Even before his arrival in Georgia from the Caucasian fortified line, the tsar's governor did a great deal of diplomatic work, concluding friendship agreements with many mountain rulers — Shamkhal Tarkovsky, Avar and Talysh khans, and other rulers. Tsitsianov far from always resorted to violence, solving Caucasian affairs. He showed himself a great diplomat. Beks, princes and khans were given Russian officer ranks, paid a permanent salary from the treasury, were awarded orders, personalized gifts.
Tsitsianov immediately tried to solve the problem of protecting the Georgian lands from the raids of Lezghins. For this purpose, three fortifications were erected, which covered the Georgian capital. These fortifications became the strongholds of the empire in the newly acquired land.
In Eastern Georgia itself, Tsitsianov immediately went to drastic measures: Kartli and Kakheti became a Russian province, the monarchy was abolished here, and the royal family was sent to Voronezh. Thus, he immediately stopped all possibilities for separatism at the root. The widowed tsarina Maria Georgievna (she was Tsitsianova’s cousin herself) and her children were sent to Voronezh. What could cause scruples in such matters, shows an example of Tsarevich Alexander Iraklievich, who claimed the Georgian throne. He and his comrades fled to the Lezgins. Then became the "ally" of Persia. After that, he spent three decades guiding the Persians in Georgia and the Highlanders who were guided by them, and made contacts with the nobility who was displeased with the status quo.
During the expulsion of Tsaritsa Maria Georgievna, a very sad incident occurred. This person in every way delayed the time of departure, apparently hoping to escape or wait for a change in the political situation. Tsitsianov repeatedly sent General Lazarev to her to persuade her to go to the Russian Empire. When the queen once again refused, citing poor health. Lazarev ordered the officers to carry the queen on the couch. However, women were armed with daggers and began to resist. Lazarev, according to an eyewitness to the events, Major General Sergei Tuchkov, entered the room. When the queen saw him, she said: “How do you unmercifully deal with me! See how sick I am. What a fever I have! ”And she gave him her left hand, as soon as he took it, she hit her right sideways with a dagger and pierced him through. Lazarev died. The death of this combat general was extremely disgraceful. Queen Maria was imprisoned in the Voronezh Belogorsk Monastery, then released to Moscow, where she died 81-year.
It should be noted that, despite the dissatisfaction of the local nobility, who were deprived of the right to self-rule over the local population, and many mountain feudal lords were deprived of the opportunity to carry out predatory raids, for the majority of the Caucasian population, Russian power became a blessing. She carried the progress, the elimination of many negative phenomena. People got the opportunity to live a peaceful life, without the constant threat of invasion, raids, taking people into slavery. Ordinary people had a very hard time under the rule of autocratic feudal lords. As the Caucasian governor Yermolov wrote in 1817, seeing in the behavior of the Caucasian feudal lords one of the reasons for the indignation of the population: “The khanates, who shame us with their being, torment me. Management hanami is an image of the initial education of society. Here is a sample of the absurd, villainous autocracy and all the debauchery destroying humanity ... ”
Expansion of the Russian presence in the Caucasus. Counteraction against Persia, Turkey, France and England
Tsitsianov effortlessly achieved the accession of Mingrelia to Russia. In 1803, Prince George Dadiani signed the “pleading clauses”. In 1804, these points were signed by the King of Imereti Solomon II and the ruler of Guria, Prince Vakhtang Gurieli. At the same time, the process of accession of small state formations of Northern Azerbaijan to Russia was going on. Some of them, who were in vassal dependence on Persia, came under the protection of the Russian Empire voluntarily.
In Eastern Transcaucasia, Russia faced resistance to Persia, which, like Turkey, did not want to recognize the inclusion of Georgian, Azerbaijani, Armenian, North Caucasian lands in the Russian state. The reason for the resistance of Persia was simple. The Caucasus, both for Persia and for the Ottoman Empire, was a “hunting ground,” where for centuries predatory raids and campaigns were carried out, tens of thousands of people were sent to convert and sell into slavery. It was a lot of money, a very profitable business. In addition, the robbery was carried out under the slogan of fighting the "infidels", Christians, it seemed that they were doing a godly deed.
Neither Persia nor Turkey did not want to recognize the acts of joining the Caucasian regions and nationalities to Russia, demanding the withdrawal of Russian troops for the Terek. In these demands, they found the full support of France and England, which had their own interests in the Middle East. Each step of Russia to the south caused great concern in London.
Tsitsianov persistently, step by step, took the land from Azerbaijan under the influence of Persia. And beyond the Araks River was South Azerbaijan, already the Persian possessions proper. From the beginning of 1803, Russian troops, with the support of local volunteer forces - the Caucasian militia, began to subordinate the Khanate to St. Petersburg, located north of the Araks River. This undermined the Persian presence in the Caucasus, and ensured the security of Georgia, which had previously suffered from the raids of Muslim neighbors.
Conquest of Ganja
Only Ganja khanate, feudal possession, which previously belonged to the Georgian kings, had a serious resistance. It had a favorable location - on the right bank of the Kura to the mouth of the Alazani River. In the east and southeast it bordered on the Karabag (Shusha) Khanate, in the south - on the Erivan. In the north, the Kura River separated the possessions of Ganja from Kakheti. Such a strategically important position made this Khanate a key to Northern Azerbaijan and Northern Armenia (the Erivan Khanate).
The ruler of the Khanate was clever Javad Khan. He tried to maneuver between the great powers, making a profit from it. Back in 1796, during the Persian campaign under the command of Valerian Zubov, he voluntarily swore allegiance to Empress Catherine the Great, and took an oath of loyalty. When the Russian troops left, he immediately abandoned this oath and began to assist the Persian detachments during the attacks on Georgian lands, not forgetting his share in military spoils. Moreover, Javad Khan supported any anti-Russian intrigues of local rulers, whose power of Tsitsianov cut, putting them in the framework of imperial legitimacy.
Initially, Tsitsianov tried to resolve the matter with the world and demanded that Javad Khan cease intrigue. However, there was no positive response. Khan, aware of the small number of Russian forces in Georgia, showed excessive self-confidence, which left him sideways. Tsitsianov did not tolerate such insolence and personally led a military expedition, which was to conquer Ganja by force. The 17 th Jäger Regiment, a battalion of Caucasian grenadiers, two battalions of the Sevastopol Musketeer Regiment, three squadrons of the Narva Dragoon Regiment with 11 guns entered the detachment. 22 November 1803, the squad made a speech, along the way it was replenished with local volunteers.
On November 28, Tsitsianov arrived in Shamkhor and sent a letter to Javad Khan, where he recalled that he had accepted Russian citizenship and had sworn an oath. Then came the ultimatum demanding to surrender the city, otherwise promised "fire and sword." The letter also reported that Ganja and the district belonged earlier to Georgia and Russia, having accepted Georgia under its authority, cannot leave Ganja in the hands of others. Javad Khan, delaying the time, gave an uncertain answer in the best traditions of Eastern diplomacy.
The Russian avant-garde - two battalion rangers, a battalion of Caucasian grenadiers, a squadron of dragoons at 7 guns, under the command of Tsitsianov himself and his closest assistant, Major General S. Portnyagin, advanced to Ganja and struck the first blow. In front of the fortress walls a hot fight took place. During the nearly two-hour battle, the enemy’s resistance was broken and the khan warriors retreated behind the fortress walls. The enemy lost only 250 people killed and several hundred people went over to the Russians (many of them were Armenians). The Russian squad lost about 100 killed and wounded.
Capturing the outskirts, Tsitsianov began a siege. The usual engineering works were carried out: trenches were rummaged, ambushes were prepared in case of enemy attacks, positions for guns were built. The fortress, located on the left bank of the Ganja River (a tributary of the Kura), had the shape of a hexagon up to 3,5 versts perimeter and was considered one of the strongest in the Caucasus. The walls were double: height - fathoms 6-8, thickness - 4. Outside there was a clay wall, inside - a stone wall. The walls had loopholes for shooters. The fortress was strengthened by 6 towers. Inside the fortress was located internal fortification - the citadel.
Seeing the full power of the enemy fortifications, Tsitsianov postponed the assault on Ganja and resumed negotiations several times, offering the Khan to surrender. 2 January 1804 was decided at the military council to make a general assault. On the attack had to go the next night, in the morning, when the watchfulness of the guard will be dulled. Russian troops were divided into two assault columns, they included several hundred local residents who wanted to take revenge on Javad Khan for his past atrocities. Light Muslim cavalry cordoned off the fortress from all sides to prevent the escape of Khan's subjects. They were supported by pickets from the Caucasian militia. Tsitsianov did not want to miss the Khan, who could bring a lot of trouble to freedom. All warriors received a strict order not to touch women and children, not to commit robberies.
3 January 1804, the famous storming of the Ganja fortress began in the 5 30 mine clock. The first assault convoy under Portnyagin as part of the 857 soldiers, there were hurried dragoons, Caucasian and Sevastopol grenadiers, marching into the attack from the Karabakh gate. The second column was commanded by Colonel Karyagin (Koryakin), the commander of the Narva Dragoons. In her 585 man, two battalion rangers. The second column was to conduct a demonstrative attack from the Tiflis Gate. The reserve of each column consisted of one battalion of infantry. The main reserve under Tsitsianov consisted of a rifle battalion of Major Belavin, two hundred Cossacks and all artillery.
The assailants managed to get to the walls themselves unnoticed. An alarm sounded in the fortress, guns hit, gunfire began, arrows shot out (bows were in service with Khan's units), an avalanche of stones fell. At the very beginning of the assault, Karyagin’s column successfully crossed the external wall along the ladder. But in a narrow corridor between the two walls, Russian soldiers had to be tight. Stones soaked in oil and various rags fell on them. The juggers were not frightened and began to storm the second wall. The first to climb the stone wall was a brave Major Lisanevich. The huntsmen behind him, with a bayonet, cleared the wall and captured the outermost towers. In one of them, Khadzhi-Kale, the huntsmen came across Javad Khan with bodyguards. In a fierce battle Khan and his warriors were killed.
Portnyagin’s column has punched a big breach with picks and crowbars in the mud wall. But it was not possible to immediately break through to the second wall. Only during the third attack, Russian soldiers broke into the wall and began to fight for the towers.
Meanwhile, keeper Karyagin, whose “false” attack was so effective, descended from the walls inside the fortress and opened the Tiflis Gate, clearing them from the dam. The Khan's warriors, who had lost their commander, were terrified when they saw the Russian riflemen descend from the wall and open the gates. Thousands of women and children rushed in the fortress, Russian commanders gave the order to take them to the already captured towers.
In the very fortress of such fierce resistance, as on the walls, there was not. Only at the Khan's mosque, several hundred Muslim warriors took the last battle and, in a fierce hand-to-hand battle, they all fell to one. The rest preferred to surrender. They did this in part because they saw the attitude of the Russians towards their families. There was no sense in fighting to the last, the khan was killed, disgrace and slavery were not threatened to women and children. During the assault, the middle son of the khan also died, but the eldest and the youngest were able to escape. By noon, the fortress was completely captured, a Russian banner was raised above the citadel.
Results and meaning of the capture of Ganja
- The Khan army lost only killed 1750 people, about 18 thousands of soldiers laid down weapon and surrendered to captivity. 12 cannons, 9 banners, large stocks of weapons, ammunition and food were captured in the fortress. Russian squad lost 244 man killed and wounded.
- For Russia, opened a direct road to the shores of the Araks, behind which lay South Azerbaijan.
- The Tsar's Tsar Tsar's governor, by his will, renamed Ganja into Elizavetpol, in honor of Empress Elizabeth. The Khanate itself was liquidated and, as the Elizavetpolsky district, was annexed to Russia. This decision did not meet the resistance of the local population, which was freed from the cruel ruler.
- In the capital, they highly appreciated the victory gained by Tsitsianov. He received the rank of full general, becoming a general of infantry. Major-General Portnyagin was awarded the Order of St. George 3-th degree, Major Lisanevich, Colonel Karyagin and Lieutenant Colonel Simanovich were awarded the Orders of St. George 4-th degree. Pavel Karyagin, whose column first broke into the enemy fortress, received another honorary award, he was appointed chief of the 17 th Chasseur Regiment. For the lower ranks, the participants of the victorious assault, will soon make a commemorative silver medal with a diameter of 33 mm. On its face was the monogram of Emperor Alexander Pavlovich. On the back side was the inscription: “For work and courage in taking Ganzha of the Genvore 3. 1804. The medal was worn on the ribbon of the Order of St. Alexander Nevsky.
Medal "For labor and courage in taking Ganja."