Russian brig Mercury
|Laid down:||January 28 (O.S. February 9), 1819|
|Launched:||May 7 (May 19), 1820|
|Class and type:||20-gun brig|
|Length:||29.46 m (96.7 ft)|
|Beam:||9.60 m (31.5 ft)|
|Depth of hold:||4.73 m (15.5 ft)|
|Sail plan:||856 sq. m.|
20 guns: 18 x 24 pdrs,2 x 8 pdrs
Battle on May 14, 1829
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. After damaging the ships one by one, the brig escaped pursuit.
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Crew (As of May 1829)
- Aleksandr Ivanovich Kazarsky, Lt. Capt.
- Fyodor Mikhailovich Novosilsky, Lt.
- Dmitry Petrovich Pritupov, midshipman
- Ivan Petrovich Prokofyev, naval pilot Lt.
- Sergey Iosifovitch Skaryatin, Lt.
- Anisim Arekhov
- Philip Vasilyev
- Gridnev, bataler
- Afanasiy Gusev
- Seliverst Dmitriev
- Ippolit Erofeev
- Ivan Lisenko, canoneer
- 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.
Ivan Aivazovsky created 3 paintings featuring the ship:
- Brig "Mercury" leading a battle with Two Turkish Ships / Бриг «Меркурий» ведёт бой с двумя турецкими судами
- Brig "Mercury" meets Russian Fleet after a victory over Two Turkish Ships on 15.05.1829 / Бриг «Меркурий» после победы над двумя турецкими кораблями встречается с русской эскадрой 15.05.1829, Oil-on-canvas, 123 х 190 cm. State Russian Museum, 1848
- Brig "Mercury" Attacked by Two Turkish Ships / Бриг «Меркурий», атакованный двумя турецкими кораблями, Oil-on-canvas, 212 x 339 cm, Aivazovsky Picture Gallery, Feodosia, 1892
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.