This storm entered history as unprecedented. After all, according to Alexander Vasilyevich himself, Izmail’s fortress was without weak points, while the number of those who stormed turned out to be fewer defenders, which contradicted all the canons of tactics.
By the beginning of the Russian-Turkish war of 1787 – 1791, the Turks, under the leadership of German and French engineers, turned the city into a powerful impregnable fortress with high (in some places more than 10 meters) walls, walls and a wide moat filled with water to a depth of 10,7 meters. On 11 bastions, 260 guns were located. The military units of Ishmael included 35 thousand people.
The storming of the fortress on the orders of the commander-in-chief of the Southern Army, General Marshal Grigori Potemkin, was undertaken three times during this campaign. But neither Prince Nikolai Repnin, nor Field Marshal Ivan Gudovich, or Lieutenant-General Pavel Potemkin could take the fortifications. After that, the operation was commissioned to Alexander Suvorov.
Veniamin Siberian, Yevgeny Danilevsky. "Storm of Ishmael"
Arriving 2 (13) December under Ishmael, he spent six days preparing for the assault, including teaching troops on the mock-ups of high fortress walls. Suvorov inspected the teachings and was generally satisfied. But, of course, he understood the complexity of the assault and its unpredictability.
Shortly before the attack, I sent a brief and clear letter-ultimatum to the head of the fortress in a Suvorov manner: “I arrived here with the troops. Twenty-four hours to think - and will. My first shot - already bondage. Storm is death. ” The response of the great serasker was impudent: "Rather, the Danube will flow backwards and the sky will fall to the ground than Izmail surrenders."
From dawn to lunch
On December 10 (21), at sunrise, the fortress was bombarded with Russian cannons from flank batteries, from the island and from ships flotilla (about 600 guns in total). It lasted almost a day and ended 2,5 hours before the assault. And at 3 a.m. on December 11 (22), 1790, the first signal rocket soared over the Russian camp, the troops rebuilt into columns and marched to places designated in advance. Suvorov needed darkness for the suddenness of the first blow and mastery of the shaft. Anticipating stubborn resistance, he wanted to have at his disposal as much daylight hours as possible.
The attackers were divided into three groups of three columns each. The division of Major General Osip de Ribas (9 thousand people) under the cover of the guns of the rowing fleet attacked from the river side, the right wing under the command of Lieutenant-General Pavel Potemkin (7500 man) was to strike from the western part of the fortress, the left wing of Lieutenant-General Alexander Samoilov (12 thousand people) - from the east. Westphalen Brigadier's Cavalry (2500 man) was in reserve. In total, Suvorov’s army numbered 31 a thousand men, including 15 thousands of reservists.
Before others, the second column of Major-General Boris Lassi approached the fortress. His huntsman under a hail of enemy bullets overpowered the shaft, and a fierce battle ensued at the top. At the same time, at the opposite end of the fortress, the sixth column of Major-General Mikhail Golenishchev-Kutuzov captured the bastion at the Kiliya Gate and occupied the rampage up to the neighboring fortifications.
The greatest difficulties fell to the share of the third column of Major General Fedor Meknob. She stormed the great northern bastion, adjacent to it to the east and the fortifications between them. In this place, the depth of the moat and the height of the shaft were so great that the stairs in the 5,5 fathoms (near 11,7 m) were short and had to be tied together by two under fire. But the main thing - the fortification was taken.
Other columns also completed the tasks, having overcome the shaft in their areas. By 8 hours of the morning, all the bastions were occupied, but resistance continued in the streets. Encouraged by the battle columns from different sides moved to the center of the city. At about noon, the units of Boris Lassi, who first reached the ramparts, were the first to reach the middle of the city. Here they were met by a large detachment of Krymchaks under the command of Maksud Giray. They defended stubbornly, and only when most of the squad was slaughtered, Giray surrendered to the 300 survivors. To support the infantry and ensure the success, Suvorov ordered the introduction of light guns into the city of 20 in order to clear the streets of the Turks with a canister. By one o'clock the victory was won. However, the battle is not over yet.
Part of the Krymchak detachment led by Kaplan Giray, brother of the Crimean Khan, attempted to escape from the fortress. With them there were several thousand horse and foot. The maneuver was a success, and the besieged broke through in the area of the Kiliya gate on the site of Mikhail Kutuzov. But Suvorov brought a reserve into action, which quickly pushed the enemy into the coastal swamps. Standing knee-deep or even waist-deep in water and mud, the warriors fought almost with one cold weapons: it was impossible to reload the musket in the swamp. Rangers surrounded the enemy from all sides, habitually acting with bayonets that surpassed the Turkish saber in close combat. The Suvorov bogatyrs acted harshly and professionally, and soon everyone who broke through led by Kaplan Giray and his five sons were killed.
At 2 in the afternoon, the Russians occupied the city center. Part of the emaciated and wounded Turks pleaded for mercy. Ishmael fell.
Awards by rank
The losses of the enemy were huge, more than 26 thousands of people were killed alone. Nine thousand were taken into captivity; two thousand of them died of their wounds the next day. Of the entire garrison, only one man escaped. Lightly wounded, he swam across the Danube on a log. 265 guns were captured, up to three thousand pounds of gunpowder, 20 thousands of nuclei and many other military supplies, up to 400 flags, eight two-masted ships, 12 ferries, 22 light ships and a lot of rich booty, totaling up to 10 million piastres ). The Russians killed 64 officers (1 brigadier, 17 staff officers, 46 senior officers) and 1816 privates, injured 253 officers (three of them are major generals) and 2450 of the lowest ranks.
Suvorov took measures to ensure order in the captured fortress. Kutuzov, appointed commandant of Ishmael, in the most important places, placed guards. Opened the hospital. The bodies of the killed Russian soldiers were taken out of the city and buried according to the church rite. There were so many Turkish corpses that an order was given to throw bodies into the Danube, and prisoners were assigned to this work. Ishmael was cleared of dead enemies in only six days. And the captives were sent to the city of Nikolaev under the escort of the Cossacks.
Suvorov hoped to get the rank of Field Marshal for the assault of Ishmael, but Potemkin, requesting the award to the empress, offered to award him with a medal and the rank of guard lieutenant colonel or adjutant general. The medal was awarded, and Suvorov was appointed lieutenant colonel of the Preobrazhensky regiment. There were already ten such lieutenant colonels; Suvorov became the eleventh. The commander-in-chief of the Russian army, Prince Grigory Potemkin-Tavricheskiy, arrived in St. Petersburg and received as an award field marshal's uniform embroidered in diamonds, priced at 200 thousand rubles, the Tauride Palace. In Tsarskoe Selo, it was planned to build an obelisk to the prince depicting his victories and conquests. The lower ranks were given oval silver medals. For officers who did not receive the Order of St. George or Vladimir, they installed a gold cross with a corresponding inscription on the St. George ribbon. The chiefs received orders or golden swords, and some - ranks.
The conquest of Ishmael was of great political importance. It influenced the further course of the war and the conclusion of the Yassy peace in 1792, which confirmed the annexation of the Crimea to Russia and established the border with Turkey along the Dniester River. Thus, the entire northern Black Sea coast was assigned to Russia.
Many years later, Suvorov confessed to a burst of candor: “It was possible to decide on the assault of a similar fortress only once in a lifetime ...”