Translated by Nikiforova Svetlana Gennadievna +7(8482) 680-950
Intensification of surf oppression caused wave of protest that rolled in Russia in 1760’s – at the beginning of 1770’s. In autumn 1773, it developed into a strong peasant war that was headed by Emelian Pugachyov.
He called himself Peter III and issued his first manifesto where he granted the river from upper waters to the mouth, lands, grasses and allowances to the Cossacks. One of the manifestoes written at the beginning of October was addressed to “the Bashkirs, the Kalmyks and the Mohammedans” and solved vital issues of the oppressed people of the Land along the Volga. The Stavropol Kalmyks learnt about the started war at the end of September 1773 when they got an order of the governor of Orenburg to recruit 500 persons. The detachment formed with a great difficulty did not arrive at the proper place: near the Bor fort, the Kalmyks rose in revolt and went back home. The detachment formed for a second time took the side of the insurgents that were near the river Busuluk. The Kalmyk Fyodor Derbetev – a brave and experienced soldier and participant of the Seven Years’ War led it.
Derbetev had a private conversation with Pugachyov who made him a chieftain of the Stavropol Kalmyks. His first vital task was to recruit a detachment of the Kalmyks to form the force of insurgents. As the Kalmyks were excellent riders and good shots, they were a serious reinforcement for Pugachyov’s army.
At that time, the atmosphere in the Stavropol district was tense. In attempt to prevent the revolt of the Kalmyks, the Stavropol chancellery issued a decree – to keep all the armed forces ready in case of assault. Administration of the fort tried to put pressure upon the insurgents with the help of the archpriest of the Trinity church Andrew Chubovsky - the man respected by everybody. The state of thing he observed in the Kalmyk uluses was beyond his expectations. Uluses were like a buzzing hive. Many Kalmyks saddled horses and set off to rob the estates of the landowners that were in their neighbourhood. Those who stayed in settlement evade conversation with Chubovsky. What was more, the trip almost cost the archpriest his life – near the Kalmyk settlement “Kurumoch” a group of the Kalmyks threatened him with weapon, and only because the inhabitants remembered his good deals the Kalmyks preserved his life. Together with the Kalmyks, all the landowners’ and state peasants rose in revolt, too.
At the end of December Derbetev managed easily to form a detachment of 250 persons. More of that, some of the nobility – Colonel Deldesh and others – took the side of the insurgents. At least four partisan detachments – one of them was headed by Derbetev’s aged mother Ann Derbeteva, others were led by the Kalmyks L. Torgoutsky, Delger, Matveev – 5 thousand insurgents in all were in action on the territory of the Stavropol district that also included a part of the modern Ulianovsk Region and the eastern regions of Samara. There was no power that could resist the insurgents.
In December 1773, the Samara Region was of great importance to the insurgents, for it could serve as the main food basis to them. At the end of December Pugachyov sent there the chieftains Derbetev and Ilia Arapov. On December 25, their detachments successfully occupied Samara. Derbetev headed an operation on seizure of the Stavropol fort. Its garrison consisted mostly of disabled soldiers (249 persons) who had 59 guns and 7 cannons for the whole squad.
It is known that there were two attempts to take the fort by assault: the first – on January 10 was a failure. On January 18 was finished the forming of 2 thousandth detachment for the second assault that took place in the night between January 19 and January 20 1774. The insurgents managed to take the fort suddenly without making a shot. They owned the town 10 hours but at Derbetev’s squad and some part of the garrison left Stavropol taking the entire ordnance and forage reserves. On leaving the town, the insurgents dealt with members of administration – commandant, his secretary and others – executing them in the forest.
After that event, government forces occupied the fort. The new commandant Chegodaev carried out an investigation revealing that the garrison of the fort was in sympathy with the insurgents’ ideas and assisted them to take the fort.
After Derbetev left Stavropol, almost all Kalmyk families left their uluses (about 1 thousand families). Together with the insurgents they moved to Orenburg. Derbetev’s detachment that was chased by Colonel Trenyov moved to southeast where took place large battles in January near the Red Cliff, in February near the village Zaharkina and Orenburg. On March 22, Pugachyov’s army lost a battle near the Tatishchev fort. 1,5 thousand Kalmyks took part in that battle. Pugachyov’s forces suffered losses of three thousand people. In July 1774, the main army successfully assaulted Kazan. Basic forces of the insurgents took part in that battle. The parties of the Kalmyks constantly chased by government forces moved to southeast on the Saratov steppes. Some part of the Kalmyks, namely noble ones, betrayed the insurgents and returned home.
In his report, the commandant informed that small groups of insurgents traveled about the region and called people to struggle. It took a week of hard battles to quell the rebels. Derbetev’s detachment existed in constant danger. On May on the river Odnoderevnya about 400 yurtas of the Kalmyks – a thousand women, children and many horses - were taken into captivity.
In attempt to make their way to the Samara fortified defence line, the detachment constantly got away from chasers. On May 23 1774 near Sorochinsk, the mounted Cossacks of the government forces took up the struggle with Derbetev who fought to the utmost and died fighting against odds. His army broke apart; some part returned home, another was taken into captivity.
The forts Yaik, Sorochinsk and Busuluk were made gathering places for the captured and the Kalmyks who surrendered voluntarily. By the middle of June 1774 in such different points were gathered 3, 539 Kalmyks of Stavropol. The majority had neither horses nor food. The Cossack authority made most of the Kalmyks their workers. During three months there worked a committee of inquiry. All that time the Cossacks tried to bring the Kalmyks to reason by lashing them and using other means of execution and only after that let them turn back home. The survived Kalmyks left for Bashkiria and struggled there until the end of November 1774.
The event when almost all the Kalmyks joined the insurgents was the only fact in the history of Pugachyov’s rebellion when almost the entire nationality rose in revolt against harsh inhumane conditions of living.
After the insurgents’ defeat, heaps of committees of inquiries worked in many districts of the region. Thousands of participant of the rebellion (one person of 300) were executed.
Were executed the peasants of such villages as Kurumoch, Suskan, Uzyukovo, Tashla and Yakushkino. Gallows with the hanged were let down the Volga. After the rebellion, the population of the region turned out in grave position. Merchants compensated their losses at the expense of robbing the peasants. The Kalmyks were in the gravest position. The Kalmyk population reduced to 37%, the cattle to one half. 2,306 (44,7%) of 5 thousand made their living by day-labor and passed almost a beggarly existence.
Museum of regional studies of Togliatti: Sergeeva Viktoria Mihaylovna phone: +7(8482) 481-070 e-mail:firstname.lastname@example.org