Peter Alekseevich personally led the ground expeditionary forces and actually commanded the Caspian military flotilla during her voyage to the shores of the Caucasus. For a campaign of 80 companies of field troops, 20 separate battalions were formed with a total number of 22 thousand people with 196 guns. 7 dragoon regiments with a total number of 9 thousand people marched under the command of Major General Gavril Kropotov. The emperor enlisted the help of the Kalmyk Khan Ayuki, so 7 thousand took part in the campaign squad of Kalmyk cavalry. Tatars, Ukrainian and Don Cossack units also took part in the campaign. In the Caspian flotilla there were 274 ships with 6 thousand sailors.
The ships reached the mouth of the Terek. The sovereign went ashore and examined Turki. He was not satisfied with their location. The terrain was damp and unhealthy, leading to frequent illness and high mortality. On July 20, the flotilla entered the Caspian and followed a week along the western shore. On July 27, the infantry was landed at Agrakhan Cape, 4-s versts below the mouth of the Koisu River. Began arrangement camp. On this day, in the Caspian flotilla, as in the entire Russian fleet, a solemn prayer service was served. It was Victory Day at Gangut over the Swedish squadron. Peter I was proud of all his life. A few days later the cavalry arrived and joined up with the infantry.
The cavalry had to go into the first battle even before uniting with the main forces. Part of the cavalry under the command of the brigade leader Veteran was sent to take Enderi (St. Andrew’s village), which was located not far from the fortress of Sudan, which was later built. The local ruler decided to attack the Russians. The Highlanders ambushed Enderi in a dense forest that ran along a narrow and winding road. Brigadier Veterani made a blunder, not sending forward intelligence. Therefore, the front squadrons suffered heavy losses from enemy fire. Then the brigadier made another mistake. Instead of quickly passing a dangerous place and attacking Enderi, he hurried people and led a defensive battle in the gorge. This error was corrected by Colonel Naumov. Seeing the plight of his squad, he led his battalion forward and broke into Endery. The village took the attack, many mountaineers died. As a result, the detachment opened the way to the Agrakhan Gulf.
Peter, having received news of the attack on his troops, decided to punish the Highlanders. Kalmyk Khan Ayuke was instructed to attack the local mountain tribes. He made a bid near Enderi and his cavalry began to devastate near and far districts.
5 August, the Russian army continued moving south towards Derbent. The Caspian military flotilla was moving along the coast, ready to support the troops with artillery fire. On August 6, embassies from Shamkhal Tarkovsky and other mountain owners began to arrive on Peter’s river Sulak. They expressed obedience and loyalty to the Russian sovereign. Peter did not believe in the sincerity of what was said. He knew that only strength was respected here. Nevertheless, the emperor was encouraging each of the envoys arriving to him with his patronage. The Kabardian princes Murza Cherkassky and Aslan-Bek joined the Russian army with their troops.
12 August Russian troops entered Tarki, the capital of Shamkhala. Peter, at the head of the Semyonov and Preobrazhensky people, solemnly entered the city. He was followed in the carriage by Empress Catherine, who rarely left her husband in his field life. Tarkovsky lord Adil-Giray met and greeted the emperor a few miles from the city. Peter stayed with Shamkhal for several days. Adil-Girey proposed to send in a campaign all his army with the Russian tsar. But Peter took only a few scouts and translators, there was no shortage of troops. The emperor in return gave them 12 soldiers to Shamkhal, who made up the lord of Tarkov a guard of honor. They remained in Tarki until the death of Peter Alekseevich. On August 15, after the massacre at the camp of the Preobrazhensky regiment, Peter laid a mound on the Caspian coast. Later on this place will be the seaport and the town of Petrovsk.
The next day, the troops moved on. We walked in a march order, with "saving". It was reported that one of the most powerful Dagestan rulers of the Karakaytag regiment, Ahmed Khan, gathered large forces and was preparing to attack the Russians. Valid 19 August 16-th. a detachment of the Ottomansh Sultan Magmud and Ahmed Khan tried to stop the Russian army. A battle took place in which artillery was also used. The mountaineers were crushed, the village Utemish burned. The mountaineers taken prisoner were hanged in retaliation for the murder on the orders of Ahmet Khan of the Russian sahul Saul and three Cossacks (they were sent to police with a peace-loving letter).
23 August Russian troops occupied the strategic fortress Derbent without a fight. The local Khan, the nobility and the clergy "with all the people" greeted the Russian sovereign "with bread and salt." Peter handed the keys to the ancient city. On the same day, an earthquake occurred and Peter, addressing those who met him, said: "Nature itself makes me a solemn reception and sways the walls of the city before my power."
The capture of the Golden Gate of the Caucasus was the last act of the 1722 campaign of the year. The further advance of the Russian armed forces to the south was halted by the strongest storm. Sea elements destroyed 29 ships with food. The expeditionary forces carried a little food with them on land. The sovereign had a question: to attack further, on the Shemakha Khanate and Baku, or to interrupt the campaign and continue it in more favorable conditions?
Peter decided to leave the garrison in Derbent and return to Astrakhan with most of the forces. On the way back, near Sulak, where a small river Agrakhan was separated from him, Peter ordered to lay the fortress of the Holy Cross, where the garrison was left. Here the sovereign received several reports of “outrage” in Dagestan. Party mountaineers attacked the backward soldiers, on carts. At the same time an alarm message came from Derbent. Kazikumyk Khan attacked the redoubt, which Russian soldiers built near the city. The garrison emerged victorious. The Highlanders lost several hundred people and retreated.
Peter understood that if you leave these processes unattended, the “indignation” can cover most of Dagestan. And the troops of the mountaineers can move to the Russian fortifications along the Terek, to Derbent and the fortress of the Holy Cross under construction. And this will lead to unnecessary losses and a serious military conflict at a time when concentration of forces was required to solve the main task. It was necessary to act decisively and demonstratively tough. To suppress the rebellious hotbeds of Dagestan’s mountain, a detachment of ataman Krasnoshchekov was sent, which consisted mostly of Don Cossacks and Kalmyks. The blow was struck primarily on the possessions of the Karakaytag utsmiya, who did not reconcile after the defeat at Utemish. Ataman Krasnoshchekov "decimated absolutely everything," which was dangerous. Dagestan was pacified.
In the fall of 1723, Peter returned to Astrakhan. December 13 sovereign made a ceremonial entry into Moscow through the triumphal gates. They depicted Derbent with a laconic inscription: “Founded by a hero - conquered by the Great” (according to legend, Derbent was founded by Alexander the Great).
Returning to Russia, Peter Alekseevich did not part with the thought of the Persian campaign, which was to bring him closer to the tempting India. The commander of the Russian troops on the shores of the Caspian remained Major General Mikhail Matyushkin. To consolidate the Russian positions in the North Caucasus, on the border of the Astrakhan province, in the neighborhood of the fortress of the Holy Cross, the entire Terek Cossack army moved. Thousands of Don Cossack families (Agrakhan Cossack army) settled along the rivers Sulak and Agrakhani. On the banks of the Terek, only the Greben Cossacks were left. Their number, after the unsuccessful campaign of Prince Bekovich-Cherkassky, was significantly reduced. It took half a century to restore their former numbers. Grebentsov also wanted to be overpowered on Sulak, but among them the excitement began, there were rumors about a desire to leave for the Kuban, to the Cossacks-Nekrasovs. Peter decided to leave them on the Terek so that they would guard the Terek line.
Major General Matyushkin, back in 1722, received the task of organizing an expedition to capture Baku and establish a port in Baku Bay to base part of the Caspian Flotilla. The capture of Derbent and Baku firmly ensured the retention of the western - Caucasian coast of the Caspian Sea and brought Russia closer to the borders of the Persian Power proper.
For the occupation of Baku, a special detachment consisting of two battalions under Colonel Shipov was assigned. When the colonel asked for reinforcements, Peter refused, saying: “I will not give it. Stenka Razin with five hundred Cossacks was not afraid of Persians, and I give you two battalions of regular troops. ” In November, the Russian troops on ships of a small squadron under the command of Lieutenant-Commander Soymonov went to Enzeli Bay. Russian troops without a battle took the city of Rasht in the province of Gilan. The Persians were stunned by the sudden appearance of the Russians and offered no resistance. After the capture of the Rasht, most of the squadron went to the mouth of the Kura River. Soymonov was ordered to find a place to build a city that was to become the administrative center of Eastern Transcaucasia.
Meanwhile, the Persian authorities came to their senses: they demanded that Colonel Shipov leave Rasht, otherwise threatening to use military force. At this time, Russian soldiers turned the stone building of the city caravanserai into a fortress. Shipov refused to comply with the demand of the Persians. The Shah's troops and local militias launched two assaults during the day, but they were repulsed. When night fell, 15-th. The Persian army settled down to rest, showing its usual carelessness and not putting up strong patrols. Spikes took advantage of this. At night, the Russian forces of three companies made a sortie and hit the enemy camp on both sides. In the night there was a friendly "Hooray!", Which caused panic in the Persian camp. The Persians began to kill each other and soon turned into a total escape. In the morning, over a thousand corpses were found in an abandoned camp. After this defeat, the Persians for a long time did not disturb Shipov. He did not have to fear for the city. The Russians occupied the Mazanderan and Astrabad seaside provinces.
At this time, new vessels for the Caspian Flotilla were built in Kazan, Nizhny Novgorod and Astrakhan. In the summer of 1723, Matyushkin set about conquering the Baku Khanate. June 20 squad Matyushkina moved south, followed by a flotilla. 6 July Russian came to Baku. On the proposal of General Matyushkin voluntarily surrender the city, its residents refused. 21 July Russian troops repelled a sortie of citizens. The camp was strengthened by slingshots in case of the attack of the Khan's cavalry, therefore the enemy attack was repelled without much difficulty and almost without loss. Meanwhile, the Russian flotilla was anchored near the city wall and began bombing enemy fortifications. Russian gunners quickly suppressed enemy batteries and partially destroyed the city wall. A general assault was scheduled for July 25, but bad weather thwarted the plans. A strong wind drove away the Russian ships, and the inhabitants were able to close up the gaps in the wall. However, frightened by the threat of Matyushkin to set fire to the city with gunfire, on July 26 the city capitulated without a fight. Russian as trophies got 80 guns.
So in just two incomplete years, the Russian Empire became the master of the entire Caucasian coast of the Caspian Sea, capturing the key fortresses of Derbent and Baku, as well as the three Persian provinces. Emperor Peter, in gratitude, produced Matyushkin as lieutenant general. Congratulating him on his victories, the sovereign wrote that he was most pleased with the acquisition of Baku, “as a matter of fact, it constitutes the key to all our business.”
However, the conquest of the Caspian regions of the Caucasus did not mean the establishment of a strong Russian government here. Part of the local feudal nobility and residents was "pacified" only externally. So soon after the occupation of Baku, Matyushkin sent a dragoon battalion under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Zimbulatov to the neighboring Salyan region. The Salyan Naib Hussein Bek met the Russians in a friendly manner and ordered the deployment of soldiers. The external friendliness of the locals led to the fact that the Russian officers became careless and went to Naib not only without a convoy, but also without personal weapons. At one of the feasts, a hostile crowd rushed at the Russian commanders and killed them in the "most barbaric way." The same fate threatened the battalion, but the dragoons were warned in time and had time to board the ships, and sailed to Baku.
The attacks on the Russians and in Gilan did not cease. In the Gilyan province, Russian troops were now commanded by the brigadier V. Levashov. It was an experienced warrior who participated in the 1696 Azov campaign of the year. He was also a participant in cases against the Zucban highlanders and the Crimean Tatars. He fought in the army of Peter from the battle of Narva before the Derbent campaign 1722 of the year. Levashov acted exclusively offensively. He moved small columns in several directions in order to clear out of the hostile forces the significant space from Rasht to Mosul and from Kesker to Astara. Russian troops acted successfully against the Persian troops. Under Rashtom, the troops that had besieged Shipov’s squad were crushed and scattered. Russian infantry reached Loshomodan, drove the enemy into Fumin, stormed the well-fortified Sagman. Russian troops occupied the important Kesker, who stood at the crossroads of busy roads. But in order to gain a foothold in the region, it was necessary to constantly increase the Russian presence. The enemy had significant reserves and resources and easily transferred forces from one place to another.
In the last two years of Peter the Great’s life, representatives of Armenia addressed him several times. They asked for help. So, in 1724, a message from the patriarchs of Isaiah and Nerses came to St. Petersburg with a request to take the Armenian people into the citizenship of Russia. Peter Alekseevich gave a positive response to the Armenian patriarchs and rulers, taking them under the patronage of Russia.
12 September 1723 in St. Petersburg Russia and Persia concluded a peace agreement, according to which the Persians recognized vast territories as Russian possessions - Derbent, Baku, Resht, Shirvan, Gilan, Mazandaran and Astrabad provinces. It was a brilliant victory. Russia received very important in the strategic and economic areas. Russia made a serious step on the way to the Persian Gulf and India.
The Persians were forced to concede not only because of the success of the Russian troops, but also because of the invasion of the Ottoman army in the South Caucasus. The Persians could not simultaneously confront Russia and Turkey.
At the same time, St. Petersburg was unable to achieve the incorporation of Georgian and Armenian lands into Russia. 12 (23) June 1724 of the year in Constantinople signed an agreement between Russia and Turkey, according to which St. Petersburg was assigned land on the western and southern shores of the Caspian Sea, obtained under the St. Petersburg 1723 agreement with Persia. Russia also recognized the fact that the Ottomans were retreating to Kartli (Tiflis), the Erivan khanate, the Azerbaijani lands (Shemakha, Tabriz) and the North-Iranian lands (Qazvin).
Unfortunately, the sudden death of the Russian emperor (a number of researchers believe that Peter "helped" to die), crossed out the bright prospects of Russia in Persia. The death of the emperor in 1725 changed much on the shores of the Caspian and in the Caucasus. The reigning Catherine I declared the continuation of her husband’s policy, but in fact she did not even have a small fraction of his state capabilities. And the “nestlings of Petrov’s nest” turned out to be only good performers of the emperor’s will. None of them, even Alexander Menshikov, possessed a strategic level of thinking. In St. Petersburg, there were no defenders for the continuation of Peter’s case of "cutting a window" to the East, to India. There were various intrigues at court, there was a struggle for power, ranks, brilliant balls and holidays were arranged, and no one was concerned about any overseas lands south of Astrakhan.
Petersburg, by inertia, reinforced the Bottom (Persian) Corps. But this was no longer caused by the desire to continue the advance to the south, but by the conflict with Turkey. Istanbul was thinking of capturing the whole of Transcaucasia, Gilan and a section of the Caspian coast. However, for this it was necessary to oust the Russian forces from Persia. In addition, the position of the Russian forces on the southern and western shores of the Caspian Sea deteriorated. The Persians, encouraged by the fact that the Russians had stopped the offensive, began to increase pressure. The lower building kept only separate points, between them there were robber gangs, the roads were unsafe. Nobody paid taxes to the Russian treasury. Russian regiments were supplied only from Astrakhan. Gradually, the Russians began to hand over some positions to the Persians. Salyan garrison was taken to Baku. The Russian posts left the banks of the Kura and also moved closer to the Baku Bay. It was also restless in Dagestan. The garrison in Derbent was in constant alarm, as it could be attacked at any time. Shamkhal Tarkovsky, who convinced Peter of his loyalty, entered into an alliance with the Kazikumik Khan and the Karakaytag tribe. They all set their sights on the Russian settlements on Sulak.
From the side it seemed that the position of the Russians in the Sulak valley was hopeless. But it turned out differently. When 25-th. the army of Shamkhal went on the offensive, on the way of this army was a small Agrakhan redoubt. He was defended by 50 Russian infantry and 100 of the Terek Cossacks under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Maslov. Shamkhal began a siege of fortifications. However, the garrison not only defended itself skillfully, but also made a desperate sortie, which was crowned with the famous Russian bayonet strike. The highlanders were so impressed with this outing that they fell out and went home. Only Shamkhal remained with his warriors. He also retreated to Tarki.
The commander of the Russian troops in the Caucasus, Matyushkin, did not leave this treachery without punishment, and responded with a punitive raid. Major General Kropotov's detachment was ordered to exterminate those auls that participated in the attack on the Russian possessions and take Shamkhal dead or alive. For the head of a dead Shamkhal promised 2 thousand rubles in silver, for live - 5 thousand rubles. Expedition completed its task. But Shamkhal failed to take. He ran away, leaving his possessions. Then the raid was repeated by Colonel Eropkin. Tarki took, the Shamkhal palace was crushed. Shamkhala was driven into the Dagestan mountains. Having not received support and having lost everything, Shamkhal thought again and gave up, asking for forgiveness. He hoped to save for his kind of considerable land south of the Terek. Matyushkin ordered the arrest of Shamkhal, as a state criminal, he swore allegiance to Russia. He was tried and sent to Murmansk Coke, where he ended his life path. The Empress ordered the destruction of the Tarkovsky shamkhalism (later Persia, having restored its position in the Caucasus, would restore it as its vassal possession).
Matyushkin’s actions showed that in the Caucasus and Persia (in the East in general), only offensive actions bring success. Energetic, decisive and tough generals, and statesmen achieve victory. To establish the Russian presence on the southern and western shores of the Caspian Sea, it was necessary to work a lot. Unfortunately, in Petersburg, all the energy and resources went to completely different goals. The result was sad. All the works of Peter and the Russian soldiers, the builders were put to ashes. Petersburg, in an effort to avoid war with Turkey (which still began), returned all Caspian oblasts to the Persian empire according to the Resht (1732) and Ganja treaties (1735).