TimelineMaps

Follow us through the World War I centennial on Follow wwitoday on Twitter

The Battle of Sarikamish

From The Great War magazine, Part 34: Map of the Turkish invasion of Russia in the Caucasus at the end of 1914, ending in defeat at the Battle of Sarikamish.
Text:
The Turkish invasion of the Caucasus
Key map of the passes by which the Turkish forces invaded Russian territory. They suffered utter rout at Sarykamysch (or Sarykamish), and at Ardahan.

From The Great War magazine, Part 34: Map of the Turkish invasion of Russia in the Caucasus at the end of 1914, ending in defeat at the Battle of Sarikamish.

Image text

The Turkish invasion of the Caucasus

Key map of the passes by which the Turkish forces invaded Russian territory. They suffered utter rout at Sarykamysch (or Sarykamish), and at Ardahan.

Other views: Larger

Even as fighting on the Russo-Turkish border seemingly halted for the winter, Turkish War Minister Ismail Enver Pasha planned a winter assault on the Russians on Turkey's eastern border to capture Tiflis, the regional capital, seizing the rail line that ran to it from Sarikamish and Kars, mountain cities of the frontier. Enver began executing his plan in late November when winter had already arrived in the eastern mountains.

Most of the Turkish Army was stationed in the west. To bring adequate forces to bear for Enver's campaign, Turkey needed to move of its army across the country.

Enver went to the border area, and met with his commander of the Turkish Third Army, Hasan Izzet Pasha, who disagreed with the War Minister's plan, as his troops had no winter clothing, and were neither trained nor equipped for a winter campaign in the mountains. Enver sacked his general, and took command.

Enver's first goal was Sarikamish. For the campaign, he had 120,000 to 150,000 men. He sent his primary force, with artillery, 37 miles across a mile-high mountain track. A second force advanced from the Black Sea.

After initial clashes on December 22, the Russian commander was fired upon by Turkish troops. He fled, ordering a general retreat. His second-in-command, General Yudenich, remained, and continued defending the town.

Advancing first in heavy snow then in biting cold, the Turks lost thousands to exposure. From December 27, the Russians held off repeated Turkish attacks until Yudenich counter-attacked on January 2, 1915. In the follow two weeks, the Russians destroyed much of what was left of the Turkish army, the remnants of which retreated to Erzerum.

Estimates of Turkish casualties vary widely, from 30,000 to 90,000 dead, and from 7,000 to many times that taken prisoner. Total Turkish casualties - wounded, dead, prisoner, deserter, missing - may have been 75,000, and Russian casualties 28,000.

1914-12-24

1915-01-15

More about The Battle of Sarikamish:

The Battle of Sarikamish