Russo-Persian Wars of the 19th Century

Russo-Persian Wars of the 19th Century

 

wars between Russia and Persia for dominance in Transcaucasia.

Russo-Persian War of 1804–13. Earlier, as a result of the Persian Campaign of 1722–23, Russia had annexed a portion of Dagestan and Azerbaijan. However, as a result of worsening relations with Turkey and a lack of forces, the Russian government gave up the annexed territories in the period 1732–35 in an attempt to secure the support of Persia. At the end of the 18th century, Persia, supported by Great Britain and France, tried to seize Georgia in an invasion by Agha Muhammad Khan in 1795. Russia responded with the Persian Campaign of 1796. In 1801 the main territory of Georgia—Kartli and Kakhetia—voluntarily became part of Russia; Mingrelia (1803) and Im-ereti and Guria (1804) later followed suit. In order to strengthen its positions in Transcaucasia, the tsarist government in 1803 began a move east. In 1804 the Russian general P. D. Tsitsianov occupied the Gandzha Khanate. This led to the Russo-Persian War of 1804–13.

In May 1804, Persia presented an ultimatum to Russia demanding the withdrawal of Russian troops from Transcaucasia; military actions commenced in June. The Persian Army outnumbered the Russian forces in Transcaucasia several times over but was significantly inferior in the art of war, military training, and organization. The principal fighting took place on both sides of Lake Sevan along two axes—Yerevan and Gandzha, where the main roads to Tiflis (Tbilisi) were located. In 1804, Tsitsianov’s troops routed the main forces of Abbas-Mirza at Kanagir, near Yerevan; in 1805, Russian troops also repulsed a Persian attack. In 1805 a Russian naval expedition was launched to capture Baku and Resht, but it was not successful. In November 1805, Tsitsianov advanced on Baku, but in February 1806 he was treacherously murdered during negotiations with the khan of Baku at the walls of the Baku fortress. General I. V. Gudovich was appointed commander in chief. In the summer of 1806 the Persian troops of Abbas-Mirza were defeated at Karabakh, and Russian troops occupied Nukha, Derbent, Baku, and Kuba. Because the Russo-Turkish War of 1806–12 had started, the Russian command was forced into a temporary truce with Persia, which was concluded in the winter of 1806. However, the peace negotiations proceeded slowly, and in 1808 military actions resumed.

Russian troops occupied Echmiadzin, besieged Yerevan, and in the east routed the troops of Abbas-Mirza at Qarababa (October 1808) and occupied Nakhichevan. After the unsuccessful storming of Yerevan, Gudovich was replaced by General A. P. Tormasov, who resumed peace negotiations. However, troops under the command of Fath Ali Shah unexpectedly invaded the Gumry-Artik region. The Russian troops were able to repulse the shah’s troops and the forces of Abbas-Mirza, which were trying to capture Gandzha (Elizavetpol’, now Kirovobad). In 1810, Colonel P. S. Kotliarevskii defeated the forces of Abbas-Mirza at Megri (June) and on the Araks River (July). In September a Persian offensive was repelled in the west near Akhalkalaki, and a Persian attempt to link up with the Turks was thwarted.

In July 1811, Tormasov was replaced by General F. O. Pau-luchchi, who was himself replaced in February 1812 by General N. F. Rtishchev, who began peace negotiations. However, in August 1812, Abbas-Mirza’s forces captured Lenkoran’, and the negotiations were broken off when Tehran received news that Napoleon had occupied Moscow. Kotliarevskii crossed the Araks River with a detachment of 1,500 men and defeated a Persian army of 30,000 at Aslanduz (October 19–20). On Jan. 1, 1813, he took Lenkoran’ by storm. In October 1813 Persia was forced to conclude the Treaty of Gulistan, in which Persia recognized the annexation of Dagestan and northern Azerbaijan by Russia.

Russo-Persian War of 1826–28. At the instigation of Great Britain, which had imposed a shackling treaty in 1814, Persia systematically violated the peace conditions and demanded the return of territories lost to Russia. In October 1816, General A. P. Ermolov replaced Rtishchev as commander in chief in the Caucasus and was able to establish good relations with Persia. However, in the spring of 1826 the militant group of Abbas-Mirza gained the upper hand at the Persian court. On July 16, Persian troops, without a declaration of war, crossed the frontier in the vicinity of Gumry to Karabakh and invaded the Khanate of Talysh. Counting on a rising of the Azerbaijan population, Persia sent separate detachments against Baku, Lenkoran’, Nukha, and Kuba; the populace, however, did not support its khans, who were on the side of Persia. Persian troops were able to occupy Gandzha, or Elizavetpol’, and besiege Shu-sha, whose small garrison courageously held out until September 5. This made it possible for a Russian detachment commanded by General V. G. Madatov to rout the Persian troops on the Shamkhor River and, on September 5, to liberate Gandzha. Abbas-Mirza lifted the siege of Shusha and advanced to meet Madatov’s troops. General I. F. Paskevich was appointed commander of the army against Persia, and he joined up with Madatov’s detachment.

On September 13, at Elizavetpol’, Russian troops, numbering 8,000, routed Abbas-Mirza’s army of 35,000 and forced the remaining troops beyond the Araks River. In March 1827, Ermolov was replaced by Paskevich. In May the Russian forces began an offensive along the Yerevan axis, occupied Echmiadzin, sealed off Yerevan, and later captured Nakhichevan and the fortress of Abbasabad. Persian attempts to force the Russian troops from Yerevan ended in failure, and on October 1, Yerevan was taken by storm. Russian troops then advanced on the Nakhichevan-Tabriz line. On October 14 the forward detachment of General G. E. Eristov occupied Tabriz. Peace negotiations were begun and, as a result of the outbreak of the Russo-Turkish War of 1828–29, were extended. However, the rapid advance of Russian troops into Persia and the occupation of Urmia (now Rezaiyeh) and Ardebil in January 1828 forced the shah to accept the peace conditions. The Treaty of Turkman-chai was signed on Feb. 10, 1828. Russia received the khanates of Yerevan and Nakhichevan.

As a result of the Russo-Persian wars, Russia annexed northern Azerbaijan and eastern Armenia. The Russian victories freed the peoples of Transcaucasia from the yoke of the Persian feudal lords, and these peoples actively supported the Russian forces during the wars.

REFERENCES

Dubrovin, N. Istoriia voiny i vladychestva russkikh na Kavkaze, vols. 4–6. St. Petersburg, 1886–88.
Potto, V. Kavkazskaia voina v otedel’nykh ocherkakh, epizodakh, legendakh i biografiiakh, vol. 1 (fasc. 3–4), vol. 3 (fasc. 1–2). St. Petersburg, 1885–86.
Utverzhdenie russkogo vladychestva na Kavkaze, vols. 1, 2, and 4 (part 1). Tiflis, 1901–06.
Igamberdyev, M. Iran v mezhdunarodnykh otnosheniiakh pervoi treti XIX v. Samarkand, 1961.

A. G. KAVTARADZE

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