Russian brig Mercury

Mercury (Russian: Меркурий) was a Imperial Russian Navy 18-gun, two-masted warship. It is famous for its lopsided battle with two Turkish ships, which took place on May 14, 1829.[1]

History
Russian Empire
Name: Mercury
Laid down: January 28 (O.S. February 9), 1819
Launched: May 7 (May 19), 1820
Decommissioned: 1857
Fate: Scrapped
General characteristics
Class and type: 20-gun brig
Length: 29.46 m (96.7 ft)
Beam: 9.60 m (31.5 ft)
Draught: 456 t
Depth of hold: 4.73 m (15.5 ft)
Propulsion: Sails
Sail plan: 856 sq. m.
Complement: 115
Armament:

20 guns: 18 x 24 pdrs,

2 x 8 pdrs

The name Pamiyat Mercuriya (literally In Memory of Mercury) was given to a number of ships of the Russian Baltic Fleet.

Battle on May 14, 1829

Summary

Pursued by a Turkish fleet (6 ships of the line, 2 frigates, 2 corvettes), the Russian brig Mercury engaged in a lopsided battle with the ships-of-the-line Selimiye (110 guns) and Real-bei (74 guns) near the Strait of Bosphorus.[2] After damaging the ships one by one, the brig escaped pursuit.[3]

Crew (As of May 1829)

Officers

  • Aleksandr Ivanovich Kazarsky, Lt. Capt.
  • Fyodor Mikhailovich Novosilsky, Lt.
  • Dmitry Petrovich Pritupov, midshipman
  • Ivan Petrovich Prokofyev, naval pilot Lt.
  • Sergey Iosifovitch Skaryatin, Lt.

Seamen

  • Anisim Arekhov
  • Philip Vasilyev
  • Gridnev, bataler
  • Afanasiy Gusev
  • Seliverst Dmitriev
  • Ippolit Erofeev
  • Ivan Lisenko, cannoneer
  • Fyodor Spiridonov, naval pilot mate
  • Artamon Timofeev, cannoneer
  • Anton Scherbakov, cannoneer

Damage and casualties

As a result of the battle, the brig took 10 casualties, including 4 killed and 6 wounded. Damage to the ship included:

  • 22 hull breaches
  • 133 sail plan breaches
  • 16 spar breaches
  • 148 instances of minor rigging damage
  • loss of all rowboats

By official information, neither Turkish ships lost crew as the brig's main objective during the battle was to damage their spars and rigging.

In art

Ivan Aivazovsky created 3 paintings featuring the ship:

Several other artists created notable works featuring the Mercury:

  • Barri: Battle of Brig "Mercury" with Two Turkish Ships / Барри: Бой брига «Меркурий» с двумя турецкими кораблями
  • Ivanov: Brig "Mercury" / Иванов: Бриг «Меркурий»
  • A.N. Lubyanov: Brig "Mercury" / А. Н. Лубянов: Бриг «Меркурий»
  • N.P. Krasovskiy: Battle of Brig "Mercury" with Two Turkish Ships / Н. П. Красовский: Бой брига «Меркурий» с двумя турецкими кораблями
  • Mikhail Stepanovitch Tkachenko: Battle of Brig "Mercury" with Turkish Ships on May 14, 1829 / Бой брига "Меркурий" с турецкими кораблями 14 мая 1829 года, Oil-on-canvas, Central Naval Museum, St. Petersburg, 1907

Critics of the Aivazovsky painting

The position of the ships portrayed by Aivazovsky in his work has been criticized as being historically inaccurate because of the brig's position between two significantly larger Turkish ships. Still, it's possible that Aivazovsky's artistic impression simply heightened the tension in the painting by accentuating the hopelessness of the brig's situation.

Paintings by other artists (Krasovskiy, Barri, Pechatin) of the same battle, though less known, portray a more realistic depiction of the battle.

Sources

  1. "Maritime Expeditions". rusnavy.com. Retrieved 2018-07-27.
  2. "XI. Say in one word, see the words below". StudFiles (in Russian). Retrieved 2018-07-27.
  3. "Maritime Expeditions". rusnavy.com. Retrieved 2018-07-27.
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