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three battalions and a small force of cavalry and artillery, which, it would now appear, were sent out merely as a reconnoissance, fell back without fighting beyond Nessipennek to the Kanly Mountains, where they do not appear to have been further molested. The Turks reoccupied Olti on the 7th of June.
On the 9th of June the Russian left occupied Zaidikhan, at the foot of the Kosch passes. Still more reassured by the retreat of the Russian right from Olti, Muktar now reinforced his own right at Deli-Baba to seventeen battalions, two field and one mountain battery, and some eight hundred cavalry, and ordered its advance upon the Russians at Zaidikhan. The Russians, who were decidedly inferior in the number of infantry, but superior in cavalry and artillery, did not await the attack, but on the 14th moved out of Zaidikhan to meet the Turks; the 15th was spent in manœuvring for position, and on the 16th the Russians attacked the Turks at Taghir, and completely routed them. The result was the occupation of the passes by the victors; but their numbers were too small to permit them to follow up their success. A few more battalionscertainly another division - would have enabled them to seize Kopri-Koi, and co-operate with the attack made upon Zevin by the centre a few days later.
Meanwhile serious events had taken place in rear of the Russian left column. A force coming from Lake Van had reoccupied the town of Bayazeth, and shut up the small Russian garrison in the citadel.
We have as yet no information in regard to the reasons which prevented the relief of Bayazeth by a fresh column from Erivan, nor can we yet form an opinion whether the victors of Taghir had commenced their preparations for marching to the relief of their besieged comrades before the occurrence we are about to relate. Upon receiving intelligence of the rout at Taghir, Muktar quickly assembled fresh troops to the amount of fourteen battalions, two field batteries, ten mountain guns, and twenty-five hundred cavalry, and with this force, brought up to nineteen battalions by the remnants from the battle of Taghir, advanced in person to attack the Russian left. The Russians had ten battalions, eight field-guns, some mountain guns and cavalry.
On the 21st the Turks attacked the Russian position with a good deal of persistency, but were repulsed with heavy loss. The
accounts from an English correspondent with the Turkish army make this very clear, and also that during the night the Russians fell back unmolested to Zaidikhan. From this point they continued their retreat, which does not seem to have been seriously interfered with, notwithstanding the Turkish official reports to the contrary.
Before proceeding to Bayazeth the retreating Russian left moved to Igdyr, a point within their own territory about thirty miles southwest of Erivan, and about eighteen miles northwest of Mount Ararat, where they promptly replenished their supplies, and at once moved towards Bayazeth. On the 12th of July the Turkish
. investing force, some thirteen thousand strong, was attacked and routed, so that the gallant little garrison was at once relieved. The Russians now retired undisturbed to Igdyr, where they have since remained, and it is now stated that they have been considerably reinforced. While these operations were in progress on the left, a division of the Russian centre, under Mellikoff, attacked the Turkish centre at Zevin-Dooz, on the 25th of June, four days after the final attack upon the left.
The position of Zevin-Dooz was very strong on the right and front, being covered in those directions by a very difficult ravine, which was swept by artillery fire, and whose sides were almost impassable by troops. The left flank was much more open, and afforded good cover for attacking troops. This was the weakest part of the position in regard to its natural condition, and the defensive arrangements of the Turks. The position is said to 'have been held by twenty-one battalions, with a small cavalry force and twelve guns. The Russians attacked with fifteen battalions and
. twenty-four guns. They appeared in front of the position during the morning of the 25th, and, without waiting to rest the men or reconnoitre the position, at once attacked the right, or strongest part. From the nature of the ground, the Russian artillery could produce very little effect, firing from a position below the Turkish guns. For the same reason their infantry fire did little harm, while they were fully exposed to the fire of the Turkish artillery and infantry, and, in addition, the ground over which they were to advance was so precipitous as to be almost impassable. Time after time the Russians renewed their fruitless assaults with the utmost gallantry, until about half past eight at night, when they
were withdrawn, after losing nearly a fourth of those engaged, They were not pursued, and gradually retreated to the vicinity of Kars, where they united with the besieging force. Muktar Pasha followed at a respectful distance, and opened his communication with the garrison of the besieged city on the 8th of July. Before his arrival the besieging army gradually drew back to their intrenched camp at Zaim, about eight miles northeast of Kars, where they remained long enough to cover the withdrawal of their siege material, and finally fell back, unpursued, to the heights of Kurukdere, about half-way to Alexandropol, where they awaited reinforcements.
On the 24th of June the Russians in front of Batoum were attacked. The Turks claim a victory. The Russians state that they completely repulsed the attack, but that, in consequence of the large reinforcements received by the Turks, they subsequently abandoned the position they had so long occupied. Whichever statement is true, the result was that the Russians withdrew from Batoum, and took up positions along the frontier between Fort St. Nicholas and Ozurgeti.
The net material results of this first series of operations in Armenia were the capture of Ardahan and the occupation of a strong position, within Turkish territory, in front of Alexandropol. It remains to be seen why a campaign commenced with such high hopes and brilliant prospects terminated in failure.
In the first place, it must be said that the Russian regimental officers and men of all arms evinced the greatest devotion, endurance, courage, and skill; so the fault does not lie with them. The first great error appears to have been that the plan of operations was too extended for the force employed.
We cannot as yet ascertain with absolute certainty the Russian strength in Armenia; but the best information available indicates that the infantry force in front of Batoum consisted of eight or ten battalions, probably nine; the Ardahan column seems to have had only nine battalions; the central or Kars column, from forty to forty-five; the left column, twelve battalions, of which two were left in garrison at Bayazeth, - making in all seventy-five battalions at most.
It is stated that the Turks had from thirty-four to thirty-six battalions in Batoum, twenty-nine in garrison in Kars, thirty brought up by Muktar after the battle of Zevin-Dooz, seventeen who fought at Taghir, fourteen fresh battalions who took part in the affair of Zaidikhan on the 21st of June, at least four left near Olti, perhaps ten at Bayazeth ; these would make one hundred and thirty-nine battalions, and with the reserves at Erzeroum, guarding communications, it would amount to at least one hundred and fifty battalions, or double the number of the Russian battalions. Omitting the large number practically useless at Batoum, the preponderance was still largely against the Russians, as one hundred and fifteen to sixty-five. The Turkish battalions may have been weaker, but the Russians were at every point outnumbered by troops in intrenched positions, except at Kars, and there, also, when the detachment under Mellikoff had moved to Zevin.
With the force actually at the disposal of the Russians the only chance of success, under the plan of operations adopted, was to leave the smallest possible number of troops to invest Kars, and push all their columns forward with the greatest rapidity, but with entire co-ordination, upon Erzeroum before the Turks could receive reinforcements and complete their preparations for defence. Under such circumstances it is probable that success might have crowned their efforts.
But to carry out the actual plan so as to insure success under all probable contingencies, it would appear that at least one hundred and twenty battalions would be necessary. This would have given a full division of twelve battalions in front of Batoum; a full division for the active column from Ardahan to Olti; a brigade for the garrison of Bayazeth, and three brigades for Tergukassoffos active column on the left, and an active column of from two and a half to three divisions in the centre. With such forces the campaign ought to have been entirely successful, especially if the active columns had advanced promptly and made the attack on Olti, Zevin, and Deli-Baba simultaneously. With the troops actually in hand, the probabilities are that they would have accomplished more satisfactory results by remaining entirely on the defensive in the direction from Erivan to Bayazeth, and concentrating the greatest possible force around Kars to push and cover the siege. It was well to mask Batoum and capture Ardahan in any event. A substantial repetition of Paskévitch's campaign of
1828 would have been well suited to the actual condition of affairs.
We are as yet entirely ignorant of so many circumstances which influenced the Russian commanders that it is very difficult to pass judgment upon their actions, but from what we now know certain general conclusions may be reached, subject to revision when fuller information reaches us. Considering the disparity of forces represented as existing at Batoum, the Russian commander in front of that place did his work admirably, and neutralized nearly four times his own strength. The commander of the Ardahan column evinced great energy and skill in the prompt capture of that place, and there is no reason to believe that he could have accomplished more than he afterwards did with the small force at his disposal
General Tergukassoff, on the left, displayed very high qualities; he fought the battle of Taghir with great skill and energy, and there seems to be nothing to criticise in his movements. His force was too small to enable him to follow up his victory, and his retreat after the affair of the 21st was no doubt rendered necessary by the threatening attitude of the Turks at Bayazeth, who held his communications, and by the absence of any hope of effective co-operation by the central column. It remains to be explained why those charged with the supreme direction of the campaign left so important a point as Bayazeth so weakly guarded, and why a fresh column was not immediately sent to its relief from Erivan, thus enabling Tergukassoff to hold his own at Deli-Baba.
General Melikoff's attack upon Zevin seems to have been illtimed and very badly conducted; it was too late to aid Tergukassoff, but would probably have succeeded if well managed.
The probability is that the advance of this column was delayed by the necessity of fortifying positions around Kars to enable a small force to oppose sorties of the garrison and keep them hemmed in. If Melikoff's attack had been successfully made a few days earlier, the result of the campaign would have been very different; but under all the circumstances, as now known to us, the advance of this column was ill-advised as committing too much to chance. It would have been better to hold it intact for covering the siege.
We cannot close this branch of our subject without calling attention to the immense advantage the Turks enjoyed in the