Military Review

Azerbaijani history: how Russian trains broke through the bandits


Russian soldiers on the Caucasian front in 1914. They will also become the main characters of the tragic events of 1918.

Transcaucasia has been a specific region since its inclusion in the Russian Empire. There was either no order, or it was specific, "compromise". Environment and cultural differences dictated their own terms. For example, in Tiflis the Mensheviks were extremely strong - so much so that during the First World War the imperial governor himself preferred to be friends with them and even consult with them. And it was not just anyone, but the Grand Duke Nikolai Nikolaevich, a close relative of the tsar and the former supreme commander in chief.

Moreover, this did not in the least reflect the situation in the Tiflis province as a whole. Outside the capital city, it was conditionally divided into the Armenian, Azerbaijani and Georgian zones, but only conditionally. In a number of places, the peoples were strongly mixed, while not as in a melting pot (with each other), but in separate villages. Which provided excellent grounds for future ethnic cleansing, destined to darken history this sunny southern region.

Tiflis in 1917

But even within the framework of some nationalities (for example, Azerbaijan), the national feelings that unite people were still not very strong. In many ways it was a land that resembled a patchwork quilt - not a land of peoples, but of individual tribes. Although the Georgians had a clear advantage - they had the strongest national intelligentsia among the local peoples in the Transcaucasus. And, of course, they tried to influence the tribes in their own interests. This could lead to anything, just not to a calm good-neighborliness.

When the Russian Empire collapsed, feelings and contradictions held inside immediately burst out. Feeling the self-liquidation of the supreme power, the peoples began to look at each other predatory. Everyone understood that only their own armed detachments can guarantee security. And in order to create them, it was necessary, first of all, weapon - there have always been enough hot people in the South.

Weapons are life

And, in the meantime, the weapon itself went into the clutches of the Transcaucasian gangs. It was in the Russian military echelons returning home from the Turkish front. Discipline in the army was undermined by revolutionary events. By the beginning of 1918, all the fronts were to one degree or another collapsed, and the soldiers' masses moved home without permission. But, at least in regions such as the Caucasus, the soldiers still held together and were on their guard. The place was restless, and the times were incomprehensible.

Everybody wanted Russian weapons carried on the trains. First of all, he was passionately desired in Tiflis - but the Georgians had their own problems, and they were able to single out only one armored train and six dozen people. It was difficult to impress the military echelons with this, and they decided to resort to the help of the Azerbaijani tribes. Those Georgians were not very sympathetic, but, in principle, they were for any movement, except a hunger strike. And they responded to the call.

At the same time, the Georgians, led by a former imperial headquarters captain named Abkhazava, were not going to storm trains with human waves. They came up with what they thought was a cunning plan - to jam the trains into the gorge one at a time, taking comfortable positions around, and expropriate the weapons in parts.

But in the twenties (according to the new style) of January, something went wrong with them, and instead of one or two echelons they received as many as fourteen. Trains packed with armed soldiers stuck in traffic jams between the stations of Akstafa and Shamkhor. Quickly and effectively disarming the trains one by one, those who had gathered for the robbery did not have the skill, and the Russians were not fools. The situation was stalemate.

Azerbaijani history: how Russian trains broke through the bandits
One of the Georgian armored trains

But Abkhazava was not discouraged - a horse detachment of the Wild Division (yes, the same one) - six hundred was already going to strengthen him. The group was headed by Prince Magalov, who, in an atmosphere of civil turmoil, did not experience any moral and ethical obstacles before robbing his own soldiers yesterday. However, even without Magalov, the forces of Abkhazava (or rather, conditionally controlled by Abkhazava) increased every hour. Gangs wishing to profit from the good of others and those eager to get weapons from local militias flocked to him - as you might guess, practically indistinguishable from each other.

Moreover, the Georgian commander already had a successful experience - he recently successfully disarmed a train. True, one. And, of course, the matter did not end with a simple withdrawal of weapons. Feeling the strength behind them, his people, following the weapons, took away the food with the transported horses - we, they say, need it more. Needless to say, appetite comes with eating - and now Abkhazava, watching the traffic jam from a dozen trains, saw not potential problems, but rich prey.

А зря.

The last battle of an armored train

However, Abkhazava did not suffer from an overabundance of military valor - in the end, he wanted to take something valuable, and not die trying to do it. Therefore, in the beginning there were negotiations. The Georgian pretended to be a frightened man. He swore an oath not to disarm anyone, and in return asked to pass through the gorge with an armored train standing nearby, not in all echelons at once, but one at a time. Otherwise, the situation is nervous now, weapons are in the price, so you will take it, and rush all at once to capture this very armored train.

The trick turned out to be not particularly elegant - the Russians knew very well how things were done in the Transcaucasus, and flatly refused to split into separate echelons. The negotiations were at an impasse. And then the soldiers even took the Georgian negotiators hostage. But in the end, they released me after another round of the talking shop.

By the way, the Georgians almost without question let the train with Ukrainian soldiers pass without touching them. This is because they have already negotiated with the Kiev Rada. Everyone knew perfectly well that sooner or later what was left of the empire would come to its senses, gather into something centralized, and try to bring them back. And this means that Russia must be friends against the next reincarnation of Russia today.

Fortunately, Abkhazava knew that time was working for him, and could afford it. After all, his forces, due to the gangs flocking to profit, only grew, but the Russians in the echelons had already begun to experience the first problems with food.

Deciding that his combat capabilities had grown enough, the Georgian exchanged cunning for brute force. Having disassembled the tracks in front of the Russian echelons, Abkhazava rode slowly in an armored train on a parallel branch. The bandits, tired of their useless efforts, rushed around with hooting.

In an uncomfortable position, outnumbered Russians, surrendered their weapons. In some ways, they broke down in the trenches of the First World War. The unauthorized abandonment of the front by whole trains, revolutionary events, the collapse of the empire - all this contributed to the unprecedented decline in combat effectiveness. But even in January 1918, this was not the case for everyone.

Abkhazava's pressure was enough for four and a half echelons. Everything was going well, because the Georgians had an armored train, which was difficult to oppose with rifles and machine guns. But then he reached the artillery battery - the three-inch cars were transported on an open platform. The gunners, apparently, were furious at the unfolding picture of disarmament, and by the time the armored trains approached, they were ready.

Armed Georgians

The loaded guns fired a volley, and Abkhazava was torn apart by dozens of small leaders of the Transcaucasian bandits. The Russians dexterously reloaded the guns, and the same thing happened with the armored train - it was simply impossible to miss point-blank.

Everything was immediately filled with the sounds of battle - Russian soldiers took the battle in an uncomfortable position, surrounded on all sides by a superior enemy, having far from unlimited ammunition. With the latter, it was especially bad - cartridges ran out quickly and out of order. There was no need to talk about a single organized resistance and a clear leadership of the battle.

In addition, along with the front-line soldiers, civilians traveled on the trains - hundreds of women and children. Therefore, here and there local surrenders took place. Without exception, all those who surrendered, of course, were robbed to the last shirt - and still could consider themselves lucky. There were executions, brutal beatings and rape - in short, everything that could be expected from angry bandits.

But there was no silver lining at all without good. After all, the echelons from the collapsed front continued and continued to go in an endless stream. Naturally, the soldiers saw the twisted and burning cars, saw the corpses of their colleagues, and were ready for battle from the very beginning. Echelons stopped, soldiers jumped out and dug in - it was almost impossible to take such positions with the forces of many gathered in a single fist, poorly disciplined, without a single gang management.

A few days later, the parties, realizing the stalemate of the situation, resorted to negotiations.

The Georgians from Tiflis suddenly turned out to be the unwitting allies of the Russians - the events of the last days deprived them of their armored train, people, and all weapons were eventually taken away uncontrollably by Azerbaijani gangs. Everything resembled an old anecdote -

“Have a meal of filth. And they didn't earn anything. "

Moreover, they also played in the negative - after all, in a situation when other peoples of Transcaucasia became stronger, the Georgians themselves automatically became weaker, their "share" fell.

Therefore, they urgently needed to organize the unhindered exit of Russian echelons to the north, and in as much a whole and armed form as possible. As a result, we somehow agreed with the Azerbaijanis to let the trains pass. For this, the gangs and tribes received an artillery battery from the Tiflis arsenal.

This, of course, did not mean automatic safety for the soldiers' echelons - on the way they still tried to rob them many times, but by far not with such forces and not with such consistency. And even now the Russians were ready for any development of events, kept close and willingly used force.

Several years later, some of the participants in the events near the Shamkhor station will return to Transcaucasia to conduct a reconquest, already as part of the Red Army.

In this land they already know, they will not be so international and restrained towards

"Oppressed small nations",

as would follow from leftist ideologies.

After all, they knew in practice who they were dealing with.

And what to expect from whom.
Photos used:,,
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  1. Lech from Android.
    Lech from Android. 27 February 2021 05: 31
    Georgians have remained the same as they were in those years. When they receive an organized rebuff, their Wishlist quickly breaks down. And the same events were repeated again in the 90s under Gorbachev and Yeltsin with no less bloodshed.
    Thank you Timur for an interesting article. hi
    1. Ross xnumx
      Ross xnumx 27 February 2021 05: 59
      Transcaucasia has been a specific region since its inclusion in the Russian Empire. There was order or not or was it specific, "compromise».

      It still remains specific and the compromise is achieved by the infusion of Russian funds (gratuitous receipts), amounting to 84% of the budget. And I remember how some asked (at the beginning of the XNUMXth century) to join the Republic of Ingushetia, while others were "convincingly asked" not to raid the south.
      Read and calculate the "benefits" from such "good neighborliness"; disassemble the points of different nuances and twists and turns; to determine the benefits of the fusion of cultures and it turns out that the construction of the Great Russian Wall (like the Great Chinese) would have been much cheaper for the treasury and safer for the citizens of Russia.
      And then there are neutral bands (buffer zones).
      I also know one writer (at school they studied his works "War and Peace", "Prisoner of the Caucasus") ... I remember the poem of a direct witness from that region:
      1. Richard
        Richard 27 February 2021 18: 27

        Lermontov's "Cossack Lullaby Song" is not the poet's original poem, but his free arrangement of the old Greben's lullaby melody.

        "Grebenskaya lullaby"
        (words - folk music - folk, arranged by Sergei Nikolsky)

        Sleep, baby, sleep, Mityanka,
        The night over the Terek shines ...
        And at the picket your father
        Sits with a vintar in his hands.
        Every rustle notes
        Among the black dead rocks
        He keeps your peace,
        If only you slept peacefully ...
        Angry Chechen wears away the sting
        On your crooked blade
        He wants to stab you,
        We'll beat the current ...
        On thorns, reeds
        The plastuns will slip in the dark
        Cut with sharp knives
        Allah will not help either ...
        Combat soldier famous
        Sleep Mityanka, do not be shy
        Heavenly Father is with us
        And Saint Bartholomew
        If you grow up, you will start to guess
        For conversations in the evening,
        In the village you will be prominent
        The most glorious Cossack ...
        Cut the vine for the training
        Great grandfather's saber
        And crumple the iron in the palms,
        Powerfully pleasing the father ...
        Night sleeps, a walking girl,
        And the moon's eye flickers,
        Across the river cold, ringing
        Asleep with disturbing sleep Caucasus
        Sleep and you, sonny Mityanka,
        You wouldn't know the pot ...
        And at the picket your father,
        And the pit does not sleep all night.
        . [/ Quote]
        1. Richard
          Richard 27 February 2021 18: 33
          Download or listen to "Grebenskaya lullaby" performed by Sergei Nikolsky here
  2. Destiny
    Destiny 27 February 2021 05: 47
    Transcaucasia has been a specific region since its inclusion in the Russian Empire. There was either no order, or it was specific, "compromise".

    Nothing has changed since then.
  3. Mihail55
    Mihail55 27 February 2021 06: 09
    Thank you so much, Timur! We didn't go through this at school ... but in vain
    1. Richard
      Richard 27 February 2021 18: 44
      Interesting details. Although I disagree with the author's conclusions, I liked the historical part of his work. I didn't know a lot. Thank you for the article
  4. Olgovich
    Olgovich 27 February 2021 07: 15
    Strange article, strange language, strange conclusions ...
    1. icant007
      icant007 27 February 2021 07: 58
      Of Russia
      Quote: Olgovich
      Strange article, strange language, strange conclusions ...

      I agree that the topic of disarming the military echelons marching through the Transcaucasus to Russia is very multifaceted. And then, as if blurted out something.
  5. mr.ZinGer
    mr.ZinGer 27 February 2021 07: 28
    Stylistics at the level of school composition.
    An article for carbon monoxide patriots.
    1. Lech from Android.
      Lech from Android. 27 February 2021 08: 36
      Well, for sure the article is not for Mr. Liberalists, who start heartburn at the word Russian.
      1. mr.ZinGer
        mr.ZinGer 27 February 2021 10: 05
        You like all sorts of speculations on the word "Russian", read and be moved.
        All flaws should be hidden by the ostentatious patriotism that you are being led to.
        1. Lech from Android.
          Lech from Android. 27 February 2021 13: 05
          Don't like patriots? Read and also be moved by your ostentatious liberalism, there is not necessarily such as you need to spit on patriots. You are much worse than ostentatious patriots.
          1. mr.ZinGer
            mr.ZinGer 27 February 2021 14: 01
            Do not confuse patriotism and your ostentatious approval of awkward articles.
      2. mr.ZinGer
        mr.ZinGer 27 February 2021 10: 32
        This event is called the Shamkhor Massacre
        There is a lot of material on these events on the Internet, and this article is a short retelling.
    2. evgen1221
      evgen1221 27 February 2021 10: 49
      So write yourself? Show high style. What hinders that?
      1. mr.ZinGer
        mr.ZinGer 27 February 2021 11: 08
        As Basov's character said
        "You don't have to write, don't write"
        It's like if I'm not writing, then I should be condescending to any hack.
        Your argument is "write yourself", this is a kindergarten.
        1. Lech from Android.
          Lech from Android. 27 February 2021 13: 06
          Your argumentation is the same hack.
          1. mr.ZinGer
            mr.ZinGer 27 February 2021 14: 07
            A hack, this is not a well-done job.
            But I understood in what context you used this term ?!
        2. evgen1221
          evgen1221 27 February 2021 13: 31
          You can not write, do not write, Well then, You can not offend, do not offend, also applies to you.
          1. mr.ZinGer
            mr.ZinGer 27 February 2021 14: 13
            Whom I offended was harsh, yes.
  6. Cowbra
    Cowbra 27 February 2021 10: 37
    Any empire gathers peoples and lands. Those. centripetal movement. So, when someone conducts any policy, resistance to this policy accumulates. "There is no such thing as a completely satisfied person. It is only a completely dissatisfied person." And as soon as an empire - any - weakens - a massive centrifugal current begins - all of them split off.
    Which is exactly what happened with RI. Before that - with Rome, Byzantium, but at least with the present Ukraine - the Amber Republic or Galicia, look now how they threaten to block the pipeline there.
    The author here simply outlined the chronology of events. Therefore, it is somewhat chaotic because this is life, a logical picture of the collapse of the empire - it is useless to look for meaning in it, there the driving force is the desire to grab the mounds of each aul by the authorities, and there at least the grass does not grow.
  7. Seal
    Seal 27 February 2021 11: 49
    And, meanwhile, the weapon itself went into the clutches of the Transcaucasian gangs. It was in Russian military echelons returning home from the Turkish front.
    I wonder how this weapon, according to the author, rode into the clutches of the Transcaucasian gangs? For some reason, the author did not give the diagram of the Transcaucasian railways as of 1918, so that one could personally see the route of the trains, so to speak, "from the front" to the meeting place with the armored train of Captain Abkhazava.
    He swore an oath not to disarm anyone, and in return asked to pass through the gorge with an armored train standing nearby, not in all echelons at once, but one at a time.
    What kind of gorge are you talking about? I would like to know its name, not to mention the photo. Second. The author is sure that there were two tracks in "that gorge"? By the way, what was the gauge according to the author?
    In addition, along with the front-line soldiers, civilians were traveling on the trains - hundreds of women and children.

    I wonder what, in the author's opinion, was the capacity of the trains? Taking into account the track gauge and dimensions of the wagons? And what, according to the author, were the carriages in the military echelons cool, or were "hundreds of women and children" traveling in carriages?
  8. the finish
    the finish 27 February 2021 11: 55
    The photo for the article was previously presented as from the "Sarykamysh operation".
  9. Seal
    Seal 27 February 2021 11: 58
    Quote: mr.ZinGer
    This event is called the Shamkhor Massacre. There is a lot of material on the internet
    There are a lot of things on the Internet. About aliens, for example, is full of "materials".
  10. Seal
    Seal 27 February 2021 12: 23
    We read.
    On January 4, the "Transcaucasian Commissariat" formed and sent to the Shamkhor station a special detachment to carry out forcible disarmament, which included an armored train and a Musavatist equestrian division. This detachment between the stations Dalyar and Shamkhor dismantled the railway track. When 5 echelons approached the bridge, they could not move further. The Musavatists suddenly attacked the soldiers, started killing them and taking away their weapons. Up to a thousand Russian soldiers died in this battle. Many of the wounded died without assistance. Gangs of Musavatists and Mensheviks plundered and burned the trains.

    The Shamkhor events greatly disturbed the Bolsheviks of Transcaucasia. On January 7, the regional party committee invited the Extraordinary Commissioner of the Caucasus S. Shaumyan to come from Baku to Tiflis to take measures against the atrocities of the counter-revolution headed by N. Jordania.
    On the same day at 5 o'clock in the morning, by order of the Transcaucasian Commissariat, the Mensheviks secretly sent an armored train from Tiflis headed by Gobechia Andguladze and part of the Georgian National Regiment to the Karayazy station to disarm the echelons coming from the front. In case of refusal to surrender their weapons, they were ordered to shoot everyone without exception.

    That is, it turns out that there were two armored trains. The first is the captain of Abkhazava. The second is Gobechia Andguladze. Moreover, this Gobechia had a part of the Georgian national regiment.
    By the way, who could have served in the Georgian national regiment, given the fact that as of 1918 more than half of the inhabitants of Tiflis were Armenians?
    We read in the magazine "Karabakh 88" V. Sargsyan's article "SAMTSKHE-JAVAKHK and NORTHERN LORI: how they are losing their homeland ..." and we come across paragraph No. 12 "... It is noteworthy that in 1917, during the nationalization of the army in Transcaucasia Armenians of Sgnah or Gori were drafted into Georgian regiments, and the Armenians of Akhalkalak and Borchalu (Northern Lori) were called only to the Armenian regiments ((9) 1928, April 28, p. 89.) ... "
    Read on.
    The Caucasian Regional and Tiflis Committees of the Bolsheviks decided to send another plane to reconnaissance events in the Shamkhor region and send a letter to Art. Shaumyan. This time the choice fell on Alexander Ter-Martirosov as an experienced pilot-instructor. On January 12, 1918, a two-seater Nieuport aircraft took off from an airfield near Tbilisi, piloted by Ter-Martirosov with pilot-observer A. Litvinov. The course was taken by the Tiflis-Baku railway. Both pilots carefully watched everything that happened on the railroad bed and in the villages nearby. When the plane began to approach Agstafa, they began to fire at it from all sides. Then Ter-Martirosov, gaining a safe height, began to inspect and record everything that happened below. Litvinov did the same. The following entry appeared in the notebook: “There are 7 echelons with troops on the railway to Agstafa. Fights are going on closer to Astafa and near Shamkhor. There are fires in the villages closest to the railway. At stations and half-stations, there are many burned-out and wrecked cars. Their fragments are lying around. Some of the paths have been dismantled. Some cars continue to burn. There are many corpses and traces of robbery ... ”.

    So, the pilots recorded the battles on January 12. An armored train from Tiflis, headed by Gobechia Andguladze and part of the Georgian National Regiment, was sent on January 7. The pilots see the corpses. But the pilots do not specify exactly whose corpses they see. Either the corpses of front-line soldiers, or the corpses of soldiers of the Georgian national regiment, or the corpses of horsemen from the Wild Division, or the corpses of local peasants, or the corpses of passengers on passenger trains. Most likely all mixed up.
    1. Seal
      Seal 27 February 2021 12: 33
      By the way, what is the "Transcaucasian Commissariat"?
      The composition of the Transcaucasian Commissariat is interesting, which gave the order to disarm our echelons.
      • E.P. Gegechkori - Chairman and Commissioner for the Ministry of Labor and Foreign Affairs, Menshevik
      • A. I. Chkhenkeli - Commissar of the Interior, Menshevik
      • D. D. Donskoy - commissar of the military and naval, SR
      • H. O. Karchikyan - Commissioner of Finance, Dashnaktsutyun
      • F.-H. Khoysky - Commissar of Public Education, Musavat
      • Sh. V. Alekseev-Meskhiev - Commissioner of Justice, Socialist Federalist
      • M. Yu. Jafarov - Commissioner of Trade and Industry, Musavat
      • H. A. Melik-Aslanov - Commissioner of Railways, Musavat
      • A. V. Neruchev - Commissioner of Agriculture and State Property and Religions, Social Revolutionary
      • G. Ter-Ghazaryan - Food Commissioner, “Dashnaktsutyun”
      • A. I. Oganjanyan - Commissioner of Charity, “Dashnaktsutyun”
      • H. Khasmamedov - Commissioner of Control, Musavat
      In total, there are actually only two Georgians in it. But one of them is the Chairman.
      There are two Russians (Donskoy and Neruchev). But one of them is the Commissioner for Military and Naval Affairs. Apparently naval affairs are actually not a civilian fleet, but naval affairs.
      There are four Azerbaijanis. (Khoysky, Jafarov, Khasmamedov and Melik-Aslanov).
      There are three Armenians (Karchikyan, Ter-Gazaryan and Ohanjanyan).
      Another one - (Sh. V. Alekseev-Meskhiev), apparently a Russian-Georgian mestizo.
  11. kaban7
    kaban7 27 February 2021 13: 29
    The text is interesting, but the illiteracy just rolls over.
  12. Aviator_
    Aviator_ 27 February 2021 15: 48
    Interesting stuff. I’m sorry for my grandfather, I can’t ask how he returned from the Caucasian front. He returned with a three-ruler to the Voronezh province, and then also drove the "Obolensky cornets" to Novorossiysk.
  13. Ryaruav
    Ryaruav 27 February 2021 16: 27
    this whole Caucasus is an eternal headache for Russia at all times, because we are not British
    1. hjvtp1966
      hjvtp1966 28 February 2021 21: 03
      Similar to the Romans in the province of Britain. They climbed in, you don't know why, and then they complained about the atrocities of the wild Britons and all kinds of brigands. But the Romans were consistent - they still rocked Hadrian's shaft and were able to control the situation until the very collapse of the empire. Well, what have we forgotten there? We have nothing to do ?! - So, villages are dying out in central Russia. We must leave the Caucasus and leave them to flourish. We have a lot of things to do at home, why do we need to disentangle the royal shit ?!
  14. border
    border 2 March 2021 15: 20
    They were robbed in about the same way in 1992 in August before the outbreak of the war between Sukhumi and Tbilisi. Only not with the use of armored trains, but simply drove into a spare wheel and from nearby houses (on the territory of Abkhazia), local armed even with Kalashnikovs ran out and gutted the entire train. From the foreman of the train, they took data on passengers (occupied places in the carriages), multiplied by 25 rubles. (only "Pavlovka" cars were introduced) and the ransom amount for the passenger train came out.
  15. Al356
    Al356 25 March 2021 04: 09
    I read in someone's memoirs of the time that the first echelons corny derailed and robbed the dead and wounded. All subsequent ones quickly learned about this, and the rest, angry, were already driving in battle formation, in full combat readiness, with security, sweeping away everything in their path at the slightest resistance.
  16. Armen Sologyan
    Armen Sologyan April 8 2021 10: 15
    The best Empire in the history of Mankind was the Russian Empire. The Russian Federation has only a good future, and those who are with Russia also have a good future.
  17. Protos
    Protos April 22 2021 20: 47
    History is cyclical, in the early 90s it was exactly the same!