Military Review

The assault on the aul of Akhulgo: how the Russians in the Caucasus captured an impregnable stronghold


Big splinter

Towards the end of the 1830s, Russia systematically tried to put the Caucasus in order for more than one, two, or three decades. The main problem was not the fighting qualities of the many tribes living in the raids inhabiting the region, but their fragmentation. The hydra could not be defeated by defeating the next leader who had gained strength - after all, such a fall, his influence automatically opened the way for dozens of other applicants. And the riots with robberies continued again and again.

The Caucasians did not rise at all against the hated Russians - for the locals, divided into clans, tribes and auls, the troops of the empire were only one of the factors. They often hated each other even more and sought to rob at every opportunity.

But in the very end of the 1820s, the Highlanders for the first time truly truly long and widely united against the Russians. Gazavat became the banner - "holy war against the infidels." Not that the highlanders became Muslims only then or such an occasion was used against the Russians in the Caucasus for the first time. But past attempts led to lesser consequences.

Imam Shamil

On the other hand, in this long-term association lay the prerequisites for the future reconciliation of the region. After all, as soon as the highlanders become something at least relatively uniform, they can be smashed and reassured, and not chased after each individual bandit. From this point of view, gazavat was not so bad for Russia.


True, for a start, the rising wave needed to be reassured somehow. The task ahead was extremely serious - starting in the early 1830s, by 1839 the rebellion flared up to an extraordinary scale. By this moment, the imam of the rebels was Shamil - a decisive, intelligent and charismatic person.

Shamil knew when it was worthwhile to arrange a fierce punitive raid against the auls cooperating with Russian (especially the Chechens got it), when to publicly fool themselves with a whip in religious ecstasy, and when to retreat. Of course, only temporarily, in order to later return to the question already armed and ready.

An example of one of these retreats is the summer of 1837, when Shamil, put in a difficult position by General Fez, agreed to sign a peace with the Russians. Of course, only in order to violate him at the first opportunity - the main thing is that now they will leave him, Shamil, alone.

The assault on the aul of Akhulgo: how the Russians in the Caucasus captured an impregnable stronghold

General Grabbe

The world, of course, was soon broken, and the war in the Caucasus continued. In 1838, Shamil felt rather well and expanded his territory, but at the beginning of next year the Russians decided to end him. The imam was waiting for a meeting with the 10th army of General Grabbe, as well as police from the loyal empire of the Highlanders.

Strong stronghold

Shamil was not a pure partisan, in any case dissolving in forests or ravines. He strove to create a state of highlanders - he tried to centralize a lot, introduced uniforms in his troops, distributed medals, and acquired some kind of artillery.

Therefore, the question of where to look for the imam did not arise - in the aul of Akhulgo, which he had carefully strengthened for the past few years. Until the summer of 1839, Grabbe was engaged in providing communications, and then moved straight to Akhulgo, at the same time crushing all the villages that were on Shamil's allies along the way.

Ahulgo could “please” the storming men with three, in addition to the fanatically defending people of Shamil, with kinds of troubles. Firstly, it is stone hacks with thick walls, which were very difficult to break even with artillery. Secondly, numerous well-dug trenches in advance. And thirdly, just nightmarish elevations. Many positions were reliably separated from each other by gorges. And they were always located above the storming.

Altitudes at Achulgo

The Russians could oppose such a complex goal of numerical superiority, artillery, engineering skills (for example, cutting down a gallery on a mountainside), organization, and, of course, their military qualities.

Cursed Tower

The Russians approached Ahulgo on June 11, 1839. The people of Shamil tried to slow down Grabbe by destroying one of the bridges on the way to the aul, but its restoration was not a very difficult task for the engineers. The next day they set about arranging artillery positions - Grabbe had 18 guns, and he intended to actively use them.

The first target of the attacks was the Surkhaev Tower - a structure at the height dominating over Akhulgo, which was firmly defended by the best highlanders of Shamil. The tower looked formidable enough to abandon the idea of ​​taking it off guard. Therefore, the assault that began on June 29 was carried out according to all the rules, but ... ended in failure.

The second started on July 4. It was a long day full of attacks and retreats, but in the end a combination of artillery fire and infantry attacks with the active use of bayonets and grenades still yielded results - the tower fell.

Against stone and bullets

Now it was time to tackle Ahulgo. The first assault started on July 16, but ended in failure - irretrievable losses amounted to 160 killed, and the number of wounded exceeded 600 people.

But the highlanders themselves were no better - they were constantly fired by artillery, suffering from truncated rations and diseases that arose from the combination of “heat + corpses”, and they started negotiations.

True, Shamil used this pause to draw time and rebuild the destroyed fortifications. But there was “bash on bash” - all this time the garrison burdened by families continued to eat up supplies.

On August 17, the Russians went on the next assault and achieved considerable success. They occupied the forward fortification in New Akhulgo - part of the village, separated from Old Akhulgo by a deep gorge.

The assault of Akhulgo in the picture of N. Solomin

This was followed by new negotiations, as a result of which Shamil almost agreed to all the terms of Grabbe and even gave him his oldest son hostage. But, apparently, realizing that the Russians didn’t cut their 9-year-old children’s heads, he again tore off negotiations and continued resistance. As events show, a new plan was born in the head of the imam.

Self destruction

On August 21, the Russian attacks resumed. It was possible to achieve local success, but the most interesting was revealed the next morning. Having exhausted the possibilities of defending New Akhulgo, the people of Shamil began evacuation to the Old - through the gorge. But they did not have time to finish it before dawn. And thus they presented a gorgeous gift to the Russians.

Quickly dragging a few guns where necessary, the Russians began to fire on the retreating and Old Akhulgo itself. The enemy did not succeed in organizing a coherent defense in a new place, and the subsequent infantry attack was a complete success. The further one was a cleaning of the isolated centers of resistance. It was all over two days later.

The mountaineers, embraced by religious fanaticism, realizing that the case was lost, began to torment themselves. Frightened by fables about evil Russians, women killed their children and themselves jumped on a bayonet or in the abyss. Trying to spare them was simply dangerous - as the soldiers relaxed, the seemingly innocent women snatched daggers.

Therefore, out of the four thousandth population of Akhulgo, only 900 women, children and the elderly were captured. Almost all the men were killed - it is estimated that their number was about a thousand people. The remaining corpses fell to the share of those "civilians" who actively sought death and succeeded in that.

But who was not worth looking for was Shamil and his inner circle. He fled through the mountains well known to him, as soon as the defense of Old Ahulgo collapsed, which did not have time to organize. Grabbe, however, did not regret very much: it seemed that the main stronghold of the enemy was taken, and now Shamil would still have nowhere to go.

It was a big mistake: the war under the leadership of the famous imam was to drag on for almost another twenty years.
Photos used:,,

Subscribe to our Telegram channel, regularly additional information about the special operation in Ukraine, a large amount of information, videos, something that does not fall on the site:

Dear reader, to leave comments on the publication, you must sign in.
  1. DMB 75
    DMB 75 April 10 2020 05: 51
    Thanks for the article, I allow myself to agree with the Author, in vain Grabbe then missed Shamil, then everything could end much faster and with less losses ..
    1. Bar1
      Bar1 April 10 2020 09: 04
      as usual, the Romanovs could not but distort the names, events and history after the war. But the old maps give an idea of ​​what the world was like before Romanov. The names were such
      -Galenskoe / Bachye-Galsky sea -sea (from here Baku) -Caspian Sea
      -Zhiguli -se Guli / Gali -Gal coast
      -Gelia -Chechnya and Dagestan
      -Volga-Halo, on the contrary, the Galician river
      -Gilan Gali Province

      As for the village of Akhulgo, the same thing, the Romanovs distorted the name of the village beyond recognition. One method of falsification was the negation of the old names by adding A or AN to the word. Therefore,
      -Ahulgo-a / anti_ hul / gal_go i.e. Gali village
      -Aul-most likely -Gaul i.e. Gali village.
      1. Bersaglieri
        Bersaglieri April 10 2020 14: 53
        What nonsense? Again "new chronology"? :)
      2. awdrgy
        awdrgy April 10 2020 16: 14
        Well, not again this)))
      3. vladcub
        vladcub April 11 2020 08: 10
        Gaul-Gali village. In this case, Shamil is a paddling pool? !
      4. Phoenix
        Phoenix 23 May 2020 11: 51
        I imagined an emperor who, from morning till night, “falsifies” thousands of geographical names every day ... You need to eat.
    2. LEK
      LEK April 17 2020 00: 40
      I am here for the first time and for the time being rebelled against the disastrous military operations in the Caucasus and because of this I am forced to leave the region. Our actions in the Caucasus resemble all the calamities of the initial conquest of America by the Spaniards, but I see no feats here: heroism, or successes in conquering Pizar and Kortets. God grant that the conquest of the Caucasus does not leave a bloody trace in Russian history, similar to that which these conquerors left in Spanish history.

      - Raevsky, Nikolai Nikolaevich

      "Raevsky Archives"
      1. Phoenix
        Phoenix 23 May 2020 11: 53
        Something I do not see now is a developed Native American culture in America, at best a reservation for a couple of hundred families. And the Caucasus is shouting at all grandmas, its own culture, language, and show-offs. Raevsky your noble balabol turned out to be. Well, you are not citing such a quote to the patriot.
  2. Deck
    Deck April 10 2020 06: 35
    All have their own Indians.
    1. cost
      cost April 10 2020 15: 39
      For the differences in the assault on the fortification of Akhulgo in 1839, Lieutenant Martynov, the future killer of the famous Russian poet M.Yu. Lermontov, was awarded the Order of St. Anna of the 3rd degree with a bow and prematurely presented to the rank of captain.
      1. Deck
        Deck April 10 2020 15: 41
        By the way, the lieutenant shot well. Well, judging by Lermontov
  3. Free wind
    Free wind April 10 2020 06: 36
    Ныне чеченские "историки " пишут о потерях в этом штурме Русской армии в 33 тысячи человек, потери " доблестных" горцев 300. шамиль хотел свободы грабить, убивать , насиловать, захватывать рабов. Разбои были основным доходом " государства", много сведений о "героическом", блин, разграблении Грузинских, Русских сел, Армянских поселений, пятая часть захваченного должна быть отдана этому образованию. Несмотря на клятвы пара шамилевских отпрысков воевало против Русских в Русско- турецкой войне.
  4. Olgovich
    Olgovich April 10 2020 06: 59
    the pirate was defeated. in fact, an education that lived through robbery, robbery, and violence.

    Thus, Russia stopped them, the region became peaceful and began to be actively populated by Russian people.
    1. LEK
      LEK April 17 2020 00: 39
      Yes Yes. A pirate education is one country that calls other countries fraternal, but behind the rat he chopped off the ground)
      1. strannik1985
        strannik1985 27 May 2020 06: 56
        but behind the rat he chopped off the ground)

        Another one, confident that the correct coup can be carried out only in Kiev?
    2. Sergey Oreshin
      Sergey Oreshin April 22 2020 13: 45
      Quote: Olgovich
      the region became peaceful and began to be actively populated by Russian people

      Here we need to make some clarification. Russian colonists began to actively inhabit the steppes of the Ciscaucasia. But for example, in the Dagestan region the number of Russians (Great Russians, Little Russians, Belarusians) by 1917 did not exceed 5-7%, i.e. in fact, for more than half a century after the end of the Caucasian war, Dagestan has not been Russified. And the plan for the Russian colonization of Mountain Dagestan and Mountain Chechnya, proposed in the 1860-1870s. and supported by Alexander the Second, it failed miserably by the beginning of the 20th century, which was recognized by the Russian authorities themselves
  5. Aleksandr72
    Aleksandr72 April 10 2020 07: 23
    In the Islamic world, the main form of armed struggle is considered to be “jihad of the sword” (“small jihad”) - a holy war waged by Muslims with aggressors who attacked them. However, there is another kind of struggle for faith practiced by Muslim peoples - ghazavat. The word "ghazavat" in translation from the Arabic language means "military campaign", "raid". For participating in such a struggle, a person was endowed with the honorary title of "Gazi", that is, a fighter for faith. This concept was most widely used in the era of colonialism, when many Muslim peoples fought for independence. To raise the local population to fight against the colonialists, slogans of a national and religious nature were actively used, including calls for a ghazavat. The bearers of this honorary title were the sultans of the Ottoman Empire, Crimean khans, major military leaders, army commanders, and so on.

    And Imam Shamil, who repeatedly abandoned those who stood under his banner, does not deserve the title of "ghazi". For me, this is another eastern (Caucasian, Asian - underline the necessary) despot who used the secular ruler's right to declare a "holy war" on behalf of all Muslims of the North Caucasus to the Russians, only in order to consolidate his power and spread it over as large a territory as possible.
    The second difference between ghazavat and jihad is the source of decision-making. Before joining the armed struggle, the leadership of the tribe, city or state must make an appropriate decision. The decision on the beginning of jihad rests solely with the highest clergyman, which may be the supreme mufti, sheikh-islam, or another clergyman of higher rank. This is explained by the fact that it is a spiritual leader, possessing great knowledge in the field of religion, who is able to adequately assess the possibility and necessity of starting an armed struggle. The decision to declare a ghazavat can be made not only by a clergyman, but also by a secular ruler. Historically, this point of view is supported by concrete examples when tribal leaders or khans of individual states declared ghazawath to their enemies.

    The Russian Emperor Nicholas I himself was a knight (in the sense that he considered the word he gave indestructible, an example of his chivalrous behavior is the attitude towards the captured Shamil) and considered others the same, and this is the root of the defeat of Russian diplomacy in the 2nd quarter of the XNUMXth centuries that eventually led to the Crimean War. His generals were worthy of their ruler - to take the word of the enemy, who repeatedly violated this very word, is "worse than a crime, this is a mistake." Moreover, the Russians have lived next to the Muslims of the North Caucasus for more than one year and should have known that for them even an oath given in the Koran is worthless if it is given to a wrong person. And most importantly, in this Caucasian war, the main enemy of the Russian Empire was not local Muslims, who, as the author of the article correctly noted, cut with each other with no less passion and mutual hatred, but those interested parties abroad who stood behind their backs. And this enemy is well known - having failed to achieve their goals in the endless Caucasian war, they eventually entered into open confrontation with Russia - this is how the Crimean War began.
    1. Free wind
      Free wind April 10 2020 11: 54
      Let me disagree with the author too. Especially, they did not fight among themselves, these are not Indians, for the Indians the extermination of the opposing tribe was a priority. For the mountaineers, the main task is production. What can you have in the neighboring "kishlak", A dozen shabby sheep, there were few pastures, the terrain of the mountains and dense forest. Well, some kind of girl, not the fact that a beauty, rather a mustachioed, but hook-nosed. But you can make a lot of problems. The attacker will be found out from which aul it is for sure, by the spoken word at least, even by prodding the horse. They will take revenge, you can't get out of your sssakli. It is much more profitable to rob the Russians. If on the plains the testes were not shot to the bandit, then in the mountains it is problematic to find him, just the Cossacks of the mountains still knew worse. Shamil, of course, was associated with the Turks, it was not for nothing that his "child" was driven to Turkey .. The results of the Crimean War were such that neither the British nor the French understood what garden plant they were fighting for.
      1. gsev
        gsev April 17 2020 03: 46
        Quote: Free Wind
        Especially they did not fight among themselves

        Polish volunteers who fought against the Russians in the Western Caucasus could observe slaves gathered on the coast for shipment to Turkey. It was mainly goryanka. It was always easier to fly into an aul, where most of the time people worked for their food, they bought ammunition and weapons for their money. Cossack villages were reinforced by additional forces from the Don and regular troops. In addition, the Cossacks and the army were supplied by a full-fledged state. In addition, any raid inevitably caused a retaliatory operation of the Russian regular army.
    2. vladcub
      vladcub April 11 2020 08: 35
      Nicholas 1 himself was a knight (in the sense that he considered the word given to him indestructible, an example of his chivalrous behavior is the relation to the captive Shamil), you actually have a chronological error: Emperor Nicholas 1 died on March 2, 1855. Shamil was captured in August 1859. Therefore Emperor Alexander 2 reacted knightly to Shamil
  6. horror
    horror April 12 2020 09: 48
    This is another example of the fact that it is hard to negotiate with the Highlanders, they do not keep their word and at any time can refuse their promises.
  7. LEK
    LEK April 17 2020 00: 36
    Our possessions on the other side of the mountains, in Transcaucasia, extend beyond the former border of Persia, but the Caucasus is still not ours; neither the traveler, nor the merchant, nor the industrialist will dare to go over the line without military cover, without fear for their lives and property. The names of Zubov, Lazarev, Prince Tsitsianov, Kotlyarevsky, Ermolov, Paskevich, Rosen remind us of a long series of brilliant and heroic deeds, which would have been enough to conquer many states, but have proved useless so far against the highlanders.

    - Rosen, Andrey Evgenievich

    "Notes of the Decembrist"
  8. LEK
    LEK April 17 2020 00: 38
    The real unequal struggle carried out against the pastoral tribes of the Caucasus is not so much for the value of the territory as it is as a pied de guerre (bridgehead) for future conquests, it is part of the same policy. Can we, therefore, be surprised at the suppressed whisper of universal hostility that is heard all over the East with one word - Russia? Every advantage received by the Circassians over their oppressors is welcomed by a resident of the East, a Muslim, a Christian or a Jew with the most enthusiastic feelings.

    - Edmond Spencer

    "Journey to Circassia"
  9. gorenina91
    gorenina91 April 17 2020 09: 08
    - Yes, the tsarist government needed a victory over the Caucasus not so much as to keep some part of the armed forces there ... - Where it was easy to constantly "send" whole crowds of "freedom-loving individuals"; "golden youth" who were simply mad with fat; all kinds of "majors" of those times, who had very high-ranking influential parents and even the tsar could not punish them and call them to account; as well as all kinds of "thrill-seekers" - duelists, breeches and other "head off" who simply needed scandals, adventures, etc. - And it was also possible to send there those who violated the law ... - of their own kind "penalties" ... - to wash away their misdeeds and violations with blood ... -And it was also possible to send there "unwanted poets" and other "writers" ...
    -So, in the Caucasus, all of them found "application" .... -for many years and not for one generation ...
  10. Sergey Oreshin
    Sergey Oreshin April 22 2020 13: 40
    The article must put a bold minus! Extremely schematic presentation, at the level of school essay 8 grade. It seems that the author did not work in the archives, did not read fundamental pre-revolutionary, Soviet and post-Soviet works on the history of the Caucasian War.
    The causes and prerequisites of the Caucasian war are presented chaotically and schematically. The battle for Akhulgo itself is set out extremely abstractly, without a clear indication of the plans and forces of the parties, the course of the battle, without mentioning the name of the famous commanders on either side. But the sources of the battle for Akhulgo - a wagon and a small cart !!!
    By the way, it is not said at all that almost a third, if not half of Grabbe’s troops were militias of the Dagestan feudal lords who fought against Shamil on the side of Nicholas I and the mountain police unit. In fact, the Caucasian war in Dagestan was a civil war between supporters of the Sharia monarchy and supporters of the old order, the adat, who focused on Russia