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The Ottoman ‘Islamic Army of the Caucasus’ in Dagestan (1918)

The Ottoman ‘Islamic Army of the Caucasus’ in Dagestan (1918)

At the finish of World Struggle I, the Ottoman Army achieved one of its biggest triumphs alongside the shores of the Caspian Sea in Azerbaijan and Dagestan.

However the victory by the Ottoman “Kafkas İslam Ordusu” (Islamic Army of the Caucasus (IAC)) was overshadowed by the humiliating armistice imposed by the Allies on the Ottoman Empire. The armistice was signed on the British warship Agamemnon at the port of Mondros on the island of Limnos in the northern Aegean Sea on 30 October 1918, every week earlier than the preventing got here to an finish in Dagestan.

The battle for Petrovsk (Makhachkale), Dagestan, in early November ended in victory for the IAC’s North Caucasus Command (NCC). This was after a bloody and brutal battle with the Cossack forces led by Lazar Becherekhov, who was loyal to the White Russian chief Common Anton Denikin and who had himself left Baku and chased the Bolsheviks out of their positions north of Baku in early August.

Azeri and turkish troopers close to Baku throughout Battle for the metropolis in 1918.

Regardless of the victory over Becherekhov, although, by the finish of November, the Ottoman troops had evacuated Petrovsk, based mostly on the phrases of the Mondros  Armistice.

The IAC’s exploits in seizing Baku in September 1918 are pretty well-known.  The operations of the IAC’s NCC, which seized Derbent and Petrovsk in Dagestan in October and November 1918, have been largely forgotten.  One of its members, Colonel Mehmet Tevfik, wrote in element about the North Caucasus operations in 1919 and his account was revealed in Ottoman in the “Askeri Mecmua” (Army Journal) in 1927.

Ottoman Islamic Army of the Caucasus passing by means of Qazakh

Col. Tevfik wrote a preface to his article that mirrored  his consciousness, in 1927, of the sensitivities of the new Turkish Republic vis-a-vis what had been the embryo of a Pan-Turkic campaign for the Caucasus and past, in the waning days of the Nice Warfare, engineered by Ottoman chief Enver Paşa:

Sure concepts and the entirety of the operation described in these pages could also be opposite to the rules of the Turkish Republic and should be.  However, I carried out my obligation in accordance with the concepts that have been established, based mostly on the selections and actions of these in command at the moment.  I need to state clearly, as nicely,  that this text has not been written to guage and criticize the operation, the politics and the army actions.  I depart the info for my colleagues and people in cost of historical past classes at the Conflict School.  I wrote it solely to verify, to thebest of my information, the entirety of the operation and sure essential phases and in order that the operations and the battles that our heroic military engaged in in a battle area removed from our homeland and underneath very troublesome circumstances won’t be forgotten.   

The strains that I’ve written herein about the Northern Caucasus Operation throughout the final yr of the WorldWar, have been penned instantly following the operation in 1335 (1919). The Northern Caucasus Operation was the enlargement and evolution of the Azerbaijan operation towards the north and marked each the starting and finish of the aforementioned Azerbaijan operation. 

The IAC/NCC set out from Ganja and commenced operations in Dagestan in July 1918 in Akhti, southwest of  Derbent on the Caspian Beach, north of Baku.

As a way to prop up the Dagestani Moslems who had been making an attempt to determine their very own authorities in Dagestan , whereas the bulk of the IAC forces headed for Baku, which was seized in mid-September 1918, the IAC’s NCC started its mission of ridding Dagestan of, first, the Bolsheviks in July and later, after early August, Bicherekhov’s White Russian-aligned Cossacks who had left Baku and chased the Bolsheviks to the north of Petrovsk (Makhachkala).   Col. Tevfik described the state of affairs in Dagestan in July 1918 as follows:

The Baku-Derbent-Petrovsk (Makhachkala) railway and the  cities of Derbent, Petrovsk, Koba and Demirhan-Şura have been underneath Bolshevik occupation.  Since the Bolsheviks had seized the railway and main business facilities, that they had management of Dagestan’s lifelines.  In locations outdoors of the Bolsheviks’ occupation, confusion reigned.

Left, Ottoman Chief of the Basic Employees Enver Pasha. Proper, Islamic Army of the Caucasus Commander Nuri Pasha (Enver’s youthful brother).

In mid-September 1918, after Turkish forces seized Baku, the IAC confronted peripheral issues in Karabağ with the Armenians led by Zoravar Antranik; with enemies round Lenkoran to the south of Baku; and with the rising entrenchment of Bicherekhov in Derbent and Petrovsk.  IAC Commander Nuri Paşa, the youthful brother of Ottoman chief Enver Paşa, took cost of the effort towards Antranik in Karabağ.  Quickly, although, Ottoman Turkey’s efforts to strike an armistice cope with the Allies accelerated, as mirrored in this telegram from Enver to the IAC in early October:

Harbiye (Istanbul)/three October 1918

Quickly, peace talks, together with Germany, will start and in all chance these talks will conclude shortly.  In accordance
with nationwide rules, our place in the Caucasus should be robust and, in specific, the governments in Azerbaijan and the northern Caucasus have to be strengthened, in order to strengthen our authorized claims in these peace talks.  For this cause, for those who depart the fifth Division’s transport apart for now, after the 15th Division, the 12th Division is to be transported. I feel that, in any occasion, when the time comes for transport the state of affairs could have been utterly clarified and determined upon.  Maintain in contact with us and attempt to shortly put the native Azerbaijani forces in order.  Our forces presently in Azerbaijan and the fifth Division will stay in Azerbaijan subsequently to place the Azerbaijani army group in order.  Ship a giant quantity of arms and ammunition to Azerbaijan.

Head of the Common Employees
Ferik (Division Basic)
Enver

Enver Paşa

 In response to Enver’s order, Derbent was seized comparatively simply by the IAC/NCC on 5/6 October, with Bicherekhov’s retreating forces consolidating to the north at Petrovsk (at the moment’s Makhachkala).

Far more troublesome battles confronted the Turkish pressure because it headed north towards Petrovsk, as the Turks have been regularly challenged by Becherekhov’s well-organized troops, which have been backed by armored trains and even Russian warships that fired on the Turks from the Caspian Sea.

Tarki Mountain

The showdown for Petrovsk lastly occurred at Tarki Mountain,  which guarded the strategy to Petrovsk, on 5 November 1918, as described by Col. Tevfik:

At 1330 hours, Nuri Bey’s regiment started to retreat beneath the impact of the enemy counterattacks with further forces and scattered into the valley.  4 officers from the 107th Regiment 1st Battalion have been wounded and simply 40 troopers remained wholesome.  Subsequently, the enemy counterattack was turned towards the 56th Regiment 1st Battalion, which had seized the Tarki Mountain cross.

The heroic battalion, after spending its final bullets and bombs and after the deaths of two firm commanders and valued troopers, retreated in an anxious temper towards Ağaç Ağil.  This retreat allowed the enemy to occupy the move location and the line between there and Hill 1579.  The enemy then rained hearth down on our retreating troops, ensuing is extreme losses.  With the retreat of Nuri Bey’s regiment on the proper and 56the Regiment 2nd Battalion on the left, the 56th Regiment 1st Battalion was left surrounded by the enemy however regardless of this horriblesituation, didn’t abandon its place.

We mounted a counterattack to rescue the 56the Regiment  1st Battalion and take again the crest line.  At 1 / 4 previous 2, the 38the Regiment  2nd Battalion’s machine gun firm attacked towards the cross. The 38the Regiment  third Battalion had already been despatched towards Tarki so the Division was left with solely 38th Regiment 1st Battalion in reserve.

Battle map of Petrovsk (Makhachkala) from Col. Tevfik’s article, displaying the state of affairs on 1 November 1918. The Caspian Sea is at proper and the railway is the dotted line alongside the coast, operating towards the port of Petrovsk after which away to the west (left).

 With a counterattack by the 38th Regiment towards sundown the cross was retaken.  The 38th Regiment on the proper, and the 56th Regiment on the left,  spent the night time of 5/6 November at the crest line.  Hill 1579, on the38th Regiment ’s proper flank, was occupied by the enemy.  By working the complete night time, the regiment was assembled and despatched for a counterattack on Hill 1579.  Previous to daybreak, this too was retaken and the state of affairs rectified. 

The terrain on which this preventing occurred had no roads for automobiles and even animals, for that matter.  So meals and ammunition resupply and removing of the wounded might solely be completed underneath the harshest circumstances that defy description. 

The ammunition packing containers, the wounded and meals have been all carried on the backs of troopers.  On this night time, like final night time, there was no sleep.  The troops had climbed, attacked, scattered and counterattacked regularly for 36 hours.  Briefly, they have been exhausted by the tides of battle. 

The enemy’s hopes have been utterly dashed, its strains in dysfunction and the indicators of worry started to point out themself.  Towards sundown on 6 November, a gaggle of enemy troopers could possibly be seen fleeing in the path of Petrovsk. 

There was a cease-fire at sundown and the Division was capable of sleep the night time on Tarki Mountain in security.  We have been now masters of Petrovsk metropolis and its plain. The enemy was 200-400 meters throughout from our Division’s entrance. 

At 9 o’clock on 7 November, Yusuf İzzet Paşa issued the following order:

“The proposal from the leaders of the opposition that came from Petrovskhas been deemed to be in conformity with the political situation of the North Caucasus government.  In accordance with a decision of the Republic’s government,  until further notice the attack is in abeyance.  The positions are to be fortified and defended.  In the event that the enemy attacks, there will be a counterattack.”

Yusuf İzzet Paşa

Conclusion

The IAC/NCC’s occupation of Petrovsk on 7 November 1918, got here every week after, first, the Mondros Armistice was signed on 30 October and, second, after Turkish leaders Enver, Talat and Cemal fled Istanbul on 1 November to Sevastopol aboard a German warship.

The bloody battles of Dagestan, written about in element by Colonel Mehmed Tevfik a yr after the battles in 1919 (and revealed in 1927), mirror the horrors of conflict, the braveness of warriors on each side and, in this case, the futility of the efforts of the Islamic Army of the Caucasus. However, the IAC’s success in the Caucasus was one of the few army vibrant spots for the Ottomans in WWI, however, alas, a forgotten one.

Ottoman Islamic Army of the Caucasus passing by means of Qazakh

Losses by the IAC throughout the campaigns in Azerbaijan and Dagestan have been vital: 9 officers and 195 troopers lifeless; 22 officers and 398 troopers wounded; and 20 troopers both lacking or taken prisoner.

Learn one other story from us: Superb Story of Gun Operating in the Turkish Struggle of Independence – The Alemdar

With the finish of preventing, the Turks withdrew from this distant nook of the Nice Struggle’s stage and by 1921 the Bolsheviks/Soviets claimed management over all of the Caucasus, snuffing out the fledgling Moslem republics there and ending Enver’s dream of  a Pan -Turkic empire stretching to again to Turkish origins in Mongolia.

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