While in Crimea there was a struggle for the main base of the Black Sea fleet, the Russian army in Transcaucasia successfully continued the fighting. Nikolai Muravyov united the Akhaltsikhe and Alexandropol detachments, forming an army of 40 thousand soldiers. With these forces, Muravyov decided to take Kars, the main Turkish stronghold in the east of the Ottoman Empire. The thousands and the best part of the Turkish Anatolian army held the defense in it. By destroying this garrison, the Russian army could develop an offensive deep into Anatolia. Kars was the key to Asia Minor. Muravyov argued to St. Petersburg that the fall of Kars would lead to “significant” results and ease the position of the defenders of Sevastopol. In Kars, according to various estimates, from 19 to 33 thousand enemy soldiers were located. In addition, near Bayazet was 12 thousand corps under the command of Veli Pasha, and in Erzurum 11-12 thousand people.
24 May 1855, the main forces of the Separate Caucasus Corps entered the march from Alexandropol. On the way, the Turkish troops did not resist. Having done a difficult journey along the mountain roads, on June 6, Russian troops reached the enemy fortress. Ants personally conducted reconnaissance and made sure that the fortress was seriously rebuilt, turned into a first-class stronghold. Directly at the fortress, the commander-in-chief had about 24,5 thousand soldiers with 76 guns (according to other data, 88 guns). With such forces to think about the general assault was not necessary. In addition, there were few large-caliber guns, and there was no special siege artillery at all. Nikolai Nikolayevich was an experienced general who fought in the Caucasus, decisive and tough, but after consulting with the generals, after weighing all the possibilities, he was forced to abandon the assault and proceed to the siege of the fortress. It was decided to deplete the garrison’s reserves with the help of the blockade, and only then go to the assault. The main initiators of this decision were generals - Vasily Bebutov and Jacob Baklanov.
By June 18 fortress was lined on all sides. The perimeter taxation was about 50 versts, but the nature of the mountainous terrain did not allow to block all trails. The garrison retained little opportunity to replenish supplies. In the most inaccessible places only Cossack posts were located. Muravyov himself led the troops on the flank march to the left bank of the Kars Chai River and set up camp near the village of Bolshaya Tikma. Thus, the message of Kars with Erzurum was interrupted. The Kars garrison made no attempt to prevent the Russian troops. Where required, small field fortifications with permanent garrisons were erected. Flying detachments acted on all the known near and far roads. They consisted mainly of Caucasian volunteer militia. With the approval of St. Petersburg, the Caucasian viceroy attracted significant irregular forces, which consisted of volunteer hunters, to the 1855 campaign of the year. The Separate Caucasian Corps included more than 12 thousand volunteers - Georgians, Armenians, Azerbaijanis, Kurds, Ossetians, etc. Of these, 74 equestrian and 66 foot hundreds were made. This made it possible to remove the Russian regiments from auxiliary directions, sending them under Kars and covering them with the police.
Creating a blockade of blockade, Muravev moved the troops to Ciftlik-kei, where a fortified camp was created. The command of the Kars garrison was offered surrender on honorable terms, but was refused. Vassif Pasha hoped for help and inaccessibility of the fortifications. In addition, the fortress had large reserves of food. He was also encouraged by the English adviser Williams. The equestrian units of the Russian army made several attempts to lure the enemy into the "field", but the actions of cavalry patrols, who had bullied the enemy, were not crowned with success. After several clashes of horsemen, the Turks ceased to go beyond the line of fortifications. Russian troops were intercepted by Turkish troops, who tried to deliver supplies to the fortress: August 18 Baklanov defeated a strong detachment of Turkish foragers, August 20 detachment of Count Nirod defeated another enemy detachment.
The blockade was delayed. Russian troops did not feel any special need for food. The siege gradually weakened the garrison: soldiers died in clashes, more and more defenders deserted. Part of the fugitives intercepted, others dispersed in the surrounding villages. These fugitives became sources for obtaining the status of the garrison. On August 21, a squadron led by staff captain Andreev was driving a group of escapees from a fortress - a 60 man. They said that all food was concentrated in three large mosques that guarded the elite units. Two of them are already empty and began to spend supplies from the thirds, and the guards around increased. Food still remains for about two months, with a minimum distribution rate. According to the fugitives, the number of the garrison has already decreased by a third. The main losses from the clashes, desertions, hungry soldiers just run, since there are loopholes in the mountains. Many died from diseases. The cavalry suffered the most, the forage was scarce and the horses exhausted from starvation were slaughtered and eaten. Part of the cavalry was transferred to the infantry. In addition, the fugitives said that the command had decided the remaining cavalry in the fortress - about 2.5 thousand horsemen, to throw at a breakthrough. Equestrian squad was to act in the Russian rear.
Ants decided to intercept the enemy squad, but not near the walls, so that the horsemen would not return to the fortress, but on the way to Erzerum. An ambush of dragoons was set up. On the night of August 22, the Russian posts "did not notice" a large enemy detachment. Having moved away from the fortifications, the enemy detachment was completely destroyed: only prisoners took more than 400 people, the rest were chopped up. Several people fled, but were intercepted by distant posts. So the garrison of Kars lost all cavalry.
The Turkish command decided to strengthen the garrison of Kars - a strong detachment under the command of Ali Pasha was sent from Erzerum. Muravyev promptly sent a detachment under the command of General Kovalevsky to meet the Turks. On August 31, near the village of Penyak, Russian troops defeated a Turkish detachment, Ali Pasha himself was captured.
September assault 17
Ottoman command to save Kars conceived to conduct an offensive operation. But not from Erzerum, where there was no longer a strong group capable of striking the Russian army, but from the Crimea. August 30 (September 11) Allied forces entered the smoking ruins of Sevastopol. The Allied fleet completely dominated the Black Sea, so in September 45-thousand were freely transferred from Crimea to Batum. expeditionary corps of the Omer Pasha.
Omer Pasha planned to go to Kars, but after passing through two transitions, he suddenly returned to Batum and started an operation in Mingrelia in October. The ruler of Abkhazia, Prince Mikhail Shervashidze, changed Russia. Omer Pasha hoped with the help of the Abkhazians to invade through Mingrelia into Guria and thereby divert the Russian army from Kars. September 21 (October 3) Turkish troops landed in Sukhum-Kale. However, the Turkish corps was unable to defeat the troops (mostly irregular) of General Bagration Mukhransky - 19 thousand soldiers, who detained the Ottomans at the turn of the Inguri river, and then finally stopped them on the Tskheniskali river. The onset of winter and the news of the fall of Kars, forced Omer Pasha to withdraw the troops.
The announcement of the fall of Sevastopol and the landing of the Omer Pasha army forced the Russian command to decide on the assault. At the same time, the commander-in-chief knew that the current balance of forces did not guarantee success. On September 15, the military council decided to assault Kars. The attack was about to begin with the capture of the Shorach and Chakmak heights. They dominated the city and the citadel. It was assumed that after their capture, the Turkish garrison would capitulate. Auxiliary blow was inflicted on enemy positions on the right bank of the Kars-Chai River. All troops were divided into 4 assault columns. The first is under the command of Lieutenant General Kovalevsky: 4,2 thousand bayonets and sabers, 16 field guns and 2 rocket launchers. The second was led by Major General Meidel: 6,2 thousand people with 20 guns. The third was under the command of Major General Nyrod: 3,1 thousand bayonets and sabers with 16 guns. The fourth was commanded by Major General Brimmer: 4,7 thousand infantry, 5 hundreds of cavalry and 22 guns. Brimmer’s column was a general reserve. In addition, a separate military group of Lieutenant-General Prince Gagarin was created, it was intended for the development of the offensive, entering into the breakthrough of the enemy’s faction. In the group of Gagarin was 2,1 thousand soldiers.
Shorah (Sharokh) heights defended 9 battalions - up to 4 thousand people with 28 guns. The bulk of the Turkish troops was located in the fortifications on the right bank of the river Kars-chai. On the left bank there were five groups of camps with 52 guns. A few days before the assault, covertly working at night, they built several new field fortifications that tied together the bastions of Tahmas-Tabia and Yuksek-Tabia.
They decided to attack without artillery preparation. For the destruction of fortifications it took a long time and a high consumption of ammunition. Expected the suddenness of the attack. At o'clock in the morning the assault columns went on the attack. Approximately in 4 minutes the Turkish posts discovered the movement of the Russian troops. From fortifications and trenches of the Sharokh Heights they opened gun and artillery fire. Despite the steep rise and fire of the enemy, the forward part of the column of Baron Meidel captured part of the enemy fortifications. The Turks cleared the Sharokh camp, located behind the fortifications.
The first success was reassuring. But then it did not go so well. The Tahmas-Tabia Bastion repulsed the attack of the Georgian Infantry Regiment. The shooters came under heavy crossfire, suffered heavy losses, moved back and lay down, engaging in an exchange of fire with the enemy. The Kowalevsky column, which was advancing on the left flank, could not even make its way to enemy positions. Her commander, Petr Petrovich Kovalevsky (1808 - 1855), was mortally wounded. Management was upset. Moreover, in the pre-dawn darkness, an exchange of fire took place between hers.
Petr Petrovich Kovalevsky.
The reserve group of Gagarin took the fortification of the Ardent and twice went to the attack of the bastion Yuksek-Tabiya. The column commander, Prince Alexander Ivanovich Gagarin (1801 — 1857) was seriously wounded in his left shoulder and taken out of the battlefield in an unconscious state. During the battle, most of the senior officers were beaten out. The Ottomans, noticing the confusion in the ranks of the attackers, launched a counterattack and beat the Russians from the fortifications that they had previously captured.
The first success of the column of Maydel also did not give the expected result. The Turks retained most of the fortifications. Egor Ivanovich Maydel (1817 — 1881) received two severe wounds in the arm and chest. He was replaced by Colonel Tarkhan-Moravov. The commander-in-chief sent reinforcements to Sharokh Heights — two battalions of the Belevsky regiment. But they only helped to keep the positions already taken. Capture the enemy bastions failed. During the battle for Fort Tahmas, the adjutant U. Williams was captured, the commander of the bastion - Christopher Charles Tisdale.
Egor Ivanovich Maydel.
The greatest success in the assault on the fortress was achieved by a separate detachment of Major General Bazin - 4,7 thousand bayonets and sabers with 16 guns and 8 rocket launchers. He was able to approach enemy positions at a distance of a shotgun shot and took the Tizdel-Tabia bastion with a sudden blow. A battery was installed on the bastion, which began to lead along the neighboring Turkish fortifications. Under the cover of her fire, the Russian infantry took the bastions - Thompson and Zorab-Tabia. The whole fortified line on the Chakmak heights was captured. However, further Bazin, not having positive results of the action of other columns, could not advance.
Meanwhile, the Turkish commanders threw all the existing reserve infantry at Sharokh Heights, and removed several units from other directions. Ants, having received reports from the column commanders or their deputies, realized that Bazin’s success could not be developed. He has already put half the reserves into battle. Ants orders to withdraw troops from the captured positions. This attack cost the Russian troops dearly: infantry battalions that went in the first line lost up to a third of the composition. Losses amounted to - more than 2,5 thousand killed and over 4,9 thousand thousand wounded. The Turkish garrison lost about 4 thousand people, most were killed or wounded in melee. The losses were especially high at the selective units that defended the Sharokh and Chakmak heights. 23 Turkish guns were captured or damaged.
After an unsuccessful assault, the command did not lift the siege and continued the blockade of the fortress. In October, the Persian envoy Kasim Khan visited the Russian camp with a special mission. During this period, Turkey, Britain and France strongly pushed Persia to war with Russia. The attack of the Persian army had to lift the siege of Kars and seriously complicate the situation of the Russians in Transcaucasia. News about an unsuccessful assault pushed the Persian government to war with Russia. However, Kasim Khan was convinced that the Russian army was in perfect order and made the corresponding report to the Shah. The Russian-Iranian border has remained in the former world.
The siege war went on as usual. Control over roads and trails even more tightened. The garrison could no longer send out small batches of foragers at night. Autumn cold brought new disasters - lack of firewood and lack of warm clothing. The city cut down all the trees, gardens, shrubs. Citizens in populous Kars began to express discontent. Runaways and deserters became more and more. Especially a lot of the fugitives were among the militias. The garrison began to lose fugitives or died from diseases to 150 people per day. Daily ration dropped sharply. All the horses have long been slaughtered and eaten.
In such a situation it was already possible to go on the assault. But Muravyev did not see this as necessary. External assistance to the Kars garrison was not foreseen, it was possible to wait for the surrender and save the lives of the soldiers. The Caucasian army was eager to fight, wanting to avenge Sevastopol. November 12 arrived Turkish envoys. The next day, British adviser Fenwick Williams met with Muravyov. The Briton said that he considered it his duty to surrender the fortress, which defended itself to the last possible opportunity, and offered to appoint general conditions for the surrender. After short negotiations, the terms of delivery were determined. Williams was most interested in the fate of the Europeans. Foreign volunteers in the Turkish service were released to Turkey with a personal weapons. Turkish officers kept personal weapons - swords. Anatolian army surrendered (or rather its remnants). Kara fortress with all its weapons and property passed into the hands of the Russian army. The Ottoman militia, after the surrender of weapons, were dismissed from house to house and were not considered prisoners of war. Williams said that no more than 16 thousand people were left from the garrison, along with militias, wounded and sick.
16 November 1855, the garrison capitulated. A solemn capitulation ceremony was held for the Anatolian army. The Russian army took 12 regimental banners. In the Russian camp was a great holiday. A long siege ended in complete victory. Russians of generosity even fed the starving Ottoman soldiers and officers with a festive dinner.
Results and meaning
- The main opponent of the Separate Caucasian Corps in the Caucasian theater of military operations - the Anatolian army ceased to exist. The commander-in-chief, Vassif Pasha, was taken prisoner, with all the generals-pash (8 man), headquarters, and British advisers. More than 11 thousand people were taken prisoner, including 687 officers. In Kars, 130 cannons, significant stocks of military equipment and weapons were seized. Russia got Kars in its hands, the whole fortified area is the key to Eastern Turkey.
- This brilliant victory put an end to the fighting on the Caucasian front of the Eastern (Crimean) War. After the fall of Kars, hostilities on the Transcaucasian front did not resume. The Russian army did not continue the attack for two main reasons: 1) there was no order of Emperor Alexander II, he did not want to prolong the war; 2) winter came, and at this time in the Caucasus traditionally there was a break in the fighting (due to climatic factors).
- This brilliant victory in many ways will soften the pain in the Russian hearts due to the loss of Sevastopol. The public response from this victory on the southern frontiers of the Russian Empire was great.
- Muravyev for taking Kars was 4 December 1855 was awarded the Order of St. George 2 degree. Nikolai Nikolaevich Muravyov was also marked by an honorary addition to his last name - becoming forever Muravyov-Karsky. Thus, Muravyov became on a par with Rumyantsev, Suvorov, Potemkin, Kutuzov and other great Russian statesmen and military leaders.
- During the 1856 campaign of the year, Muraviev planned to conduct a strategic operation - a march through the whole of Anatolia to Istanbul. The success of such an operation promised a completely different end of the Eastern War. However, peace negotiations began, and according to the Paris Agreement, Russia returned Kars to the Ottoman Empire in return for Sevastopol seized by its allies. Sevastopol and Kars were considered equivalent strongholds.