Sailors of the Imperial Russian Navy visiting the United States, 1863.
These look like rough fellows who have a story or two to tell, but the back story is even more interesting. It seems that Russia’s support of the Union was instrumental in preventing the United Kingdom from supporting the Confederacy.
A Russian squadron landed in New York on September 24, 1863. According to a contemporary article in Harper’s Weekly:
"The two largest of the squadron, the frigates Alexander Nevsky and Peresvet, are evidently vessels of modern build, and much about them would lead an unpracticed eye to think they were built in this country.
The instant you step foot over the gangways of these ships it becomes evident that they are in the hands of men who understand how to keep a ship in the most thorough order. The decks are as white as holy-stones and sand can make them, the paint work spotless, the brass and other bright work shining as if they were cleaned every five minutes; rigging neatly coiled down on deck or on the belaying pins—no ends of ropes hanging about—every thing hauled taut and properly belayed, in fact, every thing looks “ship-shape and Bristol fashion” just as a sailor likes to see it. A lady with the most immaculate skirts and kid gloves can move any where, on deck or below, without danger of soiling either, so perfectly clean every thing about the ship is kept.
One of the Captains manifested almost child-like pleasure, and at almost every moment uttered, in sonorous Russ, his astonishment and admiration at the grace, loveliness, and animation, as well as the cordial courtesy of our fair dames and damsels. On the chill banks of the Neva, perhaps when far away on the boisterous billows of the Black Sea or the Caspian, he will recall, in his lonely midnight vigil, while he paces the storm-beaten deck, the sunny smiles that brightened the autumnal sunshine on the borders of the Hudson.”