London Times, 8 March 1856, pp. 9-10. RUSSIA
(From our Berlin correspondent.) Berlin, March 6. (Excerpts)
In the meantime, in spite of all the "humming" of the Northern Bee, the preparations for war and for defence are not relaxed; the buoys and seamarks are being taken up all along the coast; the light-houses and beacons are no longer to be lit; the vessels in Cronstadt are being released from the heavy covering of ice and snow in which they have been enveloped during the winter, and the crews are fully occupied for the present in scraping and scrubbing, in painting and holy-stoning; this activity is also kept up to the necessary degree of unremission by the frequent visits of inspection which the Grand Duke Constantine pays them. All the high officers in command in the north, Berg, Grabbe, and Sievers, have, after delivering in their reports connected with the late Council of War, left St. Petersburg for their respective posts; the Vice-Admirals and Commanders of the marine fortresses, Helsingfors, Sweaborg, and Cronstadt, of the Marine Guard and the two divisions of the fleet, are as busily engaged in their preparations for defence as though the allied fleet was already through the Belt. Prince Menschikoff, however, continues in a very ill state of health, as he was when he returned from the Crimea, and it is thought he will hardly be strong enough to undertake the arduous duties of the office of General Governor of Cronstadt.
The Netron menia, one of the largest vessels of the Baltic fleet, has been struck off the list of the vessels for active service, and assigned to harbour duty; its place is to be filled up by a screw steamer; the Narwa, Borodino, Smolensk, Hangonudd, Ratvisan, and Wola are transferred from one "equipage" to another for the purpose of making one complete.
It is intended, if the peace is brought to book in Paris, to release entirely from further service all those seamen who were permitted to return to their homes in 1836 on indefinite leave of absence, but were summoned to active again by the ukase of December 23, 1854; their places are to be filled up by the practised seamen set free in the south by the destruction of the Black Sea fleets. This latter has always been looked upon as the real and best school for the education of the Russian marine. The men who were so unexpectedly recalled to active service in 1854, after so many years retirement, belonged for the most part to Finland, Courland, Liefland, and Esthland, and various provinces of ancient Poland; the old Russian population, which, in fact, has very little turn for nautical matters, on that occasion supplied very few men.
Shortly before his death the late Emperor Nicholas had ordered that the Administration of the Woods and Forests, in which ship timber is raised, should be removed from the department of the Admiralty and made over to that of the Domains; two years was the space of time allotted for the above-mentioned change, but it has been found that the amount of labour it involves has been too great to admit of the time appointed being observed. The quantities of timber supplied during the last year to Cronstadt and Nicolaieff have been so considerable, and the difficulty is so great in tracing the purposes to which the wood has been used, as well as ascertaining the separate quantities, that it is believed that the Grand Duke Constantine will apply to the Emperor to let it be made over in the lump without further specification, leaving, however, the Admiralty to pay the debts at present outstanding....
The interval between the opening of the navigation and the commencement of the blockade is being diligently turned to account by vessels laden chiefly with salt and wine; of the latter article a cargo of the value of 50,000 thalers has been telegraphed as about to arrive at St. Petersburg from Lubeck....
The Kreuz Zeitung of this place says that letters, dated Hongkong in last December, have been received from Lieutenant Mussina Puschkin, belonging to the crew of the Diana, and who was taken prisoner by the Barracouta, while on board the Bremen brig Greta. In these he complains very much of the treatment he has received from our countrymen, but the grounds of complaint are not mentioned. Admiral Sterling, in command of the English force in Chinese waters, has offered to land him and his comrades at the Nicholas fortress, or to put him on board the Russian fleet in the Pacific. The Russian says he has refused this offer, as it would have involved his betraying the mouth of the Amoor or the present position of the Russian ships. He states also that the English surgeons pay no attention at all to the prisoners, four of whom had died within a very short time, while on the way to Hongkong....A telegraphic despatch from Stockholm has been received at Elsinore stating that four Russian vessels of war had been seen off Stockholm; in other versions this telegraphic despatch is spoken of as a report merely; the Kreuz Zeitung, however, gives this report as the reason why the Impérieuse still lies in Kiel harbour. She has been joined there by the Euryalus, so for the present she need not be frightened at the four Russians. On March 1 the Harier joined the Falcon, Pylades, and Sampson at Elsinore.