Russian Army, 320,000
Grand Duke Nicholas, Commander
Turkish Army, 150,000
General Enver Bey, Commander
General Ahmed Fevzi, Erzerum Garrison
The disaster at Gallipoli had convinced the Allies that Constantinople (Istanbul) could not be conquered from the South. An attack from the North, by way of Turkish Armenia, offered the surest promise of success. But first the Turks must be expelled from Erzerum and Trebizond, their two Armenian strongholds. The task was assigned to the Russian Army of the Caucasus, under command of Grand Duke Nicholas. With an army of 320,000, liberally supplied with munitions and food sent from America, Grand Duke Nicholas applied himself to the task. He aimed first at the capture of Erzerum, an almost impregnable fortress, encircled by a chain of concrete defences, carrying 1,000 huge guns of the very latest Krupp pattern. In and about Erzerum was a Turkish army, numbering 150,000 first line troops, directed by Enver Bey.
To take Erzerum by direct assault was deemed impossible; indeed, the fortress had resisted all Russian attempts to capture it during the Russo-Turkish War. Instead, Grand Duke Nicholas planned to invest Erzerum from all sides and, by threatening the communications of the fortress with the nearest railroad 200 miles away, to compel its evacuation. Dividing his army into three columns, and, with Olty as a base, Duke Nicholas advanced upon Erzerum from three directions. The Russian columns began their converging movement on Erzerum in mid-February, 1916. A blinding snowstorm was raging at the time and the temperature was 25 degrees below zero.
Two Turkish Corps Dispersed
At the approach of the Russian Army, the Turks had moved out from Erzerum to block their path. They proved no match for the Russians. The Northern Turkish Corps was quickly flanked and put to flight. Two divisions of the Southern Turkish Corps were similarly disposed of. The Central Corps of the Russian: and Turkish A...