St. George’s post. On the brink of disaster

Monument to the feat of the Cossacks of St. George’s post, established during the tsarist regime

On the bank of the Neberdzhaevsky reservoir, which is spread out in a picturesque valley and supplies Novorossiysk with water, a traveler can notice an ancient monument. The monument symbolizes both the feat and the tragedy that played out in these places in the 19th century, and is also a kind of historical fragment of the once important Adagum cordon line. In the second half of the 19th century, one of the posts of the line – Georgievsky, whose death was immortalized in stone, stood in this valley.

Georgievsky post – a link of the cordon line

After the Crimean War, the Russian Empire was rapidly regaining its lost positions in the Caucasus. Almost immediately after the signing of the peace treaty, Russian troops occupied the territories of Anapa, Novorossiysk, Sukhum, etc. At the same time, the capital was determined to end the long-term Caucasian war. However, despite this desire, St. Petersburg allocated very little and reluctantly additional military forces, continuing to judge the Caucasus according to the “residual principle.”

Appointed commander-in-chief of the Separate Caucasian Corps in 1856, Prince Alexander Ivanovich Baryatinsky quite reasonably decided to set up new fortifications to cut the mountain tribes hostile to the empire capable of creating a military alliance against Russia. So, the Adagum cordon line, created from scratch, was supposed to separate the Natukhai and militant Shapsugs.

On April 23, 1857, the Adagum military detachment, created for the purpose of building a new line, crossed the Kuban and moved to the upper reaches of the Adagum River, which is formed by the confluence of the Neberjai and Bakanka rivers. Fighting simultaneously with the highlanders, climate, relief and malaria, the detachment stubbornly built roads and erected new fortifications and villages.

The new line began at the Surovsky post on the banks of the Kuban and flowed down to the south, ending with a powerful Konstantinovsky fortification on the territory of modern Novorossiysk. The entire line was divided into steppe and mountainous parts. The central fortification of the entire line was the Nizhne-Adagumskoe fortification on the Adagum River in the area of ​​the modern Novotroitsky farm.

One of the links of the Adagum line was the Georgievsky post near the Lipka river (therefore, in some sources, the post is called Lipkinsky), in fact, crowning the line near the last Konstantinovsky fortification and related to its mountainous part. The post was built in 1861 in the Neberjaya valley. It was supposed to cover the villages of Verkhnebakanskaya and Nizhnebakanskaya, which were just beginning to grow at that time, and also warn Novorossiysk about the danger.

At the same time, the location of the post was chosen extremely poorly. In fact, Georgievsky was located at the bottom of modern Neberjai, which at that time, before the construction of the reservoir, looked more like a large gorge than a valley. Around the same mountains rose, densely overgrown with impassable forest. The nearest fortification, which could provide military assistance, was located behind the Markot ridge. Therefore, the alarm system familiar on the steppe Kuban line with fire, smoke and raising a special figure simply did not work here. There was simply no one to call for help or to warn of the impending threat. The only “signal” instrument was one single gun, a shot from which, even in good calm weather behind the mountain ranges, was difficult to distinguish.

Garrison life on the outskirts of the empire

In 1862, centurion Efim Mironovich Gorbatko was appointed head of the post. Under his command were the Cossacks of the 6th Foot Kuban (Black Sea) Plastun Cossack Battalion. According to the data engraved directly on the monument, there were no more than 35 fighters of the lower ranks. According to other sources, an inaccuracy was made due to the separate burials of the fallen heroes, and the number of the garrison was at least 40 Cossacks. Moreover, all the Cossacks were the indigenous inhabitants of the Kuban, originally from the Uman, Starominskaya, Staroshcherbinovskaya and Kamyshevatskaya villages.

Efim Mironovich was clearly not happy with his appointment as the head. The centurion immediately realized the vulnerability of fasting. However, its geographic location was far from the only problem. So, the rampart, which was traditionally either a trapezoidal quadrangular shape, or in the form of a pentagon, rather resembled a small round hill. All the artillery of the post consisted, as already indicated, of one gun, while the other fortifications were armed with two or four guns. The forest, habitually cut down around any defensive structure, in this case was only slightly cut, which allowed the enemy to approach the post almost close at a distance of 10-30 meters, using trees as a cover.

One of the last watchtowers of the cordon lines, preserved by the beginning of the 20th century

At the same time, in fact, the centurion Gorbatko could not carry out the restructuring of the post with cash forces. And the high authorities, who apparently considered the post “under the shadow” of the rapidly growing Novorossiysk, were in no hurry to spend efforts on the proper strengthening of some kind of mountain post, when a whole city was being built nearby.

Former brother-soldier Gorbatko, military sergeant major Vishnevetsky, who visited the Georgievsky post with a detachment of plastuns in the tragic 1862, described the fortification and the environment as follows:

“We met as old comrades and entered his truly wretched abode. He invited me to dine, and during this dying meal Gorbatko bitterly complained about the unsatisfactory strengthening of the post, despite its importance … Indeed, the life of these scouts was the most unbearable and endured only because of the deep consciousness of the duty of the tsarist service. The scouts of the Lipkinsky post lived in a cramped room built in a crevice in the mountains, where the sun rarely peeped in. Around the forest, which cannot be called an adornment of nature, but it is not always possible to look at it with such eyes. By the grace of this forest, it was impossible to leave the post either day or night: now the highlanders’ shots will be heard from the thicket. “

Premonition of disaster

For some time before the complete destruction of the post, in the environment of the garrison, there was some kind of inner tension and thoughtfulness of the once cheerful and always perky plastuns. Even the songwriters, brightening up the difficult garrison everyday life with folk art, remained silent. Someone was sharpening a bayonet with the words “I have been using a bayonet for three days, and so, having stabbed, yak awhile gostro, let the Golomshivites (the contemptuous nickname of the Circassians, given to them by the Cossacks for baldness and uncleanliness in terms of washing their hair), will only come, if there is something to poke them.” … And someone responded sadly, advising them to wear clean white shirts.

The wife of the centurion Maryana, who arrived at the post guided by her heavy dreams and forebodings, behaved no less tensely. To the surprise of the scouts, the Cossack woman, disturbed by a strange longing and a feeling of impending trouble, even learned to shoot well with a gun and was proud that she did not smear from a distance of 150 steps, saying that if the Circassians would attack, then she would certainly shoot someone. At the same time, the Cossack woman responded with a decisive refusal to all her husband’s requests to leave the ill-fated post.

Valley of Neberjaya now

The weather was no less gloomy. Heavy low leaden clouds hung over the entire gorge, literally swallowing the tops of the dark mountains. The downpour often poured such that the garrison was literally blind, not noticing what was happening fifty meters from the post.

Gorbatko perfectly saw all these changes and himself felt the impending threat. Thus, a few days before the attack on the post, the number of single shelling of the post from guns increased. At the same time, the shelling was carried out mainly from one direction. But the centurion could do nothing except to maintain the fighting spirit and attentiveness of the soldiers. An attempt to rebuild at least one side of the post with available forces in the circumstances meant only one thing – to put the garrison in an even more vulnerable position and to invite the enemy inside the post.

The enemy is on the doorstep

On a rainy night from September 3 to 4, 1862, to the north-west of Neberdzhai, a gathering of Circassian detachments began, consisting mainly of hostile Natukhai. The number of the enemy was extremely impressive – up to three thousand foot mountaineers and about six hundred horsemen.

By the evil irony of fate, the enemy detachment did not set itself the task of attacking the Constantine fortification, which is understandable. The Constantine fortification was a real trapezoidal fortress with stone walls up to three meters high with caponiers and lunettes. Powerful artillery weapons would simply disperse the crowds of highlanders even before they approached the fortress walls. The fortification itself has already acquired its own forstadt, in fact, a future city in which the Cossacks and their families, merchants and sailors settled.

Moreover, the Natukhai detachment did not even want to storm the St. George post, hoping to bypass it unnoticed. The purpose of the detachment was to plunder and exterminate the villages of Verkhnebakanskaya and Nizhnebakanskaya. And this goal was fully justified for the highlanders. The villages became centers of trade and communication between highlanders and Russians. Friendship and sometimes family relations were established, which naturally reduced the ranks of fanatically aggressive Circassians. And the very way of peaceful life, according to the laws, slowly but steadily reduced the ranks of the enemy.

In the first hours of September 4, the assembled detachment of Circassians in complete darkness, watered by a downpour, moved towards the Neberdzhaevsky gorge.

To be continued…

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