Victories of the Caucasian campaign of the Eastern war
Crimean (Eastern) War 1853-1856 It began as another Russian-Turkish war. As in previous conflicts between Russia and Turkey, the Caucasus has become a battlefield. Porta had a lot of territorial claims to Russia. The Ottomans planned to repel not only the Crimea and the South Caucasus. The hottest heads in the Turkish leadership recalled the once Turkish coast of the coast of Russia, Abkhazia, Circassia, and other areas of the North Caucasus.
However, the Caucasian campaign of the Eastern war ended in a brilliant victory for the Russian army. Russian troops defeated the Ottomans in a series of decisive battles, took Kars. General Nikolai Nikolaevich Muravyov began the development of a boldly planned campaign through Anatolia to Istanbul (Constantinople), to the Bosphorus and Dardanelles. The capture of Istanbul radically changed the situation on the Black Sea theater of military operations in favor of Russia. The Caucasian winner Muravyov-Karsky believed that it was enough to intercept the straits, and the Anglo-French steam fleet would "die" in the waters of the Black Sea. A bold plan could well turn defeat at Sevastopol into a brilliant victory for Russia in the whole Eastern War.
But the campaign of the Russian Caucasian army against Tsargrad in 1856 did not take place. Emperor Nikolai Pavlovich died, and his successor Alexander II began peace negotiations. Regarding the peace talks held in Paris, Lieutenant-Colonel of the General Staff Averyanov in his “Notes” noted with all fairness: “Against our failures on the Danube and the Crimea, only three-year victories and successes of Caucasian troops in Asian Turkey could be put on the scales at the Paris Congress, on which the age-old military glory and people's pride of Russia suffered so much ... All the conquests of the Caucasian troops ... were several dozen times superior to the space occupied by the allies in the environs of Sevastopol and Kinburn, were oh the price that Russia had to pay for the return of Sevastopol. "
Kars traded for Sevastopol. Caucasian victories balanced the bitterness of failures and defeats on the Danube and Crimea. Sorry, this page is Russian stories in modern Russia it is almost forgotten, like many other glorious and tragic pages of our history, which Russians should remember.
Prewar situation. The main difficulty of the war in the Caucasus was the enormous borders of the region, the underdevelopment of communications in this mountainous region and unusually unfavorable and dangerous foreign policy conditions. Russia had to expect an attack not only from the Ottoman Empire, but also from Persia, which seriously complicated the situation for the Russian troops. It was not worth counting on the active assistance of the Persians or their friendly neutrality. Persia at any time could oppose Russia, having improved the opportunity. Therefore, we had to keep troops in all directions.
Relations with the local population were not easy. With a part of the mountain tribes of the North Caucasus was a long and bloody war, which then subsided, then again caught fire. Part of the mountaineers were gradually drawn into a peaceful life, finding in it more benefits than from constant hostility. Armenians were loyal to the Russian authorities, in the power of the Russian weapons they saw salvation from slavery, tested by their ancestors and the possibility of the liberation of the Armenians, who remained under the authority of Porta. A significant part of the "Tatars" (the so-called Muslims of the Transcaucasus) also supported Russia. For most Georgians, except for the part of the “elite” circles who wanted to gain an opportunity to rule over the common people and were ready to betray Russia, this war was from the very beginning a continuation of the centuries-old struggle against the merciless “hereditary” enemy, from which only the Russians could save them. Russia was the guarantor of life, security and welfare.
The beginning of the war was unexpected for the Caucasian governor, Prince Mikhail Semenovich Vorontsov. The hero of the 1812 war of the year and the foreign campaign, Vorontsov was appointed commander-in-chief of the troops in the Caucasus and the governor-general of the Caucasus in 1844. Prior to this appointment, the prince successfully led Novorossia. Under the command of Vorontsov, the Russian troops continued their offensive against the mountain tribes. The deputy was loved by ordinary soldiers. For many years, stories about the simplicity and accessibility of the supreme governor remained among the soldiers in the Russian army in the Caucasus. After the death of the Caucasian governor in the Caucasus, a saying emerged: “High to God, far to the king, and Vorontsov died.”
However, by the beginning of the Eastern War, Vorontsov had already exhausted the potential given to him by God. At the beginning of 1853, the prince, feeling the approach of blindness and extreme collapse, asked the emperor to give him his resignation (Vorontsov died on November 6 of 1856). 25 March (6 April) Vorontsov left Tiflis. Therefore, Vorontsov could not lead the Russian troops in the Caucasus. It should be noted that despite his really painful condition, Prince Vorontsov, who knew the region well, correctly assessed the situation and understood what a difficult war the Russian Empire was facing and what dire consequences the Russians might face in the Caucasus, where wildness, fanaticism and mistrust of the mountain tribes represented an excellent ground for enemy games.
In Petersburg, they did not understand the whole danger of the situation in the Caucasus. Initially, Nikolai Pavlovich was convinced that Russia would have to fight only with the Ottoman Empire, and the Russian army would easily win the campaign. Emperor Nicholas did not understand the dangerous situation in which the Russian Caucasus found itself after the start of the war. When, in mid-October, 1853 sea squadron Nakhimov transferred to Georgia 13-th Infantry Division (16 thousand bayonets), the sovereign wrote to the governor, who did not share the optimism of the king and was very afraid for the area assigned to him: “Now I think I can hope that not only are given you sufficient ways to defend the region from the invading Turks, but even to offensive actions ... ”. Nicholas Vorontsov offered to withstand the first attacks of the Ottomans and go on the offensive, to take Kars and Ardahan.
Emperor Nikolai Pavlovich in this matter showed a weak understanding of the situation in the Caucasus. In the spring of 1853 in the Caucasus there were only 128 infantry battalions, 11 cavalry squadrons (Nizhny Novgorod Dragoon Regiment), 52 Cossack regiment and cavalry local police, 23 artillery batteries with 232 guns. If these forces were united, it would be a powerful army capable of crushing the Ottomans. But on the eve of the war, the Russian forces on the border, which were supposed to withstand the impact of the Turkish army, were insignificant: only 19½ battalions, two battalions of Nizhny Novgorod dragoons and a small number of irregular cavalry, which included local residents. The main Russian forces were based in the fortresses of Akhaltsikh, Akhalkalaki, Alexandropol and Erivan. The remaining forces of the Russian Caucasian Army were dispersed throughout the region.
In general, the Russian Caucasian army had a vast experience of military operations in the mountain conditions of this region. Russian soldiers and commanders in the Caucasus were constantly in danger, waiting for the attack of the Highlanders, the raids of robbers from abroad or the war with the Ottoman Empire and Persia. The harsh and military living conditions in the Caucasus put forward resolute, strong-willed and initiative commanders aimed at active offensive actions to responsible posts. Weak and indecisive officers were eliminated, they could not stand the service in the Caucasus, they were looking for “warmer” places. All this affected the Caucasus campaign in a very positive way.
The fortress Alexandropol (Gyumri) was the central stronghold of the operational base of the Russian army and was located opposite the main Turkish fortress of Kars, located approximately 70 versts from it. On the right flank of this support base, the Akhaltsykh fortress was located; it covered the Ardagan direction. On the left flank stood the Erivan Fortress, it covered the southern part of the border, from the Ottoman Empire and Persia, the roads leading from Bayazet, through the Chingil Mountains and the Araks River. All three fortresses were very weak and could not withstand the correct siege. In addition, they were small garrisons. On the coastal road from Batum to the Russian border was located the post of St. Nicholas. His garrison was insignificant, and the outpost was poorly prepared for defense. True, due to the underdevelopment of communications, his capture could not present any benefits to the enemy for further offensive.
With the beginning of autumn, the units of the Prince Argutinsky-Dolgorukov detachments from Zakatal and Prince Orbeliani from the Lezgin line were transferred to Alexandropol (the most dangerous direction). The remaining three divisions of the Nizhny Novgorod Dragoon Regiment and one battalion of the Kura Regiment were sent to the same region from the Chir-Yurt and Vozdvizhensky. Began the formation of groups that could strike at the enemy. Initially, the Russian offensive planned to lead Vorontsov, but the disease did not allow him to begin the march.
With the transfer of 13-th Infantry Division and the organization 10-th. the Armenian-Georgian militia, the situation has improved somewhat - it was possible to form 30-thousand. Army group under the command of Lieutenant-General Prince Vasily Bebutov. Part of the forces of the 13 Infantry Division with a small detachment of irregular cavalry was located on the Akhalchih direction. These troops were led by the Tiflis military governor, Lieutenant-General Prince Ivan Andronikov.
But the enemy still had full superiority in forces. The Turkish command concentrated a huge invasion army - the 100-thousandth army under the command of Abdi Pasha. So, 25-th. corps with 65 guns stood in Kars, 7-thousand. detachment with 10 guns in Ardahan, 5-thousand detachment with 10 guns in Bayazet. For the offensive, the Turkish command formed two strike groups: 40-thousand. Anatolian army was preparing to attack the Alexandropol, 18-thousand Ardagan Corps on Akhaltsikh and Tiflis.
Prince Mikhail Semenovich Vorontsov
Defeat the Highlanders
A serious threat to the Russian army was a blow from the rear. Georgia, Guria, Mingrelia, Abkhazia, were separated from the rest of the Russian Empire by a huge mountain range and warlike mountain tribes, which made them vulnerable. Mountain tribes, excited by foreign emissaries, were a great danger. True, Shamil hurried and opened the fighting first, even before the Turkish army.
Shamil and Naib of Cherkessia and Kabarda, Magomet-Amin, gathered the mountain elders and announced to them the trademarks received from the Turkish sultan, who commanded all Muslims to start a war against the "infidels." The mountaineers promised the imminent arrival of Turkish troops in Balkaria, Georgia and Kabarda. The Russian troops, in their opinion, were weakened by the need to protect the Turkish borders. However, the highlanders in their mass are already tired of the war, which brought them extreme impoverishment and permanent defeat. Therefore, to form a detachment Shamil could only by cruel punishment.
5 September 1853 of the year 10-th. Shamil's detachment appeared near the village of Zakartaly (Zagatala) in the Alazani Valley. September 7 Shamil with the main forces attacked the unfinished redoubt near Mesed el-Kera. The position of the Russian garrison was desperate. However, he was saved by a detachment of the commander of the Caspian region, Prince Argutinsky. The prince made an unprecedented march from Temir-Khan-Shura directly through the five Caucasian ridges. Shamil was forced to retreat. After that, the highland leader remained inactive until 1854, expecting the decisive success of the Ottoman army.
The performance of the Circassian naib ended with a failure. Mohammed-Amin moved to Karachai with significant forces, where many like-minded people awaited his arrival. This should have led to a large-scale uprising. However, General Vikenty M. Kozlovsky, the commander of the troops on the Caucasian line and in the Black Sea coast, saved the situation. The brave general, with only three battalions, rushed after Magomet-Amin and defeated the Trans-Cuban highlanders just before Karachay. Then he began to arrange the road to Karachay so that it would be done in a very short time. As a result, the further development of the uprising was prevented.
However, the Russian command had to deal with this danger and keep part of the forces on the border with the mountain tribes. With the beginning of the Eastern War, the Russian command had to abandon the offensive strategy, moving to the defense. True, deforestation, road construction and the deprivation of the mountaineers of means for subsistence were continued, but to a more limited extent.
Vikenty Mykhaylovich Kozlovsky
To be continued ...
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