Слике страница

its left extending to the Bogot stream, the third and second divisions prolonging the line towards the west as far as the Karagui stream. Headquarters and the reserve at Poradim. During the night of the 9th and 10th new batteries were established by the Russians still closer to the Turkish lines, and the artillery fire was well maintained during the following day.

On the 11th the assault was made upon the great redoubt at Grivitza, and upon the redoubts south of Olcagas, commanding the Turkish line of retreat by the Sophia road.

The attack upon the latter was intrusted to Skobeleff, who had under his command four regiments of the line, four battalions of rifles, and some twenty guns. In order to place his men in position to attack the redoubt in his immediate front, it was necessary to occupy a hill not far from the work. While engaged in effecting this, the Turks made a desperate attack, which extended considerably to Skobeleff's right. After severe fighting this attack was repulsed, and the hill occupied by the Russians, who now brought their guns within short range, and opened a very rapid fire upon the works. Late in the afternoon he ordered forward two regiments of the line, and two battalions of rifles, with directions not to fire, but to rush for the redoubt. With music playing, the line advanced rapidly, closely watched by Skobeleff. The fire was terrific, and the assaulting party began to hesitate; at once he threw forward another regiment, and thus carried the line still farther toward the redoubt. Again the line hesitates, and he throws in his last regiment, which carries it nearly to the edge of the ditch. Here they waver again under the murderous fire, when Skobeleff puts himself at the head of the two remaining battalions of rifles, and with the most conspicuous gallantry leads his command over the parapet into the work. Few of the garrison escaped, but the hillside was covered with some two thousand dead and wounded Russians.

Meanwhile other partial attacks had been made without success, but in the vicinity of Grivitza very serious fighting had occurred. About one o'clock a division of the fourth


assaulted one of the large central redoubts, near Grivitza, but was repulsed. At four o'clock twelve battalions renewed the attack, reached the ditch, and at one time even entered the work, but after displaying

the greatest courage, they were at length driven back with heavy loss. About the same time the Roumanians had three times assaulted the great central redoubt in vain, though they fought splendidly.

Finally, about seven o'clock a fresh column, consisting of six Russian and one Roumanian battalion, renewed the assault upon the central redoubt, and carried it.

Thus at nightfall the Russians, at heavy cost, had carried the Plevna lines at two points, that where Skobeleff attacked being probably the more important, as having a bearing on the Turkish line of retreat.

Next day the Turks attempted the recapture of the central redoubt, but were repulsed by the allies, losing heavily in the attempt. Several desperate attacks were made upon Skobeleff, who early declared his position untenable without reinforcements, and advised that he should be strengthened sufficiently to enable him to carry the neighboring works. Five times did he repel the Turkish attacks, with great losses on both sides. Unfortunately for the Russians no reinforcements reached him, except one single regiment, reduced to a thousand men, which arrived too late. The inactivity of the Russians on other points permitted Osman Pasha to concentrate large numbers of fresh troops against Skobeleff, so that about five o'clock in the afternoon a sixth assault terminated in driving the exhausted remnant of the Russians out of the work they had won so gallantly and held so obstinately.

It is clear that his superiors did not appreciate the value of the position he had carried at such a fearful cost. It is clear, also, that the previous repulses had not yet taught them the folly of recklessly throwing away the lives of brave men by dashing them against earthworks held by troops armed with breech-loaders. Since the occurrences we have so briefly described, the allies seem to have settled down to the work of a regular siege, and as the able and experienced Todleben has been called to the front, we may reasonably expect that the bloody errors of the past will be redeemed in the future by all that skill can accomplish. The only event of importance near Plevna since the 12th of September has been the entrance of at least one reinforcement of ten thousand men, with a large convoy of provisions and ammunition.

It is so strange that this has been permitted by the allies that we hesitate to comment upon it until possessed of more ample information. With the reinforcements stated, probably with truth, to be daily arriving on the Danube, it is still possible for the Russians to take advantage of their fine central position, and strike heavy blows before the winter sets fully in. But so many gross blunders have been committed, so many golden opportunities lost, that it is more than idle to speculate upon the future.

The more complete information received since the middle of August in regard to operations in Armenia already described contains nothing to impair the substantial accuracy of the statements made in the September number. The opinion that the Russians undertook the offensive in insufficient strength, that they divided their forces too much, and that the affair of Zevin was ill-advised, is confirmed. It appears to be fully established that in the affair of Taghir the Russians took the initiative, and, advancing upon the Turks, who were preparing to attack them, utterly routed them, inflicting great losses, and capturing many guns and prisoners with slight loss to themselves.

In the battle of Eshek Kalias, on the 21st of June, Tergukassoff had only eight battalions against nineteen attacking under Muktar Pasha. The Turks were repulsed with heavy losses. The Russians held their position until the afternoon of the 27th, when their rearguard abandoned it, without being at all disturbed by the enemy, who did not even pursue them closely enough to ascertain what road they had taken. It is now clear that Tergukassoff's retreat was caused by the news of Melikoff's repulse at Zevin, and the threatening attitude of the force besieging Bayazeth in his rear.

With admirable skill the Russian kept the vastly superior force of his pursuers completely out of reach, carried off all his supplies, all of his wounded and material of all kinds, and also escorted the Christian families fleeing from the merciless clutches of the Turkish irregulars. The Turkish official accounts to the effect that he abandoned his stores, weapons, ammunition, and animals, and that he buried his guns, were absolutely false, as were also their accounts of cutting off numerous stragglers.

The retreat was conducted with perfect order, in a leisurely manner, and with complete success, through Karakillissa and Dijadin, upon Igdyr. Here Tergukassoff placed the Christian refugees in safety, replenished his supplies, and received a small reinforcement from Erivan.

Ismail Pasha, the commander of the pursuing force, now encamped at Mousin, on the western shore of Lake Balykly, apparently under the impression that he had finally disposed of his antagonist.

Meanwhile Bayazeth, garrisoned by two Russian battalions and some twelve hundred Cossack cavalry, had been approached, on the 14th of June, by Faik Pasha, who brought from Van six regular battalions, two batteries, and from eight thousand to ten thousand irregular horsemen, principally Kurds. On the 19th the Russian commandant, leaving two companies in the citadel, moved out with his small force to Topanich, some ten miles to the southeast, but was soon compelled to retire. The infantry reached the citadel in safety, but the Cossacks, surrounded by an overpowering force, surrendered. Hardly had they laid down their arms when the greater part of them were murdered in cold blood by the Kurds; the remnant being taken towards the Van, after being badly maltreated, and more of them murdered on the way.

The garrison being now confined to the citadel, the Kurds entered the town, where they ruthlessly murdered the men, women, and children of the one hundred and sixty-five Christian families residing in Bayazeth; it is stated that, including Cossacks, twentyfour hundred people were killed and left unburied, after their bodies had been subjected to mutilation too horrible and revolting to be described. It should be remembered that these accounts do not come from Russian sources, but from English officers and civilians in positions to ascertain the truth. The garrison of the citadel held out most gallantly, notwithstanding the privations which fell to their lot.

Tergukassoff marched out of Igdyr on the 10th of July, and at dawn of the 13th appeared in front of Bayazeth with eight battalions, twenty-four guns, fifteen squadrons of Cossacks. and four of dragoons. A portion of the investing force held a line of heights commanding the town; this position was at once attacked and carried by the Russians. The retiring Turks were now reinforced by a brigade of eight battalions, eight hundred cavalry, and a battery sent from Mousin by Ismail Pasha. This combined force was at once attacked and driven away in disorder. The result was that the Turks lost four guns, five hundred killed, and eight hundred prisoners, besides a large number of wounded. The Russians now withdrew the garrison of the citadel, with all the sick, wounded, and material, blew up the works, and on the next day returned unmolested to Igdyr.

The more complete information now in our possession in regard to the operations of General Tergukassoff confirms the impression previously expressed in regard to his high qualities as a soldier.

Nothing is to be added to the account already given of the battle of Zevin-Dooz, except that the Russian losses were much less than at first supposed, probably not much over a thousand. That the Turkish success was not very decided may be inferred from the deliberate manner in which the Russians fell back upon

Kars. They remained two days within two miles of the field of battle, and then proceeded by short marches, with an occasional day of rest, until they rejoined the troops in front of Kars.

The Turkish official statements that they defeated the Russians at, and drove them out of Mellidooz, Sara Kamysch, Beghli Achmet, etc., in succession, are said, by the London “Times” correspondent with the Turkish army, to be absolutely false, as the Turks did not even come in sight of the enemy at any of these places.

The only explanation of Melikoff's retreat, after Zevin-Dooz, is to be found in the supposition that the Russian commander-inchief at length came to the conclusion that he was attempting too much with insufficient forces, and that Tergukassoff was too weak to advance and unite with Melikoff, and that he therefore determined to fall back towards the frontier, concentrate his scattered forces, bring up reinforcements, and inaugurate a new campaign. It is difficult to believe that the repulse at Zevin was in itself sufficient to account for the complete change of plan.

On the 26th of July the army of Melikoff had taken up its new position at Kurukdere, Gulweren, and Tashkah. Tergukassoff was still at Igdyr. Muktar soon occupied and intrenched a position opposite that of Melikoff, and not far distant. We have not been able to obtain any definite and satisfactory information in regard to the reinforcements which may have reached the Russian armies in Armenia. It appears that, notwithstanding the Turks

[ocr errors]
« ПретходнаНастави »