To Russia with Love
Recent events in the Crimea struck me to blog about that land's connection to the Yankee Doodle Spies. And that connection is John Paul Jones, renowned naval hero who arguably played a pivotal role in helping Imperial Russia fulfill its ambitions against the Turkish masters of the Crimea. Jones was born in Scotland as John Paul. He took to sea at an early age and eventually became a ship's master. But his violent nature caused him to face criminal sanctions and he eventually adopted a new name by adding "Jones" to his birth name. The controversial merchant mariner connected to America via his brother, who had settled in Fredericksburg, Virginia. When the war with Britain came he entered the new American navy and became one of its most celebrated heroes.
America's Fighting Sailor
Jones was a unique character, ruthless and fearless, and willing to take on any challenge. He is known for many successful one on one ship fights, not the least of which is his epic battle with the Serapis, and extremely bold raids on England, Scotland and Ireland. He tried to take out a fleet of merchant vessels at Whitehaven by fire but the plans did not come to fruition and only one ship was burned. Still, his exploits sent a message heard around the world: the US Navy could and would fight anyone, anywhere! Jones was friends with Benjamin Franklin and became sort of a rock star in some circles. But he also made many enemies because of his temper. In the summer of 1782 he was considered for command of a first-rate named America but Congress later gave the ship to France. Instead he was given duties in Europe aimed at obtaining prize money. When that assignment ended he was stuck in Paris without "portfolio."
|Raid on Whitehaven|
The Czarina's Rebel
|Catherine the Great|
Jones was given command of a small flotilla and a first rate as his flagship, the 24-gun flagship Vladimir. He served in the naval campaign in the Liman (an arm of the Black Sea, into which flow the Southern Bug and Dnieper rivers) against the Turks. Jones repulsed Ottoman forces from the area in the first naval battle of Liman. A second battle soon came when the Turkish navy returned from the Black Sea in an attempt to breakthrough to Ochakov, a key Dneipr fortress besieged by Russian naval and land forces (the latter under the famed General Suvarov). Jones went on a night reconnaissance rowed by a powerfully built Cossack sailor named Ivak. To Ivak's astonishment Jones penetrated the Turkish fleet. In what must have been an eerie experience, the two made their way past floating pickets and various ships at anchor.Through some Turkish Cossacks, they discovered the enemy passwords and went deeper into the fleet. Finally they sailed for a large vessel floating in the middle of the fleet, the Pasha's own flagship, and marked it with chalk, "To Be Burned, Paul Jones." The battle the next day had mixed results. Friction between Jones and the German international adventurer in command of the galleys, Prince de Nassau-Siegen became problematic from the beginning. Nassau-Siegen hated Jones and did everything he could to obstruct him. But despite the friction and chaos in the command structure, the Russians managed an impressive victory, although if Jones had a freer hand, it might have been bigger.
|The siege of Ochakov was an epic event|
in the Ottoman loss of the Crimea
From Russia without Love
|Potemkin's enmity brought an ignominious end|
to John Paul Jones' controversial Russian
And what of the Crimea? After a long winter siege, Ochakov fell to Potemkin's forces, breaking the Turkish hold on the peninsula. The treaty of Jassy in 1792 made it official,the Sultan formally recognizing Russia's seizure of the Crimean Khanate and ceding Odessa and Ochakov as well.