Storming of Lankaran
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)|
Storming of Lankaran, January 13th, 1813. Painted by Franz Roubaud.
|Russian Empire||Persian Empire|
|Commanders and leaders|
|Pyotr Kotlyarevsky (WIA)||Sadiq Khan †|
|Casualties and losses|
* 609 wounded
* 41 оfficers
* 909 of the lower ranks
(excluding those who drowned while fleeing and residents)
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.
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.
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 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.
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. 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.
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.
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. To protect Arkivani 100 Jaegers were left stationed, who were in greatest need of the rest.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
|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|
|Total:||6||57||131||37||1 530||Altogether: 1759|
On December 27, Kotlyarevsky sent Sadiq Khan a letter with a proposal to surrender Lankaran:
The same day, Sadiq Khan responded:
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
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.
|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
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.
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.
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.
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- Ровзет-уль Сафа, Очаровательный сад, Кавказ, 1866 г, № 21
- Военная энциклопедия