Battle of Erzurum (1877)

The Battle of Erzurum was a military engagement fought between the Ottoman Empire and the Russian Empire, during the Russo-Turkish War of 1877-1878. The battle was fought on 8-9 November 1877 on the Ottoman territory and ended with the Russians withdrawing to instead besiege Kars, which fell afterwards.

Battle of Erzurum (1877)
Part of the Russo-Turkish War (1877-1878)
Monument of Russo-Ottoman war
Date8-9 November 1877
Result Ottoman victory
 Russian Empire  Ottoman Empire
Commanders and leaders
Vasily Geyman Ahmed Muhtar Pasha
25,000,[1]: 198  only a part engaged[1]: 197–200  up to 12,000, 15-20 guns[1]: 197 
Casualties and losses
400[2]–600[1]: 199  1600[1]: 199 

On 4 November 1877 the Russian army achieved a victory at Uzunahmet, having inflicted heavy casualties on the Turks, which included 3,000 killed and wounded, 1,000 prisoners and 42 artillery pieces left by the panicked gunners, with a loss of only 1,200 men.[1]: 196  Although the Turkish troops ceased resistance and were fleeing in disarray, with 4,000 of them deserting the army, a part of their infantry maintained order and retreated to the well-fortified position in Erzurum with 14 guns.[1]: 196  The Russians, being miles away and exhausted by the battle, did not chase them and therefore missed a chance to capture Erzurum on the heels of the fleeing enemy.[1]: 197  Having developed a plan of assault on the stronghold, the Russian army advanced under the cover of night, but had difficulties of movement control in the dark. A part of their troops from the 153th Infantry Regiment mistook their direction and captured one of the redoubts, Aziziye, all by themselves, without help from the rest of the army, but had to leave it due to the lack of support.[1]: 199  All the three Turkish battalions stationed in the Aziziye redoubt were routed, numbering 1,600, whereas the Russians lost 400[3]: 399  or 600 men in this battle.[1]: 199  After the Russians left Aziziye, the Turks made an attempt to counterattack them, but were successfully driven back.[1]: 199  As the works of Erzurum were too strong to be taken by assault, the siege park was needed at Kars[1]: 198  and in the following days the weather set in with a snowstorm,[3]: 399  the Russians decided to withdraw their army and instead attack Kars, which they succeeded in capturing.[1]: 209–210  Ahmed Muhtar Pasha, the Ottoman commander during the siege, requested reinforcements from Istanbul and was receiving them all through November.[1]: 211  After epidemics broke out, he withdrew his forces to Bayburt for the remainder of the war.[1]: 211  Muhtar Pasha was awarded the title Ghazi for his role in the defence of Erzurum, Gedikler and Yahniler. The city of Erzurum would be captured by the Russians a few months later, on 8 February 1878.[1]: 212 

Third-party reports on the battle for Fort Aziziye speak of mutilations being inflicted on the Russian soldiers. C. B. Norman recorded that

And now I have to place on record one of those acts of cold-blooded atrocity which, alas, have been furnished in such ghastly quantities by the present war. Directly it became known in the city of Erzeroum that the fortunes of the day rested with the Osmanli, bands of women trooped up to the field armed with knives, hatchets, choppers, whatever household weapons came first to their hands, and then commenced a system of mutilations which it does not do to dwell on. Suffice to say that from Englishmen, who visited the battlefield on the following day, I learn that nearly every Russian found lying on the ground was decapitated and subjected to nameless outrage, and that the appearance of the wounds proved that many of them were inflicted on still living men.[4]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p Allen W. E. D., Muratoff P. Caucasian Battlefields: A History of the Wars on the Turco-Caucasian Border 1828-1921. Cambridge University Press. 2011
  2. ^ The Russian Army and Its Campaigns in Turkey in 1877-1878, F. V. Greene, p. 399: "The Russians lost 400 men in this affair".
  3. ^ a b The Russian Army and Its Campaigns in Turkey in 1877-1878, F. V. Greene
  4. ^ Norman, Charles Boswell (1878). Armenia, and the campaign of 1877 (2nd ed.). London: Cassell, Petter & Galpin. p. 407. OCLC 960134717. Archived from the original on 2009-11-02.