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Kars Papers Curiosities[445]

Karl Marx

1. Falsification.—In a telegraphic despatch dated Constantinople, July 12, I855, Lord Redcliffe summons the Foreign Office, "in order to save much valuable time," to send "by telegraph" its decision as to the Mingrelian expedition which the Porte had proposed to undertake with the Anglo-Turkish contingent, under General Vivian's command. In No. 249 of the Blue Book[a], we find Lord Clarendon's answer, a despatch dated "London, July 14, I855," bearing on its frontispiece the sacramental word "telegraphic," rejecting the Porte's proposal, and inviting the Turkish army to fall back from Kars and Erzeroum on Trebizond. Lord Redcliffe's telegraphic question being dated Constantinople, July 12th, and Lord Clarendon's telegraphic answer, London, July 14th, it appears that to run between Constantinople and London a telegraphic message wants at the most, two days. Accordingly, Lord Clarendon's telegraphic despatch, dated London, July 14th, should have reached Constantinople on July 16. However, in a despatch dated July 19th, Lord Redcliffe complains of the silence of his Government which he had entreated "to lose no time in making known his pleasure." From Lord Redcliffe's later despatch dated July 23rd, it results that he had received no answer even then. In fact, the receipt of any answer from the Foreign Office, is not acknowledged before July 30th. (See No. 277.) One is thus reduced to the dilemma either that the way from London to Constantinople is about seven times longer than the way from Constantinople to London, or that the London date of Lord Clarendon's despatch, as given in the Blue Book, is false. The delay in Lord Clarendon's answer caused time of precious value to be wasted. The falsification of the Blue Book date of that answer would denote, that delay was intended. To conceal that intention, a spurious date had to be prefixed to the despatch, instead of the true one.

2. Suppression.—I do not allude to the numerous mutilations pointed at in the Blue Book under the convenient term of "Extract"; nor to the total suppression of the whole correspondence between General Beatson and the British Government, but rather to a telegraphic despatch sent from Sebastopol, on July 14, 1855, and received in London on July 16, 1855. On July 14th, in a conference held at the English head-quarters with the Allied Commanders-in-Chief and the Admirals, Omer Pasha proposed to make an incursion from Redout Kaleh, via Kutais, into Georgia, at the head of that part of the Turkish army then

"at Balaklava or at Kertch—25,000 infantry, 3000 cavalry from Eupatoria, and a proportional artillery."

The allied commanders, refusing to give any opinion on the subject—(see [Lieut.-]Colonel Simmons' despatch to Clarendon, dated July 15)—Omer Pasha broke up the conference by declaring that "under these circumstances, he felt it his duty to proceed to Constantinople;" and so he did. On the very same day when Omer Pasha left the Crimea—on July 16th—Lord Clarendon, according to the Blue Book, wrote a despatch to Lord Redcliffe, stating that

"we" (the Government) "understand that Omer Pasha is about to proceed to Constantinople."

This intelligence Lord Clarendon could only have derived from a telegraphic despatch dated Balaklava, July 14. Where is this despatch? Certainly, not in the Blue Book. The same electric wire which informed Lord Clarendon of Omer Pasha's intended departure, must have informed him of the cause of that departure, viz., the resistance he met with on the part of Pélissier, i.e., on the part of the French Government. Thus the question would naturally arise why Lord Clarendon quietly waited from July 16th to August 1st, a fact shown by the Blue Book, to break the matter to the French Government, and to commence negotiations with it, on a point on which the whole campaign depended. To prevent this question, the telegraphic despatch has disappeared.

3. Fraud.—In Lord Clarendon's above-mentioned despatch to Lord Redcliffe, dated July 16th, the following passage occurs:

"Her Majesty's[b] 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 [...] 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."

Now, Omer Pasha having just determined to take a certain part of his own army to Redout Kaleh, the unconditional sanction given to such a plan, in Lord Clarendon's despatch, must have removed all difficulties; or, if new ones arose, at all events prove them to have not originated with the British Government. Unfortunately, this despatch, dated London, July 16th, figures only in the Blue Book, was written only for the Blue Book, and has never left the shelves of the Foreign Office. No trace of its ever having reached Constantinople is to be discovered. On the contrary, it results from Lord Redcliffe's despatch, dated Constantinople, July 30th, that he had not received it on that date, when he complained of "the most serious dilemma" in which "the unfavourable judgment passed by her Majesty's Government" on the Turkish plans had placed the Porte. Nor had Lord Clarendon's despatch, dated July 16th, arrived on July 31st, when Fuad Effendi, in a letter to Lord Redcliffe, defended the 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." Nor had it arrived on August 4th, when Lord Redcliffe, in answer to Fuad Effendi, told him that

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

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

"though her Majesty's Government have declared their decided preference for a more distinct 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."

Lord Redcliffe was, then, on Aug. 4th, not possessed of Lord Clarendon's despatch dated July 16th, in which her Majesty's Government had already modified its objections to a diversion on the side of Circassia, "if" Omer Pasha himself should undertake it with "any part of his own army." On August 8th, Lord Redcliffe was not yet blessed with the mysterious despatch, as we find him again complaining to Lord Clarendon—(see No. 282 and enclosures)—that the British Government "still leans with all its weight to Trebizond, as the only true channel of relief;" and bewailing his own ambiguous position.

"Amidst so many motives," says he, "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."

Yea, still, on August 13th, Lord Redcliffe did not even suspect the existence of the London despatch, dated July 16th, as he informs Lord Clarendon that "the disappointment occasioned by the terms of the preceding despatch"—according to the Blue Book, the despatch dated July 16th, should have been the preceding despatch—"which appeared to favour exclusively an advance upon Kars by Trebizond, was evident." Now, however Blue Book time and space may be allowed to differ from common time and space, nobody will venture to believe that the despatch leaving London on July 16th, should not have reached Constantinople on August 13th. But that Lord Clarendon's despatch, dated London, July 16th, has actually never left London, and was never intended to do so, results from a despatch of his own, dated London, 20th August. In this despatch (No. 283), purporting to answer Lord Redcliffe's complaints, dated August 8th, Lord Clarendon endeavours to show that her Majesty's Government, in different previous despatches had renounced its resistance to the Porte's proposal, and

"were willing that Omer Pasha should proceed to Asia to effect a diversion for the relief of Kars."

But, strange to say, while the various messages which the noble lord refers to, in proof of his assertion, have left no trace whatever in the Kars papers, his despatch, dated July 16th, so ostentatiously paraded in the Blue Book, is most discreetly ignored in his justification to Lord Redcliffe. Thus, while baffling every Turkish attempt for the relief of Kars, the British Foreign Office was carefully preparing its pièces justificatives for the fall of Kars.

4. Forgery and Shuffle.—According to Lord Redcliffe's despatch, addressed to the Foreign Office, and dated Constantinople, July 23rd,

"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 on the night of July 22nd, in a council at the Grand Vizier's[c] [...], and the result of the deliberation had been,

"that the troops to be 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 5500, and that the (Anglo-Turkish) contingent, with its numbers completed, should occupy the vacant place at Eupatoria."

Lord Clarendon having received this despatch on August 1st, instantly forwarded it to Lord Cowley. Pointing at the just quoted "passage," he states "Her Majesty's Government to be favourably disposed to it," and expresses "his hope that the Government of the Emperor will concur in it." Here, at last, one is forced to acknowledge bonne foi[d] zeal and expedition on the part of Lord Palmerston's Cabinet. But, alas! while exhibiting itself as the patron of Omer Pasha's project before the French Government, by a mere shuffling of words, it substituted for the Porte's own proposal one directly hostile to it. This tour de passe-passe[e] was played off by the simple substitution in Lord Redcliffe's despatch, dated July 23rd, of the word Eupatoria, in the place of the word Balaklava.

From the despatch of [Lieut.-]Colonel Simmons, dated July 15th, it will be seen that Omer Pasha, in his memoranda to the allied generals, and in the war council at the English head-quarters, insisted upon taking with him that part of the Turkish infantry which was then stationed at Balaklava, which he had brought from Eupatoria, and which he declared the only fit one for the Asiatic campaign. Did Omer Pasha, after his arrival at Constantinople, alter his opinion? The contrary is shown by a despatch, dated Constantinople, August 2nd, in which [Lieut.-] Colonel Simmons states:

"His Highness, Omer Pasha, informed me that he should be 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, at the council of the night of July 22nd, arrived at a resolution contrary to Omer Pasha's proposal? In the very despatch of July 23rd, in which Lord Redcliffe reports the Porte's resolution, he tells Lord Clarendon that

"Omer Pasha has been most graciously received and most generously rewarded by the Sultan[f];" 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. The false play of Lord Palmerston's cabinet is apparent even from the arrangement of the Blue Book. To confound the reader, Lord Clarendon's despatch to Lord Cowley, dated August 1st, figures on page 248, followed up, from 248 to 252, by an extract from Lord Redcliffe's despatch of July 19th, General Simpson's letter to Lord Redcliffe of July 16th, Omer Pasha's letters and memoranda, and only in the last place by Lord Redcliffe's despatch of July 23rd, of which the instruction to Lord Cowley pretends to be the sequel. On August 4th, Lord Clarendon received the acceptance by the French Government of the proposal he had made on August 1st, in the name of the Porte, according to which 20,000 men were to be withdrawn from Eupatoria, to be placed under the command of Omer Pasha, and to be replaced at Eupatoria by General Vivian's contingent. On August 13th the Porte is at last informed of the acceptance of its own proposal by its Western Allies. Accordingly, on August 15th the Ottoman council is assembled for deliberation, and what was the result of that deliberation?

"Omer Pasha," writes Lord Redcliffe to Lord 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, then, it oozes out that the Eupatoria plan, pretended to have been forwarded on July 23rd from Constantinople to London, has, on the contrary, been transmitted on August 9th from London to Constantinople.

In the same despatch of Lord Redcliffe is enclosed a memorandum of Omer Pasha. 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 reputation, and the exposure of his Mingrelian army to the fate of the garrison of Kars—such were, according to Omer Pasha, the natural consequences of "the plan trasmitted from London." While communicating to Lord Clarendon this strange protest, Lord Redcliffe evinces not the slightest suspicion of having ever been himself the channel through which the Porte had transmitted that identical plan to Lord Clarendon; a sufficient proof this that the forgery, the interpolation of Eupatoria for Balaklava, was committed at London and not at Constantinople. During the whole month of August and part of September, we behold the Porte struggling against the spurious proposition Lord Clarendon had pressed in its own name on the French Government.

5. Falsehoods.—Under this head we can, of course, only give a few examples, as the whole Blue Book is sprinkled with them. In answer to Lord Redcliffe's despatch, dated August 8th, Lord Clarendon addressed him a despatch, dated August 20th (No. 283); in which he declares

"my various messages by telegraph, and my despatch of the 4th inst. ... will have shown you that her Majesty's Government ... were willing that Omer Pasha should proceed to Asia," &c.

With the exception of his despatch of July 14th, in which Lord Clarendon protested against the Mingrelian expedition, and summoned the Turks to fall back from Kars and Erzeroum on Trebizond, and of his despatch dated August 9th, which Lord Redcliffe could, of course, not have received on August 8th, Lord Clarendon had, according to the Blue Book, sent no telegraphic despatch at all to Constantinople. He would be sure not to put his own light under a bushel. His various messages by telegraph, withdrawing the veto of the British Government against the Mingrelian expedition, are only so many lying phantoms.

In a despatch dated August 26th, [Lieut.-]Colonel Simmons informs Lord Clarendon that Omer Pasha reckoned upon taking a portion of the Turkish troops from before Sebastopol, and replacing them by General Vivian's contingent. In his answer to [Lieut.-] Col. Simmons, dated September 7th (No. 302), Lord Clarendon writes:—

"It appears by a despatch, of a later date, from General Simpson, that Omer Pasha had given it as his opinion that Gen. Vivian's contingent would not be fit to take a position before Sebastopol, until next spring; and, in consequence of that opinion, and by reason of Gen. Simpson's protest against having the contingent sent to him, which protest was founded upon Omer Pasha's opinion, her Majesty's Government have determined that the contingent shall not go to join the army before Sebastopol."

Now, from a despatch of [Lieut.-]Col. Simmons, dated September 23rd (No. 307), it may be seen that Omer Pasha's opinion "of a later date," refers to an opinion given by him

"in a letter to Gen. Simpson, early in the month of July, [...] before he was aware of the critical position of the army in Asia;" and that he had not declared Gen. Vivian's contingent to be unfit "to take up a position before Sebastopol," but only "to make use of it in the open field (en rase campagne) in front of the enemy."

In excavating at the beginning of September an opinion tendered by Omer Pasha at the beginning of July, in perverting the substance of that opinion, and in founding on this perversion, and that anachronism a protest against Omer Pasha's project, Gen. Simpson, the lucky warrior, would, of course, only have acted up to secret instructions received from London. Supposing Gen. Simpson's despatch to have been exactly, such as it is represented by Lord Clarendon—a fact that becomes rather doubtful from the suppression of that despatch in the Blue Book—the noble lord could not have one moment hesitated as to the true date or substance of Omer Pasha's "opinion." He was fully informed of it on July 30, the day when he received [Lieut.-]Col. Simmons's despatch, dated Balaklava, July 15. His quibble then, about Omer Pasha's "inconsistency;" his making Omer Pasha's "own opinion" the reason for rejecting his proposal, were ludicrously false pretences. In point of fact, Lord Palmerston and his subordinates carried to the last their system of bullying the Porte for its want of activity, and baffling all its attempts at action. From the very beginning, we behold them devising—not means for the relief of Kars, but objections to the means devised by the Porte, carefully preparing subjects of dispute, anxiously bent on embroiling matters, huddling imbroglio upon imbroglio in this tragic comedy of errors—all their proceedings tending to one and the same end—to kill time, and thus to ensure the fall of Kars.

Written about April 26, 1856
First published in The Free Press and The Sheffield Free Press, May 3, 1856
Signed: Karl Marx
Reproduced from The Free Press


[a] Papers Relative to Military Affairs in Asiatic Turkey, and the Defence and Capitulation of Kars, London, 1856.—Ed.

[b] Queen Victoria's.—Ed.

[c] Ali Mehemet Pasha.—Ed.

[d] Honest.—Ed.

[e] Trick.—Ed.

[f] Abdul Mejid.—Ed.

[445] This article is Marx's summary of his pamphlet The Fall of Kars, which was published in April as a series of articles in The People's Paper (see Note 428↓). He substantially abridged and rearranged the text of the pamphlet in preparing the summary. The editors of The Free Press published it together with the covering letter (see this volume, p. 672), adding the following note in brackets below the heading: "The subjoined paper has been supplied to us by Dr. Karl Marx".

[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.

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

Source: Marx and Engels Collected Works, Volume 14 (pp.673-680), Progress Publishers, Moscow 1980
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