Battle of Yeghevārd

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Ottoman–Persian War (1730–35)
Part of the Ottoman–Persian War (1730–35) and the Nader's Campaigns
Battle of Yaghevard.gif
Painting of the battle between Nader and the Pasha's forces. In the illustration, Nader is riding among his troops. A group detached from his unit Musketeers is hidden in the mountains and shoots the Ottomans as Nader's main force pushes them back.
DateJune 19, 1735
LocationYeghevārd, Armenia (Then Murattepe village of Revan, Ottoman Empire)
Result Decisive Persian victory[1][2]
(effective end of the war)
Territorial
changes

Surrender of numerous Ottoman-held cities and strongholds in the Caucasus including:

Belligerents
Safavid Empire Ottoman Empire Ottoman Empire
Commanders and leaders
Nader Köprülü Abdullah Pasha 
Strength

15,000[3][4]a[›]

80,000[5][6]

Casualties and losses
Negligible [7] 40,000–50,000 killed & wounded[8]
32 cannon captured

The Battle of Yeghevārd, also known as the Battle of Baghavard or Morad Tapeh, was the final major engagement of the Perso-Ottoman War of 1730–1735 where the principal Ottoman army in the Caucasus theatre under Koprulu Pasha's command was utterly destroyed by only the advance guard of Nader's army before the main Persian army could enter into the fray. The complete rout of Koprulu Pasha's forces led to a number of besieged Ottoman strongholds in the theatre surrendering as any hope of relief proved ephemeral in light of the crushing defeat at Yeghevārd. One of Nader's most impressive battlefield victories, in which he decimated a force four or five times the size of his own, it helped establish his reputation as a military genius and stands alongside many of his other great triumphs such as at Karnal, Mihmandoost or Kirkuk.[9][10]

Background[edit]

The Caucasus theatre, alongside the Mesopotamian theatre was one of the key regions where Ottoman and Persian empires had fought for hegemony throughout much of early modern period. The collapse of the Safavid state during the 1720s due to the invasion of the Hotaki Afghans gave the Ottomans the opportunity to seize not only the Caucasian territories under Persian suzerainty but to also extend their borders deep into western Iran itself. After Nader's successful campaigns in western Persia and Ottoman Iraq the western frontier of the empire was once again secure. However to the north, the Ottomans were still entrenched and Istanbul had seen fit to reinforce the battlements with a fresh army under Koprulu Pasha to ensure the Caucasus remained under Ottoman rule.

On 3 November 1734 Nader arrived at the gates of Ganja after subduing Shirvan by capturing its capital Shamakhi in August 1734. The fortifications of Ganja so impressed Nader that he decided on a protracted siege of the city. Leaving behind a portion of his force around Ganja, he set of with the remainder towards Georgia and Armenia in the west, besieging Tbilisi and Yerevan respectively. Abdollah Koprulu Pasha exited Kars with an army of 50,000 cavalry, 30,000 infantry plus 40 guns in order to find and bring Nader's main force to battle with the purpose of lifting the sieges of Ottoman holdings in the region. Although primary sources give the figure of 120,000 Ottoman soldiers in total.[11]

When news of Koprulu Pasha's entrance into area via crossing the Arpachay river the Armenian chronicler Abraham of Crete records Nader's reaction as being "praise be to god, I had been awaiting this moment for such a lengthy time" and immediately set out to meet him with his advance guard of 15,000–18,000. That night Nader camped on a high ground overlooking the plain nearby a forest.

Battle[edit]

Hearing of Nader's proximity as well as the meagreness of his numbers, Koprulu Pasha hastened his approach. Nader, instead of falling back towards the main body of the Persian army, started to deploy his advance guard on the spot. Battle commenced at 2 o'clock in the afternoon with Nader, having deployed a contingent of troops in the nearby forest, led 3,000 men down onto the valley below beginning a skirmish with the Ottomans to fix their attention.[12]

The Turks who were in the process of deploying a significant number of their guns on the crest of a small hill were caught completely off guard when Nader, in an aggressive manoeuvre, dispatched 2–3,000 of his elite musketeers (the Jazāyerchi) to seize the hill. The Ottomans were driven off the hill and their precious artillery pieces were captured causing great dismay among the Ottoman soldiers who witnessed the ease with which their guns fell into enemy hands in just the opening phase of the battle.[13]

Nader at this moment sent forward another unit in order to neutralise the other concentration of Ottoman artillery on the left, after which the order for the advance of the Persian centre was given. Nader's own artillery was augmented by the presence of 500 zamburaks (which were essentially swivel guns mounted on the back of camels, providing light manoeuvrable artillery). Although zamburaks were extremely vulnerable to cannon fire, all of the Ottoman guns had been silenced allowing the zamburaks to play a decisive role in the battle.

A visual interpretation of the battle of Yeghevārd
1. After skirmishing in the centre fixes the Ottomans' attention, Nader orders aggressive attacks directed at neutralising the main concentrations of Ottoman artillery
2. The Persian centre advances against its Ottoman counterpart which is devastated by focused artillery fire by Persian cannon & zamburaks, forcing the Ottomans back
3. Nader at this point signals his hidden contingent of troops from the nearby forest to flank the disorganized Ottomans, helping to completely route them off the field

Now the Persian artillery came into play supporting the centre's advance into the heart of the Ottoman line by a murderous volley of round shot in addition to the half a thousand zamburaks that unleashed a devastating fire on the Ottoman centre which, having been thrown into disarray, subsequently fell back as the Persians centre closed on them. In all, the Persian cannon fired over 300 rounds not including the zamburaks while the Ottoman guns fired a pathetic two or three times before being silenced for the remainder of the battle.[14]

At this crucial juncture, with the Ottoman centre thrown back and reeling in confusion, Nader summoned his contingent of troops hidden away at the edge of the nearby forest to settle the matter decisively by a brilliant flanking manoeuvre, converting the Ottoman's disarray into a headlong rout. Nader put himself at the head of 1,000 chosen horsemen to seal the path of retreat on his foe.

Koprulu Pasha was set upon during the rout by a Persian soldier by the name of Rostam who threw him from his horse, knocking him unconscious just prior to beheading him and taking the morbid trophy back to camp in order to present it to Nader. Many other high-ranking generals were also slaughtered and their troops fared even worse, being pursued and butchered all the way back to the Arpachay River. The massacre of the Ottoman soldiery was such that Nader himself later wrote (with little exaggeration) that "we made a butchery of all the Janissaries; not a single one of them could make away with his life" and that "an overwhelming number of the Ottoman cavalry... almost all of them were killed by the grace of god".[15]

The defeat at Yeghevārd was so crushing that scarcely 8,000 soldiers made their way back to Kars[16] out of the original number of 80,000 while Persian casualties were minuscule. In many ways it was the perfect battle to the end of one of the most tumultuous wars between the two superpowers where advantages were gained and then lost in an almost perpetual shift of fortunes.

Nader himself, writing to the prince of Gulytsin, claimed "never in any of my wars have I been as fortunate"[17] and was content enough to order a monument to be built on the high ground upon which he had set up camp the night prior to the battle. The strategic ramifications of the battle were felt almost immediately throughout the Caucasus with Ganja and Tbilisi surrendering in despair though Yerevan held out until Nader, crossing the Aparchay river blockaded Kars and the Ottomans were convinced to exchange Yerevan for the lifting of the blockade on October 13, 1735.

Aftermath[edit]

An illustration of a Persian artilleryman

Events in Europe[edit]

Emboldened by the disastrous defeats of the Ottomans at the hands of Nader and seizing on the pretext that an army of Tatars had violated the sovereignty of Russia by marching along the black sea coast to join Koprulu Pasha against Nader's forces, Russia soon entered into military operations against the Ottoman Empire, eventually capturing Azov. Austria also chose this moment to simultaneously join in a war against Istanbul, however they did not share their Russian ally's success on the field suffering a catastrophic defeat at Grocka.

Nader Marches North[edit]

After his most successful campaign to date Nader lingered on appointing new governors to his newly acquired cities and kingdoms before setting out against the Lezgians in northern Daghestan. The Tatars who had marched all the way from Crimea, on receiving news of Koprulu Pasha's demise as well of that of his army, turned and hastened back north along the black sea coast. The Lezgians however proved an altogether much tougher foe especially with the advent of the winter snow in the tight restricted mountain passes of northern Daghestan. The Lezgian leader was defeated in June 1736 and fled to the Avars with many of his subjects making peace with Nader.[18] Having largely pacified the Caucasus he left for Persia where he would overthrow the Shāhanshāh and establish his own dynasty.

Notes[edit]

^ a: The main body of the Persian army, consisting of 40,000 soldiers, was not engaged as it seems it had not even arrived at the field of battle until Nader and his advance guard had already routed the Ottomans. It is possible however, that a portion of this main body did participate in the pursuit of the defeated Ottomans in the aftermath of the battle.[19][20]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Moghtader, Gholam-Hussein (2008). The Great Batlles of Nader Shah, p. 56. Donyaye Ketab
  2. ^ Axworthy, Michael (2009). The Sword of Persia: Nader Shah, from tribal warrior to conquering tyrant, p. 205. I. B. Tauris
  3. ^ "History of Nadir Shah's Wars" (Taarikhe Jahangoshaaye Naaderi), 1759, Mirza Mehdi Khan Esterabadi, (Court Historian)
  4. ^ Axworthy, Michael (2009). The Sword of Persia: Nader Shah, from tribal warrior to conquering tyrant, p. 203. I. B. Tauris
  5. ^ Lockhart, Laurence, Nadir Shah: A Critical Study Based Mainly Upon Contemporary Sources, London (1938), p.88, Luzac & Co.
  6. ^ Axworthy, Michael (2009). The Sword of Persia: Nader Shah, from tribal warrior to conquering tyrant, p. 205. I. B. Tauris
  7. ^ Axworthy, Michael (2009). The Sword of Persia: Nader Shah, from tribal warrior to conquering tyrant, p. 203. I. B. Tauris
  8. ^ Axworthy, Michael (2009). The Sword of Persia: Nader Shah, from tribal warrior to conquering tyrant, p. 203. I. B. Tauris
  9. ^ Ghafouri, Ali (2008). History of Iran's wars: from the Medes to now, p.381, Etela'at Publishing
  10. ^ Moghtader, Gholam-Hussein (2008). The Great Batlles of Nader Shah, p.50, Donyaye Ketab
  11. ^ "History of Nadir Shah's Wars" (Taarikhe Jahangoshaaye Naaderi), 1759, Mirza Mehdi Khan Esterabadi, (Court Historian)
  12. ^ Lockhart, Laurence, Nadir Shah: A Critical Study Based Mainly Upon Contemporary Sources, London (1938), p.88, Luzac & Co.
  13. ^ Axworthy, Michael (2009). The Sword of Persia: Nader Shah, from tribal warrior to conquering tyrant, p. 202. I. B. Tauris
  14. ^ Ghafouri, Ali (2008). History of Iran's wars: from the Medes to now, p.382, Etela'at Publishing
  15. ^ Axworthy, Michael (2009). The Sword of Persia: Nader Shah, from tribal warrior to conquering tyrant, p. 203. I. B. Tauris
  16. ^ Ghafouri, Ali (2008). History of Iran's wars: from the Medes to now, p. 383. Etela'at Publishing
  17. ^ Axworthy, Michael (2009). The Sword of Persia: Nader Shah, from tribal warrior to conquering tyrant, p. 204. I. B. Tauris
  18. ^ Axworthy, Michael (2009). The Sword of Persia: Nader Shah, from tribal warrior to conquering tyrant, p. 206. I. B. Tauris
  19. ^ Ghafouri, Ali (2008). History of Iran's wars: from the Medes to now, p. 383. Etela'at Publishing
  20. ^ Axworthy, Michael (2009). The Sword of Persia: Nader Shah, from tribal warrior to conquering tyrant. I. B. Tauris

Sources[edit]

  • Moghtader, Gholam-Hussein (2008). The Great Batlles of Nader Shah, Donyaye Ketab
  • Axworthy, Michael (2009). The Sword of Persia: Nader Shah, from tribal warrior to conquering tyrant, I. B. Tauris
  • Ghafouri, Ali (2008). History of Iran's wars: from the Medes to now, Etela'at Publishing