“Hindustan is ours” and “Russian soldiers washing their boots in the Indian Ocean” – it could become a reality in the distant 1801, when Paul I, together with Napoleon attempted the conquest of India.
How successful was on the development of Russian East, just as it proved to be unsuccessful in the south. In this regard, Russia is constantly haunted by bad luck: the harsh steppes and Pamir mountain ranges have always proved an insurmountable obstacle to Russian. But it probably was not the geographical obstacles, and in the absence of clear objectives.
By the end of the XVIII century Russia firmly entrenched in the southern borders of the Ural mountain range, but the raids of nomads and intractable Khanate prevented promotion empire to the south. However, Russia is not only glanced at the still unconquered Emirate of Bukhara and Khiva Khanate, but then – in the direction of the unknown and mysterious India.
At the same time, Britain, whose American colony disappeared like a ripe fruit, concentrated its efforts on India, occupies an important strategic position in the Asian region. While Russia skidded on the way to Central Asia, England, moving farther and farther to the north, was seriously considering plans for conquest and colonization mountainous regions of India, favorable for farming. Interests of the two nations is about may be experiencing.
Its plans for India was also France: but it is not so much interested in the area, as the hated British, strengthen its rule there. Time to knock them out of India was the most suitable. Britain torn by wars with the kingdoms of Hindustan, significantly weakened his army in the region. Napoleon Bonaparte had to find just the right ally.
First Consul turned his attention to Russia. “With your lord we change the face of the world!” – Napoleon flattered Russian envoy. And he has not lost. Paul I, known for its grandiose plans to join the Russian Malta or the administration of a military expedition to Brazil willingly went to the rapprochement with Bonaparte. Russian support for the king of France was interested in nothing less. The goal – the weakening of England – they had in common.
However, the first idea of a joint campaign against India gave Paul I, and Napoleon only supported this initiative. Paul, according to the historian A. Katsura, was well aware that “the possession of the keys to the world hidden somewhere in the center of Eurasia.” Eastern dream two major powers had all the chances to become a reality.
Preparing for the campaign was conducted in secret, all information transmitted mostly through couriers orally. Roll a joint to India set aside a record time – 50 days. The Allies relied on the support of the Maharaja of Punjab Type Said that would accelerate progress of the expedition. On the French side was supposed to make the 35000th army led by glorified general Andre Massena , and a Russian – the same number of Cossacks led by Ataman of the Don Army Vasily Orlov. In support of an elderly chieftain Paul ordered to appoint an officer Matvei Platov, Ataman of the Don Army of the future and a hero of the war in 1812. In the short term for the campaign were prepared: 41 Cavalry Regiment and two companies of horse artillery, which amounted to 27,500 people and 55,000 horses.
Nothing boded trouble, but a grand idea still under threat. Blame the British officer John Malcolm, who in the midst of preparing the Russian-French campaign first made an alliance with the Afghans, and then with the Shah of Persia, who had recently sworn allegiance to France. Napoleon this turn of events is clearly not happy and he temporarily “freeze” the project.
But the ambitious Paul used their endeavors to bring to an end and February 28, 1801 sent don an army to conquer India. This Grand and ambitious plan he outlined Orlov in parting letter, noting that wherever you are appointed, the British have “their establishments trade, purchased, or money, or weapons. You have all this ruin, oppressed owners to release land to bring Russia into the same addiction, it the English”.
Back to home.
It was clear that the expedition to India was not planned properly. Orlov was unable to gather the necessary information about the route through Central Asia, he had to lead an army on the cards traveler F. Ephraim, composed in 1770-80’s. Did not work Ataman assemble and 35 thousandth army – a campaign acted on the strength of 22 thousand people.
Winter Journey on horseback through the Kalmyk steppe was a stern test for even the hardened Cossacks. Their movement hindered wet from the melted snow cloaks, and rivers, only began to break free from the ice, and sand storms. Was not enough bread and fodder. But the troops were ready to go further.
All changed murder of Paul I on the night of 11 to 12 March 1801. “Where are the Cossacks?” – This was one of the first questions newly Emperor Alexander I to Count Lieven, participated in the development of the route. Sent a messenger with a handwritten Alexander order to terminate the campaign caught the expedition, only 23 of March in the village Machetnom Saratov province. Cossacks were told to return to their homes. Curiously, the story repeated itself five years ago, when after the death of Catherine II was returned, sent in the Caspian Dagestan land expedition Zubov-Tsitsianov.
Another 24 October 1800 was made an unsuccessful attempt on Napoleon, which were involved in the British. Most likely, on the plans of Bonaparte reacted English officials, afraid to lose their millions, they brought the East India company. But refusal to participate in the campaign of Napoleon the activities of the English agents had been forwarded to the Russian Emperor. Many researchers, in particular historian Cyril Serebrinsky, see the death of Paul the English track.
This is indirectly confirmed by the facts. For example, one of the developers of the Indian campaign and the main conspirator Count Palen was seen in the relations with the British. In addition to the British Isles generously supplied money mistress St. Petersburg British Ambassador Charles Uitvorda to that, according to researchers, prepared the ground for conspiracy against Paul I. It is also interesting that Paul’s correspondence with Napoleon 1800-1801 years was bought in 1816 from a private individual Great Britain and subsequently burned.
New Perspectives After the death of Paul Alexander I to the surprise of many, continued to build relationships with Napoleon, but they tried to build a more favorable position for Russia. The young king hated arrogance and gluttony of the French ruler. In 1807, during a meeting at Tilsit Napoleon tried to persuade Alexander to sign an agreement on the division of the Ottoman Empire and the new campaign in India. Later on February 2, 1808, in a letter to him Bonaparte as expounded his plans: “If an army of 50 thousand Russian and French right through Constantinople in Asia and would appear on the Euphrates, it would make England tremble and threw her to the feet of the mainland”.
It is not known how this attitude to the idea of the Emperor of Russia, but he preferred to any initiative did not come from France, and from Russia. In subsequent years already without France Russia begins to actively explore Central Asia and to establish trade relations with India, excluding in this case every adventure.