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treaty between Russia and Khiva. The precise terms of the Danilevski treaty are nowhere given, but it is understood to have provided for the due protection of the Russian trade; for an entire cessation of slave-dealing, and for restraining the Turcomans, Kara-Kalpáks, and Southern Kirghiz, from all inroads on the Russian territory or molestation of Russian subjects; and it is only fair to say that until Russia, five years later, proceeded to establish a military station on the Sir-Daria, or Jaxartes, and thus undertook to exercise a control over tribes, hitherto dependent upon Khiva, the Uzbegs of the Oxus observed with sufficient fidelity the stipulations that had been imposed on them. During this same period, too, commenced that internecine conflict between Kokand and Bokhara, which, up to the present time, has raged with varying intensity, and in more ways than one has facilitated the Russian advance.
We have now arrived at a point in the recent history of Central Asia, where a more careful record must be observed of facts, and a more careful consideration must be given, both to motives and results, than have been attempted in the earlier stages of the inquiry. It was in 1847, contemporaneously with our final conquest of the Punjab, that the curtain rose on the aggressive Russian drama in Central Asia, which is not yet played out. Russia had enjoyed the nominal dependency of the Kirghiz-Kazzáks of the Little Horde, who inhabited the western division of the Great Steppe, since 1730; but except in the immediate vicinity of the Orenburg line she had little real control over the tribes. In 1847-48, however, she erected three important fortresses in the very heart of the Steppe; the Karabutak and Ural forts on the Irghiz river, intermediate between Orsk and the Aral Sea, and the Orenburg Fort on the Turgäi river, where the great caravan route from the Jaxartes bifurcates to Orsk and to Troitska. These important works, the only permanent constructions which had been hitherto attempted south of the line-excepting the Mangishlak Fort, on the Caspian, and the Emba and Ak-Bulak entrenchments thrown out as supports to the expedition against Khiva, and afterwards abandoned enabled Russia for the first time to dominate the western portion of the Steppe, and to command the great routes of communication with Central Asia ; but the Steppe forts were after all a mere means to an end; they formed the connecting link between the old frontier of the empire and the long-coveted line of the Jaxartes, and simultaneously therefore with their erection arose the fortification of Raimsk, near the embouchure of the river, subsequently called Aralsk, or the fort of the Aral,' and now bearing the official designation of Fort No. 1.
In the manifesto which Russia has lately presented to the various Courts of Europe in explanation of her Central-Asian policy, she has traced with some ingenuity the successive steps by which a civilized Government, in contact with nomadic tribes, may be compelled to advance in the mere interests of order, and without any aggressive tendency whatever. She undertakes to show that the territory inhabited by a migratory population is an impossible frontier for a fixed Government; that there is no resource indeed but to push on, until a point is reached where the limitary nations are sufficiently advanced in social organization to admit of definite relations being established with them. The argument seems to be made for the occasion, rather than to be of general application, and is, besides, strained to an extreme point to furnish the required ground of justification. It is quite conceivable that the occupation of the valley of the Jaxartes may have been judged by the Emperor Nicholas to be indispensable to the due development of Russian power in Central Asia, and indeed it is well known that this has been the traditional creed of the empire since the days of Ivan Vasilevitch ; but it is impossible to admit that the southern skirt of the Great Steppe is in reality a more defensible barrier against aggression than the northern skirt; and it is really pushing the prerogative of civilization to an absurd extent to pretend that it was necessary for the legitimate exercise of trade, or in the general interests of humanity, to assume the government of 2,500,000* independent Kirghiz. At any rate the recent British annexations in India, which are alluded to in the manifesto as parallel cases, repose avowedly on very different grounds, the Punjab having been forfeited in retribution for the invasion of our territory by the Sikhs, and the treachery of the Amírs having, as it was always maintained, led to their expulsion from Sinde.
* Humboldt in his ' Asie Centrale,' tom. ii. p. 129, note 2, has collected and compared all the most reliable evidence with regard to the strength of the Kirghiz population, and the result of his calculation is a total of 2,400,000 for the aggregate of the tribes in 1843. In this estimate, however, he includes the KaraKirghiz, or Buruts, whom he persists in regarding as a portion of the Great Horde, though the Russians have conclusively shown that no such connexion exists. In collating the English and Russian accounts of Turkestan it must be borne in mind that we apply the name of Kazzák alone to the Kirghiz of the three hordes, called by the Russians Kirghiz-Kaisak; and that when we speak of the Kirghiz we mean the Buruts, or Kara-Kirghiz, usually named by the Russians Dikokameni. It is worth observing, too, that the Kipcháks, who, according to Vambéry, confirmed as he is by the reports of the recent English envoys, form the most influential section of the Kokand community, are hardly mentioned by the Russians as an independent body; in fact, Valikhanoff asserts (“Russians in Central Asia,' p. 103) that the Kipcháks, together with the Naimans and Kitäis, have to a great extent become incorporated with the Kara-Kirghiz, or Buruts. See also p. 89 for the common origin of the Kipcháks and Kirghiz.
Before tracing the Russian progress up the course of the Jaxartes it may be as well to glance at the previous condition of this country. At the end of the last century the Kara-Kalpaks (or black bonnets '), then a very powerful tribe, who had proffered their allegiance to Russia at an earlier period (1723), and had furnished a ruler to Khiva, Khan Kaip, a Sultan of the white bone,' in 1770, pitched their tents on both sides of the lower portion of the river, and were regarded as masters of the region. The Kirghiz of the Little Horde, who were Russian subjects in name, though certainly not at that time in reality, gradually dispossessed the Kara-Kalpáks, and these Kirghiz were in their turn subjugated by the Uzbegs of Kokand, who, between the
years 1817 and 1847, erected a series of forts along the river from Turkestan as low down as the 64th degree of longitude, from whence they levied black mail on passing caravans, and exacted tribute from all the nomads in the vicinity. The Khivans, too, who had always claimed a right of sovereignty over the country adjoining the Aral and intermediate between the mouths of the Jaxartes and the Oxus, established, in 1846, a strong position on the Kuvan-Daria, one of the chief southern arms of the Delta of the Jaxartes, which took the name of the Fort of Khoja-Niáz,' from its first Governor, and which besides commanding the two routes through the Kizil-kum (or red-sand') desert, leading respectively from the Russian frontier to Khiva and Bokhara, also effectually controlled the Kirghiz in their migrations to the south of the river. When the Russians, therefore, by direction of General Obruchev, Governor-General of Orenburg, first planted their foot on the Jaxartes, both the Khivans and the Kokandis at once took the alarm and commenced a series of desultory hostilities, sometimes against the Russian detachments traversing the Steppe from Orenburg and Orsk, sometimes against the Kirghiz who assisted their advance. In fact, from this time, Danilevski's treaty of 1842 must be considered to have been virtually abrogated, the Khivans on the Kokand frontier resorting to every sort of opposition short of an open declaration
In the meantime the Russian progress was necessarily slow. Notwithstanding the support afforded to troops crossing the Steppe from the Orenburg line, by the Ural Fort upon the Irghiz, there was still a tract of considerable difficulty to the southward of that point, and skirting the north-eastern shores of the Aral, across which all the Russian convoys and detachments must necessarily pass in their onward march to the Jaxartes. This tract has been hitherto but very imperfectly understood. By some it has been supposed to be almost impassable: by others it has
been deemed so easy as to be called the highway to India.' In reality the road across it is in no way comparable, either in length or in difficulty, to the desert portion of any of the other Steppe routes, leading to Khiva westward of the Aral, or more to the eastward to Fort Perofski or Tashkend. The Kara-kum, or black sands,' which enclose the Aral to the north-east, are not traversed on this line from north to south, but are merely skirted on their western border, and the worst part of the road,the only really bad part indeed—is its lower portion which crosses the saline Steppe from the extreme corner of the Aral to the bed of the Jaxartes. The utmost extent, moreover, of this difficult portion, bordering the Kara-kum Desert, is under two hundred miles; and even here, according to the Russian description of the route, translated by Mr. Michell, 'wells exist at every stage in sufficient numbers for the supply of considerable caravans. While therefore, owing to the limited supply of water and to a general scarcity of forage along the entire route, it may be held to be impassable to any large number of troops marching in a united body, there would not seem to be any serious hindrance to the passage of detachments of moderate strength; and in fact it is along this track, which is everywhere practicable to wheeled carriages, that have passed, not only the troops, supplies, artillery, ammunition, and stores belonging to the Russian field-force and garrisons now serving on the Jaxartes, but also the boilers, iron plates, machinery, and heavy armament of the steamers and vessels of war that were put together at Fort Aralsk.
Simultaneously with the erection of the fortress of Aralsk the Russians prepared to launch a small flotilla which might occupy the sea of Aral and facilitate the further ascent of the Jaxartes. Three small vessels, accordingly, which were built at Orenburg and afterwards taken to pieces and transported overland to the Jaxartes, first carried the Russian flag upon this inland sea in 1847-48. They were followed in due course by two iron steamers, which, being constructed originally in Sweden, were then passed on in pieces viâ Petersburg to Samara, on the Wolga, and ultimately to Aralsk, where they were put together and launched in 1852; the total cost of the two vessels, including their conveyance to the Jaxartes and the salaries of the artisans employed in constructing them, amounting to no more than
* 'Russians in Central Asia,' p. 310. In tracing the routes and marches described in Mr. Michell's work, great care must be taken to distinguish between the Ural Fort or Uralsk, on the Irghiz, and the Aral Fort or Aralsk near the mouth of the Jaxartes; for, throughout the work in question, the orthography of Aralsk is employed for both positions indifferently. See particularly pp. 340, 370, and 391.
74001. Having thus prepared a secondary base of some strength on the Sea of Aral, Russia proceeded to put in execution her great scheme of occupying the lower portion of the valley of the Jaxartes, her avowed object being to establish, in the first place, a line of fortresses along the river as far as the point where the Kara-taú range sinks into the desert, and from thence to supply other links, either along the old frontier of the Chú or by the more southern line of the Talas, which should connect the Jaxartes chain with the eastern settlements about the Issi-kúl. In this arrangement she professed to recognise no territorial encroachment, as her own Kirghiz already camped on the right bank of the Jaxartes, and the Chú had been adopted long previously as the southern frontier of the Steppe; but, nevertheless, there is no doubt that the Uzbegs of Kokand, who were then in possession of the great river, considered the Russian approach as a direct invasion, while the despair of the Khivans on the southern bank found vent in their piteous exclamations that if the Russians were to drink the waters of the Sir-Daria with them they could no longer exist.'
The principal fort on the Jaxartes, which had been constructed by the Kokandis in 1817, and had ever since dominated the river, was named Ak-Mesjed (or the White Mosque).* It was situated at the distance of about three hundred miles from the mouth of the river, and in Uzbeg estimation was a place of very considerable strength. The first offensive movement of the Russians was a reconnaissance in strength against this place, an expedition being organised for the purpose, the details of which are calculated to impress the military reader with a very high opinion of Russian daring. That a small detachment, indeed, of four hundred men, with two field-pieces, should have been sent forth into an unknown country, and have been directed to penetrate to a distance of 220 miles from their base, with no support in the interval, and liable to be attacked at any point of the march by overwhelming numbers of the enemy, would have been considered an act of foolhardiness, had not the expedition been crowned with signal success. The detachment being unprovided with heavy guns, or scaling ladders, was unable indeed to capture the inner citadel of Ak-Mesjed, which was defended by stout mud walls,
* In the Russian maps and geographical papers this place is usually called Ak-Meshed, which is nonsense. Meshed signifies the place of martyrdom,' being the locative noun of the root shahad, to witness, and the name thus very properly applied to places like Nejjef, the scene of the martyrdom of Ali, Meshed in Khorassan, where the Imam Raza was martyred, &c.; but Mesjid (from whence the corrupted form of Mosque) simply means the place of worship,' being the locative noun of the root' sajad,' to bow down,' or make obeisance,' and is thus of much more general application.