is the misfortune of the Turkish army that it was made in Germany. The
Ottoman Turk, who swept into Europe on the heels of the Christian Empire
of the East, had no need to learn the art of fighting from any man. In
the fifteenth century, when the eyes of Europe were turned Westward to
new Worlds beyond the Atlantic, the Turkish advance from the East was
steadily victorious. Asia Minor was wholly Turkish, the Black Sea became
a Turkish lake, and the Balkan lands were gradually included in the area
of Turkish control.
its last offensive return upon Europe the military power of
Turkey reached the gates of Vienna five years before James II
was removed from the English throne.
Turkish effort now became stationary, and it was necessary for
its armies to protect against the returning effort of European
states the territory that had been won from them.
was at this stage of Turkish history that foreign aid was first
called in to increase the efficiency of Turkish troops; the
business of warfare had already become so complex that western
ingenuity was a desirable addition to Oriental courage.
first foreign advisers of the Turkish army came from France, since it
was at that time the policy of France to cheek the development of
Russia, and Turkey became the convenient and docile instrument of French
policy. The Turkish soldiers, who ejected the Austrians from Belgrade
just before the first victories of Frederick the Great had been trained
by Bonneval and were officered by Frenchmen; and this tradition
continued until the end of the century.
the year 1795, a young French
general, whose career had been jeopardised by the course of French
politics, contemplated accepting a position in Constantinople as
instructor to the Sultan's artillery. Since he knew a great deal about
guns and was something of a politician, it was an appointment that might
quite well have changed the history of the Near East; his name was
Napoleon Bonaparte. During his reign as Emperor of the French Turkey
continued to be dragged in the train of French policy and obediently
went to war with Russia in the year 1807 upon orders received from
the stream of French military instructors was now diverted to
Egypt, where it built up the army of Mehemet Ali, and Turkey was
compelled to look elsewhere for the training of its troops.
was at this date a kingdom in Central Europe, occupying a position
of distinctly secondary importance, and the appointment of
Prussian instructors evoked as little protest in Europe as the
selection of Swedish officers for the command of Persian
was about this time that an unprosperous young Prussian, named von
Moltke, was attached to the Turkish army and saw service with it
in the Syrian campaign against the invading armies of Egypt.
artillery commanded by him, was the last portion of the Turkish
army to run away.
Prussian connection, which was thus established, was
intermittently maintained through the nineteenth century, and it
entered upon a period of real activity after the Russo-Turkish War
of 1877. It was now necessary to reconstruct the Turkish army and
the fortifications upon which its operations were to rest.
ring-fortress of Adrianople, the coast-forts of the Dardanelles,
and the lines of Tchataldja were constructed under the directions
of German engineers and armed with the most popular of all German
exports, Krupp guns.
reconstruction of the Turkish army itself proceeded with varying
degrees of sucess itntil the appointment, in 1883, of the
distinguished soldier and military historian, von der Goltz.
officer came to Constantinople with a reputation which had been
gained in the Franco-Prussian War.
by a series of admirable books, but when he left it in 1898 he was
regarded as a creator of an army second only to Carnot, the Organiser of
Turkish army is the creation of von der Goltz Pasha, and its first
achievements against the disorganised Greek forces in 1897 appeared to
justify the promises, which had been made on its behalf. The force was
organised upon purely German lines with a conscription, which provided
it with first‑line troops, two bans of Landwehr and a Landsturm.
It was accompanied in the field by numerous German instructors, and the
more promising among its own officers were attached for training to
various units of the German army in Europe.
its strong flavour of German education the Turkish army entered
confidently upon the Balkan War of 1912. The causes of its defeat were
peculiarly Teutonic. Its German field artillery was outclassed by the
Creusot guns of the Balkan Allies, and its system of supply and
supports, which had been organised in anticipation of a victorious
advance upon Sofia, collapsed completely under the strain of a retreat
is the weakness of the German system that it requires for its proper
working an immediate victory. When the Bulgarians at Lule Burgas and the
Serbians at Kumanovo declined to provide this for the Turks, the Turkish
army was forced to fall back in starvation and rout upon the breakdown
of its supplies and the disappearance of its supports.
was to the direction of this defeated army that General Liman von
Sanders was called by the Turkish government last summer, and the
organisation of the force placed under his command must have been
strangely familiar to his Prussian eye. Military service, which begins
at the age of nineteen, lasts for three years with the colours in a Nizam
regiment of the first line. The conscript then passes for six years
to the Ichtiat or Reserve, for
eleven years to the Redif, which
composes two bans of the Landwehr, and for a final two years to the
Mutafitz, or Landsturm. The infantry is armed with Mauser rifles and
Maxim and Hotchkiss machine guns; the artilley of all calibres is Krupp,
including some Krupp 4.7 inch field Howitzers, with the single exception
of a few batteries of French‑made Creusot mountain-guns.
Russian offensive in Armienia is confronted by 90,000 men of this
service, under the command of Hussan Izet. The Turkish force can hardly
hope to do more than delay the advance of the Russians across the
exceedingly difficult mountain country in a winter campaign; the snow
has already begun to fall and the operation will inevitably be slow. But
unless General von Sanders has succeeded in reforming the Turkish army
in six months, it may be anticipated that the operation of his
field‑army will be gravely hampered by the inadequacy of its
supply. Unless he is able to win a battle in the field, the Turkish
defensive will be confined to the fortress of Erzerourn.
Turkish soldier, whose courage is undoubted, cannot win battles on an
empty stomach; but he can at least defend fortresses, and it may well he
that in the winter campaign of 1914 he will add the name of Erzerourn to
those of Plevna and Adrianople.