Military Wiki
Battle of Tashkessen
Part of Russo-Turkish War (1877–1878)
DateDecember 31, 1877
LocationNear Tashkessen, Bulgaria

Ottoman victory

  • The Ottomans repulse the Russian attack
 Russian Empire  Ottoman Empire
Commanders and leaders

General Kourlov

General Iosif Gurko
Valentine Baker
"30 battalions of the Russian Guard"[1] 24,000[2][3]-40,000 men[4] 17 guns[5] 2,000[6]-2,400[3] 7 guns and two squadrons of cavalry[5]
Casualties and losses
2,000+[7] half of the army (800[7]-1,000 men)[6]

The Battle of Tashkessen or Battle of Tashkesan (Turkish: Taşkesen Muharebesi) was a battle of the Russo-Turkish War of 1877–1878. It was fought between the Ottoman Empire and the Russian Empire on December 31, 1877.

The Battle

The army of Shakir Pasha, some 14,000 men,[5] were on retreat from the village of Kamarli towards Sofia. Shakir Pasha's army was threatened by a Russian force of 30,000 men[5] from its left flank, under command of General Iosif Gurko, and another 22,000 men[5] before Kamarli. 2,400 men, 7 guns and two cavalry squadrons of Shakir Pasha's army had been detached under command of Valentine Baker, a British-born Ottoman general. Baker Pasha was given orders to hold off the advancing Russian army in order to secure the retreat of Shakir Pasha's remaining troops. Baker Pasha entrenched his forces in the village of Taşkesen (now Sarantsi, Bulgaria). Soon the superior Russian army surrounded the Ottomans, but the Ottomans successfully managed to hold off the advancing Russian forces for ten hours,[6] allowing Shakir Pasha to withdraw. At the end of the day the Ottoman forces had repulsed a Russian force ten times its size.[2] The battle, an Ottoman victory, had cost the Russians more than 2,000 men and the Ottomans had lost more than 800 men.[7] During the night panic broke out in the Ottoman ranks, after rumors spread that the Russians had made a flanking movement. This caused the Ottomans to flee the village, leaving the wounded behind. Soon the Bulgarian villagers started to butcher them.[8] In response Valentine Baker remarked: "We must burn that village". One of his officers, Allix, accompanied by some men, advanced the village that had just been captured by the Russians and Bulgarians. They set fire to some straw stacks, which quickly ignited the houses.[8]


  1. On Horseback Through Asia Minor, Frederick Burnaby, 2007, p. xxxiv
  2. 2.0 2.1 Crisis of the Ottoman Empire: Prelude to Collapse 1839-1878, by James J. Reid, 2000, page 341 : ``...Baker´s small force defended the pass successfully against a Russian force ten times its size...´´
  3. 3.0 3.1 On Horseback Through Asia Minor, Frederick Burnaby, 2007, p. xxxvi
  4. Lovers on the Nile, Richard Seymour Hall, 1980, p.221
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 5.4 On Horseback Through Asia Minor, Frederick Burnaby, 2007, p. xxxv
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 Dictionary of Battles and Sieges: A Guide to 8,500 Battles from ..., by Tony Jaques, page 1000, 2007
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 On Horseback Through Asia Minor, Frederick Burnaby, 2007, p. xxxviii
  8. 8.0 8.1 On Horseback Through Asia Minor, Frederick Burnaby, 2007, p. xxxix

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