The lands of the Lower Danube were conquered by the Ottoman Empire at the end of the 15th century. The Ottoman Empire, which had conquered almost all the Black Sea lands by that time, needed to create its strongholds in the conquered lands. One of these points was the fortress of Ishmael, the first mention of which relates to 1590-1592. Although in fact the fortress was probably founded somewhat earlier. Gradually, Ishmael grew into a small town, and in 1761, there was even established the department of the Metropolitan of Brailowa, who ruled the Orthodox churches in the Danube possessions of the Ottoman Empire.
The strategically important position of Ishmael explains the increased attention to this fortress by the Russian troops during almost all Russian-Turkish wars of the XVIII-XIX centuries. The first time Ishmael was taken by Russian troops under the command of Lieutenant-General Nikolai Repnin 5 August (26 July old style) 1770 of the year. But after the end of the war, under the terms of the Kyuchuk-Kaynardzhskogo peace treaty, the fortress of Izmail was again returned to the jurisdiction of the Ottoman Empire.
Peace between the Russian and Ottoman empires, however, did not last long. Already thirteen years after the end of the Russian-Turkish war 1768-1774. a new war has begun. The Ottoman Empire was extremely unhappy with the terms of the Kyuchuk-Kaynardzhi peace treaty, under which the most important vassal of Ports - the Crimean Khanate - gained political independence and, therefore, could be influenced by Russia. The Ottoman authorities were very afraid of this, so they went for revenge, trying to re-ensure their dominance in the Black Sea region. The situation was aggravated by the fact that Georgia adopted the protectorate of the Russian Empire. Enlisting the support of Britain and France, the Ottoman Empire in 1787 put an ultimatum to Russia to restore the vassalage of the Crimean Khanate to Porte and abandon the protectorate of Georgia, as well as agree on inspections of Russian ships following through the Bosporus and Dardanelles. Naturally, Russia could not satisfy the requirements of the Ottoman Empire.
13 (24) August 1787, the next Russian-Turkish war began. Like previous wars from the Ottoman Empire, it had the character of both sea and land. To strike the Turkish positions in the spring of 1788, two powerful armies were created. The first, Yekaterinoslav, numbered about 80 thousands of soldiers and officers under the command of Grigory Potemkin. It was assigned the task of mastering Ochakov. The second, Ukrainian, numbering thousands of soldiers and officers in 37 under the command of Rumyantsev, set its sights on Bender. The eastern flanks were to be defended by troops of General Tekeli, numbering thousands of soldiers and officers in 18, who took up positions in the Kuban. However, despite the numerous forces involved in the fighting, the war became protracted. Since quite a lot has been written about the course of hostilities, let us proceed directly to the assault of Ishmael.
The capture of this strategically important fortress, Field Marshal Grigory Potemkin, who commanded the Russian army, commissioned the chief general Alexander Suvorov, one of the most talented Russian generals. 2 December 1790, General-in-Chief Suvorov arrived at the location of the units of the Southern Army that had approached Ishmael by that time, and immediately began preparing the assault on the fortress. As you know, Alexander Suvorov paid great attention to the combat training of troops. He also applied his approach in this case, knowing full well that it is better to spend time on well-prepared troops for the upcoming assault on the fortress than to suffer heavy losses during the assault because of the lack of training in the soldiers and the lack of coordination between the units.
In the vicinity of Izmail, Suvorov ordered the construction of earthen and wooden copies of the moat, shaft and walls of the Turkish fortress. After that, Suvorov began to prepare the troops. The soldiers were taught to cast a ditch, to set up the ladder as quickly as possible and to climb the fortress walls along them with lightning speed. The General-in-Chief personally inspected the exercises, observing the level of training of soldiers and officers. To prepare for the assault of Ishmael Suvorov spent six days. During this time, he not only prepared the personnel of the troops, but also personally drove along the fortress walls of Ishmael, making sure, to his chagrin, that the system of fortifications of the fortress had practically no flaws.
7 (18) December 1790, the general-general Suvorov sent the commandant of the fortress Ishmael an ultimatum in which he demanded to surrender the fortress within 24 hours after the presentation of the ultimatum. The Turkish Pasha indignantly rejected the ultimatum. After that, Suvorov began preparations for the direct assault. The date of the assault military council, collected by Suvorov, was appointed on December 11.
To carry out the assault, Suvorov divided his troops into three detachments, each of which, in turn, included three columns. The eastern part of the fortress was to be assaulted by the 12-thousandth detachment of Lieutenant-General A.N. Samoilov, the western part - the 7,5-thousandth detachment of Lieutenant-General P.S. Potemkin, and the river side was to take over the detachment of Major-General I. de Ribas numbering in 9 thousands of people. In total, more than 31 thousands of people, including about 15 thousands of irregular troops, were to take part in the Ishmael assault from the Russian side. Well aware that it was better to deliver the first strike in the dark, but to carry out the main assault already in the daytime, Suvorov decided to launch the assault around 5 in the morning.
The artillery preparation for the assault began on December 10 (21), 1790. From early morning the flank batteries of the Russian army and ship batteries of ships flotilla started shelling Ishmael. It lasted a day and stopped 2,5 hours before the Russian troops launched an assault on the fortress. On the night of December 11 (22), 1790, Russian troops left the camp and advanced towards Ishmael. The first convoy was the 2nd convoy commanded by Major General Boris Lassi. His units managed to force the shaft. The actions of the 1st column, commanded by Major General S.L., were also successful. Lviv His subordinates - the grenadiers and gunners - were able to capture the first Turkish batteries and take control of the Khotyn Gate. It was a real success.
The soldiers of Lvov opened the Khotyn gates, after which the Russian cavalry rushed into them. In turn, the column of Major General M.I. Kutuzov-Golenishcheva seized a bastion in the area of the Kiliya Gate, after which she established control over a large section of the fortress wall. It was more difficult for soldiers and officers from the 3 column, commanded by Major-General Fyodor Meknob. His soldiers stormed the northern bastion of the fortress, but the depth of the moat and the height of the shaft were very great in this area. The length of the stairs was not enough to overcome the bastion. I had to tie the stairs in twos. However, this difficult task was ultimately accomplished. Russian troops took the northern bastion of Ishmael.
At about 7 in the morning, the landing of a river detachment commanded by Major General Deribas began. Although the Russian paratroopers were opposed by more than 10 thousands of Ottoman warriors, the landing was also successful. Covering the landing was carried out by a column of General Lvov, which struck in the flank, as well as troops operating on the eastern approaches to the fortress. The Kherson huntsmen, commanded by Colonel Valerian Zubov, brother of Catherine II's favorite Platon Zubov, performed perfectly during the assault. No less successful were the actions of other units, in particular the battalion of Livonian rangers, commanded by Colonel Roger Damas, was able to capture the battery that controlled the coastline.
However, having broken into Ishmael, the Russian troops faced serious resistance from the Turkish-Tatar garrison. The Ottomans were not going to surrender without a fight. Almost every house was occupied by defending Turkish and Tatar askers. In the center of Ishmael, a detachment of the Crimean Tatar cavalry, commanded by Maxud Girey, entered the battle against the detachment of Major General Lassi. The battle between the Russian soldiers and the Tatars was fierce, from a detachment of Tatars numbering about 1 thousands of people, only 300 Askers remained alive. In the end, Maxud Girey was forced to surrender along with the remnants of his unit.
Realizing that street battles can lead to great human losses, the general-general Suvorov decided to use light artillery to neutralize Ishmael’s defenders. 20 light artillery guns were introduced into the fortress territory, which opened fire with canister on Turkish and Tatar soldiers still fighting in the streets of Izmail. Separate groups of Turks, however, even after an artillery bombardment, tried to keep separate, strongest buildings of Ishmael. Only by 14.00 did the Russian troops finally establish control over the center of the city, and two hours later the resistance of the last defenders of Ishmael was eliminated. Rare Turkish and Crimean Tatar warriors who survived surrendered.
The counting of losses demonstrated the full scale of the event included in history as the assault of Ishmael. As a result of the siege of the fortress and the fighting, more than 26 thousands of Turkish-Tatar soldiers were killed. More than 9 thousands of Turks were taken prisoner, of whom about 2 thousands died of injuries the next day, as it was not possible to provide medical assistance to such a large number of people. The corpses of the dead Turkish and Tatar soldiers were so numerous that the Russian command could not even ensure their burial. It was ordered to throw the enemy's corpses into the Danube, but even this measure allowed to cleanse the territory of Ishmael from the corpses only on the sixth day.
The 265 Turkish artillery guns, a huge amount of ammunition, auxiliary vessels - 12 ferries and 22 light vessels became trophies of the Russian army. Russian troops lost an incomparably smaller number of soldiers and officers than defenders of the fortress. 64 officer and 1816 lower ranks were killed, 253 officer and 2450 lower ranks were injured. Another 95 man killed and 278 man wounded lost the Russian fleet, who also participated in the assault of Ishmael.
Victory in Izmail has become a tremendous Russian success. weapons. Empress Catherine II generously rewarded Field Marshal Grigori Potemkin, who received the field marshal's uniform, diamond-studded and valued at 200 thousand rubles, and the Tauride Palace. The merits of General-in-Chief Alexander Suvorov were estimated, however, much less. He received a medal and the rank of lieutenant colonel of the Preobrazhensky regiment (recall that the titles of lieutenant colonels and colonels of the guard regiments were equal to the highest army general's ranks), although by that time there were already ten lieutenant colonels. Ishmael’s assault firmly entered Russian military and army folklore, many songs and legends were composed about him. He even more strengthened the authority in the army of General-in-Chief Suvorov, becoming yet another testimony to the commanding genius of the Russian general.
If we talk about the political consequences of the capture of Ishmael, they were also impressive. When in 1791-1792 between the Russian and Ottoman empires the Yassky peace was concluded, the Crimean Khanate finally fell to the Russian Empire. The border with the Ottoman Empire was established along the Dniester River. Thus, the entire Northern Black Sea region, the territory of the present-day southern Ukraine, the Crimea and the Kuban, became part of the Russian state. Of course, the Ottoman Empire was not going to abandon the revanchist plans, but a serious blow was dealt to its positions. However, Ishmael himself, for which the blood of Russian soldiers was shed, was returned to the Ottoman Empire by the Treaty of Iasi. Ishmael entered the Russian state only in the 1878 year, almost a century after his grand assault. Then, in 1918-1940, Ishmael, like the whole of Bessarabia, was part of Romania, and then — up to 1991 of the year — was part of the Ukrainian SSR.
Day of Military Glory in memory of the storming of Ishmael is of great importance for all. This is another reason to remember our ancestors, brave Russian warriors, who shed their blood for their homeland in all the numerous wars and battles.