Battle of Reval – The naval battle off the port in Tallinn

The Swedish king, Gustav III sent the battlefleet under his brother Prince Karl, Duke of Södermanland, to eliminate Admiral Chichagov’s Russian squadron, which had wintered in the harbour at Reval.

The Battle of Reval took place on 13 May 1790 during the Russo-Swedish War (1788-1790), off the port of Reval. The Russian fleet was anchored in a line going from Reval harbour towards the Viimsi Peninsula. The Swedish fleet under the command of General-Admiral Duke Karl of Södermanland started passing by the anchored Russian ships.

The port of Tallinn, former port of Reval / Image source

Due to strong winds and inaccurate aiming, most Swedish projectiles ricocheted past their targets, while the Russian ships that were anchored within the protected area of the harbor were able to use their guns much more effectively.

The ship of the Swedish General-Admiral, which could not be brought into the wind due to a rigging problem, was forced to drift towards Rostislav and received major damage from grapeshot. The 64-gun battleship Prins Karl, fifteenth the Swedish line, lost her rudder to Russian fire and had to strike her colors.

The Duke of Södermanland directed the battle from the frigate Ulla Fersen, beyond the range of Russian fire. After a two-hour artillery duel he ordered his ships to break off the engagement. The Swedish ship Riksens Ständer hit the reef north of Aegna island. Swedish attempts to dislodge her failed, and the Swedes were forced to burn her so that the Russians would be unable to take her.

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