The Decisive Stage of the Battle of Karakilisa

The Decisive Stage of the Battle of KarakilisaThe decisive stage in the Turkish-Armenian war in the early 20th century was the formation of the Karakilisa Front. After the fall of Alexandropol, General Nazarbekyan ordered General Areshyan to stop the advancement of the Turks to Karakilisa. Areshyan wouldn’t manage to succeed, however.

On May 20, the Turks, taking advantage of the retreat of the Armenian troops, captured Jajur and also with the support of irregular Muslim detachments seized Vorontsovka. On May 22, the commander of a separate Armenian corps Areshyan along with the army headquarters and Armenian refugees retreated to Dilijan.

Assigned to defend the territory north of Karakilisa, Andranik Ozanyan repulsed away three Turkish attacks and moved the refugees to Dsegh. Meanwhile, the Turkish cavalry approached Amamlu.

The news of the first victory at Sardarapat inspired the Armenian troops and the people of Dilijan. A large meeting took place in the courtyard of the local church. Before the Armenian troops and refugees have spoken bishop Mesrop Ter-Movsisyan, Garegin Nzhdeh, and General Gamazyan with calls for struggle.

On May 25, the Karakilisa Front was established with the support of the Armenian fighting forces. The Armenian side had 7,000 soldiers and officers, 20 machine guns, and 12 cannons. Additionally, the Armenians had two regiments from the Armenian corps under the command of Colonel Serob Samartsyan, two thousand horsemen under the command of Colonel N. Gorganyan, and other units.

All these forces constituted the first division of the corps, the commander of which was Colonel A. Bey-Mamikonyan. On the Karakilisa front, the Turks had 10,000 soldiers and officers, as well 70 as cannons.

Garegin Nzhdeh was the first to enter the battle. On May 25, he and his group of 40 cavaliers attacked the 100-men cavalry unit and the vast infantry of the Turks. Thus began the Battle of Karakilisa.

On May 26, Bey-Mamikonyan managed to flank the Turks from the right. Colonel Gorganyan’s unit attacked the Turkish army as well. Losing 200 soldiers, the Turks retreated.

Aside from the Armenian troops, the residents of the nearest villages along with thousands of refugees from Kars, Shirak, and other cities of Western Armenia also participated in the battle.

On May 28, the Turks counterattacked. After a two-day fight, they managed to capture Karakilisa. On May 30, the headquarters of the separate Armenian corps was forced to leave Dilijan and move to Lower Akhta (modern Hrazdan).

Nonetheless, the battle of Karakilisa hadn’t been fought in vain. The Turks, having suffered considerable losses, could not carry out new attacks in the direction of Dilijan-Kazakh and had to march towards Shulaver-Tiflis instead.

During a meeting with the Armenian delegation in Batumi on May 31, 1918, Vehib Pasha admitted that “the Battle of Karakilisa was exceptional in the history of the war and the Armenians proved that they can be the best warriors of the world.” The Battle of Karakilisa has raised the morale and potential of the Armenian people to a whole new level.

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