The Life of Will, or the Journey to Happiness

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The Battle of Navarino

Today marks the 187th anniversary of the Battle of Navarino, the last major naval battle fought by sailing ships.  Twenty-two Allied ships from Russia, France and Britain engaged seventy-eight Ottoman ships at Navarino Bay, on the west coast of Messenia, Greece.  The Allied fleet was made up of eight Russian ships, five French and nine British vessels ranging from the 84-gun First Rate HMS Asia, to ten fifth and sixth rate frigates.

The Allied fleet was commanded by Vice-Admiral Edward Codrington aboard the Asia while the Ottoman fleet they faced was made up of three ships of the line, seventeen frigates and sixty smaller vessels and fireships.  The battle marked the high point of British intervention into the Greek War of Independence which had begun in 1821, both France and Russia would later launch land expeditions. 

The Allied fleet entered Navarino Bay with no opposition from the Turks, they sat at anchor and a standoff ensued.  The battle began as the Ottomans allegedly attempted to launch a fireship attack on the Allied fleet.  The British frigate HMS Dartmouth opened fire and the battle began in earnest.  The battle raged until 6pm with most of the Ottoman fleet sunk or burnt at their anchorages, of seventy-eight ships only eight remained seaworthy at the end of the battle.  The battle was hard fought and although no Allied ships were lost three Russian ships of the line, two French and three British were badly damaged with heavy casualties.

The Ottoman fleet may have been destroyed but their occupation of the Peloponnese continued and Greece would not fully win its independence until 1832.  To this day the Battle of Navarino is one of the lesser known naval battles of the 19th century but it is of special interest as it is the last major naval engagement to be fought entirely by sailing ships.


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(via meninroad)

Filed under 19th Century Art History