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The Fall of Kars[428]

Karl Marx


[The People's Paper, No. 205, April 5, 1856]

The fall of Kars is the turning-point in the history of the sham-war against Russia. Without the fall of Kars no Five Points, no Conferences, no treaty of Paris, in one word: no sham peace[429]. Then if we can prove from the Government's own Blue Book[a]—carefully cooked, as it is mutilated by extracts, deformed by omissions, plastered and patched up by falsifications—that Lord Palmerston's cabinet has planned from the beginning, and systematically carried out to the end, the fall of Kars, the veil is lifted and the drama of the Oriental War with all its startling incidents emerges from the mist diplomatically wrapt around it.

Towards the end of May, 1855, General Williams reports to Lord Redcliffe, who reports to Lord Clarendon, that

"a large force, consisting of 28,000 infantry, 7,500 cavalry, and 64 pieces of artillery, was assembled round Gumri, and that the Mushir[b] had received information of the intention of the enemy to attack Kars. We have in that entrenched camp 13,900 infantry, 1,500 cavalry, 1,500 artillerymen and 42 field pieces."

Seven days later, on June 3rd, Williams informed Clarendon:

"I have now four months provisions in the garrison of Kars, and I trust the central government, and the allies, will soon prove to this remnant of an army that it is not absolutely forgotten by them."

This despatch (see Kars papers, No. 231) was received in Downing-street[c], on June 25th. On that day, consequently, the British government knew that on Oct. 3rd, Kars must fall if not relieved; and this knowledge became the basis of its operations.

On July 11th, Lord Clarendon receives three despatches from General Williams, dated June 15th, 17th, and 19th, stating severally that a skirmish of the advanced posts had taken place; that on the 16th of June a regular attack of the entrenched camp by the Russians had been gallantly repulsed by the Turks, and lastly that the enemy had made a flank march upon the entrenched camp, and established himself in force (30,000) within an hour's march of the weakest point of the Turkish position. Williams concludes the last of these despatches with the following words:

"Unfortunately we have no irregular cavalry.... The enemy has already partially interrupted our communications with Erzeroum.

When the same news reached Constantinople, Lord Redcliffe was invited to a Conference at the Grand Vizier's[d] house on the Bosphorus. It was proposed by the Turkish ministers to relieve Kars by an expedition from Redout Kaleh by Kutais into Georgia, the force to consist of—

Vivian's Contingent20,000
Batoum Garrison12,000
From Bulgaria5,000
Egyptian Regular Cavalry800
Tunis Horse600

The Porte expressed its readiness to entrust the direction of this expedition to a British commander, and to accept General Vivian in that capacity. This proposition reached Lord Clarendon on July 11th. On July 12th, Lord Redcliffe further informed him by telegraph that

"Preparations for an eventual expedition [...] are in progress. It might save much valuable time if you would inform me at once by telegraph whether government is prepared to sanction a powerful diversion by Redout Kaleh and Kutais into Georgia."

From June 25th to July 12th the British government, apprised of the danger of Kars, moved not a finger to come to the rescue, not once was the telegraph set in motion; from the very day, however, when there is some Turkish plan for the relief of Kars to be thwarted, they suddenly are all activity. On July 13th (see No. 248 of Kars papers) Clarendon addresses a despatch to Redcliffe to this effect:

"Her Majesty's government are of opinion that the wiser course would be to send reinforcements to the rear of the Turkish army, instead of sending an expedition to the rear of the Russian army. The reinforcements might go to Trebizond, and be directed from thence upon Erzeroum. The distance from Trebizond to Erzeroum is less than from Redout Kaleh to Tiflis, and the march is through a friendly instead of through a hostile country; and at Erzeroum the army would meet supporting friends instead of opposing enemies, and supplies instead of famine. If the army at Kars cannot maintain that position against the Russians, it should fall back upon Erzeroum, and the whole Turkish force should be concentrated there. If the Russians are to be defeated, it will be easier to defeat them by the whole force collected than by divided portions of that force; and a defeat would be the more decisive, the further it took place within the Turkish frontier."

On the day following the receipt of Redcliffe's telegraphic despatch, Clarendon becomes still more liberal, adding Erzeroum also to the list of places to he fallen back from.

(Telegraphic.) "The Earl of Clarendon to Lord Stratford de Redcliffe,
Foreign Office, July 14th, 1855.

"The plan for reinforcing the army at Kars contained in your despatches of 30th June, and 1st instant (should be the 12th inst.) is disapproved. The reasons will be sent by the messenger to-day against employing the Turkish Contingent until it is fit for service. Trebizond ought to be the base of operations, and if the Turkish army of Kars and Erzeroum cannot hold out at the latter place against the Russians, it might fall back upon Trebizond where it would easily he reinforced."

If Kars is the key to Erzeroum, Erzeroum is the key to Constantinople, and the central point of the strategical and commercial lines of Anatolia. Kars and Erzeroum once in the hands of Russia, the British land-trade, via Trebizond to Persia, is cut off. The British Government, aware of all these circumstances, coolly advises the Porte to surrender the keys of its house in Asia, when scarcely one of the two was in danger, and invites the besieged army of Kars to come to the reinforcements forbidden to come to the besieged army. "If," says his lordship, "the Russians are to be defeated" (where is the necessity? he seems to ask) he thinks a defeat would be the more decisive and easy the further it took place within the Turkish frontier, i.e., the more strong places and territory are surrendered to the Russians, and, in fact, the nearer behind Constantinople.

These despatches of Lord Clarendon are worthily backed by the following despatch from my lord "Take care of Dowb" Panmure[430], the English Carnot, to Lieutenant-General Vivian:—

"Lord Panmure, to Lieut.-General Vivian,
"War-Department, July 14, 1855.

"Sir,—I transmit, herewith, for your information, a copy of a despatch which the Earl of Clarendon has addressed by the present opportunity to her Majesty's embassy at Constantinople, on the subject of the plan proposed by the Porte for the relief of the Turkish army at Kars, and I have to acquaint you that I entirely concur in all that is said in that despatch as to the objectionable character of the plan proposed by the Porte. I place such full reliance on your professional ability, that I feel no anxiety lest you should undertake any expedition of a nature so wild and undigested as that contemplated by the Porte. Whilst it is your duty to give every aid in your power, not simply as commanding the Contingent, but, as a British officer enjoying the confidence of her Majesty's Government, to our allies the Turks, it is at the same time necessary that you should be cautious in not risking the honour of the British name and your own reputation, by undertaking military operations for which proper basis has not been laid down, communications opened, supplies arranged, and transportation provided. A coup de main by means of suddenly throwing an army on the coast to threaten, or even to attack, an enemy's stronghold is one thing; but a deliberate expedition to invade an enemy's country, and on his own territory, to make war upon him, is quite another. In the first case something may be hazarded; but in the other every preparation must precede action. Moreover, from all the information which has reached me, I have every reason to believe the army of Batoum to be in a deplorable state. I know the Contingent to be scarcely organised; of the Bulgarian troops you have no knowledge, and I presume that Beatson horse are as little reduced to control and discipline as your own troops. In short I am assured that it would be madness to attempt to succour Brigadier-General Williams in this way. It is too late to regret the policy which has left that gallant officer and his army exposed to such straits; but it would only be opening the way to fresh failures to follow out such schemes as have been proposed for the purpose of relieving him. You must, as I have no doubt you feel, lose no time in getting your force into order for service which will be sure to await you somewhere, as soon as you are ready for it; but organisation is as necessary for an army as endurance and valour, and without the former, the latter qualities are utterly unavailing."

This despatch puts down Lord Palmerston's war minister a regular clown, useful only for the amusement of his master. To threaten, "or even" to attack, the stronghold of Sebastopol, where Russia had accumulated the defensive labour of twenty years, appears to him one thing very sensible, because it was a needless coup de main on the part of the allies; but a "deliberate invasion" on the part of the Porte, of an enemy's country with the purpose of beating him—"Dowb" never heard of such a thing. He entirely concurs with Clarendon in opinion that, to strengthen the rear of one's own army, instead of acting in the rear of the enemy, is the true essence of strategy—a point we may leave him to settle with Napoleon I, Jomini, and all other great strategists. He also concurs with his friend in thinking, that in warfare an army must never march through hostile, but always through friendly countries—"with supplies instead of famine"—the true philosophy of the trencher-knife. But through the complacent silliness of the clown we catch a glimpse of the mind that moves him! or could it be given to poor Dowb, to make the discovery that Georgia was a hostile, instead of a friendly country—Georgia, Russia's Poland in the Caucasus.

The Turkish proposal which Dowb styles wild and ill-digested, was, in its general conception, bold, correct, we may say the only strategical idea given birth to in the whole war. It reduced itself to taking up an eccentric position with respect to the besieging army, to menace Tiflis, the centre of the Russian power in Asia, and to force Muravieff to retreat from Kars by the threat of becoming cut off from his basis of operations and line of communications. Such a Mingrelian expedition bade fair not only to relieve Kars, but to afford the opportunity of advancing offensively on all parts, and thus to gain the greatest point in all warfare—viz., to throw the enemy on the defensive. But the danger being urgent, such a plan, to result in success, required to be pushed on vigorously, with a sufficient force, and abundant means of supply and transport. Having in his immediate rear Gumri, as his first base of operations, a fortress directly calculated for the defensive against the Turkish territory, Muravieff was enabled to keep his position, till convinced of an advance upon Tiflis really becoming dangerous. To assume that character there was required a descent on the Circassian Coast of at least 55,000, the capture of Kutais, and the forcing of the pass of Gori. Omer Pasha, who, at a later period, undertook the same expedition at the head of 36,000 men, mustered on the Rioni hardly 18,000 to 20,000.

There can exist no doubt that an army of 20,000 men at Erzeroum would have been more useful than one of only 40,006 in Mingrelia. On the other hand it should not be forgotten that at the time when the Porte made its proposal, the Russians at Tiflis, according to the Blue Book itself, amounted to only 15,000 men, and Bebutoff with his reinforcements had not yet arrived. Besides, the movement of an army sufficiently large for its purposes from Trebizond to Erzeroum, and thence to Kars, with supplies, ammunition, and guns, would have cost, on Omer Pasha's assurance, exactly four months. Lastly, if the Porte proposed a right plan, with insufficient means, it was the part of its ally to provide the right means, and not to suggest a false plan. Sixty-thousand Turks were at that time pent up in the Crimea, in inactivity—and those the only effective troops of Turkey.

"At Batoum, Sukum Kaleh, and other neighbouring stations on the coast," writes Lord Redcliffe, under date 28th June, "it would be extremely difficult to muster more than 11,000 men.... The other parts of the empire (Bulgaria excepted), afford no additional reserves, with the exception of Bosnia, where it is still possible that a few thousand men might be detached; I speak of regulars, Bashi-bazouks may be procured, but your lordship knows what little dependency is to be placed on such undisciplined hordes.... In Bulgaria I question the existence of more than 50,000 men, including garrisons. [...] Austria, it is true, has declared her intention of considering the passage of the Danube by Russia a cases belli—and she also stands pledged to the exclusion of that power from the Danubian Principalities; but the resolution which in such an emergency would enable the Porte to take its line upon those assurances, and to overlook the awkwardness of leaving an important position inadequately defended is more fit to be admired than likely to be embraced."

What troops, then, remained at the disposal of the Porte, save the Anglo-Turkish Contingent? and this, as results from the despatches of Clarendon and Panmure, was only a contrivance to withhold from the Porte its last available force.

But did the British Government oppose any plan of theirs to the Turkish one? Was it in any way bent on sending the Anglo-Turkish Contingent to Trebizond, and thence to Erzeroum or Kars? In his despatch dated July 14th, Clarendon declares himself "against employing the Turkish Contingent until it is fit for service." If unfit for service, it was as unfit for the Erzeroum expedition as for the Mingrelian one. Clown Panmure, in, his despatch of the same day, writes to Vivian, the commander of the Contingent:—"You must lose no time in getting your force into order for service, which will be sure to await you somewhere, as soon as you are ready for it"—thus summoning him to be ready not for an immediate service, not for Erzeroum, but somewhere—that is, nowhere. Still, on Sept. 7th (see No. 302 of Papers), Clarendon considers the Anglo-Turkish Contingent so little organised as to be unfit to encamp in the entrenched lines before Sebastopol. It is thus evident that the British Government brings forth the Erzeroum plan, not to execute it, but to thwart the Mingrelian expedition of the Porte. It was not opposed to a certain plan for the relief of Kars, but to any plan. "It would be madness to attempt to succour the army of Brigadier-General Williams.... It is too late to regret the policy" (Palmerston's policy) "which has left that gallant officer and his army exposed to such straits," said Panmure to Vivian. It is too late to do anything but surrender Kars to Russia, and Erzeroum into the bargain, says Clarendon to Redcliffe. Not only was this plan settled by the Palmerstonian Government as early as July 13th, but it is confessed in the Blue Book, and not a moment shall we see them swerving from it.

From No. 254 to 277 of the Kars Papers every despatch of Redcliffe during July exhibits the Porte busily engaged in the preparations for Vivian's Mingrelian expedition. How came this to pass?

On the 12th July, 1855, as will be remembered, Lord Redcliffe telegraphed to the Earl of Clarendon that the preparations for the Mingrelian expedition, under General Vivian were in progress, and "to save much valuable time," he applied for Government instructions to he sent by telegraph. Consequently, by telegraph, Clarendon despatches his protest against the Turkish plan, but, although this message bears the inscription of July 14th on its front, it does not reach Constantinople till July 30th, when we find Lord Redcliffe writing again to Clarendon:—

The unfavourable judgment passed by Her Majesty's Government on the plans which have lately been under discussion, with a view to the relief of the Sultan's[e] army at Kars, has naturally increased the Porte's embarrassment. It was my duty to make it known to the Turkish Ministers, not only as an opinion, but, with respect to General Vivian's Contingent, as a veto. A most serious dilemma is the immediate result. Her Majesty's Government not only withhold the Contingent, but express a decided preference for the alternative of sending reinforcements to Erzeroum by way of Trebizond. This opinion is not adopted by the Porte, or indeed by any official or personal authority here. The Seraskier[f], Omer Pasha, General Guyon, and our own officers,[...] agree with the Porte, and the French Embassy, in preferring a diversion on the side of Redout Kaleh, as offering better chances of success, supposing, of course, the necessary means of transport, supply, and other indispensable wants, can be sufficiently provided.... Meanwhile, the advices from Kars are not encouraging, and time of precious value is unavoidably wasted in doubt and uncertainty.

The way from Constantinople to London being not a whit longer than the way from London to Constantinople, it is a very curious fact indeed that Redcliffe's telegraphic despatch, leaving Constantinople on July 12th, should reach London on the 14th of that month, while Lord Clarendon's despatch, leaving London on July 14th, should reach Constantinople only on the 30th, or about that date. Redcliffe, in his despatch of July 19th, complains of the silence of the Government whom he had entreated "to lose no time in making known its pleasure." From a later despatch, dated July 23rd, we learn that he had received no answer even then. In fact, the receipt of the answer is not acknowledged, as we have said, before the 30th. There can exist, then, no doubt that the London date of the Clarendon despatch is false, and that it was not sent until weeks after the date given in the Blue Book. This falsification betrays the aim of the delay. Time of precious value was to be wasted, doubt and uncertainty were to be engendered, and above all, the Porte was to kill the whole of the month of July with preparations for Vivian's expedition, which the British Government was determined should not take place.


[The People's Paper, No. 206, April 12, 1856]

The strategical scruples of the British Government not allowing it to settle, during the interval of three months, its views of the great operations to be undertaken by the Porte, nothing would seem more fair and urgent than that it should have sent in the meantime, on its own responsibility, a small detachment via Erzeroum, to re-open the communications between that town and Kars. The allies were masters of the Black Sea, and the British Government had at its uncontrolled disposition General Beatson's 4,000 Bashi-bazouks, the only effective corps of Turkish irregular horse. Once landed at Trebizond they might have reached Erzeroum in ten days, escorting provisions to Kars, and thus enabling that fortress to prolong its resistance to from four to six weeks, when the severe Armenian winter setting in, all offensive movements on the part of the besiegers would have been stopped. General Beatson wrote to Redcliffe on the 7th July, applying to be sent on active service.

No notice was taken of his memorial. On the 14th of August petitions were presented by the troops themselves, praying that they might not be inactive, but be despatched to Asia. They received no answer whatever. Beatson ventured upon a third remonstrance on September 12. The forbearance of the British Government being now exhausted by the harassing importunities of the indiscreet petitioner, some diplomatic-military intrigues were set on foot, crowned by Beatson's dismissal from the service. As Beatson himself was dismissed from the service, so all his communications with the Government are dismissed from the Blue Book.

We have seen how stubbornly the British Government was bent on an expedition to Erzeroum via Trebizond. On the news of the Russians having established themselves on the high-road between Erzeroum and Kars, and cut off a portion of the provisions collected for the Kars army, some spontaneous efforts at immediate relief were risked from Trebizond, behind the back of the British Embassy. In Redcliffe's despatch, dated July 16th, 1855, is enclosed a report from Vice-Consul Stevens, to this effect:

"Trebizond, July 9, 1855. My Lord,—I have the honour to report that [...] Hafiz Pasha left for Erzeroum yesterday with 300 artillerymen and 20 field-pieces. A large force of irregulars, which may reach the number of 10,000, is now assembling, and will march to-day for the same place. (signed, Stevens)"

Redcliffe, as in duty bound, forthwith asks for explanations, on the Seraskier's silence with regard to the collection of 10,000 irregulars at Trebizond, and the advance of Hafiz Pasha for Erzeroum.

"All that I had heard on the subject from his Excellency," he complains, "is that Toussoum Pasha was directed to go to Trebizond, and thence perhaps to Sivas, where he would assemble 4,000 irregulars, and proceed with them to the theatre of war."

By drawing lines between Trebizond, Sivas and Erzeroum, it will be seen that they form an isosceles triangle—the basis of which, viz., the line from Trebizond to Erzeroum, is about one-third shorter than either of the sides. To send, then, reinforcements direct from Trebizond to Erzeroum instead of sending Toussoum Pasha from Constantinople to Trebizond, from Trebizond, "perhaps," to Sivas, there to waste time in collecting an irregular force, with the view of advancing perhaps upon Erzeroum, was too rash a course not to be rebuked by the British Ambassador. Not daring to tell the Seraskier that the relief of a besieged town depends on a well calculated dilatoriness, he puts him the question:

"May it not be doubtful whether so large a body of Bashi-bazouks suddenly and loosely brought together, may be of any use to any party but the enemy?"

The Seraskier very properly replying,

"that he had insisted on having the necessary funds wherewith to pay them, which was the main instrument of control, and that he had threatened to retire from office, if his demand was not complied with."

Lord Redcliffe turns at once hard of hearing.

In entering upon the second plan of operations proposed by the Porte, and baffled by its Allies, we tread a maze, where all is meander and no forth-right.

From a despatch of Lieut.-Colonel Simmons's, the British commissioner in Omer Pasha's camp, dated July 15th, addressed to Lord Clarendon, and from Omer's memoranda enclosed in it, the following facts may be collected. On June 23rd Omer Pasha received a letter from General Williams, stating that the communication with Erzeroum was cut off, and requiring in the most pressing terms that reinforcements might be sent to Kars with the least possible delay, or that a powerful diversion might be made on the side of Redout Kaleh. Under date of July 7, Omer Pasha addressed a memorandum to the allied commanders—Simpson and Pélissier—requesting them to assemble a council of the allied generals and admirals commanding-in-chief, in order to come to an immediate resolution. In his memorandum he proposes that,

"he should throw himself, with the part of his army which is here" (at Balaklava) "and at Kertch—25,000 infantry, 3,000 cavalry from Eupatoria, and a proportional artillery—upon some point of the Coast of Circassia, and by menacing from thence the communications of the Russians, oblige them to abandon the siege of Kars."

In support of this proposal, Omer argues that the Ottoman army in Asia, to the number of 10,000 men blockaded in the entrenched camp of Kars by a superior Russian force, is in a position in which it is probable that from want of food it may be obliged to capitulate; that the garrison in Kars is in fact the Ottoman army in Asia; that if the garrison of Kars should yield, Erzeroum, a town, from its situation, difficult to fortify, will fall into the hands of the enemy, by which means he would become master of the communications with Persia, and of a great part of Asia Minor; that by accepting his proposal the Allies will make use of the chief advantages which they possess, viz., the facility of sea transport, and of the only Turkish army that is effective and capable of marching, viz., his own. In answer to that memorandum, Marshal Pélissier and General Simpson write that, "in absence of further information, they consider a conference would be premature." Omer Pasha, however, on July 12th, addresses them again, to inform them that,

"in the meanwhile he had received from his Government a despatch, according to which, the whole of Turkey in Asia, up to the gates of Constantinople itself, is undefended, and entreating him, as every hour is of the greatest value, immediately to find the means, and put in execution the resources necessary to avert the great danger in which the Government of Turkey, and in consequence the cause of the Allies, are placed." "Under these circumstances," he adds, "since I have in the Crimea 60,000 Turks, of whom the greater part are Asiatics, and whose families and property are exposed to the ravage of the enemy, and since I find that that army is inactive in the Crimea, without prospects of any immediate service that I can discover, I consider it my duty to my sovereign and the common cause to repeat my former proposal."

Accordingly he invites them to a conference at the English head-quarters. Simultaneously with this common note to the allied generals he caused [Lieut.-]Colonel Simmons to address a confidential letter to General Simpson and Admiral Lyons, of which we give the following extract:—

The Porte have proposed to General Vivian to take the Turkish Contingent to Redout Kaleh.... Omer Pasha, however, thinks there will be great risk in sending them there, as the men are not yet acquainted with their officers, the officers do not speak their language, and consequently cannot command them in the field, and the Contingent, although it might form a garrison, cannot yet be in a condition to march into the interior. The force of the Contingent also is small to make the contemplated operation. Omer Pasha also thinks that possessing, as he does, the confidence of the Turks, and being well-known in Asia, where he has had several campaigns, he is more likely to gain the sympathies and assistance of the inhabitants in provisioning and gaining information, [...] than strangers who do not know the language or country.

On July 14th the Conference took place, attended by Omer Pasha, [Lieut.-]Colonel Simmons, Generals Simpson, Pélissier, and Martimprey, and Admirals Lyons, Bruat, and Stewart. Omer Pasha went into a detailed statement of the Russian forces in Asia, and their operations in the vicinity of Kars. He amply developed the arguments above quoted, and forcibly stuck to the opinion that

"no time was to be lost in preparing a movement to check the progress of the Russians in Asia."

However, as [Lieut.-]Col. Simmons reports to Clarendon,

"the generals and admirals having received no information from their respective ambassadors at Constantinople, which should lead them to believe that the affairs of Asia were in that precarious state in which Omer Pasha, from the information received from his Government, believed them to be," decided that "in the absence of such information they would give no opinion on the subject."

In this instance, then, the allied generals declined giving any opinion on the subject, because they had received no information from their respective Governments. Afterwards, the allied Governments declined giving their orders because their generals had not given their opinion. Rather startled at the cool behaviour of the allied commanders, at their curious tactics of making their incredulity in facts a reason for giving no opinion on them, and at the incivility of giving the lie to his Government, the only one immediately interested in the matter, Omer Pasha, rose at once, and peremptorily declared that,

"under the circumstances, he felt it his duty to proceed to Constantinople for a few days to confer with his Government."

Accordingly, two days later, July 16th, he proceeded to Constantinople, taking with him [Lieut.-]Colonel Simmons, but being accompanied also by one [Lieut.-]Colonel Suleau, "ostensibly travelling for the purpose of restoring his health" (see enclosure I in No. 270 of the Kars papers), but really charged by Pélissier and Simpson with the mission of thwarting Omer Pasha's project. This Suleau, attached to the staff of Simpson, conveyed a letter to Redcliffe from poor General Simpson—the most unlucky warrior ever heard of, as General Evans has it[g] —in which that general tells his ambassador not that he and his colleagues did not believe in Omer Pasha's statements, but that "they entertained the strongest objection to the withdrawal of any troops from the Crimea at this moment"—not that they had thought fit to withhold their opinion from Omer Pasha, but that he

"earnestly begs his Excellency to use his powerful influence with the Porte to cause their opinion to prevail over that of his Highness[h]," for "great public interests were at stake," and "serious consequences might result from his success."

Success indeed! It was Omer Pasha's success that troubled Pélissier's sleep, who, up to that period, had nothing to boast of but the disgraceful battle of the 18th of June[431]. Poor Simpson, the unlucky warrior, naturally obtuse, as General Evans affirms his mind to be, was clever enough to catch the uneasiness of his co-commander, and to manage an intrigue in the rear of Omer Pasha, the only manoeuvre he can be said to have executed during the whole Crimean campaign.

In a despatch, dated July 19th, Redcliffe writes to Clarendon that

"the night before last (July 17th) he was surprised to hear that Omer Pasha had arrived suddenly from the Crimea [...] and went straight to the Seraskier."

He chuckles at the rumour reported by the fanariot[432] Pisani, that

"the generalissimo's arrival without the orders of his Government had created some feelings of dissatisfaction," and is under "a strong impression that Omer will best consult the interests of the alliance by returning without unnecessary delay to the command of his forces in the Crimea."

Notwithstanding Redcliffe's strong impression, Omer Pasha's stay at Constantinople was prolonged from the 17th of July to the beginning of September. It will be seen, by and by, how this waste of time was occasioned.

On July the 23rd, Redcliffe informs Clarendon that

"Omer Pasha [...] had proposed [...] to the Porte to make himself an incursion towards Georgia, starting from Redout Kaleh, and turning Kutais to good account."

This idea had been debated the night before (July 2 2) in a council at the Grand Vizier's[i], and the result of the deliberations had been

"that the troops to he employed in the above-mentioned manner, under the command of Omer, should be taken from Eupatoria, to the amount of 20,000, and from Bulgaria to the amount of 5,000, and that the Contingent, with its numbers completed, should occupy the vacant space at Eupatoria. By way of alternative, it is proposed, that if the above-mentioned plan be objectionable, it might be so far modified as to take only 10,000 men from the Crimea, and 15,000 from Bulgaria, including those destined to form part of the Contingent."

Now, this despatch, which Clarendon is said to have received on August 1st, on the arrival of which he immediately took occasion to address a despatch to Lord Cowley, the British Ambassador at Paris, is evidently and wilfully misconstrued in its main passage—viz., the passage in which the Porte is stated to have proposed the withdrawal from Eupatoria of 20,000 men, to be placed under the command of Omer Pasha, and their replacement at Eupatoria by the Turkish Contingent. It is this very passage to which Clarendon points in his despatch to Lord Cowley, stating "Her Majesty's Government to be favourably disposed to it," and expressing "his hope that the Government of the Emperor will concur in it." In this passage Eupatoria is interpolated for Balaklava. From the despatch of [Lieut.-]Colonel Simmons, dated 15th July, received by Clarendon on the 30th July, it will have been seen that Omer Pasha, in his memoranda to the allied generals, and in the war council, insisted upon taking with him that part of his army which is here (Balaklava), which he had brought from Eupatoria, and which he declared the only one fit for the Asiatic campaign. Did Omer Pasha alter his opinion, after arriving at Constantinople? The contrary is shown from a despatch dated August 2nd, in which Simmons states:—

"His Highness Omer Pasha informed me that he should he happy to give over to complete the contingent any of the Turkish troops under his command, except the division which is now at the camp before Sebastopol, which being composed of his best troops, he is naturally desirous to have with him, if he make the proposed movement to Asia.

Will it be asserted that the Porte in the council of the night of July 22nd, arrived at a resolution contrary to Omer's proposal? In the very despatch of 23rd July in which Redcliffe reports the Porte's resolution, he tells Clarendon that,

"Omer Pasha has been most graciously received and most generously rewarded by the Sultan," and adds, "I need not add that he is on excellent terms with his Majesty's ministers, and particularly with the Seraskier Pasha."

Any discrepancy, therefore, between the Porte and its commander-in-chief, is out of the question; both of them appear equally startled on receiving from London the injunction of placing the troops at Eupatoria under Omer's command, and withdrawing from it the troops at Sebastopol and Kertch. What, then, was the intention of the British Government in forging the above passage? To conceal from the public that while exhibiting themselves as the patrons of Omer's project before the French Government, by a mere shuffling of words they substituted for the Porte's own proposal, one directly hostile to it. Thus a new subject of dispute was provided. Matters were embroiled still further, and the occasion was afforded to waste August and September with orders and counter-orders. The false play of the British Government is apparent even in the arrangement of the Blue Book. To confound the reader, Clarendon's despatch to Cowley figures on page 248, followed up from page 248 to 252 by an extract from Redcliffe's despatch of July 19th, Simpson's letter to Redcliffe of July 16th, Omer Pasha's letters and memoranda, and only in the last place by Redcliffe's despatch of July 23rd, of which Clarendon's instruction to Cowley pretends to be the sequel.

We must now stay for a moment in the Foreign-office, Downing-street, there beholding the Earl of Clarendon busily engaged in acting the head clerk of great Palmerston. Two days after the despatch of his message to Redcliffe on July the 16th, he is forwarding to Redcliffe another despatch concluding with the following words:

"Her Majesty's Government would still recommend that whatever force is sent for the relief of the army of Kars should proceed to Trebizond. If, indeed, Omer Pasha, who, we understand, is about to proceed to Constantinople, should determine to take any part of his own army with Tunisians and Albanians, to Redout Kaleh, her Majesty's Government would have nothing to say to that proceeding."

Redcliffe's dispatch dated Constantinople, 23rd July, having reached London on August 1st, in exactly nine days, the despatch of Clarendon dated 16th July, again wants more than half a month to reach Constantinople. It had not arrived on July 30th, when Redcliffe wrote that

"Her Majesty's Government insisting upon having the reinforcements sent via Trebizond placed the Porte in the most serious dilemma."

Redcliffe, then, was not in possession of Clarendon's despatch, according to which her Majesty's Government have nothing to say to the Redout Kaleh expedition, if undertaken by Omer Pasha himself. It is a feature peculiar to the chronology of this strange diplomatic-military drama that all despatches sure to create delay arrive with the most admirable speed, while all those pretending to recommend speed arrive with the most inexplicable delay. But there is another point quite as startling in Clarendon's last-quoted despatch. While Lord Redcliffe writes from Constantinople, dated July 19th, that he was surprised to learn of Omer Pasha's sudden arrival at Constantinople, on the 16th of July, on the very day Omer Pasha left the Crimea, Clarendon informs Redcliffe, from London, that "he understands Omer to be about to proceed to Constantinople." Omer Pasha himself, we know, adopted this resolution only on July 14th, after the breaking up of the war-council. In the interval from July 14th to the 16th no vessel left Sebastopol for Constantinople, so that Omer was obliged to request Admiral Lyons to place at his disposition her Majesty's ship Valorous. Are we then to understand that while the despatches, the Foreign-office telegraph, from London, require seventeen days to arrive at Constantinople, the despatches it receives from the Crimea convey intelligence of events even before they do happen? Not quite so. There was the submarine telegraph from Sebastopol to Varna, and the telegraph from Varna to London; so that Clarendon may have had direct intelligence the very day of the war-council's sitting. But where is this telegraphic despatch dated Sebastopol? Certainly not in the Blue Book. It is simply suppressed. And why? The same electric wire which informed Clarendon of Omer Pasha's intended departure must have informed him of the resistance he met with on the part of Pélissier, that is on the part of the French Government. Thus the question would naturally arise why Clarendon quietly waited from 16th July to the 1st of August to break the matter to the French Government, and to commence negotiations with it on the point on which the whole campaign depended? To prevent this question the telegraphic despatch has disappeared. But having suppressed that despatch from the Crimea, why did he insert his own despatch, from London, dated the 16th July? As no trace can be discovered of the latter ever having reached Constantinople, its omission would have caused no palpable blank in the Blue Book. A double-edged end was aimed at. On the one hand the readiness of the English Government to relieve Kars was to be paraded in contrast to the difficulties raised by Bonaparte, and the whole odium of the delay to be shifted to his shoulders. On the other hand, Clarendon's belief in the spurious despatch of the 23rd July, was to be proved by his willingness to leave to Omer Pasha any part of his army, before he was aware of the resolution of the Porte to clog him with the Eupatoria army; having once become aware of this resolution, Clarendon, it is true, did stand upon it, Omer Pasha's and the Porte's protests notwithstanding. All the proceedings of Clarendon, his encouraging the Porte to occupy July with Vivian's expedition, his deferring the negotiations with Bonaparte to August, his substitution in the despatch to Paris a spurious proposition of the Porte, the very acceptance of which by Bonaparte was sure to become a source of further imbroglio in this comedy of errors—all these proceedings tended to the same end—to kill time.


[The People's Paper, No. 207, April 19, 1856]

On August 2nd, 1855, Lord Cowley telegraphs from Paris that "Count Walewski foresees objections to the proposal" made by Clarendon in the name of the Porte. Thus the occasion is afforded to the clever Earl of displaying, in a despatch dated August 3rd, his patriotic zeal, and of pressing on the French Government the enormous consequences likely to arise from Kars and Erzeroum falling into the hands of Russia. The following day, Aug. 4th, he receives a despatch from Paris to this effect:

"Telegraphic—Lord Cowley to the Earl of

"Paris, August 4, 1855.—The French Government will not oppose the projected expedition to Asia Minor under Omer Pasha, provided that the numbers of the Turkish contingent before Sebastopol are not diminished."

Notwithstanding its conditional for m this is the unconditional acceptance of the proposal made by Clarendon on August 1st in the name of the Porte according to which the troops stationed at Eupatoria were to be given over to Omer Pasha, and General Vivian's contingent to replace them there. On the same day Clarendon despatched the following to Redcliffe:

"August 4th.—Omer Pasha can go to relieve Kars, provided he does not diminish his Turkish troops before Sebastopol or disturb the garrison at Yenikale."

The French government had only protested against the diminution of the Turkish troops before Sebastopol. The English government add another clog by sequestrating the Turkish troops at Yenikale too. On August 8th, Clarendon received a letter from General Williams dated Kars, July 14th, stating that General Muravieff had made close reconnaissances on the 11th and 12th July, and that on the 13th

"he appeared with his whole army on the southern heights above Kars which form the key of our defences, and by the crowning of which Kars was taken in 1828."[433]

The letter concludes with the words,

"I have just heard that the Russian general expects reinforcements from Bayazid via Gumri, and that those troops recently expelled from the garrisons of the coast of Circassia are also marching into the interior of Georgia, and may take part in the future operations of Asia Minor." (No. 276)

Having become aware of the reinforcement of the Russians, the zeal of Clarendon for the diminution of the Turkish forces receives a fresh impulse. He immediately sits down to complete his index militum prohibitorum[j]:

"Telegraphic—The Earl of Clarendon to:
Lord Redcliffe.

"Foreign-office, Aug. 9, 1855.-General Vivian's contingent to go immediately to Eupatoria. The Turkish troops there 10,000 or 12,000 to go with Omer Pasha to Redout Kaleh. The Turkish troops at Balaklava and Kertch not to be diminished in number. The Turkish force to go to Redout Kaleh under Omer Pasha, to be completed to its proper number by troops from Bulgaria or elsewhere, not from the Crimea."

Here, then, we behold Clarendon again extending the circle of interdiction. Recollecting, from [Lieut.-]Colonel Simmons's despatch of July 15th, that Omer Pasha intended taking with him "the part of his army which is here (Balaklava) and at Kertch—25,000 infantry, 3,000 cavalry from Eupatoria and artillery," he now forbids the Porte to touch the garrison at Kertch, and extends Bonaparte's objection to the removal of Turkish troops from Sebastopol to the whole Crimea—save Eupatoria; and even the number of troops at the latter place dwindles down to 10,000 or 12,000, instead of the 20,000 mentioned in his despatch to the French Government, dated August 1. With a sort of clownish humour he leaves the Porte at liberty to look out for troops "elsewhere." Having filled the bomb at London, he may now quietly await its bursting at Constantinople.

In Clarendon's despatch to Redcliffe of July 16th, we were struck by this passage: "If, indeed, Omer Pasha, who, we understand, is about to proceed to Constantinople, should determine to take any part of his own army to Redout Kaleh, Her Majesty's Government have nothing to say to that proceeding." Now, from a letter of Fuad Effendi to Redcliffe, dated July 31, from Redcliffe's answer of August 4, and from Redcliffe's letter of August 8 (see No. 282 and enclosures), it results that Clarendon's despatch, dated July 16th, had not yet reached Constantinople on August 8. Fuad Pasha states ii his letter that what has been begun of the measures (relating to the Mingrelian expedition) had been suspended, in consequence of "the official and categorical answer expected (from London) having not yet been received," and defends the Turkish plan of a Mingrelian expedition against "the substance of the English despatches," according to which "the succours must be sent through Erzeroum by way of Trebizond." Redcliffe, in his answer, dated Aug. 4, tells us that

"when latterly called upon to declare the opinions of his Government, he performed that duty with a painful sense of the embarrassments which surrounded the Porte,"

increased as they would be by the opinion "he was called upon to declare," and adds:

"Though Her Majesty's Government have declared their decided preference for a more direct operation by Trebizond and Erzeroum, their objections to a diversion on the side of Circassia would in all likelihood be modified if the force employed were of a compact or reliable character."

In his despatch to Clarendon, dated August 8, he complains that the Government

"still leans with all its weight on Trebizond as the only true chance of relief.... The military authorities are decidedly in favour of it" (the Mingrelian expedition).... "Amidst so many motives to vigorous support of the only practicable scheme of relief, [...] I made no reserve in communicating the adverse opinions of Her Majesty's Government to the Porte."

Clarendon's answer to this latter despatch of Redcliffe's (August 20) must be considered from a double point of view—with respect to Redcliffe's assertion that in his opinion the English Government had resisted the Mingrelian expedition up to August 8, and with respect to the plan which Clarendon forwarded to Paris on August 1 as the Porte's own plan. As to the first point, Clarendon declares (see No. 283):—

"My various messages by telegraph, and my despatch of the 4th inst., which you will have received since the date of your despatch, will have shown you that Her Majesty's Government, in conjunction with that of the Emperor of the French, were willing that Omer Pasha should proceed to Asia to effect a diversion for the relief of Kars, and Her Majesty's Government in that case no longer insists upon the view they had entertained at first, that the relief should be given by way of Trebizond."

With the exception of the despatch of July 14, in which Clarendon protested against the Mingrelian expedition, and summoned the Turks to fall back from Erzeroum and Kars, and his despatch, dated August 9, which Redcliffe, of course, could not have received on August 8, Clarendon had, according to the Blue Book, sent no telegraphic despatch at all. It is therefore a palpable falsehood when he speaks of his "various messages by telegraph" withdrawing the veto of the British Government against the Mingrelian expedition. Why does he not refer to his despatch dated July 16? Because it figures only in the Blue Book, was written only for the Blue Book, and has never left the Foreign-office at Downing-street. Redcliffe, as if aware of the trap laid for him, writes to Clarendon, dated August 13 (No. 286):—

"I have just learnt the contents of your lordship's telegraphic message dated the 9th inst. The sanction given by Her Majesty's Government to the experiment of a diversion on the side of Redout Kaleh will, I doubt not, afford the highest satisfaction as well to the Turkish Ministry as to Omer Pasha. The disappointment occasioned by the terms of the preceding message, which appeared to favour exclusively an advance upon Kars by Trebizond, was evident. [...]."

Redcliffe knows nothing of Clarendon's various "despatches by telegraph;" he knows only of the preceding message being "exclusively" in favour of a Trebizond expedition. He means the message of the 13th, backed by the telegraphic message of the 14th of July. He ignores altogether the existence of the message of the 16th of July. We insist upon this point for a simple reason. One glance at the Kars papers will satisfy everybody as to the constant efforts made by the British Government to thwart the projects of the Porte. But the falsifications, forgeries, and lies which we reveal, prove the British Government to have been conscious of foul play, and betray on its part a preconcerted plan, which it dares not openly confess.

Let us now consider Clarendon's despatch of Aug. 20, from another point of view:—

"Omer Pasha," he says, "as commander of the Sultan's troops, will be free to direct his movements in a manner most beneficial to the common cause; and the only limitation placed by the two governments on his proceedings is the condition that the movement in Asia shall not lead to any diminution of the Turkish force employed before Sebastopol and Yenikale, while the Turkish Contingent, under General Vivian, may be made available for filling up the room of the Turkish troops whom Omer Pasha may take with him from Eupatoria."

According to Clarendon's despatch to Paris, dated August 1, the Porte had proposed to place the Eupatoria troops under Omer Pasha while not meddling with the Turkish army before Sebastopol. How can he call the simple acceptance of the Porte's own proposal, "putting a limitation on Omer Pasha's proceedings?" But, on the other hand, could he do otherwise? Since the very despatch of Redcliffe he is answering, reminds him that the Pasha reckons on "17,000 men from Balaklava," 3,000 from Kertch, etc. Thus, what figured in his despatch to Paris as the Porte's own proposal, is now enjoined to the Porte, as the advice of its Western allies.

Up to the 13th of August—just a month after Omer Pasha had proposed to the Allied commanders his Mingrelian expedition— the Porte was labouring under the painful conviction that the British Government objected to it, and all its preparations for the relief of Kars were consequently kept in deadly suspense. On the 13th, at last, it is delivered from that nightmare, and has the satisfaction to understand that its Western allies have accepted the resolution it had come to on July 22nd. It would now, at last, be free to turn its energies against Muravieff, instead of against Clarendon. On the 15th of August, the Ottoman Council was assembled for deliberation as to the most effectual means of succouring Kars. The result of their deliberations is quite as startling as it is unexpected.

"Omer Pasha," Redcliffe says in his despatch to Clarendon, dated August 16th (No. 294), "objects most positively to the plan transmitted from London by telegraph, of stationing the contingent at Eupatoria, and he is not prepared to assume the responsibility of commanding the expedition, unless the Turkish troops before Sebastopol be allowed to form part of it."

Thus we see the Eupatoria plan, pretended to have been sent on the 23rd July to London, is now asserted to have been transmitted on August 9 from London to Constantinople.

On the 16th of August, [Lieut.-]Colonel Simmons also addressed a despatch to Clarendon (No. 297):

"I have to inform your Lordship that the Seraskier having received [...] a communication from Lord Stratford de Redcliffe, to the effect that her Majesty's Government had ordered the Turkish contingent to Eupatoria, placed the communication into the hands of his Highness Omer Pasha, who conceiving that this movement would not enable the Porte to provide the necessary force to make any operation in Asia to save the army of Kars, has drawn up a report for the Seraskier.... Omer Pasha, while insisting upon taking with him his troops [...] from Sebastopol, will hand over part of them and the Turkish troops at Kertch to the Anglo-Turkish contingent, such as are required to complete its full complement.... The proposal of the Pasha appears to me the only one which holds out any hope of saving the army of Kars, subject to the condition which His Highness understands has been imposed by the English and French Governments—that there is to be no material reduction of force in the Crimea, and therefore that the first proposal made by Omer to the Generals, reported in my despatch of July 15th, cannot he put in execution.[...] The Pasha doubts if the expedition will now be in time to save the garrison of Kars, but if not, it will at any rate prevent the enemy from establishing himself in the government of Erzeroum, and there organizing measures for another advance into the interior in the next campaign."

Omer Pasha's memorandum to the Seraskier, alluded to in the above despatch of [Lieut.-]Colonel Simmons, is enclosed in Redcliffe's letter to Clarendon, dated August 16th. We extract from it the following considerations made by Omer Pasha:

"The troops now at Eupatoria, are composed of different materials, Tunisians and Egyptians[k], and are deficient of the means of land transport.... They are not capable of taking the field or of manoeuvring.... If the Egyptians were to go to Asia, as it will be necessary to keep the field during the commencement of the winter, coming as they do From a hot climate [...], they could not perform the necessary manoeuvres, and the army being composed of different materials there would be but little chance of success. By the execution of this project the unity of the Ottoman as well as of the English army will be destroyed, and it is to he observed that much of the energy, if not the existence, of an army in warfare depends upon its unity.... The Pasha observes that every general in warfare ought to consider beforehand the most difficult circumstances in which he may be placed by the events of war, and to provide as far as possible against misfortune. He supposes the case, that the army of Kars is destroyed before his arrival in Asia., and that the Russians had advanced beyond that place, and states that in such a case, being with an army composed of different materials, in which he could not place entire confidence, he would find himself in similar difficulties in which the army of Asia is now placed
"Every general to whom an operation is confided, ought to consent to the operation, and its mode of execution, in order that he may he made responsible for its conduct [...]. The Anglo-Turkish contingent, if supplied with its full complement from the detachments about to be drafted from Bulgaria and from Kertch, will be almost equal in numbers to the divisions under his command. [...] As far as the numbers of the Allied armies are concerned, there need be no diminution, if his views were acceded to. On the contrary, if the plan, sent from London, were acted upon, the permanent arrangements made by the Seraskier for the supply of the garrison of Eupatoria [...] would be broken up, unavoidable delay must ensue, absolutely new establishments would have to be organized."

The destruction of the last effective Turkish army, the loss of the unity of the English as well as the Ottoman army, the wilful sacrifice of the Egyptians and Tunisians, the breaking up of the permanent arrangements made for the supply of the Turkish troops at Eupatoria, the creation of unavoidable delay, the ruin of his own military representation, the exposure of the Mingrelian army to the fate of the garrison of Kars—these are, according to Omer Pasha, the natural consequences of the plan sent from London. While communicating to Clarendon this strong protest, Lord Redcliffe evinces not the least suspicion of having himself been the channel through which the Porte is made to have transmitted the identical project to Lord Clarendon.

We have, thus, new and irrefutable proof that the proposal of the Porte, as figuring in the despatch dated July 23rd, is a London forgery, and that Clarendon in submitting it to the acceptance of the French Government in his despatch of August 1st was fully aware of committing an atrocious fraud.

His scheme worked exactly up to his intention, the Porte. at last informed that the British Government consents to the Turkish expedition in general, learns simultaneously, that it objects to all the details required for carrying it out. Having been compelled to waste one month with struggling against Clarendon's Erzeroum plan, it has now to waste the still more precious month of August with resisting his Eupatoria scheme.

In a despatch dated August 20, addressed by Redcliffe to Clarendon, he encloses another memorandum of Omer Pasha, similar in substance to the former one, but with the addition (see No. 296):

"any general undertaking such an operation against all military rules, would sacrifice his military reputation, and he would, moreover, imperil the general alliance. I intend doing neither.

"If I were even to accept this service, it would not serve the object in view."

He represents the troops at Eupatoria "as undisciplined, mixed, and inexperienced soldiers."

On the 20th of August (see No. 298, Simmons to Clarendon) Omer Pasha informs Simmons of the state of things at Kars as reported by an aide-de-camp of the Seraskier, who left Kars on the 5th, and arrived at Constantinople on August 19th,

"At the time of his departure the stores within the town of Kars did not contain more than sufficient provisions for the garrison for one month or five weeks at the outside, and they were not well provided with ammunition. This, however, does not appear of much consequence, as General Muravieff had proclaimed to his army, which, by the reinforcement it has received, is stated now to number about 50,000 men, to reduce the town of Kars by starvation, and to capture the town without firing a shot.... The Russians have caused the inhabitants to remove everything in the shape of provisions throughout a district within a radius of 8 hours (28 miles) round Kars as a centre.... The forts at Erzeroum consist of 6,000 regular troops, and 12,000 irregulars; but many of the latter are leaving and dispersing." "From Omer Pasha's conversations [...]," says Simmons, "it is evident that the Porte is deeply impressed with the deplorable state of affairs in Asia, and is almost in despair at the apparent certainty of losing, towards the end of this month or early in September, the garrison of Kars, sixteen thousand men with. nearly two hundred pieces of artillery, of which about seventy are field guns.... They are very much grieved and disappointed at the time which has been lost [...]—and that the cabinets of Paris and London, as well as the military authorities in the Crimea, have not considered the subject in that serious aspect in which it presents itself to the Porte, but have objected to the propositions which have hitherto been made with a view to retrieving their position and their preventing the disaster."

On August 21st, at a meeting of the Porte's council (No. 299—Simmons to Clarendon, dated August 23),

"a decision was arrived at to proceed with the utmost vigour and all the means at the disposal of the Porte to carry into execution the plan proposed by Omer Pasha.... A. note was agreed upon, to be addressed to the ambassadors of France and England[l], informing them of the decision of the Porte, and inviting them to obtain the assistance of the fleets of their respective Government to transport the Ottoman troops, with their artillery, baggage, and means of land-transport, to the coast of Asia.... Having done all in their power to effect a movement for the relief of the arm of Kars, to recover their position in Asia, they" (the Porte) "considered themselves relieved from the responsibility of any disaster which might happen from the non-execution of any of the plans proposed with that view. The Turkish Government, in order to commence the movement, are now sending their ships to Sizopolis, to begin the embarkation of the troops, etc., but they evidently have entertained some doubt as to taking this decided course, in consequence of the Anglo-Turkish Contingent having received orders from London. to proceed to Eupatoria."

Thus the end of August was approaching, the Porte still finds itself clogged in its movements by Clarendon's Eupatoria plan, and its anxiety waxing with the dismal news from Kars, it extorts at last from Redcliffe, who in the meantime had made a trip to Sebastopol, the following telegraphic despatch (No. 290):—

"Lord Redcliffe to the Earl of Clarendon.

"Before Sebastopol, Aug. 26.—I request to be informed definitively and immediately here, whether Omer Pasha may take Turkish troops in whole or in part from Balaklava, provided they be replaced by others of the same numerical force, and whether General V'ivian's Contingent is in that case at liberty to take position before Sebastopol, instead of going to Eupatoria. Omer Pasha is expected from day to day. He makes his expedition conditional on the power of acting as above. He has stated plausible reasons for this. If transport can be spared by us the troops may land, it would seem, at Redout Kaleh in about a month. The Russians who threatened Erzeroum have retired by the road to Kars; the Turkish army there is stated to have nearly two months provisions early in. August."


[The People's Paper, No. 208, April 26, 1856]

Clarendon had now succeeded in thwarting, by his Eupatoria plan, all action on the part of the Porte during the whole month of August. Redcliffe's despatch confirmed the statement of General Williams, that "the provisions of Kars will hardly last to the beginning of September." By what extraordinary devotion the Turkish garrison at Kars contrived to prolong its existence beyond the term assigned by Williams, will be seen from the following memorandum:—

(Enclosure in No. 315.)

Kars, September 1st, 1855.—"The most is made of our provisions; the soldiers are reduced to half-allowances of bread and meat, or rice-butter. Sometimes 100 drachmas of biscuit instead of bread; nothing besides. No money. Mussulman population, 3,000 rifles, will soon be reduced to starvation. Armenians are ordered to quit the town to-morrow. No barley, scarcely any forage. Cavalry reduced to walking skeletons, and sent out of garrison; artillery horses soon the same. How will the field pieces be moved after that?... What is being done for the relief of this army?

(Signed) Williams.

Clarendon having made sure that the provisions of Kars could not last beyond the first days of October, and being on the other hand assured by Redcliffe that even with the succour of the allied transports Omer Pasha's troops would not arrive at Redout Kaleh before the first days of October, thinks it no longer dangerous to press on the French Government the acceptance of the Turkish plan. He was informed besides that at the very moment he addressed that Government the assault of Sebastopol was imminent, and Pélissier, therefore, had good reasons not to allow any change in the composition of the troops before Sebastopol. To hide this knowledge, the despatch of Redcliffe is given in the mutilated shape of an extract. The following is Clarendon's despatch to Lord Cowley:—

Foreign Office, Aug. 28, 1855.—"Her Majesty's Government trusts that the Government of the Emperor will agree to the following answer to the despatch from Viscount Stratford de Redcliffe, dated Balaklava, Aug. 26th, in which case your excellency will send it on immediately from Lord Panmure to General Simpson, who will inform Viscount de Redcliffe, if he is still at Balaklava:

"'Omer Pasha is to be at liberty to take such of his own troops as he pleases, from Balaklava to Asia. They must be replaced in equal numbers by General Vivian's Contingent, or by troops from Eupatoria, as the allied generals may decide; and instructions accordingly must be given in conjunction with the admirals as to transporting them.'"

(Signed Clarendon.)

Even in this despatch, Clarendon cannot abstain from playing a trick on the Porte. Informed as he was by Omer Pasha's various memoranda that the replacement of his troops before Sebastopol by troops from Eupatoria, would go a great length to spoil his whole plan, he proposes to the French Government, quite en passant, to replace the troops before Sebastopol by Vivian's contingent, or by troops from Eupatoria. The answer from Paris was this:—

"Telegraphic.—Lord Cowley to the Earl of Clarendon.

"Paris, Aug. 29, 1855.—The Emperor has no objection to the removal of the Turkish troops from Balaklava, and to their being replaced by others, provided that the allied commanders-in-chief have no objection; but he will not take the responsibility upon himself of saying more under these circumstances. I send the telegraphic despatch to General Simpson, inserting, after the word 'Asia,' 'provided that General Pélissier and you have no objection'."

Lord Clarendon's sincere anxiety to hasten the Mingrelian expedition at this supreme moment, shines in overpowering brightness in his despatch of September 7th, sent by ordinary mail to [Lieut.-]Colonel Simmons, so that it did not arrive till September 23rd. On September 5th he had received the following despatch from [Lieut.-]Colonel Simmons. (No. 301.)

"I have to inform your lordship that Omer Pasha has stated to me that he will not be able to leave Constantinople for five or six days, as he is occupied in making the necessary arrangements for the expedition to Asia, and his presence here is absolutely required to complete them." According to the arrangements accepted by the Porte "Omer Pasha hoped to land 50,000 men[m] and 3,400 horses in Asia, in two trips of the Turkish fleet alone, the operation occupying from three weeks to one month, or for each voyage from ten days to a fortnight.... Omer Pasha is most desirous that. assistance should be given by the allies in conveying the troops and their material from before Sebastopol, and baggage-horses from Sizopolis, and he considers the most practicable way in which this could be done, would be by allowing the English fleet to convey the troops from before Sebastopol to Asia, after having conveyed the Contingent to Balaklava to replace them."

To this despatch, Clarendon answers in the following strain:—

"The Earl of Clarendon to Lieutenant-Colonel

"Foreign Office, Sept. 7, 1855.

"Sir,—The account of the arrangements proposed by Omer- Pasha for the relief of the army in Asia, which is contained in your despatch of the 26th ult., is inconsistent with subsequent statements which have reached her Majesty's Government. In your despatch you report that Omer Pasha reckons upon taking a portion of the Turkish troops from before Sebastopol, and replacing them by General Vivian's Contingent. But it appears, by a despatch of a later date from General Simpson, that Omer Pasha has given it as his opinion that General Vivian's Contingent would not be fit to take up a position before Sebastopol until next spring; and, in consequence of that opinion, and by reason of General Simpson's protest. against having the Contingent sent to him, which protest was. founded upon that opinion, her Majesty's Government have determined that the Contingent shall not go to join the army before Sebastopol."


Let it be remarked that Simpson's, the poor warrior's despatch, is omitted from the Blue Book, that Omer Pasha's "opinion" is a changeling, and that the "later date" when Omer expressed his new opinion contradicting his opinion of the 26th of August, happens to be the beginning of July—as will be seen from the following extract from [Lieut.-]Colonel Simmons's despatch, dated, camp of Kamara, Sep. 23rd, 1855:—

"On this subject I beg to inform your lordship that this opinion was given by Omer Pasha in a letter to General Simpson early in the month of July ... and before he was aware of the critical position of the army in Asia. He then stated that he was strongly of opinion that General Simpson could not contemplate making use of the Contingent in the open field (en rase campagne) in front of the enemy.... Lord Raglan had, on several occasions, asked whether I thought it would be possible to make use of the Contingent to hold the lines of Balaklava, and upon consulting Omer Pasha upon the subject, he told me that he saw no objection to it, if his lordship considered it absolutely necessary."

In excavating an opinion of Omer Pasha, given before the Mingrelian expedition was mooted, in falsifying that opinion and in founding upon this falsification a protest, Simpson's "obtuse mind" followed, of course, the secret instructions received from London. Poor Simpson was an invention of Palmerston, one of his golems. Golems, as the German poet Arnim has it[n], are earth clods, shaped in the human form and infused with a factitious life by the spell of capricious wizards. Supposing Simpson to have written exactly as he is represented to have done in Clarendon's despatch—a point that becomes questionable from the suppression of his despatch in the Blue Book, Clarendon could not be for a moment in doubt either as to the date or as to the substance of Omer Pasha's opinion. As early as July 15, Simmons had informed him that in Omer's opinion "the Contingent, although it might form a garrison, cannot yet be in a condition to march into the interior;" and in a later despatch that "in Balaklava and Kertch the troops of the Contingent will be within fortified lines" and, therefore, not "in the open field."

The history of Omer Pasha's Mingrelian campaign is not given in the Blue Book, but enough transpires to denounce the obstacles thrown in its way by the allied governments even at the too late epoch, when they had reluctantly given their consent and captured the south side of Sebastopol.

Simmons writes to Clarendon from the camp at Kamara on Sept. 21, 1855.

"On the 18th inst. General Pélissier consented to the departure of three battalions of Turkish chasseurs hence for Asia. [...] They will be embarked in a day or two for Batoum. Up to the present time General Pélissier has not signified his assent to the departure for Asia of any more of the Ottoman troops now stationed here."

"In answer to my inquiries at the Porte," says Redcliffe on Sept. 26th, "I am assured [...] that the passage of troops and the conveyance of provisions are in progress, though slowly, in consequence of the limited command of transport for those purposes. It is impossible not to apprehend that the many changes of plan, the exigencies of our operations at Sebastopol, and heavy demands on the transport-service, concur to diminish the hope of relieving Kars."

Now the many changes of plan were the work of the British ministry; the exigencies of the operations before Sebastopol a mere pretext, as the allies, after the capture of the town, confined themselves to guarding its ruins; and lastly the want of sufficient transport was produced by the orders issued from Downing-street for the useless transmissions of the Contingent from Varna to Yenikale, Kertch, Eupatoria, and back to the Bosphorus.

The gloom of these forebodings was dispelled for a moment by the meteorlike flash of the victory gained by the Turks over the Russian assaulting columns before Kars on September 29th. In his despatch of the same date General Williams calls it "a day glorious for the Turkish arms." In his despatch of October 3rd (No. 342), he tells Clarendon,

"During the combat, which lasted nearly seven hours, the Turkish infantry, as well as artillery, fought with the most determined courage; and when it is recollected that they had worked on their entrenchments, and guarded them by night, throughout a period extending to nearly four months—when it is borne in mind that they were ill-clothed and received less than half a ration of bread—that they have remained without pay for 29 months, I think your lordship will admit that they have proved themselves worthy of the admiration of Europe, and established an undoubted claim to be placed among the most distinguished of its troops."

On the receipt of these glad tidings the Porte issued an address to the defenders of Kars (No. 345), in which the following words occur:

"We were conscious of the zeal and intrepidity which animated your excellency. and of the infinite mercy of God, and found consolation in this reflection. On the other hand, we worked day and night in devising means to oblige the enemy to raise the siege, and the joyful tidings of this victory have infused new life into us."

And what an exuberance of life will they not infuse into Clarendon's breast? He who worked day and night in devising means to thwart the means devised by the Porte, how will he not at least profusedly scatter the cheap flowers of his rhetorical sympathy! Nothing of the sort. Rather disappointed in his calculations he vents his spleen upon the Porte, in the following short and provokingly ironical despatch (see No. 346)[o]:

"...The neglected garrison of Kars will at least have the satisfaction of knowing that their sufferings troubled the ... repose of the Turkish ministers, who, in default of all ordinary means of relief, never ceased to pray for their safety and success.

Clarendon, formerly the silent friend of Aberdeen, figures here as Palmerston's twanging mouthpiece.

From the repulse of the Russians before Kars, on September 29th, to the day of its capitulation, on November 24th[434], there elapsed again nearly two months. How was this time improved by the British Government? First, by withholding from Omer Pasha the necessary transports. On October 6th Mr. Oliphant, the correspondent of the Times, writes from Omer Pasha's camp:

"The Turkish army is gradually assuming a more imposing aspect, and the assent which the allied generals have at length reluctantly given to the despatch of 10,000 Turks from Balaklava, will swell it to about 50,000 strong. The principal delay is caused by the slackness of our authorities in the Crimea, who do not provide transport for the conveyance of the troops here, nor seem to care in the least whether they ever get here or not. It is certainly unfortunate that the only serious cause of annoyance which Omer Pasha has felt with respect to this expedition [...], is to be attributed to the same source which has already been so fruitful of disaster."[p]

But this was not all. As early as July, Lord Palmerston had stated in the Parliamentary debates on the Turkish loan, that the Porte was lamentably deficient in money, and that all its operations depended upon receiving a supply of it at once. The Parliament having consented to the loan, the British Government advertised it in August, 1855, but from a paper laid before Parliament it appears that out of the five millions sterling granted something short of two millions was but paid to the Porte on January 29th, 1856, and that even this sum had been sent in dribblets of one hundred thousand pounds. Still, on Nov. 24, 1855, the Porte declares (see No. 353, inclosure 4):—

"In conclusion, his Excellency" (the Seraskier[q]) "turned round to me, and said that I was as well aware as he of the continuous exertion, made by him to help the garrison of Kars[...]. That Omer Pasha had been delayed by causes over which he, unfortunately, could not exercise any control. It was an affair of the alliance. It had all along been understood that such measures as it was in their power to take without the army which had been retained in the Crimea, would not suffice for the object in view.... His Excellency then proceeded to tell me with much force that the Turks were absolutely debarred from executing what was necessary for the prosecution of the campaign by the delay in giving them the advantage of the loan. The grain to the amount of one million of kilos bought by them for the service of the army, was not forwarded, because they could not pay for it.... He had written to the Grand Vizier[r], that if money was not forthcoming from that source (the loan) in a week from this date, he would resign his office." (Letter of General Mansfield to Lord de Redcliffe.)

It is a rather curious coincidence that on the very day on which Kars surrendered, the Seraskier was forcibly stating to the British military commissioner the true reasons of that disaster—the delay of Omer Pasha's expedition by the Allies retaining from the Porte its own troops, and then the stoppage of all operations during October and November by the British Government retaining from the Porte its own money.

When the capitulation was resolved upon at Kars, on Nov. 24th,

"the soldiers were dying by hundreds a day, of famine. They were mere skeletons, and were incapable of fighting or flying. The women brought their children to the general's[s] house for food, and there they left them, and the city was strewed with dead and dying." (No. 366.)[t]

During the whole epoch that Clarendon systematically thwarts the plans of the Porte, paralyses its forces, and retains its own money, we behold him dinning the ears of the manacled man with the counsel to move on vigorously, and abusing him for his slackness. History exhibits, perhaps, no parallel more bitterly ludicrous than that between the British Government making England the laughing-stock of Europe by its adventures in the Crimea, the Baltic, and the Pacific, and the rewards lavished on the tools of its miscarriages—and the same Government upbraiding the Porte in the severest tones of antique Catonism for the blunders of its military officers and administrators. The Government of Sadleirism, morally indignant at pasha-corruption; the patrons of a Codrington and an Elliot, insisting on the punishment of a Selim Pasha and a Tahir Pasha; the improvisatori of a Simpson sullenly frowning on the promoters of an Omer Pasha; "Takecare-of-Dowb" Panmure doctoring the Seraskier; Downing-street with its doctors Smiths, its Filders, its Aireys, and its Cordons, during the very sittings of the Sebastopol Committee, censuring a pasha at Trebizond for a load of sponges and rammers not having been packed in bundles and covered with matting:—this is the true picture of the Oriental war. And, above all, the brave Clarendon's soul-stirring complaints of the Porte's apathy!—think of an official Thersites tasking the Danaides for not filling the sieve.

Written in late March and April 1856
First published in The People's Paper, Nos. 205, 206, 207 and 208, April 5, 12, 19 and 26, 1856
Signed: Karl Marx.


[a] Papers Relative to Military Affairs in Asiatic Turkey, and the Defence and Capitulation of Kars, London, 1856. Documents from this book are quoted below.—Ed.

[b] Vassif Pasha.—Ed.

[c] 10 Downing Street is the official residence of the British Prime Minister.—Ed.

[d] Ali Mehemet Pasha.—Ed.

[e] Abdul Mejid.—Ed.

[f] Rushdi Pasha. "Seraskier" means "War Minister".—Ed.

[g] Evans' speech in the House of Commons on February 29, 1856. The Times, No. 22304, March 1, 1856.—Ed.

[h] Omer Pasha.—Ed.

[i] Ali Mehemet Pasha.—Ed.

[j] List of withheld troops.—Ed.

[k] In Kars Papers: "Turks and Egyptians".—Ed.

[l] É. A, Thouvenel and Stratford de Redcliffe.—Ed.

[m] In Kars Papers: "15,000 men".—Ed.

[n] L. A. Arnim, Isabella von Ägypten. Kaiser Karl des Fünften erste Jugendliebe.—Ed.

[o] The quotation that follows is from Clarendon's dispatch to Stratford de Redcliffe of November 21, 1855.—Ed.

[p] Report from Sukum Kaleh published in The Times, No. 22195, October 26, 1855.—Ed.

[q] Rushdi Pasha (Mehemet).—Ed.

[r] Ali Mehemet Pasha.—Ed.

[s] W. F. Williams.—Ed.

[t] Message of J. Brant, British Consul in Erzeroum, to Clarendon of November 27, 1855.—Ed.

[428] Marx wrote the pamphlet The Fall of Kars for the Chartist People's Paper as a series of four articles which were published in four consecutive issues of the weekly in April 1856. The individual instalments appeared under Marx's name, unnumbered (for convenience they have been numbered by the editors of this volume). The second, third and fourth instalments were preceded by a note saying that they were continuations of the instalment published in the previous issue. After the first and third instalments there were notes to the effect that they were to be continued in the next issue. The pamphlet was based on Marx's article on the same subject written for the New-York Daily Tribune and likewise entitled "The Fall of Kars" (see this volume, pp. 605-14). The text of this article was thoroughly revised and considerably enlarged. In a letter to Engels of April 16, 1856 (see present edition, Vol. 40) Marx wrote that in the absence of the original he was compelled, in preparing the pamphlet, to restore the Tribune article from memory as well as he could. His main source in writing both the article and the pamphlet was a Blue Book on the defence of Kars published soon after the surrender of the fortress on November 28, 1855. In late April and early May 1856 Marx compiled a summary of his pamphlet for The Free Press and The Sheffield Free Press, two periodicals published by David Urquhart and his supporters (see this volume, pp. 673-80).

The People's Paper version of "The Fall of Kars" was reprinted in The Eastern Question.

[429] The Five Points—a reference to the Five Points, the terms for peace talks presented to Russia by Austria on behalf of the Allied Powers in December 1855. An elaboration of the earlier Four Points (see Note 43↓), they called for replacement of the Russian protectorate over the Danubian Principalities by a protectorate of all the contracting parties, a revision of the Bessarabian border involving the relinquishing by Russia of the territory along the Danube, the neutralisation of the Black Sea, the closure of the Straits to warships, a ban on the maintenance of arsenals and navies in the Black Sea by Russia and Turkey; and collective protection of the Christian subjects of Turkey by the Great Powers. Presented in the form of an ultimatum, these terms were accepted by the Tsarist Government and provided the basis for the Paris peace talks.

The Paris Treaty—the peace treaty that concluded the Crimean War (1853-56). It was signed by the representatives of Austria, Britain, France, Prussia, Sardinia and Turkey, on the one hand, and of Russia on the other, at the Congress of Paris on March 30, 1856. Under the treaty, Russia ceded the mouth of the Danube and part of Bessarabia, renounced its protectorate over the Danubian Principalities and its protection of Christians in Turkey, agreed to the neutralisation of the Black Sea (involving the closure of the Straits to foreign warships and a ban on Russia and Turkey maintaining navies and naval arsenals on the Black Sea) and returned the fortress of Kars to Turkey in exchange for Sevastopol and other Russian towns held by the Allies. By skilfully exploiting the differences between Britain and France the Russian diplomats at the congress succeeded in foiling the attempts to impose still more onerous peace terms on Russia.

The Paris Treaty failed to settle the Eastern Question. In the 1870s relations between the European Powers in the Balkans and the Near East became tense again.

[430] "Take care of Dowb" Panmure—anickname for the British Secretary at War Panmure who, in an official dispatch informing General Simpson of his appointment to the post of commander-in-chief in the Crimea, asked him to look after Panmure's nephew, the young officer Dowbiggin.

[431] On June 18, 1855, one of the major battles of the Crimean War was fought at Sevastopol, ending in defeat for the Allies. The nearly nine-month-long siege of the city, the destruction caused by the bombardment, and the capture by French and British troops on June 7, 1855 of the outlying fortifications, the Selenghinsk and Volhynsk redoubts and the Kamchatka lunette (which had been erected by the defenders in the course of the siege) induced the Allied command to undertake a full-scale assault on the Southern (Korabelnaya) part of the city. It was launched on the fortieth anniversary of the battle of Waterloo, fought on June 18, 1815. The assault was preceded by massive bombardment of the city from land and sea. Despite the Allies' substantial superiority in numbers, their attack, launched along the whole line of Russian fortifications at dawn on June 18, 1855, was repulsed at every point. The attackers suffered heavy losses. The fighting on June 18 showed the strength of Sevastopol's defences and the staunchness of the Russian troops. Marx gave a detailed account of the battle in his report "The Mishap of June 18.—Reinforcements"; Engels described it in his articles "From Sevastopol" and "The Late Repulse of the Allies" (see this volume, pp. 297-301, 313-19 and 328-32).

[432] The Fanariots were inhabitants of the Fanar, the main Greek quarter in Constantinople, mostly descendants of aristocratic Byzantine families. Due to their wealth and political connections many of them held high administrative posts in the Ottoman Empire.

[433] A reference to the capture of Kars by the Russians during the Russo-Turkish war of 1828-29. Under the Treaty of Adrianople of 1829 the fortress was returned to the Turks.

[434] The decision to enter into negotiations with the Russians on the terms of capitulation was taken by the commanding officers of the Kars garrison on November 24, 1855. The fortress surrendered on November 28.

[43] The Four Points—demands made by the Western Powers on Russia as preliminary conditions for peace talks in their Note of August 8, 1854. Russia was required to renounce her protectorate over Moldavia, Wallachia and Serbia, which was to be replaced by an all-European guarantee; to grant freedom of navigation on the Danube; to agree to a revision of the London Convention of 1841 on the closure of the Bosphorus and Dardanelles to the warships of all nations in peacetime, and to renounce its protection of Christians in Turkey. The Tsarist government at first rejected the Four Points but in November 1854 was forced to accept them as the basis for future peace talks. The Four Points were discussed at the Vienna conferences of Ambassadors (see Note 34↓) but the attempts of the Western Powers to link the question of the Straits with demands for 'a reduction of the Russian Navy in the Black Sea caused the Russian Ambassador in Vienna, A. M. Gorchakov, to walk out of the talks.

[34] A reference to the talks between the British, French and Russian Ambassadors and Austrian Foreign Minister Buol sponsored by Emperor Francis Joseph, which opened in December 1854. Their official purpose was to work out a basis for peace negotiations between the belligerents in the Crimean War. They were a sequel to an earlier round of talks between diplomats of the Western Powers, the Prussian Ambassador and the Austrian Minister (the Russian Ambassador refused to participate) held in Vienna in 1853-54 by way of mediation in the Russo-Turkish conflict. The second round failed to resolve the differences between the belligerents in the Crimean War. In mid-March 1855 representatives of Austria, Britain, France, Turkey and Russia met at a higher level at the Vienna Conference (Britain was represented by Special Envoy Lord John Russell, France by Foreign Minister Drouyn de Lhuys). That conference also produced no results (see Note 88↓).

[88] The Vienna Conference was to work out the terms for peace between the participants in the Crimean War. It was attended by Russia, Britain, France, Austria and Turkey and lasted, with intervals, from March 15 to June 4, 1855. The negotiations centred on the Four Points. While agreeing, with certain reservations, to Points 1, 2 and 4, Russia emphatically rejected Point 3 which, as interpreted by the Western Powers, called for a reduction of the Russian Navy in the Black Sea. Britain and France insisted on its acceptance and turned down Austria's compromise proposal that Russia and Turkey should be allowed to agree between themselves on the size of their naval forces in the Black Sea. The Conference ended without adopting any decisions.

Source: Marx and Engels Collected Works, Volume 14 (pp.621-654), Progress Publishers, Moscow 1980
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