Military Review

Field Marshal General Christopher Antonovich Minich: Siege of Danzig and Defeat of the Crimean Khanate

The Siege of Danzig

29 November 1733, the Russian corps advanced to Danzig. 4 January 1734, the Russian dragoons defeated the Polish squad and occupied Thorn. 8 (22) February, Russian troops blocked Danzig. However, Peter Lassi could not take the fortress. Under his leadership, there were only about 15 thousand people. In addition, part of the squad was dispersed in small batches to fight with supporters of Leshchinsky. The garrison of Danzig under the command of Major-General von Steinflicht numbered about 25 thousand people. The powerful fortress was well supplied with artillery, provisions and ammunition. The garrison was counting on assistance from numerous detachments of supporters of Leshchinsky who were in the area. We were waiting for help from France. True, the first French squadron (9 battleships, 3 frigate and corvette) reached Copenhagen only. There, its commander, Count César Antoine de la Luzern, learned that Leschinsky had successfully arrived in Poland and was elected king, so the squadron returned to Brest.

Lassi began the siege of the fortress. But the lack of troops, heavy artillery and winter conditions did not allow for more active operations. During this period there was a "small war": Russian troops smashed the formation of "Stanislavchik." Petersburg, dissatisfied with the delay, decided to change the commander. Field Marshal Christopher Munnich, president of the Military Collegium, was appointed commander in chief of the siege army. Biron and Osterman pushed through these decisions, because they wanted to remove Minich from the capital. Munnich was glad to have the opportunity to show his military talents.

5 March 1734, the field marshal arrived at the siege corps and took command. Munnich sent the St. Petersburg Dragoon Regiment to Elbing and Marienburg, which overturned the Crown Denov Infantry Regiment and brought 7 serf guns to Elbing and Marienburg. This somewhat improved the situation. On March 7-9, Russian soldiers built redoubts and batteries on Gypsykenkenberg Mountain, and on the night of March 10 captured the suburb of Scotland. In this fight, 4 guns were captured. The 11 of March were captured by the Jesuit Monastery and the redoubt of Danzig-Haupt. However, the situation in the field of artillery, as before, was not the benefit of the Russian corps. The Poles were more intense fire, Russian troops suffered significant losses. Not enough ammunition, had to collect enemy cores and unexploded bombs. Assistance in taking Danzig could have been provided by the Russian Baltic Fleet, but in St. Petersburg they hoped for a quick fall in the fortress and were slow in sending a squadron.

In early April, supporters of Stanislav Leschinsky tried to lift the siege from Danzig. 8-thousand the detachment under the command of Count Tarlo and the castellan of Chirsky crossed the Vistula and moved towards Danzig. To intercept the Stanislavs, Minnich sent an 3 thousand detachment of Lieutenant-General Zaryazhsky and Major General Biron and an 3 thousand detachment under the command of Peter Lassi. In the evening of April 9 (20) near the village of Vyschechin during the 2-hour battle, the Poles were defeated and fled.

To reinforce the blockade of Danzig, on the night of April 26 (7), a detachment led by Colonel Kerman stormed the Sommer-Schanz redoubt, which was located between the city and Fort Vayhmelmünde (located at the confluence of the Vistula River into the sea). It was captured 4 guns. On the night of April 29 (May 10), the Russian army began to storm the fortifications of Hagelsberg. But this assault ended in failure. In the assault units, in the first minutes, all the commanders were knocked out (they were in the front row). The soldiers, having occupied the enemy’s trenches, lay down and refused to retreat, massively dying under enemy fire. Then Lassi personally broke through to the front and was able to convince the soldiers to retreat. In this battle, the Russian army lost more than 2 thousand people killed and wounded. Losses of the enemy were less - about 1 thousand people. By this time, the number of Russian siege corps has increased somewhat - to 18 thousand soldiers, but still Russian troops were inferior in number to Polish.

Field Marshal General Christopher Antonovich Minich: Siege of Danzig and Defeat of the Crimean Khanate

French arrival

At this time in Paris, they learned about the siege of Danzig. A squadron with assault troops under the command of Admiral Jean-Henri Bereil was sent to help Leshchinsky. Three regiments were sent - Perigord, Blesua and Lamansh. They wanted to send two more regiments, but their sending never took place. April 29 (10 May), on the day of the unsuccessful assault of Hagelsberg by Russian troops, the French squadron embarked on the raid of Danzig. It should be noted that the squadron in the campaign collected with great difficulty. During the loading of the assault force, there was a shortage of ammunition; it turned out that the uniform of the soldiers was worn out. The ships were not ready for the march, and they had to be repaired almost on the go. The supplies were able to replenish only in Copenhagen, where the French ambassador de Pello showed quickness. Pilots were hired here and they chartered three flat-bottomed vessels for future landing.

The French landed troops on the island of Laplat - a small area between the fort Vaihselmunde and the sea (a total of 2,4 thousand people). It was planned to advance to the Vistula, board the prepared ships and go to Danzig. The Danzig garrison was preparing a sortie to support the French. But in the night from 3 (14) to 4 (15) in May, the French escaped (!): Boarded back on the ships and sailed in the opposite direction. The French ambassador to Poland, Marquis de Monti, who was in Danzig, urgently wrote a report to King Louis XV, complaining about the actions of Brigadier Lamotte de la Perouse and Admiral Bereyl. The French ambassador to Denmark, de Piedlo, was ordered to deploy ships. Braided, he held a meeting, where he made the corresponding suggestion to the escaped commanders and went with the squadron himself to personally supervise the instructions of the high command. 13 (24) in May near the Weichselmunde fortress, the French squadron landed troops for the second time.

The next day, several Frenchmen made their way to Danzig, which assured their command of the possibility of a breakthrough. At this time, Russian troops received a long-awaited reinforcement. Arrived 2 Saxon regiment (cavalry and infantry) and 6 artillery companies. Most importantly, the Saxons brought artillery, 36 guns and a significant amount of ammunition to them. In addition, 15 (26) in May, the Russian squadron under the command of Admiral Thomas Gordon, taking siege artillery, ammunition and supplies, left Kronstadt for Danzig. The squadron included the 100-gun flagship Peter the First and the Second, seven 66-gun ships, six 54-gun ships, two 44-gun ships, three frigates, a bombardier ship and shnyavs (a few days later the squadron was reinforced by another bombardier ). From that moment on, for the first time since the siege began, the Russian and Saxon artillery began to fire more shells on the enemy than the Polish garrison.

The 16 (27) of May, the French, not knowing that the situation had changed not in their favor, tried to break through to Danzig and ran into the position of the Olonets Dragoon Regiment of Colonel Yuri Leslie. They were waiting for the Poles to make a strong raid, supporting their attack. In this first in stories the clash of Russian and French troops, the French suffered a complete defeat. The brave comte de Papelo fell in battle, the French lost an 232 man in a battle and hurriedly retreated to the island of Laplate at the mouth of the Vistula. Russian dragoons lost only 8 people killed and 28 wounded.

True, the French were soon able to take revenge. 25 May (5 June) 32-gun frigate "Mitau" under the command of Captain Peter Defremeri, he conducted reconnaissance of Danzig, was captured by the French and taken to Copenhagen. Captain Defremeri was caught on the fact that Russia and France were not officially at war. He entered into negotiations with the French, and those, violating the rules of war, seized the frigate. The Defremeri protests, that for this “it was necessary to have a flag and a pennant Polish or Danzig, and not French,” were not heard. Later, when the exchange of prisoners occurred, Defremeri and all the officers of the ship were sentenced to death. Only when all the details of the ship’s captivity were clarified did the former ranks return to all of them. Defremeri was not a coward and a traitor. 10 (21) July 1737, he took the death of a hero in battle by the Turks, during the boarding by the Ottomans of his bot, he blew up the ship and died with him.

May 30 (June 10) in Danzig attempted to break through the pram (flat-bottomed artillery sailing vessel) and haliots, but the French ships were stopped by Russian artillery fire from the Sommer-Shantz redoubt. Artillery duel began. The ships did not achieve much success, and the Russian gunners were able to inflict serious damage on the enemy ships. So that the enemy could not repeat such an operation, Minikh ordered the Vistula to be blocked off by connected logs, and on the fairway flooded the court.


June 1 to Danzig arrived Russian fleet, which delivered more 74 guns and mortars, as well as ammunition. By this time, the French ships had left Danzig. The Russian ships only blocked the frigate, the pram and the messenger ship. Having received artillery and ammunition, Field Marshal Munnich intensified the bombardment of the fortress. 4 (15) of June squadron ships joined the bombing of Danzig. Russian ships fired on the Weichselmunde fort, the French camp on the island and the French ships. 5 (16) in June as a result of shelling explosions of powder depots in Danzig and Weichselmünde occurred.

Intensive bombardment soon forced the enemy to capitulate. 9 (20) June Garrison Weichselmünde sent a truce and began negotiations. In the evening of June 11 (22), the French capitulated. 13 Jun raised a white flag seaside fort. Minich personally arrived at the French camp and took their banners, and the Vaihselmünde garrison swore allegiance to Augustus III. In the fortress and on ships, 168 cannons and a significant amount of ammunition were taken as trophies.

Stanislav Leschinsky, dressed as a peasant, and on the night of June 17 fled from Danzig. 26 June (7 July) 1734 of the Year surrendered to Danzig. The city dwellers gave Count Minich French agents, including the Marquis de Monti and the Companions of Leschinsky - the Counts Fyodor Potocki and Stanislav Ponyatovsky, the subcarpium of the great Crown Frantisek of Ossolinsky, the printer Serakovsky, the Sejmovoy Marshal of Rachevsky and the commandant of Danzig Steinflikh. The city has been indemnified in 2 million thalers. Trophies were captured: 1 French frigate, 2 pram with 52 guns, 114 serf guns and a significant amount of ammunition.

It was a complete victory. Leshchinsky expelled from the Commonwealth. Poland remained in the sphere of influence of Russia. Augustus awarded Munnich with a sword and a cane sprinkled with diamonds. In St. Petersburg, Minikh was treated more coolly. He was accused of slowness - despite the fact that the Polish garrison was almost twice as good as the Russian corps, and in the absence of siege artillery and the necessary amount of ammunition in the first siege period. It was even said that Minikh received money to let Leshchinsky escape from Danzig.

Russian-Turkish war 1735 — 1739

In 1735, the Russian-Turkish war began. The reason for this was Turkey’s intervention in Polish affairs, Istanbul was unhappy with the strengthening of Russian positions in Poland; the actions of the French in Istanbul, who tried to embroil Russia and Turkey; Kabarda’s desire to quit dependence on Crimea and go under the auspices of Russia; Crimean Tatars' raids on Russian lands, including in the Caucasus.

In 1735, 20-th. Corps commanded by Lieutenant-General Mikhail Leontyev was sent to the Crimea. However, due to problems with water and food, Leontyev’s campaign was unsuccessful. Having lost half the troops, he and the others could barely return to Ukraine. Field Marshal Munnich was appointed commander-in-chief of the Russian army.

Munnich put forward a very ambitious plan of war. In a letter to Biron, he said that Azov would be captured in 1736 year. "We will become the masters of the Don, Donets, Perekop, Nogai possessions between the Don and the Dnieper in the Black Sea, and maybe the Crimea itself will belong to us." In 1737, he planned to subdue the entire Crimea, Kuban, Kabarda, to establish full control over the Sea of ​​Azov. At 1738, the year was planned to subjugate the Belgorod and Budjak hordes along the Dniester, to establish control over Moldova and Wallachia. The 1739 campaign of the year was supposed to end with a complete victory over Turkey: “The banners and standards of Her Majesty come up ... where? in Constantinople ... ". You can’t refuse Minich in strategic thinking.

The Russian command in the 1736 year defined the main objectives of this campaign: the capture of Azov and Ochakov, the seizure of the Crimea. Minikh divided the army into two groups: one was to go to Azov, the other to go down the Dnieper and occupy the Crimean peninsula. Minich was first in 9-th. housing directed to Azov. Suddenly, appearing in front of Azov for the enemy, the Russian troops on the night of March 31 captured two fortifications - a tower (two stone towers on both banks of the Don). On April 3, the Buttercup, which was located on the left bank of the northern channel of the Don Delta, the Dead Donets River, was seized by a sudden blow. It was of strategic importance, covering the exit to the Sea of ​​Azov. The Turkish garrison, not expecting an attack, tried to leave the fortress and flee to Azov, but was captured. Russian soldiers seized 20 guns and all supplies in the fortress.

When General Vasily Levashov arrived at Azov with reinforcements, Field Marshal Minikh left him to continue the siege, and he hurried to the banks of the Dnieper, to Tsaritsynka, where the 50 thousand army was assembled on the Ukrainian line. The army arrived Peter Lassi, who received the rank of Field Marshal. Minich appointed him to lead the siege of Azov. The fortress capitulated on June 30.

Image of the Siege of Azov in the year 1736.

Crimean campaign

Minikh moved the troops to the Crimea five square, and after a month-long transition, the Russian army 26 in May was at Perekop. On the way, the Russian army repulsed the 20-thousand attack. Crimean troops in the Black Valley. Not afraid 100-th. Tatar troops standing behind Perekop, Russian troops captured Perekop shaft, losing only 200 people killed and wounded. Tatars fled into the peninsula. Minikh put forward a special detachment under Leontiev to capture Kinburn, and he entered the Crimea.

The Crimean Khanate was subjected to fire and sword, having paid for centuries of predatory raids and campaigns against Russia. 15 June Kozlov was taken, and 27 June crushed the Crimean capital - Bakhchisarai. 3 July Russian troops occupied the Ak-Mosque. Kinburn surrendered to Leontiev. The Crimean detachments actually did not offer resistance, avoiding serious clashes with the Russian army, attacking only carts and small Russian detachments. Combat casualties of the army of Munnich did not exceed 2 thousand people.

However, in mid-July, the troops had to be taken to Perekop. The terrain was completely devastated by both Tatar and Russian troops. The shortage of food and water was very significant. These difficulties were joined by massive diseases. As a result, the losses from diseases were much higher than from the fighting. Minich led the troops to Ukraine. Due to high losses and exhaustion of the army, Minikh rejected St. Petersburg's proposal to go to the Crimea again in the fall.

The fall of Azov and the invasion of Russian troops in the Crimea provoked anger in Istanbul, but did not respond, as the Ottoman government was concerned about news of the alliance between the Russian Empire and Austria. During the 1737 campaign of the year, Munnich was ordered to take on another strategic Turkish fortress, which was located at the mouth of the Dnieper - Ochakov.

To be continued ...
Articles from this series:
Field Marshal General Christopher Antonovich Minich and his ministry to Russia
Field Marshal Christopher Antonovich Minich: the capture of Ochakov, the brilliant Stavuchan victory and the overthrow of Biron
Field Marshal General Christopher Antonovich Minich: Siege of Danzig and Defeat of the Crimean Khanate
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  1. knn54
    knn54 April 11 2013 11: 29
    Catherine II said of Minich:
    "Not being the son of Russia, he was one of her fathers." Short, clear and fair!
  2. biglow
    biglow April 11 2013 11: 48
    the author was not in those days no Ukraine, correct the text
  3. George
    George April 11 2013 16: 03
    Prince Dolgoruky Vasily Mikhailovich. But he earned the officer rank and sword, the first to climb the ramparts of Perekop. And he was only 14 years old. Minich personally presented the young hero with a well-deserved reward, and also managed to defend him in front of Anna Ioannovna, who pursued Dolgoruky. At her command, the Dolgoruky did not dare to teach literacy. And already as a general, Vasily Mikhailovich did not know how to write, which, however, does not detract from his merits both as a military man and as commander in chief of Moscow.
    Muscovites appreciated him for his simplicity, justice and patriarchy. Good, he was strict with his subordinates. “I am a military man, not paid for in ink,” he said, emphasizing his aversion to bribery and crocheting. “The prince lived in Russian, was a hospice, a generous man. Moscow cried about him for a long time, and it still makes me sad for all comparisons with those who take its place. ” I. M. Dolgoruky in his “Temple of the Heart”. Another poet, also a contemporary, Yu. A. Neledinsky-Meletsky dedicated an epitaph to him:

    “Passerby, do not be amazed that the magnificent mausoleum
    Do not you see it above the dust;
    There are villains covered by it;
    For virtue there is no glory from that!
    May pride perishable tombs build,
    According to Dolgorukov, Moscow is sobbing! ”
  4. de klermon
    de klermon April 11 2013 22: 36
    Again an attempt to produce a national hero from a careerist-mercenary! By what logic does it appear that Burchard Christoph von Munnich has turned around in Russia, and has not been able to do it anywhere before? Minikh is a talented engineer, a good and successful military man, a happy intriguer for a certain period ... Personality, undoubtedly outstanding, but I want to remind you that he was guided only by personal interests, being devoted not to the country but PERSONALLY to its ruler (and even then not to everyone)! As I noted earlier: “At the state penal servitude in Rogervik, where this cruel and ambitious man headed the construction of the port, 4-5 thousand people perished annually according to various estimates! Given that every spring and autumn the entire construction site was washed into the sea by a storm, Minikh was silent. Why? But because he didn’t care! Spit! They pay, they don’t drive, they ordered, and I’m building ... Crimean campaigns ... Minikh won victories, but how? ”They quite rightly note that the losses of the Russians - basically not fighting! Do you know Suvorov’s secret? Hygiene and healthy eating! After 30 years, Potemkin and Suvorov did not have such losses in the same places (there were, of course, one siege of Ochakov worth what, but not in a mini-way). Why is the difference? Suvorov, of course, is a genius, but first of all he served Russia, and Minih himself! That's why his army was left without convoys and infirmaries in sufficient quantities! Minih is a liberator from Biron!))) Yes, he is not a liberator!)) A good liberator: he overthrew one temporary worker, and he (the same one) took his place !! Minich's main incentive is his dimensionless ambition!
    Undoubtedly, Minich is an outstanding personality! He stood out sharply from the court grayness of the Annensky court alongside, including, with many Russians (in fact, undeservedly forgotten)! He is sympathetic from the point of view of today thanks to his courageous martyrdom in contrast with other "non-men" of the court (Braunschweig alone is worth something). "But is this a sufficient basis for elevation to the rank of" father of the fatherland "? However, for Catherine it may be sufficient .. ...
    1. technarj
      technarj 12 January 2020 10: 07
      Compare to begin with the loss of troops of Minikh and Leontiev, who as a result did not even get to the Crimea.

      Remind about the Prut campaign? The scoundrel scorer Pyotr Mikhailov, apparently, was guided only by personal interests, being devoted not to the country? That's why his army was left without convoys and infirmaries in sufficient quantities! Why? But because he didn’t care! Don't give a damn!

      So, apparently?