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The Storming of Lankaran (Persian: یورش به لنکران‎ — Yuresh be Lankaran; Russian: Штурм Ленкорани) took place on 1 January 1813 as part of the Russo-Persian War (1804-1813). It was noted for its bitterness and cruelty.

Storming of Lankaran
Part of the Russo-Persian War (1804–13)
Russian troops storming Lankaran fortress, January 13th, 1813..jpg
Storming of Lankaran, January 13th, 1813. Painted by Franz Roubaud.
Date13 January [O.S. 1 January] 1813
Location
Result Russian victory
Belligerents
Russia Russian Empire Flag of Agha Mohammad Khan.svg Persian Empire
Commanders and leaders
Russia Pyotr Kotlyarevsky (WIA) Flag of Agha Mohammad Khan.svg Sadiq Khan 
Strength
  • 1761
  • of which:
    * 6 staff officers
    * 57 senior officers
    * 131 non-commissioned officers
    * 37 musicians
    * 1530 privates
  • 4000
  • Casualties and losses
  • 341 killed,
    * 609 wounded
  • amongst which
    * 41 оfficers
    * 909 of the lower ranks
  • 3737 killed
    (excluding those who drowned while fleeing and residents)
    2 banners,
    8 British guns
  • After a siege of five days, which included the shelling of the place, the Russians managed to storm the citadel, despite a Persian numerical superiority. Though suffering heavy losses in the siege during which most of the officers and non-commissioned officers were killed, the Russians, by taking the Persian fortress, had thereby taken Lankaran.

    After having taken the fortress, all survivors were murdered by the Russians and none were taken captive. General Kotlyarevsky himself became heavily injured during the siege after which he couldn't participate anymore, while Sadiq Khan, the Persian commander, was killed during the storming of the fortress. Of the besieging Russian 17th Jaeger regiment consisting of 296 people only 74 of them survived the battle.[1]

    Contents

    Lankaran's citadelEdit

    In the course of the ongoing Russo-Persian War (1804-1813), the British managed to build a strong fortress in Lankaran.

     
    The plan of Lankaran and the siege of its fortress

    According to eyewitnesses "she made a strong impression by high stone walls and rows of sharp teeth". Furthermore, the citadel was surrounded by deep trenches. It had a shape of an irregular quadrilateral (80 fathoms width), with the left bank of the river Lankaranki, which is situated not far from the Caspian Sea, in the marshes nearby the citadel. Most of the southwest side stretched up for up to 130 meters long. The length of the northeast side, built in the shape of an irregular polygon, stretched up to 80 meters. The south-east side (along the river and towards the Caspian Sea) and from the northwest (from the front to the villages of Gamushevani were 100 meters long each. Besides that, on each corner were bastions located. The most imposing of them were the ones from the northeastern side. The ditch in front of the citadel was 4 meters deep and 10 meters in width.[1]

    BackgroundEdit

    After several years of stale combat in various regions of Transcaucasia, with neither parties making significant territorial gains, the Russians had gained the upper hand and by now had reached territories close to Persia's heartlands. On December 18, 1812 the marching military detachment of general Kotlyarevsky had crossed the Aras river and had passed the 80 miles[2] straight without water and roads through the Mughan plains through salt flats and swamps. After crossing swamps and marshes, the soldiers were then transferred to a weather of terrible snow and blizzard. By that time, his army had undergone a heavy need for resupplies especially drinking water and food.[3]

    On December 20, Russian detachment came across Shahsevan which were made often to flee and partly captured. The Russians confiscated their cattle.[2]

    By December 21, Kotlyarevsky's squad had reached the Talysh Khanate where they encountered 500 Persian horsemen, commanded by Abusalema. The horsemen and Abusalema evaded combat and retreated to Arkivan.[1] Subsequently, the Russian avant-garde met the cavalry sardar Pir-Quli-Khan and a detachment of 1000 Persian soldiers. After a brief exchange of fire, the retreating Persians were pursued by Cossacks.[2]

    On December 22, Kotlyarevsky left Karayazı to cover the rear of the rear guard under the command of Major Dyachkova and the 200 infantrymen, 170 Cossacks, several horses from Karabakh, and one field gun, and went to Arkivan. With the rearguard also remained the freed Karabakh families and the Shahsevan prisoners taken captive several days earlier.[2]

    The garrison of Arkivan (holding 1500 Persian soldiers and 400 Russian deserters who had joined the Persian ranks) under the command of Bala Khan and Asghar Khan left the town's its fortress, leaving behind two field guns, with all the artillery reserve provisions and forage. For the pursuit of the Persians, Kotlyarevsky sent 400 Jaegers and 300 Cossacks under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Ushakov, who subsequently followed the Persians for 15 miles.

    In the course of the pursuit, 50 of the 400 Russian deserters surrendered and up to 300 Persians were killed. The Russians subsequently seized more than 600 horses and a considerable baggage. The damage to the pursuing party amounted up to 1 dead and 5 wounded.[2] To protect Arkivani 100 Jaegers were left stationed, who were in greatest need of the rest.[4]

    Mir Mustafa Khan, having learned about the movement of the Russian troops after the defeat of the Persian army at Aslanduz, quickly went to Gamushevan, in which in advance he rebuilt warm barracks, stables and barn for the horses and cattle, and filled it with all the other necessary provisions.

    Having entered area administered by the Khan of the Talysh Khanate, Kotlyarevsky announced to its residents:

    Talysh people. The troops of the great and all-powerful, the troops of the Emperor of Russia, has come here to free you from the hands of the Persians - your destroyers. Stay in your houses and be sure that your property is inviolable. The Persians and the robbers will not: they will rob you. I demand from you, everyone who's able to carry a gun, turn it against your oppressors, the Persians, who will be punished soon by the troops of my gracious Emperor, and I demand that you finish off the remnants of fanatics when they cross the road to escape when they will be reached by our victorious arms. I will promise pardon and forgiveness for you that will deceit and for those who are involved to make the Persians surrender voluntarily. Those persons should come to me or to your rightful Khan, without fear of getting punished, because the Russian word is not the word of a Persian. Russian does not know deceit and has no need of deceit.[3]

    This statement by Kotlyarevsky influenced a part of the Talysh, who subsequently began to cut the forest where the Persian fugitives were reportedly hiding.

    The taking of LankaranEdit

    SiegeEdit

    Orders of Sadiq Khan for the garrison:
    I order all commanders and soldiers to be in their positions to help repel the evil enemy, who's intending to seize the fotress by storming, ignoring all dangers, without sparing our lifes. Those who love their homeland profoundly, we need to fiercely and stubbornly resist and fight to the death, trying by all means to keep the castle in our hands and show these thieves that we will be able to sacrifice ourselves for the salvation of our homeland. Attention, all of those of you who are ready to resist, because the enemy will climb and crawl to us like a rabid wolf. Let all take up arms, those who know how to wield it. In short, bravely defending to death rathen than surrendering to the infidels who won't have mercy for anyone and will not leave anyone alive, even children and women; and therefore, better to die a glorious death, fighting courageously and bravely for the motherland, rather than to be torn to pieces by fierce polar bears.
    — From the office of Mir Mustafa Khan Talyshi[5]
    Orders by Kotlyarevsky on the detachment on December 30, 1812:
    Having exhausted all means and funds to force the enemy to surrender the fortress, which has proved to be staunch, no longer remains no way to with this with our Russian arms as soon as the power of storming is implemented.

    Hesitating to proceed with this last resort, I will give awareness to the troops, and I consider it necessary to anticipate that all the officers and soldiers that retreat will not. We must either take the fortress, or everyone will die, we are sent here for that.
    I offered surrender twice to the enemy on the fortress, but he persists. So tell him, brave soldiers, that no one can resist the Russian bayonet. It took us Russians against such enemies as the Persians, but if we persevere and push ourselves till the very end, we will prevail.

    It requires all:
    first - obedience;
    second - remember, the sooner we are going to storm and climb the ladder, the less damage; experienced soldiers know it, but the inexperienced only believe it.;
    Third - do not rush to the enemy under the fear of death, it is absolutely not going to end the assault, for before it will result in the needless death of soldiers.
    [6]

    Sadiq Khan was garrisoned in Lankaran's fortress with an army comprising 4000 men. Abbas Mirza, the Persian crown prince and commander-in-chief of the empire's army sent him a mandate:

    I look forward and hope for your honesty and deep patriotism, as I'm quite certain that you will not change your allegiance, as well as having laid my trust on you that you will defend the fortress to death without departing like a coward before the enemy, even if all the mountains turns behind the enemy forces and will rebel fiercely against you and your brave soldiers, you will know that the fortress was protected and by that the key to the heart of Persia. So may great God help you in the implementation of our hope.[5]

    This letter was read to all the officers and soldiers inside the Persian garrison. The garrison shouted unanimously in agreeance of the crown prince's words:

    I swear to God and the holy name of the Prophet, that we will rather die, but not surrender to the enemy, and we will fight till death.[5]

    Sadiq Khan also urged all residents to take up arms and take all necessary measures in order to protect the fortress. For approachments from the north and west squadrons were installed. Fearing a Russian surprise attack, Sadiq Khan ordered supervision of the young officers and soldiers, besides himself closely following the movements of the enemy.

    The size of the beieging squad[3]
    Name of division Field officer Chief officer Non-commissioned officer Musicians Privates Total:
    14th Georgian Grenadier Regiment 3 25 54 23 834 937
    97th Livonia Infantry Regiment 6 18 3 141 168
    17th Jaeger Regiment 1 10 23 9 248 291
    Caspian Marine battalion and Navy 2 12 33 2 264 313
    Аrtillery 4 3 43 50
    Total: 6 57 131 37 1 530 Altogether: 1759

    On December 27, Kotlyarevsky sent Sadiq Khan a letter with a proposal to surrender Lankaran:

    By the will of my commander in chief, I have come to release the ownership over the Talysh regions from the hands of the Persians and therefore must take Lankaran. Knowing you are a valiant and prudent leader, I consider it necessary to warn that your resistance will be in vain. Even though you may be a great military leader, but you are no better than Abbas Mirza, who lost at Aslanduz and with that ten thousand soldiers, 500 men as prisoners, all the banners, weapons of which the troops don't have to their disposal right now. As it was at Aslanduz, where here barely escaped along with the 20th horsemen regiment and fled to Tabriz, while he had thirty thousand men at his disposal, and we had just two thousand men. Warriors of the great almighty in the world the Russian emperor crashed Abbas Mirza to pieces, and now they are located here, at the Talysh Khanate. So, when Abbas Mirza could not resist our victorious weapons, despite the fact that his troops outnumbered ours by fifteen times, you reflect that you won't be able either to inflict us a mortal blow here; so I suggest that you agree to voluntarily surrender the fortress to avoid harmful and unnecessary bloodshed, sparing both Abbas Mirza's as well as my warriors. Consider of what you will reach by following sanity, namely saving lives, dignity, and both your property and all affiliated parties' properties in this conflict; otherwise, you will lose everything, if you won't attend the voice of common sense. But it is my duty to tell you, as you will be the one to choose; only I shall be justified in front of God and humanity. I'm ordered not to bombard yet by this letter until I receive response and receipt within three hours.

    In anticipation of peace and good answer I remain.

    — P. С. Kotlyarevsky, 27 December 1812, Lankaran[3]

    The same day, Sadiq Khan responded:

    General Kotlyarevsky.

    Having received your peace offer, I consider it my duty to express you some caustic and bitter words that might generate for you the most unpleasant experience by this honesty, as I'm rejecting your proposal.

    You write: „I came to liberate the Talysh Khanate from the hands of the Persians“, allow me, general, not to believe your lying words, for you, I will say frankly and directly, as you came here to enslave and oppress the Talysh people. While Mir Mustafa Khan is alive, your government will have to protect the Khan his rights, by treating him personally and with due care; but once he will die his heirs will lose its independence and autonomy, turning in speechless and unfortunate slaves, the fault of the mad and visionary would degenerate Mir Mustafa Khan, the same who pursue only their personal goals in order to meet their lust for power, being a heartless and hardened egoist, as they're not thinking about the sad and desolate future of their offspring, who will betray him to anathema, because they will invite you here and handing the fate of their homeland to unfaithful strangers — rapists turning his people into meaningless plebeians. The groans and screams of the dead people involved in this network of selfish schemer — Mir Mustafa Khan will form an eternal curse upon it, as long as the Talysh Mountains stand firm, the bitter mourning the unfortunate fate of the Talysh people.

    You did not come to liberate the Talysh Khanate „from the hands of the Persians“, you came to expand your territory at the expense of someone else's land. Do you live close to this greatest state in the world that you are now looking for space and territory? Distinguished by your insatiable greed emperors set out to subjugate the power of all the weak kingdoms, especially Muslim ones, taking advantage of their lack of preparedness for war. These foreign people, living at a distance of two thousand miles from you, is it not better to save and relieve the peasants under the oppression and the shackles of your own landlord?

    You are asking me to „voluntarily surrender the fortress; otherwise you will be corrected in front of God and humanity“. What a beautiful and humane sentence? Do you believe in God? I doubt that you believe in Him and that love humanity, if you would, then you wouldn't lead his unfortunate soldiers right here to a senseless slaughter, and to certain death, and you would have spared them, their wives and children, and made them to live quietly at home instead of having led them such a distance because of the pernicious whims of your king.

    You write: „in order to avoid unnecessary bloodshed“. Who is the cause of this bloodshed? We or you? Leaving you country, in spite of its enormous magnitude, you are robbers that broke into our territory, plundering and killing us mercilessly. We have never thought of doing such things to you, but you have invaded our land, astonishing us with this murderous diabolical countenance, making us stubbornly resist, not for us to lose our independence and autonomy, trying to keep our golden will and freedom in our hands. We are not internally at war, and we will defend ourselves from you, the same way wild beasts defend themselves against attackers, and I will say to you strictly, that we are all to lay down with our bones, as its unanimous that we will rather die than surrendering our fotress to you voluntarily. You point Aslanduz to me out, where your „two-thousand large detachment“ supposedly defeated our „thirty-thousand large army“. Shame on you, General, to lie, you should speak the truth, without hiding the real facts of how it ended there, and you shouldn't brag about that particular victory of you over us, which was thanks to the despicable betrayal of our troops. If you forgot about this outrageous event, I shall remind you, fueling anger and hostility towards Abbas Mirza for his strict handling his soldiers wanted to take revenge on him, by raising the white flag amongst 10,500 soldiers, and voluntarily gave themselves up, laid down their weapons and hoped to receive salvation from you; but instead, you disarmed them, without conscience and compassion, and watched how your soldiers killed then thousand of them, leaving alive only 500 people as a trophy of victory. Shame and disgrace. It is a worthy lesson as traitors are oath breakers, but at the same time a good warning for the rest of the treacherous soldiers, lest they be deceived and deceived by your cunning and false promises. And after these vile barbaric executions committed by you on innocent people who voluntarily handed down themselves to you, you dare to speak of love for man. I feel sorry for your brave soldiers serving as blind tools to achieve your robbers goals: but your boss will only reward you as the commander, with decorations, medals and even large sums of money for the heroic and courageous deed of your brave soldiers, whom it will bypass.

    Another example of a great humanitarian action was performed by squad chief Lieutenant Colonel Ushakov, which received from you praiseworthy and commendable words: not entering you in battle because of my injured soldiers, I left for Arkevan and Lankaran through a woody road, wanting to save them from captivity and followed the convoy which was accompanied by unarmed injured soldiers and Russian refugees, totalling 350 people, of whom 260 were injured soldiers, 40 caretakers of the horses, and 50 Russian fugitive soldiers. Having reached all of them on the road, the battalion led by Ushakov captured only the Russian fugitives, while the other 300 peoples were brutally executed, leaving no single one of them alive, as they were Muslims, despite the fact that all of them were basically walking dead, being injured and unarmed. Is this meant to the people you say you love? Where is your God — Jesus, saying "Love your neighbor as you love yourself, and the raised sword will perish by the sword." Where does it say that we should kill prisoners, and even the sick and injured? Of this atrocity, ferocity, and brutality, are only our soldiers capable of. Based on your Gospel's saying "the raised sword will perish by the sword". — I confidently predict, and foretell that is there is something good for Persia, when your soldiers, will rebel against their rulers themselves and will kill all the generals together with their evil kill for all that they have done to their neighbouring countries, and that there will remain no trace of them.

    If our former subordinate to the Khans would have had the insight, sense of solidarity and would have followed its own interests less, then we would have joined together, had been able to prove the case, but now they will be disappointed and after the repent of their thoughtless mistakes, it has been already too late.

    In order to avoid bloodshed“, I advise you to spare your soldiers not force us to fight, and go back to where you bad and evil strangers were and leave us alone: we will resolutely and fiercely defend this place and fight you to death for the land of our ancestors and for the welfare of our future generations. Have pity on people and cease to destroy them: we did not give life to anyone nor do we have the right to take it away from others: but because you shall not send your soldiers to a certain death, since we are not to surrender the fortress without a fierce and bitter resistance.

    — The Commander of the fortress - Sadiq Khan, December 27, 1812, city of Lankaran[5]

    Having read the above letter, Kotlyarevsky subsequently ordered to bombard the fortress. For a more effective attack, the nearby combat artillery ship to shore was to use its mortars as well. December 28 — December 29; the Russian battery constantly bombarded the fotress, however, without much success as the small shells of the field guns could not penetrate the strong walls layered with adobe and the men on the fortress manning the cannons on the garrison took refuge in their hideouts and attached a sloping to the inner side of the parapet. Seeing the futility of the shelling, Kotlyarevsky sent to Lankaran a secondary letter urging the Khans and officials of the garrison to spare themselves, their wives, their children and their property and without shedding of blood, to hand over the fotress. Kotlyarevsky also wrote that:

    I and all the troops under my command will not retreat from the fortress without having conquered her with the arms of the great Russian emperor. Starting from me till the last man, either we all die, or we take the fortress. I am waiting for an answer within three hours[3]

    Sadiq Khan did not consider it necessary to reply to this letter.

    Meanwhile, the position of the Russian detachment was becoming became critical. The artillery shells had been emptied, and the peoples suffered from the cold. In addition, news got received that Abbas Mirza, commander of all the Persian armies, was heading on its way to rescue Lankaran. Kotlyarevsky decided to waste no time and to take the fortress by storming it.

    StormingEdit

    Disposition of the besieging squad before the assault[6]
    Columns Commanders Units Task
    1st Column Colonel Ushakov Georgian 14th Grenadier regiment (350 people) Storming facing the Gamushevani bastion and adjacent of the southwestern bastion. Capturing the gate to allow the reserves to come
    2nd Column Major Povalishin Trinity infantry regiment The assault on the corner of the north-eastern bastion and the northwestern filling
    3rd Column Major Tereshkevich 17th Jaeger regiment (313 people).
    37 people from Georgian 14th Grenadier regiment]
    Storming the bastion in the northeast corner of the river and securing the filling.
    1st regiment of distracters Half a squadron of the Grenadier regiment Faking an attack on the south-eastern facade near the bastion near the river (if possible, taking the bastions battery)
    2nd regiment of distracters Half a squadron of the Grenier regiment Faking an attack on the north-western facade near the bastion near the river (assisting the assault regiment of the 1st column)

    At the mentioned dispositions: - do not listen to rebound, there will not be one…

    The storming of Lankaran by the Russians began long before dawn, at 5 in the morning. The above-mentioned columns moved in the deepest silence, but the Persians were alerted and opened heavy fire from all guns and rifles. However, columns crossed the ditch quickly and soldiers, after putting up a ladder, climbed up on the wall towards the exposed peaks and started throwing grenades down. In the first series of losses, almost all officers were killed or wounded. The 1st column saw the death of Lieutenant Colonel Ushakov, as he hesitated for a time. Kotlyarevsky afterwards, despite having gained a leg injury, stood over the body of Ushakov and while holding his hand, ordered: Here to me! — And personally threw himself into the assault, but he soon received two bullet wounds in the head and rolled into the ditch. The Russian soldiers, deprived of their commanders, still continued the attack. Azerbaijani educator and teacher Teymur Bey Bajram Alibayov described these events as followed:

    The soldiers climbed the wall, as if they were oblivious to the dangers threatening them, as they grabbed hold of the enemy's gun muzzle or were killed by gunfire at close range or they were dragged by the enemy on the walls and then were killed there in an unequal battle[5]

    Meanwhile, the columns storming the fortress were significantly thinned out, as the walls were continuously replinished with new defenders. A company of grenadiers managed to climb the wall and grabbed a weapon which they immediately turned and fired buckshot at the enemy inside. This facilitated the attack of the other two columns, which also managed to climb the wall and to the sides, overturning the enemy. Subsequently as a significant number of Russians managed to get inside the fortress, a brutal melee happened between the attackers and the defenders. The Persian historian Rovzet-ul Safa described these events:

    The storming of Lankaran was so tensed and hot that the muscles of the arms and fingers were deprived from any moment and opportunity of ease through the six hours long handlings of slashing and lowering swords, and the continuous trigger-cocking of the firearms.[7]

    Тeymur bey wrote:

    The bittered Russians reached the highest degree of bitterness and revenge - every living human being on the way encountered melee combat, as they were killed by the bayonets and swords of the soldiers, including even infants, pregnant women, old men and women.[5]

    The remaining defenders of the citadel tried to find refuge in the river, but they were met by Russian grapeshot by two cannons mounted on the right side under the cover of 80 riflemen. Going back, the fugitives were met with bayonets of the besieging soldiers.

    The Persian garrison was completely cut off. No prisoners were taken. Sadiq, the commander of the fotress and about ten noble khans were also killed.

    Kotlyarevsky was found under the dead bodies. Fluid leaked out of his right eye, he had a fractured jaw, and a bullet in his upper leg, but remained alive.[8]

    Coordinates: 53°39.15′N 38°39.21′E / 53.65250°N 38.65350°E / 53.65250; 38.65350

    See alsoEdit

    ReferencesEdit

    1. ^ a b c Аносов Н. С. (1902). Утверждение Русского владычества на Кавказе // в 4 томах. 2. Тифлис: Тип. Я. И. Либермана. ред. В. А. Потто. pp. 479–492.
    2. ^ a b c d e в 12 томах. 5. Тифлис: Тип. Гл. Упр. Наместника Кавказского. ред. А. П. Берже. 1873. pp. 697–698, № 851.
    3. ^ a b c d e Соллогуб В. А. (1955). Биография генерала Котляревского (2-е изд ed.). СПб. ред. В. Бекетова. p. 234.
    4. ^ Шабанов Д. Ф. (1871). "Часть 1. От сформирования полка до его прибытия на Манглис. 1642—1825". История 13-го Лейб-гренадерского Эриванского Его Величества полка // в 3 частях. Тифлис: Тип. окружного штаба кавказского военного округа. pp. 125–133.
    5. ^ a b c d e f Байрам-Алибеков Т. (1885). "История талышского ханства". Ленкорань: Институт Рукописей НАН Азербайджана. Archived from the original on 2009-05-07.
    6. ^ a b Потто В. А. (1887). "За Кавказом. Глава 21. Котляревский". Кавказская война в отдельных очерках, эпизодах, легендах и биографиях // в 5 томах. 1 — От древнейших времен до Ермолова. Вып. 3 (2-е изд ed.). СПб.: Тип. Е. Евдокимова. pp. 479–482.
    7. ^ Ровзет-уль Сафа, Очаровательный сад, Кавказ, 1866 г, № 21
    8. ^ Военная энциклопедия