Page 3558


143 days, starvation forced General Townshend and his little army, then reduced

to about ten thousand men, to surrender.

Another disaster had been added to a

long list caused by British blundering

and procrastination.

On land the Turkish and Russian empires

have a common frontier south of the

Caucasus Mountains. It was, of course,

to be expected that this frontier would

be the scene of heavy fighting, and it was

also to be expected that the Turks would

endeavor to strike at Russian and British

influence in Persia. The region of the

common frontier is a rugged, mountainous

one, inhabited in part by the long persecuted Christian Armenians and by their

bitter enemies the cruel Kurds. The

chief towns of the region are Kars and

Batum in Russian territory, the last

named the center of important petroleum

fields, of which the Turks and Teutons

were anxious to gain possession; and, in Turkey, Trebizond, on the Black Sea, Erzerum,

and Van, the last of which is situated on

the lake of the same name. All of this

region had been fought over in previous

wars between the Turks and Russians.

The first important battle took place

early in January, 1915. Three Turkish

corps commanded by Enver Pasha were

badly defeated, and the Russians followed

up this victory by practically destroying

the Turkish Eleventh Corps at Kara

Urgaun on January 16. The winter season

made campaigning difficult and operations

then languished, but, in May, the Russians

crossed the mountain passes and drove

the Turks out of the town of Van.

The Teutonic irruption on the west,

however, prevented the Russians from

following up these successes, and they

were even forced to fall back, though the

Allied attacks on the Dardanelles prevented

the Turks from attempting a vigorous

offensive. For many months the conflict

was largely one of raids and counter-raids

and of intrigues and small combats in

northwestern Persia.

The noise of war came as the sound

of doom to the long persecuted Armenians.

These ill-fated people belong to the white

race, and they have been Christians for

1600 years. Their chief home is the tangle

of high mountains between the Mediterranean, the Black, and the Caspian Seas.

Some of them resided in Asiatic Russia

but about 1,200,000 were under Turkish

rule. Rather more than half of those in

Turkey lived in the original Armenia, north

of the Tigris and east of the Euphrates. The

rest were scattered through all the towns

between the Euphrates and Constantinople.

They were especially numerous in the

Adana district of Cilicia, the rich plain

which borders on the north-east corner

of the Mediterranean, while in the mountain fortresses above the plain the hill

towns of Hadjin and Zeitoun were flourishing centers of their life.

The lot of the Armenians in Turkey

had for centuries been a hard one. They

were treated as a subject race and were

at the mercy of their Moslem neighbors.

But they are an intelligent race, being

shrewd merchants and thrifty. There is

a saying to the effect that one Jew can

get the better of three Christians in a

business deal and that one Armenian can

get the better of three Jews. "Among

a rather stupid, conservatively inclined

Turkish population, their commercial genius gave them a virtual monopoly of trade,

and a correspondingly large share in the

wealth of the country. Hard-earned gains

might often in individual cases be reft

away by local tyranny; but the Armenian's

gifts were really indispensable to his

masters, and their general recognition

of this fact was shown by the general

toleration he received from them. In

fact, the subject, Christian, intellectual

Armenian and the dominant, Moslem,

agrarian Turk had settled down into an

effective, if rough and ready, equilibrium."

Some of the Armenian women are very

beautiful. A considerable number of the

Armenians were well educated, not a few of

them having studied in schools and colleges

established by American and European


For many centuries the Armenians

suffered from oppression, and repeated

massacres by the Turks, and especially