In the 1804 year, the protracted Russian-Persian war began, which lasted until the 1813 year. The main reason for the war was Persia’s unwillingness to put up with the accession of Eastern Georgia to Russia in 1801 and the rapid expansion of the Russian sphere of influence in the South Caucasus. In 1803, Russian troops under the command of Prince Pavel Tsitsianov stormed the Ganja fortress, subjugating the Ganja khanate (Conqueror of the Caucasus Prince Pavel Dmitrievich Tsitsianov. Assault ganja). Then the Caucasian governor imposed a tribute to a number of mountain owners and Lezgi free societies. They swore to be loyal to the Russian sovereigns. In addition, the British were behind the Persians, who by all means (mostly by proxy) tried to prevent Russia's penetration into the Near and Middle East, into Central and South Asia. Helped Persia and France, which had its own interests in the Middle East.
The immediate cause of the war was events in eastern Armenia. The owner of the Erivan Khanate, Mahmoud Khan, appealed to the ruler of Persia Feth Ali Shah (1772 - 1834) with the request of a vassal to support him in his claims to complete domination of the Armenian lands. Tehran has given such consent.
The Caucasian governor of Tsitsianov was in the know, receiving various information from Persia and the South Caucasian possessions. There were rumors of a huge Persian army that would go through the whole Caucasus with fire and sword and strike at the North Caucasian possessions of Russia. In the Persian capital, a frank challenge was thrown to the Russian Empire: the Shah solemnly “granted” Georgia, which belonged to Russia, as his real estate to the fugitive “Tsarevich” Alexander. Shah himself girded the prince with a sword and ordered him to be given a “royal ring”. Thus, the war for Georgia was given a "legal" character. Like, the Persians go not to seize, but to “liberate” Georgia. This event had a great resonance in the Caucasus. Already during the war, Persia led an active information war, calling on the Georgians to rise up and throw off the yoke of the Russians, to accept the "legitimate" king.
The son of Feth Ali Shah, the crown prince Abbas-Mirza and the Erivan khan Makhmud, sent letters to Tsitsianov of the same content. They demanded that the Russians get out of the Caucasus in order to save their lives, otherwise the shah would “be angry” with them and punish the “infidels”. It was an ultimatum. The Caucasian governor-general and commander-in-chief replied harshly: “To stupid and bold letters, what was Khan, writing instructions to him, words of a lion, and the calf, Baba Khan (the author was called in his youth), the Russians used to answer bayonets ... ".
Tsitsianov also demanded the release of Patriarch Daniel and return him to his post. In the 1799 year, after the death of the Armenian Patriarch, Russia supported the candidacy of Daniel, who received the majority of votes in the elections. But Khan Mahmud, overestimating his strength, ordered the arrest of a new patriarch, and put his protege, David, in his place. Having received Tsitsianov's demand, the ruler of Erivan began to collect troops (he had about 7 thousand soldiers), knowing that the Persian army was assisting him.
Persian were ready for the conflict of the Erivan Khanate and Russia. In Tabriz, the capital of Southern Azerbaijan, 40-thousand were assembled. army. The shah ambassador Yakub-bey arrived in Tiflis and handed the request to the Caucasian governor-in-command to immediately withdraw the Russian troops from the whole of Transcaucasia. In case of refusal, the head of the Qajar dynasty (Turkic dynasty that ruled Persia from 1795 to 1925 a year) threatened to throw out the Russians with an armed hand. This brazen ultimatum was based on the balance of power in the Caucasian theater of operations and the geopolitical situation. Before 1803, Tsitsianov had only about 7 thousand soldiers: Tiflis, Kabardinsky, Saratov and Sevastopol musketeers, the Caucasus Grenadier, Nizhny Novgorod and Narva dragoon regiments. Only with 1803, the Russian presence in the Caucasus began to gradually increase. Shah also had a finished 40-thousand. the army, several thousand soldiers of the Erivan khanate, the possibility of building up troops at the expense of the Muslim militia. In addition, Tehran knew about the difficult situation in Europe. The wars of Russia against Napoleonic France, Sweden and the Ottoman Empire were brewing. Therefore, St. Petersburg could not allocate significant military contingents for the war in the Caucasus. Tsitsianov could rely only on his own strength, and he knew about it. And the wars in Europe did begin, albeit somewhat later than expected in Tehran.
Battle of Erivan
Prince Tsitsianov, brought up on Suvorov's offensive strategy and tactics, did not wait for the enemy to invade the lands under his control and decided to attack himself. He wanted to seize the strategic initiative in the war that had begun. The prince believed in the high fighting qualities of Russian soldiers and commanders, who in the region had no equal in combat training and stamina. 8 June 1804, the vanguard of the Tsitsianov detachment under the command of Sergey Tuchkov, stepped in the direction of Erivan (Yerevan). Tsitsianov with the main forces made 10 June.
The Russian detachment consisted of two battalions of the Saratov regiment, three battalions of the Caucasian Grenadier Regiment, two battalions of the Tiflis Regiment, four squadrons of the Narva Dragoon Regiment, three hundred Caucasian linear Cossacks and three hundred Caucasian equestrian militia (Georgian noblemen). In total, the units were 4,2 thousand. People with 20 guns. It was expected that a lot of Armenian volunteers would join the Russian detachment.
On June 10, at the Gyumri (Gumry) tract, the avant-garde of Tuchkov overturned the enemy cavalry, at which the self-styled Georgian “Tsar” Alexander and his brother Teimuraz were stationed. Tuchkov himself resolutely launched an attack and forced the enemy to retreat. The Russian detachment was somewhat delayed near the Gyumri fortress, envoys of the Erivanian ruler arrived to Tsitsianovu. Mahmud Khan cunning, expressed readiness to swear allegiance to the Russian Tsar, and asked to withdraw the troops back to Georgia. So he delayed the time before the arrival of the Shah's army, knocked down an offensive outburst of Russian troops.
However, Tsitsianov in time received from the Armenian intelligence officers a message about the approach of the Persian army. This was also reported by the Georgians who escaped from the Persians, who was in a hurry to use the opportunity to return to their homeland. General Tsitsianov did not hesitate and moved to Erivan. The Russian soldiers marched in accelerated march along difficult mountain roads. However, the first to the city came the enemy cavalry. When the 19-20 of June, Tsitsianov's detachment approached Erivan, 20-thousand was already located there. army of Persian prince Abbas-Murza.
It must be said that the heir to the throne, being the governor of Southern Azerbaijan, tried to reorganize his troops under European standards. In this case he was assisted by British and French instructors. But he did not achieve much success in this matter. The prince also had a great deal of weight in determining the foreign policy of Persia, with his Russian and British embassies located at his court in Tabriz. In 1804-1813 Abbas-Mirza led the main forces of the northern group of the Persian army (he also led the Persian troops in the war 1826-1828).
At Echmiadzin, where the main monastery of the Armenian church was located, 19 of June had a battle. The Russian forward detachment under the command of Major General Semyon Portnyagin, consisting of Cossacks and horse-drawn Georgian volunteers, came under heavy fire from the enemy. The Cossacks dismounted and knocked the enemy out of the monastery gardens in hand-to-hand combat. But it was not possible to occupy the monastery, it was well fortified, and the main forces were only on the way. Russian detachment greatly stretched. Soldiers had to make a 44 movement on bad roads, in heat and lack of water. From the battalions to the designated camp under the banner came out 60 people. The rest fell behind and pulled up only at night.
20 June was the battle of the main forces of Tsitsianov and Abbas-Mirza. Russian troops lined up in a square and, covering each other with flanking fire, beat off the Persian cavalry. The Persian prince, when the frontal attacks were unsuccessful, ordered to bypass the Russian infantry from the flanks and capture the wagons (the wagenburg had a weak cover). Tuchkov noticed the danger and orders of several dozen grenadiers to occupy water mills on the right flank. When the Persian cavalry appeared, she was stopped by a sudden volley. Immediately the Persians attacked two squadrons of the Narva Hussars, sent by Tsitsianov from the main square. The success was complete. The Persian detachment, which tried to seize carts, retreated. By evening, the enemy cavalry began to withdraw from the battle, despite attempts by Abbas Mirz to restore order and continue the battle.
The Caucasian commander in chief did not have the strength to simultaneously besiege the fortress and defeat the Persian army. Therefore, he decided to oust the Persian troops from the territory of Eastern Armenia, striking them permanently. From 20 to 30, a series of small and significant armed clashes occurred, in which the Persians were crammed more and more away from Erivan. Tsitsianov occupied the village of Kanakira, where there was the only crossing over the Zanga River. Persians knocked out of field fortifications, covering the crossing. In the village carts were sheltered. The enemy was expelled from the Echmiadzin Monastery.
On June 30, Russian troops crossed the river, walked past the Erivan Fortress and marched to an enemy camp, which was located 8 versts from the city. Abbas-Mirza decided to give a new decisive battle and brought all the available forces - 20 thousand people (12 thousand infantry and 8 thousand cavalry). He was already an experienced commander, and he also had advisers to commanders who had already gone on campaigns to the Transcaucasian lands. The Persians wanted to crush the Russian troops on the march.
But the Persian troops were late with the execution of the plan. Tsitsianov was not embarrassed by the large number of enemy troops and the profitability of his positions along the Arpa-Chai River. He continued the offensive movement, reorganizing order from marching to combat. The Persian cavalry attempted to overturn the Russian detachment. However, this attack was repelled by artillery fire, 20 field guns were put in the first line and fired salvo fire. The Shah's cavalry was upset and retreated to the camp. The Persian commander decided not to tempt fate and withdrew his troops for Araks. There was simply no one to pursue the enemy. Tsitsianov had only a few dozen Cossacks on hand. And this handful of brave men rushed into the crowd, which was forwarded through the Araks of the Persians, and beat off the banner 4 and the falconet 4 (1 caliber 3 artillery guns). It is necessary to take into account that by this time the Persian prince received reinforcements and had under his command up to 27 thousands of people, and Tsitsianov's detachment numbered 4 thousands of people.
Now Tsitsianov could proceed to the siege of Erivan. Mahmud Khan during the battles of those who marched on June 20-30 took a wait. The Caucasian governor set up a chain of posts along the bank of the Araks and began to besiege the fortress. By this time, the Russian squad was replenished with Armenian volunteers. This was not surprising, since Russia was carrying the liberation from age-old slavery to the Armenian people.
The Siege and Battle of July 15
The city had double stone walls with 17 towers. The Erivan fortress was defended by 7 of thousands of Khan warriors and around 6 of thousands of Muslim militias. True, the artillery armament of the fortress was weak, there were only 22 guns. The task was difficult, it was necessary to take a stronghold, the garrison of which was three times greater than the number of besiegers. We must not forget about the army of Abbas Mirza.
Mahmud Khan is still sly. He offered to become a vassal of the Russian emperor, faithfully serve Russia, reinstate Patriarch Daniel in his rights, pay the annual tribute in 80 thousand rubles. But he didn’t want to open the gate and hand over the keys to the fortress. In such a situation, the assurances of Khan cost nothing. When the Persians returned, the Erivan ruler would immediately give up his words.
When preparations were underway for the assault, messages came in that 40-thousand were approaching. enemy army. Now it was headed by Shah Fath Ali. This was reported by captured enemy scouts. Having learned about the approach of the shah's army, the ruler of Erivan decided to make a sortie. Apparently, he received an order about this from the envoys of the Shah who had entered the city. The Persian command planned to destroy the Russian detachment with a double blow. The attack was scheduled for the night of July 15. However, the ideas of the Persians were not realized. Tsitsianov guessed about the plans of the enemy.
The Russian squad did not wait for the enemy to strike, but attacked. On this day, all the best qualities inherent in the Russian soldiers. By order of Tsitsianov, 3, thousands of infantrymen, forded the Zanga river and, with one blow, drove the army of Mahmud Khan back to the fortress. The Khan's warriors, oppressed by the bayonets of the Russian soldiers, barely managed to close the gate behind them. Then the Russian infantry, having built up in small squares, bravely went on the attack on the Persian army, which at that time occupied the dominant heights. Not responding to the shooting of the enemy, under a measured drumbeat, moving in quick stride, the Russian infantry approached the Persian positions and went to storm. In the ensuing clashes Shah soldiers did not help and the obvious huge numerical advantage. Determination and organization were on the side of Russian soldiers. Crowds of the enemy could not withstand their blows.
The feat "surpassing every imagination" was accomplished by a handful of Russian soldiers defending the earthworks on the bank of the river Zangi. Redut defended 56 fighters Saratov Musketeers Regiment under the command of captain Tsyrenova. They not only fought off all the attacks of the Sarbaz (regular infantry in the Persian Empire, created during the reforms of Abbas-Murza) numbering up to 3 thousand people, but also themselves rose three times in bayonet attacks.
The avant-garde of the Persian army under the command of the Persian crown prince, having lost 1,5 thousand people (including three Khans), 7 guns and 4 banner, retreated across the river Garni-Chai. An attempt to destroy the Russian squad by a sudden blow failed. The Tsitsianov detachment in this battle lost 69 people killed and 117 wounded.
The departure of the Russian squad
The standing at the fortress continued until the end of August 1804. Siege artillery was not, therefore, to force the Khan to surrender using bombing did not work. Mahmud Khan, aware of the small number of the Russian detachment, the absence of heavy artillery, the lack of ammunition, persisted. The Erivan garrison had no problems even with the supply. The small number of the Russian detachment did not allow him to carry out a complete blockade of the fortress.
Being at the fortress lost its meaning. The soldiers were in need of ammunition and supplies. The Persian cavalry in small lots devastated all the surroundings. Communications were cut; there were no troops to protect them. The small number of the Russian detachment initially affected. The Persians attacked the foragers, individual carts, small parties. Tsitsianov could not counteract this. He had a bit of cavalry. In addition, most of the cavalry horses had to be used for the transport of goods. The portions were reduced by half, the threat of famine was advancing. There were no prospects for improving the situation. Because of problems with food, people began to get sick more often.
To reduce the consumption of provisions, Tsitsianov sent back the Georgian squad, which is already in this position. Georgian squad showed carelessness. After passing 30 versts, the Georgians settled for a night's rest, without taking the necessary precautions. They were taken aback by Prince Alexander and the Persians. 150 man, along with Major General Ivan Obreliani, fell into Persian captivity. They were taken to Tabriz and thrown into prison. Alexander with 6 thousand cavalry detachment left the route of communication Tsitsianov with Georgia. The Persians plundered Armenian villages. It was also restless on the Georgian Military Highway, where the attacks of the mountaineers were frequent.
A detachment of 109 people led by Major Montresor was sent to arrange supply, but was surrounded by 6 th. Alexander detachment. Russians refused to fold weapon and, having given the last volley, went to the bayonet attack. In this unequal battle near Karaklis almost all the brave men were killed. Only one soldier managed to escape and 15 injured were captured.
In such a situation, on August 31 a military council was assembled, where the majority were in favor of lifting the siege, until better times. Tsitsianov himself offered to take a chance and go for an attack. As a result, the fall of the Erivan Khanate and the annexation of Eastern Armenia to Russia were delayed by 23. 4 September 1804, the Russians lifted the siege from the Erivan Fortress and retreated to Georgia. September 14 squad was in Georgia. During this departure, the values of the Echmiadzin Monastery were evacuated. In addition, Archbishop Ioaness brought 11 to thousands of Armenian families to Georgia. Caucasian governor determined their place of residence.
Tsitsianov strongly worried about the failure of Erivan. He wrote to the emperor that during the 30-year service he had to become the second general, who had to lift the siege of the fortress without taking it. The “first” was Golitsyn in 1769, which failed at Hotin. Alexander wrote a consolation letter, where he noted that "... many will give justice to both the enterprise spirit of your spirit, and the fact that you have done so much in one small campaign." Indeed, the 1804 campaign of the year is difficult to reproach Tsitsianovu and Russian soldiers. They did everything possible and impossible in such a situation. Tsitsianov intercepted a strategic initiative from the enemy, prevented the invasion of enemy forces in Georgia, twice defeated and forced the Persian troops, far superior to the Russian detachment, to retreat, and did not let them destroy their forces. The troops under his command showed miracles of courage. Therefore, he was honored with a high award - St. Vladimir 1 class.
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