After the capture of Perekop, Field Marshal Munnich gathered a military council. Almost all the generals were in favor of cautious tactics, suggesting not to lead the army deep into the Crimean peninsula, but to remain at Perekop and send forward only small mobile units to destroy enemy territory. In many ways, the caution of the generals was associated with the weakening of the army, whose number was reduced to 47 thousand people. The reduction was due to the need to leave the garrisons in the constructed strongholds and captured fortresses. Thus, the Riga Dragoon and Uglich Infantry Regiments, 1200 Cossacks, and a significant amount of artillery under the general command of Colonel Devits were placed in Perekop. In addition, many people dropped out due to illness.
However, the commander-in-chief held a different view. There is an opinion that Minikh aspired to fame, so he decided to act contrary to the opinion of the majority. He ordered the avant-garde under the command of General Leontyev to go to Kinburn. It consisted of two dragoon and two infantry regiments, 600 Zaporizhzhya Cossacks and 14 guns. 25 in May 1736 of the city of Munich led the main forces (about 35 thousand people) to the city of Gezlev (Kezlev, modern Yevpatoria) on the western coast of Crimea. In the first quarter of the 18th century, the Tatar Gezlev was the leading center of the slave trade and one of the most influential cities of the Crimean Khanate, along with Ak-Mechet and Bakhchisarai.
On May 28, the Russian army, while crossing the sea bay of Balchik, was attacked by a large Crimean army. However, the columns of soldiers, separated by large intervals of one and a half thousand steps, managed to close in and repelled the onslaught of enemy cavalry. Having received the news that the Tatar army camped twelve versts from the Russian army, the field marshal decided to strike back. To do this, they formed a separate detachment consisting of grenadiers, dragoons, Cossacks and "all the regiments of the good old soldiers of the first ranks", with a total of thousands of 5,5 people with 12 guns. They were supposed to take "except for a good gun, cartridges, grenades and bread with them for five days in their pockets or soums and for each gun for 50 shots." The squad was led by Colonel Gein. He built a squad in the square and began to slowly move forward. Colonel Shtokman and Cossack Petty Officer Frolov objected to such tactics. They noted that it was necessary to act quickly, since the main condition for victory was surprise. But Gein insisted on his.
As a result, the campaign did not lead to success. A detachment of Cossacks leading the way attacked an enemy camp. Stepnyaki quickly discovered that the number of Russian troops is small and counterattacked. The Cossacks were surrounded, and only the appearance of the Heine unit saved them. More than three hundred Cossacks by that time died. Heine, for his sluggishness, was put on trial, deprived of all the ranks and nobility, and sentenced to private service for life.
However, a far more terrible enemy for the Russian army than the enemy cavalry was the lack of drinking water and disease. This enemy has more than once stopped the Russian troops on the approach to the Crimea. Throughout 150 versts that separated Gezlev from Perekop, the Russian troops encountered only three small rivers with fresh water. Others flowed from the salt lakes, and the water in them was salty. Tatars filled wells in the way of the Russian army or poisoned water in them. As a participant in the Crimean campaign was reported by the military doctor Kondoidi, the officers ordered the soldiers to hold a lead bullet in their mouth in order to feel less thirst. This measure, however, could not quench thirst and stop the spread of disease. Many soldiers suffered from various fevers, suffered bloody diarrhea, simply lost their strength from the heat and unusual food. Food, too, was not enough, the bread began to be replaced with fresh bread, the meat was reduced. The growing number of patients weakened the already small army and slowed down its movement.
4 (15) June, the Russian army approached Gezlev, breaking 150 versts in 11 days, that is, the average speed of the regiments was 13 versts per day. There was a huge fire in the city. The Turkish garrison did not accept the battle and retreated, and the Tatars set fire to the houses of Christian residents. Russian avant-garde entered the city. In Gezlev, large stocks of wheat and rice were taken, as well as more than 10 thousands of sheep and several hundred oxen, which temporarily improved the situation with provisions. In addition, huge amounts of lead have become Russian trophies. It turned out so much that only a part was taken for the bullets, and the rest was drowned in the sea. As Byov noted, soldiers and Cossacks found caches arranged by fleeing residents and collected a large amount of jewelry, coins and fabrics. “Nowadays, the army has no shortage of anything,” Field Marshal Munnich wrote to St. Petersburg, “and the whole enemy will be kept on it, which during military operations serves as a great advance on the proverb: We managed to tie our horse to the enemy's nursery.”
After the loss of Gezlev, the Tatar cavalry attempted to intercept the Russian communications. On June 6, the Tatars attacked with all their own forces the 2-thousandth detachment of General Leslie, who led a small carts to Gezlev from Little Russia. Minich hastily formed a detachment led by Prince Repnin and sent him to rescue the wagon train. Repnin's squad went constantly firing cannons to frighten the enemy. The Leslie convoy beat off on his own and the next day joined the army.
Shortly after the capture of Gezlev, the Prince of Hesse-Gomburg submitted to Minich a note in which he pointed out the danger of further movement into the peninsula. His main argument was the fatigue of the troops. The prince offered to retreat in order to preserve the combat capability of the army. However, the commander-in-chief did not agree with the general and noted that the leadership of the operation was assigned to him. 10 June, the Russian army stepped out of Gezlev and moved to Bakhchisarai.
The first segment of the path passed between the sea and a large lake, so the enemy attack from the flanks could not be afraid. The army was a single column, with regimental guns in front, and carts behind. On the second day of the campaign, when the Russian troops passed the lake, the field marshal allocated for the protection of the left flank security consisting of two dragoon (Ingermanland and Rostov) and two infantry (St. Petersburg and Vladimir) regiments, supported by 800 Little Russian Cossacks. Lieutenant-General Izmailov and Major General Leslie commanded these troops. They organized several successful raids on Tatar villages, captured many cattle and several prisoners who reported that the Turks are preparing to land troops in Kafa harbor.
June 13 Tatar cavalry attempted to attack the Russian troops. However, under the shelling of artillery, the Crimean Tatars quickly retreated. June 15 army crossed the river Alma, and the next day came to Bakhchisarai. The age-old dream came true: the capital of the Crimean Khanate lay before the Russian troops. However, it was not easy to take. Located in the valley of Bakhchisarai is surrounded on all sides by mountains, and the Tatar troops skillfully took advantage of this, taking all the convenient passages. To bring them down, it was necessary to go into a frontal attack, losing a significant number of people. Therefore, Minich decided to make a flank maneuver. At night, Russian troops made a detour and appeared in the rear of the Tatars standing outside the city, cutting off their escape routes.
However, contrary to expectations, the Tatars did not flinch, did not run, on the contrary, they went into a fierce attack and crushed the advanced Vladimir Infantry Regiment. The situation was straightened by Major General Leslie, who with five regiments of infantry strongly counterattacked the enemy and turned him to flight. Yet Russian troops suffered very significant (for this campaign) loss: 284 man killed and captured.
After the battle, the regiments of Minich without resistance entered the Crimean capital. Tatars fled to the mountains, and the Turkish troops retreated to Cafu. “We got full victoria,” wrote the field marshal, “but at that time our people were in such a heart that it was impossible to keep them, so that they couldn’t put fire in Bakchisarai and the Khan’s chambers, which made a quarter of the city and the Khan’s baths, burned. After the capture of Bakhchisaray by Russian troops, the Crimean Tatars retreating from the city attacked the train of the army, which was encamped at the site of the last night. The first were attacked Zaporizhzhya Cossacks, who left the camp for foraging. They suffered serious losses: 200 people were killed and as many were captured. On this, the success of the enemy ended. General Spiegel, who was in charge of the wagon train, built the wagons in the wagenburg and fought off the enemy cavalry. Having suffered heavy losses, the Tatars retreated.
After capturing Bakhchisarai, Minich decided to take Cafu - the old strong point and a large commercial port with a convenient harbor. Its seizure would have deprived the Turkish fleet of their stay in the Crimea and would have made it very difficult for the Ottoman Empire to interfere in Tatar affairs. Turkey would lose the main stronghold in the Crimea. The detachment sent forward, under the command of Generals Izmailov and Biron, captured and burned Akmechet without a fight. On the way back, the detachment was attacked by the Tatars, but repelled the attack. After this failure, the Tatar troops no longer risked attacking the Russian troops. They used the "scorched earth" tactics: they devastated the whole terrain along which the Russian army was to march, burned and destroyed the settlements, poisoned the water in the wells.
Stocks that were captured in Gezlev were depleted. The shortage of supplies, the strong summer heat and the lack of water finally exhausted the Russian army. Almost a third of the squad was sick, many soldiers fainted from exhaustion right in the ranks. In the end, Minich was forced to turn back. The reverse march was even more difficult. We had to walk along a waterless, ruined terrain, taking with them a multitude of sick and weakened people, reflecting the attacks of the Tatars, who cheered upon seeing the retreat of the Russians. By July 4 (15), the army reached Salt Lake, where it rested, and July 6 (17) reached Perekop.
The Leontiev detachment, which was directed against Kinburn, also operated quite successfully. His troops approached the city of 4 (15) in June 1736, and two days later defeated the Janissaries, who tried to make a sortie. 7 (18) of June to Leontyev arrived city representatives with the proposal to surrender Kinburn on the condition that the Turkish garrison was allowed to go to the fortress of Ochakov with weapons and guns. Leontyev refused to release the Turkish garrison with guns. After some disputes, the sides got on that the Turks would leave "with a gun and belongings," but without guns. 8 (19) June Russian troops entered the fortress. A Russian garrison was introduced into Kinburn under the command of Colonel Connie. The main forces of Leontyev were camped nearby and engaged in the destruction of the siege structures that they themselves had built to capture the fortress.
Leontyev, having received alarming news about the arrival of the 10-thousandth army of the Belgorod Tatars, organized reconnaissance, attracting Zaporizhzhya Cossacks. Cossacks and dragoons conducted a successful series of reconnaissance in force. Captured "languages" reported that in Ochakovo there are thousands of Janissaries worth 4, and even three hundred sipahs were sent from Adrianople, but everyone's mood is depressed, as rumors are circulating about the capture of Kamenets-Podolsky by the Russian troops. The Ottomans did not even think about offensive actions and were engaged in the fact that they urgently repaired the fortress. Therefore, Leontiev could concentrate on building new fortifications. On his initiative, several redoubts were built between Kinburn and Kazi-Kerman.
The results of the campaign
For all the time of the Crimean campaign, Minikh lost the soldiers and officers of the regular army and 480 - irregular to the killed 1311. Losses from disease were much greater and reached 30 thousands of people. It was one of the most important features of the Crimean campaign 1736 g. - a very high mortality rate of people from diseases, heat and food shortages.
The military strategic successes of the Russian army were substantial. Russian troops won several field battles, broke through the Perekop fortifications, Gezlev, Akmechet and Bakhchisarai were defeated. A separate detachment took Kinburn. The Russians took revenge for the long period of predatory raids and campaigns of the Crimean horde on Russia-Russia. The Crimean Khanate was severely defeated, suffering huge military and economic losses. At the same time, the Tatars themselves made a great contribution to this matter by applying the “scorched earth” tactics.
Initially, Minich wanted to stay with Perekop and rebuild the army. However, his hopes were not justified. The summer heat dried the grass of the steppe, and the horses began to lack feed. The lack of food (mainly bread) and heat contributed to the fact that the incidence of soldiers continued to grow. On July 26, the military council decided to retreat further. Munnich began withdrawal on the Dnieper. And Leontiev was instructed to leave Kinburn. 11 August their forces joined on the river Durichka, 19 August arrived to Belozerka. In early September, the Russian army had already crossed Samara. After that, the detachment of General Spiegel left for Perekop to cover the return movement of the troops went to Bakhmut. Therefore, the 1736 campaign of the year was completed.
In Petersburg, they were unhappy that Minikh left Crimea and believed that the campaign should be repeated. Minikh laid the blame for the retreat on Lassi, who, according to him, didn’t send provisions for too long, but wrote about himself: “In the expedition entrusted to me, I still have as much as I had in human capabilities ...”.
It should be noted that there was no agreement in the Russian command. Minich complained about Lassi, Prince of Hesse-Homburg criticized Minich’s actions. Munnich, when Lassi was assigned to collect information on the state of his army, even resigned. The Empress Anna Ivanovna forbade Minich to leave her post. However, Minich wrote an extensive message in which he complained about health and "division in the generals", and at the end asked to put his main rival, Count Lassi, at the head of the army. Lassie, in turn, also asked to resign, complaining that the fourth year had not been home and had not seen the family.
It is not surprising that Anna Ioannovna wrote to Osterman with irritation: “Andrei Ivanovich, from the reports sent yesterday to you and the petition ... you can rather see what disagreement there is in our generals; it cannot be, however, to be as great a harm in our interests in the current great conjuncture. I declare to you that the Turkish war and their power will not conquer me Nicols, only such konduvity, as the main commanders now have, I already have a lot of sadness, therefore I must continue to wait for the same thing, how soulless and unreasonable they are ... ”. At the end of the letter, the empress asked her cabinet minister to take measures to end the war as soon as possible. “Isn't it better to stop the war,” asked the empress, “just as in this case, we hope for your art and loyalty.” However, Anna Ivanovna considered the indispensable condition of peace to be the elimination of the Prut Treaty, to which the Port without a fight would clearly not have agreed. Therefore, the war had to continue, and with those generals that were available.
The operations of the Russian troops provoked anger in Istanbul, but the Turkish government, concerned about the union of Russia and Austria, and the difficult situation on the Persian front, did not take anything drastic during 1736. As the envoy of Veshnyakov reported, the Ottomans were in utter confusion. “There is a strong fear in the government and the people,” the diplomat reported in June 1736 of the year, “with horror they begin to pronounce the Russian name ...”. Only at the end of October, Veshnyakov was officially expelled from the Ottoman Empire.
The Russian allies were also inactive. Both the Persian ruler Nadir Shah and the Austrian Emperor Charles VI assured the representatives of Russia of their friendship, but did not do anything concrete to help her. Austrian generals considered it possible to start fighting no earlier than the spring of 1737. In Vienna, they feared that Austria would bear the brunt of the war with Turkey, since its possessions are closer to the Ottoman Empire. Nadir Shah preferred not to rush and noted that the events in the Crimea did not concern him much. The Shah of Persia was more interested in internal problems.
To be continued ...