Russian commander Pyotr Alexandrovich Rumyantsev
250 years ago, on June 17, 1770, the Russian army under the command of Rumyantsev defeated the superior Turkish-Tatar forces at Ryaba Mogila.
The Russo-Turkish war of 1768-1774 was caused by the desire of the Port to maintain its position in the Northern Black Sea region. Constantinople sought to prevent the Russians from gaining a foothold in the Black Sea and push them back into the interior of the continent. Turkey was urged on by France. Paris supported the Polish confederates who fought against their king Stanislav Poniatowski and Russia. The reason for the war was the border incident in the town of Balta.
Turkey started the war, counting on the support of France, the friendly neutrality of Austria and the alliance with the Polish confederates. The Ottomans hoped to seize Kiev together with the Poles, restoring the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth within the boundaries of the 17th century. The second Turkish army, supported by the fleet, was to capture Azov and Taganrog. The Crimean horde acted in alliance with the Turks. Russian troops were led by Golitsyn and Rumyantsev. The remainder of 1768 was spent in the military preparations of the two powers.
Campaign of 1769
During the campaign of 1769, Rumyantsev at the beginning of the year repulsed the invasion of the Turkish-Tatar troops into Ukraine, strengthened the garrisons of Azov and Taganrog. Moldavia rebelled against the Ottomans and asked for Russian citizenship. However, Golitsyn’s army, instead of going to Yassy, in April got bogged down in the siege of Khotin and so could not take the fortress. Then the prince, due to a lack of food, withdrew to Podolia, at which time the Turks suppressed the uprising in Bessarabia. The Grand Vizier acted sluggishly, like Golitsyn. At first I wanted to join forces with the Poles, but they did not want a huge horde of such allies to appear in Poland. Then the vizier began to move towards Novorossiya, against Rumyantsev. However, under the influence of rumors that Rumyantsev successfully spread, the vizier overestimated the strength of the Russian army and did not dare to cross the Dniester, returned to the Prut. The main forces of the Turkish army were stationed in the Ryaboy Mogila area. The vizier sent seraskir Moldavanchi-Pasha to Khotin.
Catherine II was outraged by Golitsyn’s passivity and demanded to take Khotin. At the end of June, Golitsyn’s army again reached Khotin. Golitsyn’s troops took and defeated the Turkish-Tatar forces in several skirmishes. However, when large formations of the enemy appeared under the command of the seraskir Moldavanchi Pasha and the Crimean Khan Devlet-Giray, Golitsyn again lifted the siege and retreated beyond the Dniester. The commander of the 1st Army believed that he had solved the main task – to distract the enemy from Novorossiya. Golitsyn adhered to the school of mobile warfare. They say that in war, the main thing is not battles, but maneuvers. Petersburg were very irritated by his actions. And the Prussian king Frederick II, when he learned about this event, burst out laughing and said:
“Here it is, a fight between curves and the blind.”
The vizier’s passivity and his theft on an especially large scale displeased Istanbul. The new commander-in-chief was appointed Moldavanchi Pasha. The new vizier received an order to launch an offensive and occupy Podolia. The offensive ended badly for the Turkish army. At the end of August, 80 thousand army of Moldavanchi Ali Pasha crossed the Dniester, but Golitsyn’s troops threw the enemy into the river. In early September, the Turkish corps crossed the Dniester to collect food and fodder and was completely destroyed. Military setbacks, the threat of hunger and disease completely demoralized the Turkish army, which was mainly composed of irregular militias and Tatar cavalry. Almost all the troops deserted. The vizier himself was nearly killed. The 100,000-strong Turkish army dispersed without a fight. There remained only a strong garrison in Bendery and troops in the Danube fortresses, as well as the Crimean Tatar horde in Kaushany.
Golitsyn did not use the extremely favorable situation to end the military campaign in favor of Russia. It was only in September that he occupied Khotin, abandoned by the Turks, without a fight. Then again, for the third time, he led the army across the Dniester. Catherine’s patience ran out, she recalled the prince from the army. The 1st army was led by Rumyantsev, the 2nd army he handed over to Panin. Rumyantsev arrived in the army at the end of October. He moved the 17-thousandth Moldavian corps of General Shtofeln (mainly cavalry) beyond the Dniester and Prut. Shtofeln acted energetically and decisively. In November, he occupied Moldavia and most of Wallachia. Russian troops occupied Falchi, Galati and Bucharest. At this time, Rumyantsev put the army in order.
Campaign of 1770
In winter, fighting continued. The Turkish-Tatar troops, taking advantage of the small number and dispersal of the forces of the Moldavian corps, tried to launch a counteroffensive. In December 1769, 10 thousand. Suleiman-Agha’s corps launched an offensive from Ruschuk to Bucharest, and about 3 thousand Seraskir Abda Pasha marched from Brailov to Fokshany. Suleiman Pasha besieged a small detachment of Lieutenant Colonel Karazin in the Komanu monastery. But he could not take it due to the lack of siege artillery. A small detachment of jaegers of Major Anrep (350 jaegers, 30 Cossacks and arnauts, 2 guns) came to the aid of Karazin. The Ottomans surrounded and defeated Anrep’s detachment. However, the Ottomans themselves lost up to 2 thousand people in a fierce battle.
After the battle at Koman, Suleiman-Aga decided to go to Fokshany in order to join up with the detachment of Abdy Pasha. The Ottomans planned to defeat our troops in Focsani, to cut off Bucharest from Yassy. However, Shtofeln successfully defeated the enemy. On January 3, 1770, Abdy Pasha’s detachment crossed the Rymna River and started a battle with the Russian posts near Fokshan. The enemy was attacked with three hussar regiments by Major General Podgorichani (a total of about 600 fighters). Abdy Pasha’s troops on Rymna were defeated and fled. The Ottomans lost up to 100 people. Then the Turks brought up new forces, regrouped and again went on the offensive. The Ottomans pushed our troops back, but the hussars again counterattacked and overthrew the enemy.
On January 4, 8 thousand men arrived at Focsani. detachment of Suleiman Pasha (2 thousand infantry and 6 thousand cavalry). The Russian garrison in Fokshany consisted of 1.5 thousand infantry of Major General Potemkin, 600 hussars of the Count of Podgorichani and about 300 volunteers and Cossacks. In the morning the Ottomans went on the offensive again. Due to the overwhelming superiority of the enemy cavalry, the Russian commanders this time decided not to get involved in a cavalry battle and put the infantry in the first line. The soldiers were built in three squares, the flanks and rear were covered by hussars, Cossacks and arnouts. The Turks, on the contrary, put cavalry in the first line, and in the infantry – in the second. The Ottomans struck with all their cavalry, mixed the hussars, but the infantry held out and threw back the enemy. Then our troops attacked 2 thousand Janissaries, and the Turkish cavalry went into the rear. Despite the difficult situation, the Russian squares withstood the blow. Then the Turks attacked for the third time. The Janissaries were able to break through in the middle square, but in the course of fierce hand-to-hand combat they were knocked out. After that, the Turkish corps was demoralized, the Russians launched a counterattack and drove the enemy over the river. Milka. Our light troops pursued the enemy all day and captured the wagon train.
On January 14, the detachment of Major General Zamyatin repelled the enemy’s attack on Bucharest. Then Shtofeln’s troops took Brailov (except for the citadel itself) and burned the city, since they could not hold it. In early February, the brave general defeated the enemy at Zhurzhi. Unfortunately, in the spring, a decisive and skillful commander fell victim to an epidemic. Stofeln’s operations again demoralized the enemy.
However, Porta decided to continue the war. The sultan showed great energy, not sparing the treasury, formed a new army. Khan Devlet-Girey, who was not active and began to lean towards peace with the Russians, was replaced by Kaplan-Girey, who was ordered to go to Yassy. As a result, the Turks had to strike from the west to Bucharest and Focsani, and the Crimean Tatars from the east to Iasi. The Turkish command planned to return the Danube principalities and defeat the Moldavian corps before the approach of the main forces of Rumyantsev.
The Russian commander-in-chief was preparing for an offensive in order to defeat the main forces of the enemy, preventing the Turks from crossing the Danube. Meanwhile, the 2nd Army was supposed to take Bendery and defend Little Russia. In addition, the Russian fleet under the command of Orlov was to create a threat to Constantinople in the Mediterranean. The news of the preparation of the enemy offensive forced Rumyantsev not to wait for reinforcements and to act ahead of schedule. Shtofelnu, in the conditions of a small number of his forces, was ordered to cleanse Wallachia and confine himself to the defense of the eastern part of Moldova.
Plan of the battle of Focsani on January 4, 1770. Source: A. N. Petrov. The influence of the Turkish wars since the middle of the last century on the development of Russian military art
Battle of the Pockmarked Grave
In May 1770, Rumyantsev’s troops concentrated at Khotin. Under his command there were 32 thousand soldiers (not counting several thousand non-combatants and sick). A total of 10 infantry and 4 cavalry brigades, brought together in three divisions under the command of Olitsa, Plemyannikov and Bruce. Plague was raging in Moldova, so Rumyantsev first wanted to stay in Northern Bessarabia. However, the plague mowed down most of the Moldavian corps and Shtofeln himself. The remnants of the corps were headed by Prince Repnin, who took up positions at the Ryaba Mogila. Since May 20, Repnin’s corps repulsed the attacks of the superior forces of the Crimean Tatar horde of Kaplan-Girey and the Ottomans (over 70 thousand people).
The critical situation of the Russian avant-garde forced Rumyantsev to start a campaign. On June 10, General Baur’s vanguard (5 grenadier, 1 jaeger and 3 musketeer battalions, 12 cavalry squadrons and 14 field guns) repulsed the enemy attack, which underestimated the Russian forces. The Turks believed that Rumyantsev was afraid of the infection and would not act so early. Baur’s troops entered into contact with Repnin’s detachment. On June 15, the enemy cavalry attacked the corps of Repnin and Baur, but was repulsed. On the night of June 16, the main forces of Rumyantsev, detained by bad roads, approached. Baur informed the commander-in-chief that the enemy had a strong position from the front. There were steep heights and a swampy stream. Also, the Turks managed to dig in and put out 44 guns. The left flank also adjoined steep slopes, below was the swampy Prut valley. Only the right flank was open to attack.
Despite the superior forces of the enemy and his strong position, the Russian commander launched an attack on 17 June. Baur’s corps was supposed to attack head-on, the main forces of Rumyantsev supported Baur and advanced on the enemy’s right flank. Repnin’s corps received the task to go to the rear of the Ottomans along the right flank, cutting off their escape routes. Finding that the Russians were striking the main blow on the right flank, the Turkish-Tatar troops mixed. The camp was removed; the infantry, artillery and carts were sent back. And the numerous cavalry was supposed to attack Repnin’s corps, covering the retreat. Prince Repnin threw the hussars into the attack. The enemy cavalry could not withstand the blow and fled. Only a small detachment of the khan’s guard with the khan’s son sat down in a ravine and tried to stop the movement of the Russian cavalry. However, the enemy was easily crushed. Noticing the enemy’s flight on the right flank, Rumyantsev sent all the heavy cavalry under the command of Count Saltykov to Repnin. The cavalry began to pursue the enemy. Meanwhile, Baur with the grenadiers occupied the enemy trenches.
As a result, the heavily fortified Turkish-Tatar camp at Ryaba Mogila was taken by a wide roundabout movement. The enemy fled to Bessarabia. Our troops lost only 46 people, the enemy – up to 400 people killed. The Crimean Khan took a strong position on the Larga River and waited for the arrival of the main forces of the Turkish army, which crossed the Danube, and 15 thousand. equestrian corps of Abaza Pasha, which went from Brailov. Rumyantsev continued the offensive.