Military Review

Kushka: the border of the empire

Kushka: the border of the empire

2 (14) March 1884 of the year, after a single insignificant resistance of opponents of the Russian orientation, Russian forces, led by gene, entered Merv, the center of the oasis of the same name in Turkmenistan. Komarov. Immediately followed by the release of slaves. They turned out to be about 700 people - Tekins, Persians, citizens of Bukhara, who were given the opportunity to return to their homeland. The raids on slaves on Khorasan ceased. Soon a saying appeared: “The White King was sent by Allah to protect against the Turkmen.”

Following Merv was followed by the recognition of Russian citizenship by other Turkmen tribes. Now the "mercury" of the British Foreign Ministry only intensified. Rather, according to the apt remark of the Belgian military observer, it was replaced by the nightmare of visions of the Russian threats to Herat. In England, there was a mass of publications that intimidated the public opinion of the country by the proximity of the Russian threat to British India. “Merv was conquered,” said one of these pamphlets, “but Alexander III lost what he could never regain — the confidence of the English people.” The parliament openly stated that since Herat is miles away from Merv on 240 and Quetta - on 514, then the fate of Herat is now completely in the hands of Russia. The fortifications of the city by this time were completely outdated and could not withstand the modern siege (in 1884 — 1887 they began to be put in order under the guidance of the British). According to them, the inhabitants of the region simply hated the Afghan soldiers, who behaved impudently and arrogantly in the city.

“No matter how the garrison bravely fought under the protection of those high faiths, of which the city is proud,” noted one of the British specialists in the region, “there is no doubt that the sympathies of the population, if история of the past means something - will be on the side of those who will be able to liberate it from the yoke of the Afghans, and therefore it is permissible to assert that under certain circumstances the tribes on the north-western border of Afghanistan will take the side of the Russians. ” In Turkmenistan, 1880 continued active railway construction. It also did not pass by the attention of London. 217 versts, already stretching from the coast of the Caspian Sea to Kizil-Arvat, were, in the opinion of the British press, clear evidence of the preparation of the Russian campaign against India.
Soon, these fears received a visible, as it seemed, confirmation. Since the border of the Turkmen tribes with Afghanistan was not precisely defined, and Kabul considered some of the Turkmen tribes to be tributaries, a problem arose, all the more serious because the territories on the way to Herat, the most convenient direction for the Khyber Pass, were controversial. British India. First of all, it was about the Pende oasis populated by Saryk Turkmen. The position of Britain was simple and consistent - London fully supported the claims of the Emir, considering them to be absolutely natural and historically based. It should be noted that previously the British were not categorical in asserting the affiliation of the outskirts of Afghanistan.

"In countries that have never been scientifically described," the Governor-General of India of 20 of May 1870 from India reported on this issue, and whose boundaries are more or less subject to movement, it can be difficult to describe the boundaries with absolute precision. , and then the last statement was not related to Wakhan and Badakhshan, which the British considered with absolute precision the historical lands of Afghanistan. Occurred at the beginning of 70's. the problem was difficult to solve. “In Central Asia,” 29 of November (11 of December) 1872 reported to Prince Gorchakov on XNUMX. Kaufman, there is no other means of finding out any geographical or political circumstance, like a personal investigation or observation on the spot. I have not yet resorted to this remedy; sending a Russian official to those countries, at least under the pretext of scientific research, could cause alarm in Afghanistan and would arouse suspicion and apprehension in the East Indian Government. ”

The Governor-General considered the recognition of independence of Badakhshan from Bukhara and from Afghanistan and thus the creation of a neutral belt between the spheres of influence of England and Russia as the best solution. The British authorities did not like this approach right from the start. The reason was simple - after the transition of Bukhara into the sphere of Russian influence in London, they feared that India could be threatened through the most mountainous region of the region, practically and currently inaccessible to any significant military masses. Russia, for its part, categorically refused to recognize the right to these territories beyond Kabul, and as a result several years passed in a sluggish and fruitless correspondence between London and St. Petersburg, during which, by the way, the question of the north-western borders of Afghanistan was almost unaffected. Only in 1874, the British authorities began to fear that the defeat of the Central Asian khanates would cause the Turkmen to migrate to Herat, which could put the Amir in a difficult position. Then in London they were afraid that uncontrolled nomads would cause a border conflict.

15 (27) March 1884 in Berlin was extended for a three-year Austrian-Russian-German agreement 1881. This was crucial for Russia in the near future. In June, 1884 was arrested by a Russian traveler in the Pende oasis area. There was a sharp protest from the Russian authorities, and the prisoner was released. The incident was settled, but the non-demarcated border raised concerns. Russian-British negotiations began to hold the Russian-Afghan border in an area of ​​length of 400 − 450 km. At the request of England, the resolution of this question was entrusted to the ombudsman. At the same time, in St. Petersburg it was believed that the formed commission on the border should conduct a map survey of the area and describe the demarcation area, outlining the projects for its division, which should be finally decided by an agreement between Russia and the United Kingdom. London assumed that the question of the border would be finally decided on the spot. Under the guise of the English department of the demarcation commission, an entire detachment was sent - 1019 people. with a wagon train from 1276 camels and 774 horses. Topographers in it were only 28.

The British assured the emir of their support and urged him to act more vigorously, insisting that no matter what the controversial frontier point he sent his soldiers, the Russians would not dare to touch them. The Afghan commander was ordered by the Emir not to do anything without the advice of the English officers. The British detachment itself was not on the disputed part of the border, but military advisers were sent there. Their presence soon made itself felt. In early January, 1885, the Afghans, taking advantage of the small number of our posts, intensified at the border. The need to do something made gen.-l. A.V. Komarova form a consolidated detachment of 4 mouth and 4 mountain shells. On January 22 (February 1) he left Ashgabat and 4 (16) February arrived in Merv, where he was joined by 2 Cossack Hundreds and 3 th Turkestan Linear Battalion. At that time, active railway construction was going on in Turkmenistan, but Merv was connected to Ashgabat only on June 30 (July 12) 1886.

Minor clashes on the border began as early as February 1885. In March, 1885, the Afghans, incited by British representatives, began to push their troops to the Kushka River. This was followed by provocations in the negotiations on the delineation of Kushka. Gene. Komarov ordered to avoid collisions. In Russian, the left bank there were only three Russian posts with several people in each. Afghans immediately took restraint for weakness. They built several redoubts, approached the Russian posts and began to insult sentries. The absence of a forceful reaction clearly provoke. The clash was clearly inevitable, and the soldiers were handed out 120 ammunition and 2 day of crackers. 14 (27) March posts were strengthened, preparations were made for the crossing of the river. Afghans responded with a much more impressive show of force. Their riders shouted that they were not Turkmen and would show that they were not cowards. Obviously, in proof of this, the Afghan sentries appeared on the Russian bank of the river.

17 (29) March Komarov sent a letter to the Afghan commander in which he proposed to withdraw posts from the left bank of the Kushka and from the right bank of the Murghab to the confluence of the Kushka during the day. In response, the Afghans began to strengthen these posts and actively dig in. The English mission, which was supposed to play the role of intermediaries, refrained from active actions; the Afghans, in turn, nodded at the British, without whose sanction they allegedly could not act. In the evening, Komarov gathered officers and declared: “The sovereign Emperor ordered to stand firmly on Kushka at Tash-Kepri. The Afghans, occupying this post of Kushka with their posts, are moving forward more and more, embracing our detachment on both sides, which cannot be tolerated. The talks, with which I wanted to reach a peaceful outcome, did not give the desired results, why I decided to attack the positions of the Afghans from dawn tomorrow. ”

18 (30) March, an Afghan force force 2600 riders and 1900 infantrymen began to move into the disputed territory. The proposal to return was ignored, and 18 (30) March gene. A.V. Komarov broke and threw the Afghans. Their losses were great. In the rear of the Afghans, there was a river with steep banks and the only bridge 20 long and 5 wide meters. The Kushka River, a tributary of the Murghab River, is not wide (6,5 − 7 meters) for most of the year and is wade everywhere, in the summer it dried out completely. But in the spring - from mid-February to early April - it was filled with water from the mountains and became a dangerous and turbulent flow. The Afghan infantry was armed with piston rifles, in wet time they gave a large number of misfires, which affected during the battle.

The rifle of the Berdan system showed itself very successfully and effectively. The firefight was exceptionally energetic. An 122.021 shot was made, roughly 85 − 95 at the rifle. The defenders were suppressed by fire and retreated to the bridge, at the entrance to which panic and crush began under fire. Together with the Russian infantry, Turkmen equestrian militia fought bravely. After the first failure, she successfully counterattacked and pursued the enemy.

Afghans fought bravely - all 17 wounded and healthy 8 soldiers were taken prisoner - but still had to flee, abandoning their artillery - 4 field and 2 mountain British and 2 mountain Afghan guns. There was still no vigorous pursuit of the fleeing - a few days before the battle there was damp weather, it rained, snowing in the afternoon, the ground under the horses' hoofs turned into mud. The bridge over Kushka and the left bank of the river was littered with the corpses of Afghan soldiers. The road of the retreating to Herat also represented a terrible sight. The fallen snow and the beginning frosts completed the defeat of the Afghan detachment - about 1 thousand people reached the fortress. Komarov's squad lost the killed 1 officer and 10 privates and the wounded 3 officer and 29 privates.

The next day after the battle, the General sent a telegram to the Minister of War: “The impudentness of the Afghans forced me, in order to maintain Russia's honor and dignity, to attack their 18 in March, strongly fortified their positions on both banks of the Kushka River. The complete victory once again covered the glory of the troops of the Sovereign Emperor in Central Asia. The Afghan detachment of regular troops by force in 4000 people with 8 guns, defeated and scattered, having lost to 500 people killed, the entire artillery, two flags, the entire camp, transports and supplies. English officers, who led the actions of the Afghans, but did not take part in the battle, asked for our protection; unfortunately, the convoy sent by me did not catch up with them; they were taken to Bali Murgav by the fleeing Afghan cavalry. Afghans fought bravely, energetically and stubbornly; those who remained in the covered trenches did not surrender even after the battle; all their chiefs are wounded or killed. " The British leadership on the actions of the Afghans was proved by the testimony of prisoners and documents.

Local Turkmen - tribes of Saryks and Tekins - triumphed. They hated Afghans and rejoiced at their defeat. A few days buried the dead. The rout was complete. Such a crushing success of the 1,5-thousand Russian squad with 4 guns impressed not only Kabul. No less impressed was Komarov’s subsequent friendly gesture. On March 20 (April 1), he addressed the governor of Herat with a letter, informing him that all the wounded Afghans received the necessary assistance, and all those killed were buried by Muslims with the observance of the Muslim burial rite. “You can be calm,” the general added, “I achieved what I wanted, and I don’t even carry my camp through Kushka. I remain with the Afghan troops and subjects in good friendly relations, without any hostile goal. ”The clash, in itself almost insignificant, showed Central Asia, on whose side the force was. Delegations of various tribes began to turn to Komarov with requests for patronage. The conflict came unexpectedly - the work of the Anglo-Russian delimitation commission should have led to the resolution of controversial issues. The stronger was the reaction to news.

“The news of this event made the strongest impression in England. - He told his readers "European Herald". - The blow inflicted to the Afghans was accepted by the British at their own expense and not without reason. The fact is that simultaneously with the clash on Kushka, solemn festivities took place on the occasion of the meeting of Emir Abdurakhman with the Indian Viceroy Döfferin (meaning Frederick Dufferin - A.O.), and England’s official determination to protect Afghanistan from all external attacks was officially expressed. ” The emir of Afghanistan 9 − 31 March really stayed in the summer residence of the Viceroy of India - Raval-Pindi. He arrived there at the invitation of the viceroy, who tried to get permission to pass British troops through the territory of Afghanistan. Here the emir caught the news about the fight on Kushka.

According to Abdurakhman Khan, he did this in order "to show the Russians that I am a friend of the British ..." At a meeting with Dafferin, where the question of providing material assistance to Afghanistan was resolved, an honorary sword was given to his emir. Picturing him in his hands, Abdurakhman said: “With this sword I hope to wipe out any enemy of the British government.” This promise was all the more important because after the battle at Kushka, the authority of England in Afghanistan was seriously shaken. London’s outrage had no limits. Speaking in the Commons, Gladstone accused Russia of aggression against Afghanistan and received almost unanimous support in asking the government for extraordinary expenses - 1 million pounds. 27 April, the parliament has voted for military spending already 11 million pounds. Russian-British relations have entered into a deep crisis, the British press has begun a traditional moaning about the threat to Herat, where Komarov’s detachment is allegedly ready to invade.

It is quite characteristic that in 1884, the work of the gene was published in England. Charles MacGregor “Defense of India”, which spoke about the need for a tough opposition to the plans of the Russian aggression in India. MacGregor considered the capture of Herat the first step of the Russian conquest of this most important British colony and called for a systemic opposition to Russia along the entire perimeter of its borders, and, above all, on the Bosphorus. The front line of the British defense of India was Afghanistan, and the key to it was Herat. The general stated: "... the occupation of Herat by the Russians represents an extreme danger for the British authorities in India." MacGregor called for an alliance with Germany, Turkey and Persia and a strike on Russia's possessions in the South Caucasus and the Caucasus. “I solemnly testify to my conviction,” he appealed to readers, “that a real solution to the Russian-Indian issue can never happen until Russia is knocked out of the Caucasus and Turkestan.” The publication irritated the official authorities, but after Kushka expressed in her thoughts seemed to many to be a revelation.

London ordered the strengthening of the Anglo-Indian army, increasing the number of British troops by 11 thousand, raising it, thus, to 70 thousand with 414 guns, and the native contingent - by 12 thousand, raising it to 128.636 people The total number of the Anglo-Indian army by this time was 220 400 people, 33% of whom were English. Virtually all artillery after the Sipah uprising was concentrated only in European parts. The 1 / 3 officer of the native units were British, the Indians commanded the companies and half-squadrons. The entire Anglo-Indian army was divided into three groups: the Bengal, Bombay and Madras armies. The local princes also maintained their armies, but, as a rule, they were feudal militias, poorly trained and armed, who were fit only to maintain order in their territories. In the spring of 1885, that is, at the height of the crisis, it was decided to form an active army consisting of two army corps (25 thousand British and 31 thousand natives) and a reserve division (6 thousand British and 13,5 thousand natives) to provide rear.
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  1. Nick
    Nick 26 October 2015 17: 54
    History repeats itself ...
  2. dmi.pris
    dmi.pris 26 October 2015 17: 58
    Kushka at one time stood in the throat with the British .... Yes, and now (we also have leaders who have gathered to wash their boots in the Indian Ocean), the key to Central Asia is there ...
  3. novobranets
    novobranets 26 October 2015 18: 02
    History develops in a spiral, and at each turn, repetition follows, and will follow. That is why the deja vu effect arises.
    PS My father served in those places. He was a tank driver of reconnaissance reconnaissance. Afghan caravans with opium and smuggling drove in the desert, fired. At home, his photograph is kept on the background of this cross. It was staged in honor of the 300th anniversary of the reign of the Romanov dynasty.
    1. novobranets
      novobranets 26 October 2015 18: 28
      Here, I found the quality is not important, all the same, 1958
  4. Crimson cloud
    Crimson cloud 26 October 2015 18: 04
    Yes, the methods do not change. And even then the British did not die, but the locals. And also tantrums on fictitious occasions. Alas, apparently, they understand only power.
    This is by no means a call for a war, if that. But to substitute the second cheek - not with such, um, partners.
  5. Vadim12
    Vadim12 26 October 2015 19: 03
    It would seem, what does England have to do with Afghanistan and Turkmenistan? After all, it’s not close. But, because they had colonies scattered around the world. Now, probably, they dream of former power, sitting on their island.
  6. Riv
    Riv 26 October 2015 19: 12

    Just the right reference to Regnum caught.