Battles at Bayandura and near Akhaltsikh
Battle of Bayandur
The main forces 40-thousand. The Anatolian army under the command of Abdi Pasha were concentrated in the Kars region. Part of the force was sent along the road from Ardagan to Akhaltsikh, another detachment occupied Bayazet.
At the end of October, 1853, the enemy troops began to move in the Alexandropol direction. Kurdish troops (the irregular forces of the Ottoman army) invaded the Russian borders, ravaging the terrain. The main forces of Abdi-Pasha are located near Bash-Shurageli, a village on the right bank of Arpachai, 15 versts from Alexandropol.
Prince Vasiliy Osipovich Bebutov, who arrived in the October 31 troops (November 12), decided to get accurate information about the location of the enemy army and put an end to the Ottoman raids, sent the detachment of Major-General Prince Iliko (Ilya Dmitrievich) Orbeliani to Bayandur. The squad included 7 1 / 2 battalions, 4 squadron, several hundred Cossacks and volunteers (militia) with 28 guns (about 6-7 thousand soldiers).
Prince Orbeliani came from an old Georgian princely family, and began serving as a cadet in the Georgian Grenadier Regiment. Orbeliani participated in many expeditions to Dagestan and Chechnya. Participated in the tab Sunzhenskaya line. In 1851, he received the Georgian Grenadier Regiment under command. The prince was notable for excellent courage, but had little experience in regular war.
Having received most of the troops that were located in Alexandropol, the prince did not take the precautions that are usual during the war when the enemy is nearby. There was no avant-garde, the troops, having left the city, moved in marching columns, and in this form moved through the village of Karaklis towards Bayandur. The village of Bayandur was located on the left, that is, on our side of Arpachai, a few miles from Bash-Shuragel, where the Turkish troops were stationed. Apparently, such imprudence of Prince Orbeliani was due to the fact that there was no official declaration of war between Russia and the Ottoman Empire. The highest manifesto of a break with Turkey was received only on November 6 (18). Although the real war was already underway. Skirmishes and quite significant clashes occurred on the border with the Kurds and Bashi Bazouks. However, an open, decisive battle with the Turkish army was still considered impossible, and the transfer of the Ottoman regular forces to our side seemed unclear to Arpachai.
Having received information about the movement of the Russian troops from their agents, the Ottoman command, while the Orbeliani detachment was moving from Alexandropol to Karaklis, concentrated most of the army in Bayandur. The main Turkish battery with 40 guns was located on a hill dominating the terrain. From this height it was possible to sweep the entire area near Karaklis. Turkish troops were deployed on the flanks of this hill and in front of it. Using the beams located here, the Turks skillfully hid their troops.
Therefore, the Russian troops were able to detect the enemy only when a significant part of the forces of the Orbeliani detachment, with great difficulty, crossed the ravine and the river near the village of Karaklis. At around noon 2, the Turks suddenly for the Russian troops opened fire with an 40 gun battery. Having discovered the main forces of the enemy, the Russian troops halted their movement. However, the retreat back to Alexandropol was difficult to implement. The return crossing of the Russian troops through the impassable Karaklis ravine, which they had just passed, under the enemy’s fire and its possible strike, could lead to a decisive defeat and great losses.
As a result, it was decided to transfer the news of the appearance of the main forces of the enemy army in Alexandropol, to hold positions and take measures against possible actions of the enemy cavalry on the flanks. Only the Caucasian troops hardened in battles could withstand strong enemy artillery fire. But for them it was an ordeal. Strong artillery fire was amazing for veterans of the Caucasian War. In the battles with the Shamil detachments, the Russian troops met only rare shots of single guns. The highlanders had a few guns, but they treasured and opened fire only at long distances, in order to divert guns in the event of a threat. The guns were more often used for signal shots, for gathering troops. And under Bayandur the fire of the Turkish battery was murderous. However, the Caucasian troops stood the test.
The Turks did not dare to attack from the front and confined themselves to forays on the flanks. Turkish cavalry and bashi-bizuks attempted to bypass our right flank and attack a wagon train. However, two battalions of the Nizhny Novgorod Dragoons, under the command of Colonel Tikhotsky, turned the enemy back.
The cannonade near Bayandur was heard in Alexandropol. By the strength of the artillery fire it was obvious that a serious battle was taking place. Bebutov, even before the arrival of messengers from Orbeliani, ordered all the troops, which were located in Alexandropol, to line up and go to the rescue of their comrades. For the defense of the city, only one battalion of the Belostok regiment was left. It should be noted that the troops that were assigned to the Alexandropol grouping had not yet arrived at the assembly point. Therefore, Bebutov led the squad as part of the 3 battalions, 6 squadrons of the Nizhny Novgorod Dragoons and 12 guns. In 4 hours the squad started moving.
Prince Bebutov, fully confident in the morale of his troops, headed the shortest way, hoping to strike the enemy’s left flag. Here was the most dangerous direction for the Ottomans. The success of the Russian troops on the left flank could cut off Ottoman troops from Arpachai. Thus, the Turkish troops could be in the position of the Orbeliani detachment.
The Turks did not dare to attack the Orbeliani detachment, although they had complete superiority in forces. The approach of a small detachment of Bebutov, as well as the proximity of the night, forced the Ottomans to retreat. The fire of the Turkish artillery weakened and before the Bebutov detachment arrived, the Turks retreated to Bash-Shuragel.
Having remained for some time on the battlefield, in order to rest the troops and help the wounded, the Russian detachments returned to Alexandropol. Late at night the troops returned to the city. Everyone's mood was gloomy. Russian troops lost to 800 people. Most of the wounded were heavy, the wounds were inflicted by artillery fire. It became clear to everyone that this was not a border provocation, but a real war. And in Alexandropol, they did not even have time to assemble even a small battle group. The first battle showed a shortage of officers of the General Staff, ammunition, means of transportation and medicines.
This battle had a depressing effect on the local population. People in the Caucasus are very sensitive to the manifestation of force. Even during the battle, the Elisavetpolsky militia, consisting of Muslims from the Transcaucasian provinces, fled. In Alexandropol, clashes between Muslims and Christians (Armenians) even began.
At the same time, during the battle, which ended poorly for the Russian troops, the difference between our troops and the Turkish troops was very clear. A small detachment of Orbeliani, unexpectedly falling under heavy artillery fire, and meeting the enemy army in 4-5, exceeding the number of times, did not flinch, did not run, and held positions for several hours. The Turkish command, with complete superiority in the number of troops, guns, advantageous position and finding the Russian detachment by surprise, did not dare to go on a decisive offensive and try to destroy the small Russian troops. It was obvious that once the army group was formed and the preparatory measures were completed, the Russian army would be able to achieve decisive success. Russian troops utterly surpassed the Ottoman in their combat capabilities.
Map source: M.I. Bogdanovich. Eastern War 1853-1856
The withdrawal of the Turkish army to Kars
The battle of Bayandur reinforced the need for a speedy decisive battle with the Turks. It was necessary to smooth the bitterness of the first losses and dispel the negative impression made on the local population. Soon came the latest additions, the Alexandropol group was formed. Work on the bridge over Arpachay were nearing completion. The need for active offensive action was obvious to all. This was understood in Tiflis. Relevant instructions came from the commander in chief. If the enemy outnumbered and the possibility of ferment among part of the local population, the passive defensive strategy could lead to disastrous consequences.
On November 14 (26) a ferry across Arpachay was appointed. The Russian command wanted, with the threat of interrupting the enemy’s communication with its main operating base in Kars, to force the Ottomans to engage in a decisive battle. At dawn 14 November, the troops lined up and marched in the direction of the village of Bash-Shuragel.
However, the Turks did not wait for the arrival of the Russian troops and retreated to Kars. The Turkish army took a good position near the village of Bash-Kadiklar, moving closer to its reserves and carts. Commander-in-chief Abdi Pasha, who received a good education and upbringing in Europe, believed that it would be more profitable for him to go deep into the country, where it would be easier to beat the enemy and achieve victory with more decisive consequences. This idea was opposed by the Chief of Staff Reis-Ahmet Pasha, who criticized Abdi-Pasha for his slow actions. The chief of staff, was a very rich and influential man, he hoped to take the place of commander in chief.
Prince Bebutov, having received news of the withdrawal of enemy troops, placed a detachment near the village of Bash-Shuragel. There, Russian troops remained until November 19 (December 1) 1853.
Akhaltsikhe direction. The case with Ahtsure
At that time, the situation on the Akhaltsik direction sharply worsened. Mingrelia and Guria were defended by part of the 13 th infantry division deployed by sea. She was supported by local police (on foot and horse volunteers). The troops stationed in the vicinity of Akhaltsikha (Akhaltsykh). Commander of the troops in Akhaltsikhe, Major General Peter Kovalevsky.
The troops stationed in the Akhaltsikha area consisted of four battalions of the Vilna Eger regiment, one battalion of the Belostok infantry regiment, four Cossack hundreds and several hundred foot and equestrian militia, with one light battery (8 guns). In addition, the fortress itself was defended by three linear companies with artillery and engineering teams. In Atshur, Borzhom and Surama, at a distance of three transitions from Alkhatsikh, to cover the Borjomi gorge, stood the 4 1 / 2 battalion. Also expected was the arrival of the Donskoy 2 Cossack regiment with several hundred policemen. The cavalry of the Akhaltsikhe detachment, under the command of Prince Kobulov, was sent through the village of Vale to the border, 15 versts from the fortress.
The fortress of Akhaltsikh itself was located on the elevation of the left bank of the Poskhov Chai River. In the northern part of the suburbs of the elevated plane and along the slope to the river, the Old Town was located. On the east right, the lowland bank of the river, a new city was built. Behind him, to the south, there were mountains.
In early October 1853, Lieutenant General Ali Pasha with 18-thousand. corps of regular troops and bashibuzuki approached Akhaltsikh. October 29 (November 10) Kobulova's cavalry went to Suplis and the next day to Akhaltsikh. 1 (13) November, the Ottomans installed a battery on the mountain against Akhaltsikha. Turkish infantry and cavalry went to the New City and tied up a shootout with the Russian garrison. On November 2, the Russian garrison was reinforced by a battalion of the Belostok regiment and five hundred Gurian militia. In the following days, the Turkish guns continued shelling the fortress. Taking advantage of their superiority in power, the Ottomans established their authority in the Akhaltsikhe district, established their administration and began to form militias from local residents.
Andrei Osipovich Brunner (1814 — 1894)
At the same time, numerous bashibuzuk detachments raided the Akhalkalaki sector and devastated the villages. 30 of October (11 of November) 1853 of 2, a thousand detachment of Turkish regular cavalry and bashi-bazouks, overturned a small detachment of Cossacks and Ossetian cavalry militia near Akhaltsikh. Cossacks fled to the fortress, and part of the Ossetians fled to Borzhom. Panic rumors of an enemy invasion reached Tiflis. This is not surprising, since the Ottomans in the Caucasus frightened children, their previous invasions led to massacre and mass hijacking of people into slavery, entire areas fell into decay and desolation. Prince Vorontsov immediately sent General Ivan Malkhazovich Andronikov through Borzhom to Akhaltsikh.
Ivan Andronikov (Andronnikov) was descended from the ancient Kakhetian princes of Andronikashvili. Andronikov distinguished himself in the Russian-Persian War 1826-1828: for the battle of Elizavetpole he was awarded the Order of St. Vladimir 4 degree with a bow; for the battle at Djevan-Bulakh, where his Nizhny Novgorod dragoons almost captured the Persian commander-in-chief, Prince Abbas-Mirza, was awarded the Order of St. Anna 2 degree. Andronikov successfully fought during the Russian-Turkish war 1828-1829. During the battle near Akhaltsikh in August 1828, his dragoons distinguished themselves and Andronikov was promoted to colonel, and for participation in the capture of Akhalkalaki he was awarded diamond marks to the Order of St. Anna 2 degree. During the 1829 campaign of the year, Andronikov distinguished himself during the capture of the Bayburth fortifications and was awarded the Order of St. George 4 -th degree. In the future, Ivan Malkhazovich repeatedly distinguished himself in cases against the highlanders. In 1849, Prince Andronikov was appointed military governor of Tiflis.
6 (18) November 1853. Turkish troops approached Atzhur. The commander of the Belostok regiment, Colonel Tolubeyev, learning about the approach of the enemy, occupied the gorge, along which it passed from Akhaltsykh to Gori. The Russian detachment consisted of two companies of Belostok and two companies of the Brest infantry regiments. The Turks actively attacked, deciding at any cost to break through this road. However, all enemy attacks were repelled. In the bayonet battle the Russian soldiers had no equal. By nighttime, reinforcements arrived — one company of the Belostok regiment and five hundred Georgian foot militia. In the morning, the commander of the Brest Regiment arrived, Major General Brunner with three companies. The Turkish detachment was also significantly strengthened by infantry and cavalry with two guns.
General Brunner, not paying attention to the great superiority of the enemy in forces, on November 7 built troops in two lines and hit the Ottomans. The Turks could not stand the bayonet strike of the Russian troops and fled. The enemy was pursued for 7 versts. Four banners, three badges, one gun, many weapons and ammunition. The Ottomans lost the dead to 100 people. Our casualties are 7 people killed, 41 injured.
Sovereign Nikolai noted Major-General Brunner with the George Order of the 4 degree, Colonel Tolubeyev - a golden half-plate with the inscription: "For Bravery", company commanders with the orders of St. Vladimir 4-th degree with a bow, each company received three Military Orders for awarding lower ranks
To be continued ...
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