Anniversary of Seizure of Ochakov

17 December 1788

In the course of Russian-Turkish war that began on August 13 (24), 1787 military actions were taking place in two theaters simultaneously – in Crimea and in the Northern Caucasus because Turkey aspired to get back the Crimea and not to let Russia strengthen its impact in Transcaucasia. From the Russian side there were two armies opposing Turkey:  Ekaterinoslavskaya army led by field marshal G.A. Potemkin that had to seize the fortress of Ochakov and reach Danube, and the Ukrainian army located in Podolia and led by field marshal P.A. Rumiantsev that had assist the main forces. The defense of Crimea and Caucasus was entrusted to certain corps and the Black Sea fleet. The battle for Ochakov that provided control over the Dnepr firth had become one of the most important during this war.

In May of 1788 50 thousand man of Ekaterinoslavskaya army crossed the river of Bug and moved toward Ochakov. A.V. Suvorov suggested to take Ochakov by storm with the assistance of Liman fleet. But G.A. Potemkin had preferred the plan of “formal siege”. The main idea of the plan was first to create redoubts in order to assist the flanks of the siege army and then to occupy the suburbs, move forward the batteries, link them with a trench and begin a methodical bombardment of the fortress forcing it to surrender. Potemkin’s plan failed and in the beginning of December he was obliged to agree to take the fortress by storm.

On December 6 (17), 1788 at 7 a.m. with the outside temperature 23 degrees below zero the storm of Ochakovo began. At first were occupied Turkish land fortifications between Ochakovo and Hassan pasha palace. Then the Russian troops attacked the central land fortifications and reached the fortress’ gates and bastions. Under the artillery cover the grenadiers climbed over the fortress wall. The battle inside the fortress lasted for 2 hours. The Russian loss numbered according to some sources 147 officers and 2 thousand minor ranks killed or wounded, according to other sources – over 4.800 men. They took 310 guns and 180 colors as trophies.

In 1791 under the peace treaty of Jassy, Ochakov was annexed to Russia allowing it to completely gain a foothold in the Dnepr firth and in the adjacent territory, to ensure the security of Kherson and protect Crimea from the Turkish impact.

Lit.: Широкорад А. Б. Очаковское сидение // Широкорад А. Б. Русско-турецкие войны. Минск, 2000.

Based on the Presidential Library’s materials:

Белавенец П. И. Очаков: краткий исторический очерк военных действий русских морских и сухопутных сил у стен Очаковской твердыни. Севастополь, 1901. С. 16;

Дубровин Н. Ф. Вторая турецкая война в царствование императрицы Екатерины II (1787-1791 гг.). [СПб., 1882];

Русов А. А. Осада и взятие Очакова: (1788). Киев., 1888.