The reason for the Russian-Turkish war 1828 — 1829 was the Greek uprising against the Ottoman yoke, which began in the year 1821. Russia during the reign of Alexander I took a position of non-intervention, but with the accession of Nicholas I, the position of St. Petersburg on the Greek issue changed. In addition, the Ottoman Empire declared itself free from agreements with the Russian state and expelled the Russian subjects from their possessions, and also blocked the Bosphorus for Russian courts, began to encourage Persia to continue the war with Russia. Due to such hostile actions of the Ottoman government, Nikolay I 14 (26) on April 1828 declared war on Turkey. The fighting went on the Balkan and Caucasus fronts.
The commander-in-chief in the Caucasus during this period was the experienced commander Ivan Fedorovich Paskevich (1782 - 1856). Paskevich was a hero of World War 1812 of the year, distinguished himself in the foreign campaigns of the Russian army. For joining Eastern Armenia to Russia and taking Tabriz, he was awarded the honorary title of Count Erivan. From 1827, Paskevich - Commander-in-Chief in the Caucasus.
State and training of the Russian and Turkish armies
At the end of March 1828, a notice came about the beginning of the war with Porto. Emperor Nikolai Pavlovich gave Paskevich the choice of a course of action against the Turkish army. The Russian troops in the Caucasus were tasked with capturing two border pashalyks (regions) of Turkey - Kara and Akhaltsykh, as well as capturing Poti on the Black Sea coast. Russian troops in the Caucasus were to divert as many troops as possible from the European theater of operations. Further advancement into Turkish territory was considered inexpedient.
A separate Caucasian corps, along with reinforcements arrived at the start of the fighting, had: 56 infantry battalions, 5 regiments of regular cavalry, 17 Cossack regiments and 13 with half of their artillery companies. The total number of troops consisted of 36,4 thousand infantry, 8,5 thousand cavalry and 148 guns. It was a powerful strike fist. But part of the forces could not take part in the hostilities. The detachment of Major General Pankratiev - 3,3 thousand bayonets and sabers with 16 guns, was located on the territory of Persia, as the guarantor of the payment of contributions by the Shah government. The Life Guards Consolidated (“Penalty”) Regiment departed for Petersburg in the middle of summer, guarding the Persian indemnity. Together in the Guards regiment, which showed itself well in the war with the Persians and deserved forgiveness, the entire 2-Ulansky division with the equestrian artillery company attached to it went. In the Transcaucasus, only the Combined Uhlan Regiment remained. Two infantry battalions were sent to reinforce the Caucasian fortified line. Part of the forces part of the forces carried the garrison service, covered the northern regions of Georgia and Azerbaijan from the highlanders' raids, protected communications, covered the border with Persia. As a result, only 15 infantry battalions, 8 squadrons of regular cavalry, 6 Cossack regiments and 6 artillery companies could be actively used against the Turkish troops. Total 12,5 thousand bayonets and sabers with 70 guns. In addition, the Russian-Persian war of the 1826 — 1828 has just ended. The number of infantry battalions, cavalry and Cossack units was not complete. The soldiers were tired, it was necessary to replenish weapons, ammunition, supplies in military stores, to re-form transports and artillery parks. There was no hope for ambulance from European Russia, because of its remoteness and the diversion of the main forces to the Balkan sector. Therefore, the hostilities in the Caucasus began later than on the Danube, where the 95-thousand, already ready for war, was located. Danube army.
Having received an order to break off relations with Turkey, Paskevich divided the border line into five operational areas, which covered five detachments of the Separate Caucasian Corps. Began training regiments designated in the current structure. At border points, hospitals were deployed for 2 thousand people and a mobile hospital for 1 thousand people. The treasury of the corps was aimed at purchasing food, fodder, vodka and cattle from the local population. Part of the cargo came from Astrakhan across the Caspian Sea. A troop shop was created from an 1070 arb (two-wheeled cart) and 225 loads. This store was supposed to carry a third of the purchased supplies. The collapsible bridge was also loaded into the military store. Prepared artillery and engineering parks. It should be noted that Paskevich paid great attention to the preparation of troops for the 1828 campaign of the year. The troops were well supplied, the ammunition for the guns and the guns were taken with a considerable reserve.
The Ottomans were preparing for hostilities no less serious. The Turkish commander-in-chief, Kios-Mohammed Pasha, who was sent to the Caucasus, planned not to defend himself, but to invade Georgia. He was an experienced commander, he fought with the French in Egypt, in Europe he fought against the Russians, Greeks and Serbs. He vowed to Sultan Mahmud II to clear the Transcaucasus from the Russians, to lead the Georgians and Armenians to obedience. In Erzurum, they planned to collect 40-thousand. shock corps, push to Kars, and then hit the Russian territories. To form its core from Istanbul, 3 was sent by thousands of European-trained infantrymen and an 24 officer trained in Europe. All the fortresses in the east were prepared for war, the fortifications were repaired, garrisons and supplies replenished. The war tried to give a "sacred character" - the Muslim clergy carried out the processing of the population, promising all the soldiers who fell on the battlefield, paradise. The Turks diligently sought allies among the Georgian nobility. At the beginning of 1828, the nominal ruler of Guria, Princess Sofya Guriely, received the firmman of the Ottoman sultan, who accepted the Gurian principality under his patronage.
The Grand Council of the Ottoman authorities in Erzurum, under the authority of the ruler of Armenia and Anatolia Ghalib Pasha, decided to launch an offensive, concentrating 60-thousand in Kars. army. Turkish intelligence officers reported false information that famine was rampant in Russian Transcaucasia, the Russian army suffered from food shortages, and Paskevich himself was seriously ill and could not control the troops (the commander-in-chief was really sick, but the disease was not so serious).
Karsky Emin Pasha, having received this news, was not particularly happy. He knew that the Russians had built a road from Tiflis to the Gumras, so the Russian army at Kars can be quite fast. He sent to the Russian border 4 thousand cavalry detachment and requested reinforcements. The Sultan commander promised an ambulance and sent new envoys demanding the urgent gathering of all troops from Kars.
Hike to Kars. The beginning of the siege
The fighting in the Caucasus began almost two months after Russian troops crossed the Prut River, besieged Brailov and forced the Danube, seizing a number of Turkish fortresses.
In the Caucasian Corps served as combat, tested officers. The position of chief of staff of a separate Caucasian corps was performed by Dmitry Erofeevich Osten-Saken (1789 — 1881). He served in the Elizavetgrad Hussars during the anti-French campaigns 1805 and 1806 — 1807. was a member of the Austerlitz and Friedland battles. Passed the entire 1812 campaign of the year, participating in all major battles. He was a member of a foreign campaign, completing it in Paris. Brilliantly proved himself during the Russian-Persian war 1826-1828. Ober Quartermaster was Colonel General Staff Walchowski, head of artillery - Gillenshlit, head of logistics - Zhukovsky. Major-General Leonov was appointed marching chieftain of the Cossack troops. The corps' infantry consisted of three brigades: 1, under the command of Muravyev (he would take Kars again in 1855, for the second time), 2, Berkhman, 3, Korolkov. In total, the 15 battalions of the Georgian Grenadier, Erivan Carabinieri, Shirvan and Crimean Infantry, 39, 40 and 42 grenadier regiments took part in the campaign. In total, the infantry had 8,5 thousand people. The cavalry consisted of 4 brigades: Consolidated - 8 squadrons of the Nizhny Novgorod Dragoon Regiment and the Combined Uhlan Regiment under Colonel Rayevsky; 1-I brigade of Colonel Pobednova, 2-I of Colonel Sergeev and 3-I of Major General Zavadovsky. A total of three brigades had 7 Don Cossack regiments and one Horse-Black Sea (Kuban). At the headquarters there was a combined Linear Cossack regiment and the irregular cavalry of local volunteer hunters. In total there were 3,4 thousand people in the cavalry. The corps artillery had 70 guns: 58 field and 12 siege.
14 June Russian troops crossed the Arpa-Chai River and entered the Ottoman Empire. The vanguard consisted of the 1 Cossack brigade with 6 guns and a battalion of pioneers (sappers). Experienced and well-organized troops of the Separate Caucasus Corps advanced quickly. According to Russian intelligence, Kars Pasha already had about 4 thousand infantry under his command. 8 thousand cavalry and 4 thousand militia. These forces were sufficient for the defense of the fortress and the battle in the field. Upon learning of the approach of the Russian troops, Emin Pasha immediately notified Erzurum seraskir. And he received assurances that the army would soon be approaching under the command of Kios Muhammad Pasha himself. The Turkish commander-in-chief wrote Emin Pasha: “Your troops are brave. Kars is invincible, Russians are few in number. Take heart, until I come to your aid ... ".
17 June Paskevich's troops are located 30 versts from Kars, near the village of Meshko. Paskevich, waiting for the appearance of 30-th. Turkish corps from Erzerum, decides to make a flank march and, beating Kars from the south, cut the Erzerum road. Fortified camp decided to put in the village of Kichik-Ev. The flank movement was accomplished in two day transitions. Considering the possibility of the appearance of enemy cavalry, the right flank of the column was covered mostly by artillery, and horse pickets were pushed far to the sides.
19 June, leaving a wagon train with a reliable cover at the site of the future camp, Paskevich undertook reconnaissance by force. In the morning, 8 troops reached the fortress. The Turks dug indiscriminate artillery fire, not really worrying about loyalty to hitting targets. 5-thousand Turkish cavalry squad tried to overturn the Russian column with a sudden blow. Five thousand horsemen, turned lava, rushing to the column with fierce cries. It seemed that the Muslim cavalry would bypass the Russian flanks and go to the rear, surrounding the Russian troops. Paskevich in the conditions of the mountainous terrain used the construction of troops in columns in three lines: in the first and second, there was infantry, in the third, cavalry and a column of infantry reserve. The infantry could turn around in the square and cover the corps cavalry. Each line had its own artillery and reserve.
The fight went short. From the right flank of the Don Cossacks struck. There was a fleeting felling, then the Cossacks on the signal "ran." Enemy cavalry lured 8-gun Don Don Horse Artillery Company under fire. A volley at the enemy cavalry produced almost at close range. The Cossack artillerymen with their fire quickly brought the enemy cavalry into complete confusion. Paskevich immediately struck cavalry with 6 guns of a horse-drawn company on the enemy flank. The Turkish cavalry did not accept the new battlefield and retreated under the protection of the serf batteries. But here, too, she was attacked by Russian cannons, which were installed by pioneers who had risen 800 meters from the fortifications of Kars. According to the same scenario, events developed on the left flank of the Russian troops - Don Cossack regiments lured the Turkish cavalry to the blow of an 12-gun battery, and then counterattacked the confused enemy cavalry. In the first field battle, the garrison of Kars suffered a complete defeat, losing to 400 people.
Kars Fortress was located on the banks of the Kars-Chai River. It still contains fortifications built at the end of the 16 century: a double row more than a meter thick walls, built of massive stone slabs with a height of 4-5 meters. A significant number of towers. The fortress wall circumferentially reached 1300 meters. Six corner bastions with flanking fire defended the approaches to the four gates. The city itself was covered by Chakhmak and Shorakh heights from the north and west. They still did not have powerful fortifications that would be erected by European fortifiers to the Eastern (Crimean) war. Only on the nearest spur of Mount Karadag was a redoubt built, defending the approaches to the suburb of Bairam Pasha. Here was a battery of 14 guns. Another suburb Orta Kapi ("Middle Gate") had its own stone wall with two bastions. Both suburbs were connected by an earthen rampart that crossed the marshy wasteland that divided them. The western suburb - Armenian, was located behind the river. He had no fortifications. However, here on the slopes of the left-bank heights the ancient castle Temir Pasha was located. In addition, field fortifications were built near the cemetery. At the northwestern corner of the fortress was located the citadel of Naryn-Kala. The artillery park of the fortress numbered about 150 guns.
Preparation for the assault
Paskevich-Erivansky spent two days on reconnaissance of enemy fortifications. Under the protection of a small convoy, he traveled all over the area near the fortress. The most convenient terrain for large masses of troops was an open, slightly hilly plain, which approached the fortress from the southern and southeast sides. However, here the attacking troops were poorly protected from the action of enemy artillery. In addition, here it was necessary to storm the fortified suburbs. It was fraught with high losses.
After the military council, it was decided to deliver the main attack on Kars from the southwest, along the left bank of the river. After several skirmishes, the Cossacks and the huntsman cleared the posts of the enemy from Shorakh heights. June 20 began to equip the battery number 1 here and by the morning of 21-th completed the work. On the morning of June 21, the battery opened a rare, disturbing fire on a Turkish fortress. At the same time, the main camp was being arranged. Forward along the Erzurum road, guards were pushed, field artillery was positioned at protected positions, rangers and infantry blocked the road. In the center of the camp is located the cavalry. June 21 batteries were located No. 2, 3 and 4. The main battery was the number 4, it was located just 300 meters from the Turkish fortified camp on the left bank of the river. Here they put 4 double-torpedo mortars and 12 battery guns.
For the direct assault on Kars, 5 thousand people and 38 guns were allocated. The remaining guns guarded the Erzerum road, and the troops were in reserve and guarded communications. To disorient the Turkish command, the battery No.1 fired a rare fire, attracting the attention of the enemy. Detachments of Colonels Borozdin and Rajewski held demonstrations near the walls of the fortress. The Turks tried to suppress the Russian batteries with the fire of their artillery - it did not work, they made forays, but they were easily beaten off.
Initially, Paskevich scheduled an assault on 25 June. By this time, they planned to suppress the main Turkish batteries, undermining the fighting spirit of the Kars garrison. The wise experience of previous campaigns Paskevich did not want to hurry. However, man proposes, and God disposes. There were changes in the plans of the Russian command, and the Russian army launched an assault on June 23.
To be continued ...