The Caucasus Campaign

Page created by Niamh Foster.

The objective of the Ottoman Empire in the Caucasus Campaign was to recover territory lost to the Russians in the Russo-Ottoman war in 1877-78. The  problem was that the Caucasus had many different ethnic groups. This caused the Ottomans to question where the Caucasus’ loyalty lay. This map shows the ethnic groups:

(Image credit: Preface to the Special Issue and Caucasus Map Supplement by colorado.edu)

In December 1914, the Ottoman Ninth Corps were sent to surround the Russians in Sarikamis. Initially this tactic would have worked as the Russians had started to retreat, except when crossing through the mountains in East Anatolia, winter fell which affected the Ottoman soldiers greatly. Enver Pasha, the Ottoman commander, encouraged the Ottomans forward by telling the soldiers that he could see that they did not have shoes or coats but “the enemy is afraid of you” (taken from documentary based on Hew Strachan’s book of the same name, The First World War, Part 2). However, with the cold weather and snow many Ottoman soldiers died because they froze.

(Image credit: map_river_route by molokane.org)

While the Ottomans were retreating, they were supposedly fired at by Russians, the Caucasuses and rebel Armenians. Enver Pasha blamed the defeat not on himself but on rebel Armenians serving with the Caucasuses and the Russians. Hew Strachan argues that the Armenian resistant was more imagined by the Ottomans, than real (Hew Strachan, The First World War,131 ).

Enver Pasha

(Image credit: EnverPasha by psywarrior.com)

The Armistice of Mudros was signed on 30th October 1918, which ended the war for the Ottoman Empire. Also, the Mudros Armistice forced the Ottomans to retreat from the Caucasus to the pre-war borders of the Ottoman Empire and Russian Empire.

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