Peter I, despite his shortcomings, undoubtedly possessed strategic thinking. The victory over Sweden returned to Russia the ancient Novgorod lands along the shores of the Gulf of Finland and the mouth of the Neva. Received the Russian state and the Baltic States, with Riga and Reval.
But Russia was never able to go to the Mediterranean Sea. Even Azov, after the unsuccessful Prut campaign of 1711, had to be returned to the Ottomans. Not only the Black Sea straits, but also the mouths of the Danube, Dniester, Dnieper and Don belonged to Turkey. In fact, the Black Sea was the inland sea of the Ottoman Empire, like the Sea of Marmara. Its shores belonged to Turkey, its vassal - the Crimean Khanate and Cherkessia. But once the Black Sea was rightly called the Russian, and the Russians stood firmly on its shores. Under Peter, it was not possible to gain a foothold on the shores of the Black Sea. Although a lot of manpower and resources were spent, thousands of people in the Azov campaigns were lost, the Azov fleet was built.
Petersburg becoming a serious factor in European politics, could not part with the thought of the East. As a matter of fact, история shows that the east (southeast) direction has always been crucial for Russia. Peter would not have been one of the greatest statesmen of the Russian state if he had given up on the idea of establishing himself in the East. Peter wanted to pave the way through Central Asia to rich India. Pyotr Alekseevich understood that without creating and strengthening a new economic base, Russia could not be a great power, and for this it was necessary to firmly become on world communications.
First of all, the attention of the king was riveted on Persia, which could be the key to the wealth of India. Peter has already tried to pave the path to India. 2 June 1714, the king issued a decree "On the premise of the Transfiguration of the regiment captain Lieutenant Prince. Alexander Bekovich-Cherkassky to find the mouths of the Darya River ... ”. Thus began the preparation of a military campaign against the Khiva Khanate. Alexander Bekovich-Cherkassky (before the adoption of Christianity - Devlet-Girei-Murza) was instructed to: investigate the old course of the Amudarya River and the possibilities to turn it into the old bed (there was an assumption that there is gold in this area); persuade Khiva Khan in Russian citizenship; on the way to Khiva, and especially at the mouth of the Amudarya, to build fortresses; Established in Khiva, try to persuade the citizenship of Bukhara Khan; to conduct reconnaissance from Khiva to Hindustan for the construction of a trade route. Bekovich get a detachment in 4 thousand soldiers. 2 Thousands of Yaik and Greben Cossacks and 100 Dragoons. In 1716, the expedition was being trained in Astrakhan. In 1717, the expedition began. Khiva Khan gathered a large army, but was defeated in a three-day battle. Then he entered into peace negotiations with Bekovich and suggested that the detachment of the detachment into five parts, so that it was easier to feed the local residents. It was a military trick. All Russian troops were destroyed separately. Bekovich died. Few managed to escape. Expedition failed.
In 1723, Peter returned to the idea of a breakthrough to the East. Vice Admiral Daniel Wilster, a Danish naval officer who transferred to the Russian service, designed the project for the Madagascar (Indian) expedition. The objectives of this secret mission were to provide a Russian protectorate to the pirates of Madagascar to create a Russian base in the Indian Ocean and to establish trade relations with the Mughal empire in India. In the autumn of 1723, two frigates were prepared for a voyage into the Indian Ocean, to Madagascar, in deep secrecy and very quickly in Reval. Two Russian commanders of both frigates were appointed as advisers to Wilster: Lieutenant Commander DI Myasnoy, commander of the Amsterdam-Galei frigate, and Lieutenant Commander M. Kiselev, senior officer of the Dekrondelivde frigate. Vice-Admiral Daniel Jakob Wilster had to promise the Madagascar chief of the filibusters protection of Russia and protection against all enemies, and even if he expresses a desire to bring him to live in the Russian Empire. Then the detachment had to go to India and try to persuade the “great-moghul” to enter into commercial relations with the Russian state. Unfortunately, the technical condition of the ships failed, they could not perform such a long march. In addition, the failure was facilitated by the wrong choice of ships and the haste of their preparation. In addition, the squad set off in the winter months, uncomfortable for swimming (December 21). This has already forced 8 on January 1724, the ships return to Revel. After this, Peter canceled the expedition.
It should be noted that India was tempting for Peter Alekseevich from childhood, from Alexandria. It was a novel that came to Russia, semi-fantastic in content, about Alexander the Great's campaign in India. Having reigned with his elder brother Ivan, Peter did not forget the fairy-tale country, and in 1694, he sent merchant Seeds the Little to India. The merchant was tasked to collect as much information as possible about the eastern country. The merchant was provided with money and goods from the sovereign treasury. In Astrakhan, Semyon Malykiy was given to comrades Ivan Sevrin's fellow man, accompanied by a kisser, interpreter (translator) and a convoy. Astrakhan voivode gave letters to the Persian and Indian rulers. In November, 1694, the guest Semen Little, with a trade caravan, reached Persia. From there, with the merchants, the king's messenger came to India, visited a number of its cities, including Delhi and Agra. Semyon the Little was introduced to the ruler of the Mughal dynasty, handing him his credentials. Apparently, the merchant led the king and travel notes.
After selling all the goods, Simon the Little went back. This time he decided to get to Persia by sea. However, in the Persian Gulf, their vessel was looted by pirates from the island of Bahrain. The Tsar's envoy died in Shamakhi, and other members of the expedition were killed. Only Ivan Sevrin got to Astrakhan.
The failure of the detachment Bekovich-Cherkassky and Madagascar venture, did not change the intentions of Peter Alekseevich. His plan struck with its strategic swing - to find a way to India, by land or sea. Moreover, Peter wanted to explore the way through the Arctic Ocean, for this purpose they equipped Vitus Bering expedition. And yet the most studied, easier to reach and convenient was the ancient way from Russia along the Volga and the Caspian Sea to Persia and further India. It was in this way that Oriental goods, including Indian goods, went to the Russian land. Part of this trade route belonged to Russia and was equipped. Nizhny Novgorod became a major shopping center. Here were built ships for navigation on the Volga and the Caspian Sea. Astrakhan, the southern gate of Russia and also an important shopping center, stood at the mouth of the Volga. Russian guest merchants fully mastered the Caspian (Khvalynskoe) Sea and sailed to the southern Caspian coast, to the trading cities of Rasht, Enzeli and Baku. But there was no further way. The further way to rich India was controlled by the Persians.
It is believed that by the year 1710, Peter Alekseevich had finally matured the idea of a military expedition along the Caucasian coast of the Caspian Sea to the south, to Persia. At the same time, calls for military assistance came from Georgia and Armenia. A.P. Volynsky in his "Justification of the Persian Case" reported that Peter was informed about the state of Persian affairs by the Georgian and Armenian patriarchs. They did not want to live under the yoke of the Persians and repeatedly asked the Russian tsar to help. Volinsky informed Peter Alekseevich from Astrakhan that the Georgian Tsar Vakhtang VI was asking Russia to protect Christians living in the Caucasus, and suggested starting joint military actions against Persia. King Vakhtang reported that Persia is weak and the Persians will not be able to resist the Russian-Georgian troops. He promised to put 30-40 thousand soldiers against Persia. Similar messages were coming from Armenia. Armenian ruler Minas Vardaped asked to support the long-suffering Armenian people. Catholicos Nerses wrote to Peter about the plight of Christians in the countries of the Muslim East and that they were waiting for the help of Russia of the same faith.
All such correspondence went through the Astrakhan governor, through the Embassy court of the governor. The most diverse intelligence information about the state of the Persian armed forces, the power of the rebels, who opposed the Shah, about the possible help that Russian troops could get from Ossetia, Kabarda, Georgia and the Armenian population of Transcaucasia flowed here. Thanks to the efforts of Volkonsky between Russia and Persia an agreement was concluded that was beneficial for the Russian merchants. Russians and Armenians got the right to build their churches in Armenia; Russian merchants received the right of free trade, without customs inspection; it was allowed to export raw silk through Russia to other countries, which made it possible to monopolize a significant part of the silk trade; it was allowed to build a large jetty on the western shore of the Caspian Sea; in the event of the collapse of a Russian ship near the Persian coast, the local authorities had to return the goods and not take the team prisoner.
Preparation and the beginning of the Persian campaign
Peter Alekseevich understood that in order to pave the way to India, it was necessary to firmly stand on the Caucasian and Persian shores of the Caspian Sea. Moreover, for this it was necessary to make significant military efforts. Everything was decided by brute force. For this, it was decided to organize a Persian (Caspian) expedition. The base for the preparation of the campaign was Astrakhan. It was the main port of Russia in the Caspian; the small Caspian military was also based here. flotilla. Persia did not have a navy in order to facilitate the task of seizing a bridgehead on the Persian coast.
Even before the march, a certain intelligence of the Caspian was accomplished. In 1710, Captain Jacob Rental sent to Astrakhan traveled south with the merchants to find a convenient harbor for ships. Rental in a memorandum to Admiral F. M. Apraksin wrote that such a place had been found and examined. He proposed to build a pier in the bay of Baku, asking permission of Khan Shemakhi, a vassal of the Shah of Persia. Peter was acquainted with the results of this expedition.
The governor of Astrakhan, and then part of the vast Astrakhan province included - Guriev-Yaitsky, Dmitrievsk, Petrovsk, Samara, Simbirsk, Syzran, Terki, Tsaritsyn, Krasny Yar, Cherny Yar and Kizlyar, had an instruction to map the Caspian Sea. The main work was done by Lieutenant Fyodor Soymonov and Captain Jacob Rental. The drawn map was called the “Flat picture of the Caspian Sea from the mouth of the Volga of the river to the Yarkovsky channel to the mouth of the Kura ...”.
At the end of 1721, a sawmill was erected in Astrakhan for sawmill sawing. This allowed in the 1722 year to begin building "island" (seaworthy) boats and flippers of vessels intended for the carriage of goods, including military. Each such punt took on board several flippers of a load, and the flipper by weight was equal to 120 poods. They built them in a great hurry, waiting for the emperor to arrive. Along the Volga came caravans with provisions for the troops: bread, corned beef, vinegar and white wine. But the military did not have enough bread, so Volynsky requisitioned surplus food from the population. Surpluses were selected in favor of the treasury with the condition of return.
In February, 1722, Peter began preparations for the march. The troops were concentrated in the cities of the Upper Volga - Yaroslavl, Tver, Uglich. It was ordered to build 200 island boats and 45 fins. By the end of May, the boats and ships were ready and they were concentrated in Nizhny Novgorod. By this time, troops were also concentrated in Nizhny Novgorod. These included the two regiments of the Peter's guard, tried and tested in battles - Preobrazhensky and Semenovsky. Among them were many experienced people who more than once went on oars and sails, taking part in river, lake and sea fights.
2 June, the first ships from Nizhny Novgorod moved to Astrakhan. Each island boat took on board up to 40 soldiers with weapons and equipment. In the first half of July, 1722, all ships and troops arrived at the designated location. The Caspian military flotilla was created, like everything else in Peter the Great, at a rapid pace and with great effort. Petr Alekseevich personally laid the Astrakhan sea port in the summer of 1722, where ships intended for the cruise were collected. 4 November 1722 of the year issued an official decree establishing the military port. At the same time, the construction of a large shipyard began. A fast-growing military camp appeared at the pier of the Ivanovsky monastery on the Kutum River. Peter personally inspected all vessels intended for the expedition. Shortcomings were eliminated on the spot. For the storage of drinking water on ships during the march 1 thousand barrels were manufactured. There was so much work that the emperor ordered the release of all Astrakhan convicts held in the Astrakhan prison, except for the murderers,
The transport ships were divided into 5 units: the first commander was Hesler’s capital, the second was Vilboa’s capital, the third was lieutenant commander Prince Vasily Urusov, the fourth was lieutenant commander Peter Pushkin, and the fifth was lieutenant commander Ivan Urusov.
The fleet in the Caspian Sea created in the shortest possible time. Experienced commanders from the Baltic Sea arrived to strengthen the crews. It is clear that the Caspian frigates, heckboats, shnyavs, bombardier ships, brigantines, galleys, yachts, bots, and galliot were by no means distinguished for their high combat and seaworthy qualities. They were built in a hurry, and they had many defects. Yes, and their names are striking variety. In particular, heckboats, which were built in Nizhny Novgorod, were named after cities and localities — Nizhny Novgorod, Simbirsk, Tsaritsyn, Tmutarakan, Ararat, etc. Hekbots, which were built in Kazan, had Caucasian and Persian names: "Gilan", "Dagestan", etc. Many of the ship names were associated with Roman and Greek mythology: "Mars", "Venus", "Vulcan", "Mercurios" and others. The messengers of the ships were named for their purpose: " The Postman, Courier, Sokol, and others. The Caspian flotilla was headed by Fedor Matveyevich Apraksin.
Before the beginning of the Russian campaign in Persia, a real internecine war began, which allowed Peter to intervene in the conflict, supporting the legitimate authority, against which half the country had fought. To establish contact with the Shah, officer Stepan Chebotaev was sent to Shamakhi with “special letters and manifestos”. The results of this mission are unknown, apparently, it has not reached its goal.
2 July in Georgia to the king Vakhtang was sent with letters to the imperial envoy Prince Boris Turhistanov. He had to hand over to the Georgian tsar, who planned to stand on the side of Peter, so that the Georgian troops "would not bring about any ruin and distress" to the local population. This could lead to the flight of people and their irritation, which made the Persian campaign difficult.
It was decided to perform in the summer of 1722, although not all preparations were completed. This was due to the great uprising in the eastern regions of Persia. This uprising made it difficult for the Shah of Persia to organize defense. Shah's troops were busy in the other direction. In addition, there was a reason for interfering in Persian affairs. Peter could explain his enterprise by wanting to help the “friendly” shah in the fight against the rebels.
The blessing was found and a convenient occasion to start the hike. A Russian merchant caravan was defeated in the town of Shamakhi. Russian merchants were robbed and "beaten." Shemakha Khan and his warriors were indifferent witnesses to the attack (they may have been in the lot). Russia's demand for the return of the loot was ignored by the owner of Shamakhi.
15 July 1722, the Persian campaign began. On this day, ships with troops began to leave Astrakhan, heading for the Volga mouth, and then into the open sea and toward the Caucasian coast. The main forces left 18 July. Beyond the mouth of the Volga, the ships joined together in detachments.
Forward to the flotilla and ground forces, an appeal was sent by the Russian emperor to the Persians and other peoples living on the western shore of the Caspian Sea. The document was written in Persian and Tatar and reproduced as a proclamation. Petr Alekseevich announced that he was going to help "our faithful friend and neighbor", the Persian Shah against the rebels. In the same appeal, it was reported that the rebels, who rebelled against their people, and the Russian people "innocently and unmercifully chopped up", looted goods for 4 million rubles. Thus, agreements between the states were violated. The Russian monarch promised the local population to protect and protect their lives and property from possible looting and violence from the Russian troops. This promise of the emperor was not an empty sound and attracted to the Russian sympathy both the residents of Dagestan and Persia. The discipline of the Russian troops was one of the reasons for the success of the Persian campaign.
The campaign began simultaneously on the sea and on land. The ships and vessels of the Caspian flotilla were carried by troops, artillery and stocks. Regular cavalry (dragoons) and irregular cavalry marched by the shore. The cavalry entered Dagestan through the Mozdok steppe.
To be continued ...