June 1, 2016: following the capture of the strategically vital port of Kerch on May 25, 1855, a joint flotilla of 18 steam gunboats commanded by captains Edmund Mubray Lyons (Great Britain) and Marie Casimir Beral de Sedaiges (France) entered the inner part of Azov Sea. The allies destroyed Russian government stores along the coast in Berdiansk, Genitchesk, Arabat Bay and Mariupol. On June 3, 1855 the squadron bombarded the Russian port of Taganrog in order to destroy the provisions for besieged Sebastopol that were kept in government buildings. Although by mid-afternoon all the stores along the quay had been set ablaze, the town's garrison resisted the landing, not letting destruction to be spread further into downtown.
In spring 2016, two aldermen of Taganrog City Duma - Mrs. Yelena Sirota and Mr. Gennady Borodin initiated to hold the festival "Defense of Taganrog in 1855"
, representing a reenactment of the Crimean War events. Reenactors and enthusiasts from Crimea, Saint Petersburg, Nizhny Novgorod, Moscow, Krasnodar and Yeisk arrived on May 27, 2016 and were housed in historic buildings of the 18th century barracks. Important parts were also played by cossacks of Taganrog district, cadets of Georgy Sedov college in Rostov-on-Don and Tambov Cadet Corps.
The main events of the festival were held on May 28. The morning started with a public prayer at another site that witnessed the bombardment of the allies - St. Nicholas the Wonderworker church. During numerous attacks in 1855 this building was shelled by British and French warships. The cannonballs that were stuck in its walls were discovered during one of the renovations and were purposely left for display. Representatives of Taganrog Local Government, reenactors, citizens and visitors of the city gathered in front of a monument to defenders of the city that was erected near the church 11 years ago.
Next was the attack of the allied fleet that was staged on Pushkin Embankment near the actual landing places of the British and French on June 3 (May 22 Old Style), 1855. While people gathered at the scene of the reenactment, Vladimir Babaev who served as the anchorman read fragments from the book "Defense of Taganrog and Azov Sea Coast in 1855" written by local historian Alexander Mirgorodskiy. The information on the "flying squadron" and preparations for the attack on the Russian side was broadcast along the embankment via loudspeakers.
The show started with the meeting of truce envoys - lieutenants Horton (Great Britain) and Jaures (France) who gave Russian officers on the shore summons to surrender. Lieutenant-general Ivan Krasnoff (whose part was actually played by Mr. Sergey Chalenko, Ataman of Taganrog Cossacks) rejected the ultimatum issued by the allies. This was followed by the shelling of Taganrog from an improvised copy of "Lady Nancy" raft and approach of pinnaces with landing parties.
After a hand-to-hand fight, the attack was thwarted and the improvised enemy boats had to return to the warships. The whole performance lasted about 40 minutes, whereupon all participants gathered for a meeting in front of Taganrog Tercentenary monument on Pushkin Embankment.
Chairman of Taganrog City Council Mr. Yuri Stefanov read aloud the imperial decree signed by Alexander II of Russia in 1856 in honour of city residents' heroism, and exempting them from taxes. This done, the whole area was transformed into a photo zone, for all the spectators to take photos with soldiers in 19th century uniforms.
The reenactment program ended late night with a ball given at the most beautiful building - the Alferaki Palace, which at the time of events housed the Taganrog commercial assembly.