IN THE STEPPE OF CENTRAL ASIA, PART II

BY PAUL HINSON, Uniform Illustration by Nick Stern, Webifyed by John Switzer

 

The Fall of Khiva

The Khanate of Khiva, long the nemesis of Russian expansion around the Aral Sea, remained the only independent Central Asian state in 1873. Because of the Russian government's official policy of non-expansion in that region, Kokand and Bokhara were promoted as independent states also, although that was actually not the truth. General Konstantin P. Kaufman, Governor-General of Turkestan, had concentrated on administering his oblast (province) after the subjugation of Bokhara.

This does not mean that the Russians had been idle in that region. In 1870, Major General Abramov had led a punitive expedition against the rebellious Bokharan provinces of Shahr-i-Sabz and Kitab. By the end of that year, the Emir's authority had been restored to both.

The following year another expedition, this one led by Major General Kolpakovsky, the victor at Uzun-Agach, invaded the Chinese province of Ili. In that region, the Dungan and Taranchi tribes had rebelled and evicted the Chinese authorities in 1864. Fearing that the rebellion might spill over into the new Russian territories east of Tashkent and south of Zake Balk hash. Kaufman had dispatched a preemptive strike against the rebels. The Russians treated the occupation of Ili, or Kuldzha, as a temporary measure and reassured the Chinese and the Europeans that the Tsar's forces would remain only until the Chinese were capable of re-occupying that and other rebellious western provinces. The Russians finally returned Kuldzha to Chinese control in 1883 after much diplomatic wrangling and the obtaining of concessions elsewhere.

Meanwhile the Khivans remained unchecked. Khan Sayyid Muhammad Rahim Bahadur's government continued Khiva's long anti-Russian tradition. Tribute was demanded from peoples who were theoretically Russian subjects. Banditry by renegade kazakhs was encouraged. Sanctuary was given to kazakh rebels and revolts in Kazakhstan were subsidized by the Khivans. Finally, the Khivans actively engaged in the buying and selling of captive Russians or Russian subject peoples.

During the summer of 1867, shortly after Kaufman had become Governor-General of Turkestan, he had attempted to negotiate a treaty of friendship with the Khan contingent upon the prior release of all Russian prisoners and slaves held in the khanate, the ending of Khivan support for Kazakh rebels, and the negotiation of trade treaties between the two states. Muhammad Rahim and his officials replied with contempt and anti-Russian activities were stepped up. Finally in 1870, with Kokand and Bokhara humbled, Kaufman reported to his superiors that military action against the Khivans was necessary.

Surprisingly, the Russian government approved of an expedition against Khiva. Upon reviewing the pressures on the Tsar's government, however, it is no wonder that Alexander II'' ministers gave in to Kaufman. The campaign was sold to the public as part of "civilized" Europe's crusade against "Asian barbarity". The continued existence of slavery in Khiva was used to promote the argument. Nationalism was also utilized. Perovsky's defeat in 1839 and the disasters incurred by Cossack expeditions in the 1600's and early 1700's were dredged up to stir the flames of Slavism and patriotism.

There were other, more subtle reasons for the request, and approval of military forces most originating among the troops on the scene and with the Governor-General himself. The army, particularly those officers stationed in Central Asia, sought new opportunities for promotion and decoration. Kaufman in particular needed something to restore his waning prestige. His administration of Turkestan was plaqued by scandal and suffered from a growing deficit, the latter a result of earlier campaigns as well as Kaufman's own love of pomp and pageantry. Further, Kaufman had been criticized for his conduct and that of his troops after they had lifted the siege at Samarkand during the war with Bokhara. As a reward for their success, Kaufman had allowed his men to spend four days sacking the ancient city.

Although the campaign had been approved, the Russian government desperately sought to reign in thoughts of territorial annexation. Kaufman was warned that the Tsar would not welcome any territorial expansion at the expense of Khiva. Further, as soon as the khanate had been punished, Russian troups were to be removed from Khivan territories. Efforts to dispel British fears for India extended to ordering Count Shuvalov, who was being sent to London to arrange the marriage of a Russian princess to one of Queen Victoria's sons, to reassure the British that territorial conquest south of the Aral Sea was not the goal of Kaufman's offensive.

Operations against Khiva had actually commenced before the government's approval reached Tashkent. Between 1834 and 1846, Perovsky had pushed Russian outposts down the east coast of the Caspian Sea to Fort Novo-Aleksandrovskoe on Komsomolets Bay. Troops from the Caucasus had established Fort Aleksandrovskii (Fort Shevchenko) on the tip of the Mangyshlak Peninsula in 1846. Finally, an 1869 expedition from Port Perovsk (Makhachkala) crossed the Caspian Sea and established outposts at Krasnovodsk and Chikishlar. From the former, reconnaissance missions were sent into the Turcomen lands to the east. East of Khiva, the Kyzyl Kum north of Bokhara was surveyed and explored by small detachments during 1871 and 1872. Similar missions were performed by troops from Orenburg between Emba and the Aral Sea. The Khan of Khiva found himself gradually encircled by elements of the Caucasus, Orenburg, and Turkestan military districts.

Such preliminary explorations and operations were deemed necessary by Kaufman for, in his opinion, the great opponent in a campaign against Khiva would be not the enemy army but nature. Lying in the upper reaches of the Kara Kum and surrounded by a land of near-desert climate and topography, Khiva is some 600 miles from Tashkent, 930 miles from Orenburg, and 500 miles from Krasnovodsk. Always before, distance, terrain, and climate had helped neutralize superior Russian discipline and firepower.

The Governor-General decided that the greatest chance for success lay with a springtime offensive. To enhance the possibility of success, Kaufman planned to make use of four converging columns. The primary column was based on Tashkent and Kazala. Commanded by Major General N.N. Golovachev, it was accompanied by Kaufman in his roles as regional commander and chief of Turkestan. The largest of the support columns was that organized by General Khryzanovsky at Orenburg. The other columns marched out of Kinderly Bay on the Mangyshlak Peninsula and Chikishlar on the southeastern coast of the Caspian Sea. To make sure that his subordinates did not steal his laurels, Kaufman gave strict orders that any column reaching Khiva before the Tashkent force was to await its (and Kaufman's arrival before assaulting the city.

Despite preparations, the campaign nearly proved as disastrous as the earlier operations against Khiva. The Chikishlar Column, some 2,200 men commanded by a Colonel Markosov, left its base at the start of Marach, 1873. It was to proceed northeastward along what was believed to be the ancient bed of the Amu Darya. Markosov was operating from Chikishlar instead of the larger base at Krasnovodsk because it was thought that camels would be more easily obtained at the former.

For two months, Markosov pushed his men further and further into the Kara Kum. Along the whole of the route, the troops were harassed by the triple plagues of Turcomen raiders, a lack of water, and heat. Finally, the colonel realized his men could endure no more. On April 22 he ordered a retreat from the oasis at Bala Ishem.

The retreat became a catastrophe. Sixty men died of sunstroke. Almost all the others were ill. Under pressure from the Turcomen, the Russians abandoned their artillery, their supplies, and finally their camels to the Kara Kum. Eventually they staggered into Krasnovodsk and safety.

Marching eastward from Kinderly Bay, the 2,000 men commanded by Colonel N.P. Lomakin were organized into 12 infantry companies, one sotnia of Cossacks, two sotnias of Caucasian mountain troops, a battery of "Flying Artillery" and a rocket battery. From the outset, Lomakin's column was hampered by logistical and climatic problems. Lomakin was to have had 1,300 camels in his supply train but the local Kirghiz refused to turn over their quota, some 600 beasts. Thus before the march on Khiva could begin, Colonel M.D. Skobelev, Lomakin's second in command, was forced to lead a punitive raid against the local tribesmen. This short operation yield 110 horses, 380 camels, and 3,000 sheep and goats. Although still short of transport, the colonels decided that the beasts on hand would have to suffice.

Competent leadership and an abundance of supplies still did not make for an easy march. The Russians met no resistance from the Khivans although large numbers of Turcomen cavalry shadowed the column, occasionally skirmishing and feinting. As with the Chikishlar force, the true enemies of Lomakin's men were the land and the climate. Participants recalled that the heat was oppressive, that the wind was like a blast furnace. What few wells they found were often polluted. Camels and horses died by the hundreds. On one day alone, 150 camels died or became incapacitated. Sickness eventually struck the troops. Already short or transport, Lomakin forced the Cossacks to surrender their mounts to haul the ill. Miraculously not one man was lost, but due to the animal loss, the Kinderly Column was on its last legs when scouts from the Orenburg force discovered it and brought Lomakin's troops to safety.

General Khryzanovsky still in command at Orenburg, had received orders to cooperate with Kaufman's Khiva operation early in January 1873. Major General Verevkin, who had helped Chernyayev seize Chimkent in 1864, assembled his column at Fort Emba, the most advanced outpost on the Kirghiz Steppe. The troops had journeyed to Emba from staging bases at Orenburg, Uralsk, and Orsk.

The generals, well aware of Central Asian winters and springs, made sure that their troops were well supplied and equipped against cold, severe weather. Their care in preparation was such that when Verevkin led his force southward on February 27, not a single casualty had been incurred to that date. The Orenburg Column, numbering 3,461 men, was organized into 9 infantry companies, 9 sotnias of Cossacks, a battery of "Flying Artillery", a rocket battery, and a half battery of mortars. These combat unites were supported by a pack train of 5,000 camels. As reinforcements could not be expected and the other columns were far away, Khryzanovsky and Verevkin took care to triple the normal ammunition allotment supplied to a column in the field.

From Emba, the Orenburg force-marched southeastward to the coast of the Aral Sea, which the troops skirted until they reached Khivan territory. Although the troops suffered from frosts, snowstorms, cold, sun, and heat, easy marches over well explored land and the logistical planning done by the two generals again resulted in the lack of heavy casualties to man or beast which were experienced by the Chikishlar and Kinderly Columns.

On May 8, 1873 the Orenburg Column marched into the city of Kungrad, the most important settlement in the northern part of the khanate. Muhammad Rahim's forces had abandoned the town only hours before. Four days after Verevkin's arrival, Lomakin's troops limped into Kungrad.

Inside the khanate there was increasing anxiety. When the Khivan government had first learned of the coming invasion, the Khan had attempted to placate the Russians by freeing 21 captive Russians and sending them to Kazalinsk. However this had not caused the Russians to stop. The armed forces of Khiva were in such a state of antiquity that the most effective fighting force fielded by the khanate were the semi-nomadic Yomud Turcomen, who were vassals to Muhammad Rahim.

Even the efforts of the Turcomen proved insufficient to stem the advance of the combined Orenburg-Kinderly Column, commanded by Verevkin. Marching up the Amu Darya, the Russians took several towns by storm while others surrendered without resistance. Finally on May 26, Verevkin's troops reached the outskirts of Khiva. The yomuds were brushed aside and over the next two days, Russian artillery shelled the city, inflicting an indiscriminate slaughter on the populace. Under cover of the bombardment, Russian infantry overran the outlying settlements around Khiva. Before the Orenburg-Kinderly troops could launch an assault on the city proper, Kaufman arrived with the vanguard of the Tashkent Column. Verevkin was not in a position, or in condition to complain about Kaufman's interruption. He had been wounded in the head during the final attack on May 28.

At the outset of the campaign, the Tashkent Column, which included troops from Kazala and Kazalinsk, had totaled 5,500 men in 19 infantry companies, a company of sappers, 6 sotnias of Cossacks, a battery of "Flying Artillery", two batteries of rockets, a battery of mountain guns, and a half-battery of horse artillery. The local Kirghiz and Kazakhs had been pressured into supplying 10,000 animals for the pack train.

The story of Kaufman's advance on Khiva is a near mirror of the experiences of the Kinderly and Chikishlar forces. According to Olaf Caroe, "It was only by a happy chance and not good management that Kaufman reached Khiva at all..." Unseasonably heavy snowstorms slowed the column when it took to field in early Marach, 1873. Many of the requisitioned camels proved poor or weak animals. A large quantity of the supplies proved to have spoiled while sitting in storage.

For some reason, Kaufman abandoned a well explored, reasonably watered route to the Amu Darya for a little known but shorter route which went through the heart of the Kyzyl Kum. Marching through the desert, Kaufman's troops suffered severely from thirst. All but 1,200 camels died . The Tashkent Column was on the verge of collapse and disaster when its scouts reached the Amu Darya on May 12, 1873.

Only upon reaching the river did the Russians meet any significant resistance. Some 500 Turcomen, each with two horses, occupied the south bank of the Amu Darya. Thus Kaufman's men spent most of May 13 fighting their way across the river and in bringing the pack train over. For the next two weeks, the remnants of the Tashkent Column crawled down the Amu Darya toward Khiva.

When Verevkin's troops approached his capital, Muhammad Rahim sent messengers to Kaufman asking the governor-general to state his terms of surrender. The general replied, stating that he would only negotiate with the Khivans upon reading their capital. On the 28th, with the walls of Khiva breached by Verevkin's gunners, Muhammad Rahim offered to surrender unconditionally and to acknowledge the Tsar as his superior if Kaufman would halt the impending assault on his city.

Kaufman, still thirteen miles from Khiva, responded by asking Muhammad Rahim to meet him outside the city the next morning. At the appointed time, the Khan's uncle and brother met the governor-general, reporting that the former was regent and latter Khan. They also reported that Muhammad Rahim had bled to the Yomud Turcomen. A short time later on the 29th, Kaufman entered Khiva in "true pro-consular fashion."

The Russians refused to deal with Ata-djan-Tura, the new Khan, as his behavior seemed to indicate that he had been enthroned against his will. Kaufman also realized that as his pronouncements had stated that the Russians had conflict with the Khan and not the people of Khiva, a treaty signed with Ata-djan-Tura would be invalid if Muhammad Rahim returned to power.

Kaufman therefore attempted to renew contact with the refugee Khan. After a short period of negotiations, Muhammad Rahim returned to Khiva and was restored to his office. Henceforth, he would regn but not rule. Kaufman created a divan, or council, consisting of three Russian officers, a merchant from Tashkent, and three Khivan notables. One of these notables would also act as Vizier. All of the Khan's advisers who had shown anti-Russian sentiments were dismissed and the former Vizier was sent into exile, eventually settling near Moscow.

Before Khiva fell to the invaders, all Russian slaves had been released, but there was still a large number of slaves in the khanate, ethnically the largest group being some 30,000 Persians. Kaufman ordered Muhammad Rahim to abolish slavery within his realm. Once this was done, however, a Russian failure to vigorously enforce the new law caused the edict to be largely ignored. In the end, only a few hundred Persians were released, some of whom were killed on their way home by the Turcomen. Thus one of the overt reasons for the campaign, the eradication of slavery in Central Asia, went largely unaccomplished, although laws against slavery had been promulgated in the khanate.

To demonstrate his good will toward the Khivan populace, Kaufman was lenient to the people and strict with his troops. He promised Khivans the Tsar's mercy if they lived quietly. Russian troops were strictly forbidden to loot, the penalty for doing so being death. They were also ordered to pay for everything they obtained in the bazaars.

A peace treaty was finally signed on August 12, 1873. Blocked by his government from annexing the khanate, Kaufman managed to force the Khan to cede all of his lands north of the Amu Darya to the conquerors. Furthermore, the Russians obtained the right of residence, the right to trade tax-free in Khiva, and an indemnity of 202 million rubles to be paid over a twenty year period.

The long delay between the fall of Khiva and the signing of a peace treaty resulted from Kaufman's decision to punish the Yomud Turcomen for their resistance. At the start of July, the Governor-General had imposed a fine of 600,000 rubles on the Turcomen of Khiva and gave the Yomuds until July 22 to pay half the sum as they accounted for about half the Turcomen population in the Khanate. The possibility of payment was remote. When no initial deposits were forthcoming, Kaufman violated the deadline.

On July 7, Major General Golovachev was sent into Yomud territory, located west of Khiva, with eight infantry companies, eight sotnias of Cossacks, a battery each of guns and rockets, and two mitrailleuses which had been dragged to Khiva by the Tashkent Column. The savagery with which the Yomud Turcomen were punished over the next two weeks came from the Governor-General himself. In his orders to Golovachev, Kaufman stated that the general was to give over the Yomud settlements, and their families, to complete destruction. If the soldiery met any resistance at all, the troops were to "exterminate" the opposition. The resulting slaughter spared neither age nor sex as the Russians, and especially the Cossacks, "rushed about like madmen".

Short of money for the return to Tashkent, Kaufman ordered the other Turcomen tribes in Khivan territory to pay their shares of the fine, some 301,000 rubles. Becoming somewhat more reasonable, he allowed them to pay half the sum in camels and the other half in either coin or gold or silver jewelry and other objects. They were given from July 21 to August 2 to pay. The punishment of the Yomuds had its desired effect on the other Turcomen bands. At the deadline, some 92,000 rubles had been collected, and as there was evidence of intent to pay, Kaufman allowed an indefinite extension to the payment deadline. To insure full payment, he took 26 hostages from among the families of Turcomen notables.

As the new territories on the north bank of the Amu Darya were quite remote from the Syr Darya oblast and the Zarafshan Military District (Samarkand) and since there was concern over continued restlessness and hostility among the Turcomen, the Russian government decided that the new lands would be formed into the Amu Darya Military District. Command was given to Colonel N.A. Ivanov, who established his headquarters at Fort Petro-Aleksandrovskoe (Turkul), only 25 miles from Khiva City. The new military district had some 216,000 residents, mostly Kazakhs, Turcomen, and Kara-Kalpaks. Ivanov found it necessary to lead several expeditions against these peoples before they submitted to his authority.

 

The Fall of Khudyar Khan

For only a very short time - less than two years - was there peace in Central Asia. Trouble erupted in Kokand, which was proving to be the most unstable of the three protectorates. In 1873 the nomadic Kypchak Uzbeks had revolted against the tax and customs increases imposed by the Khan upon his people. The Kypchaks were joined by a number of Kokandian ulema and feudal lords and large numbers of the Kokandian masses. The last three groups, especially the ulema and the nobility, linked the tax revolt with lingering opposition to and resentment of Russian expansion and influence.

Throughout 1873 and 1874, Khudyar Khan's army launched punitive expeditions against the rebels but failed in all attempts to suppress them. The rebels continued to grow in strength and prestige into 1875. Finally, during the summer of that year, the Khan discovered that his brother (Murat Bey, governor of Margelan), his eldest son (Nasir al-Din, governor of Andizhan), and his generals (led by his youngest son, Muhammad Amin Bek) were conspiring with the rebels against him. Seeking Russian help, Khudyar Khan fled to Tashkent.

The rebels quickly proclaimed Nasir al-Din khan. While he would reign, however, the true power in Kokand lay in the hands of Pulat Bey, a relative of Nasir, and Abd al-Rahman Avtobachi, an Uzbek noble. Under their influence, the rebellion spilled over into Turkestan in August, 1875. A gazavat, or holy war, was proclaimed by Kokand's new leaders and messengers and agents were sent into the villages and towns around Khojend and Kuraminsk to raise those populations in revolt against the Russians. On August 9, 1875 a large force of Kokandians surrounded Khojend and laid siege to the city. The Russian garrison was forced to take refuge in the city's citadel and communications with Tashkent were cut.

The invasion of Russian territory finally propelled Kaufmanns into action. Three days after the Khojend garrison was besieged, he led his troops - some 3,000 men in 16 infantry companies, 9 sootiness of Cossacks, and several batteries - out of Tashkent. Nine days after Khojend had been surrounded, the relief column entered the city, the besiegers having retreated into Kokandian territory.

Without pausing, Kaufmanns marched into Kokand. The rebel host, estimated at 30,000 to 50,000 and led by Abd al-Rahman Avtobachi, fell back to the fortress of Makhram. The Russians followed and on August 22, 1875 assaulted the rebel position. About 90 Kokandians were killed before their army broke and fled up the Syr Darya. Colonel Skobelev, who had transferred from the Caucasus command to Kaufman's command, led the pursuit. His Cossacks gave no quarter, killing 1,000 or more Kokandians during a six mile chase. Kaufman's losses in the battle and on the pursuit amounted to six dead and eight wounded. On the 23rd, Kaufman pushed on and peacefully occupied Kokand city three days later.

Meanwhile Abd al-Rahman and his surviving troops had fled to Margelan. This proved to be no haven as the Russians reached that city on September 8. The rebels, now numbering only 8,000, fled again. Kaufman sent Skobelev and his Cossacks in pursuit. They scattered all opposition until they reached Osh. This town fell without a shot and Skobelev, believing that further pursuit would be useless, returned to Margelan.

One by one most of Kokandian towns and villages, including the city of Andizhan, submitted to the Russians. Finally, Nasir al-Din surrendered and signed a peace treaty on September 23, 1875. The Russians were to be paid 3 million rubles over the next six years and were to be ceded all Kokandian territory along the right bank of the Syr Darya, including the town of Namangan. In addition, Nasir acknowledged the Tsar as his feudal superior. Having annexed this territory on his own authority, Kaufman was unsure of his military and political future until he finally received the Tsar's authorization to seize these lands.

Unfortunately signing a peace treaty with the Russians did not end the problems of Kokand. When Nasir al-Din signed the treaty with Kaufman, his former associates saw this as an act of duplicity. Within a very short time, the rebellion flared anew. Soon the eastern provinces of Kokand and the city of Andizhan were in open revolt. Abd al-Rahman and Pulat Bey were welcomed in Andizhan and soon some 60,000 to 70,000 men had joined them.

The Russian commander at Namangan, Major General V.N. Trotsky marched o n the rebel city and besieged the insurgents there from September 30 to October 5, 1875. On the 5th, Trotsky ordered his men to storm the city. The assault proved premature. The rebel force put up such a stiff defense that the general called off the attack. Quickly thereafter the Russians lifted the siege and retreated toward Namangan. Trotsky's report stated that ten Russians had been killed and seventy wounded. Assault troops later interviewed insisted that casualties were actually four or five times the general's figures.

By October 9, Abd al-Rahman and Pulat Bey were in the city of Kokand and Nasir al-Din was on his way to Khojend. The rebels soon proclaimed Pulat Bey, whose real name was Ishak Mullah Hasan Ogly, the new khan. The Kokandians then pushed on to seize Marghilan and to threaten Trotsky's forces at Namangan.

At this critical time, Kaufman was ordered back to St. Petersburg. Thus M.D. Skobelev, recently promoted to major general for his services against Khiva and earlier in the campaign, found himself in command of a concentrating army at Namangan on October 16, 1875. Not one to remain idle, Skobelev took the bulk of his force into rebel territory and attacked the village of Tiura-Kurgan on October 23. The local rebels were defeated and the town was burned to punish the inhabitants for siding with the insurgents.

Other rebel forces were simultaneously moving against Skobelev's base at Namangan. The day after the destruction of Tiura-Kurgan, rebel forces occupied parts of Namangan and, with the help of the city's Uzbek and Tadjik population, attacked the small Russian garrison as well as a Russian camp outside the city. Despite intense pressure and huge odds, the garrison managed to keep control of the city's unfinished citadel and the troops in the encampment avoided being overrun throughout October 25 and 26.

Finally on October 27, Skobelev reappeared at Namangan. Lining up sixteen artillery pieces outside the city, he proceeded to shell those sections of Namangan known to be under rebel control. After a sufficient "softening" of rebel positions, Skobelev's infantry attacked the city, much of which had been destroyed during the artillery barrage. In his report, the Russian general claimed 3,800 rebels had been killed while the Russian loss was placed at six killed and 32 wounded. The victors turned residents and refugees out of the few remaining buildings and occupied them due to a lack of barracks space.

With his base secure, Skobelev marched into Kokandian territory in pursuit of Pulat Bey (now called Pulat Khan), Abd al-Rahman, and their confederates. For two months the Russians marched back and forth across rebel-held areas, turning much of central and eastern Kokand into a near-wasteland. Initially the Kokandians had attempted to resist, but after their army was crushed at Baligchi on November 11, the Kokandian leaders sought to avoid contact and fled to Andizhan.

Skobelev followed and shelled the rebel stronghold for a week early in January, 1876. Finally on January 8, the city surrendered. At a cost of two Russian dead and nine wounded, Skobelev had captured the rebels' center of resistance. The general reported that the Kokandian losses were "immense".

Even though the rebel heartland was occupied by the Russians, none of the rebel leadership had been seized. Thus Skobelev was quickly in the field again. Among the Kokandian rebels, the pressures of flight and the absence of any "sanctuaries" was beginning to wear on their will to resist.

After several more skirmishes, Abd al-Rahman Avtobachi and several other rebel leaders personally negotiated their surrenders with Skobelev. Considering the violence and brutality the general had used at Makram, Tiura-Kurgan, and Namangan, he was quite lenient with these rebel leaders. After they had placed themselves "at the mercy of the Tsar", all were pardoned.

While the Russian continued to search for Pulat Khan, Nasir al-Din reappeared on the scene. Under Russian protection in Khojend, he had received a delegation of Kokandian notables in early January, 1876. Their mission was to invite Nasir back to Kokand and to reassume the title and power of Khan. Early February found the exile eluding rebel forces and re-entering his former capital.

Unfortunately for Nasir, the Russian government had determined that the khanate was too politically unstable to remain in existence. Skobelev was ordered to occupy Kokand city. On February 19, 1876, the anniversary of his accession to the throne, Tsar Alexander II signed an order annexing Kokand to the Russian Empire. The new region was given the name Fergana, and Skobelev was named military governor.

As these events were transpiring, the military situation was moving toward an end. Skobelev's pursuit of Pulat Khan led the Russians to the fortress town of Uch-Kurgan, where the pretender had gathered some 5,000 supporters. After a lengthy bombardment, the Russian infantry stormed the town on February 28. Pulat Khan was found among the prisoners.

The pretender was not accorded the leniency given to his fellow conspirator Abd al-Rahman Avtobachi. It was known that Pulat Khan had killed a dozen Russian prisoners. There was also evidence that he had ordered the executions of women and family retainers of Khudyar Khan and Abd al-Rahman. Because of these crimes, the pretender was executed in March, 1986.

Khiva and Bokhara remained protectorates of the Russian Empire until the October Revolution of 1917. For a short time thereafter they, and Kokand, again experienced a brief independence until the Bolsheviks marched into the states and dissolved them.

In the spring of 1876, trouble was beginning to loom in the Balkans, terminating, temporarily, any future movements in Central Asia. Of the players on the Central Asian stage, Kaufman returned to Tashkent, where he remained governor-general until his death in May, 1882. Although he continued an expansionist program, the bulk of his efforts were turned to developing his administrative skills and implementing a series of wide-ranging reforms, including an effective program of land reform.

Kaufman's opponents Muzzafar al-Din and Muhammad Rahim remained on their respective thrones in Bokhara and Khiva. Their families reigned until the Bolsheviks marched into Central Asia. Khudyar Khan, Nasir al-Din, and Abd al-Rahman Avtobachi all ended up living in exile in western Russia as pensioners of their "host" government.

Chernyayev, who had along ago disappeared from the Central Asian frontier, came back into the public's eye just before the Khiva Expedition. He had become a pan-Slavist. As early as 1867 he had offered his services to the Serbs in their quest to "liberate" the Balkans from Turkish rule. In 1871 he was the editor of an ultra-nationalistic newspaper. Using this forum he attacked Milyutin, who was still the Tsar's minister of war, Gorchakov, the foreign minister, and Kaufman.

Five years later, Chernyayev assumed command of Serbia's eastern army and was defeated by the Turks. When the Russians entered the war between the Serbs and the Turks in 1877, he was given a staff position in the Caucasus. The conqueror of Tashkent was promoted to lieutenant general in 1881 after Alexander III became Tsar. The following year Chernyayev succeeded Kaufman as Governor-General of Turkestan, where he actively reversed his predecessor's policies and reduced government expenses until he was forced to retire in 1884.

Skobelev did not stay in Fergana long. When war with the Turks broke out I 1877, he was recalled to command a division in the Balkans. There Skobelev proved to be one of the few general officers on either side to gain in reputation. It was while fighting around Plevna that he became known as the "White General".

As soon as the Russo-Turkish War was concluded, Skobelev returned to Central Asia with a vengeance. Although Kokand was non-existent and Khiva and Bokhara were truncated protectoraates, the wild tribesmen of the Turcomen remained unvanquished in their oasis and wasteland home north of the Persian frontier.

Wargamming Russian Central Asian Campaigns

The indigenous people of Central Asia (Uzbeks, Turcomen, etc.) are probably no more difficult to depict than the Russians. A mixture of Boxer Rebellion Mongol irregular cavalry, Colonial era Pathans, and maybe a few medieval Turks can be used. The following is a description of Khivans from MacGahan's book:

Medium sixed, lean, muscular with long black beards. Costume-white cotton shirt, loose cotton trousers with a Khalat (long, stright cut tunic reaching to knees) of very dirty brown with narrow yellow stripes.

The Bokaran Khalat was, according to MacGahan, "of brilliant colors".

As for the Russians, the early campaigns could probably use Crimean figures. The later (1870's, 1880's) era would see them dressing as per Russo-Turkish War regulars. To my knowledge, only the British company Pioneer Miniatures makes figures for the Russo-Turkish War in 15mm. The 25mm Falcon Russian Infantry looks okay, except the cap should be more of a kepi and should probably have a neckcloth. File off the magazine from the rifle and they should look good enough. Russian cavalry was mostly Cossack, and again, the Russo-Japanese War line from Falcon would do, except for the cap, which should be a flat cap instead of the high fur hat that's on the figure. Falcon doesn't make artillery figures. Their uniform would probably be along infantry lines, with a white pullover and red or reddish brown pants and boots.

Friedrich's article in Time has a great picture of a Russian column attacking Samarkand. Personally, I have no problems with fudging a bit by using Boxer Rebellion Russians, since, except for the caps, thery aren't too different from the 1870's, 1880's era uniforms depicted in the Time article illustration. One thing I've found interesting about the Time illustration is that, instead of the usual deep green trousers, the Russians are wearing trousers of a near tobacco brown color. Also they are wearing havelocks on theie caps.

Force composition for wargames can be taken from the Khiva columns, which range from a 1:1 infantry (Orenburg) company/cavalry squadron ration, to a 12:1 ration (Kinderly).

If using TSATF rules, one should legitimately use a drop of cavalry for every infantry platoon. If using a 20:1 or 25:1 ration of men to figures, the average Russian column should be relatively easy to portray, most having less than 5,000 men. The largest single column, Skobelev's 1881 force would number 360 figures at 25:1.

Uniform Notes

Figure 1: ORENBURG COSSACKS, 1870. Cossack

He wears a black fur hat, or papaha, a green checkmen or cossack style tunic with hooks in place of buttons, loose green trousers with blue stripes, and a blue sash around the waist. Armament includes a lance without pennant, a shashka (saber), a pistol, lanyard, and a musket worn cossack-style over the right shoulder. The pouch on the shoulder belt is for percussion caps.

Figure 2: LINE INFANTRY, 1870. SUBALTERN OFFICER IN SUMMER SERVICE ORDER.

The wearing of the soldier's gimnasterka (see figure 3.) by officers was not officially approved, but they proved so comfortable on campaign that many officers adopted them. Official summer uniform for officers was the white linen Kitel. Officer status is denoted by the gold braid pogoni or shoulder boards, infantry pattern saber, the revolver in holster with black, orange, and white lanyard.

Figure 3: Turkestanski Line Battalions, 1870. Private in Summer Service Order

Army units stationed in Turkestan wore uniforms appropriate to the tropical climate, including the "Foreign Legion" style shapka with white cover and flap, with white linen shirt known as gimnasticheskata rubaha, later shortened to gimnasterka, wore with shoulder boards. The trousers are of buffalo-skin dyed red known by the Turkoman name chambari. Boots and belts are black.

 

Bibliography

Allworth, Edward, ed. Central Asia: A Century of Russian Rule. New York Columbia, 1967.

Becker, Seymour. Russia's Protectorates in Central Asia: Bukhara and Khiva, 1865-1924. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard, 1968.

Caroe, Olaf. Soviet Empire: The Turks of Central Asia and Stalinism. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1967.

Falls, Cyril, A Hundred Years of War. New York: Collier, 1967.

Friedrich, Otto. "A Land Great and Rich in Searach of Order." Time 135 (March 12, 1990); 46-51.

Graham, Stephen. Tsar of Freedom: The Life and Reign of Alexander II. New Haven: Yale, 1935.

Great Soviet Encyclopedia. vol.12. "Kokand Khanate" by R.E. Krupnova and A.G. Podolskii.

._______vol.12. "Kokand Rebellion of 1873-76."

_______vol.28. "Khiva, Campaigns of, 1839-40 and 1873."

_______vol.28. "Khiva Khanate."

_______vol.26. "Uzbek Soviet Socialist Republic."

_______vol. 2. "Akhal-Tekke Expeditionof 1879 and 19880-81."

 

Komilov, Alexander. Modern Russian History. Vol. 2. New York: Knopf, 1948.

MacGahan, J.A. Campaigning on the Oxus and the Fall of Khiva. New York: Arno, 1970.

Morgan, Gerald. Anglo-Russian Rivalry in Central Asia: 1810-1895. Totowa, New Jersey: Frank Cass, 1981.

Fares, Bernard. A History of Russia. New York: Knopf, 1949.

Pierce, Richard A. Russian Central Asia, 1867-1917. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1960.

Seton-Watson, Hugh. The Modern History of Soviet Central Asia. Oxford: Clendon, 1967.

Wheeler, Geoffrey. The Modern History of Soviet Central Asia. New York: Praeger, 1964.

Williams, Henry Smith. The Historian's History of the World: Switzerland, Russia and Poland. Vol. 17. New York: Outlook, 1905.

 

 

 

Map

Khan Sayyid Muhammad Rahim Bahadur

Major General N.N. Golovachev

Khudyar Khan

Uniform Notes