The defeat of the Turks at Kinburn 1 October 1787 of the year (by artist Kazakov)
The dream of not being young, having seen many things in his time and high post, His Sultan Majesty Abdul-Hamid I was disturbed by various thoughts and visions. Numerous courtiers tirelessly wove their intrigues, foreign ambassadors conducted their intricate, not entirely fair games, the Janissaries grumbled angrily in the barracks - the state of finances (as well as everything else in the empire) left much to be desired, and the Sultan Guard felt the unhappy burden for a long time " wage arrears.
There were also neighbors, the largest of which was a problem of the same colossal size. He was called Russia, and heavy thoughts about the enemies from the north made the quiet and God-fearing sultan nervous. He recalled how quite recently the cunning, clever and impudent empress Catherine simply took away from the Ottoman Empire the Crimean Khanate, which for many centuries was not only an almost devoted vassal in the Northern Black Sea region, but also an excellent military beachhead, an unsinkable frigate of Turkish military policy. In 1783, the Russians turned everything so that Khan Shagin-Giray was forced to abdicate. Abdul-Hamid's subjects cast out curses and demanded to punish the infidels, but, alas, the empire was not ready for war with Russia.
Now the Port has gathered strength; its good friends from Europe have sent money, instructors and engineers — Russians cannot resist. The main blow to the recommendations of advisers, kindly provided by Louis XVI, should be inflicted on Kherson, this insignificant village, where the Russians are trying to build their pathetic little ships. But before that it was necessary to take Kil-breaker, the fortress of the infidels, which once belonged to them, the Ottomans. And Abdul Hamid finally fell asleep.
Crimean peninsula and war
The very fact of the existence of such a state formation as the Crimean Khanate was the source of the unceasing headache of the Moscow tsars, and later the emperors and empresses in St. Petersburg. For a long time there was no way to heal this grave and painful migraine. The path to the Crimean Khanate passed through the vast expanses of the Wild Steppe, where, weighted by carts with artillery, slowly creeping, the army becomes a suitable target for maneuverable and ferocious Tatar cavalry. And then the attackers met a perekop convenient for defense. There were, of course, other, less bloody, but more sophisticated ways of dealing with the Crimean Khanate: subtle eastern diplomacy, well, and the gift system, which often yielded more results than military-style events. So difficult, and at times very difficult, Russia and its restless neighbor located on a convenient peninsula existed until the second half of the XVIII century.
After the successful completion of the first Russian-Turkish war in the reign of Catherine II, according to the terms of the Kyuchuk-Kaynardzhsky peace treaty, the Crimean Khanate gained formal independence from the Ottoman Porte. However, this treaty created a kind of precedent - for the Tatars, the sultan remained the spiritual leader, the influence of the Ottoman Empire was still enormous. And such phenomena were difficult to get along with the fact of independence of the Khanate. On the other side of the scale was the location of the Russian troops on the peninsula and the increasing involvement of the Khanate in the orbit of Russian policy. As often happens, part of the political elite decided to adapt to the changed circumstances and began to focus on St. Petersburg - as opposed to opponents who remained adherents of Turkey.
Shagin Giray, the last Crimean Khan
In the acute conflict that broke out, which had all the features of a compact but brutal civil war, with the direct support of Russia, Shagin-Girey, the last ruler of Crimea, entered the throne. This man was brilliantly educated, had extensive knowledge in many areas of science, but did not take into account local traditions and customs. Opposition Shagin-Girey was numerous and had not only a loud voice, but also sharp swords. Khan's power was maintained exclusively by Russian forces on the peninsula. Caught in a quandary, the khan nevertheless did not cease to get involved in political games, regularly probing the situation in Istanbul. But, as you know, an attempt to hoist the mortal body into two chairs at once, sooner or later ends with a fall on the sinful earth. Even Shagin-Giray, who was gifted with talents, could not be a friend of both empires, and in January 1783 he abdicated the throne. Already in April of the same year, Catherine II issued a manifesto on the inclusion of the Crimea into the Russian Empire, almost lightning in terms of the informationally slow times.
This foreign policy step generated a real hurricane in Istanbul. Public opinion, not without the help of foreign friends, appealed to the high throne of Sultan Abdul-Hamid, demanding "return Crimea." It was necessary to do something, but the state treasury, already almost constantly showing the bottom, this time even more convincingly gaped voids and holes, and it was decided to abandon the war with the treacherous Russians. A large role was played in a timely manner by the Russian ambassador in Istanbul, Yakov Ivanovich Bulgakov, of massive “rewarding” of the necessary officials. However, people are smart, not devoid of imagination and ability to analyze, in both capitals it is quite sensible in narrow circles that a new war between empires is a matter of years to come.
Strengthening the boundaries
Measures to increase the defense capability of the southern borders of the empire began shortly after the conclusion of the Kuchuk-Kainardzhi peace. In 1778, a fortress and a shipyard were founded on the Dnieper, which became the city of Kherson. The very next, in 1779, the construction of the first 66-gun battleship “Glory to Catherine” began there. In May 1783, Russian ships entered the Akhtiar Bay in Crimea, where the construction of coastal batteries, barracks, and warehouses began. Soon this place will become the main base of the Black Sea fleet - the city of Sevastopol.
Catherine made far-reaching plans, a vivid illustration of which was the fact that the next grandson, born in the spring of 1779, was solemnly and meaningfully called Constantine. The Empress, not without reason, believed that all Russian politics in the Black Sea was shackled by one annoying circumstance: control over the notorious straits, the Bosporus and the Dardanelles, is in alien and hostile hands. It was necessary to correct it, and she tried to the best of her autocratic forces.
In addition to ships and soldiers, Russia, according to the Grand Duchess, needed allies. The eyes of St. Petersburg again turned to Austria, which was famous for its variability, for it was Vienna that was even an older enemy of the Ottoman Empire. In 1780, the first meeting of Catherine and Emperor Joseph II took place in Mogilev. Later, he secretly arrived in Moscow, where an alliance was concluded between the two states. For reasons of secrecy, and also because of the complexity of the protocol nature (neither the emperor of the Holy Roman Empire nor the empress of the Russian Empire wanted to sign the second), this agreement was not formalized in writing - the parties simply exchanged documents of identical content.
The union had an anti-Turkish character, and Catherine hoped to use it widely in the coming war. At the beginning of 1787, the empress left St. Petersburg and went to the south of her state - to get acquainted with the fruits of the hard work of the manager of these places, the brilliant organizer and administrator, and her favorite, Prince Grigory Alexandrovich Potemkin. An impressive size, pomp and equipment, the motorcade moved first to Kiev, where Catherine rather coolly met Polish King Stanislav Ponyatovsky, who had gone out of fashion, and after melting the ice, she set off on a journey along the Dnieper.
Imperial galleys sailing from Kiev along the Dnieper (from the picture of the artist Hatfield)
In the area of Kanev, Emperor Joseph II ascended to her gallery “Dnepr”, then the monarchs continued to travel together. To the great chagrin of Ponyatovsky, they did not take him on a trip. Throughout the route, which received the speaking name “Path to Benefit”, Catherine conducted inspections for troops, garrisons, and later for the young Black Sea Fleet. Despite the obvious percentage of traditional pretense and decoration, the amount of work done under the leadership of Prince Potemkin and his team impressed not only the empress, who was not sentimental, but also ambassadors of various "Western partners." On the road, there were not only banquets and other entertainment events, but many important decisions were finalized and made. Among them is the appointment of the general anshef Alexander Vasilyevich Suvorov, who soon followed, to command the defense of the Dnepro-Bugsky estuary, the core of which was Kinburn fortress.
The key to Kherson
It cannot be said that such a large-scale event as the trip of the Russian Empress to the south was indifferent in Istanbul, thirsting for revenge. Resentment from the loss of Crimea did not evaporate. Numerous envoys and simply good people in wigs tirelessly whispered the right advice and pointed out directions, even lent money, that for the Ottoman Empire it was already an ordinary pre-war, and not only, procedure.
In July, 1787, pleased with what she saw, Empress Catherine returned to St. Petersburg. And already on August 5, the Grand Vizier Yusuf-Koca summoned to him for the “kind” conversation of the Russian ambassador Bulgakov. The conversation did not come up from the very beginning - without long introductions, the Vizier presented an ultimatum to the Russian side: turn out to be Porto in favor of the Crimea, cancel all previous Russian-Turkish agreements as incorrect and also renounce the patronage provided to Georgia. The ambassador did not have time to formulate an appropriate response to such inappropriate and irrepressible proposals, as Sultan Abdul-Hamid I was arrested and taken to the Seven Turrets Castle - 12 August 1787, declared war against Russia.
20 August thundered the first shots. Turkish ships attacked a Russian frigate and a boat that were stationed in the Dnepro-Bugsky estuary waiting for the newly built in Kherson and not armed with the battleship Vladimir and the frigate Alexander to escort them to Sevastopol. The frigate "Fast" and the bot "Bityuga" managed to fight off and hide in Kherson. In St. Petersburg, the beginning of the war with Turkey became known only at the end of August, when the fighting was already in full swing.
The Turks developed a war plan with the active assistance of French officers, who were in abundance in the service of the Sultan. At the first stage, the primary task of the Ottoman armed forces was the destruction of shipyards in Kherson and at the same time the ships under construction there. Neutralizing the Russian shipbuilding facilities in this way, it was supposed to land a large landing force in the Crimea, where, according to Istanbul strategists, they would be welcomed as liberators. Further, success must be developed by the invasion of the southern provinces of Russia by Moldova and the Crimea.
The Ottomans were aware of the unsatisfactory condition of the fortifications of Kherson and that the approaches to the main Russian shipbuilding center were guarded by the Kinburn fortress. Kinburn, or, as the Turks called it, Kil-Burun was founded as a fortification in the 16th century. By the end of the 17th century, it was a fortress surrounded by an earthen rampart and having a permanent small garrison. During the Russian-Turkish war that occurred during the reign of Empress Anna Ioannovna, Russian troops under the command of General Leontyev seized this fortress and destroyed it. Subsequently, the Turks again restored fortifications and placed a garrison here.
Alexander Vasilyevich Suvorov
After the 1768 – 1774 war, according to the Kyuchuk-Kaynardzhiy treaty, Kil-breaker retreated to Russia. The new owners found the fortifications of Kilburun, renamed for convenience in Kinburn, in a sad state. Fortification work here began shortly before the new war with the Ottoman Empire and was not shaky or shaky. The strongest impetus to this process was given by the appearance in this area of General-in-Chief Alexander Vasilyevich Suvorov. After Catherine's departure to the capital, Suvorov accompanied Prince Potemkin on his trip to the estate located on the border with Poland, at the same time, the conspiracy general received a new appointment. He became responsible for the defense of Kherson and the Dnieper-Bug estuary basin - the main goal was to prevent the Turks from breaking through to Kherson.
In early August, 1787, the city of Suvorov, after examining Kherson, arrived at the Kinburn fortress and gave the order to immediately force construction work. The fortress was an irregular quadrilateral, which had corners in place of the bastions of the battery. The fortifications were predominantly earthen, the moat of the fortress was dry. These fortifications were put in order and additionally strengthened by dug wolf holes, thorn branches were poured into the ditch. Yet neither Potemkin nor Suvorov considered the Kinburn fortress sufficiently defensive.
To strengthen Kherson, additional fortifications were built: by the end of August, beginning of September, a 24-gun coastal battery was built in Glubokaya Pristan, five coastal batteries were erected near the city, providing crossfire at the mouth of the Dnieper. The ground forces available to Suvorov to protect the estuary of the Liman, in total, consisted of ten infantry regiments, two dragoon regiments, two light-conning and several Cossack regiments. Of these troops, by September 1787 in the Kinburn fortress and in the vicinity there were units of three infantry and two Cossack regiments.
Commander of this group was Major General Ivan G. von Rek, Suvorov's ally in the previous Russian-Turkish war of 1768 – 1774. The post of commandant of the fortress was occupied at that time by Colonel Yegor Andreyevich Tunzelman. In the fortress at the beginning of the war there were 19 copper and three dozen cast-iron tools. In addition, Suvorov could count on operational support from the Liman flotilla under the command of Rear Admiral Nikolai Semenovich Mordvinov.
Estuary on fire
As often happens, the war, for which they were preparing for a long and fairly thoroughly, still began unexpectedly. There was no clear plan for the conduct of hostilities among the Most Serene Prince Potemkin, or surrounded by the Empress herself. The greatest concern was caused by the Crimea, which was very vulnerable to enemy landings, given the superiority of the Turkish fleet.
The commander of the Sevastopol squadron, Rear Admiral Count Voinovich was ordered to go to sea in search of the enemy, indicating to attack when detected, regardless of the circumstances. The enterprise ended pitifully: on September 8, at Cape Kaliakria, Russian ships got into a violent storm that lasted several days. As a result, almost all participants of the campaign received serious damage. The frigate "Crimea" went missing, and the 66-gun ship of the line "Mary Magdalene" left without masts was assigned to the Bosphorus and captured by the Turks there.
The Turkish fleet dominated the sea and was engaged in an intensive redeployment of troops to the main stronghold of the Ottoman Empire in the Northern Black Sea Region - Ochakov. From the Kinburn fortress located on the spit, they vigilantly observed the enemy’s military preparations - it was obvious how something was being planned - and it was precisely the landing operation that was planned. In the pre-dawn 1 of September, several boats approached the spit, which allegedly contained up to a hundred Turks. Cossack picket, being on the lookout, called out the newcomers, who responded in broken Russian. Realizing that they were discovered, the Ottomans pushed off from the coast, without attempting to land. Apparently, it was a reconnaissance operation to catch the "language".
Major-General von Reck had some information about the events taking place on the enemy side of the estuary, because from there the defectors from among the Greeks regularly appeared. From the beginning of September, increased activity and an increase in the number of Turkish ships began to be observed on Ochakov’s roadstead. And soon the Turks decided to try the strength of the Kinburn fortress.
On September 12, several Greeks moved from Ochakov to the Russians, reporting that the Turks were preparing something serious. About this event, Major General von Reck reported immediately to Suvorov in Kherson. 13 numbers from the side of Ochakov to the spit came ten Turkish gunboats and one bombing ship, which were not slow to open fire on Russian fortifications. The garrison’s losses were five killed and four wounded. The response of the fortress artillery fire damaged several Turkish ships. The shelling lasted all day.
On the same night, from 13 to 14 in September, a group of several dozen Turks, under the leadership of the French engineer Andre-Joseph Lafitta-Clave, made a covert landing on the tip of the spit. Apparently, the Frenchman who was in the Turkish service since 1783, carried out measurements for the future landing. To divert attention from the Lafitta-Clave group, a detachment of Turks up to 700 people attempted a demonstration landing a few kilometers from the fortress closer to Kherson. Caught in time by the patrol Cossacks, the boats with the enemy soldiers were driven off first by rifle fire, and then by firing from the 3-pound field gun sent here. The Lafitta-Clave group, having stayed on the spit before dawn, successfully returned to Ochakov. Having received the von River dispatch, Suvorov hurried to the Kinburn fortress. It was obvious that the enemy would take much more decisive steps in the near future.
On September 14, the full commander arrived at Kinburn fortress in the midst of another enemy bombardment - Turkish ships again approached the distance of the shot and fired continuous fire during the day, causing some damage to the fortifications.
On September 15, a ship detachment from the Liman flotilla arrived in the spit area, which was sent here at the request of Suvorov. In its composition were the frigates Skory and Kherson, the Bityug bot, and four galleys under the command of the captain of the 2 rank Obolyaninov, whom the naval leadership ordered to act as carefully as possible and not to get involved in the battle without extreme need. On the same day, the Turkish fleet in the amount of several dozen pennants again approached the fortress and opened fire. Obolyaninov's detachment arrived from Naked Pier, was kept at a considerable distance. Except one galleys.
This galley, called Desna, was directly involved in the journey of Catherine II to the south, acting as a floating restaurant. With the arrival in the estuary, the Desna returned to a military activity that was more familiar to her. Commander of this ship was midshipman Giuliano de Lombard, a Maltese by birth, who entered the Russian service in 1787. Seeing the Turkish fleet approaching the fortress, Lombard ordered the personnel to leave the deck (the crew of the galleys were the 120 man of the Tambov regiment) and at full speed, under sail, approached the Turkish squadron.
The enemy, quite rightly considered that the lonely Russian, without people on the deck, is a ship, moreover, it is rapidly approaching, nothing more than a brander. This caused concern to the Turks - they hurried to stop the shelling and rather quickly began to retreat to Ochakov. The soldiers of the Tambov regiment went up to the deck of the Desna and, together with a few ship artillery, of which the most serious barrel was a pood unicorn, opened fire on the enemy, intensifying the confusion even more. An incomparably greater number of enemies retreated, thanks to the resourcefulness of midshipman Lombard and the courage of his crew.
Suvorov, who was observing the course of the battle, was delighted with the Maltese's deed and then directly petitioned Potemkin to award Lombard. In his report, Rear Admiral Mordvinov, on the contrary, condemned the Commander of the Desna for excessive playfulness and violation of instructions. As for the Turks and their French advisers (in the person of officers and engineers), they were all pretty tired of the long-drawn-out view called “Kinburn Shelling”, and Istanbul clearly hinted at the time lost. Preparations for the amphibious operation were accelerated in every way.
In the following days of September, the Turks' interest in the fortress continued unabated: there were repeated attempts to land small groups ashore, but every time vigilant Cossack patrols prevented this. In addition to the warships on the roads of Ochakov, transports appeared that brought new troops and military supplies. On September 20, at the fortress, the Desna galleys carried out a night raid against the enemy ships at anchor, again bringing great confusion and turmoil into the enemy camp.
By the end of the month, the ship grouping of the Ottoman fleet at Ochakovo, according to preliminary estimates, consisted of 3 battleships, 6 frigates and, above 40, combat units of smaller ranks. According to defectors, somewhere nearby were still 4 battleship and several other ships. In addition, the Russian command was aware that a large enemy squadron had left Varna and, possibly, was moving in the direction of Ochakov. In the area of the spit, the situation was calm by the end of the month, and Suvorov even found time to go to the Naked Pier - to see Rear-Admiral Mordvinov, since the help of his flotilla would not be superfluous in reflecting the future possible assault.
However, Mordvinov sadly told Suvorov that the ships were not yet ready for battle, they were not fully staffed with men and weapons. In the near future, the fortresses had to rely only on the “power” of the few Desna artillery (the Obolyaninov detachment was also located in Naked Pier). General-in-Chief Suvorov returned to the fortress just in time. 1 October 1787 in 9 o'clock in the morning the enemy unit 500 in number of people on several boats attempted to land in the area of the village of Bienki, located 15 versts from the fortress up the estuary. It is noteworthy that this landing consisted mainly of former Cossacks, some of whom transferred to Turkish territory after the abolition of Zaporozhian Sich by Catherine II in 1775 year.
Major General von Reck, who arrived in person on the scene, with the Muromsky battalion and part of the cavalry, easily repelled this diversion. However, as it turned out, the landing at Bienki was nothing more than a diversion. While the landing of the Sultan Cossacks was reflected, the Ottoman fleet approached the tip of the spit (the fortress was at a distance of more than two versts), and with the help of the rowing boats began landing the main forces that were to directly attack Kinburn.
It was no longer a small detachment - the troops landed were more than 5 thousand people. In their composition were part and Ochakov garrison, and brought from other places. He commanded the operation Serben-Geshti-Eib-aga. He was actively helped by several French military engineers who were present there and then. The Turkish troops were mostly well-trained and combat-ready units. Ottoman fleet ships supported the Lyman: 3 battleships, 4 frigate, 4 bombing ships, 14 gunboats.
The Russian troops, since they were expecting attacks in different places, were “smeared” across the space of the Kinburn Spit throughout 36 miles. Directly in the fortress were Orlovsky and Shlisselburgsky regiments, two squadrons of Pavlograd and Mariupol light-regiments and three Cossack regiments. In the 9 versts, the Pokrovsky farm was in the position of the Kozlovsky regiment, in the 12 versts the rest of the Mariupol and Pavlograd light regiments were located. The St. Petersburg Dragoon Regiment (36 versts) is located most remotely from the scene. The Russian fleet was represented by the same Desna gallery.
Having landed, the Turks, under the leadership of French engineers, began to dig trenches across the spit, strengthening them with a parapet of sandbags, the bags being brought along with the paratroopers. Since the groundwater level was high, the trenches were shallow. In total 15 of such trenches were built. At the end of the spit in the water was built overpass, which was a palisade. On the left side of the trench was left a passage covered by slingshots.
While the Turks, not sparing themselves and shovels, were engaged in trenching operations, Suvorov was in worship at the garrison fortress. To the reports, the general-general replied: "Let everyone come out," and he observed complete peace of mind. At around 12 hours of the day the Turks performed a prayer, and around 3 hours they launched an attack on the fortress. The advance guard of the assault force approached the Russian positions at a distance of about 200 steps when serf artillery hit them, sweeping away the most impatient. After that, Suvorov withdrew his troops from the fortress for a counterattack. It was attended by units of the Shlisselburg and Orlovsky regiments.
The cavalry supported the infantry from the left flank. The 6 regimental guns were exposed to direct fire. In all, 1100 infantry came out of the fortress, about 500 cavalrymen and thousands of Cossacks. Kozlovsky regiment forced march moved from their positions to Kinburnu and entered the battle a little later.
Suvorov led the attack entrusted to him by the troops. The Turks resisted fiercely and stubbornly - orlovtsy, who marched in the first line, suffered particularly heavy losses. Despite the opposition of the enemy, the Russian infantry knocked out the enemy from ten trenches, but here the powerful Turkish fleet said its weighty word, having significantly supported the landing with its cannon fire. The ranks of the attackers were upset, many officers, including Major General von Reh, were injured. Suvorov ordered to retreat to the fortress - it was necessary to regroup the troops and wait for reinforcements hurrying to the rescue.
A. Kotzebue. The Battle of Kinburn 1 October 1787
Shlisselburg regiment covered the withdrawal, in the ranks of which was the commander. Then there was a case, known as the rescue of the grenadier Novikov, General-in-Chief Suvorov. Stepan Novikov "rushed one in thirty people," and led the other soldiers to the counter. At about 1 pm in the afternoon Suvorov's troops retreated to the fortress.
Wounded in the side with a canister, Suvorov was determined to once again attack the enemy. Firstly, he wanted to wait for reinforcements, secondly, the general expected that with the onset of twilight the intensity of the fire of the Turkish fleet would decrease. Meanwhile, the Commander of the Desna galley, a Lombard continued to deliver various troubles to the Turks, a few days earlier as lieutenant. He strongly attacked the left flank of the Turkish fleet, where gunboats were stationed, and forced several of them to leave their positions. 2 gunboats were sunk by serf artillery fire.
Medal for Kinburn
At around midnight 6, Suvorov launched a decisive attack on the enemy. In addition to the Orlovsky and Shlisselburgsky regiments, the battalion of the Muromsky regiment, squadrons of Pavlograd and Mariupol and Cossacks took part in it. During the battle came a few more cavalry squadrons. The infantry hit the forehead, the cavalry, making a detour through the shallow water, hit the Turks in the flank. The field artillery worked very effectively - with grape-shot for a short distance.
The Turks fiercely resisted, stubbornly, slowly, but still retreating to the end of the spit. When only half a verst remained before him, the Turkish soldiers went to the last counterattack, which was the most violent. Soon, however, the enemy’s resistance was broken, and around 8 hours of the evening the landing was finally dropped into the water. The survivors tried to escape by swimming to get to the ships - they were aimed at rifle fire.
In the Battle of Kinburn, the Russians lost two officers and the 136 lower ranks killed. 17 officers and about 300 privates were injured. Enemy casualties were an order of magnitude greater: approximately 600 people picked up rowing ships from the water, the rest either died or drowned. Russian prisoners did not take. Among the dead were found the bodies of two French engineers, who had found their death in thousands of leagues from France. By the way, Ekaterina, who did not complain about “political correctness”, wrote to Potemkin earlier that in the case of the capture of the French or other foreigners, they should immediately send them to Siberia, “in order to discourage them from learning the Turks”.
Kinburnskaya Victoria became the first Russian victory weapons in the 1787 – 1791 war of the year, the general-in-chief Suvorov was awarded the Order of St. Andrew. There was still a great glory ahead of him.