165 years ago, in July 1854, the Solovetsky Monastery repelled a pirate raid by the British. The defenders of the Solovetsky Monastery successfully repulsed the attack of two British steam frigates.
Having declared war on the Russian Empire in March 1854, England and France tried to organize attacks on the Russians in various directions. In April 1854, the western fleet shelled Odessa, in June - the fortifications of Sevastopol, in September - Ochakov. In September, the Allied army was landed in the Crimea, in the region of Evpatoria. In May 1854, the allied squadron invaded the Sea of Azov, defeated Genichesk, fired at, landed troops and unsuccessfully stormed Taganrog. Mariupol also came under fire.
The Anglo-French fleet blocked the Russian Baltic Fleet in Kronstadt and Sveaborg, but did not dare to attack because of the minefields. The allies were not going to attack Petersburg, for this they did not have an army (the Russian command had about 270 thousand people in this area). They only wanted to frighten the Russians, to prevent them from sending troops to the Danube and to the Crimea, if successful, to destroy the Russian fleet in the Baltic and destroy Swedish neutrality, to force Sweden to oppose Russia. The Swedes were offered to reconquer Finland. Also, the allies wanted to provoke an uprising against the Russians in Poland.
However, the successes of the allies in the Baltic direction were minimal. The Poles did not act. Sweden was agitated by the war of England and France against Russia, but she was wary of fighting against the Russians. Obviously, the Swedes realized that they wanted to be set up. Sweden had common borders with Russia and could get it well from the "Russian bear", while the French and the British were overseas. The allies did not dare to attack large Russian bases - Kronstadt, Sveaborg, and destroy the Baltic Fleet. The idea was too dangerous - Russian mines, coastal fortifications and ships would give a powerful rebuff. Such an attack could end in disaster for the allies. The Russians in an emergency order ("roasted rooster pecked") put in order the fleet and coastal fortresses, batteries. In July, the Allies landed troops on the Aland Islands and in August took the Bomarsund fortress, but this success was of a local nature and did not mean anything. Attempts by other landings ended in failure. As a result, the powerful Anglo-French fleet was practically not marked by anything, except for the catching of merchants and fishermen. In the fall of 1854, the western fleet left the Baltic Sea.
The British embarked on an expedition to the White Sea. In May 1854, three ships were sent to blockade the White Sea. Several more British and French ships were sent after them. The squadron commander was British Captain Erasmus Ommaney. In June, an enemy squadron appeared at the entrance to the White Sea. The purpose of the western squadron was typically pirate - to capture ships, destroy coastal settlements and blockade Arkhangelsk.
Defense of the Solovetsky Monastery
On June 26 (July 8), Bishop Varlaam Uspensky, who lived in Arkhangelsk, received a message from the abbot of the Nikolsky Monastery that an enemy frigate had appeared in the bay and at the mouth of the Molgura River. After making depth measurements and examining the coast, the frigate left. But only ten days passed, and the British appeared in the White Sea again, at the Solovetsky Monastery. On 6 (18) July at 8 am two British warships began to approach the island - the 15-gun steamer "Miranda" and the 14-gun steamer frigate "Brisk" ("Provorny").
Vice-Admiral Roman Boyle, who was in charge of the Arkhangelsk province, concentrated his forces and means for the defense of Arkhangelsk. The Solovki, in fact, had no protection. Only valuables were taken from them to Arkhangelsk. The defense of the monastery was carried out by 200 monks and novices, 370 pilgrims who were at that time on Solovki and 53 soldiers of the invalid team under the command of Nikolai Nikonovich. A disabled person in the Russian army at that time was considered military who were injured, mutilated or sick in order to carry out combat service, therefore they were assigned to serve in civilian institutions, to train recruits and serve in remote garrisons. The garrison was headed by the rector, former regimental priest Alexander. Also, 20 prisoners were involved in the defense of the Solovetsky fortress. The arsenal was outdated: unusable old rifles and edged weapons of past wars (spears, reeds, axes, etc.). A battery of two 3-pounder guns was set up on the shore. In addition, eight small cannons were placed on the walls and towers, which were sent with two officers to train local militias from Arkhangelsk.
The British considered Solovki a strong fortress, but nevertheless decided to take it with a sudden blow. They wanted to seize the treasures, which, according to their information, had been accumulated for a long time and kept in Russian churches and monasteries. The British did not enter into negotiations and opened fire. The British destroyed the monastery gates and shelled the monastery buildings. The Russian battery responded and was able to damage the Miranda, the British retreated.
On July 7 (19), 1854, British ships again approached the island. Omaney sent an envoy and handed over a letter in which he said that the Solovetsky Monastery had opened fire on the British as a fortress. The British demanded the unconditional surrender of the Solovki garrison, with all guns, weapons, flags and ammunition within 6 hours. In case of refusal, the British threatened to bomb the Solovetsky monastery. Archimandrite Alexander replied that the Russians only responded to enemy fire and refused to surrender.
British ships began bombing the Solovetsky Monastery, which lasted more than nine hours. However, the shelling could not cause much destruction of the strong walls of the Russian stronghold. The forces of naval artillery were weakened by the fact that the British were afraid of Russian cannons and kept their distance. There were no losses among the garrison. The British were obviously planning to land troops. But in the end, they gave up on this thought. On July 8 (20), 1854, the British ships left not salty.
On the way back, the British burned down a church on the Hare Island, in Onega Bay they destroyed the village of Lyamitskaya, on the island of Kiy they burned down customs and other buildings, and robbed the Cross Monastery. On the eastern shore of the Onega Bay, the village of Pushlakhty was ruined. Also in July, English pirates plundered the villages of Kandalaksha. Keret and Kovda.
Thus, the monks and inhabitants of the island showed a true Russian character, rebuffed the enemy. Later, when the authorities received news of the enemy's raid, the Solovetsky Monastery was fortified and ammunition was brought. When the British squadron reappeared in the White Sea in the spring of 1855, the British did not dare to attack Solovki.
In August 1854, British robbers burned down the small Russian town of Kola on the Kola Peninsula. Only 745 people lived in the city, including 70 people of the wheelchair team. There were about 120 buildings in Kolya, including the old prison and 5 churches. Back in the early spring of 1854, the Kola mayor Shishelev, in a secret report to the Governor of Arkhangelsk, informed the Arkhangelsk governor of the defenselessness of Kola and asked to take measures to protect the city from a possible enemy attack. There was only a small disabled team in the town, armed with 40 usable rifles and a small amount of ammunition, there were no guns. Shishelev asked to send a company of rangers and guns. Military Governor Boyle replied to the mayor and expressed the hope that the brave townspeople would repel the enemy landing, using the terrain convenient for defense (steep banks). The landing party could only be landed on rowing ships and he had to storm the high bank.
Captain Pushkarev was sent to lead the defense of Kola, who brought 100 guns and ammunition. But he did not stay in the city for long, was wounded and departed. Pushkarev found two guns, but one turned out to be faulty, and the other made only one shot and exploded. A shelter was also built for the soldiers. The Cola defense was led by Fleet Lieutenant Brunner.
On August 9 (21), 1854, the British ship "Miranda" under the command of Captain Edmund Lyons appeared at Cola. The British began to measure depths and install buoys. On August 10 (22), the British demanded the surrender of Cola with all weapons, supplies and government property, threatening otherwise to destroy the city. Brunner, despite the weakness of the garrison and its armament, responded with a decisive refusal. The residents of the town announced that they were ready to sacrifice all their property and their lives, but did not want to give up. Brunner gathered soldiers and volunteers from local residents and prepared to fight back. To avoid casualties during shelling, the lieutenant took his men under the protection of the steep banks of the Kola and Tuloma rivers. At night, the volunteers took off the beacons placed by the enemy.
On August 11 (23), the British began shelling the city. The bombardment continued until late in the evening. Also, the British tried several times to land a landing, but a small but brave Russian detachment suppressed these attempts with the help of rifle fire. On the morning of August 12 (24), the British once again fired at the town with hot cannonballs, grenades and incendiary rockets (Congreve rocket). They burned down the lower part of the settlement: about 100 houses, an old prison with 4 towers and 2 churches burned down. The upper part of the Cola survived. Serious losses among local residents were avoided, several people were slightly injured and shell-shocked. But Russia suffered a great cultural and historical loss: the shelling burned down a masterpiece of Russian wooden architecture, the Resurrection Cathedral of the 17th century. This cathedral, along with the Transfiguration Cathedral in Kizhi, was one of the largest multi-domed churches in the Russian North and had 19 chapters.
Not waiting for the surrender and after the failure of the landing, the British left. At the end of August 1854, English ships appeared near the city of Onega. However, they did not dare to storm and retreated. This concludes the 1854 campaign.
Cola ceased to exist for a while. This "victory" of the British fleet over the Russian provincial town had no military-strategic or economic significance. It was a typical pirate raid of the Anglo-Saxons - they have been fighting their opponents with similar methods for centuries, using the naval and air fleets. The main goal is to intimidate the enemy with the help of terror. With serious resistance, when there is a threat to their lives, the pirates always retreat. In London, they talked about the victory over the "Russian port of Kola", the English inhabitants were pleased.