The campaign in the Russian army delayed the unusually cold weather. Until the end of the first third of April, 1737 in Little Russia was so cold that there was knee-deep snow in the fields, which, as Field Marshal Munnich wrote, “is impossible for people on campuses to stand, and there is no stern in the fields, there’s nothing to be saturated with. ” However, on April 18, Minich’s army began to cross the Dnieper on a floating bridge near Mishurin Horn six versts above Perevolochny. During the crossing, the news came that the Bujac horde was going to raid. The commander began to hurry and announced that the campaign should be made no later than 10 May. But only by 21 in May was able to collect all the troops in the camp on the river Omelnik.
Here, the commander was informed that the Budzhak Tatars stand under Bendery and plan to go beyond the Bug, while the Turkish vizier led the 20-thousandth army to Isacce and that the Turks suggest crossing the Danube in order to also join up with the Tatars. The scouts also reported the formation of large garrisons by the Turks in Khotin, Bendery, Ochakovo and the dispatch of a large detachment to the Perekop line.
21 May 1736 The Russian army marched from the camp on Omelnik to the Bug. By then, Minich’s army included: three walking guard battalions, one cavalry squadron, 29 infantry and 20 dragoon regiments, a squadron of the Cuirassier Count Mihnich regiment, 9 landmine regiments, 3, a thousand of the artillery, and a numerhe for a non-combatant regiment, 13, a thousand of people who were not working as a non-combatant, for example, for a thousand artillery, for a thousand artillery, for example, for a thousand artillery, for a thousand artillery, for a thousand artillery units . All these troops were still divided into three divisions, and their total number was 1,5 thousand people. The remaining troops remained to cover communications and rears.
Much attention was paid to the defense of the train. And not surprisingly - more than 40 thousand wagons were moving in the Russian army. In order to better organize the march, Minikh ordered to assign a soldier or dragoon from “undersized” and not capable of combat service to each convoy. In addition, from each regiment stood out a team in the 30 privates with one officer, which was designed to protect the wagons from the possible attack of the Tatars. For the same purpose, special rear "guards" from regular and irregular units were dispatched daily, both to cover the wagon train and to maintain order in the rear.
Minich led the whole army. Its headquarters consisted of three divisional commanders — the Prince of Hessen-Homburg, lieutenant-general Rumyantsev and Leontyev. In addition to these commanders, Lieutenant-General Gustav Biron (brother of the Empress's favorite), Keith, Levendal, Quartermaster-General Colonel Vilim Fermor, and Provisional General Major-General Roslavlev, General-Master of Bair, were part of the army. Zaporozhye Cossacks were commanded by the ataman Milashevich, the Little Russian Cossacks, who were divided into three 2 units by thousands of people and assigned to divisions, led by Colonels Kapnist, Lizogub and Tansky.
Following the army of Minikh, the Dnieper was supposed to go flotilla under the command of Prince Trubetskoy with heavy artillery. However, despite the strictest orders of Minich, they did not manage to build the required number of ships. Therefore, at the beginning of the campaign, I had to limit myself to sending a small detachment of armed boats under the command of Dmitriev-Mamonov. For the alloy of provisions and ammunition used a wide variety of vessels requisitioned from local residents.
On May 24, after a heavy march across the steppe, the army reached the headwaters of the Malaya Kamenka River, on which two pontoon bridges were built, and crossed it. Four days later, Russian troops arrived at the Ingulets River, and forced it without encountering resistance. On June 2, having passed halfway to Ochakov, the Russians entered the Ingulu River, beyond which the Tatars' nomad camps had already begun, enemy land. 3 June Army forced Ingul. Then, after a day of rest, she resumed movement and 5 June reached the Sugakleu River. Here, Minich received the first news of the collision of advanced Cossack patrols with the Tatars. A small detachment of Cossacks at the crossing over the Bug discovered a large Tatar army. Tatars attacked the Cossacks and chased them to the army itself. After that, the commander singled out the avant-garde under the command of Lieutenant General Keith, which consisted of eight dragoon, seven infantry, two Land Militia regiments and all Zaporizhia Cossacks. The army took extra precautions.
During the march to the Bug began heavy rains, very difficult to hike. 9 June, the army reached the left tributary of the Bug, the Dead Waters River, and after a short respite moved down it. Here, thousands of Don Cossacks joined the forces of Minikh. 4 June Russian troops forced a Bug. Three bridges were built: one on the pontoons for artillery, two on barrels for cavalry and infantry. Vanguard crossed immediately, and the main forces - the next day. As Minikh noted later, the crossing was quick and painless only because the enemy did not resist. Otherwise, crossing a large water barrier could become a serious problem.
Behind the Bug, the army was built in three divisional squares. The passage to Ochakov, according to the recollections of his member of the guard officer V.A. Nashchokin, was also “very difficult, because it was going in waterless places, a declined steppe, and the great heat in the army was extremely difficult,” the cattle were weak. Minich himself wrote to his son: “The heat, the wind, the dust is intolerable: you cannot open your mouth or your eyes; you write with difficulty; therefore, you will have to disassemble only these few lines. ”
29 June (10 July) in 12 versts from Ochakov the first serious collision occurred. The Cossacks attacked the enemy cavalry that had emerged from the fortress, but, meeting stubborn resistance, they almost were not defeated. The hussars of Stoyanov rushed to the aid of the Cossacks, and behind them the dragoons of one of the regiments forced the enemy to retreat. Several enemy soldiers were taken prisoner, they reported that the garrison of Ochakov numbers about 20 thousands of people and is waiting for strong reinforcement.
Ochakov was a powerful stronghold. One of the participants in the campaign later recalled that many "thought then that the field marshal had taken this siege for only one species, which he would soon leave." Ochakov, though not a big fortress, was distinguished by strong defense. Its fortifications consisted of three positions. External fortifications were earthen ramparts lined with stone and, in general, had the shape of an oblong rectangle composed of separate, broken lines (small bastions and long curtains). Before the shaft was a ditch. The second line or internal fence consisted of a stone wall with towers and its extremities leaned on the third line or the castle itself, which also had stone walls with towers. In addition, an open battery stood on the cape at the confluence of the Dnieper into the sea, protecting the Ottoman ships with its fire. The fort was surrounded by vorstadt, which had low earthen fences. Under the command of Seraskir Yazh-pasha and the commandant of the double-billed pasha Mustafa was 22-thousand. a garrison armed with 90 guns and 7 mortars.
Minich decided to go on the siege. Early in the morning of June 30 (July 11), the Russian army blocked the fortress from land, and joined the flanks to the shores of the Black Sea and the Dnieper estuary. Russian troops settled in one line, with slingshots installed in front of the infantry regiments, and wagenburg before the dragoons. To protect the rear, too, they arranged wagenburg.
The Ottoman command did not wait until the Russian troops deployed, and immediately organized a strong raid. Attacking in two columns, the defenders of the fortress fell on the flanks of the besiegers. The battle lasted more than two hours and cost the Russian troops about two hundred dead. After this battle, Minich decided to erect earthworks in front of his positions, and in the evening of the same day he allocated five thousand armed workers and the same number of soldiers for cover. The field marshal hoped to build everything in one night, while the enemy artillery was silent. However, summer nights are short, and the ground is hard. Therefore, it was possible to somehow build only two redoubts on the right flank; in the center, the work was just begun.
In the morning of July 1 (12), large forces of the Turks came out of the fortress and occupied the fordstadt, from which they opened rifle fire on Russian posts. Minich immediately raised an army into a gun. Half of all the regiments under the command of the commander himself rushed forward and knocked out the Ottomans from positions. The second half, led by the Prince of Hesse-Homburg, remained in reserve. Having occupied the suburb, the Russians approached the moat itself in front of the external rampart, and before nightfall they had a hot exchange of fire with the Turks. At the same time, Minikh ordered the artillery to be advanced to prepare for the assault.
2 (13) July artillery began bombing the city. Soon, in the center of Ochakov, a large fire was set on fire, and all the Russian guns moved their fire there in order to prevent the defenders from extinguishing it. Infantry and cavalry lined up in three units. In the center commanded by Lieutenant-General Keith, on the right flank were Rumyantsev, Biron and Minich himself, on the left flank - Levendal. Minich decided to storm. Under the cover of artillery fire, the Russian troops moved forward, but stumbled upon a moat that was too wide and deep to be overcome without special equipment. Staying in a completely open area, they came under Turkish fire, but did not retreat, and fired themselves. The shootout was so fierce that both sides ran out of ammo. According to eyewitness testimony, soldiers threw stones, earth, and even shovels and axes, which were found in the fortress, to the Turks. Finally, making sure that it was impossible to cross the moat, the Russian troops began to retreat. The Turkish garrison, taking advantage of this, made a small sortie and inflicted additional damage to the Russian army.
Thus, an attempt at a decisive assault failed due to insufficient reconnaissance of the enemy’s fortifications and the lack of necessary equipment (fascines, assault ladders, etc.). Minich from this fell into despair. According to Manstein’s testimony, he repeated that “everything was gone”, and another witness adds: the field marshal even “dropped his sword.” The Austrian officer Berenklau, who was in the army of Minich, described the behavior of the field marshal as follows: “Field marshal, seeing that things were going badly, grabbed the banner and approached the very pit. ... It seems to me that Munnich wanted to be shot, "he was so desperate." Under Minikh killed a horse, and his hat and caftan were shot through, but his fate took care of him.
However, here the case smiled at the Russian army. The Ottomans could not put out a strong fire caused by Russian shelling. Therefore, they could not make a strong sortie, taking advantage of the temporary confusion of the Russian army. Due to the spread of fire, there was an explosion of the main powder magazine, where 500 barrels with gunpowder were stored. The terrible explosion killed most of the garrison - thousands of people. Turkish troops were shocked and demoralized. After that, realizing that he could not put out a huge fire, seraskir began negotiations on surrender. He sent his adjutant to Minikh with a request for a truce for a day, but in order to prevent the enemy from coming to his senses and restore order, he demanded an immediate surrender.
While negotiations were underway, part of the demoralized garrison tried to run to the galleys in order to be saved by the sea. The Cossacks rushed after them in pursuit and the Turks, distraught with horror, began to rush into the sea in the hope of reaching the ships by swimming. However, the galleys, seeing that the city was on fire, went to sea. A lot of Turkish soldiers drowned, were killed and captured. Meanwhile, the Turkish command capitulated.
On the same day, Major-General Bakhmetyev was appointed commandant of the fortress. The garrison of Ochakov formed the Suzdal Infantry and Novgorod Dragoon Regiments. 90 Turkish officers and over three thousand soldiers were taken prisoner. It was only under the ruins and around the city that the Russians collected and buried 16 thousands of Turkish corpses. A lot of people drowned. The trophies include 100 copper and 22 cast iron cannons, 9 copper mortars (according to other 86 cannons and 7 mortars), 9 bunches, 8 clubs, 7 silver shields and 300 flags. The Russian army also suffered significant losses: 47 officers and 957 soldiers and Cossacks killed, 82 officer and 2750 soldiers wounded. Even five generals were injured: Kate, Levendal, Bakhmetyev, Arakcheev and Khrushchev.
So the failure, which could lead to a long siege of exhaustion, or even retreat, turned into a brilliant victory. All officers and soldiers received a monthly salary as a reward for Ochakov. “The Ochakov fortress,” Minikh wrote to the capital, “being strong by itself and the surroundings, having a numerous garrison, 86 copper cannons and 7 mortars, supplied with food and military supplies with excess, also having a free message from the sea, where the 18 galleys were located and considerable the number of other ships with guns, waiting for help from Bender, thirty thousand troops, and in August of the vizier himself with two hundred, could have defended three or four months longer than Azov, and, however, was taken on the third day. To God be the only glory! I consider Ochakov to be the most important place that Russia could ever conquer and which should protect with water: Ochakov stops all land communication between the Turks and the Tatars of the Crimea and Budzhak, and, moreover, keeps in check the wild Cossacks; from Ochakovo in two days you can keep up with the good wind in Constantinople, and from Azov you cannot. Therefore, the glory and interest of Her Majesty requires not to delay a single hour, so that such an important place is approved by itself. ” Field Marshal asked to send carpenters and masons to Ochakov to restore and strengthen the fortress, and in conclusion he promised: "... and next year I will go straight to the mouth of the Dniester, the Danube and further to Constantinople." True, the march on Constantinople was a long time, but for now, because of the losses suffered (including the sick, sent back during the march to Ochakov), Minich refused to even march on Bender.
To be continued ...