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The Battle of Sarikamis, sometimes spelled Sarikamish or Sarưkamư₫, was a decisive Russian victory over the Ottoman Empire in the Caucasus region during World War I. This is considered part of the Caucasus Campaign of World War I.
- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Sarikamis#Background - 1 Background
- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Sarikamis#Forces - 2 Forces
- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Sarikamis#The_battle - 3 The battle
- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Sarikamis#Results - 4 Results
- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Sarikamis#Sources - 5 Sources
Russia viewed the Caucasus Front as secondary to the Eastern Front where most of their manpower and resources had been concentrated up to this point. However since Russia had taken the fortress of Kars from the Turks during the Russo-Turkish War in 1877, Russia feared a Turkish invasion into the Caucasus aimed at retaking Kars and the port of Batum. In fact the major Turkish war aim against Russia was to recapture both Kars and Batum from the Russians.
Turkish War Minister Enver Pasha mobilized the Turkish Third Army numbering about 95,000 with himself personally in command. However by the time the Third Army reached the Russians strength was reduced to roughly 80,000 due to frostbite and desertion. Note that actual numbers for the size of Turkish 3rd army are highly variable, the army may have been as much as 190,000 strong.
The Russian Caucasus Army, commanded by Governor General Illarion Vorontsov-Dashkov, numbered around 100,000 troops in August of 1914 but the Russians rapidly redeployed troops from this front to reinforce the Eastern Front to replace losses they were suffering against the Germans and the Austrians. By the time the Ottoman army arrived, General Yudenich, Caucasus Chief-of-Staff (and Russia's most successful general) had some 60,000 troops defending Sarikamis.
In mid December, Enver Pasha entered the Caucasus region through Armenia. Enver's ordered his forces to attack along many routes with the goal of arriving suddenly at Sarikamis at the same time. The chief German military advisor, General Liman von Sanders strongly argued against this plan but was ignored. Governor General Vorontsov planned to withdraw his forces to the city of Kars. But Yudenich ignored Vorontsov's wishes to withdraw and instead stayed to defend Sarikamis.
Enver's forces lost touch with one another and arrived at Sarakamis at different times from December 29 through the 3rd of January. The first divisions to arrive briefly took control of the barracks in the western part of the city but were driven off. In the following days, as more Ottoman forces arrived at the battle, they attacked without coordination and the Russians under the skillfull command of General Yudenich fought off the attacks one by one. The battle finally ended on January 4 and the Ottoman army retreated in complete disorganization back through the mountains in the middle of winter.
The number of Turkish losses is unknown, estimate range from 175,000 dead out of an army of 190,000 to 60,000 dead out of an army of 90,000. It is very likely that the majority of Turkish soldiers died because of inadequate winter clothing and field shelters during the attack and retreat. In any event, this was an extraordinarily costly defeat for the Turks; in losses this was the worst single defeat they suffered in the entire war.Turkish soldiers reached to the targets but they were too weak to win... The Russian casualities were estimated at 35,000 (Turkish sources).Turks helped the German Fronts by sacrifying 60.000 soldiers (Turkish sources).
As one German officer attached to the army wrote later, the Ottoman 3rd army had "suffered a disaster which for rapidity and completeness is without parallel in military history."
On the other side, the victor of the battle, General Yudenich, was appointed commander of the Russian Caucasus Army and he launched an offensive of his own in the summer of 1915 towards Erzincan where was the last point of Russians reached.This winter campaign is not known very well as Napeleon's (1812) and German's (1943) winter campaigns or defeats.But from military operations point of view , there are lots of similarities,same mistakes etc.
Other battles in this theater of war: The Battle of Erzurum; The Battle of Erzincan
- Tucker, Spencer. The Great War: 1914-18 (1998)
- Fromkin, David (1989). A Peace to End All Peace, pp. 120-121. Avon Books.
- Compton's Home Library: Battles of the World CD-ROM
- T.N. Dupuy's Encyclopedia of Military History (many editions)
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