Welcome / Bienvenu

This blog presents my different wargames armies, after action reports, campaigns which I have run, some scenarios and a presentation of some of the different rules I play. The pages at the top of the blog contain historical information on the periods that interest me. They are an aid to my poor memory, and not in any way exhaustive nor necessarily correct. As I am an Englishman living in France, some pages are in English and others in French...sorry, I am too lazy to translate...

I hope this blog offers you much enjoyment and some inspiration !

mercredi 22 août 2012

Colonial Russian (1860-1895)

Motivations for Russian expansion into Central Asia were naturally complex : an attempt to create an outlet for Russian goods; the desire to counter British ambitions and threaten Afghanistan and India; a desire to "civilise" the "savages" of Central Asia; the need to stop raiding and slaving activities on the borders of their very Empire,...

In 1846, Kazakhstan was annexed, bringing the Russian Empire to the Chu river. Beyond the Chu River was the khanate of Khokhand, with its capital at Tashkent. After numerous cattle-raids, enslaving of Russian subjects and retaliatory expeditions, open war broke out in 1853, with a certain Yakub Beg directing Khokhandian efforts in the north-west. The Russian advance was slow and insidious, reaching the Syr Daria only in 1861.

In 1865, Bokhara invaded Khokhandia in order to annex disputed territory. The Russian commander, fearing that the Bokharans would take Tashkent, decided to move on the capital, despite his orders, taking it in June 1865. In 1867, Khokhandia was formally subjected to Russian military governorship.

In 1866, the Boukharans attacked Russian positions on the Syr Darya and marched on Tashkent. War was declared; it took the Russians two years to pacify the khanate, which was stripped in 1868 of a goodly proportion of its territory. It remained however independent until 1920, with an army and autonomous foreign policy.
The khanate of Khiva (ancient Khwarezm) also remained independent until it unwisely supported a Kazakh rebellion in 1869-71. 14,000 Russians penetrated into the khanate in April 1873.

Despite continual harassment, and considerable attrition from disease and lack of water, the Russians took Khiva five months later, amputated a large part of its territory and obliged the khan to acknowledge Russian sovereignty.

War with Persia followed in 1884-1885, allowing Russian to annexe Merv; during this conflict a border incident came close to drawing Russia into a war with Afghanistan.

The Empire's frontiers in Central Asia had now reached their greatest extension and, with Russian troops at the gates of Afghanistan - and therefore of India - had brought the "Great Game" to the height of tension. Any desire to intervene in Kashgaria had been thwarted by the successful Chinese counter-attack there in 1876-78. War with China was indeed narrowly averted, until the Russians evacuated the Ili valley in 1881.

Instead, the Tsar concentrated on improving his political hold over Persia, which grew steadily until the 1907 settlement with Britain.
In Central Asia, expeditionary forces, due to the problems posed by supplies and terrain, were small, rarely more than 5,000 men.

Although some expeditions in the 1830s had met with disaster, the Russians frequently defeated enemy forces of far greater numbers. 5,000 Russians defeated over 40,000 Bokharans, allegedly losing only 1 killed and 50 wounded. A garrison of 685 men in Samarkand held out for a week against 40,000 enemies, losing 49 dead in the process.

In general, Russian defeats occurred only when rash generals neglected to scout, to coordinate efforts with colleagues (and thus rivals), or when Central Asian armies attacked isolated outposts after a period of peace.  The following drawing seems to me to capture the essence of Russian expeditions into Central Asia in this period !




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