17 (29) August 1827, the Oshakan Battle, also known as the Ashtarak Battle, took place. The battle was attended by Russian troops under the command of Lt. Gen. Athanasius Krasovsky and the army heir to the Persian throne, Abbas Mirza. It was one of the bloodiest battles of the 1826 — 1828 Russian-Persian War.
Krasovsky’s division arrived under the walls of Erivan in mid-June. When the main forces of the Separate Caucasian Corps, under Paskevich, left in the direction of Nakhichevan, Krasovsky’s troops received the task of conducting preparatory work in Erivan. 21 June (3 July) The 20 Infantry Division under the command of General Krasovsky withdrew from siege positions in Erivan and retired to Echmiadzin Monastery. Soldiers have stockpiled food. On the monastery towers installed several guns. A garrison was left in the monastery, consisting of a battalion of the Sevastopol infantry regiment (up to 500 fighters), a hundred horsemen from the Armenian volunteer squad of 5 guns. The commandant of the garrison was Lieutenant Colonel Lindenfeld. The rest of the forces moved to the Bash-Abarana Upland and set up camp at the Jenguli tract.
The Erivan sardar Hussein Khan, having received the news that the Russian division had left the Echmiadzin monastery, leaving only one battalion there, decided to capture it. 4 (16) July 6-th. a detachment (2 thousand regular infantry and 4 thousand cavalry) laid siege to the monastery. In order to track the actions of the Krasnovsky troops, 1-thousand were sent. detachment of cavalry under the authority of Nagi Khan. The Erivan sardar suggested that the garrison leave the monastery, saying that the main forces of the Caucasian corps had retreated from Nakhichevan to Georgia and there was no way for the Russian troops to wait. Hussein Khan vouched for the safety of Russian soldiers, promising easy access in any direction. Otherwise, he promised to take the monastery by force, without sparing anyone. The Russians refused to surrender. The enemy surrounded the Echmiadzin Monastery, blocking all approaches. But on July 5, local Armenians were able to inform Krasnovsky about the appearance of large enemy forces at the monastery. The general immediately sent two battalions with four guns to the monastery. Hussein Khan, having received a message from Nagi Khan about the movement of Russian troops to the monastery, immediately lifted the siege and left for Erivan.
Persian army offensive
Hussein Khan, after the failure of the undertaking with the capture of the Echmiadzin monastery on his own, sent a letter to the Persian Prince Abbas Mirza, in which he reported that Krasovsky squad was few in number, there was a small garrison in the monastery and there were many patients there. Khan proposed to capture Echmiadzin, seize the Russian siege artillery, which was sent to Erivan, and, having destroyed the Krasovsky detachment, to obtain a free road to Georgia.
Abbas-Mirza decided on a bold "diversion." The Persian commander-in-chief formed the 25 thousand army: the 10 thousand infantry and the 15 thousand cavalry with the 22 guns. The Persians forced the Araks near Sardar-Abad and invaded the Erivan khanate. 8 (20) August, Persian troops occupied the village Ashtarak, which was located between Echmiadzin and the Russian camp at Djenguly. Then the Persians camped at Oshakan. The Persian command planned to smash the Russian forces in the Erivan khanate, seize siege artillery, occupy the Echmiadzin monastery, make a rapid raid on Georgia, destroy Tiflis. This plan was quite realistic, since all the main Russian forces were located in the Erivan and Nakhichevan provinces, there was no one to defend Georgia. Under the command of Krasovsky were the largest forces on the way to Georgia.
10 (22) August 2-belts appeared in front of the Russian camp. equestrian detachment of the enemy. Cossack patrols lasted until the arrival of reinforcements. The Cossacks, with the support of the infantry, launched a counterattack and rejected the enemy cavalry. On the night of 13 (25) in August, the Persian cavalry walked through the gorges to the Russian camp and tried to strike a sudden blow from several directions. But the Cossacks met the Persians again; they managed to hold out until the arrival of the infantry units. The enemy has been rejected again. Soon the Russian troops dispersed the Persian cavalry at Mount Aragats.
On August 15 (27), part of the Persian army under the command of Yusuf Khan, Zohrab Khan and Topchiba was besieged by the Echmiadzin Monastery. Yusuf Khan offered to capitulate to the garrison. The commandant was laconic: "I will not pass." Lindenfeld was even offered to transfer to the Shah’s service, promising all sorts of benefits. “Russians do not trade with themselves, but if the Persians need a monastery, then let them enter it as honest warriors, with weapons in hands, ”replied the lieutenant colonel. The Persians began to persuade Archbishop Nerses to surrender, but he was also firm: "The monastery is strong in the protection of God, try to take it ...".
On August 16, Persian artillery began shelling the Echmiadzin Monastery. General Krasovsky found himself in a difficult situation, it was necessary to help the monastery, but a large Persian army stood in the way of the Russian troops, which was replenished by troops of the Erivan sardar. In addition, the Persian troops were located on a strong position: between the steep banks of the river Abaroni and Mount Aragats. The connection of the monastery with the Russian camp was interrupted. Several people trying to get from the camp to the monastery and from Echmiadzin to the camp were captured by the enemy and, after torture, were executed. Krasovsky knew that the food in the monastery was running out. A decisive storming of the monastery by a huge Persian army could lead to its fall. The general decided to break through to the besieged monastery, forming a wagon train with provisions.
Afanasy Ivanovich Krasovsky (1780 — 1849).
16 (28) August the detachment was ready to come to the aid of Echmiadzin. The combined detachment under the command of Krasovsky included: the 40-th Egersky regiment, the 3 separate battalion - the Crimean infantry, the 39-th Egersky regiment and the Combined battalion (huntsman, pioneers, fighters of the Sevastopol battalion, Georgian and Armenian volunteers), Don Cossack Andreas, and the Don Cossack Andrey. the Cossack Sergeev regiment and the Horse a hundred of the Armenian volunteer squad. The total number of Russian cavalry was 300-500 people. In total, the detachment was, according to various sources, from 2,3 to 3 thousand people with 12 guns. The camp at Jenguli remained to defend the soldiers of the battalion of the Crimean Infantry Regiment, half the company pioneer at the 10 guns under the command of Major General Alexander Berhman. The number of Persian army reached 30 thousand people with 24 guns.
By evening, the Krasovsky detachment began to spend the night near the village of Sagnu-Savanga. Early in the morning of August 17 (29), the Russian detachment continued moving. By 7 hours of the morning, the Cossacks and the first column arrived on a rocky hill between the villages of Ushagan (Oshakan) and Ashtarak, and began to expect a rearguard with a wagon train. The Persian troops crossed the river Abaran, the enemy infantry lined up in three lines and blocked the Echmiadzin road. Enemy cavalry and artillery occupied nearby heights. The Persian batteries were so arranged as to bombard the road and the approaches to the river. The Persian riders approached the rearguard, but were driven off. The Persian detachment, which stood on the road in front of the Russian detachment, was also discarded with gunfire.
Abbas-Mirza, in order to lure the Russian troops, staged a retreat by retracting infantry battalions to the river and hiding infantrymen in a deep gully. A further road to the monastery ran along the gorge between two low elevations. This place allowed to block the enemy unit and destroy it with crossfire. Krasovsky divined the enemy's maneuver. However, retreat meant the death of Echmiadzin. The Russian general made a difficult decision and ordered him to push ahead. The rangers of 39, a regiment with 4 guns under the command of Colonel Yakov Raenko, were in the forefront, then the Crimean battalion followed, with two guns on each side of the road. In the center was a wagon train, from the right flank it was covered by the Consolidated Battalion, from the left - by the Cossacks, under the command of Major General L. A. Tucholka. The 40 th Egersky Regiment with 4 cannons under the command of Major General P. Kh. Truzeson moved in the rearguard.
The Persians missed the detachment in the gorge, and then opened artillery fire from the flanks. Simultaneously, the Persian cavalry attacked from the rear. Russian detachment actually led the battle in the environment. Particularly fierce battle was in the rear. Large forces of the Persian cavalry again and again went on the attack, trying to cut the Russian system. Russian guns fired kartechnyy fire, causing significant damage to the enemy. The hunter met the enemy cavalry with rifle volleys. When approaching the enemy fierce melee fights occurred closely. According to the military historian of the Caucasian Wars, V. A. Potto: “The courage of the soldiers of the fortieth regiment exceeded every conception.” The participant of that fight M. Sobolev noted that: "The 40-th Egersky regiment exceeded any measure of courage." General Krasovsky, believing that the main forces of the Persian army were waiting for the detachment in front of the monastery, could not single out reinforcements to the rearguard from the advanced units. By 12 hours, after a five-hour battle, moving under enemy fire and repelling his attacks, without water, the rearguard was in a deplorable state. Krasovsky and Truzson, leading the Crimean battalion, came to the aid of the rearguard, rejecting the enemy with a bayonet attack.
The Russian columns advanced as follows: the advance units occupied the height and fired artillery fire on the enemy, the next column replaced the first, covering the approach of the next and moving forward first. The soldiers were tired to such an extent that they fell into exhaustion, not paying attention to the firing of the enemy. Coming to the last height, behind which was the Echmiadzin plain, Krasovsky changed the order of construction. The forward and central columns took up positions along the flanks and let forward the rear units with the wagon train. The Persian cavalry attacked the left flank and rear of the Russian rear guard, but in a fierce battle, was thrown back. The Persian army was also very tired. Infantry and artillery did not have time to move behind the cavalry, the horses in the cavalry were on the verge of exhaustion.
On the Echmiadzin plain, channels lay in front of the monastery to irrigate the fields. The Persians ambushed one of the canals, knowing that after the 9-hour march the Russian soldiers were exhausted from thirst. The Russian detachment descended into the valley and rose, waiting for the rear units. Part of the shooters who stood in chains on the flanks, the soldiers, forgetting about the order to connect with the columns, rushed to the water. Then the Persian cavalry attacked them. The carnage began, some soldiers could not resist the cavalry. The Persians literally hunted for heads - 10 ducats was supposed to be for the Russian head. The Cossacks, due to their small size, could not get through to the shooters to help. Krasovsky, with a group of soldiers, tried to break through to the perishing, but he himself was surrounded and personally fought with the enemies. Krasovsky was on the verge of death, with him remained a handful of officers and soldiers, already completely exhausted. However, the chief auditor Belov, "a man of remarkable strength and courage" was able to cut through the ranks of his enemies. A military commander of the Donskoy Sergeev Regiment of Screws and Belov, with a group of Donians, with a swift blow, struck the corridor in the encirclement with peaks and swords and saved the commander.
The position of the Russian detachment was critical. Abbas-Mirza ordered the Krasovsky detachment to be surrounded on an open plain and to attack with all available forces. By this time the case charges to the guns came to an end. The soldiers were extremely exhausted by previous bouts and a long march. The detachment’s combat capability has fallen sharply. The situation was saved by the garrison of the monastery. The battalion of Sevastopol and Armenian volunteers hit the rear of the enemy. Persians, fearing to be caught on both sides, retreated. The detachment made the last spurt and was outside the walls of the monastery. People were exhausted to such an extent that several rangers died of exhaustion without battle wounds. They, having embraced the guns, remained lying on the battle posts.
18 (30) August 80 th Kabardian infantry regiment and siege artillery arrived at the camp of Canguli. 20 August they arrived at the monastery. Abbas-Mirza still 19 August, led troops over the river. Zangu, located in 20 versts from Erivan. The Persian army was demoralized by the Oshakan battle, many soldiers fled their homes.
Paskevich, having received news of the Oshakan battle, was forced to gather the main corps forces from Nakhichevan and move to Echmiadzin. Up to this point, the Russian command believed that the enemy forces in the Erivan region were insignificant and the detachment of General Krasovsky himself could cope with them. September 5 Paskevich's troops arrived in Echmiadzin.
The Russian detachment made its way through the 30-thousand enemy army. This feat was accomplished largely due to the personal courage of his commander, the hero of World War II and the foreign campaigns of the Russian army, the resilience and courage of Russian soldiers, Cossacks and Caucasian volunteers, skillful actions of gunners. Echmiadzin's lord Nerses Ashtaraketsi said: “A handful of Russian brothers made their way to us through a thirty-thousand-strong army of enraged enemies. This handful acquired immortal fame, and the name of General Krasovsky will remain forever unforgettable in the annals of Echmiadzin. ”
However, this breakthrough came at a high price - the squad lost half of the train and almost the entire wagon train, 1154 people died, went missing, was injured. In this battle, the commanders of the Sevastopol Infantry and Crimean Infantry Regiments — Major Belozor and Lieutenant Colonel Golovin — fell. The Persians lost about 3 thousand people in this battle.
The Caucasian commander-in-chief condemned Krasovsky’s actions, who marched towards Echmiadzin with excessive haste, without waiting for reinforcements and siege artillery. So the Kabardian regiment, escorting the siege artillery, arrived at the Jangul 18 (30) August. However, the military council and the emperor personally justified the actions of a courageous general. Having read the report on the battle, Tsar Nicholas I personally wrote: “Such a bold and successful enterprise deserves to be ranked among the most memorable exploits of the brave Russian army.” Krasovsky was awarded the Order of St. Vladimir 2-oh degree.
The invasion of the Persian army in Eastern Armenia forced Paskevich to change the further plan of action of the Russian army. The Caucasian governor was planning to go to Tabriz, and he had to return to Erivan and besiege her.
Memorial obelisk to Russian soldiers-liberators who fell in the Oshakan battle of 17 in August 1827