Page 3546

3546 UNIVERSAL HISTORY-THE MODERN WORLD.

have sailed resolutely up the straits at

the head of all the ships he could muster,

preceded perhaps by mine sweepers and

some old hulks upon which the torpedoes

could expend their force; and he would

have gone through. Probably he would

have lost six or eight battleships in the

process, but six or eight old battleships,

practically ready for the junk heap, would

have been a bagatelle compared to the

price which the Allies were ultimately

to pay for-defeat. But neither Vice Admiral Carden nor Vice Admiral de Robeck,

to whom owing to illness Carden relinquished the command on the eve of the

main attempt, had any of the mettle of

Nelson or Farragut in them; or, if they

had, they were so tied down by orders

from home that they could accomplish

nothing.

The main attack began a little before

noon of March 18. The day was clear,

and many of the operations could be

seen from the top of Mount St. Elias on

the Island of Tenedos, fifteen or more

miles away. The attack was begun by

the Queen Elizabeth, Inflexible, Agamemnon,

Lord Nelson, Triumph, and Prince George,

and as they steamed up the strait they

were received by a warm fire from heavy

guns, howitzers, and even field pieces.

Soon the French squadron, consisting

of the Suffren, Gaulois, Charlemagne, and

Bouvet, likewise steamed up the strait;

and the ten ships were able to pour in so

hot a fire that for the time being the batteries seemed silenced. Six other British

ships, the Vengeance, Irresistible, Albion,

Ocean, Swiftsure, and Monmouth then

advanced to relieve some of the other

ships. The Bouvet, which had been badly

battered, struck a drifting mine or else

received a shot in her magazine, and sank

in less than three minutes. Later in the

day the Irresistible and the Ocean also

sank, either as a result of gunfire or of

striking mines. The Gaulois was severely

damaged, and the Inflexible had her forward control position struck by a heavy

shell. As night came on, the ships that

remained afloat withdrew. Most of the

crew of the Bouvet had been lost with the

ship, but the casualties on the other vessels

had not been large.

Allied bulletins made light of the losses,

and announced that other ships had been

sent to assist in further attacks; but

time was to show that these attacks were

mostly confined to long distance bombardments. The attempt to force the Dardanelles by a naval attack had failed,

and with the failure disappeared the

possibility of realizing the Allied boast

that they would take Constantinople by

Easter. Baron von der Goltz, the German

military adviser to the Turks, announced

that the strait was impregnable; and

the news of the British and French

repulse greatly weakened Allied prestige

throughout the Balkan region. It was the

first of many blundering failures.

In reality the Allies had been much

nearer success than they supposed. Morgenthau, the American Ambassador at

Constantinople, says that practically everyone in the Turkish capital, except Enver,

fully expected that the fleet would force

the Dardanelles and capture the city.

The Government was panic stricken, and

the leaders prepared to flee from Constantinople and to establish a new capital in

Asia Minor. Even von Wangenheim, the

German Ambassador, expected the attempt

to succeed and asked Morgenthau to store

several cases of his valuables in the American embassy. General von der Goltz,

who probably knew as much about the

defenses of the Dardanelles as any one,

for he had been Turkey's military instructor

for years, told Morgenthau that if the

British were willing to sacrifice ten ships

they could force the entrance and do it

very quickly and could be in the Sea of

Marmora ten hours later. At this time,

in fact, the fortifications were comparatively weak and mounted comparatively

few modern guns. Morgenthau, who visited the forts between bombardments, says

in regard to this matter:

"There is a general belief that the Germans had completely modernized the

Dardanelles defenses, but this was not

true at that time. The guns defending

Fort Anadolu Hamidie were more than