1756 - Russian operations in the Baltic Sea
The campaign took place from September to October 1756.
This article has been elaborated by Roman Shlygin based on several Russian sources. At the time of the Seven Years’ War, Russia was still using the Old Style Calendar (O. S.) better known as the Julian Calendar, while most of Europe had adopted the Gregorian Calendar since a while. However, Great Britain waited until 1752 to adopt a similar calendar and Sweden, until 1753.
In the present article, we give priority to the Gregorian Calendar and often indicates the “Old Style” date in parenthesis.
In 1756, when Frederick II proceeded to the invasion of Saxony, the Russian Army and the Russian Navy were not completely prepared for the war. So it was decided by the Konferentsiya (War Council of the Imperial court) to send a squadron to cruise in the Baltic Sea to determine if the Prussian Army was making any preparations for a sudden offensive against Russia.
On September 11 (O.S. August 30), Captain-Commander Mordvinov arrived on board of the Wachmeister (32) .
On September 19 (O.S. September 8), the frigates set off from Kronstadt and arrived at Reval (present-day Tallin) the same day.
In the following days, the squadron was completely formed at Reval, including ships who were already based in this harbour: the Nataliya (66), the Schlusselburg (54) and the Archangel Mikhail (32).
On September 23 (O.S. September 12), the squadron sailed from Reval and Mordvinov opened the letter given to him by the Admiralty College, with instructions for each vessel of the squadron:
- the Nataliya (66) (under Captain Rukin), flagship of Captain-Commander Mordvinov, was ordered to sail along the Baltic coasts passing by the cruising sectors assigned to the other vessels with instructions to cooperate with them.
- the Schlusselburg (54) (under Captain Zhidovinov) was ordered to cruise along the coast of Courland from Windau (present-day Ventspils in Latvia) to Libau (present-day Liepāja in Latvia).
- the Rossiya (32) (under Captain Walrond) was ordered to cruise between the Memel Pass (present-day Klaipėda in Lithuania) and Libau.
- the Wachmeister (32) (under Captain Makenzi) was ordered to cruise from Brusterort (N-W cape of the Sambian peninsula) along the Curonian Spit to the Memel Pass.
- the Archangel Mikhail (32) (under Captain-Lieutenant Grekov) was ordered to cruise between Hel (Hel peninsula in Poland) and Brusterort.
On October 10 (O.S. September 29), the Nataliya (66) arrived at Hel and Mordvinov sent his secretary from there to Danzig (present-day Gdansk) aboard a dinghy to establish contact with a Russian agent. The latter informed him that:
- there were no Prussian forces in Danzig and there were no transport vessels in the Prussian service;
- a Prussian army of about 40 000 men was stationed in East Prussia, but there were no indication that it was making any preparations for an offensive against Russia.
In the next few days, Mordvinov sailed back along the Baltic coast collecting all frigates of his squadron. The reports of all captains did not identify any preparations for naval transportation of the Prussian army. However, they noted that the Prussian garrison of Memel was preparing the fortress for an expected siege.
The Schlusselburg (54) did not rendezvous with the squadron as planned. It was known that she had experienced rigging problems and it was decided to search for her. After unsuccessful research along the western coast of the Courland peninsula, Mordvinov ordered the Rossiya (32) to continue look for the Schlusselburg (54) in the Gulf of Riga.
On October 25 (O.S. October 14), the main part of the squadron arrived at Reval.
On November 18 (O.S. November 7), the Schlusselburg (54), who had suffered from a broken mast, finally arrived at Reval.
Materials on the history of Russian Navy
Roman Schlygin for the initial version of this article