160 years ago ended the last battle of the Crimean (or Eastern) war. Although it happened very far from the Crimea. However, the very name of the war became conditional, because it spilled around the world. But the epicenter of the battles was really located near Sevastopol. And besides, Western propaganda and diplomacy have tried to focus general attention on the events in the Crimea. Only there the enemy coalition managed to achieve some success, unlike other theaters of hostilities.
Russia on this war insidiously provoked. In the spring of 1853, the situation in Palestine unexpectedly escalated. At that time it belonged to the Ottoman Empire, but the Russian tsar was officially recognized as the patron saint of Orthodox churches and monasteries. However, the Sultan defiantly handed over the keys to the Church of the Holy Sepulcher to the French, the Turks began to oppress the Orthodox clergy, selected churches and monasteries. In St. Petersburg, were surprised by such a brazen challenge. In past wars, Turkey was invariably beaten, it was clearly not ready for a fight with Russia. Tsar's ambassador in Istanbul, Admiral A.S. Menshikov tried to reason with the Sultan's government, led negotiations, passed on hard notes, but faced a complete unwillingness to concede.
In St. Petersburg, they still did not know that England and France defined the role of a boy picking up passers-by for Turkey, and around the corner there were hefty uncles. At first, Nicholas I was carrying a plan to send a squadron directly to Istanbul and capture it with a landing force. But nevertheless he recognized such plans too bold, he refused them. Decided to proceed with caution. 26 June issued a manifesto on the introduction of Russian troops in the Danube principalities, Moldavia and Wallachia, depended on the Turks. This did not mean war, the king had the right to send troops under the previous treaties and repeatedly used it as a preventive measure. But now the Sultan ignored the demonstration of power.
And the fighting began in the Caucasus. In October 1853, the Ottoman fleet entered the Black Sea, landed a large landing force. Suddenly, without a declaration of war, the Turks attacked the Russian fort of St. Nicholas. The entire garrison of 400 soldiers and officers was destroyed. At the same time, enemy troops invaded Russian Armenia near Alexandropol, began to ravage the villages. Our command did not yet suspect a war. It was a common provocation, a predatory raid by Kurdish gangs. To drive them away, they sent out a seven-thousand-member detachment of Prince Orbeliani - moreover, it consisted not only of military units, the Azerbaijani equestrian militia added.
But under Bayandur Orbeliani, he suddenly attacked Ahmet Pasha’s 40-thousandth army. Having estimated that the Russians are few, the enemies threw at them the whole mass of their cavalry. Our commanders had time to turn around for battle, but the militia could not stand the picture of rolling enemies, turned the horses and jumped away. As a result, the strike of the Turkish cavalry fell on the only one hundred Don Cossacks. Rescued their equestrian battery Esaula Kulgacheva. I flew into the battle, shot the enemy with grape-shot at close range. Other units arrived, and the most stubborn fight ensued, the Russians understood that they could not retreat, they would kill them.
But in the meantime, they learned in Aleksandropol: the border was broken by large forces. Lieutenant-General Bebutov collected everything that was at hand - three battalions of infantry, six squadrons of cavalry, nine Cossack hundreds. Gave to the rescue. Having discovered that fresh Russian units are suitable, the enemies did not dare to continue the battle, withdrew and entrenched themselves in a strong position at Bash-Kadiklar. Only a few days later it became known: 1 November, the Sultan declared war on Russia. Bebutov had only 8,5 thousands of bayonets and sabers, however, he decided to attack.
19 November Ahmet Pasha saw the advancing columns and was even delighted. He shouted that the Russians were crazy or were drinking vodka. But the soldiers in the Caucasus were superbly trained. They rushed forward, with a rapid throw overcame the field of fire in front of enemy batteries. And the Kulgachev battery again accomplished the feat. Together with the Nizhny Novgorod Dragoon Regiment, it was sent around, broke into the open flank of the Turks and opened fire. And then she moved along the ravine and found herself right in front of the line of counterattacking Turkish infantry, hit with a canister with 25 steps. The battle ended in complete victory.
The Russian Caucasian corps was having a hard time - it now needed to divide forces practically into two fronts. Indeed, in the North Caucasus, the war never stopped. Shamil was already overpowered, step by step pushed back into the mountains, secured new frontiers by building fortresses, cutting through glades, and laying roads. But as soon as the war broke out, he winged and sharply intensified. I tried to make a big foray into Georgia. But here too, Prince Orbeliani’s detachment stood in his way, repulsed and drove back. An associate of Shamil Mohammed-Amin raised the mountaineers of the western part of the Caucasus, moved them to the Kuban. In a battle on the Psekups river, a mass of its cavalry was scattered by military rockets. In November, Prince Argutinsky-Dolgorukiy made his way out of Georgia through mountain passes littered with snow, overcame them and from the unexpected direction descended on Chechnya, walked along the rear of Shamil.
In other theaters of war, Russian troops also achieved notable success. In Sinop Nakhimov destroyed the Turkish squadron. On the Danube near Oltenitsa, the detachment of General Soymonov defeated twice the superior body of Omer Pasha. Under Cetati, the Tobolsk and Odessa regiments were rejected. And in the spring of 1854, Commander-in-Chief Paskevich ordered the Danube to be forced. In a short time were taken the fortress Tulcea, Isakcha, Machin. Our army laid siege to Silistria.
And it was here that the Western powers took the stage. Under the pretext of "saving" Turkey, England and France intervened in the war. They were joined by the Sardinian kingdom (Northern Italy). Volunteer brigades were formed in Germany and Switzerland. Austria-Hungary did not enter the war, but announced mobilization, concentrated the army on the Russian border and in every way demonstrated its readiness to strike at the right moment. The whole of Europe rose against our country. Well, the help to the “unhappy” Turks became just a propaganda excuse. The British and French governments have already developed global plans. After Russia was defeated, its dismemberment was planned. It was envisaged to restore Poland - and within the borders of the 17th century, by giving it to Ukraine, Belarus, and Lithuania. Transcaucasia, Crimea, the region of Odessa, Nikolaev, Kherson were supposed to be returned to Turkey, who once owned them. And in the North Caucasus, a new state of Shamil should have appeared.
Foreign contingents began to land in Varna. British and French squadrons entered the Black Sea. Bombed Odessa and other port cities. But the enemies of the south were not limited. Attacks rained down on all sides. Hostile flotilla appeared in the Baltic Sea, shelled the coast, blocked the approaches to Kronstadt and St. Petersburg. Another squadron headed for the White Sea, drowned fishing vessels, tried to break through to Arkhangelsk, capture the Solovetsky Monastery. The British attacked and Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky, landed troops to take possession of it. But everywhere, enemy attacks and invasions were repelled.
Only on the Danube, Russian troops did not hold their positions occupied. There was a threat that they would be bypassed and taken to the tongs by the French and the British on the one hand, and the Austrians on the other. Therefore, I had to lift the siege of Silistra, leave Wallachia and Moldavia. The army moved to its borders. But here the enemies could not develop the offensive. Moving north, they stumbled into a sturdy defense in the Danube Delta. Their forward detachments were driven back with serious losses. Only after this did the British commander-in-chief, Lord Raglan, get the idea of taking advantage of his fleet's capabilities — quickly transferring the army to the Crimea, where there were few Russian troops. However, this plan was not realized either. Sevastopol, they did not take the move, the city heroically defended. Reinforcements were brought up to the Crimea, and the enemies were stuck for a whole year.
And the Transcaucasian Front remained the second in importance. The conditions here are specific. Around the high mountain ranges. Fighting and moving large contingents of troops can only be on a few roads. The main one led from Ararat to the Passinskaya valley. All Russian-Turkish wars were fought along this line from the beginning of the 19th century right up to the First World War. At the time described it was locked by powerful fortresses, from the Russian side Alexandropol, from the Ottoman - Kars. But if you capture Kars, opened the way deep into Turkey. In 1854, the Russian command launched an offensive just at this fortress.
The main direction was made corps Bebutov, 18 thousands of fighters. On the right, western wing of his covered the corps of Lieutenant-General Andronnikov, 10 thousand bayonets and sabers; He moved from Akhaltsikha. On the left, eastern sector, a five-thousand-strong detachment of General Wrangel advanced from Erivan. The Turks had already waited for them, made them, transferred considerable forces from the interior of the country. First, fighting began on the flanks. Against Andronnikov, the enemy concentrated in the Cholok area 34 thousands of infantry and cavalry.
Despite the numerical inequality, the Russians attacked. Daringly rushed forward 11-th Don regiment under the command of Colonel Kharitonov. In the cavalry ran into the enemy's batteries, perepolol and dispersed the gunners. The Turks turned against their Cossacks cavalry and the Kurdish militia. But Kharitonov deployed the regiment to meet them, closed up and hit the pikes. The commander himself was killed while it was replaced by Lieutenant Colonel Evstigneev. The enemy counterattack was not only thrown away, but the Turks and Kurds were driven back and pursued. Hordes of cavalry scuttling in complete disarray attacked the Turkish infantry and crushed its ranks. And the attack of the main Russian forces completed the rout. Our losses amounted to 361 man. Thousands of enemies put 3,5, the rest fled. 11 13 guns from Turks were captured.
On the opposite, left flank, the enemy was waiting for Wrangel's detachment on Chingilsky Pass. And in this case, the Turk was three times more. But the Russians bravely stormed the fortified positions in the mountains. Donians also distinguished themselves here - the 23 th regiment of Colonel Khreshchatytsky. The infantry rose in a frontal attack, and the Cossacks bypassed the enemy from the flank. When the soldiers approached the enemy defenses, they struck. Turks were confused, they began to panic. The Donets and the huntsmen together from different sides broke into the Ottoman batteries, seized guns. The enemy soldiers ran. Cossacks rushed in pursuit. They stabbed and cut six miles until weary horses got up. The retreating Turks took refuge in the fortress of Bayazet. She was pretty strong and could resist for a long time. But the enemy corps was completely disheveled. Wrangel's detachment followed the retreating. Barely, near the Bayazet, the forward detachments loomed, the Ottomans threw the fortress without a fight and rolled to where they were looking.
But in the central sector, in Kars, stood the main forces of the Turkish Anatolian army, 60 thousands of cavalry and infantry. It was commanded by one of the western military experts, the French general Guyon - in Turkey he was given the name of Kurshid Pasha. He knew that Bebutov had far fewer troops, and he prepared a trap. He spread rumors that the Ottoman forces were completely gone. Parts thinned out, disorganized by past lesions. Therefore, they are afraid to take the fight, retreat. And Kars is being evacuated, everything valuable is being taken out, there is no one to defend it at all.
In fact, Guyon, in deep secrecy, led his army towards the Russians. Found a convenient place near Kyuruk-Dara. Arranged troops secretly in the mountain gorges and villages. He was really skilled in the military, Bebutov’s intelligence did not detect ambushes. They believed that the Turks were departing, the corps was in a hurry to catch up with their accelerated marches. Slipped past the hidden enemies, and the trap slammed. The Turks splashed to the rear, blocking the way back. The Russians found themselves in complete surroundings. Guyon triumphed, it remained only to destroy the prey. He threw his subordinates into a general attack, piled on from different sides.
But our officers and soldiers were not at a loss. They bristled with bayonets and cannons, fenced with carts, stones. The first, the most terrible onslaught, repelled, utilized the approaches by enemy bodies. Guyon and his commanders went berserk. Threw Askerov in new and new attacks. However, they could not break into Russian regiments, and could not break them. Moreover, the Bebutov troops themselves responded with counterattacks, overturned and drove the attackers. The terrible slashing lasted eight hours. The heroes here were all - infantry, dragoons, Cossacks, gunners. They withstood, withstood - and suddenly the commanders caught the moment that the Turks faltered, mixed up. They ordered pressure, and the opponents ran. First, on one site, looking at them, the neighbors rolled back. The Russians chased after them, not allowing them to come to their senses. Almost unbelievable happened: surrounded by utterly routed those around them. Huyon's army collapsed, troops and groups scattered in different directions, scattered over the mountains.
But to go to a strong fortress with small, tired troops was an adventure. Bebutov took them to their borders. This was required by the aggravated situation in the rear. Shamil took advantage of the fact that a significant part of the Russian forces went under Sevastopol and against the Turks. He still broke into Georgia, plundered Tsinandali, and took the family of Prince Chavchavadze who was there hostage. He besieged the village of Istisu, but could not take it, the tiny garrison and the joining residents fought back desperately. They held out until a detachment of baron Nikolai arrived in time, drove the Murids away. Some units were transferred against Shamil from the Transcaucasus, and the command returned to the previous tactics - to systematically constrain the imam. Wrangel's corps cut down forests near Shali, in response to the attacks, made an expedition to the mountains, ravaging auls along Argun.
At the end of 1854, the new commander in chief, Infantry General Nikolai Nikolaevich Muravyov was appointed to the Caucasus. Preventing further raids by Shamil, he organized and armed the Georgian militia. And in the next campaign I decided to repeat the campaign to Kars. The Turks' barriers shot down, and they no longer dared to give field battles. But the enemy command diverted all combat-ready units to the fortress itself, and it was considered impregnable. 30 of thousands of soldiers gathered in Kars. When Muravyov stepped up to this stronghold, he had fewer, 27 thousands. They opened the bombing, reflected the attacks of the garrison. But there was not enough strength even for a complete blockade.
Major legend Yakov Petrovich Baklanov became a very valuable assistant to the commander in chief. He led all the Cossack units in the army. Under his leadership, the Cossacks made a detailed reconnaissance of fortifications. After examining the terrain, he thought out a clear plan, blocking all roads and paths leading to the fortress with pickets and outposts. The situation was not easy. The Ottoman command was very alarmed by the siege of Kars. She collected reinforcements from where she could, sent them to Erzerum. A Veli-Pasha corps was formed there, from there they were sent instructions to Kars, carts with food. Cossack forces did their work, several carts were intercepted.
But in September, the French and the British managed to seize the South side of Sevastopol. They suffered such damage that they no longer began operations against the North side. Exhausted, in the Crimea, the battles actually stopped. However, the Turkish Omer Pasha Corps, which participated in the siege, was freed. Now he was loaded on ships and transported to Batum - to go to save Kars. In the headquarters Muravyov worried. There was a threat that enemies would clamp our small army from several sides. The commander-in-chief proposed to pre-empt them, to storm the fortress. Baklanov was against, spoke in favor of continuing the siege. But Muravyov insisted.
September 17 Russian columns rushed to the attack. But 136 rattled the enemy guns, our warriors under heavy fire climbed steep cliffs, dragged the stairs, trying to put them to the high walls. They were mowed down by bullets, buckshot, bombs exploded. Ladders repelled, detachments thinned. Storm choked. Losses killed and wounded reached thousands of people 6,5. After that, many staff officers felt that everything was lost. Insisted on lifting the siege - to go back home, until Omer Pasha and Veli Pasha appeared with fresh buildings.
But Baklanov objected again. It was late autumn, rains were poured in the valleys, the roads were spreading impassable mud, and in the mountains snow had already fallen, it was quickly getting colder. Baklanov argued that in such conditions the Turks would not dare to lead troops over long distances and give battle. They will sit in the warmth, so it is safe to continue the siege. Muravyov this time supported him. The guards still did not reach Kars, a real famine began in the fortress. A mass of frozen and drenched askerov was stuffed under the roofs of cramped houses, and diseases spread among them. People died in the multitude. And the Baklanov outposts established such control over the surroundings that the mouse would not slip through. The garrison could not transmit news of its disaster, did not receive any information from outside, did not know that they were going to help out. Desperate to wait for any help, the besieged asked for negotiations and 12 (25) November surrendered.
However, slightly more than half of the garrison surrendered, the rest died or died. The headquarters of Muravyov counted 16,5 thousands of prisoners, all the serf artillery turned into trophy. Muravyov for this victory was awarded a rare award, the Order of St. George II degree. The sovereign granted him the title of Count Karsky. The capture of the fortress turned out to be very important from a strategic point of view - roads to the deep regions of Asia Minor opened up for Russian troops. This circumstance and the huge losses near Sevastopol pushed the enemy coalition to begin peace talks. And no one stuttered about the previous plans for the dismemberment of Russia. And Kars and Bayazet with the adjacent areas were exchanged for the South side of Sevastopol and other Crimean cities, which were captured by the enemy.