Background and Reason
Russia and Turkey were historical opponents. The war was fought for supremacy in the Black Sea and surrounding areas, in the Caucasus and the Balkans. The once powerful Turkish empire quickly fell into decay in the second half of the XNUMXth and XNUMXth centuries, losing its former possessions in the Black Sea region, the Caucasus and the Balkan Peninsula. And for Russia, the natural desire was to return control of the Black (in the ancient times - Russian) sea, the struggle began back in the days of the predatory robber Crimean Khanate, which was a vassal of Turkey. Russia needed to return to it the previously owned Northern Black Sea coast - the mouths of the Don, Dnieper and Danube rivers. Then the struggle went for supremacy in the Caucasus and the Balkan Peninsula. It was a matter of military strategy and economic development. Russia had to solve the problem of the straits (Bosphorus and Dardanelles), Constantinople-Constantinople, to forever protect the southern strategic direction from a possible attack from the West and get a strategic bridgehead in the Mediterranean region. Morally, Russia supported the desire of Christian and Slavic peoples for freedom from the Ottoman yoke. Free access from the Black Sea to the Mediterranean improved the opportunities for the development of the economy - trade and industry.
In addition, the war between Russia and Turkey were part of the so-called. the big game, the millennial struggle of the West and Russian civilization. The great Western powers constantly set Turkey against Russia in order to hold back the movement of Russians in the Balkans, the Caucasus, and prevent them from reaching the Greater Middle East, the Persian Gulf and India. Their goal in the centuries-old confrontation is the dismemberment and complete destruction of Russia-Russia and the Russian people. The Turks constantly acted as "cannon fodder" by the masters of the West.
Directly war 1828 - 1829's. was caused by the struggle of the great powers for the division of the possessions of the Turkish empire, which quickly degraded and experienced a sharp internal crisis. At this moment the most acute manifestation of the crisis was the Greek question - the national-liberation uprising in Greece. The Greeks rebelled back in 1821 year. They were supported by France and England. Russia under Tsar Alexander I took a position of non-interference. Petersburg was under the influence of the ideas of the Holy Alliance on the principle of legitimacy, and did not want to raise the Balkan peoples against their "legitimate monarch". With the accession of Nicholas I, the position of St. Petersburg on the Greek issue began to change.
In the first year of his reign, Nicholas, together with London, tried to reconcile the Turks with the Greeks, but without success. The port did not want to give in, granting broad autonomy to the Greeks. True, the Ackermann Convention was concluded with Turkey in 1826. She basically reaffirmed the terms of the Bucharest peace treaty 1812 of the year. The port recognized the border on the Danube and the transition to Russia of Sukhum, Redut-kale and Anakriya. Turkey undertook within one and a half years to pay all claims of Russian nationals, to grant Russian nationals the right of unhindered trade throughout the Ottoman Empire, and to Russian merchant ships the right to free navigation in Turkish waters and along the Danube. The autonomy of the Danube principalities and Serbia was guaranteed, the rulers of Moldavia and Wallachia were to be appointed from the local boyars and could not be removed without the consent of Russia.
However, the Ottomans regarded the convention as a temporary concession and constantly violated it. In the 1827 year, after six years of unequal struggle, Greece could no longer resist. The Turks took Athens and drowned the country in blood. It was proposed even to solve the Greek question forever - through the destruction and relocation of the remnants of the Greek people. The terror was so terrible that Europe could not close its eyes to him. In addition, the Western great powers had their own plans for the future of Greece and Turkey. In June, the governments of Russia, Britain and France, which worked out a common course of action in the Greek question, sent Porte an ultimatum: to stop the atrocities and grant autonomy to Greece. But the Ottomans ignored this requirement, like many previous ones.
Then the allies sent the combined fleet to the shores of Greece (the Russian Baltic squadron of Count Heiden, the English squadron of Admiral Codrington and the French squadron of Admiral de Rigny) to exert military-diplomatic pressure on Porto. The combined Turkish-Egyptian fleet with Asian and African troops stood in the Bay of Navarino and was preparing to finish off the bleeding Greece. Admirals of the Allied fleet demanded that the Turks immediately cease hostilities. However, this ultimatum was not carried out by arrogant Ottomans. Then the allied fleet attacked the enemy and destroyed him in the Battle of Navarino on October 8, 1827. The Russian squadron played a decisive role in the battle - most of the enemy ships were destroyed by the Russians.
From a military point of view, this battle was useful to Russia - the Turkish Empire lost a significant part of the naval forces before the war, which facilitated the future victory of the Russian armed forces. The remnants of the Turkish fleet defended the Bosphorus and could not be active in the Black Sea. On the other hand, Navarin led to a surge of Russophobia in Turkey. In December 1827, Sultan Mahmoud II announced the annulment of the Akkerman Convention. The port declared itself free from agreements with Russia and expelled the Russian subjects from their possessions. Turkey offered Persia to continue the war with Russia (1826 - 1828 war) and banned Russian ships from entering the Bosphorus. As a result, the Ottoman Sultan proclaimed a holy war against Russia. The Turks hastily strengthened the Danube fortress.
Tsar Nicholas offered Britain and France to jointly oppose Turkey. However, not seeing the benefits of such a war, and rejoicing in the new war of the Russians against the Turks, England chose to stay away. France also supported the Greek uprising, sending troops to gain a foothold in the Balkans.
Navarin battle. I.K. Aivazovsky
Forces of the parties. Plans
For the march on the Danube, three infantry corps were allocated - General X. RUMNZEVICH's 3 Corps, General Roth's 6 Corps, General Voinov's 7 Corps, General Borozdin's 4 Cavalry Corps. Total 7 infantry and 3 cavalry divisions - about 100 thousand people with 396 guns. To replenish the troops in the Ukraine formed a reserve army.
Commander-in-Chief was appointed Field Marshal Prince Peter Khristianovich Wittgenstein. In the 1812 World War II, he was the commander of a separate corps in the St. Petersburg sector. Acting apart from the main Russian army, he managed to win a number of victories over the Napoleonic marshals. In April — May, 1813, the commander-in-chief of the Russian-Prussian army in Germany. In the Caucasus, was supposed to attack 25-thousand. Separate Caucasian corps under the command of General I. F. Paskevich. Corps Paskevich received the task to take the Karsky and Akhaltsikhsky pashalyki
The Danube army was tasked to occupy Moldavia, Wallachia and Dobrudzhu, as well as to capture Shumla and Varna. Then go beyond the Balkan Range to Adrianople, and from there threaten Constantinople. In this case, the final defeat of the Turkish Empire in St. Petersburg was not planned. There they were not going to raise the Balkan Christian and Slavic peoples against their "legitimate" Turkish monarch, and to establish Russia's strategic domination on the peninsula. This could annoy the Western "partners." The basis for the actions of the Danube army was Bessarabia, since the principalities of Moldavia and Wallachia were devastated by the Turks and suffered a drought on 1827 of the year. In this case, the Danube principalities planned to take to restore order in them and protect against enemy invasion, as well as to ensure the right wing of the army in case of intervention by Austria.
Sultan Mahmud II, who pursued a policy of reforming the country on the European model, and spoiled by the condescension of the great European powers, confident in the intercession of Austria and England (who were most concerned about the success of Russia in the region), until the end thought that St. Petersburg would be limited to threats and a big war will not be. The armed forces of Turkey were extremely weak at that time. The fleet was destroyed in the Battle of Navarino, its remnants defended the straits and could not support the coastal flanks of the army. In 1826, the Sultan dispersed the famous Janissary Corps, an elite unit of the Turkish army. The restless janissaries were replaced with a new guard corps (“The victorious army of Mohammed”). As a result, at the time of the war with Russia, Turkey did not have an experienced army, even if it was as badly disciplined as the Janissaries. Thus, the Sultan strengthened his power - by destroying the rebel janissaries, but weakened the army - depriving it of the most efficient core. Sultan hastily created a new regular army, on the European model, for its organization and training, he invited European instructors. But by the beginning of the war only the first steps were taken. By the beginning of the war, the Turkish army numbered up to 200 thousand people - 150 thousand on the Danube and 50 thousand in the Caucasus. Of this amount, only a third could be considered regular. That is, the combat capability of the Turkish army was low. The Ottomans could only rely on their strong fortresses, that the enemy would get bogged down during their siege and would be forced to make peace.
In April, the Russian army concentrated in Bessarabia, except for the cavalry corps, which was expected in May. To strengthen the Danube army allocated Guards Corps, but he could go to the Danube not earlier than August. Nicholas, who was in the army, ordered an offensive to begin. The 6 Corps was to occupy the Danube principalities, the 7 Corps was to take Brailov, the strongest Turkish fortress, and the 3 Corps (the strongest of all) to force the Lower Danube and attack in Dobrudja. As a result, the rather small Russian army dispersed its forces over a large area.
25 - 26 April 1828 of the Year The 6 Corps of Roth, crossing Prut u Skulyan, with a lightning march (soldiers passed 60 miles) moved to Bucharest, which was occupied by 30 April. For five days, Russian troops occupied Moldova and Wallachia, on May 9, our avant-garde took Craiova. The 7 Corps forced the Prut into the Falchi area and in the middle of May besieged Brailov. The leadership of the siege assumed the Grand Duke Mikhail Pavlovich. Hurrying to quickly end the enemy fortress and join the main forces on the Lower Danube, he stormed on June 3. The Turks repelled him, but after that Machin’s surrender followed, then the commandant of Brailov, seeing himself cut off and deprived of hope for help, 7 June capitulated. Our assault losses are more than 2700 people. The Turks lost about 4 thousand people during the assault, 8 thousand people surrendered with 273 guns.
Meanwhile, the 3 Corps, with the support of the Danube Flotilla, forced the Danube 27 in May from Satunov (near Izmail), captured Isaccea and occupied all of Northern Dobrudja. After the allocation of garrisons in the main building there are only 20 thousand fighters. Ahead was strongly fortified Varna, and on the flank - Shumla, where the Turkish army gathered. It was dangerous to attack with such small forces. Therefore, further movement was stopped before the arrival of the 7 corps from Brailov. In addition, to strengthen the Danube army from the Ukraine, 2 Corps of Prince Shcherbatov was put forward as part of 2 infantry and 2 hussar divisions (30 thousand).
With the addition of the 7 Corps, the Danube Army (3 and 7 Infantry, 4 Cavalry Corps, about 40 thousand) 24 June marched on Bazardzhik and, having occupied it, June 28 sent vanguards to Kozluja and Varna. The advanced forces faced large enemy forces and had heavy battles with them. The main forces of the army were rather small, Wittgenstein continued to disperse forces for the blockade of fortresses and barriers; it was impossible to count on the assistance of the fleet still standing at Anapa. Therefore, making sure that without a siege artillery to take a strong fortress is impossible, it was decided to abandon the attack of Varna. The Russian commander-in-chief decided to send the main forces of the army against Shumla, where the main forces of the Turkish army were Hussein Pasha (40 thousand people), intending to lure the enemy into the field and smash him. At the same time, a large part of General Roth's 6 Corps, which was ordered to besiege Silistra, was transferred to the Danube. In Wallachia, part of the 6 Corps was left - a weakened division of Geismar.
Meanwhile, the Black Sea Fleet of Admiral Greig with the landing of Prince Menshikov 28 June took Anapa. Menshikov had 6200 people with 20 guns (not counting naval artillery). About 4 thousand people and 70 guns were captured in the fortress. In the Caucasus, the Russian troops 14 (26) in June crossed the border. Paskevich with 8-th. the detachment attacked the strategic fortress of Kars with 11-thousand. garrison and 23 June (5 July) forced her to surrender. Paskevich 23 July took Akhalkalaki fortress, and in early August, he approached Akhaltsikhe, which soon capitulated. Then the fortresses Atzhur and Ardagan surrendered without resistance. At the same time, separate Russian detachments took Poti and Bayazet, while the Armenian volunteer detachment operating as part of the Russian army liberated Jadin. Thus, in the Caucasus, Russian troops successfully attacked, taking one enemy fortress after another.
Shumla was surrounded, but the assault was postponed until the reinforcements arrived. The Turks did not leave the fortifications, and Wittgenstein did not dare to attack the fortress. In the meantime, the Turkish cavalry and irregular units made constant attacks of our communications and rears, achieving their complete frustration. At the end of July, our army (35 thousand against 40 thousand Turks) was itself partially surrounded, as Turkish troops acted in its rear and flanks. The lack of fodder caused a massive loss of horses, two thirds of the cavalry had to hurry. Fever and typhoid mowed down the army better than the enemy. The emboldened Turks counter-attacked twice in August, but were repelled. Wittgenstein wanted to lift the siege, but Tsar Nicholas did not allow it.
In other areas of the case were also bad. At the end of June, the Black Sea Fleet approached Varna, landing troops. The chief of the landing troops, Prince Alexander Menshikov, having annexed Ushakov’s detachment, began siege operations in early August. But the Turkish garrison was three times superior to the siege corps of Menshikov (10 thousand people with 47 guns). Under Silistria, the detachment of General Roth (9 thousand people with 28 guns) could not completely surround the Turkish fortress. The garrison of Silistra (20 thousand people) was constantly reinforced by reinforcements from Rushchuk. General Kornilov, who was observing Zhurzh, was supposed to fight off attacks from there and from Rushchuk, where the enemy forces also increased. The weak detachment of General Geismar (about 6 thousand), although he held his position between Calafat and Craiova, but could not prevent the Turkish troops from invading the north-western part of Minor Wallachia. The Turkish command, concentrating more than 25 thousand people at Viddin and Calafat, strengthened the garrisons of Rakhov and Nikopol.
Thus, by the end of the summer, the situation in the Balkan theater of war was very unfavorable for the Russians. The Turks everywhere had the advantage in forces, the strong blow of the Ottomans from Shumla to Silistria could put our army in a critical position. But, fortunately for the Russian army, the Turkish command was weak and could not conduct such an operation, and the quality of the Turkish troops was unsatisfactory.
Soon the Russian army received reinforcements. In mid-August, the Guards Corps began to approach the Lower Danube, followed by the 2 Infantry. The guards were moved to Varna and the number of siege corps grew to 32 thousand people with 170 guns, and the 2 body under Silistra, and the Roth detachment was ordered to go from Silistra to Shumla, where the main forces of the Russian army were in a dangerous position. For the deblokade of Varna, the Vizier sent an 30-thousand corps of Omer-Vrione, but his offensive was not successful, and Varna gave up the 29 of September. In Varna, they took about 7 thousand prisoners and 140 guns. Omer's corps retreated.
Taking Varna, the 1828 campaign of the year is over. Guard sent back to Russia. The main forces of the Danube army in early October began to move away from Shumla to winter apartments in a busy part of the country. This retreat nearly became a disaster. The Turkish cavalry relentlessly pursued our troops, and we did not have cavalry (she was in a hurry) to repel enemy attacks. The 3 corps, after a hard battle, was forced to abandon all its wagons. The situation under Silistria was no better. The 2 Corps, having no siege artillery, could not take the fortress. When siege artillery arrived in late October, it turned out that there were very few shells. They only lasted for two days of bombing. The siege of Silistria at the end of October also had to be lifted. Only in Wallachia was success. There, General Geismar of September 14 with 4 thousand soldiers with 14 guns broke 26-thousand Turkish corps near the village of Boelesti and put an end to enemy invasions.
Thus, the 1828 campaign of the year was unsatisfactory for the Russian army. In the Caucasus, the corps of Paskevich took the most important advanced enemy fortresses. But in the main Balkan theater of military operations the Russian army did not achieve decisive success, the war was delayed. This was due to planning errors — the campaign was started with obviously insufficient forces, only three corps, without a second echelon and reserves, which could be immediately put into battle, developing the first successes. In this case, these insufficient forces Wittgenstein sprayed, reduced the campaign to the simultaneous siege of three fortresses, to the allocation of individual units for barriers and observation of the enemy in other directions. This led to scattering, dispersion of forces, in the place of one decisive blow and loss of time. Of the three main sieges, only one was brought to the end (Varna), the other two almost led to a catastrophe.
Siege of the Turkish Fortress Varna