The Turkish commander-in-chief, Mukhtar Pasha, surprised at the departure of the Russian army from Zivin, ordered Ishmael Pasha to lead the campaign against the Erivan detachment, while he himself slowly moved behind the detachment of Geiman. As a result, after the retreat of the troops of Loris-Melikov and Geiman from Zivin, and the decision to lift the siege of Kars, the Erivan squad was in an extremely dangerous position. Tergukasov had no information about this. The telegraph line at Bayazet was interrupted by the enemy, who laid siege to the Bayazet garrison, and Loris-Melikov, having in his hands a large mass of cavalry, did not guess with its help to contact the Erivan detachment and notify Tergukasov about the events of recent days and about his plans. Thus, the detachment of Tergukasov turned out to be actually granted to his fate, among the superior forces of the enemy with almost ended ammunition.
Tergukasov decided to start a withdrawal to his bases in order to fill up the ammunition and help out Bayazet. On June 27, the detachment made a bivouac on the Drum-Dag heights and headed towards Zeidekan, where 28 arrived on June. The detachment departed in perfect order. With the Russians, about 300 Armenian families left. From here, Tergukasov hoped to send Amilokhvari's flying squad to Bayazet with the aim of gaining the surrounding garrison, but this idea had to be abandoned, as Ismail Pasha approached. Turkish General 27 June arrived at Dayar and took over command of the troops operating against the Erivan squadron. With the dawn of June 28, having discovered the withdrawal of the Erivan detachment, Ismail Pasha began the pursuit and approached the Russian camp at 11.00. However, the attack of the Turkish forces did not lead to success. The first strike reflected the Russian artillery. The Turkish troops, impressed by the previous defeats of Tergukasov, acted sluggishly and did not hurry to attack the Russians. After that, Ismail Pasha, bypassing the right flank of the detachment, made numerous cavalry under the command of Gazi-Magomed-Shamil-Pasha, the retinue general of the Sultan and the son of the famous Gunibsky Shamil. The Circassian cavalry was met by Amilokhvari's artillery and cavalry and also rolled away. As a result, despite the fact that the troops of Izmail Pasha numerically doubled the Erivan detachment and that they still had fresh reserves, the Ottomans could not achieve victory.
At night, with 28 on 29 June, the Erivan squad began a further withdrawal. By June 30 squad arrived in Kara-Kilis. The troops became a camp to the west of Kara-Kilisa, among the marshes, having near uncomfortable positions. Tergukasov was counting on July 1 to change camp, but did not have time. In 11.00, the Turkish troops again launched an offensive and opened fire on the camp. However, the courage and perseverance of the Russian soldiers made it possible to organize and cover the evacuation of a huge convoy. The march to Surp-Oganes was very difficult. The number of Armenian refugees traveling with wagons increased to 2500 families. Heavily loaded arbs lagged behind, obstructing movement. Among the refugees were many old men, women and children. Therefore, the defeat of the Russian detachment could lead to a massive slaughter.
In Surp-Oganes, Tergukasov received with the help of scouts information that Mukhtar Pasha ordered Faiku-Pasha to attack the Erivan detachment from Diadin or Surp-Oganes. As a result, the Bayazet garrison could still hold out for some time. This predetermined the further actions of the Russian general. He had two options: 1) to go straight to Bayazet to save his garrison, but in the event of failure there was a risk of the death of the entire huge convoy, the civilian population who had fled from the Turkish thugs. The defeat was quite possible - the ammunition was running out, the enemy had a great superiority in strength, Faik Pasha was waiting ahead, Ishmael Pasha was behind him; 2) from Surp-Oganesa turn to the Karavansarai pass and retreat to the Erivan province to Igdir. There it was possible to get rid of civilians with a convoy, replenish ammunition and immediately move to the rescue of the Bayazet garrison. Tergukasov chose the second option.
Palace Ishak Pasha. The modern look of the citadel, which hid the Russian garrison
Bayazet, due to its geographical position, had an important operational and strategic importance. For the Turkish troops, he served as a stronghold for the attack on the province of Erivan. For the Russians, it was the extreme southeast stronghold on the communication route for the offensive operation of the Erivan detachment through the Alashkert valley on Erzerum. Owning Bayazet, Russian troops covered Erivan province, although it was possible to bypass it. Tergukasov did not have the opportunity to leave a large garrison, so there were about 1500 regular troops with 2 guns and about 500 a policeman in Bayazet. At the garrison there was the 11 military hospital. The commandant of Bayazet was Captain F. E. Shtokvich. Russian troops were in the citadel, the palace of Iskhak-pasha, but he did not have serious fortifications. Almost the entire territory of the palace was well swept.
4 (16) June, Russian intelligence encountered an adversary. On the night of June 6 (18) a military council of commanders of all parts of the garrison was held. On the initiative of the lieutenant colonel of the 73-th Crimean Infantry Regiment G. M. Patsevich (he was the commander of the troops of the Bayazet district) it was decided to conduct a reinforced reconnaissance in the direction of Van to identify the enemy forces. At dawn at 5 in the morning hours, almost the entire garrison marched down Van Road. At the same time, the command did not set up long-range equestrian reconnaissance. It almost led to disaster. The Russian detachment suddenly encountered the Van Faiq Pasha detachment that was many times greater in number. The Turkish forces besieged the Russian detachment from three sides, and Patsevich commanded a general retreat, which became disorderly. The parts were mixed, and the column itself stretched for 2 miles. During the retreat, Lieutenant Colonel A. V. Kovalevsky was killed. By 12 hours, pursued by the enemy, the Russian troops reached the city. Saving the squadron from complete defeat, the companies that had just arrived in the 2 fortress and the newly arrived Erivan militia of Colonel Ismail Khan of Nakhchivan and the Cossack team rushed to his aid. They organized a corridor and threw the enemy away with rifle fire. Ismail Khan repulsed the enemy bypass flank attack.
Irregular Turkish troops (about 6 thousand people) began to occupy positions around the city. Patsevich ordered to dislodge the enemy from the commanding heights and throw him away from the city. However, a poorly organized attack failed, leading to the first breakthrough of the enemy in the city itself. Turks and Kurds began to kill citizens (Armenians). Russian soldiers and Cossacks took refuge in the citadel, and began to strengthen the palace as best they could. Gates filled up with stones and slabs, loopholes were built in a hurry. Faik Pasha soon arrived with regular troops and 4 mountain guns. The number of enemy troops reached 10-11 thousand people.
Placing artillery on a hill in 500-600 m from the eastern gate of the citadel. The Turks opened fire. The enemy also conducted intense rifle fire from nearby heights and philistine houses, and until nightfall he tried to take possession of the citadel, but all the attacks were repelled. The soldiers and Cossacks of the garrison all night trying to adapt the palace to the defense. Loopholes were punched in the walls, and windows and windows were laid in the rooms of buildings, leaving a small opening for shooting. On the roofs of stones rifle nests were built for the supine position. Several volunteers made forays to select the remaining weapons and supplies. 7 (19) June with the dawn of the Turks and Kurds resumed shelling the citadel. The garrison, saving ammunition, answered rarely. Turkish troops occupied new positions, setting the Russian strong point. On the same day, the Turkish command sent a truce with a proposal for surrender. The Turks guaranteed the entire garrison complete security and promised to deliver wherever they wanted under protection. The offer was rejected.
6 (18) June 1877, the Turkish troops organized a decisive assault. At dawn, the Turks began an intensive bombardment of the citadel. Russian guns fired back, periodically destroying the enemy’s firing positions. Turkish artillery, assessing the futility of the target fire of the past day, opened mounted fire on the citadel. By noon, huge masses of Kurds, with fierce cries, rushed to the storming of the citadel. Patsevich, assessing the situation as extremely critical, decided to capitulate. At the same time, other officers were opposed to this decision and, despite Pacevic’s orders to cease fire and prepare for surrender, ordered the soldiers to continue resistance. So, one of the opponents of the capitulation was Ismail Khan, and the artilleryman Nikolai Tomashevsky rolled out a cannon under the arch of the arch into the second courtyard and loaded it with a canister, sent the barrel to the gate, preparing to open fire on the enemy who had already tried to break into the citadel. Stavropolis and gunners lined up around the cannon, bristling with bayonets and sabers, ready to die the death of the brave. As a result, during the raising of the white flag, Patsevich was mortally wounded. Apparently, from their own. After that, the defenders of the fortress opened heavy fire on the Kurds, who were waiting for surrender. Hundreds of people were killed, the rest retreated in disarray. In Turkish and British sources, it is reported that part of the garrison (from the Muslim militia) still surrendered, but the Kurds slaughtered them, despite the fact that "they loudly declared to them about their common belief."
Repulse assault fortress Bayazet 8 June 1877 of the year. LF Lagorio (1891)
On the same day, the Kurds and Turks, who were brutalized by the massacre, staged a massacre of the Armenian community of the city. The houses were destroyed and robbed, then they were set on fire, the owners were tortured, raped, and thrown into the fire. From the report of the commandant of the city of Bayazet, captain Shtokvich: “At night there was a striking picture, seeing that, the soldiers cried: they slaughtered men, women and children and threw them into the fire while still alive; the whole city was in flames, screams, sobs and moans were heard everywhere ... ” The constable S. Sevastyanov recalled: “At night, buildings were burning in the city, shouts and cries of women and children were heard, the Turks began to rob, kill Armenians and throw them into the fire alive. Thanks to the moonlit night, we could see and hear the terrible moans of the unfortunate inhabitants; but we were powerless to help them. It was hard to see such a terrible picture. ” Hundreds of people were killed (including Turkish families who tried to hide their neighbors), some of the women and children were driven into slavery by the Kurds, some were able to escape in the citadel.
The 9 (21) of June, from early morning, the Russian garrison prepared to repel the next assault, but it did not follow. The Turks decided to take the Russian starve, began exhausting siege. The Turks once again offered to surrender, but they were not answered. The position of the Bayazet garrison was difficult, as food supplies were small, and there was no water source in the palace. Therefore, the position of the squad every day became more and more threatening. Existing water reserves are quickly depleted. In all parts, except for the hospital, they stopped cooking hot food. Water had to be extracted from a stream, which was located in 300 steps from the fortification. The brave souls made forays, and crawled to the stream, but fell under fire and died. In addition, the Turks showered the stream with the corpses of people and animals, poisoning the water. As a result, the daily ration of water and food was reduced to two tablespoons of water and to 1-2 biscuit. However, sometimes during the attacks it was possible to get meat and other provisions, then the portions were increased. Disease began. The sick and wounded were treated by the senior doctor Savitsky and the younger doctor Kitaevsky. They were helped by the women in the detachment. Among them was the wife of the deceased Lieutenant Colonel Kovalevsky. The epidemic, thanks to the efforts of doctors and women in the garrison, was averted.
In the very first days of the blockade, the garrison tried to inform Tergukasov about the extreme position of the besieged garrison. Of the volunteers who responded, the Cossack Kirilchuk and the Armenian translator S. Ter-Pogosov were chosen to deliver the note to the Khoper regiment. The Cossack went missing, and the Armenian reached the squad headquarters and reported on the plight of the garrison. Days went by, and there was no help. The soldiers were so weakened that the recoil of the gun knocked them down. Sister of Mercy Kovalevskaya came down, weakened by hunger. Kitaevsky lost consciousness, completely exhausted by caring for the sick and refusal of food, which he gave to the dying. Commander Shtokvich recalled: “The 2-3 daily croutons and one tablespoon of water at 40-45 degrees of scorching heat for many days the siege did their job: they did not kill the garrison, but turned it into a crowd of skeletons and the living dead, which without soul shudder and horror it was impossible to look. "
Fedor Eduardovich Shtokvich (1828-1896). The commandant of the Bayazet fortress
June garrison 11 (23) made a big raid on what to reconnoiter and gather water. The Turks quickly responded and drove the Russians into the citadel. However, it was possible to replenish the supply of water and find out that the dense blockade is preserved. 12 (24) of June, a small Russian Chingilsky detachment (over 1300 fighters) under the command of Major General Kelbali-Khan Nakhichevansky came to Bayazet, who was ordered to "free the Bayazet garrison, by all means." However, the Chingil detachment alone could not discard the entire Van detachment of the Faik Pasha. After a stubborn battle, 13 (25) June, our troops retreated.
As a result, the courageous garrison was rescued from death. June 26 (July 8) Early in the morning, the Erivan Detachment marched from Igdir and marched in a forced march to Bayazet. June 27 (July 9) Tergukasova’s detachment reached the fortress and gave a signal to the besieged of their arrival. 28 June (10 July) 5 o'clock in the morning Erivan squad launched an offensive. The infantry led an offensive loose formation. A part of the Bayazet garrison made an oncoming sortie. The overall numerical superiority of the Turkish troops was not used by the Ottoman command due to its uncoordinated actions and general passivity. In addition, the Turkish units were at a considerable distance from each other. After the first volleys of Russian artillery, the Kurdish militias rushed to flee. The Turkish battalion in the 3 city resisted. But the attacked from two sides, and without waiting for help from Faik Pasha, who in turn expected the same from Ismail Pasha, retreated. When Ismail Pasha decided to go on the attack, his troops were repelled. The Turks in this battle lost up to 500 people only killed, our losses were small - according to official data 2 people killed and 21 wounded. June 29 (July 11) The Erivan detachment left Bayazet and, in full view of the Turkish troops, headed for the Russian border. By a telegram, Tergukasov notified the commander-in-chief of Grand Duke Mikhail Nikolayevich: “The citadel has been freed, its garrison and all the sick and wounded have been withdrawn to the last man ... I have the happiness to congratulate Your Highness on the liberation of the heroic garrison.”
Thus, the Russian garrison endured a 23-day siege against an enemy that was almost ten times superior in strength (taking into account the forces of the Alashkert detachment Ismail Pasha). The defenders of Bayazet showed in the most terrible conditions (heat, lack of food and water) iron restraint and unbending will, they fought almost to death. All demands for surrender of the fortress were rejected. One of the participants in the defense of the fortress noted: "The siege lasted another 5-6 days - and the entire garrison would have been completely dead from starvation and thirst, or the citadel would have taken off into the air along with the Turks who had burst into the fortress." The Bayazet defense has become at least one of the most terrible and bloody, but at the same time heroic pages of the 1877-1878 war of the year and the entire Russian military stories. Contemporaries compared it with the Shipka epic.
The liberation of the garrison of the Bayazetan citadel in 1877. Hood. LF Lagorio (1885)
The fighting on the coastal direction began immediately after the declaration of war. Russian troops began to move, and the Turks, taking advantage of favorable terrain conditions (mountain rivers, streams, ravines, gorges, etc.) and lack of roads, stubbornly resisted. Each position had to be stormed. Therefore, the offensive in the direction of Batum was developing very slowly. Captain B. Kolyubakin, a participant in the march, recalled: “Artillery could hardly move along a narrow road. The wheels of the guns stuck in the clay soil, sometimes over the heads of the column there was formed a green set of undergrowth, sometimes so low that it was necessary to use checkers and even axes to clear it. ”
The first battle took place over the heights of Fly-Estate. In it, 1-I Gurian squad and 5-I mountain battery, led by Colonel Muskhelov, especially distinguished themselves. Strong fire Turks knocked out of the gorge. “Our shrapnel,” Kolyubakin noted, “could not be more patronized both morally and financially by the Gurians as they mastered the ravines, the heights, the beams and the haystacks.” Until the end of the war, the Gurian squad fought bravely and with its courage and valor earned the respect of the Russian soldiers. As Kolyubakin wrote, the Russian soldiers and officers "paid tribute to the selfless courage of the Gurian squad, which these days, like our light infantry and as a friend more or less with the terrain, was always ahead and carried the brunt of the battle on their shoulders."
Having captured the heights of Mukha Estate, the Russian troops continued their movement and took another enemy fortified point on the way to Batum - Khutsuban Heights. In May, the detachment forced the Kinsrishi River, took Table Mountain and the height of Sameba with a quick attack. After that, the offensive stopped due to heavy rains, lack of food and other supplies. Meanwhile, the Turkish command, taking advantage of the opportunity to transfer troops by sea, significantly strengthened the garrison of Batumi Sandzak. New regular troops were deployed to the area. Irregular units were formed from the local Muslim population. The Adzharians, in order to go to war, took wives and children hostage. As a result, Dervish Pasha was able to form several irregular units. As General Oklobzhio, commander of the troops of the Rioni Territory, noted: “At the very time when we were pleasing ourselves with pleasant hopes of success, it (the Turkish command — AS) took vigorous measures to incite discontent and hostility towards us in its border dwellers.”
In May 1877, the Turkish fleet landed troops in Sukhum and Ochemchir. The commander of the Russian Sukhumi detachment, General Kravchenko, did not show any will for resistance and left Sukhum without a fight, the Russians left for the mountains and entrenched in Olginskaya. This position allowed to confront the advancing enemy and take retaliatory actions. To aid the Sukhumi detachment, a detachment of General Alkhazov, from the Rion detachment, was moved by a forced march. But Kravchenko did not wait for help and, fearing the advance of the enemy, retreated from Olginskaya to the left bank of the r. Codor As a result, by June 1877, the entire Black Sea coast from Ochemchir to Adler was in the hands of the Ottomans. The Turks took half of Abkhazia, more than three months they ruled there, plundering and burning villages. Only in August, having received reinforcements, did Russian troops drive the Turks out of Abkhazia.
With the appearance of enemy troops in Abkhazia, in order to protect the rear of the Rion detachment (it was named Kobuleti), fresh troops were sent to the valley of Rion. Russian troops had to overcome the last frontier at Batum - the strengthening of Tsikhisdziri. But here our troops suffered a failure. Dervish Pasha was able to concentrate 30-thousand. Corps, which took advantageous position on the heights. 11 (23) June, the Russians after the shelling went on the attack and after the 14-hour-long battle, took up the front lines of the enemy. But the command could not provide a clear interaction of the parts, as a result, the operation did not end in victory. Russian troops lost to 500 people killed and wounded. Dervish Pasha, seeing the small number of Russians, launched a counteroffensive. The Russians had to retreat to Mukha-Statata.
Thus, the Kobuleti detachment could not fulfill the main task - to take Batum. Difficult natural conditions, insufficient troops and command errors prevented. However, the offensive of the coastal detachment drew off considerable forces of the Turkish army. In September, the Turkish Batumi Corps already numbered about 40 bayonets and sabers.
Summary of the first stage of the battle for the Caucasus
In the first months of the war on the Caucasian front, the Russian army achieved notable successes: Ardahan and Bayazet were taken, Kars was besieged, our troops reached the Saganlug and Dram-Dag mountain ranges. The Turkish army was defeated in several battles and suffered heavy losses. Turkish troops in Anatolia were bound by the outbreak of the battle in the Caucasus. This created favorable conditions for the advance of the main Russian army on the Balkan front. The Russian army showed good fighting qualities, our infantry, artillery and cavalry outnumbered the enemy. Russian fighters showed high morale. The local population, especially Armenians and Georgians, saw the Russian liberators from Ottoman oppression, which they could help.
However, the first successes of the spring-summer offensive were not developed and consolidated due to the mistakes of the high command in the person of the Commander-in-Chief of the Caucasian Army, Grand Duke Mikhail Nikolayevich and the commander of the current corps Loris-Melikov. Also, a number of gross mistakes were made by some generals (in particular, Geiman from Zivin). The Russian command was mistaken in the size of the enemy, exaggerating its strength, dispersed forces, carried away by the siege of fortresses, to the detriment of the development of the offensive and the destruction of enemy manpower. As a result, the Russian troops could not launch a swift offensive "in Suvorov", destroy the still weak and demoralized Mukhtar Pasha army by the first defeats and immediately take Kars and Erzerum, which would ensure the Russian army from the attacks of the new Turkish formations. The sluggishness and indecision of the Russian command gave the Ottomans time to form a strike group of troops, allowed the Russian offensive to be repulsed and the counteroffensive launched. As a result, the failure at Zivin led to the termination of the siege of Kars and the withdrawal of Russian troops to the border in order to wait for the arrival of reinforcements from the depths of Russia. Loris-Melikov wrote to the commander-in-chief of the Caucasian army: “The war in the local theater takes a serious turn, which, if it is neglected, is very responsive to the strength of our sovereignty in the Caucasus”.
Thus, due to the mistakes of the high command, the spring-summer offensive of the Russian army did not lead to victory. Vast occupied territories (except for Ardagan and Mukh-Estat positions) were left by our troops. The Caucasian army went over to the defense. Enemy troops reached the Russian border. By the end of June, 1877, the main forces of the acting corps covered the Alexandropol direction, the Erivan detachment retired to the Erivan province. The main forces of the Turkish army, coming out of the Kars region, occupied the Aladzhinsk heights. Both sides, having no clear advantage in numbers, strengthened the defenses and pulled up reinforcements, preparing for new battles.