Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Russian Invasion Army

The Russian Army aboard the invasion fleet comprised a core of trained and battle hardened veterans who had served in the recent Russo-Turkish war of 1877/1878 supplemented with detachments from the units deployed in the Empire's far east provinces.

European Units Detached from IX Army Corps Orel
1st battalion 141st Regiment 1st Brigade 36th Infantry Division                       ≈ 1000 effectives *
1st battalion 143rd Regiment 2nd Brigade 36th Infantry Division                      ≈ 1000 effectives *
Siberian Units
Combined Battalion 1st, 2nd, 3rd & 4th West Siberian Frontier Battalions        ≈ 800 effectives +
Combined Battalion 1st, 2nd, 3rd & 4th East Siberian Frontier Battalions         ≈ 800 effectives +
Two Sotnia detached from 1st Transbaikal Cossack Regiment                      ≈ 340 effectives x
Four Gorlov guns on wheeled mounts - naval crews available
*            these units included their rifle company which could be detached for skirmishing
+            these units include one company from each of the parent battalions
x            the Cossacks travelled without mounts
-No artillery included in OOB the fleet would supply ‘big gun’ support when required
-Approximate strengths are based on numbers before the fleet left Vladivostok in July 1879 on arrival off the coast of South Australia on Sunday 17th August 1879 the unit returns showed effective’s numbers ranged from 50% to 70% of these totals
-Troops were equipped with the latest single shot manually cycled bolt action Berdan II rifle which used a socket style bayonet
-To supplement his units firepower as they had no integral artillery Lieutenant-General Lazarev personally ensured four Gorloff guns were included in the invasion forces armaments these were to be crewed by sailors from the fleet

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

The Russian Fleet

Armoured Cruiser General Admiral– Fleet Flagship
Displacement: 5,031 long tons
Length: 285 ft 10 in
Speed: 12 knots
Complement: 482 officers and crewmen
6 × 8 inch guns
2 x 1 inch guns
2 x 3.4 inch guns
8 x 1.5 inch guns

Armoured Cruiser Gerzog Edinburgski
Displacement: 5,031 long tons
Length: 285 ft 10 in
Speed: 12 knots
Complement: 482 officers and crewmen
6 × 8 inch guns
2 x 1 inch guns
2 x 3.4 inch guns
8 x 1.5 inch guns

Monitors Admiral Spiridov & Admiral Chichagov
Displacement: 3,505–3,587 long tons
Length: 254 ft
Speed: 10 knots
Complement: 280 officers and crewmen
6 × 9 inch guns

Ironclad turret ship Petr Velikiy
Displacement: 10,406 long tons
Length: 333 ft 8 in
Speed: 13 knots
Complement: 441 officers and crewmen
2 × 12 inch guns
6 x four-pounder guns
2 x 1 pounder guns

Armoured Frigate Minin
Displacement: 6,136 long tons
Length: 295 ft
Speed: 14 knots
Complement: 500 officers and crewmen
1 × 8 inch guns
12 x 6 inch guns
4 x 3.4 inch guns
8 x 1.5 inch guns

Seconded non fleet units:
Two Tramp Steamers
Four Colliers 

Friday, 7 November 2014

The Die Is Cast

The Russian invasion fleet cruised from St Petersburg to Vladivostok undetected by any major power and after a short stay in port to resupply and take reinforcements onboard it set sail for the Colony of South Australia! The trip was surprisingly uneventful until the ships neared their objective...
The first sighting of the Russian fleet in South Australian waters was made by an alert crewman on board the magnificent clipper ship the City of Adelaide. John Laverty noticed the armada steaming in an easterly direction through Investigator Strait to the south of the Yorke Peninsular. Captain Edward Alston was alerted and being an experienced mariner he knew a fleet of aggression when he saw it! The clipper that was cruising ahead of schedule was due in Port Adelaide on the 16th of August he told the crew and passengers with this development they would be there on the 15th! Full sail was deployed and the City of Adelaide hastened north east.
To the south west of the clipper on board the Russian flagship the General-Admiral Vice Admiral Lesovskiy shook his head as he watched the unidentified square rigger disappear over the horizon he wished he could intercept it but he knew all of his overloaded vessels with their fouled hulls had no hope of catching this 'hare'. He pondered that the fleet had slipped out of Vladivostok and sailed 1000s of miles unnoticed only to be revealed to the enemy on their doorstep. He cursed their ill luck!

The Russian leaders met an hour later and after a brief discussion they all agreed there could be no hope of the surprise landing that they had been hoping for. It was decided to slow the fleet so it would arrive on Sunday the 17th and start to disembark troops mid-morning, it was hoped that by landing at that time on a Sunday any alarm bells would be rung at the same time the local church bells would usually be ringing therefore they'd be less noticeable. An interesting stratagem to say the least!
Governor Jervios and Lieutenant-Colonel Downes met with Edward Alston from the City of Adelaide over tea and scones in the Royal Room of Adelaide Town Hall 11:00am on Friday the 15th. It was a congenial get together but Jervios and Downes left it in a haste to go straight into a meeting with the available members of parliament. This meeting continued until the early hours of Saturday morning.
Saturday morning August 16 saw the majority of South Australians going about their normal routines the minority on the other hand were frantically preparing for war! All the military units were alerted and orders issued for them to muster and converge at the parade ground in Adelaide as soon as they could. Steps were taken to prepare all the jetties for demolition and for the blocking of the Port Adelaide harbour entrance. The Governor and the rest of the parliament assured Downes that if there were any diplomatic approaches they would be rejected but only after any deliberations were as drawn out as possible to allow him more time to organize the defences.
Saturday evening after a surprisingly relaxed meal at Government House on North Terrace Jervios told Downes he was going to tell all he knew to the fourth estate so the people of the Colony would wake to the news, Downes agreed it was a good course to follow and promptly announced he was taking his leave of the Governor so he could begin a long night of jetty burning and harbour blocking! As he departed Jervios clamped his hand on the Lieutenant-Colonel's shoulder and said, "The die is cast, let us hope it rolls in our favour..."

This picture purports to be the Russian invasion fleet soon after departing St Petersburg:

Monday, 3 November 2014

The Russian Force Commanders

The Russian expedition was led by experienced men who could be expected to carry out a successful campaign while operating within the strict guidelines they were issued by the supreme command...

Force Diplomat - Aleksandr Genrikovich Jomini former Deputy Foreign Minister until 1878

1820 -

Fleet Commander - Lieutenant Commander Zinovy Petrovich Rozhestvensky

11th November 1848 -

Army Commander - Lieutenant-General Ivan Davidovich Lazarev