Battle of Chesma

Coordinates: 38°19′48″N 26°17′24″E / 38.33000°N 26.29000°E / 38.33000; 26.29000
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Battle of Chesma (Çeşme)
Part of the Russo-Turkish War of 1768–1774

The destruction of the Ottoman fleet on 7 July
Jacob Philipp Hackert
Date5–7 July 1770
Location38°19′48″N 26°17′24″E / 38.33000°N 26.29000°E / 38.33000; 26.29000
Result Russian victory
 Russian Empire Ottoman Empire
Commanders and leaders
9 ships of the line,
3 frigates,
1 bomb vessels,
4 fireships,
4 supply ships
16 ships of the line,
6 frigates,
6 xebecs,
13 galleys,
32 small craft,
1,300 guns
Casualties and losses
1 ship of the line
4 fire ships
534[4]–661[5] killed
40 wounded
16 ships of the line
6 frigates and escort vessels
13 galleys
32 smaller vessels
at least 11,000 men killed[6]
Battle of Chesma is located in Greece
Battle of Chesma
Location of the battle site in the Aegean Sea

The naval Battle of Cheshme[7] (also the Battle of Chesma or Chesme) took place on 5–7 July 1770 during the Russo-Turkish War (1768–1774) near and in Çeşme (Cheshme, Chesma, or Chesme) Bay, in the area between the western tip of Anatolia and the island of Chios, which was the site of a number of past naval battles between the Ottoman Empire and the Republic of Venice. It was a part of the Orlov Revolt of 1770, a precursor to the later Greek War of Independence (1821–1829), and the first of a number of disastrous fleet battles for the Ottomans against Russia. Today it is commemorated as a Day of Military Honour in Russia.


The Russo-Turkish War had begun in 1768, and Russia sent several squadrons from the Baltic Sea to the Mediterranean Sea to draw Ottoman attention away from their Black Sea fleet, then only six ships of the line strong. Two Russian squadrons, commanded by Admiral Grigory Spiridov and Rear Admiral John Elphinstone,[8] a British captain who had risen to the rank of rear admiral in Russia,[9][c] combined under the overall command of General-in-Chief Count Alexei Orlov, supreme commander of the Russian Fleet, and went to look for the Ottoman fleet. Orlov's naval adviser was Captain-Commander Greig.[3]

On 5 July 1770, they came across it, anchored in line just north of Çeşme Bay, western Anatolia. The Ottoman fleet contained about 14 ships of the line, perhaps 6 frigates, 6 xebecs, 13 galleys and 32 small craft, with about 1,300 guns in total. About 10 of the ships of the line, of 70–100 guns, were in the Ottoman main line with a further 6 or so in the second, arranged so that they could fire through the gaps in the first line. Behind that were the frigates, xebecs, etc. The fleet was commanded by Kapudan Pasha Mandalzade Hüsameddin, in the fourth ship from the front (north end) of the line, with Hasan Pasha in the first ship, Real Mustafa, and Cafer Bey in the seventh. Two further ships of the line, probably small, had left this fleet for Mytilene the previous evening.

After settling on a plan of attack, the Russian battle line (see Table 1) sailed towards the south end of the Ottoman line and then turned north, coming alongside the Ottomans, with the tail end coming into action last (Elphinstone had wanted to approach the northern end first, then follow the wind along the Ottoman line, attacking their ships one by one – the method used by Nelson at the Battle of the Nile in 1798).


The Ottomans opened fire at about 11:45 a.m., followed by the Russians slightly later. Three of the Russian ships of the line had trouble staying in position; Evropa turned around and came back behind Rostislav, Tri Svyatitelya circled the second Ottoman vessel before coming back into the Russian line, being attacked in error by Tri Ierarcha as she did so, and Sviatoi Ianuarii turned around before coming back into the line.[10]

Based on the plan proposed by G. A. Spiridov, the Russian fleet attacked the Ottoman van from a short distance (50–70 metres). Spiridov, in Sviatoi Evstafii, had a close-range battle with Hasan Pasha in Real Mustafa, before the latter was suddenly seen to be on fire. Her mainmast came down and landed on Sviatoi Evstafii's deck, causing the Russian ship to blow up immediately. Shortly thereafter, Real Mustafa blew up as well — after a 2-hour battle.[10]

According to Elphinstone, who claimed the Russians were almost useless, Spiridov and Count Feodor Orlov (brother of the commander), had left Sviatoi Evstafii before the fighting became close-range. Spiridov ended up on Tri Svyatitelya. Sviatoi Evstafii's captain, Kruse, survived too. At about 2:00 p.m. the fighting ended, as the Ottomans cut their cables and moved south into the bay, forming themselves into a defensive line of eight ships of the line, a second line, and the rest beyond.[citation needed]

Vladimir Kosov. Chesme battle of 1770
Vladimir Kosov. Chesma battle of 1770

On 6 July, the Russians bombarded the Ottoman ships and land positions. At about 12:30 a.m. on the morning of 7 July, Orlov, acting on Spiridov's plan, sent Samuel Greig (who transferred to Rostislav) to attack with Evropa, Rostislav and Ne Tron Menya forming a south–north line facing the Ottomans, and with Saratov in reserve, Nadezhda attacking the batteries at the eastern side of the bay entrance, Afrika attacking the batteries on the western side, and Grom near Afrika. At about 1:30 a.m. or earlier (times were about 90 minutes earlier, according to Elphinstone), fire from Grom and/or Ne tron menya caused an Ottoman ship of the line to blow up after her main topsail caught fire, and the fire quickly spread to other ships of the line. By 2:00 a.m., two Ottoman ships of the line had blown up and more were on fire, and Greig sent in three fireships (the fourth, seeing the danger, stayed out), which contributed in a small way to the burning of almost the entire Ottoman fleet: fireship commanded by Lieutenant D. S. Ilyin [ru][10] set fire to another ship of the line and consequently the fire continued to spread among various vessels. At about 4:00 a.m., boats were sent in to save two ships of the line which were not burning, but one of these caught fire while it was being towed. The other, Semend-i Bahri 60, survived and was captured along with five galleys. Fighting ended at about 8:00 a.m. Russian casualties on 5 July were 14 killed, plus 636 killed in Sviatoi Evstafii, and about 30 wounded, and on 7 July 11 killed. Ottoman casualties were much higher. Hüsameddin, Hasan Pasha and Cafer Bey survived. Hüsameddin was removed from his position, which was given to Cafer Bey. This was the only significant fleet battle during the Russo-Turkish War.[11][12][13]

Battle line Guns Type
Evropa (a) 66 Battleship (ship of the line)
Sviatoi Evstafii (b) 68 Battleship; blew up
Tri Svyatitelya 66 Battleship
Sviatoi Ianuarii 66 Battleship
Tri Ierarcha (c) 66 Battleship
Rostislav 68 Battleship
Ne Tron Menya 66 Battleship
Svyatoslav (d) 84 Battleship
Saratov 66 Battleship
Other ships Guns Type
Grom 12 Bomb ship
Sv. Nikolai 26/38? Frigate
Afrika 32 Frigate
Nadezhda 32 Frigate
Sv. Pavel (e) 8 Pink (store ship)
Potchtalyon (e) 14 Despatch vessel
Graf Tchernyshev (f) 22 Armed merchantman
Graf Panin (f) 18 Armed merchantman
Graf Orlov (f) 18 Armed merchantman
? (captain Dugdale) Fireship; sunk
? (captain Mackenzie) Fireship; expended
? (captain Ilyin) Fireship; expended
? (captain Gagarin) Fireship

Table 1: Russian ships. Battleships (ships of the line) are listed in the order they came into action. Orlov's squadron in pink, Spiridov's in blue and Elphinstone's in yellow. Notes: (a) captain Klokatchev; (b) Spiridov's flagship, captain Kruse; (c) Orlov's flagship, captain Greig; (d) Elphinstone's flagship; (e) One or both of these were present; (f) Hired English ships that were supporting the fleet


Chesma Column

The Battle of Cheshme was fought on the same day as the land Battle of Larga. It was the greatest naval defeat suffered by Ottomans since the Battle of Lepanto (1571). This battle inspired great confidence in the Russian fleet and allowed the Russians to control the Aegean Sea for some time. The defeat of the Ottoman fleet also speeded up rebellions by minority groups in the Ottoman Empire, especially the Orthodox Christian nations in the Balkan peninsula, who helped the Russian army in defeating the Ottoman Empire.[14]

After this naval victory, the Russian fleet stayed in the Aegean for the following five years. It returned to Çeşme twice more during this time to bombard it. Historians still debate the rationale for the Russian military focus on this small fort town while there were many other more strategic targets along the Aegean coast.

Due to the Ottoman defeat, fanatical Muslim groups proceeded to massacre c. 1,500 local Greeks in nearby Smyrna.[15]

Catherine the Great commissioned four monuments to commemorate the victory: Chesma Palace and Church of Saint John at Chesme Palace in St Petersburg (1774–77), Chesma Obelisk in Gatchina (1775), and Chesma Column in Tsarskoe Selo (1778).

Other depictions[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ He became commander-in-chief after Elphinstone's quarrel with Spiridov and ensured coordination between all commanders.[1][2]
  2. ^ He was, among other things, Alexey Orlov's adviser on naval operations, in which Orlov had little knowledge.[3]
  3. ^ In 1768 he entered the Russian service and was sent with a small squadron from Kronstadt to help Admiral Spiridov.[2]


  1. ^ "Граф Орлов – История.РФ" [Count Orlov]. Russian Military Historical Society. Archived from the original on 25 March 2023. Retrieved 18 October 2023.
  2. ^ a b Arsenyev & Petrushevsky 1904.
  3. ^ a b Velichko et al. 1912, pp. 464–465.
  4. ^ "The history of Russian Navy". Archived from the original on 1 September 2020. Article: "Chesma and Patras". Archived from the original on 9 September 2020.
  5. ^ Anderson, R. C. (2006). Naval wars in the Levant, 1559–1853. Martino. pp. 288–291. ISBN 978-1-57898-538-8.
  6. ^ Dowling, T. C. Russia at War: From the Mongol Conquest to Afghanistan, Chechnya, and Beyond. ABC-CLIO. 2014. p. 193 ISBN 978-1-59884-947-9
  7. ^ "Battle of Çeşme | Turkish history | Britannica". Retrieved 31 May 2023.
  8. ^ "John Elphinston, Papers Relating to the Russo-Turkish War". Archived from the original on 2022-01-13. Retrieved 2008-12-12.
  9. ^ Polovtsov 1912.
  10. ^ a b c Tashlykov 2017.
  11. ^ H. M. Scott. The Emergence of the Eastern Powers, 1756–1775. Cambridge University Press, 2001. p. 199 ISBN 978-0521792691
  12. ^ "Russo–Ottoman War of 1768–1774". Gábor Ágoston; Bruce Alan Masters. Encyclopedia of the Ottoman Empire. Facts on File. 2008. p. 492 ISBN 978-0-8160-6259-1
  13. ^ Michael T. Florinsky. Russia: A History and Interpretation. New York, 1965. p. 521[ISBN missing]
  14. ^ Jelavich, Barbara. History of the Balkans. Cambridge University Press, 1983. Page 69.
  15. ^ Samatopoulou-Vasilakou, Chrysothemis (1 January 2008). "The Greek Communities in the Balkans and Asia Minor and Their Theatrical Activity 1800-1922". Études Helléniques. Centre de recherche helléniques = Centre of Hellenic Research. 16 (1–2): 53. Retrieved 4 March 2017. This was the second biggest slaughter of the Greek population of Smyrna since 1770, when after the Cesme sea battle, fanatic Muslims massacred 1, 500 Greeks.


Further reading[edit]

  • Baş, Ersan: Çeşme, Navarin, Sinop Baskınları ve Sonuçları [Çeşme, Navarino, Sinop Raids and the Results]. Türk Deniz Harp Tarihinde İz Bırakan Gemiler, Olaylar ve Şahıslar. Piri Reis Araştırma Merkezi Yayını, Sayı: 8. İstanbul 2007, Deniz Basımevi, ISBN 975-409-452-7

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