Thursday, November 12, 2009

Capturing Sveaborg, Helsingfors

The fortress of Sveaborg is built on a granite island about a mile in advance of Helsingfors, the Russian capital of Finland. There are eight island rocks connected by strong fortifications, and in the centre is situated the fort in which the Russian flotilla was congregated. It was looked upon as the Gibraltar of the North, and had been considerably strengthened since the commencement of the war. The citadel of this water-surrounded fortress is called Wargon. The allied fleet, consisting of seventeen British men-of-war, fifteen gunboats, and sixteen mortar-vessels, with two French men-of-war, six gunboats, and five mortar-vessels, left Nargen on the 6th of August, and anchored the same night among the islands about five miles from Sveaborg. During the night and next day, some batteries were thrown up on the neighbouring islands; and early on the morning of the 9th, the squadron having taken up their positions,--several behind the islands, where the enemy's guns could not reach them,--the bombardment commenced. The showers of shot and shell told with terrific effect on the devoted fortress; powder magazines and stores of projectiles one after the other blew up, and fires broke out in various directions, which all the efforts of the garrison could not extinguish, and in a short time the whole of the arsenal was reduced to ashes. Still the mortars continued to play, to prevent the fires which were blazing up around from being extinguished. Very few men were wounded, and none were killed during the whole of the operations. Although the naval and military stores were destroyed, the fortress still remained intact. The Russians, however, had been taught the lesson that it would be better for them in future not to make aggressions on their neighbours, or to venture hastily into war.

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