How the “lame general” smashed the Turks at Focsani and Rymnik

Battle of Rymnik. Engraving by H.G. Schütz. Austria. End of the 18th century

Alexander Suvorov taught his soldiers:

“Choose a hero, take an example from him, imitate him in heroism, catch up with him, overtake him – glory to you!”

He himself lived by this principle.


The trip of Catherine, the review of the troops in the Poltava field and the fleet in Sevastopol demonstrated to Europe and Turkey the power of Russia in the Northern Black Sea region. However, the Ottomans longed for revenge, sought to regain their positions on the Black Sea, and, first of all, to knock the Russians out of the Crimea. Behind Turkey were the Western powers – France, England and Prussia. Therefore, the actions of the Russian empress in Istanbul were considered a challenge.

In 1787, Constantinople presented bold demands to Petersburg: the restoration of rights to the Crimea and the Georgian kingdom. Russia rejected Turkey’s demands. Then the Ottomans seized the Russian ambassador Bulgakov and imprisoned him in the Seven-Tower Castle (traditionally it was a declaration of war). Russia’s ally in the war was Austria, which sought to expand its possessions in the Balkans at the expense of the Ottoman Empire. Potemkin was appointed commander-in-chief of the Russian army. He commanded the main forces in Novorossiya. Troops in Ukraine were commanded by Rumyantsev. The start of the war for the Allies was unfortunate. The Ottomans pressed the Austrians.

Suvorov received command of the Kinburn corps and defended the most important Kherson region at the beginning of the war. The Turkish command planned to land troops, take the Kinburn fortress, liquidate the base of the Russian fleet in Kherson and return the Crimea under its rule. To solve this problem, the Turks had an advantage at sea and troops trained by French advisers.

Alexander Vasilievich already had experience in organizing coastal defense: in 1778 he solved this problem in the Crimea. Taking command, Alexander Suvorov set about strengthening Kherson and Kinburn. He taught the troops to operate on the narrow and long Kinburn Spit.

A week after the declaration of war (August 13, 1787), the Turkish fleet appeared at Ochakov. It was a strategic Turkish fortress in the Dnieper-Bug estuary. Until the end of September, hostilities at Kinburn were limited to shelling from enemy ships and return fire from Russian batteries. The stormy winter season on the Black Sea was approaching. The supply of Turkish troops went mainly by sea. The Ottoman fleet could not spend the winter in the freezing estuary. The Turks had to either leave, postponing a decisive offensive until next year, or try to take the Russian fortress. The Ottomans decided to storm.

On the night of October 1 (12), they opened heavy fire on the spit and Kinburnu and, under his cover, landed engineering units at the very tip of the spit, 10 versts from Kinburnu. The Turks began to prepare a wooden pier to facilitate the disembarkation of troops from boats to the shore. In the afternoon, the landing began. Was landed 5 thousand. Detachment under the command of the Janissary chief Serben-Geshti-Eyyub-Agha.

The day was festive (Protection of the Virgin), and Alexander Suvorov was in the church. Having received the news of the enemy’s landing, the Russian commander said to the officers:

“Don’t bother them. Let them all come out. “

In the Kinburn fortress there were 1,500 infantry, another 2,500 infantry and cavalry were in reserve 30 miles from the battlefield. Not meeting any resistance, the Turks went to the fortress itself, hastily digging in.

The Ottomans began the battle. Coming out from behind the slingshots, they went to the attack. The Russians responded with a volley of guns and a counterattack. The first line from the Orlov and Shlisselburg regiments was headed by Major General Rek, the second – by the battalion of the Kozlov regiment, Suvorov himself. In reserve were light squadrons of Pavlograd and Mariupol regiments, Don Cossacks.

The battle was stubborn. The Turks (they were selected infantry troops, janissaries) fought fiercely, defending their trenches. Turkish ships approached the coast and supported their troops with fire.

General Rek took 10 trenches, but was wounded. Major Bulgakov was killed, other officers were wounded. The Turkish landing was constantly reinforced by reinforcements transported from the ships. Our troops yielded under enemy pressure and lost several guns.

Suvorov himself fought in the front ranks of the Shlisselburg regiment and was wounded. The Janissaries nearly killed him. Grenadier Stepan Novikov saved the commander. The Russians counterattacked again and drove the enemy out of several trenches. It was about 6 pm.

The Desna galley of Lieutenant Lombard fired at the left wing of the Turkish fleet. Also, the Turks were shelled by the fortress artillery of Captain Krupenikov, she sank two gunboats. Two large shebeks were burned at the very shore. The enemy fleet was forced to withdraw.

However, as Suvorov himself admitted, the shooting of the Turkish fleet caused great harm to ours. Russian troops again rolled back to the fortress itself. Fresh troops and a reserve were brought into the battle: two companies of the Shlisselburg regiment, a company of the Oryol regiment, a light battalion of the Murom regiment, a light-horse brigade arrived.

Alexander Suvorov started the third attack. Muromets, Oryol Shlisselburg companies and Cossacks broke the resistance of the Turks, who had already lost their fighting spirit. By nightfall, the Ottoman troops were driven out of all the trenches and thrown into the sea.

Losses of Russian troops – about 500 people, Turks – 4-4.5 thousand people. 14 flags were captured. The Turkish fleet went home.

The Battle of Kinburn was the first major victory for the Russian army in the war.

For this victory, Alexander Vasilyevich was awarded the highest Russian order – Andrew the First-Called.

Medal “For Distinction in the Battle of Kinburn”. 1787 g.


The campaign of 1788 centered around the Ochakov fortress. The Turkish fleet returned to the fortress. The Russian army was tasked with taking the enemy stronghold.

In the first half of the summer, Alexander Suvorov contributed to the fight against the Turkish fleet. He installed batteries on the bank of the estuary, which, with the support of our flotilla, sank 15 Turkish ships.

In early July, Potemkin’s army began the siege of Ochakov. Suvorov was a participant in this siege. He did not hide his indignation, seeing the slowness of actions and the awkward orders of His Serene Highness. Alexander Suvorov condemned the commander-in-chief for inappropriate philanthropy and openly said that they would lose more people by such “philanthropic” orders than by a decisive, “inhuman” assault.

The Turkish garrison was large (15 thousand soldiers), had serious reserves and could be under siege for a long time. The fortress was perfectly fortified.

The Russian army sat in damp dugouts, without firewood. The supply was very poorly organized: there was not enough provisions, fodder, and there were no medicines. More people died from disease than from fighting. In the cavalry and the wagon train, horses fell from lack of food.

In the fall, the situation worsened even more. People were freezing. Suvorov demanded an assault until the army was killed. However, Potemkin feared a decisive attack, wanted to wear out the enemy, to act with certainty so as not to give the enemies in the capital a trump card against him.

During the siege, Turkish troops made sorties, tried to disrupt engineering work. An especially large one was made on July 27 (August 7). Alexander Vasilyevich personally led a counterattack of two grenadier battalions and threw back the enemy. Received another wound.

Our troops captured part of the advanced enemy fortifications. Suvorov offered to break into Ochakov on the shoulders of the retreating Turks. However, Potemkin ordered to withdraw the troops back.

Ochakov was taken on December 6, 1788, the entire garrison was destroyed () A fierce battle for “southern Kronstadt”. And they could have taken it much earlier, without large losses of the army from illness and frost, if Potemkin had listened to Suvorov in time.

Monument to A. V. Suvorov in Ochakov. The monument was opened on October 1, 1907, on the day of the 120th anniversary of the victory over the Turkish landing on the Kinburn Spit. The statue depicts a commander wounded near Kinburn, who, covering the wound on his chest with his left hand, shows his troops advancing on the Turks the direction of the main blow with his right hand. Sculptor B. Edwards.

Topal Pasha

The assault on Ochakov took place without Suvorov. He went to Kinburn and then to Kiev.

However, soon the commander was summoned to the capital and awarded with a diamond pen with the letter “K” (Kinburn).

Potemkin again appointed Alexander Suvorov to the front line, to the most dangerous place. Being with the corps in Barlad, Suvorov was supposed to stop the enemy offensive from across the Danube and support the allies – the Austrian corps of the Prince of Coburg.

Meanwhile, the Turkish army launched a new offensive against the Austrians, and then was going to attack the Russians.

Before the offensive, there was a rumor in the Turkish troops that the Russians again had a fierce Topal Pasha, that is, a “lame general”. So in the Turkish army they nicknamed Suvorov: he jumped, falling on his wounded leg.

The Ottomans already knew Suvorov well: where the “lame general” commanded the Russians, the Turks invariably suffered defeat there. After a wound near Ochakovo, Suvorov disappeared from the theater of war, and the Ottomans considered that he was killed or seriously wounded and could no longer fight. New battles showed that the Turks were wrong. Topal Pasha was alive and became even more dangerous.

The 18 thousandth Austrian corps was commanded by Prince Coburg. In early July 1789, the 40,000-strong Turkish army of Yusuf Pasha crossed the Danube and began to threaten the Austrians. They called for Suvorov’s help.

Without answering, Suvorov made a detachment of 7,000. In 28 hours, Suvorov’s corps covered about 80 kilometers and joined the Austrians. The Ottomans did not know about this until the start of the battle.

Knowing that the Austrians would prefer defense to attack, due to the numerical superiority of the enemy, Alexander Suvorov did not hold meetings. He simply told Prince Coburg his battle plan. The Austrians accepted him. The allies crossed the Putna River and attacked the enemy at Focsani on 21 July. The battle lasted ten hours. The Turks were utterly defeated and fled (Defeat of the Turkish army at Focsani).

Soon the Turks decided to repeat the operation – to strike at the junction of the Russian and Austrian armies, but now with the main forces. In early September, a 100,000-strong Turkish army crossed the Danube.

Suvorov again acted together with the Austrians. The allied forces numbered 25 thousand soldiers. The Russian commander offered to attack. Coburg noted that the Turks have a huge superiority of forces and the offensive is risky. Suvorov replied:

“Yet there are not so many of them to obscure the sun for us. A quick and decisive attack promises success. “

Coburg persisted. Then Suvorov said that he would attack the enemy alone and break him. The Prince of Coburg obeyed.

On September 11, Suvorov utterly defeated the army of the Grand Vizier (How Suvorov destroyed the Turkish army on the Rymnik River). The enemy lost up to 20 thousand people, artillery, carts with great wealth and 100 banners.

In fact, the Turkish army ceased to exist for some time. The remnants fled to the fortresses, many deserted. Suvorov’s victory gave the Austrians the opportunity to conquer Belgrade, and the Russians to take several fortresses.

Rymnik was equal in importance to Cahul. Catherine elevated Alexander Vasilyevich to the rank of count with the name of Rymniksky, awarded him with diamond insignia of the St.Andrew Order, the Order of St. George 1st degree, as well as a sword with an inscription

“To the winner of the vizier.”

The Austrian Emperor Joseph bestowed on Suvorov the title of Count of the Holy Roman Empire.

And the Austrian soldiers nicknamed Suvorov

“General Forverts” – “General Forward.”

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