Action off Reval, 29 July 1714

The action off Reval of 28 July 1714 was a missed opportunity for a Russian naval victory during the Great Northern War. Tsar Peter the Great had created a new fleet of sailing ships operating from Russia’s newly conquered Baltic ports. This fleet was supported by a large number of galleys, some hundred ships strong. At the end of May both the sailing and galley fleets had been present at Björkö, at the eastern end of the Gulf of Finland. From there the galley fleet was sent along the Finnish coast to Helsingfors while the sailing fleet, under the command of Tsar Peter, went along the south shore of the gulf, reaching Reval on 22 June 1714.

By late July Peter had a fleet of 24 warships at Reval (although three remained in harbour on 28 July). Peter despatched two ships to watch for any Swedish fleet. That fleet soon appeared. In mid May a Swedish fleet under Admiral Wattrang arrived between Helsingfors and Åbo. He sent Vice-Admiral Lillie, with six ships, to find the Russians.

On 28 July the Swedish squadron was approaching Reval. They were detected by the Russian scouts, and news of their approach quickly reached Peter in Reval. Overnight on 28-29 July the Russian fleet was able to sail out into Reval bay.

The next morning the Swedes sailed into the bay. Once they realised how large the Russian fleet was, the Swedes turned tail and attempted to escape, with the Russians in pursuit. The chase began at around 7 a.m., and continued until after 5 p.m. At that point the nine leading Russian ships were in position to catch the rearmost Swedish ship on the next tack. Seeing this, Lillie brought all six of his ships together ready to resist a Russian attack. With the chance to attack a single ship gone, the Russian ships hesitated and the chance was lost. Soon afterwards Peter ordered the chase abandoned and the Russian fleet returned to Reval.

The Northern Wars, 1558-1721 (Modern Wars In Perspective), Robert I. Frost. One of the very few works in English to look at the long period of warfare that shaped north eastern Europe, Frost provides an excellent overview of nearly two centuries of conflict that shaped Scandinavia, Russia and Poland, ending with the Great Northern War.
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How to cite this article: Rickard, J (8 August 2007), Action off Reval, 29 July 1714 ,

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