Heroic defense of the Shushi fortress (The beginning of the Russian-Persian war 1826 — 1828 Heroic defense of Shushi) at the initial stage of the Russian-Persian war (1826 — 1828) allowed the Russian command to concentrate forces and go on the offensive. On August 22, a detachment under the command of Valerian Grigorievich Madatov (1782 — 1829) moved on to Elisavetpol to stop the advance of the Persian troops to Tiflis and lift the siege from Shushi.
It must be said that Valerian (Rustam, Rostom) Madatov (Madatyan) had a very interesting biography. According to one version, Valerian was born in Karabakh and came from an Armenian noble family. According to another, Madatov’s father was a servant of one of the meliks (princes). As a boy, Valerian escaped to Astrakhan, came to the regimental Markantan, learned Russian. In 1799, a delegation of Armenian melik-princes headed by Jimshit Shah-Nazarov drove through Astrakhan. Growing into a diplomatic mission. He was taken as a translator. In Petersburg, Valerian was enrolled in a military school. Madatov was given a certificate of his noble origin, which allowed the young man to become a guard. He began his service as a lieutenant in the Life Guards Regiment of the Transfiguration. Madatov was a member of the Russian-Turkish war of 1806-1812, the Patriotic War of 1812, and the foreign campaigns of the Russian army. In 1816, he rose to the commander of the troops in the Karabakh Khanate, and the district chief, he helped the Caucasian governor Yermolov in the fight against the highlanders. Madatov enjoyed great love of the soldiers.
Valerian (Rostom) Grigorievich Madatov.
Madatov's squad broke 3-thousand. Persian detachment under the command of Zurab Khan, which was located on one of the tributaries of the River Taus. The Persians retreated to Elisavetpol. Learning of this, Yermolov reinforced Madatov’s detachment with a battalion of the Kherson Grenadier Regiment and ordered them to go to Elisavetpol. 25 August Madatov moved to Elizavetpol. Under his command there were five companies of the Georgian regiment, a battalion of the Kherson Grenadier Regiment, three companies of huntsmen of the 41 regiment, Cossacks and Caucasian militia (Georgians and "Tatars" - so called local Muslims). Total 4,3 thousand soldiers and about 2 thousand irregular police, with 12 guns. Son of Abbas-Mirza, Mohammed-Mirza from 10-thousand the corps (4 guns and 20 falconets) approached Elizavetpol earlier and went out to meet the Russian troops in the village of Shamkhor. On September 1, the Erivan sardar joined the son of the Persian commander in chief with the 4-thousand. squad and 6 guns.
On September 3, the Cossacks and the Caucasian militia overturned the vanguard of the Persian troops and forced the enemy to retreat to Shamkhor. The Persian army lined up in battle order, which resembled the shape of a crescent, arched toward the enemy. In the center were regular infantry and artillery, on the flanks of the irregular cavalry. The Persians occupied the line with a length of more than two versts, having the opportunity to fire the only road along which Russian troops advanced.
“Battle of Shamkir”. Lithograph by M. Meshchersky, XIX century.
Prince Madatov, despite the superiority of the enemy in numbers, hit the Persians on the move. The cavalry, with the support of artillery, started a battle on the right flank, and the infantry forced the river Shamkhor, hit the bayonets and broke through the center of the Persian position. The Persian army came into complete confusion from such an onslaught and rushed to their heels. The Russian and Caucasian cavalry, covering the road with hundreds of enemy corpses, drove the Persians almost to Elisavetpol. In this fleeting battle, Russian troops lost just 27 people, and the enemy lost more than 2 thousands. Under the blows of the Russian cavalry, almost the entire Shah Guard fell. The space from Shamkhor to Elizavetpol, over the course of 30 more than a mile and a half, was covered with corpses. No prisoners were actually taken (75 people).
The Persian garrison who occupied Elisavetpol fled. The next day, the city’s population happily greeted the winners. Elizavetpol suffered greatly. The Persians, leaving the city, looted the property of local residents, took away and many women. Armenians were the least affected. They kept their quarter, which had fortifications, the Persians were not allowed there. Armenians, submitting to the Persian power, retained some autonomy. The Persian command, in the conditions of instability of the situation, decided not to go into conflict with the Armenian community, storming their quarter.
The Persian commander-in-chief, Prince Abbas-Mirza, upon learning of the defeat at Shamkhor, was forced to lift the siege from Shushi and move troops to Elisavetpol. Abbas-Mirza was determined to smash Madatov’s detachment. Under the command of the Persian commander in chief, there were more than 35 thousand people with 25 guns. 10 (22) September 1826, Yelizavetpol arrived with reinforcements, General Ivan F. Paskevich, and took command of the Russian troops. The total number of Russian troops in Elisavetpole increased to 8 thousand people with 22 guns.
Battle of Elisavet Field 13 September (25 September) 1826
Emperor Nikolai Pavlovich received news of the invasion of the Persian army in Moscow. He decided to appoint the commander of the acting troops under the main command of Yermolov - Paskevich. Some researchers associate Paskevich’s shipment to Transcaucasia with the emperor’s distrust of Yermolov. Perhaps this was due to the uprising of the "Decembrists." There was a delay in the oath of the Caucasian troops to the new emperor, which alerted the imperial entourage. At the same time, given the enormous prestige of Yermolov in the Caucasus and in the army, he could not simply be removed from office. Therefore, Yermolov retained the post of commander-in-chief, but the emperor gave Yermolov the right not to participate personally in major military operations and to transfer, in the event of illness, the supreme power to Paskevich.
29 August Paskevich arrived in Tiflis and took command of the troops located in the district. From the commander-in-chief Yermolov, he received an order to unite with the forces of Prince Madatov, who was subordinate to Paskevich. Ivan Fyodorovich received the task of lifting the blockade from Shushi. September 10 Paskevich at the head of the avant-garde - Nizhny Novgorod Dragoon Regiment, arrived at the camp of the Russian troops. It took three days to gather food, organize forces, conduct exercises. The troops were brought together in 13 half battalions, for ease of operation.
September 13 in the morning the troops were to speak to Shusha. But at night two Armenians came to the camp. One of them served as a translator for Abbas-Mirza. He said that the Persians had gathered all the forces into a single fist and were approaching Elizavetpol. Paskevich immediately advanced troops towards the enemy. Russian and Persian troops converged 7 versts from Elisavetpol. Russian troops lined up in battle order: in three lines with a reserve. In the first line, the 4 semi-battalion of rangers and riflemen of the Shirvan regiment with 12 guns were located in the shock columns. In the second line - 4 half battalion of carabinieri and grenadiers of the Georgian regiment. Commanding both lines, Major General Prince Valerian Madatov. Nizhny Novgorod Dragoon Regiment located in the third line. The reserve was 3 half battalion of the Kherson Grenadier Regiment and 6 guns. On the flanks of the first line there were two Cossack regiments and Caucasian militia, on the flanks of the second line there were the 2 half battalion and the 4 guns.
The Persian army numbered up to 15 thousand regular infantry and 20 thousand cavalry. The guns were 25 and a significant number of falcontes. Most of the infantry was located in the center in three lines. On the flanks there was cavalry and 6 battalions of Sarbaz (regular infantry). Persian artillery was located throughout the battle line, but most of the guns were placed in the center of the position - 18 guns. Behind the infantry of the center and the cavalry of the right flank they placed falconets on camels. The Persian battle line was so stretched and arched that the tips of its wings were almost in the rear of the Russian troops. Abbas-Mirza commanded the whole army and center, his eldest son Mohammed the right flank, the son-in-law of Prince Allayar Khan the left flank.
At the beginning of the battle, an artillery fire began. Under the cover of artillery, the Persian infantry battalions in the center and on the left flank advanced and, coming close to the Russian troops, opened rifle fire. The Persian commander-in-chief was hoping to use the numerical advantage of his troops. On the left flank, the Cossacks and Muslim militias did not hold out under the pressure of the masses of the enemy and began to roll back. Further advance of the enemy troops was slowed down by a small, but steep ravine. Then the Persians came under fire from the reserve grenadiers and hit the dragoon division. Paskevich personally tidied up the irregular cavalry. Ivan Fyodorovich gave the order to the battalions of the Shirvan, Georgian and 41 regiment of chasseurs to launch a counterattack. Their impact was reinforced by the Nizhny Novgorod dragoons. Persian infantry could not stand it, and pursued by Russian soldiers, ran. Shah artillery also fell silent and began to retreat. The center of the enemy line was broken.
On the right flank, the situation was also difficult. Persian cavalry tried to go to the rear of the Russian troops. The Persians oppressed the Cossacks and the Caucasian volunteer militia towards Elizavetpol. The enemy pressed two companies of the Kherson Grenadier Regiment and the 1 Division of the Nizhny Novgorod Dragoons. Those barely held the position. Ivan Fyodorovich supported the right flank of the 3 with carabinieri half battalions. Carabinieri began to go to the rear of the enemy and the Persians had no choice but to begin to withdraw to the mountains. Noticing the emerging success, Paskevich reinforced the onslaught with the help of the Kherson grenadier 2 half battalions.
Part of the Persian infantry entrenched on the heights. However, after a short resistance, the Persians surrendered (more than 800 people). The Persian army suffered a complete defeat. The troops under the command of Prince Madatov pursued the enemy for 12 miles. The Persian army was completely broken and scattered, the works of British instructors were in vain. The Russian army showed complete superiority over the enemy. Two troop camps were captured as trophies, 4 flags, one gun (the guns were taken out of the battlefield first, the Persian artillerymen ran among the first), 80 of charging and ammunition boxes. About 1100 people were taken prisoner. The Persian army lost in the battle about 2 thousand people killed and wounded. The losses of the Russian troops were 46 killed and 249 wounded.
Paskevich was marked with a gold sword adorned with diamonds, with the inscription: "For the defeat of the Persians at Elisavetpole." Prince Madatov received the rank of lieutenant general. The orders of St. George were awarded to Major General Vilyaminov (3 degree), Colonel Shabelsky, Major Kluka-von Klugenau, Count Simonich, Major Yudin and Khorunzhy Eremkin (all 4 degree).
The Persian commander-in-chief, with personal guards and artillery, fled across the Araks River. Most of the infantry and cavalry were scattered over mountain areas. In fact, the Persian army ceased to exist for some time. However, the Russian troops could not take advantage of this, although Paskevich suggested making a march on Tabriz, the second largest breed of the Persian state. The main reason for refusing to attack the enemy’s territory was the lack of provisions. Russian troops, going on the offensive for the Araks, left in the rear of the war-devastated land. Ermolov and Paskevich could not reach an agreement.
Abbas-Mirza gradually gathered troops and again began to threaten the borders of Russia. Small horse parties made raids on Russian lands. Paskevich responded with small military demonstrations, forcing the enemy to withdraw cavalry units. Soon the troops settled down to the winter quarters, the war had subsided until spring.
The battle of Shamkhor and the battle of Elisavetpol became a turning point in the Russian-Persian war. A separate Caucasian corps withstood the blow of the Persian army, which had a great superiority in numbers and, launching a counterattack, inflicted a terrible defeat on the enemy. The Persian army, prepared according to European standards and having strong artillery, was completely defeated. Russia, thanks to the courage and fearlessness of the fighters and commanders of the Separate Caucasian Corps, has become famous for another victory. Russian commanders showed an excellent example of victory by small forces over a numerically superior enemy.