral A. S. Greig: “We unanimously decided to fight to the utmost and if masts and spars will be already impossible to pump the water in the hold out, any survival officer should burn a powder — magazine.
Having finished a council, the commander appealed to the sailors not to disgrace the honour of Andreev flag. All the people declored that they would be true to their duty and oath. Before the Turkish there was an opponent which prefered death to surrender and battle to lowering the flag.
Having stopped rowing, ship's complement prepared brig for the battle: the gunners held a defensive positions, a sentry near the flag was ordered to shoot at anybody who would try to lower the flag; the yawl hung over-stern was threw down in thea sea and from two 3-pounds guns drawn in the stern chase was opened replyind fire on enemy.
Kazarsky knew the weak and strong points of his brig. Despite its 9 years old “Mercury” was strong, though hard to move. It held back a'high wave, but was too heavy in calm sea. It could be saved only by the art of manoeuvre and by accuracy of the gunners.
The real battle began, when “Selimie” tried to skirt the brig from the right and fired a volley from the left side, but Kazarsky managed to dodge. Then “Mercury” began skilfully manoeuvreing, used oars and obliging enemy acting only chase guns. Then it found itself between both ships.
The dense swerm of the cannon-balls flew to “Mercury”. To the demaud to surrender Kazarsky replied by rifle-shots and volleys of the carronade. The rigging and masts and spars — that the “Achilles heel* of even such a giants as these multi-gun ships. Finally, accurately fired 24-pounds round-shots of “Mercury” spoilt the bobstay and damaged main- topgallant-mast of “Selimie” that made it lie to. “Real-bei” insistautly went on a battle. During an hour, changing the tacks, it sent cruel fore-and-aft volleys. “Mercury” repeled an attacks and spoilt the left arm fore-topsail-yard of Turkish ship. All these things made him unable to persue Russian ship and at 17.30 it stopped the battle^
As a cannonade from ftie South died away, “Standart” and “0rfey” considering “Mercury” sunk put a flag at half mast signifying the mourning.
When the wounded brig approached Sevastopol where there were the main forces of Black Sea Fleet, contused, with a head bandaged Kazarsky counted the losses: 4 killed, 6 wounded, 22 holes in the hull, 133 holes in the sails, 16 damages in the masts and spars, 148 in rigging.
May, 15, “Mercury” joined the Fleet which being informed by “Standart” put out to sea in full complement at 14.30.
Brig's feat was highly-appreciated by the enemy. After the battle one of the navigators of Turkish ship noticed: “lf in the great deeds of ancient of own times there are the feats of bravery, so this act put the othes in the shade and the name of a hero should be wrote by the gold letter in the shrine of glory: the captain was Kazarsky, and the name of this brig was “Mercury”.
Ship's complement which added a chapter to a book of Russian sea glory was handsomely rewarded. Kazarsky and Prokofiev got the order of Georgiy of IV degree, the other offices got the orders of Vladimir of IV degree, all the sailors got the decorations. The offices were promoted and Kazarsky got a rank of adjutant. All the officers and the sailors were granted a life pension in the scale of double salary. The brig — the second from Russian memorable ships — got Georgiy flag and pennaunt.
“Mercury” served up to November, 9, 1857, when there was an instruction to disassemble it because of its delapidated state. Nevertheless its name was kept in the Russian Fleet to pass it to the worthy ship of Georgiy flag. Three ships of Black Sea Fleet carried the name “The memory of Mercury” by turns: in 1865 — corvette, in 1883 and in 1907 — cruisers.
In 1834 in Sevastopol Black Sea squadron of M. P. Lazarev erected a monument built according to the design of the architector A. P. Brullov. The high monument with the words: “To Kazarsky. To the posterity as an example”, is crowned with bronse triera.
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