The Ottoman Bashi-bazouks: the main

03/03/20 history of the Ottoman Bashi-bazouks: the main “thugs” European wars

In the army of the Ottoman Empire were troops of light cavalry, known as Bashi-bazouks, whom the Turks themselves are not considered soldiers, and robbers, which served not for wages but for the right to plunder the enemies Ports. Most often opponents of the Bashi-bazouks were not soldiers of the army and defenseless civilians, and their very name has become synonymous with murderer and robber.

the Army of executioners and robbers

With the Turkish Bashi-bazouk is translated as “daredevil” and designates a violent, desperate person or a robber. In the army of the Ottoman Bashi-bazouks were used as irregular cavalry in time of peace, their troops engaged in the protection of distant boundaries. With the onset of war, the Sultan formed of the riders gang, called odes, which often consisted of Albanians, Circassians, Kurds and volunteers from the half-savage mountain tribes of Asia Minor.

the Greatest use of Bashi-bazouks, whose number reached 20 thousand, have been in the 18-19 centuries. In Europe they became known not because of the military art, but due to their crimes. Common for the Bashi-bazouks in mass murder that is so shocking to Europeans of the time.

the Balkan horror

in the Spring of 1876 in Bulgaria broke out of the anti-Turkish uprising, the suppression of which in addition to the regular army, the Sultan threw 5 thousand Bashi-bazouks, recruited from the Turks, Romas, Circassians, Bulgarians who adopted Islam and Muslims from Bosnia-Herzegovina. For the month punishers burned more than 80 villages and looted 200 settlements.

the Head of the Russian diplomatic mission in Adrianople, Prince Tsereteli, wrote to Petersburg: “the Troops were ordered to destroy everything at the slightest resistance. First, those were considered opposition to robbery and oppression committed by the Bashi-bazouks, then it was not considered even with these excuses, and it was enough just to be a Bulgarian. It was not about to apportion blame but about the extermination of Christians…”. The exact number of victims is unknown, but the Bulgarian researchers say about 30-60 thousand dead.

In the book “the Turkish atrocities in Bulgaria” 1880 recorded that the most terrible was the Bashi-bazouks-Albanians who did what he had not dared even by the Turks. Burning of the Bulgarian and Serbian villages, they arranged for the ashes of the celebrations with dancing. Survivors in the fire people were placed on stakes and cut off their heads. Cruelty Bashi-bazouks distinguished himself during the Serbian uprising 1875-1878 years. Because of the atrocities committed by the volunteers of the Albanians, only from the Kosovo Vilayet ran the 100 of thousands of Orthodox Serbs.

the Massacre in the town of Batak

Illustrative case with the Bulgarian town Batak. In 1876, the famous American war correspondent, Mac-Gahan, the article of the British newspaper Daily News wrote: “Captain Ahmet-Aga, being at the head of a squad of Bashi-bazouks, killed 8 thousand inhabitants of the city, far from the anti-Turkish uprisings — Batak. Even before the destruction of the inhabitants… of the city was derived from two hundred young girls, they were forced to dance, raped, and then killed them all, knocking the corpses to rot under the sun heat”.

Especially the MC Gahan was struck by the pyramids of the severed heads of hundreds of residents. The American had a great response and forced the British government to abandon support of the Ottoman Empire in the war with Russia, which decided to stand up for the Christian peoples of the Balkans.

Thugs in the Caucasus

Special attention was paid to the Bashi-bazouks Russian philosopher, Vladimir Solovyov. In his book “Three conversations on war, progress and the end of world history” he wrote a story of a Russian General, faced with this “army” 28 Oct 1877 in the Caucasus during the Russo-Turkish war. The General recalled: “Look, the Cossacks drove up and stopped dead — not moving. I jumped forward; before I saw the stench of roasted meat guessed it: the Bashi-bazouks your kitchen left. A huge convoy of baglime Armenians managed to escape, then they seized him and brought. Under the carts the fire lit, and Armenians, the head, the feet, the back or belly of tied to the wagon, on the fire stick and slowly roasted”.

the Bashi-bazouks did not spare even babies, and remained alive only one Armenian, hiding in the well. Later, the Russians caught up with the thugs shot their grapeshot by artillery fire and the surviving Cossacks finished off bombs. Prisoners in this battle did not take.

With the development of military technology, the mass of the light brigade became ineffective, which is especially glaring in the poorly disciplined Bashi-bazouks. By the beginning of the First world war, this kind of troops of the Turkish army was completely abolished.

Alexander Brazhnik

© Russian Seven

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