However, the Persian state did not accept defeat. In addition, it was supported by the powerful British Empire, which did not want to allow Russia to break through to the shores of the Persian Gulf and the Russians to India. In 1814, Persia signed a treaty with England, under which the Persians pledged not to let the Russians and troops of any state go to India. The British, for their part, promised to help in revising the Gulustan Treaty in favor of Persia, and to provide financial, military and material assistance to the Persians in the event of war with Russia. British diplomats put pressure on Turkey and Persia, who started a war with each other in 1821, wanting them to fight with Russia.
The Persian government considered the international situation in 1825 and the uprising of the “Decembrists” in Russia as favorable circumstances for the start of the war with the Russians. In addition, the heir to the throne and ruler of Iranian Azerbaijan Abbas Mirza, who led the Persian troops during the Russian-Persian war 1804 — 1813, continued to reorganize the army with the help of British and French instructors and believed that the Persian armed forces are now ready to return the lost lands .
Persia in every possible way delayed the issue of delimiting the border lands in the region of Lake Sevan (Gokcha), not wanting to concede even a small part of the Armenian lands to the Russians. The commander-in-chief of the Russian troops in the Caucasus, General Alexei Yermolov, warned Emperor Nicholas I that the Persians were practically openly preparing for war. Because of the aggravated conflict with the Ottoman Empire, the Russian government was ready to cede the southern part of the Talysh Khanate to Persia for the neutrality of Persia. Emperor Nikolai Pavlovich to prevent the conflict, sent a diplomatic mission to Prince Shah Feth Ali, led by Prince Alexander Menshikov. Russia needed peace in the South Caucasus, and it was ready to make significant concessions.
But the arrival of the Russian mission was perceived by the Persian elite as a sign of Russia's weakness. The embassy of Prince A. Menshikov in Tehran could not succeed. Moreover, the Persians intercepted all the letters of the Russian ambassador to the Caucasian commander-in-chief Yermolov. At this time, the Persian commander-in-chief Abbas-Mirza was pushing troops to the borders of Karabakh. The reserve Persian army was concentrated in Agar. Sardar Erivansky received an order to begin hostilities. Major dignitaries, tribal leaders, or military leaders were called sardar in Iran, Afghanistan, and Turkey.
Transcaucasian region at the time of the outbreak of war (the borders are indicated according to the Gulistan Treaty and the Peace of Bucharest).
The beginning of hostilities
By the beginning of the fighting, the Persian state was able to form a large army trained by English instructors. The number of regular infantry increased to 38,5 thousand people, irregular numbered 5 thousand soldiers. The cavalry was still the most numerous part of the Persian army - up to 95 thousand riders, plus a separate guard detachment of the heir to the throne itself. The artillery park of the army consisted of 42 field guns with 900 gunners. Feth Ali Shah was able to create an army that was much larger than the Russian troops in Transcaucasia. In this case, the Persian infantry was prepared by Western instructors and equipped in the European fashion. England generously financed Russia's eastern adversary, although after the start of the war, she refused to go to war with Russia, as promised to Tehran, explaining that the Persians were the first to start a war.
Persian commander-in-chief Abbas-Mirza, with 60-thousand army and numerous irregular cavalry, planned a quick blow to invade the Caucasus, seize Karabakh, Tiflis, oust the Russians from Georgia and Armenia, and throw them over the Terek. The main Persian forces were moved from Tabriz to the Kura region, and the auxiliary forces - to the Mugan steppe to block the exits from Dagestan. In addition, the Persian command counted on the attack of the Caucasian mountaineers from the rear on the Russian troops, which were stretched in a narrow strip along the border with Persia and Turkey and had no reserves. The Persians also hoped for the help of the separatists, the Karabakh Beks and many influential people of the neighboring provinces, who were irritated by the loss of most of power over the local population, maintained contact with Tehran and promised to revolt. The plans of the Persian command could be called an adventure if not for the extreme small number of Russian troops in such a vast theater of military operations.
It should be noted that the huge mass of regular and irregular enemy troops, opposed the entire 10-thousand. A separate Caucasian corps, whose forces were scattered over a vast territory to the borders with the Persian Empire and the Ottoman Empire. On the day of the attack, the Persian army directly in the border area was about 3 thousand people with 12 guns, scattered around the outposts and fortifications at a great distance from each other. The Persians were opposed by two battalions of the Tiflis Infantry Regiment and two companies of carabineers, the Don Cossack regiment of Lieutenant Colonel Andreev (near 500 Cossacks). The commander of the Tiflis regiment, Colonel Prince L. Ya. Sevarsemidze was the head of the border line. In Karabakh, Russian forces were commanded by Major-General Prince V.G. Madatov, and in his absence by Colonel I. A. Reut, commander of the 42-th Egersky Regiment, located in the area of Chinakhchi and Shushi. One battalion of the 42 regiment was scattered throughout the Shirvan and Nukh provinces. Long before the start of the war, Yermolov requested reinforcements, but they had not yet been sent by the beginning of the war.
16 July 1826 The 16 thousandth group of a relative of the Persian ruling family, Erivan Serdar Hussein Khan Qajar, reinforced 12 thousand Kurdish cavalry without declaring war crossed the Russian border in the Miraka region. Persian troops invaded the territory of Karabakh and the Talysh Khanate. The frontier "Zemsky guards", made up of local Muslims, with rare exceptions, did not offer resistance, retreating or switching to the side of the enemy.
Yermolov ordered Reut to retain Shusha by all means and transfer the families of noble Beks to the fortress, thereby ensuring security for those who supported the Russians, and using those hostile to Russia to be used as hostages, and deprived them of the opportunity to go to the side of the enemy, to organize a rebellion in the Russian rear. Ermolov also ordered to leave Bombak and Shuragel.
The beginning of the war was difficult for a few Russian troops. The Russians were forced to retreat to Karaklis. Gumry and Karaklis were soon blocked by Persian troops. The Persians moved to Balyk tea, knocking down Russian posts. Brother of Erivan Sardar, Gassan-Aga with 5-th. a detachment of irregular cavalry invaded Russian territory between Mount Alagez (Aragats) and the border with Turkey. Kurds and Karapapakhs (“black hats”, a Turkic ethnic group) robbed and burned Armenian villages on the way to Gumry, seizing herds of cattle and herds of horses. They destroyed the Armenian village of Little Karaklis and began to attack the defenders in the Great Karaklis.
Heroic defense of Shushi
18-19 July 1826 of the year 40-th. The Persian army under the command of Abbas Mirza forced the Araks near the Khudoperinsky bridge, invading Russia from the side of the Erivan khanate. Colonel Joseph Antonovich Reut, having received the news of the invasion of the Persian troops, led the forces in the Karabakh region to the Shusha fortress. The garrison of the fortress consisted of 1300 people - 6 mouth of the 42 th Egersky regiment and Cossacks from the Molchanov 2 regiment with 4 guns. Three companies of the 42 regiment and a hundred Cossacks under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Nazimka could not make their way to Shusha from Gerius, where they were located. At first, they were attacked by cavalry detachments of local Muslims (they were called Tatars), then the Persian troops arrived. Chasseurs and Cossacks fiercely fought, desperately trying to get through to crossing the Ah-Kara-Chai, but she was already in the hands of the enemy. Virtually the entire squad fell in battle, only 8 soldiers managed to escape. The Persians and local Muslims fanned this success to such an extent that rumors about him reached Tiflis.
It must be said that Shusha, although it possessed natural defenses — was located on a high rock, has long been the stronghold of Karabakh, the fortress was not originally prepared for defense. It was possible to attack the fortress only from the north-east, and even here the relief of the area was very helpful to the defenders. With the help of local residents, the fortifications of the fortress were tried to be put in order. Before the siege of Shusha, they did not have time to gather militia from the local population. The road to Elisavetpol was cut off. Colonel Reut, to strengthen the garrison, armed 1,5 with thousands of Armenian volunteers who, along with Russian soldiers and Cossacks, took an active part in the defense of the fortress. A number of Muslims who remained loyal to Russia took part in the defense. There were no pre-prepared food supplies in the fortress, as it was proposed to defend the Chinchi. To ensure minimal supplies, soldiers had to use grain and cattle of Armenian peasants who took refuge in the fortress. But the main problem was the lack of water. The Russian garrison and the population of Shushi, together with the residents of the neighborhood, found themselves in a difficult situation, but did not even think about giving up.
24 July Reut received news of the defeat of Nazimka's detachment. July 25 appeared advanced units of the Persian army. July 27 Abbas-Mirza offered to capitulate, but the Russians refused. The Persians installed batteries and began shelling the fortress. The Muslim population of the region for the most part joined the Persians. Armenians, who did not have time to hide in the fortress, fled to the mountains, their villages were destroyed. The former ruler of Karabakh, Mehdi Quli Khan, once again declared himself Khan and promised a generous reward to those who would come over to his side. Prince Abbas-Mirza declared that he was fighting only against the Russians, and not the locals, trying to win them over to his side.
In the siege of Shushi, foreign officers participated in the service of the Persian prince. At their suggestion, they tried to bring mines to the walls. Two artillery batteries fired on the fortress. But at night, the garrison carefully closed up the gaps. Trying to exert psychological pressure on the garrison and citizens, push the Russians against the Armenians, Abbas Mirza orders to drive several hundred Christians to the fortress, promising to execute them if Shusha is not surrendered. However, this plan did not lead to success.
The defense of the Shushi fortress continued for 47 days. The garrison of the fortress was defended by great courage. Persian troops undertook several assaults, but all of them were repelled. After the failure of the attacking actions, Abbas-Mirza went on an 9-day truce. The Persians sent two notable hostages to the fortress. Major Chelyayayev arrived in the Persian camp, he remained in enemy captivity until the end of the war. Franz von Klugenau (Klugenau), a Bohemian in the Russian service, was sent to Ermolov. It is not known how long the Shushi garrison would have held out if the Russian troops of 3 September did not defeat the son of Abbas-Mirza, Mamed-Mirza and Erivan sardar in the Shamkhor battle. Abbas-Mirza lifted the siege from Shushi and led the army to Elisavetpol.
The brave garrison of Shushi lost the entire 47 man killed, wounded and missing in the 32-day siege. The 42 th eger regiment was granted by Emperor Nikolai Pavlovich St. George's banner with the inscription: "For the defense of Shushi against the Persians in 1826 year." Colonel Joseph Antonovich Reut (Reutt) was awarded the Order of St. Vladimir 3 degree. The leaders of the Armenian population, who participated in the defense of the fortress and supplied food to the garrison, were promoted to warrant officers and granted a life pension, and his brother Safar’s family shortly after the siege of Shushi was granted a pension from the state treasury.
The long defense of Shushi had significant strategic consequences. Abbas-Mirza, without thinking that the siege would drag on, detained the main forces of his army at the fortress, although he initially wanted to make a quick rush to Tiflis. Only in desperation to seize the fortress, the Persian prince eventually separated the 18-thousand from the main forces of the army. corps and sent them to Elizavetpol (Ganja) to hit Tiflis from the east. The commander-in-chief Yermolov, having received information that the main forces of the Persian army got stuck in Shushi, refused the original plan to divert all available forces deep into the Caucasus. Russian troops managed to take a breath, regroup. The 8 thousand grouping was concentrated in Tiflis. Of its composition was formed 4-thousand. a detachment under the command of Major General Prince VG Madatov, who led the attack on Elizavetpol in order to stop the movement of the Persian troops to Tiflis and lift the siege from Shushi. The Persian and Kurdish units during July-August brought a lot of grief to the Transcaucasian settlements, destroying villages, carving out the Christian population and stealing cattle. In particular, on August 14, a settlement of German colonists was cut out - Ekaterinburg, in 60 km from Tiflis. But the strategic initiative was already lost by the Persian command, the situation changed in favor of the Russian troops, who in early September launched a counterattack.