London Times, 1 September 1863, p. 10: THE RUSSIAN FLEET IN THE BLACK SEA.


Sir, -- I have been hoping that some official explanation might appear in your columns before this of the startling facts and figures communicated to you by a correspondent from Brussels, under the date of the 7th inst., which appeared in The Times of the 11th.

The statement there made of "the vessels and war transports belonging to Russia in the Black Sea" was so obviously not only authentic, but official, that I could not but accept it as trustworthy; yet it so obviously involved a violation of the treaty of 1856, and was so strangely contradictory of my own observation when at Nicolaieff and in the Black Sea in the autumn of 1860, that I was very anxious to procure an explanation of facts so calculated to arouse a suspicion of an attempt, on the part of Russia, to evade -- I should rather say of a determination to violate -- the stipulation of the treaty of 1856.

In the absence of an official explanation, you will, I trust, be not unwilling to insert the following, which I can vouch for as being thoroughly trustworthy. I give the very words of my correspondent, in answer to my inquiries; and it will be observed that he is a Russian. I am expressly permitted by him to make any use I please of the information communicated by him, which I further authenticate with his name, for your own private satisfaction: --

"As to the list of the Black Sea vessels, I will give you all the information in my power. Immediately on the conclusion of peace, our Government had six vessels (built in the Baltic) brought round to the Black Sea, but so worthless were they, both in material and construction, that, although they made the voyage round Europe, they were at the time looked upon as fit for nothing, and cannot be of any use now. These are the vessels of 11 guns marked 1856 in the list. When those ships proved so bad new ones were built at Nicolaieff to take their places, and when these and the eight ships said to have been raised from Sebastopol harbour are subtracted from the list there is nothing left which could be called a man-of-war, while the six vessels before mentioned which were built of fir wood, and the eight which have been raised, I believe to be unfit for any warlike service. Besides these, before the arrival of the six before mentioned from the Baltic the Government had given orders to buy in England and France several small steamers for immediate use, which certainly were fit for nothing but to carry provisions and such like stores, while if they carried any guns it was only such as merchantmen have for signalling. The four marked of 60-horse power were also built in France and England for carrying purposes. With regard to the building of gunboats I know nothing. The Times correspondent only mentions it as a report, which has not reached me. Pray use this information as you like. I am only sorry that it is not in my power to give you anything more precise, but I may add that, considering the new improvements lately made in shipbuilding for war purposes, one iron-cased vessel, of which several are now in construction in England for Turkey, is more than a match for the whole set contained in the published list."

I am, Sir, yours, &c.,

King's College, Cambridge, Aug. 29. G.W.

Provided by Stephen McLaughlin