At the end of August 1735, the commander of the Russian army, Minich, received a decree giving him the right to decide for himself whether to begin the siege of Azov in the fall, or to postpone it until spring. Since the siege required a lot of provisions, ammunition and other supplies and equipment, Minich decided to postpone the siege until the spring of 1736 g. At the same time, he decided to immediately begin preparations for a campaign in the Crimea, since the Tatar army had already crossed the Kuban to attack the Persians.
Field Marshal decided to use in the march on the Crimea a significant part of the army, which according to the original plan was to operate in the Azov direction. For this, a corps of about 40 of thousands of soldiers was quickly formed, headed by Lieutenant-General Mikhail Ivanovich Leontyev.
General Leontyev was a relative of the royal family. The cousin nephew of Tsarina Natalia Kirillovna, mother of Peter I, was married to the niece of Prince Menshikov. Leontyev during the Northern War began serving as an ensign and rose to the rank of colonel and brigadier. He distinguished himself in a number of battles, especially near Poltava, taking the Swedish banners 7, silver timpani and Charles XII stretcher. He served in the Military Collegium, in 1726, he was promoted to major general and assigned to the revision of the Moscow and Smolensk provinces; The following year he was appointed Moscow vice-governor. When Peter II commanded the dragoon division in the Ukraine. Then he served in the Lower Corps, was appointed to the post of military inspector and appointed to consist of the Commander-in-Chief of the Lower Corps, with production as lieutenant general. Contemporaries spoke of Leontyev as a sullen and ill-tempered soldier, who was exacting and strict to cruelty towards his subordinates, but at the same time recognized him as brave and enterprising. Minich, whom Leontiev considered his enemy, describes him in a note submitted to Anna Ioannovna in the 1737 year: “Lieutenant General Leontyev is an old soldier who understands the service and especially cavalry and could serve as a colonel well; he is healthy and strong build, but he has no ambition, no desire to serve. He is fit to be in the Stables Department as a hunter and an expert in horses, such as there is nothing like in the whole army. ”
Don, Sloboda and Ukrainian Cossacks (21 thousand people) and Land Militia (8 thousand people) made up a significant part of the corps, while regular units consisted of only 34 dragoon squadron (6500 people) and several infantry battalions (3800 people). Crimea was not going to conquer. They planned to carry out a punitive expedition in order to punish the Crimean Tatars and free the captives, and precisely at that time when the main army of the enemy was outside the khanate.
Minich at the Monument "1000 Anniversary of Russia" in Veliky Novgorod
Hike to the Crimea
During September 1735, there was a redeployment of Russian troops that were pulled to Tsarichanka, a town on the Orel River. October 1 Corps Leontiev marched and moved to the south-east, in the direction of the river Samara. After the summer drought, the water in the reservoirs was very low, so crossing the problems did not cause. However, in the event of a spill of water during the retreat, soldiers erected bridges. A week later, the Leontief corps reached the Osakorovka River, beyond which was already a steppe burned by Tatars. Fortunately for the Russian troops on the ashes, young grass was already making its way, so the horses could find at least some food. The hike continued.
From Osakorovka, Leontiev led the corps to the Horse Waters River, where he attacked the Nogai nomads. Hundreds of steppe inhabitants were slaughtered, the Russians seized a large number of livestock, facilitating supplies. From Horse Waters Leontiev headed down the Dnieper. October 13 he reached the tract Bitter Waters, but here the troops stopped because of the beginning of cold weather and snowfall. A dramatic change in the weather led to massive disease among the soldiers and a massive loss of horses. October 16 Leontyev gathered a military council to discuss further action. After a brief meeting, the generals decided to turn back. Ten days of travel remained until Perekop, and the prisoners reported that only the “naked steppe” followed, and the number of dead horses had already exceeded three thousand. However, the retreat was very difficult. As a result, the retreat was even more difficult than the offensive. Due to illnesses and colds, much more Cossacks and soldiers died than were killed in the fights. In early November, the Russian corps returned to Tsarichanka. In a short trip, he lost 9 thousands of people, that is, almost a quarter of his staff! And it is without heavy fighting.
The reasons for the failure were as follows. The 1735 winter of the year really arrived in the Black Sea region too early and was unusually cold. Leontiev took advantage of the incorrect calculations of Weisbach, who allotted only ten days to the entire transition to the Crimea. Therefore, taken by the army food supplies were insufficient. Munnich was angry that the army had not even reached Perekop.
However, even this demonstration made a strong impression on the Crimea and Porto. Istanbul demanded an explanation. Russian diplomats tried to convince the Ottoman government that it was only about punishing the Crimean Tatars for raids. However, Turkey hastily proceeded to strengthen the border forces. Three thousand janissaries with guns were sent to Ochakov. In Bosnia, under the leadership of Bonneval created a network of military stores.
Preparing for the 1736 campaign
The Russian envoy in Turkey reassured the Ottomans and at the same time called on Petersburg to step up its actions. The blow, in his opinion, should have been inflicted on the Danube possessions of Porta, where the Christian population could give the Russians serious support. Hurry and Minich - it was necessary to smooth out the unpleasant impression of Leontiev's campaign. In November, the field marshal summoned the Tsarichanka Cossack Ataman of the Zaporozhye Cossacks Milashevich to his Tsarichanka and began to ask him about when his soldiers could go on a campaign. Zaporozhets proposed the beginning of April, and the commander in chief agreed.
At the same time, the Russian government presented the Austrian ambassador to Russia, Ostein, with the requirement that Austria, fulfilling the 1726 treaty, take part in the war with the Ottoman Empire. However, despite the fact that the Russian army had already fought with the Austrians against the French during the Rhine campaign, the ambassador responded very evasively, referring to the “exhaustion” of his power. It is obvious that Austria wanted to avoid the war with Turkey. The Pozarevka peace of 1718 brought Austria great acquisitions in the Balkans and Vienna did not want to lose them if the outcome of the war was unsuccessful. In addition, the victories of Russia led to the strengthening of its positions in the Balkans, which made it a new rival of Austria in the region, perhaps even more dangerous for the Austrians than the Ottomans. Osterman’s calculation for military support of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth in the struggle against the Turks was not justified. Having taken the throne with the help of Russian bayonets, the Polish king Augustus III began to fear the excessive intervention of the Russian empire in the affairs of the Commonwealth. In addition, the “French party” remained quite strong in Poland.
In the winter of 1735-1736. Munnich located the headquarters in the city of Izum, and began active preparations for the military campaign. Already at the end of November, it was decided to transfer the majority of the troops stationed in Poland to Little Russia. These troops were led by Prince Ludwig Wilhelm of Hesse-Homburg, and those who remained in the Commonwealth were led by Major General R. A. Bismarck. The Persian Corps also received an order to join the active army. The troops had to be ready for an attack no later than March. However, troops marching from Poland were delayed, which caused a violent squabble between Minich and the prince. However, such collisions of ambitions were commonplace in the then Russian army. So, he commanded the troops in Little Russia before Leontyev von Weisbach refused to follow the orders of Minich at all, since he was younger than him in age.
Field Marshal Munnich developed a stormy activity to strengthen the army. Field Marshal sought to bring the number of all regiments to the norm established by the states of wartime. There were a lot of sick people in the regiments from Rzecz Pospolita, and Minich repeatedly issued orders demanding better care for the maintenance of hospitals and the purchase of medicines. Officers were banned leave, and all seconded returned to the troops. The soldiers were supplied with new guns, some of which were made in Tula, and some were purchased in Saxony. In the dragoon shelves, Munnich personally examined the swords and, finding them "unreliable in service," ordered them to be replaced by others. Old sabers given to landmilicia. To combat the Tatar cavalry, according to the experience of the Prut campaign, they acquired pikener and rodents of the spear. Each infantry regiment was obliged to have 288 spear bricks and 1200 roosting. Tin flasks for water were replaced with wooden bicags to facilitate movement in the steppe. The troops received good uniforms, for which warehouses began to operate in Belgorod, Perevolochne and Tsarichanka, in which uniforms were brought from St. Petersburg, Moscow, Smolensk and Riga.
Especially carefully on the orders of Minich prepared carts. He noted that the officers have a lot of excess property, which greatly complicates and slows down the movement of the regiments. Therefore, Field Marshal personally compiled a list of what the officers could take on the march. It includes: a two-month supply of provisions, a drill uniform, a gun, a tent (one for several people), a mattress with a pillow and a blanket. Reducing the officer wagon if possible, Minikh ordered an increase in the number of wagons intended for soldiers' supplies. Along the way they decided to build redoubts for which they prepared cannons. A whole infantry regiment was sent to the Donets River to make fascines and tours for siege work near Azov. To provide the army with food, bread was bought from the local population. Most of it was decided to be stored in the form of crackers, and in each regiment it was ordered to have them for at least two months of the hike. However, the preparation of food stocks was slow. Since the free purchase and contracts did not give the proper result, the government ordered the inhabitants of certain districts to supply bread in certain quantities and at fixed prices.
While actively preparing for an offensive, Minich did not forget about defense. First of all, the fortifications of the Ukrainian line, which stretched between the North Donets and the Orel mouth, were renewed and repaired. It was a shaft about 280 km long, reinforced with various earthworks (lunettes, redoubts) and fifteen small fortresses. Directly behind the line on the inner side was a series of blockhouses, which served as barracks for the troops and additional strong points. The fortresses were earthen, made up of bastions. Artillery armament line consisted of 180 guns and 30 mortars and howitzers. About 15 thousand people were driven to the repair works. The construction and repair of the defensive line laid a heavy burden on the locals, which was common for that time. Military historian V. Potto wrote: “The burden of work, heat, exhaustion, lack of food and so on, laid thousands of working people in the land. Escaping from overwhelming work - “convicts,” as the people put it, the Ukrainians fled to the Don in droves, and new people were required to replace the regiments and villages. .. For a long time Ukrainians remembered this difficult time ... ”.
Prepared for war and the fleet. At the end of July 1735, the commander of Donskoy flotilla Vice Admiral Matvey Zmaevich launched 9 large and 6 small prams, 15 galleys and 30 small vessels. But at the end of August Zmayevich died, and Vice Admiral Pyotr Bredal was appointed in his place, who served as the chief commander of the Arkhangelsk port. Bredal could only reach Tavrov in November, which is why work at the shipyards stopped. However, the new admiral quickly corrected the matter, confirming his reputation as a very energetic sailor. By his efforts, by the beginning of April 1736 another 20 galleys were built.
Prince Ludwig Wilhelm of Hesse-Homburg
It must be said that almost all the previous actions of the Russian troops in the Black Sea region did not lead to success. Prince Vasily Golitsyn at the end of the 17th century and General Leontyev in 1735 tried to break through to the Crimea and failed. The Prut expedition undertaken by Peter I in 1711 ended in failure. As a result, both the Danube and the Crimea were closely associated with defeats in the consciousness of the Russian generals and soldiers. Mastering Azov was not easy, and it could not bring a final victory, as Turkey had a number of powerful strongholds in the Black Sea region. Austria took a wait. Poland in general could oppose Russia.
However, this did not embarrass Minich, who actually decided to continue the work of Peter the Great on the breakthrough to the Middle East and anticipated the “Greek project” of Catherine II. In one of the letters to Biron Minich wrote: “At 1736, the city: Azov will be ours. We will become the masters of the Don, Donets, Perekop, Nogai possessions between the Don and the Dnieper in the Black Sea, and maybe the Crimea itself will belong to us. On 1737, the city: the whole of Crimea, the Kuban is subordinate, the Kabarda is acquired, the Empress - the mistress of the Sea of Azov and the arm between the Crimea and the Kuban. On 1738: submits, without the slightest risk, the Belgorod and Bujak hordes on the other side of the Dnieper, Moldova and Wallachia, who moan under the yoke of the Turks. The Greeks are also saved under the wings of the Russian Eagle. On 1739 G .: Her Majesty's banners and standards come up ... where? In Constantinople.
Thus, Minich was a real Russian statesman, who drew up a plan to create a huge empire. The Ottoman Empire was to cede Russia the Northern Pontic, the Crimea, the Kuban, the Danube. Constantinople became Russian. That is, in the event of victory, the Black Sea became Russian, and Turkey retreated to Asia.
During the 1736 campaign, Mr. Munich planned to launch an offensive simultaneously in two directions: the second seemed to be especially hard on Azov and on the Crimea. Again it was necessary to overcome the Crimean steppes, being subjected to constant attacks by the Tatars, to take Perekop by storm, and in the Crimea itself a hostile population was waiting. This scarecrow of many dignitaries of St. Petersburg. The Cabinet of Ministers sent Minicha a “reasoning”, which contained an analysis of the difficulties of the campaign against the Crimea, and a strict indication of the case if such a campaign would take place, not to leave the army on the peninsula, but only to ruin it and go back. Minikh himself insisted on a double blow to divide the enemy’s forces and prevent the Crimean Tatars from coming to the aid of the Ottoman Azov garrison. In addition, in order to further divert the enemy command, Minich planned to send troops of the Don Cossacks to the Kuban against the Kuban Tatars and Kalmyks. And in order to catch Turks and Tartars by surprise, the field marshal, in his own words, tried to “render any kindness to the enemy” and even forbade Zaporizhzhya Cossacks to disturb the enemy.
To implement the campaign plan, two armies were formed: the first was on the Don, for the siege of Azov, with a collection point in the fortress of St. Anne, and the second on the Dnieper, for a campaign in the Crimea, with a collection point in Tsarichanka. The total number of the Dnieper army was about 85 thousand people. Of these, soldiers and officers of regular military units numbered 44 thousands of people (19,7 thousands - dragoons, 24,4 thousands - infantry); landmilicia, hussars and suburban regiments - 11 thousand people; Don, Little Russian, Chuguev and Zaporizhzhya Cossacks - 30 thousand people. That is, almost half of the Dnieper army consisted of irregular and semi-regular military formations. In the army, counting the Cossacks, cavalry prevailed, which accounted for up to two-thirds of the entire army. Artillery was not enough: all 94 guns of different caliber. Thus, the nature of the Crimean army was taken into account. Against the mobile Tatar cavalry put up mainly cavalry. In addition, the Russian cavalry, in the bulk, knew the specifics of the steppe war. The army was led by Munnich himself, and the Prince of Hesse-Homburg became his deputy.
The Don Army numbered about 46 thousand people, including: 31 thousand infantrymen of regular army regiments, 6 thousand dragoons and 8 thousand Don Cossacks. In addition, its structure included 284 siege guns, which consisted of more than 600 human gunners and an engineering company numbering 200 people. That is, the Don Army was just as well adapted for solving its own special tasks as the Dnieper. Numerous artillery park had to cope with the fortifications of Azov. A significant number of regular infantry was needed for both a proper siege and general assault, and for a possible field battle with Turkish troops, more organized than the Tatars. The Don army was led by an old ally of Peter the Great (he participated in the battle of Narva in 1700), General-in-Chief Petr Petrovich Lassi. Under Lassi, there was a headquarters that included the deputy commander, General Ashef V. Ya. Levashov, General-Wagenmaster (in charge of transport) Ber, General-Proviant Master of Palibin, Chief of Artillery Major Schulz, etc.
One of the most successful commanders of Russia of the XVIII century Peter Petrovich Lassi
To be continued ...