Conflicts to the South


During the Russo-Persian War of 1803-1813, the Caspian Sea flotilla provided crucial support and assistance to Russian ground forces. In 1805 troops in the Caucasus, under General Prince Pavel Tsitsianov, were ordered to land at Enzeli and capture the town of Resht in order to distract the enemy from Russia's primary objectives. At the port of Astrakhan a flotilla and landing force, under Lieutenant-Commander Yegor Veselago, armed seven vessels and sailed for Enzeli along the southern coast of the Crimea. Veselago's squadron appeared near Enzeli on 22 June. He bombarded the town, sent galleys into the strait and, shortly afterwards, not only seized Enzeli but also nearby Pirebazar. Veselago's detachment was, however, not sufficient to take Resht.

The landing force was then transported to the siege of Baku, which began on 15 August. However, like Resht, the town proved too well fortified to be taken. In a year the attempt was repeated, this time successfully, and Baku surrendered.

In December 1812 Veselago, now the Commander of the flotilla, brought the 16-gun corvette Ariadne, the bombardment ship Grom and two smaller craft to support the forces of General Pyotr Kotlyarevsky in storming the fortress of Lenkoran. On New Year's Day of 1813, after bombarding the fortress from both sea and land, Kotlyarevsky sent his soldiers into battle. Among the 1,760 Russians storming Lenkoran was a special marine battalion of Veselago's seamen. The battle was bloody, and, although the fortress was captured, the price of victory was high: 950 were killed and wounded. The Persians defended the garrison to the last man and all 3,737 defenders of the fortress perished. General Kotlyarevsky was himself badly wounded and, following the assault, Veselago took command of the troops and Lenkoran Fortress. The Persians hastened to negotiate a peace. According to the Gulistan Treaty of 12 October 1813, Russia was granted the western Caspian coast as far as Astara and became the only nation with the right to maintain a fleet in the Caspian Sea.

In the next war with Persia (1826-1828) the Caspian Sea Flotilla numbered 55 pennants. Its operations helped the Russian army defend Lenkoran and Baku. In 1827 the flotilla supplied the advancing forces of Ivan Paskevich. The second victorious war against Persia ended on 10 February 1828, with a treaty signed in Turkman-tchay that reaffirmed the conditions of the Gulistan Treaty and ceded the Erivan and Nakhichevan Khanates to Russia.

In 1806, at the beginning of the Russian-Turkish War, the Black Sea Fleet's military power consisted of six ships of the line and six frigates. The Turks had sixteen ships of the line and thirteen frigates in the Black Sea, but the majority of the Turkish vessels were in the Dardanelles fighting the fleet of Admiral Se-nyavin. Thus, when Admiral Ivan de Traverse ordered Rear Admiral Semyon Pustoshkin to take command of the Black Sea Fleet, optimism prevailed.

On 27 April 1807, Pustoshkin approached the walls of the Turkish fortress of Anapa with six ships of the line and five frigates and laid siege to the city. On 29 April Russia landed troops and captured the fortress. Admiral de Traverse, arriving in the brig Diana, personally witnessed the victory. Three vessels and 95 enemy guns were seized.

A month later Pustoshkin launched a new campaign, this time against Trebizond. However, the Russian forces were defeated and, after the conclusion of the Slobodzey Truce, peace lasted for nearly two years. In 1809 Admiral de Traverse became Minister of the Navy and Vice-Admiral Nikolay Yazykov assumed command of the Fleet.

In the meantime, the Turks began to pursue their military interests more vigorously. They retook the fortress of Anapa, and Russian seamen had to attack the stronghold a second time.

The campaign progressed slowly until the following year, 1810, when Yazykov twice sent out the fleet under Rear Admiral Sarychev to search for and capture enemy ships. On 17 August Gavril Sarychev encountered eight Turkish ships of the line, two frigates and a brig near Varna. The Turks immediately withdrew. Sarychev's squadron, having failed to overtake the enemy vessels, reversed its course and headed for Sevastopol. Lieutenant-Commander Dodt was, however, more successful and on 11 July took the fortress of Sukhum Kale by storm with a detachment of six vessels and a landing force of 863. During the campaign of 1811 a detachment led by Captain Alexey Bychensky seized the Turkish frigate Magubay Subkhan and corvette Shagen Girey near the fortress of Penderaklia.

The Black Sea galley fleet, reorganized as the Danube Flotilla, was constantly active from 1809 to 1811. Its seamen rendered invaluable assistance to the Russian ground forces fighting at Ismail, Tulcha, Isakchey, Silistria, Batin, Ruschuk and Zhurzha. However, the decisive victory of the war was won by the army itself led by General Mikhail Golenishchev-Kutuzov.

The ensuing Bucharest Peace Treaty was signed on 16 May 1812. According to its terms, Russia acquired the Bessarabian fortresses of Akkerman, Kilia and Ismail and was granted the right to sail freely along the Danube; Anapa, Sudzuk Kale and Poti were returned to Turkey.