World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Battle of Baku

Battle of Baku
Part of Armenian-Azerbaijani War &
Caucasus Campaign
Date 26 August 1918 – 14 September 1918[1]
Location Baku, Azerbaijan
Result Decisive Ottoman victory
 Ottoman Empire
Azerbaijan Democratic Republic
Baku Commune

United Kingdom

  • Australia
  • Canada
  • New Zealand

Centrocaspian Dictatorship
White Russians
Commanders and leaders
Nuri Pasha
Mürsel Bey
Grigory Korganov
Lionel Dunsterville
General Dokuchaev[2]
Colonel Avetisov[1]
[1]Islamic Army of the Caucasus
14,000 infantry
500 cavalry
40 guns[1]
6,000 regulars

1,000 infantry
1 artillery battery
1 machine gun section
3 armored cars
2 Martinsyde G.100 planes[1]
Baku Army
6,000 infantry
40 guns[1]
Bicherakhov detachment
Casualties and losses
Total: 2,000[1] British Empire:
Baku Army:

The Battle of Baku (Azerbaijani: Bakı döyüşü, Russian: Битва за Баку, Turkish: Bakü Muharebesi) in June – September 1918 was a clash between the OttomanAzerbaijani coalition forces led by Nuri Pasha and BolshevikDashnak Baku Soviet forces, later succeeded by the BritishArmenianWhite Russian forces led by Lionel Dunsterville. The battle was fought as a conclusive part of the Caucasus Campaign, but as a beginning of the Armenian-Azerbaijani War.[3][4]


  • Background 1
  • Prelude 2
  • Battle 3
    • Outside city of Baku 3.1
    • City of Baku 3.2
    • Atrocities 3.3
      • March days 3.3.1
      • September days 3.3.2
  • Aftermath 4
  • Notes 5
  • References 6
  • External links 7


In 1917, the Russian Caucasus Front collapsed following the Transcaucasian Commissariat" (also known as the Sejm) following the Bolshevik seizure of power in St. Petersburg. On 5 December 1917, this new "Transcaucasian Committee" gave endorsement to the Armistice of Erzincan which was signed by the Russians with the command of the Ottoman Third Army.[5] Russian soldiers mainly left the front and returned to their homes. A number of Russian troops left for the Persian Campaign, contrary to the rules of the Armistice.[1] General Nikolai Baratov remained in Hamadan and at Kermanshah, a Russian colonel named Lazar Bicherakhov remained with 10,000 troops. Both forces were supplemented by British liaison officers.[1]

In 1918, the British invited the Armenians to hold out and picked officers and non-commissioned officers to form an "advisory" force, organizing them under the command of

  • Dunsterville, Lionel. "The Diaries of General Lionel Dunsterville, 1918". Great War Documentary Archive. Archived from the original on 20 August 2007. Retrieved 24 July 2007. 
  • Judge, Cecil. "With General Dunsterville in Persia and Transcaucasus". Russia-Australia Historical Military Connections. Archived from the original on 31 August 2007. Retrieved 24 July 2007. 

External links

  • Walker, Christopher (1980). ARMENIA: The Survival of a Nation. New York: St. Martin's Press. p. 260.  
  • Missen, Leslie (1984). Dunsterforce. Marshall Cavendish Illustrated Encyclopedia of World War I, vol ix. Marshall Cavendish Corporation. pp. 2766–2772.  
  • Northcote, Dudley S. (1922). "Saving Forty Thousand Armenians". Current History (New York Times Co.). Retrieved 12 December 2008. 
  • Swietochowski, Tadeusz (2004). Russian Azerbaijan, 1905-1920: The Shaping of a National Identity in a Muslim Community. Cambridge University Press.  


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab ac ad ae af ag ah ai aj ak al am an ao ap aq ar as at au av aw ax (Missen 1984, pp. 2766–2772)
  2. ^ The Diaries of General Lionel Dunsterville: 1911-1922
  3. ^ Yale, William (1968) Near East: A Modern History p. 247
  4. ^ Dadyan, Khatchatur(2006) Armenians and Baku, p. 118
  5. ^ Tadeusz Swietochowski, Russian Azerbaijan 1905-1920, page 119
  6. ^ a b c d (Northcote 1922, pp. 788)
  7. ^ "New Republics in the Caucasus", The New York Times Current History, v. 11 no. 2 (March 1920), p. 492
  8. ^ Michael Smith. "Anatomy of Rumor: Murder Scandal, the Musavat Party and Narrative of the Russian Revolution in Baku, 1917-1920", Journal of Contemporary History, Vol 36, No. 2, (April 2001), p. 228
  9. ^ (Russian) Michael Smith. "Azerbaijan and Russia: Society and State: Traumatic Loss and Azerbaijani National Memory"
  10. ^ (Swietochowski 2004, pp. 119)
  11. ^ a b Richard Hovannisian "The Armenian people from ancient to modern times" Pages 292-293
  12. ^ Ezel Kural Shaw History of the Ottoman Empire and Modern Turkey. Page 326
  13. ^ Lang, David Marshall (1962). A Modern History of Georgia, p. 207-8. London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson.
  14. ^ a b c Swietochowski, Tadeusz (1985). Russian Azerbaijan, 1905-1920: The Shaping of National Identity in a Muslim Community. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 
  15. ^ (Russian) Довольно вредное ископаемое by Alexander Goryanin
  16. ^ a b c d Firuz Kazemzadeh. Struggle For Transcaucasia (1917—1921), New York Philosophical Library, 1951
  17. ^ (Pasdermadjian 1918, pp. 22)
  18. ^ Kun, Miklós (2003). Stalin: An Unknown Portrait. Central European University Press. 
  19. ^ Comtois, Pierre. "World War I: Battle for Baku". HistoryNet. Retrieved 19 July 2007. 
  20. ^ Dunsterville, Lionel. "The Diaries of General Lionel Dunsterville, 1918". Great War Documentary Archive. Retrieved 10 January 2009. 
  21. ^ Документы об истории гражданской войны в С.С.С.Р., Vol. 1, pp. 282–283.
  22. ^ F. Kazemzadeh. open citation, p. 73.
  23. ^ Christopher, Armenia, page = 260
  24. ^ Alex, Marshall (2009). The Caucasus Under Soviet Rule (Volume 12 of Routledge Studies in the History of Russia and Eastern Europe ed.). Taylor & Francis. p. 96.  
  25. ^ Milne, G. F. (4 January 1921). "War Office, 7th January, 1921". The London Gazette, Fourth Supplement. Retrieved 2 November 2012. 
  26. ^ Andreopoulos, George(1997) Genocide: Conceptual and Historical Dimensions University of Pennsylvania Press, ISBN 0-8122-1616-4 p. 236
  27. ^ Coppieters, Bruno (1998). Commonwealth and Independence in Post-Soviet Eurasia. Routlege. p. 82.  


Headed by General William Thomson, British troops of 5,000 soldiers, including parts of Dunsterforce, arrived in Baku on 17 November, and martial law was implemented on the capital of Azerbaijan Democratic Republic until "the civil power would be strong enough to release the forces from the responsibility to maintain the public order".

A memorial in Baku was established to the Ottoman soldiers, who were killed in combat. There is also a memorial to the British soldiers in Baku.

Memorial in Baku to the Ottoman soldiers who were killed in combat.

No oil from Baku's oilfields got beyond Tbilisi before the Ottomans and Germans signed the armistice.[1] By 16 November, Nuri and Mürsel Bey were ejected from Baku and a British general sailed into the city, headed by one of the ships that had evacuated on the night of 14 September.[1]

The British losses in the battle totaled about 200 men and officers killed, missing or wounded. Mürsel Bey admitted Ottoman losses of around 2,000.[1] Among the civilians the casualties of Baku's 80,000 person Armenian community were between 9,000 and 10,000, roughly equal to the number of Azeris massacred by Armenians and Bolsheviks during the March Days.[14] Altogether up to 20,000 Armenians were killed or deported.[27]

Memorial to the British soldiers in Baku.


In September 1918, a terrible panic in Baku ensued when the Ottoman Islamic Army of the Caucasus began to enter the city. Armenians crowded the harbour in a frantic effort to escape.[23] Regular Ottoman troops were not allowed to enter the city for two days, so that the locally-recruited soldiers could massacre non-Muslims. This was permitted as revenge for a massacre of Azeris in March 1918.[24][25] It was the last major massacre of World War I.[26]

September days

On 9 March 1918, the arrest of General Talyshinski, the commander of the Azerbaijani division, and some of its officers all of whom arrived in Baku increased the anti-Soviet feelings among the city's Azeri population. On 30 March, based on the unfounded report that the Azerbaijani (Muslim) crew of the ship Evelina was armed and ready to revolt against the Soviet, the Soviet disarmed the crew who tried to resist [16][21] The three days of inter-ethnic warfare referred to as the March Days, which resulted in the massacre of up to 12,000 Azerbaijanis by the Bolsheviks and armed Armenian units in the city of Baku and other locations in the Baku Governorate. The March events, beyond the violent three-day period, touched off a series of massacres all over Azerbaijan.[22]

March days


On 30 October, The Armistice of Mudros was signed by the Ottoman Empire. Ottoman forces left the city.

On the night of 13/14 September, the Ottoman forces began their attacks. The Ottoman forces nearly overran the strategic Wolf's Gate (Azerbaijani: Qurd qapısı) west of Baku, from which the whole battlefield could be seen. However, their advance was halted by a counterattack. The fighting continued for the rest of the day, and the situation eventually became hopeless. By the night of 14 September, the remnants of the Baku Army and Dunsterforce evacuated the city for Anzali.[1]

1–13 September, the Ottoman forces did not attack. During this period, the Baku force prepared itself and sent out airplane patrols constantly.[1] In his diary, Dunsterville reported the atrocities against the Muslim population perpetrated by Armenian militants.[20] On 12 September, an Arab officer from the Ottoman 10th Division deserted, giving information suggesting the main assault would take place on 14 September.[1]

29 August– 1 September, the Ottoman forces managed to capture the positions of Binagadi Hill and Diga. Several coalition units were overrun, and losses were heavy. By this point, allied troops were pushed back to the saucer-like position that made up the heights surrounding Baku.[1] However, Ottoman losses were so heavy that Centrocaspian Dictators on 1 September. He said that he was not willing to risk more British lives and hinted at his withdrawal. However, the dictators protested that they would fight to the bitter end, and the British should leave only when troops of the Baku Army did.[1] Dunsterville decided to stay until the situation became hopeless. Meanwhile, Bicherakhov captured Petrovsk, allowing him to send help to Baku. The reinforcements consisting of 600 men from his force, including Cossacks, raised hope.[1]

Over the period 28–29 August, the Ottoman forces shelled the city heavily, and attacked the Binagadi Hill position. 500 Ottoman soldiers in close order charged up the hill, but were repulsed with the help of artillery. However, the under-strength British troops were forced to retire to positions further south.[1]

While Baku and its environs had been the site of clashes since June and into mid-August, the term Battle of Baku refers to the operations of 26 August - 14 September.[1][19] On 26 August, the Ottoman Islamic Army of the Caucasus launched its main attack against positions at the Wolf's Gate.[1] Despite a shortage of artillery, British and Baku troops held the positions against the Army of the Caucasus. Following the main assault, the Ottoman forces also attacked Binagadi Hill farther north, but also failed. After these attacks, reinforcements were sent to the Balajari station, from where they held the heights to the north.[1] However, faced with increased artillery fire from Ottoman forces, they retired to the railway line.[1]

Shortly before the Ottoman attack: Russian and Armenian soldiers near the front line.
The oil derricks of Baku shelled during the battle.

City of Baku

On 17 August 1918, Dokuchaev started an offensive at Diga.[1] He planned for 600 Armenians under Colonel Stepanov to attack to the north of Baku.[1] He would further be reinforced by some Warwicks and North Staffords, eventually taking Novkhani. By doing this, they planned to close the gap to the sea, and control a strongly defensible line from one end of the Apsheron Peninsula to the other. The attack failed without artillery support, as the "Inspector of Artillery" had not been given warning.[1] As a result of the failure, the remnants of the force retired to a line slightly north of Diga.[1]

By 30 July 1918, the advance parties of the Islamic Army of the Caucasus had reached the heights above Baku, causing Dunsterville to immediately send contingents of his troops to Baku, which arrived on 16 August.[1]

On 26 July 1918, a coup d'état overthrew the Bolsheviks in Baku.[1] The new body, the Central Caspian Dictatorship, wanted to arrest Stepan Shahumian, but he and his 1,200 Red Army troops seized the local arsenal and 13 ships, and began heading to Astrakhan. The Caspian fleet, loyal to the new government, turned them back.[1]

On 27 June - 1 July 1918, in the battle near Goychay, the Ottoman Islamic Army of the Caucasus defeated the Red Army and started advancing towards Baku. At this point, earlier in June, Bicherakhov was in the vicinity of Qazvin, trying to go north.[1] After defeating some Jangalis, he proceeded to check the situation in Baku.[1] Returning on 22 June, he planned to save the situation by blocking the Army of the Caucasus at Alyaty Pristan'.[1] However, he arrived too late, and instead went farther north to Derbent, planning to attack the invading Army of the Caucasus from the north. At Baku, he left only a small Cossack contingent.[1] Beside the Russians, the Jangalis also harassed elements of the Dunsterforce going to Anzali on their way to Baku. Once defeated, the Jangalis dispersed. On reaching Anzali in late July, Dunsterville also arrested the local Bolsheviks who had sided with the Jangalis.[1]

[18]. Also, on Stalin's orders, grain collected in Northern Caucasus to feed the starving people in Baku was directed to Tsaritsyn. Shahumian protested to Lenin and to the Military Committee about Stalin's behavior and he often stated: "Stalin will not help us". Lack of troops and food would be decisive in the fate of the Baku Soviet.Tsaritsyn in Joseph Stalin However many of the troops Shahumian requested from Moscow for the protection of Baku did not arrive because they were held up on the orders of [16] Being unable to defend the independence of the country on their own, the government of Azerbaijan asked the Ottoman empire for military support in accordance with clause 4 of the treaty between the two countries. The Baku Soviet troops looted and killed Muslims as they moved towards Ganja.[16] On 6 June 1918,

Outside city of Baku

Armenian troops in a trench.
North Staffords, a contingent of the Dunsterforce, on the road to Baku.


The British mission, Dunsterforce, was headed by Major-General Lionel Dunsterville, who had arrived to take command of the mission force in Baghdad on 18 January 1918. The first members of the force were already assembled.[1] Dunsterville set out from Baghdad on 27 January 1918, with four NCOs and batmen in 41 Ford vans and cars.[1] The British troops in battle under Dunsterville numbered roughly 1,000. They were supported by a field artillery battery, machine gun section, three armoured cars, and two airplanes. He was to proceed through Persia (began from Mesopotamian Campaign through Persian Campaign) to the port of Anzali.

The Baku forces were commanded by the former Tsarist General Dokuchaev,[15] with his Armenian Chief of Staff, Colonel Avetisov.[1] Under their command were about 6,000 Centrocaspian Dictatorship troops of the Baku Army or Baku Battalions.[1] The vast majority of the troops in this force were Armenians, though there were some Russians among them. Their artillery comprised some 40 field guns. Most of the Baku Soviet troops and practically all their officers were Armenians of Dashnak leanings, and often outright Dashnaks. One of the Red Army commanders was the notorious Amazasp, who had fought as a guerrilla leader against the Turks, and for whom any Muslim was an enemy simply because he was a Muslim.[16]

The Ottoman Islamic Army of the Caucasus was under the command of Nuri Pasha. It was formed in Ganja. It included the Ottoman 5th Caucasian and 15th divisions, and the Azerbaijani Muslim Corps under general Ali-Agha Shikhlinski. There were roughly 14,000 Ottoman troops with 500 cavalrymen and 40 pieces of artillery.[1] 30% of the newly formed army consisted of Ottoman soldiers, the rest being Azerbaijani forces and volunteers from Dagestan.[14]


On 4 June 1918, Azerbaijan and the Ottoman empire signed a treaty of friendship and cooperation, clause 4 of which held that the Ottoman empire would provide military assistance to Azerbaijan, if such assistance was required for maintaining peace and security in the country.

In May, on the Persian Front, a military mission under Islamic Army of the Caucasus to fight not only Armenians but also the Bolsheviks.[1] Nuri Pasha's army occupied large parts of the Azerbaijani Democratic Republic without much opposition, influencing the fragile structure of the newly formed state. Ottoman interference led some elements of Azerbaijani society to oppose Turks.[14]

On 26 May 1918, the federation dissolved initially with the Georgian declaration of independence (Treaty of Poti with Germany and welcomed the German Caucasus Expedition, seeing in the Germans protectors against the post-Russian Revolution havoc and the Ottoman military advances.[13] The government of Azerbaijan moved from Tiflis to Ganjak (or Ganja). At the same time, Germany turned to negotiations with the Soviet Russia and offered to stop the Islamic Army of the Caucasus in return for guaranteed access to Baku's oil. They reached an agreement on 27 August whereby Germany was to receive a quarter of Baku's oil production. The German government requested that the Ottoman Empire delay any offensive into Azerbaijan; Enver Pasha ignored this request.

On 11 May 1918, a new peace conference opened at Batum.[12] At this conference Ottomans extended their demands to include Tiflis as well as Alexandropol and Echmiadzin through which they wanted a railroad to be built to connect Kars and Julfa with Baku. The Armenian and Georgian members of the Republic's delegation began to stall. Beginning on 21 May, the Ottoman army moved ahead once again. The conflict led to the Battle of Sardarapat (21–29 May), the Battle of Kara Killisse (1918) (24–28 May), and the Battle of Bash Abaran (21–24 May).

On 5 April 1918, Akaki Chkhenkeli of the Transcaucasian delegation to the Trabzon peace conference accepted the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk as a basis for more negotiations and wired the governing bodies urging them to accept this position.[11] The mood prevailing in Tiflis (where the assembly located) was very different. Tiflis acknowledged the existence of a state of war between themselves and the Ottoman Empire.[11] Shortly after, the Third Army began its advance and took Erzerum, Kars and Van.[1] The situation was especially dire in the Caucasus, where Enver Pasha had wanted to place Transcaucasia under Ottoman suzerainty as part of his Pan-Turanian plan.[1] This would give the Central Powers numerous natural resources, including the oilfields of Baku. The control of the Caspian would open the way to further expansion in Central Asia, and possibly British India.[1]

On 30 March 1918, the tenth day of Trabzon peace conference, the news of the internecine conflict & massacre of Azerbaijanis and other Muslims in Baku and adjacent areas of the Baku Governorate arrived. The following days witnessed the inter-ethnic warfare referred to as the March Days. It resulted in the massacre of up to 12,000 Azerbaijanis by the Bolsheviks and armed Armenian units in the city of Baku and other locations in the Baku Governorate.[7][8][9] While before the "March Days" Azerbaijani leaders claimed autonomy within Russia, after these events they demanded only independence and placed their hopes no longer in the Russian Revolution, but in support from Ottoman Empire.[10]

On 3 March 1918, the Grand Vizier Talat Pasha signed the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk with the Russian SFSR. The Treaty of Brest-Litovsk stipulated that the border be pulled back to prewar levels and that the cities of Batum, Kars, and Ardahan be transferred to the Ottoman Empire. Between 14 March - April 1918, the Trabzon peace conference was held between the Ottoman Empire and the delegation of the Sejm.

[1], who cited the change in the political situation.Bolsheviks by local Baku; here they were denied passage to Enzeli On 17 February, Dunsterforce arrived at [1] Dunsterforce was ordered to keep the Caucasus-Tabriz front intact and put a stop to Enver's plans.[1]. The Transcaucasian Commissariat was anti-Bolshevik in its political goals and sought the separation of Transcaucasia from Bolshevik Russia. On 27 January 1918, the British mission Dunsterforce set out from Baghdad with officers and instructors to the region.Transcaucasian Democratic Federative Republic gathered and made the decision to establish independence. On 24 February 1918, the Sejm proclaimed the Transcaucasia as independent under the Sejm On 10 February 1918, the [6]

This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from Project Gutenberg are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.