Military operation on the Caucasus Front from July 1914 to April 26, 1916.
Copy-book 9: from January 27 to February 27, 1916
Ruben O. Sahakyan
The 9th notebook of Tovmas Nazarbekyan’s memoirs present the military operations that took place from January 27, 1916 to February 27, which brought a radical breakthrough in the battles on the Caucasus front.
In January-February 1916, the Caucasian army carried out simultaneous operations, which enabled it to gain an operative advantage over the enemy in both Taron and Upper Armenia. The Russian army continued its offensive in the direction of Erzerum, aiming to capture the main strategic stronghold of the Ottoman 3rd Army in Western Armenia. Tovmas Nazarbekyan proudly states that in difficult climatic conditions and with few losses the Russian troops managed to capture Erzerum which was considered impregnable. Commander of the 6th Caucasian Regiment, Colonel Movses Silikyan was appointed commandant of Erzerum.
Simultaneously with the capture of Erzerum, the seizure of Mush was carried out by a group of Russian troops headed by Tovmas Nazarbekyan. Immediately after that, the general visited Mush, therefore he later described the Turkish atrocities in detail. In his memoirs, he cited the written testimonies of two officers of his division about the details of the massacres of Armenians in the city and valley of Mush. At that, one of the testimonies was checked and recorded through the interrogation of Armenian and Muslim witnesses. Only a few Armenian craftsmen were left alive in the city, who were needed to meet the needs of the army.
After capturing Mush and its valley, the Russians had to constantly fight the Kurdish gangs in the rear, which disrupted the regular supply and communication of the armed forces, as a result forcing them to deploy significant forces to protect the rear and carry out punitive actions.
On February 11, 1916, the Russians tried to seize Bitlis (Baghesh) quickly, but failed. However, after receiving appropriate assistance, General Abatsiev captured Bitlis on the night of February 18-19.