Military Review

The victorious beginning of the Russian-Turkish war 1806-1812.


210 years ago, 18 (30) December 1806, the next Russian-Turkish war began. The conflict was caused by the aggressive policy of the Ottoman Empire, which, relying on the distraction of Russian forces by the wars against France (1805-1807) and Persia (1804-1813), planned to take revenge for the previous defeats and restore its position in the Northern Black Sea Coast and in the Caucasus (Georgia) . The Ottoman government had a great influence on the French, who wanted to divert Russia's attention from European affairs.

The reason for the war was the violation by Istanbul of the 1805 treaty on the procedure for the passage of Russian ships through the straits and the Turkish sultan replaced the pro-Russian leaders of Moldova and Wallachia - Alexander Muruzi and Konstantin Ypsilanti. According to the Russian-Turkish treaties (in accordance with the provisions of the Yasi peace 29 December 1791), the appointment and removal of the rulers of Moldova and Wallachia were to take place with the consent of St. Petersburg. Russia also feared increased French influence in the Balkans. The Russian government, fearing the capture of the Danube principalities by French troops who landed in Dalmatia, in November - December 1806 brought in troops under the command of General Ivan Ivanovich Michelson. 18 (30) December Turkey declared war on Russia.


During the time of Catherine the Great, Russia as a whole solved the main national tasks in the southwestern strategic direction. The predatory Crimean Khanate was liquidated, which for centuries hindered the development of the Slavic-Russian world. Crimea became Russian, and the base of the new Black Sea fleet, the most important tool of Russian diplomacy in the basins of the Black and Mediterranean Seas. Russia received the mouth of the most important rivers in the Northern Black Sea region with strategic fortresses: Don - Azov, Dnieper - Kinburn, Ochakov - near the mouth of the Dnieper. Enikale fortress moved to Russia - a stronghold located in the narrowest part of the Kerch Strait and armed with powerful cannons, prevented the passage of Russian ships between the Sea of ​​Azov and the Black Sea, and was of strategic importance.

Under the Yassky Peace Treaty of 1791, the lands between the Southern Bug and the Dniester were ceded to Russia, according to which a new border was established. In the Caucasus, the border was restored along the Kuban River. Turkey refused claims to Georgia and pledged not to take any hostile actions against Georgian lands. Russia in the Northern Pontic and in the Crimea launched an active economic activity, previously practically uninhabited lands were settled by Russian peasants, foreign colonists were invited (Greeks, Armenians, Serbs, Germans of various kinds, etc.), roads, cities, ports, shipyards were built. In particular, Sevastopol, Tiraspol, Odessa were founded. Thus, the Russian government created a new Russian region — Novorossia — and at the same time restored the old core of the Russian super-ethnos — Little Russia (Little Russia). Also, Russia, step by step, strengthened its position in the North Caucasus and Transcaucasia.

Russia had to take a few more important steps to solve the main strategic tasks in the region: 1) go to the Danube border in order to have a strong defensive line and a bridgehead for operations in the Balkans. Also, the great European river was an important transport communication, had serious economic importance; 2) to assist in the liberation of Christian and Slavic peoples on the Balkan Peninsula from the Ottoman yoke, while St. Petersburg was to become a center of attraction for these states. Russia was a natural patron of the Christian and Slavic peoples of the Balkans; 3) Russia had historical law, as well as the military-strategic need for Constantinople and the Bosporus and Dardanelles. Thus, Russian civilization locked the Black Sea basin from enemy fleets (French, British, in the future - American), the Black Sea, as in ancient times, again became the Russian Sea; Russia received an important bridgehead and base in the Mediterranean basin. That is, we would generally solve the security problem of Russian civilization in the southwest.

Turkey's position

In Istanbul, they dreamed of taking revenge and restoring their positions in the Caucasus, the Crimea and the Northern Black Sea region. In different periods, the Ottoman supported England, France and Austria, the former geopolitical rivals of Russia. In Vienna, London and Paris, they viewed negatively the expansion of Russian influence in the Black Sea basin, in the Balkans and the Caucasus. Turks have traditionally been the "cannon fodder" of the West in the fight against Russian civilization.

During the reign of Pavel Petrovich there was a short period of allied relations between Russia and Turkey, a union of traditional enemies was directed against France. The French with such activity began to occupy positions in the Mediterranean basin, invaded Egypt, that the Ottomans were frightened and made an alliance with London and St. Petersburg. At this time, the squadron F. F. Ushakova scored a number of loud victories over the French, liberated the Ionian Islands. But this alliance was fleeting in nature and did not abolish the deep-seated contradictions between Russia and Turkey. By 1802, the Peace of Amiens ended the war between France and the Second Coalition, and allowed Napoleon to reestablish relations with Turkey. The Ottoman Empire regained all the land lost during the war in Egypt. The French returned all the privileges and benefits, in particular in the trade that they had before. The French were recognized as the most favored nation and received more trade and customs privileges that England and Russia did not have. The defeat of Russia and Austria under Austerlitz finally returned Turkey to the path of its traditional Francopile policy.

The French had a weighty position in the economy and finance of the Ports, the Turkish authorities tried to reform the empire with the help of France in the European way. Sultan Selim himself was a frankofil. The main emphasis was placed on the armed forces. In 1793, the Sultan issued a decree on the formation of an infantry corps ("the body of the palace shooters"), organized and trained according to the European model. The corps was divided into battalions, battalions - into companies. Europeans who converted to Islam, or Ottomans, who received education and military training in Western Europe, commanded the soldiers. But it was tight, only by 1804, the number of corps reached 12 thousand people.

The Ottoman Sultan Selim III (1789-1807) relied on the scientific and technical support of France in his reform efforts, tried to create a regular army trained in the European style. The main purpose of Selim and his entourage was the restoration of the former military power of Porta.

The victorious beginning of the Russian-Turkish war 1806-1812.

Ottoman Sultan Selim III

Sultan and his entourage tried to introduce European methods of military training in the rest of the army, but did not achieve decisive success. But the Ottoman government managed to somewhat increase the combat capability of the army, get a new weapon, strengthen discipline. In particular, the fighting capacity of the Ottoman artillery was strengthened. Artillery units received new types of guns, European masters, engineers and instructors, mostly French, were invited to the arsenal in Tophane. Secular, mainly military, education was developing. The Naval Engineering School was expanded, and a similar educational institution was opened to train military fortifiers and artillerymen. They taught the French or the Turks, who received a European education. Also, the reformer Sultan managed in a fairly short period to create a strong fleet, which was previously in decline. By the end of Selim’s reign, the fleet numbered more than 100 ships, including more than 40 battleships and frigates. Among the captains were a significant number of people who received appropriate education in Europe. As a result, the fleet of Selim III was considered one of the best in Western Europe. In addition, in connection with the development of the army and navy, the economy somewhat strengthened. For the needs of the fleet, development at copper mines and coal mines was resumed or expanded, and for the powder factories they increased the production of nitrate. The authorities built a number of new manufactories and a new weapons factory, etc.

The policy of Sultan Selim and his supporters provoked widespread opposition in the country. A significant part of the Turkish spiritual and military feudal elite was against reforming the country into the European way. At the same time, discontent of the masses kindled fanatical clergy and feudal separatists. The pillars of the clerical and feudal opposition were the janissaries, who had already lost their former military might, but were a constant source of turmoil and insurrection in the empire, and permanent participants in palace coups.

One of the main problems of the Turkish Empire and the reason for the conflict with Russia was the situation on the Balkan Peninsula. Turkey could not completely "digest" this huge region, Islamize and oturechit its population. The Ottomans were unable to establish normal relations with the conquered regions and the Christian, Slavic population, to make an empire with two "cores": Turkish-Muslim and Christian-Slavic, with the same rights and duties. As a result, the Slavic and Christian populations responded to religious, national and socio-economic oppression by uprisings and resistance. The uprisings in the Balkans were a constant "headache" of Istanbul, and spoiled relations with Austria and Russia, which had their own interests on the peninsula.

At the beginning of the XIX century, the national liberation movement in the Balkan provinces of the Ottoman Empire abruptly began to rise. The anti-Turkish struggle intensified in Greece, where the bloody punitive measures of the authorities did not bring tangible results. Armed uprisings began in Bulgaria and Montenegro. The liberation movement of the Montenegrins was so strong, and their actions against the Ottoman troops were so successful that Selim III was forced to recognize Montenegro as independent.

In 1804, the anti-Turkish uprising began in Serbia. The brutal arbitrariness of the Turkish authorities, and especially the atrocities of the Janissaries, became so hated by the Serbs that the uprising quickly spread throughout the country. It was led by an experienced warrior, the leader of the Haidukas, Georgi Karageorge. At the same time, at the beginning of the uprising, the Sultan’s government supported the struggle of the Serbs with the janissaries (the janissaries were the “brake” in reforming the country into the European way). Serbian rebels in 1804-1805's. broke the Janissaries and freed a number of cities.

In 1805-1806 - the second stage of the uprising, the Serbs have already demanded wide autonomy for the Belgrade pashalyk (part of the Ottoman Empire, bordering with Austria in Central Serbia). Dependence on the empire was supposed to manifest itself only in the payment of tribute and the participation of the Serbs in the wars with the enemies of Porta. Already in August, 1804, at the gathering of elders in Vracar, it was decided to ask Russia for help to gain and guarantee this new status. The ideas of the Serbs were first supported by Comrade Foreign Minister of the Russian Empire, Adam Chartoryi, and then by Tsar Alexander I. Russia became the official patron of the Serbs in the struggle for autonomy.

In response, Istanbul officially declared the Serbs to be insurgents, and all Muslims of the empire were called to holy war against them. However, the sultan's troops suffered several serious defeats from the Serbs. True, the Serbs experienced a serious lack of money and material means, weapons and equipment, and did not torture illusions about the complete victory over the empire in such a situation. Therefore, they decided in November 1805 in the National Assembly to send an appeal to the Turkish Sultan, the Russian Tsar, the Austrian emperor and the Patriarch of Constantinople asking to intervene and convince the Turks to cancel the punitive campaign announced. The Serbs noted that, despite the war with the janissaries, they still consider themselves loyalists of the Turkish Sultan and are willing to pay him taxes.

In the summer of 1806, the Serbian rebels once again defeated the Ottomans, disrupting plans to eliminate the insurgency by force. The Ottoman government, in the conditions of approaching the war with Russia, made a compromise and in August concluded a peace in Constantinople with the Serbs Ichkov, named after the Serbian negotiator Petar Ichko. The port agreed to the recognition of a certain autonomy for Serbia and a clear fixation of the size of taxes levied on the Serbs.

The entry of the Russian army into the Danube principalities led to a new outbreak of the Serbian uprising - 14 December 1806 rebel troops under the leadership of Karageorgi took Belgrade fortress. Soon the Russian-Turkish war began, the Serbian rebels refused to comply with the terms of the treaty and began to look for help from Russia in the struggle for their full independence.

Anti-Turkish uprisings occurred not only in the Balkans. In 1805, the inhabitants of Cairo opposed Ottoman rule. Anti-Turkish sentiment encompassed some parts of Central Arabia.

In such conditions, Sultan Selim III and his associates once again tried to increase the number and increase the combat capability of the new military formations. In 1805, the Sultan unexpectedly ordered the commencement of the forced recruitment of soldiers for new military contingents. This caused a sharp increase in public discontent and the government had to abandon this innovation. In its plans Istanbul relied on France. In 1806-1807 French ambassador to Constantinople, General Horace Sebastiani, was hardly the main adviser to the Sultan in military matters and in the matter of reforming the state. French officer Juushero de Saint-Denis became the chief inspector of demining troops in the Turkish army. In various government departments worked French officers, military experts, engineers and masters.

At the same time, the European modernization of Turkey began to cause already open resistance of the conservative opposition. In the spring of 1806, the Ottoman government began to transfer to Rumelia (the European possessions of the Ottoman Empire, which included ancient Thrace and part of Macedonia), units of the new regular troops. In June, 1806, a large contingent of regular troops under the command of Kadi Pasha was transferred there. The total number of Kadi-Pasha's army, together with the previously sent units, reached 30 thousand soldiers. When the troops approached Edirne, the local janissaries revolted against the Sultan and closed the way for the new troops, installed artillery batteries. They demanded a shift of officials, supporters of reforms. The news of the Janissary rebellion and its support in other areas of Rumelia caused panic in Constantinople. Sultan made concessions to the conservatives, having recalled regular troops to the capital. The weakness of the government took advantage of the opposition. The Islamic clergy (ulama) began to openly preach that reforms contradict the provisions of the Koran and Sharia.

The positions of the sultan and supporters of reforms were drastically weakened by the war with Russia. The army was traditionally led by the great vizier, a supporter of reforms, Khilmi Ibrahim Pasha. The duties of the great vizier were laid upon Kese Musa-pasha, who was the secret enemy of the sultan and an opponent of reform. Together with a group of other reactionary-minded dignitaries, he plotted against Selim III. Relying on the support of the Yamakov - soldiers of the auxiliary troops, the 25 conspirators of May 1807 of the year opposed the Sultan. Selim acted hesitantly, than he warmed up the ardor of the rebels. 29 May Selim abdicated the throne, the rebels raised Mustafa IV, son of Abdul-Hamid I (sultan in 1774-1789) to the throne. He arranged the conspirators with his limpness and conservatism.

The terror began in relation to the approximate former sultan, supporters of reforms. Janissaries and Yamaki completely controlled the actions of the Sultan and the government. However, supporters of the reforms were able to provide organized resistance. Ruschuksky governor Alemdar Mustafa Pasha (Bayraktar - “Standard-bearer”), a supporter of the reforms, gathered 40-thousand army in July 1808 and moved from Ruschuk (Ruse) to Constantinople in order to restore Selim III. A sudden attack of the cavalry killed the leader of the Yamaka - Kabakchi Mustafa, which paralyzed the will of the conservative camp. Soon the army of Bayraktar occupied the capital. But Selim on the throne could not be restored - they managed to kill him. Therefore, his supporters erected the throne of Mahmoud II (the second son of Abdul-Hamid I, reigned in 1808-1839), and Bayraktar himself became his vizier with him. Bayraktar concentrated in the hands of all military and civilian power, responded with terror to terror, hundreds of active participants in the insurgency were killed. True, Bayraktar died in November 1808, during the new insurgency of the Janissaries. But the new sultan eventually continued the course of reform.

Thus, Turkey, wanting to use the foreign policy difficulties of Russia, itself started the war not in the best situation, in fact in the conditions of internal turmoil. Unfortunately, the government of Alexander was unable to use this favorable situation, which finally solved the remaining military-political issues in our favor (the straits, Constantinople, the Balkans). All the best forces of the Russian Empire were tied to the Napoleonic Empire by war.Although initially between Russia and France there were no fundamental contradictions and there were all the prerequisites for a mutually beneficial strategic alliance, in order to curb the appetites of England and Austria.

The beginning of hostilities

The Serbian uprising caused in Alexander Pavlovich a desire to free the Balkan Christians from the Ottoman yoke, attach Moldavia and Wallachia to Russia, and from the rest of the Christian Slavic regions create an alliance under the auspices of Russia. The reason for the war was the closure by Turkey of the straits for the Russian ships and the change, contrary to previous agreements, of pro-Russian rulers of the Danube principalities.

Russia's diplomatic protest was dismissed without an answer. Then in October 1806, the Russian Tsar ordered General I. I. Michelson (he was famous for defeating the uprising of E. Pugachev). The Russian Moldavian army in the region of the Dniester at that time numbered only about 40 thousand people. November 11 Russian troops began to force the Dniester. The commandants of the fortresses of Khotyn, Bendery ceded them without a fight. It is reasonable to take advantage of the Ottomans unpreparedness for war and capture as many important places as possible, Michelson threw the vanguard of Miloradovich right from the Dniester to Bucharest, and he turned to the Lower Danube fortresses and occupied Akkerman, Kiliyu and Galati without a fight. Only the commandants of Ishmael and Ruschuka refused to surrender. December 13 Miloradovich occupied Bucharest, saved the city and residents from the plight - Mustafa Pasha’s Rushchuk commandant sent a detachment to Bucharest, having occupied the Turks began to indulge in all sorts of violence against the inhabitants, so that it was common for the Ottomans, but the Russians beat them out.

It was necessary to develop so successfully launched offensive. However, the forces for this were simply not available to the Russian army. Mikhelson did not have a second echelon and strategic reserve, otherwise the Russian army could have triumphantly ended the war in 1807. Turkey simply would not have time to respond to this blow. The formation of the Turkish army went very slowly, but this could not be used, since the new clash with Napoleon did not allow strengthening the troops in the Danube principalities, and therefore at the beginning of 1807, Michelson was ordered to confine himself to defense. The war dragged on indefinitely.

Thus, the beginning of the war was successful for Russia. The Russian commander in chief, despite his old age, acted rationally, himself went on the attack with a saber, showing himself to death (1807 year) a dashing cavalryman. Russian troops on the move forced water obstacles and occupied key fortresses. Moldavia and Wallachia were occupied by our troops. At the end of December 1806, the Russian army settled on winter apartments. And Michelson contacted the Serbs, who liberated Belgrade in December. Turkey, despite the aggressiveness of its policies, was not ready for war in the Danube Theater. Only 18 December was followed by the Ottoman Empire declaration of war. Turkey began to form an army at Shumla.

Russian commander Ivan Ivanovich Mikhelson (1740 — 1807)

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  1. parusnik
    parusnik 20 December 2016 07: 27
    The reason for the war was the violation by Istanbul of the treaty of 1805 on the procedure for the passage of Russian ships through the straits and the change by the Turkish sultan of the pro-Russian rulers of Moldova and Wallachia - Alexander Muruzi and Konstantin Ipsilanti.

    Hmm ... once the rulers of Moldova and Wallachia for centuries were pro-Russian ... Now times have changed ..
    1. Finches
      Finches 20 December 2016 09: 07
      It’s a very little-mentioned military company in our history, which we don’t even know about the C grade! Thank you author! hi
    2. The comment was deleted.
    3. gagauz36
      gagauz36 20 December 2016 15: 57
      Gospodar come and go! The memory of the people does not change. We in the south of Moldova remember and cherish, and memory, and monuments ...
      1. Cat
        Cat 20 December 2016 20: 51
        Quote: gagauz36
        Gospodar come and go! The memory of the people does not change. We in the south of Moldova remember and cherish, and memory, and monuments ...

        Sergey if this is true! That is a low bow from me personally.
        It is in our time that it is difficult to resist "untruth" and "lie". It's easier to bend over in front of momentary gain. But if the memory is strong, then this behavior must be respected. For mutual respect can be the mound along which the road to the future can be built.
  2. Monarchist
    Monarchist 20 December 2016 11: 33
    The author, thank you for the interesting work. For example, I did not know that Michelson fought like that
    1. Mordvin 3
      Mordvin 3 21 December 2016 01: 51
      Similarly. I only read about Ushakov in that war.
  3. Every
    Every 24 February 2017 17: 52
    In various periods, Ottoman was supported by England, France and Austria, formerly geopolitical competitors of Russia. Vienna, London and Paris negatively looked at the expansion of Russian influence in the Black Sea basin, the Balkans and the Caucasus. Turks have traditionally been the "cannon fodder" of the West in the fight against Russian civilization.
    During the reign of Pavel Petrovich there was a short period of allied relations between Russia and Turkey, a union of traditional enemies was directed against France. The French with such activity began to occupy positions in the Mediterranean basin, invaded Egypt, that the Ottomans were frightened and entered into an alliance with London and St. Petersburg. At this time, the squadron of F.F. Ushakova won a number of high-profile victories over the French, liberated the Ionian Islands. But this alliance was fleeting in nature and did not cancel the deep-seated contradictions between Russia and Turkey.

    How many years have passed, but nothing is changing. Turkey remained an instrument in the hands of the EU. And the current "rapprochement" will also most likely be short-term.