The army led Valerian Alexandrovich Zubov (1771 - 1804) - Brother favorite Catherine II. The commander was just 24, he was quickly elevated thanks to the protection of N. I. Saltykov, and then his older brother Platon Zubov. Around 1774, Valerian was recorded as a sergeant in the Life Guards Mounted Regiment. In 14 years he was made into cornets. In 1789, Lieutenant Life Guards Zubov was sent to the army under the command of Grigory Potemkin. But the lieutenant failed to make war - the prince almost immediately sent him to St. Petersburg with the news of the capture of Bender. In the capital, Zubov was treated kindly for the “honorary message” - he received the rank of colonel, cash awards, valuable gifts, and became the aide-de-camp of the empress.
In 1790, he was again sent to active service, and the “court” colonel finally got the chance to show his courage during the assault of Ishmael. He fought in the first row of the assault column under the command of Kutuzov. On this day, the entire army of Suvorov and the units under the command of Mikhail Illarionovich covered themselves with undying glory. For the courage Valerian was awarded the Order of the Holy Cross. George 4 degree, the rank of brigadier and colonel of the Life Guards. In 1791, he was granted the Order of Alexander Nevsky. He then participated in the Polish campaign 1792 of the year and in the year 1793 was granted the title of count. In 1794, he participates in the pacification of the Commonwealth, under the command of Suvorov. The Russian genius of military art noted the energetic, valor and fearlessness of Zubov, already a major general. This young general became a favorite of the army, and officers and soldiers loved him.
During this campaign, he lost a leg, it was torn off by an enemy core. Zubov survived, even though he was sick for a long time. The Empress showered him with awards - the Order of St.. George 3 degree, Order of St.. Andrew Pervozvanny (the highest award of the empire), 300 thousand rubles for the payment of debts, the palace, another 20 thousand gold and 13 thousand annual pension.
Zubov gladly accepted the news of his appointment as commander of the army, which he sent to Persia. This campaign gave him the opportunity to become famous as an independent commander in a complex and remote theater of operations. He was made general-in-chief, and the general “golden foot” (as he would be called in the Caucasus and Persia) compiled a list of military leaders whom he wanted to take with him — General Tsitsianov, Rimsky-Korsakov, Bennigsen, chieftain Platov, Count Apraksin.
Beginning of the campaign
At the end of March 1796, troops destined for the Persian campaign began to pull together to the Mozdok fortress. A separate 8 thousand detachment under the command of the commander of the Caucasian line, General Gudovich, was preparing to go to Tiflis (Tbilisi). In early April, Zubov arrived, he, together with Gudovich, worked out the route of the expedition, measures for its supply. In this regard, Zubov showed the talent of the organizer and a good general staffer. Interaction with the Caspian was agreed. flotilla - It was supposed to support the army from the sea, land troops, transport ammunition, reinforcements from Astrakhan.
8 April The 1796 campaign began, the sappers and Cossacks put a pontoon bridge over the Terek, near the village of Kargalinskaya. The Khopersky Cossack regiment was the first to cross, then the Volga and Donskoy colonel Mashlykin Cossack regiments, they formed the vanguard of the expedition. He was headed by General Savelyev, who had previously been noted for successful actions against the highlanders of Chechnya. Then the units of the 1 (two battalions of the Kuban Chasseurs Corps and two battalions of the Caucasian Grenadiers Regiment) and the 2 (each battalion from the Caucasian Grenadiers, Voronezh and Tiflis Infantry Regiments) and infantry brigades under the command of generals S. Bulgakov were deployed. Korsakov.
In addition, the corps was 1-I cavalry brigade under the command of Baron Bennigsen, N. Rajewski (the future hero of World War 1812 of the year) successfully commanded it before his arrival. It included the Vladimir and Nizhny Novgorod dragoon regiments. 2 th cavalry brigade - Taganrog and Astrakhan Dragoon regiments, commanded by Count Apraksin. Irregular Cossack formations were under the leadership of Don Ataman Matvey Platov.
These were not all the troops, new forces were constantly arriving - the Mozdok Cossack Territory regiment, the Grebensky and Family Cossack troops (their number was approximately equal to the regiment). The original corps totaled about 13 thousand people with 21 guns.
18 April Zubov gave the order to go to Derbent, it was the capital of the eponymous Khanate, a vassal of Persia. Derbent was an ancient fortress - “iron gate”, which locked the narrow passage between the Caspian Sea and the foothills of the Caucasus. The garrison, along with the militia numbered several thousand soldiers.
The Russian avant-garde at that time came into the possession of 18-year-old Sheikh Ali-Khan. In a special message, he was offered to enter into a military alliance with the Russian Empire, promising patronage of St. Petersburg. Militant Khan did not even answer. The advanced Cossack patrols were met with firing, the Cossacks did not go on the assault, since they did not have enough forces for this, began to wait for the arrival of the main forces.
At that time, the expeditionary force force crossed the Sulak River - with cavalry swimming, infantry, equipment, carts on boats and ferries. There was no problem with food, the terrain was wild - hunting teams were beating wild boars, another game. Locals - Kumyks, brought fish to the parking lot. The lord of the South Dagestan lands sent his son to greet the Russian troops - the Dagestanis took the Persian threat seriously.
Zubov decided to block the fortress from two sides - a Bulgakov detachment (two dragoons, two Cossack regiments, a family army, a grenadier battalion, two rangers battalions) bypassed Derbent by mountain trails and blocked it from the south. From the north to the fortress came forces Zubov. The Cossacks blocked all trails and roads.
2 May fortress was completely surrounded. The Cossacks and the dismounted dragoons tied up fire with the Khan warriors who had left the walls, and soon they were driven behind fortifications. The Cossacks occupied the plain by the sea, the huntsman became in the center, the dragoons on the right flank, the rocks. The main camp was set up about 4 versts from the walls.
A feature of Derbent was the presence of the powerful towers carried out beyond the line of the main walls, they had their own garrisons, which could fire, trying to storm the very fortress of the enemy's forces. At the same time, these towers were within gun and gun fire from the walls of the fortress, which complicated their capture. At night, tried to take one of these towers. The detachment under the command of Colonel Krivtsov secretly approached the fortification, put up the stairs, began to rise. At this time, the enemy raised the alarm. Stones and rifle volleys fell on the heads of the assailants. Krivtsov received three wounds, and Major Verevkin, who replaced him, was shot in both legs, soon all the officers were killed or injured, since they were in the front row. General Rimsky-Korsakov ordered the withdrawal of troops.
The next day, siege batteries were installed, moreover, siege trenches were dug in the 400 fathoms from the fortress (of which at any moment infantry could go on assault). Derbent garrison did not dare to sally. For several days the artillery fired at the walls of Derbent. At this time, messengers arrived from Armenian settlements on the Samur River. They asked for citizenship of Russia and, as a sign of good intentions, they sent envoys who managed to get out of Derbent - they were sent for help.
8 May stormed the tower, which could not take on the first attempt. Then, for two more days, the city was shelled and breached in one of the towers. On May 10, a white flag was thrown out on the fortress wall of Derbent, and after that, Sheikh Ali Khan arrived at the Russian camp with a saber and his entourage hanging around his neck as a sign of humility. The Russian army has lost 118 people killed and wounded. 28 cannons, 5 banners, 11 thousand guns and cold weapons. The victory was of great importance - in the hands of the empire was one of the most important cities in the Caucasus, the key to Transcaucasia. The seizure of the fortress had a great psychological significance, the inhabitants of many regions were impressed by the strength of Russian weapons and offered no resistance. Zubov was awarded the Order of St. George 2 degree, diamond pen on the cap and diamond marks to the Order of St.. Andrew the First Called. All the generals, many officers, lower ranks who distinguished themselves during the siege and assault were awarded.
Sheikh Ali Khan became an honorable prisoner, but soon he ran away and, after announcing in Gorny Dagestan, began to incite the highlanders to war with the Russians. In the future, he will cause not only Zubov, but his successors in the Caucasus.
Entry of the principalities of Northern Azerbaijan into Russia
The main army was left for two weeks to rest and gather intelligence. In addition, during this time, reinforcements and vessels of the Caspian flotilla with ammunition and food must have come. At the same time, several detachments were sent to Northern Azerbaijan - Southern began beyond the Araks River. They were to obtain from several small principalities recognition of the supreme power of Russia. If necessary, these units also had to play the role of the avant-garde, to meet the Persian army.
General Rakhmanov occupied Baku without a fight, Bulgakov’s squad without resistance subordinated the Cuban khanate. A detachment of Cossacks under the command of Platov went to Kure. At this time, the ships of the Caspian flotilla approached and delivered a cargo of provisions. Started the movement of the main forces.
The Cossacks of Platov set out on the Ata-Chay River, and the main forces went to the Helgel River. At this time, it was reported that Sheikh Ali Khan was collecting troops in the mountains - Zubov ordered the rear guard of Bulgakov to settle in the Cuban Khanate in order to preserve the rear. In mid-June, the Caspian flotilla under the command of Admiral Fedorov (a frigate and three schooners) moved to Baku. On the ships there was a landing - seven hundred Black Sea Cossacks (former Cossacks), two companies of the Kabardian infantry regiment.
Baku Khan, then the ruler of Shemakhi, was asked for Russian citizenship. The ambassador of the Shirvan khanate arrived. The troops maintained strict discipline, tried to ensure that no one was offended by the local population. The presence of significant amounts in silver allowed the purchase of food from the local population. The reinforcements approached, so, the corps mobile shop (wagon train) guarded by two dragoon regiments of L. Bennigsen arrived. Prince Tsitsianov approached from Tiflis (from Gudovich), he was appointed commandant of Baku. From Russia came Uglich infantry and Ostrogozhsky light regiment.
The Persian army did not appear, the Cossack patrols expelled to the south and local spies controlled the situation.
Fight in Alpansky gorge. Sheikh Ali Khan of Derbent with the support of Kazikumyk Khan gathered a large army, according to some data, up to 15 thousand people (apparently, the figure is about twice as high) and tried to cut off the Russian army from Russia, seizing Cuba. But the mountaineers did not dare to engage in battle with a small detachment of Bulgakov and engaged in the destruction of the area.
He stopped at the village of Alpany, Bulgakov sent to him a reconnaissance detachment under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Bakunin (the Chasseurs battalion, a hundred Cossacks and two guns). Bakunin did not wait for the approach of the main forces and he decided to attack the enemy. The Russian detachment was ambushed, the guns were captured immediately, Bakunin, most of the officers, died in hand-to-hand fighting. The remnants of the rangers battalion and Cossacks repelled the attacks of the Highlanders before the arrival of reinforcements. Now the Highlanders were carried away and missed the arrival of the Uglich Infantry Regiment under the command of Colonel Stoyanov with a battery of guns, they secretly surrounded the enemy. The Russian battery struck almost at close range, rifle salvos rang out, the bayonet attack of the Russian infantry was completed - up to 4, a thousand highlanders were killed and wounded. It was a rout, the remnants of the Derbent Khan's troops fled in panic. The Bakunin squad lost around 250 people.
After that, the Khan of the Kazikumyk people, Khamutai, surrendered, gave hostages and drove Sheikh Ali-Khan from his possessions.
It is interesting that in Persia they called this fight a major “victory” over the infidels and made a big celebration.
Subordination of the Ganja Khanate
After that, Zubov decided to conquer Ganj, advancing in the direction of Georgia. These were the possessions of Khan Javat. They expected serious resistance from him - the soldiers of the Khanate participated in the attack on Tbilisi in 1795 and the bloody massacre in the Georgian capital and its environs.
December 13 3 approached Ganja with a thousand detachment of General Rimsky-Korsakov. The fortress was perfectly fortified, had double walls. But there was no fight. Javat Khan left to meet and asked for Russian citizenship (in a few years he would change his oath and the Tsitsianov detachment would have to take a fortress with a fight).
At this time, the main forces approached the Jevat tract and set up a camp at the confluence of the Kura and Araks rivers. The Persian lands proper began on the other side. The enemy has not made itself known. Although the Russian commanders understood that the equestrian army can appear very quickly. The guard and patrol service was strengthened, long-distance patrols were sent out, interviewed travelers, collecting data on the terrain and movement of the enemy. Zubov decided to build a city at the confluence of the rivers - Yekaterinoserd.
The lord of Persia Aga Mohammed Shah Qajar did not dare to engage in battle with the Russian army. He was an Oriental man, crafty, he understood that Russian troops were superior to Persians in skill and armament. Moreover, the internal political and foreign policy situation was very difficult: insurrections on the outskirts, the threat of a conspiracy and a palace coup, the danger from Turkey and Afghanistan. He waited for the right moment. And his choice was fully justified.
Results of the operation
- A number of territories have been transferred to Russian citizenship - Derbent, Baku, Cuban, Karabakh, Shemakhi, Ganja princedoms. Under Russian control was Derbent, the western coast of the Caspian Sea. The local population as a whole treated the Russians well, unlike the Persians, they did not slaughter them by thousands and tens of thousands for the slightest disobedience.
- Zubov and his generals acted skillfully and decisively. Valerian Zubov could well become one of the famous Russian generals, if fate would have been more favorable to him.
- The road to South Azerbaijan and Tehran has been opened. Cossacks Platov conducted distant intelligence. In general, the campaign was won. The Persians surrendered one territory after another practically without a fight.
- St. Petersburg could only consolidate the result of the military operation and approve the territory of Azerbaijan for Russia. In addition, the local population and the rulers swore allegiance to Russia almost without compulsion.
- For the long term, the possibility of access to the Indian Ocean.
Catherine's death interrupted the operation. In December, 1796, Zubov received an order to stop the operation, and then an order to return the regiments to Russia. Pavel I begins Russia's foreign policy from a “clean slate”, and besides, he did not share the political views of the mother and her favorites. The troops returned in an orderly manner, without any military clashes. Wintering for the Caucasus line was only a detachment of Rimsky-Korsakov in Ganja. But he also moved to the Caucasian line during the 1797 year. In fact, all lands returned to Persia.
The Iranian ruler wanted to ruin Georgia again and punish the Khans who had betrayed him. He gathered 60 thousand army and moved it in the spring of 1797 year. Shusha was captured, the Persian army entered the Shirvan Khanate, but the whole picture changed the case. Unable to withstand the master's cruelty, he was killed by two slaves. In Persia, an internecine war began for the throne, and the army returned to its homeland.