Danube campaign of the Eastern War. Part of 4. Defeat

Almost simultaneously with the unsuccessful assault of one of the forts of Silistra, the Russian army suffered another misfortune. 16 (28) in May a reconnaissance team was sent under the command of Colonel Andrey Karamzin. The squad had six squadrons of the Alexandria Hussars, one hundred Cossacks and four guns. This detachment was part of the forces of Lieutenant-General Liprandi, who, by order of Paskevich, lifted the siege from the city of Calafat, under which stood useless for three months, and retreated to Craiova in anticipation of an order to further retreat to the Russian borders.

It should be noted that Andrei Karamzin (the son of the famous Russian writer and historian N. M. Karamzin) was a man personally brave, but without any special combat experience. At one time he served in cavalry, retired, successfully married and lived in luxury. The decision to resume service, abandoning luxurious life, was made under a patriotic impulse and desire to experience military happiness. The troops did not like him, considering the St. Petersburg dandy, who received his high rank under the protection and "sat around the neck." But they could not do anything, given the high connections of Karamzin.

The detachment went to m. Caracalu, where the Ottoman detachment was located, of an unknown number. Intelligence was very poorly placed. Locals are actively spying on the enemy. In addition, the Turkish command constantly sent out its agents, the “good servants,” who misinformed the Russians. On the way, it became necessary to cross the narrow bridge. Lieutenant Chernyaev (the future hero of the conquest of Tashkent - “The Tashkent Lion” and the Serbian Commander in 1876) told Karamzin that the place was dangerous and not worth the risk. This narrow bridge could cause the death of the detachment, if he had to quickly retreat. However, Karamzin ordered the barrier to be forced, and then the detachment crossed another such bridge, which was thrown over the ravine.

After crossing the second bridge, the Russian detachment came upon superior enemy forces. The Ottomans moved in four columns, there were about 3 thousand people. There was also the possibility of quietly moving away. However, Karamzin declared that he saw only two Turkish columns and ordered to attack the enemy. Russian guns opened fire on the enemy, but almost immediately fell silent. It turned out that by mistake they forgot to take ammunition. Karamzin, instead of ordering the withdrawal, ordered the squadron to attack the Ottomans.

The first squadron ran into the ranks of the enemy, but lost the commander, confused and rushed back. On the way he mixed up the ranks of the second squadron, everyone ran. The soldiers did not believe the "dandy" and completely lost their morale. The Turks tried to cut off the hussar from the crossing, she had a fight. The Turks seized all the guns, but could not stop the squad. Most of it broke through to its. On this day, 19 officers and 132 soldiers fell. Karamzin showed personal courage (the soldier would have left a good one) and, surrounded by the Turks, was cut to the last. Later, when his body was discovered, eighteen wounds were counted on it. Actually, death and saved him from the military court. Paskevich began the investigation, which found out that Colonel Karamzin, "wanting to commemorate himself with a victory," ignored all the warnings of the more experienced officers, without sending out even patrols ahead, attacked a stronger opponent and suffered a defeat.

This local battle had serious consequences. The Russian army received another moral strike. The Turks were emboldened, and the departure of the Liprandi corps was complicated by their constant forays. In addition, the European press has inflated this small skirmish, of which there are many in wars, to the heights of a great battle. Allegedly, because of the big lost battle, the Russian army accelerated the retreat from the Danube principalities.

Meanwhile, the siege of Silistria continued, but, as before, was hesitant. The case went to the lifting of the siege. May 28 (June 9) Paskevich was easily contused during the reconnaissance of Silistra. He passed the command of Gorchakov and went to Iasi, and then to Gomel. According to many contemporaries, he was not injured. Just wanted to finish the Danube campaign as soon as possible. Before his departure, the commander-in-chief appointed General Khrulev as commander of the avant-garde (infantry brigade, cavalry regiment, four hundred Cossacks, three batteries) to monitor the roads leading to Silistra from Shumly. In the future, the avant-garde will be the rearguard. May 28 (June 9) Khrulev defeated the Turkish detachment, which made a sortie from the fortress (the blockade of Silistra was not complete).

1 (13) June, the army lost a man who until the last tried to take Silistra. Bypassing the siege work, Schilder was badly wounded by a grenade splinter in the leg. He was tried to be saved and his leg was taken away, but the 11 (23) Jun general died. Sovereign Nicholas I, in a letter to Prince Gorchakov, honored the memory of his favorite with the words: “The loss of Schilder extremely upset me; there will be no second such, both in knowledge and in courage. ”

Gorchakov, prompted by the generals and officers, still decided on the assault. The Turkish garrison in Silistria was extremely weak, starving. Turks in Silistria have been waiting for death from day to day. The assault was scheduled on the night of 8 on 9 June. The troops were informed that there would be no signal for retreat. The soldiers were determined to take the enemy fortress. But two hours before the assault, Paskevich's order came to lift the siege and retreat beyond the Danube. The reason for such an order was a letter received by Paskevich from Emperor Nikolai Pavlovich, it allowed to lift the siege and reported on hostile measures of Austria. The troops were returned to the camp. The army was gripped by universal discontent, and when the rumor passed that Austria was to blame for all this, the bitterness against the Austrians became universal.

Siege Plan of Silistria in 1854

Retreat of the Russian army

The retreat of the Russian troops went smoothly. The Turks kept at a considerable distance. Sometimes there were clashes associated with the desire of Omer Pasha to show Europe that he was “driving” Russian troops. In fact, the clashes always ended in dropping the Ottomans from the Russian positions, after which the Russian troops calmly and without accelerating the pace, continued to withdraw.

The only serious thing happened at Zhurzhev. 30-thousand the Turkish corps tried to break the resistance of the 9 th unit of General Soymonov and break through to Bucharest. June 23-25 were fighting. The Turks, emboldened after the failure of the siege of Silistra and the appearance of the first units of the Allies in Varna, boldly attacked a small Russian detachment. Zhurzhev Russian troops left. The Turks, having suffered significant losses, stopped their offensive. In this battle, Russian troops lost more than 1 thousand people (according to other sources, about 1,8 thousand), the Ottomans - about 5 thousand soldiers.

Gorchakov, having gathered considerable forces in the town of Frateshti, was preparing to give the Ottomans a battle, but they did not show up from Zhurzhev for several days. Therefore, the retreat was continued. Part of the troops sent to the Crimea. Further evacuation took place calmly. In late August, the last Russian troops left Dobrudja and came to Ishmael. According to a special Austro-Turkish agreement, the Austrian army occupied the territory of the Danube principalities that had been evacuated by the Russians.

The French press happily wrote about the deliverance of Moldavia and Wallachia from the "Russian barbarians". However, soon the locals regretted the departure of the Russians. The Austrians behaved like real occupiers and masters of the region. They paid for poorly secured papers (they were quoted at 30% below par in Vienna itself), while the Russians paid for them in gold. So wild outrage was established in the Danube region that the former Russian occupation seemed to be an example of law and order. Austrian officers who beat local residents with a stick were considered "good", who beat their saber with "angry", killed to death - "strict", and even tortured their victims before the murder.

It should be noted that in Paris, London and Constantinople did not understand why the Russians retreated from Silistria. Omer Pasha announced in Turkey and Europe that Silistria was saved from death by his wisdom and courage. Marshal St. Arnaud about the Russian retreat from Silistra reported to Paris that the king apparently wanted Austria to help make peace for him, and therefore decided to lift the siege and clear the Danubian principalities. By order of Marshal Colonel Willer conducted a study of abandoned Russian positions in Silistria. The French enthusiastically responded to the work done by Russian engineers. Schilder and his sappers did everything possible to make the fortress fall. It remains only to take.


The Danube campaign ended in complete failure. And the fault of the officers and soldiers in this was not. The failure of the campaign was the cause of the failure of the Turkish army, and the indecisiveness of the high command, political considerations did not allow the Russian army to win on the Danube. Russia gave a strategic initiative to the enemy. The war ceased to be offensive and became defensive (offensive actions continued only on the Caucasian front).

In Russia, the sudden failure of the Danube campaign made a heavy impression. Everyone understood that this was a strategic and political defeat. The Slavophiles, who pinned high hopes on the liberation of the Balkan Slavs and the unity of the Slavic world led by the Russian Empire, were especially dismayed. Their dreams of the triumph of Orthodoxy and the unity of the Slavic peoples collapsed or were pushed to a very far perspective.

There was no reason for war with Russia now: officially the Western powers defended the interests of Turkey. The departure of the Russian army from Moldova and Wallachia eliminated the threat of the Ottoman Empire. However, the Anglo-French coalition was not so much interested in the integrity of the territory of Turkey as in organizing a successful attack on Russia itself. The Russian Empire was planned to be dismembered and thrown away from the Baltic and Black Seas, and greatly weakened. Therefore, after the withdrawal of the Russian army from the Danube principalities, the war not only did not stop, but broke out even more. England and France begin aggressive actions, both on the Baltic and the Black Sea.

In April, the landing of Allied forces in Gallipoli (Turkey) began. France has shown particular zeal. Napoleon III wanted to consolidate his position with a victorious war, which would restore the importance of France as a great power and give him the aura of a great commander and ruler. In June, the troops began to transfer to Eastern Bulgaria, in the region of Varna. Basically, the Allied forces threw the sea, partly went on their own. In the middle of July, under the Varna, there were already 40 thousand Frenchmen under the command of Marshal Saint-Arnaud and 15 thousand British under the command of Lord Raglan. However, the evacuation of the Russian army from the Danube principalities and their occupation by the Austrian army made their stay in Varna meaningless.

Here the Allies suffered the first great losses - the troops began to mow cholera. In six weeks, 8 was infected by thousands of Frenchmen, of which 5 thousand died. This greatly affected the fighting spirit of the army. She had already suffered heavy losses without fighting. The Allied Command decided to conduct the first combat operation - the French General Yusuf with 3 thousand Algerian spouses and Ottoman bashi-bazouks in the second half of July moved to Babadag to attack the 7 Russian Infantry Division, which was stationed in Southern Bessarabia and the Lower Danube. However, on the way the detachment "melted" - the disease and desertion destroyed the connection.

To break the strategic deadlock, Lord Raglan, whose corps was replenished by this time, proposed to conduct a landing operation in the Crimea. He was able to convince the Allied governments and Marshal St. Arnaud in the reality of this plan. In Crimea, one could count on the support of the local Crimean-Tatar population, which should have facilitated the intervention. 22 August troops began to land on ships. September 4 landing began at Evpatoria.

In the Baltic, a strong Anglo-French fleet blocked the Russian Baltic fleet in Kronstadt and Sveaborg. Russian bases allies did not dare to attack. The Allied fleet landed troops on the island of Bomarsund. 16 August allies captured the fortress of Bomarsund. Attempts by other landings failed, and in the autumn of 1854, the Allied squadron left the Baltic Sea.

Austria continued to drift towards the Anglo-French alliance. Already in the first days of July, an envoy arrived in Vienna from Vienna, who brought Austria’s consent to the four conditions that France had worked out. They were planned to present the Russian Empire as the basis of a future peace agreement. Petersburg should have abandoned Moldova and Wallachia; transfer the patronage of Christians to the subjects of the Ottoman Empire to all the great powers; on the Danube they planned to establish “freedom of navigation” (Russia was denied access to the mouth); Russia had to agree to neutralize the Black Sea and give consent to the revision of the Straits Agreement 1841. In December, 1854 Austria announced an alliance with Britain and France. However, Austria, putting pressure on Russia, still preferred not to enter the war.

Under these conditions, Prussia behaved unexpectedly for England and France. The Prussian king suddenly declared that he no longer considered himself bound by the treaty with Austria from April 20. Under this treaty Prussia formed an alliance with Austria. Both powers agreed that if Russia did not soon withdraw its troops from Moldavia and Wallachia, Austria would require their purification, and Prussia would support this ultimatum. And if Russia refuses to withdraw troops, both great powers will join the anti-Russian alliance. The performance of Austria and Prussia could also be caused by the annexation of the Danube principalities to Russia and the active offensive of the Russian army in the Balkans.

Now Berlin has broken this agreement. This was due to Berlin’s concerns about Russia's actions. England and France were far away, and Prussia and Russia bordered. The Prussian king Friedrich-Wilhelm IV knew that St. Petersburg did not need to transfer troops to the western border. Throughout the Eastern War, large Russian units were stationed on the border of Prussia and Austria, and they were more powerful than the troops that were stationed in the Danube and Crimea. So, by the opening of the 1854 campaign of the year, there were 125-thousand on the Baltic coast. the army of Tsarevich Alexander Nikolaevich, and in the Kingdom of Poland was 105-thousand. General Ridiger's army. The troops guarding the Black Sea and Azov coasts and the Crimea were much smaller in number - 45 in total, thousand bayonets and sabers.

Sovereign Nikolai Pavlovich, annoyed to the last degree by the duplicity of the neighbors, could declare war on the Austrian Empire and Prussia and punish them. In addition, Berlin did not want to strengthen Vienna, which occupied Moldova and Wallachia. At the same time, Austria was reinforced by the fact that it entered into an allied relationship with France, the French now did not threaten to seize Lombardy and Venice. As a result, Austria could gain an advantage in the German Union. The Austrian-French alliance was dangerous for Prussia. Everything forced Prussia to rush between Russia and its opponents during the Eastern War.

Danube campaign of the Eastern War. Part of 4. Defeat

Ivan Fyodorovich Paskevich

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Kersnovsky A.A. History of the Russian army // http://militera.lib.ru/h/kersnovsky1/index.html.
Petrov A.N. The war of Russia with Turkey. Danube Campaign 1853 and 1854 In 2 t. // http://www.runivers.ru/lib/book3052/9644//.
E. V. Tarle. The Crimean War: in 2-x. // http://militera.lib.ru/h/tarle3/index.html/.
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1 comment
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  1. +1
    26 May 2014
    Tsar Nikolai The first 30 years did not reform the army. General Paskevich
    successfully smashed rebels and revolutionaries across Europe,
    the old-style troops were suitable for this. But he understood that against
    regular Turkish army with European officers
    and armed with the latest weapons he won’t pull. Therefore tried
    Avoid defeat and save the soldiers.

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