This campaign was part of the Second Anti-French Coalition War, which consisted of Britain, Austria, the Holy Roman Empire (its emperors were the Hapsburgs, who ruled in Austria), Russia, the Ottoman Empire, the Neapolitan Kingdom and Sweden against France. Russia formally waged a war with the aim of limiting the expansion of the sphere of influence of revolutionary France, in order to force France to peace, to return to former borders and restore lasting peace in Europe.
Prehistory The military-political situation in Europe
The French Revolution became an important event in stories Europe and caused a series of wars. Bourgeois England did not want France, in the person of France, to be a strong competitor who could unite around itself a significant part of Western Europe and defy the English project of the “new world order”. The British wanted to seize the French colonies, foreign resources and markets. Other great Western European powers - Austria and Prussia did not want to give up their positions. France was the traditional adversary of Austria. Therefore, at first Austria wanted to take advantage of the turmoil in France, an opportune moment for territorial seizures, political and economic concessions from Paris. When France launched an offensive, Austria fought for the preservation of its empire, for supremacy in Belgium, southern Germany and northern Italy. Other powers - Naples, Spain, Turkey - hoped to profit at the expense of a weakened great power.
The Russian Empress Catherine the Second took advantage of this situation to solve the age-old national tasks of Russia. In words, she sharply criticized the French Revolution, agreed on the need to jointly oppose France and restore the monarchy there. Catherine delayed the negotiations. In fact, Catherine solved the task of restoring the unity of Russia with the Western Russian lands (Sections of the Commonwealth) and the question of the Black Sea Straits and Constantinople. The Russian empire had to solve the Polish question once and for all, to establish borders in the western strategic direction, returning the previously lost lands of Western Russia. Make the Black Sea a “Russian lake” by joining the straits and Constantinople-Tsargrad, providing protection for the southwestern borders of the empire for centuries.
While all the leading Western powers were connected by events in France, Russia in 1791 ended the war with Turkey victoriously. The Yassky peace treaty secured the entire Northern Black Sea region, the Crimean peninsula, for the Russian Empire, and strengthened its position in the Balkan Peninsula and the Caucasus. The lands between the Southern Bug and the Dniester were ceded to Russia. The Russians establish Tiraspol and Odessa, actively master the region. Catherine the Great plans to continue the offensive and solve a thousand-year task - to take Constantinople - Constantinople, the Black Sea Straits. The political situation for this was very favorable - all the great powers of Europe were connected with the war with revolutionary France. France itself, which had a strong position in the Ottoman Empire, was also temporarily turned off from the Big Game.
Petersburg in 1792 year concluded an alliance with Austria and Prussia against France, promised to expose the auxiliary corps and help the troops if the French cross the Austrian or Prussian border. As a result, there was no one to protest against the Second Partition of the Commonwealth. In addition, England entered the anti-French alliance in 1793. Britain and Russia pledged to cease trade with France and discourage other European countries from trading with the French. This system of unions allowed Russia to calmly settle the Polish question. Russia was reunited with the Western Russian lands, the Russian people were almost entirely within the borders of the Russian state.
In the course of the 1792 campaign, the armies of Austria and Prussia did not achieve victory in the struggle against France. In 1793, the war against revolutionary France broke out with a new force. However, the French revolutionary army, which initially waged a just war, defending the fatherland, launched an offensive and began to beat the enemy. In 1794, the French not only drove the enemy troops from their land, but also captured Belgium and Holland.
In 1794, Russia defeated the Poles in the Second Polish War. In 1795, Russia, Austria and Prussia formed the Third Partition of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, the Polish state was liquidated. Also, the three great powers committed themselves to helping each other in suppressing the revolutionary movement in Poland and to conduct a joint struggle with France. At the same time, Russia and Austria signed a secret agreement on Turkey. Vienna agreed that in the event of a new military uprising of Porta against Russia, the Austrians would act together with the Russians. And after the defeat of the Ottoman Empire, the creation of Dacia (from the Christian and Slavic regions of the Turkish Empire with its capital in Constantinople), which is in vassal dependence on Russia, was presented to the sultan's government as conditions for peace. Austria was to receive the Venetian region. Also, Russia and Austria concluded an alliance against Prussia, if the Prussians attacked the Austrians or the Russians. Thus, Petersburg very skillfully and wisely used the war of the leading Western powers with France to solve the age-old national tasks.
In 1795, Spain, Prussia, and North German principalities emerged from the war with France. South German principalities, Sardinia and Naples tended towards the world. Only England stood firm for the war. London tried to organize a new trip to Paris, already with the help of Russia. England and Russia entered into a new anti-French alliance. The Russian Baltic Fleet was supposed to support the British in the North Sea. However, the new campaign in 1795 did not take place, as Austria did not dare to take active steps, limiting itself to a number of sluggish operations. At the end of the 1795 of the year, Vienna made a truce with Paris.
The 1796 campaign of the year was unsuccessful for the Allies. Napoleon Bonaparte’s army defeated the Austrians in Northern Italy. The Italian states of Modena, Parma and Naples stopped the fight against the French. Austria was forced to withdraw from the war. The Russian fleet returned home from the North Sea. Catherine used this situation to finally resolve the Turkish issue. She promised Austria auxiliary 60-th. Russian army, but on the condition of speaking out against the French Prussia and monetary assistance from England. The army was to be headed by A. Suvorov. She began to form in the south of Russia. Simultaneously, the Black Sea Fleet under the command of F. F. Ushakov was preparing for the march.
It is worth noting that at the same time (in 1796 year), Russia established itself in the South Caucasus. The Russian Caspian Corps captured Derbent, Baku, Cuba, annexed the Shemakha and Sheki khanates. Russian troops reached the confluence of the Kura and Araks rivers. After that, the possibility of obedience to Northern Persia or a strike against Turkey opened up.
Many indirect evidence suggests that Catherine was "on the sly" preparing to seize the straits - the Constantinople operation. The Black Sea Fleet, under the command of Ushakov, was to disembark Suvorov’s landing army in the straits zone and seize Tsargrad-Constantinople. Thus, the Russians closed the Black Sea from any potential adversary, solved the task of entering the Mediterranean region, creating a strategic base and a bridgehead here - the straits and Constantinople. Christian and Slavic peoples of the Balkan Peninsula passed into the Russian sphere of influence. Russia led the process of creating a huge Slavic empire. However, this shot on Constantinople did not take place due to the death of Catherine II.
Foreign Policy Pavel Petrovich
Paul the First quite reasonably refused to war with France. Emperor Paul is one of the most maligned rulers in the Russian empire (The myth of the "mad emperor" Paul I; Knight on the throne). To hide the shameful story of his murder (with the active participation of the Russian aristocracy, who spent British gold), created a “black myth” about the idiot emperor, madman on the throne, tyrant, who exiled Guards officers to Siberia only because of bad mood and forbade people to wear french clothes. In reality, Paul was quite a sensible statesman, a knight emperor, who tried to restore order in the country, restore discipline to the nobility, which decayed during the “golden age” of Catherine. This he aristocrats and did not forgive. At the same time, Paul eventually challenged Britain, realized the nonsense of the confrontation with France, when the Russian soldiers became “cannon fodder” fighting in the interests of Vienna and London.
Russia did not have territorial, historical, economic or any other disputes with the French. There was not even a common border. France did not threaten Russia. Moreover, it was beneficial for us that the leading powers of the West are connected with the war with France. Russia could calmly solve really important foreign policy tasks - consolidation in the Caucasus and the Caspian Sea, the Balkans, and the resolution of the Black Sea straits issue. It was necessary to concentrate on the internal development of a vast empire.
Pavel proposed to convene a congress in Leipzig to hold talks with France on the conclusion of eternal peace. The congress did not take place, but defeated Austria was forced to make peace with France in October 1797 year in Campo Formio. True, the world was fragile, temporary. Both sides were preparing for the continuation of hostilities.
Soon, however, Russia was able to be drawn into an unnecessary confrontation with France. Bourgeois France, as before, and monarchist, began to wage wars of conquest. The interests of the big bourgeoisie demanded the conduct of war, the seizure and robbery of new lands, the creation of the French colonial empire. At first, the focus was on the Mediterranean region. Napoleon's Italian campaign ended with the seizure and robbery of Northern Italy. The French seized the Ionian Islands and entrenched on the Adriatic coast, creating a springboard for further advance in the Balkans and an attack on Turkey. Next, Napoleon planned to seize Egypt, build the Suez Canal and thereby pave the way to India. It was also planned to occupy Palestine and Syria. Thus, Napoleon threatened not only the Ottoman Empire, but the British project of globalization (the creation of the world British Empire).
Starting a campaign in Egypt, in the summer of 1798, the French captured Malta. The Russian Emperor Paul was the Grand Master of the Order of Malta, that is, the island was formally under the protector of Russia. In addition, rumors appeared in Petersburg that the French were preparing a large fleet for the invasion of the Black Sea. In fact, the French fleet was prepared, but to fight the British, support and supply the army of Napoleon in Egypt. These rumors were misinformation.
As a result, the French capture of Malta, rumors of a threat to the Black Sea, the machinations of Vienna and London prompted Paul the First to engage in a struggle with France. Therefore, when Porta, frightened by the French onslaught in Egypt, asked for help from St. Petersburg, the Russian government decided to send the Black Sea squadron to the straits and the Mediterranean Sea to create a strong barrier in case of a French attack fleet. The Second Anti-French Coalition also included England, Austria, Naples, Sweden.
Paul I in the crown, dalmatics and signs of the Order of Malta. Artist V. L. Borovikovsky
Russia initially pledged to deploy 65 thousand army for joint action with Austria and England. Russia was to fight in three theaters: in Holland (together with the British), in Italy and Switzerland (together with the Austrians) and in the Mediterranean Sea (with the Turks and the British). The 20-thousand corps of General Rosenberg was sent to help Austria for the fighting in Italy. The 27-thousandth corps of Rimsky-Korsakov, together with the 7-thousandth of the French émigré corps of Prince Condé (he was accepted into the Russian service in 1797), first had to strengthen the Prussian army and fight on the Rhine, but Prussia refused to oppose France. Therefore, the corps of Rimsky-Korsakov decided to send to Switzerland to strengthen the Austrian troops. 11-thousand corps of General Hermann von Fersen was to fight along with the British in Holland.
In addition, for joint operations with the British fleet in the North Sea, 2 squadrons were sent: the squadron of Vice Admiral Makarov (3 battleship and 3 frigate), left for the winter in England; and the squadron of Vice-Admiral Khanykov (the 6 of the battleships and the 4 frigate). For action in the Mediterranean, the Black Sea Fleet sent ships under the command of Vice Admiral Ushakov (6 battleships, 7 frigates and several auxiliary ships). The Black Sea squadron was to liberate the Ionian Islands, to operate in southern Italy and help the British in the liberation of Malta. Russia also formed on the western border two armies (Lacy and Gudovich) and a separate corps. Austria was supposed to put 225 thousand. People. England own fleet.
Due to the various strategic goals of the powers leading the war with France, the allies did not have a common plan of war. England was focused on the war on the sea - the North and Mediterranean seas, the seizure of the French and Dutch ships, the French colonies. The British tried to crush the French forces in the Mediterranean basin, seize their strategic bases - Malta, the Ionian Islands, and knock the French out of Holland. Austria, planning to seize Belgium, the South German principalities and Northern Italy, respectively, concentrated their main forces here. The main thing was the North Italian theater, and Vienna demanded that all Russian forces be sent here.
France had a 230 thousand army, but it was scattered on a huge front. Napoleon's army fought in Egypt. In Southern Italy, the 34-thousandth army of MacDonald was located; in Northern Italy, the 58-thousandth army of Scherer and the 25 of thousands of soldiers were garrisoned in fortresses; in Switzerland, the 48-thousandth army of Massena; on the Rhine, Jourdan’s 37-thousand army and Bernadotte’s 8 thousand corps; in the Netherlands - 27-thousandth army of Brun.
While the Allies were preparing for hostilities, the troops of the French Republic went on the offensive and defeated the Austrians, occupying almost all of Switzerland and Northern Italy. The commander of the Italian army, Scherer began to move troops to the borders of Austria, and then took up defensive positions on the Adda river.
The fighting went on in the Mediterranean. Napoleon captured Egypt and was about to go to Syria. However, the British destroyed the French fleet and cut the enemy’s supply lines. Napoleon's troops were cut off, but continued to fight, holding down the forces of the Ottoman Empire and the British fleet. The Russian squadron of Ushakov liberated the Ionian Islands from the French in 1798 and laid siege to their main fortress on Corfu. In March 1799, Corfu was stormed (How the Russians took the impregnable fortress of Corfu; Part 2). During the expedition of the ships of Ushakov, it became clear that the appearance of the Russian fleet in the Mediterranean Sea irritated the "partners" of Russia - Austria and England. The Austrians and the British themselves wanted to establish themselves in the Ionian Islands, the British coveted to Corfu and Malta. Ushakov, who quickly figured out such a "friendship" of the allies, wrote to Petersburg that the Westerners are trying to "split us off from all real affairs and ... force them to catch flies, but instead of them to enter the places from which they are trying to separate us ..."
A.V. Suvorov-Rymniki. Unknow painter. The second half of the XVIII century.
To be continued ...