Russian War - 1854-55.
Russia had shown her evident intention of laying violent hands on Turkey, by destroying with a treachery unworthy a civilised nation a Turkish squadron at Sinope, and England and France being bound by treaty to protect the Ottoman Empire, without delay each despatched a fleet into the Black Sea. That of England was under the command of Admiral Dundas, who had his flag on board the Britannia, of 120 guns, his second in command being Rear-Admiral Sir Edmund Lyons, whose flag flew on board the Agamemnon, of 91 guns, a name known to fame. The other ships were the Trafalgar, of 120 guns, the Queen, of 116, the Albion, 91, Rodney and London, 90, Vengeance, 84, Bellerophon, 80, Sanspareil, 70,Arethusa and Leander, 50, Tribune and Curacoa, 31, Retribution, steam-frigate, 28, Diamond, 26, Terrible and Sidon, steam-frigates, 22,Highflyer, steam-sloop, 21, Furious and Tiger, 16, the former a steam-frigate, the Niger, 13, and nine steam-sloops. The French fleet consisted of 15 sail of the line, and 21 frigates and smaller vessels.
From the first Admiral Lyons contemplated an attack on Sebastopol, and in order to ascertain the strength of its fortifications, Captain Drummond, of the Retribution, before war was actually declared, was sent there with a despatch for the Russian governor. He ran in during a fog, and had brought up before even his presence was discovered. Having sent his despatch on shore, he waited for an answer, making good use of his time, and when it arrived, having exchanged salutes with the governor, he stood out again with the valuable information he had obtained. Peace not having been actually broken, the Furious, Captain Loring, was sent to Odessa to bring off the British consul, or any British subjects who might wish to leave it. As the frigate was receiving them on board, the garrison, notwithstanding the flag of truce she carried, fired on her. This treacherous conduct deserved a prompt punishment. A fleet accordingly on the 17th of April sailed for that port, off which they anchored on the 20th. The line-of-battle ships could not get close enough to the walls, and a squadron of English and French steam-frigates under Captain Jones, of the Sampson, stood in and delivered their broadsides. Having done so, one after another in succession steamed rapidly round out of gunshot, to return again and fire as before. The Russian guns returned the compliment with red-hot shot, which set the Vauban on fire. Captain Mends, of the “gallant Arethusa,” remembering the fame of her name, though he had only his sails to depend on, ran in as close as the depth of water would allow, and opened a heavy fire from his 9-inch shell guns, and repeated his manoeuvres till recalled by a signal from the flag-ship. Ultimately some gunboats with rockets were directed to try their powers; at last flames burst forth from several parts of the works, and at one o’clock the magazine in the principal fort exploding cast destruction around. The batteries having been now silenced, the squadron stood closer in and destroyed moat of the vessels which had taken shelter behind the mole. Soon after the fleet retired from before Odessa, the Tiger, which had been stationed off the coast, ran on shore. While attempts were being made to get her off the Russians brought down a field battery, from which they opened so brisk a fire that Captain Gifford, being mortally wounded, and several of his men hit, he was compelled, in order to save their lives, to haul down his flag.