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Ottoman Army - 1826-1869

The re-organization of the Turkish army was commenced by Riza Pasha, in 1843, and completed by Hussein Avni Pasha in 1869; and the assassination of that general, by which his military knowledge was lost, was a great blow to the country in its present difficulties. The system of organization had much to recommend it, but like all other branches of Turkish service, it was corruptly and imperfectly carried out.

The Janissaries were extirpated; the Spahis made surrender; the Guards had long before disappeared. The provincial organisation of the Pashas was thoroughly broken ; the hereditary chieftains (Derebeys) were put down; and this work was accomplished by invasion, insurrection, disorganisation, and revolt, no less than by the prompt energy of the Sultan.

The new Turkish system was composed of camps, called "ordu," (whence horde). Such was the name given by Jenghis Khan to his armies, in which was included the whole polity of tbe Mongols. Each camp had its complement of horse and artillery; belongs to its district, which is told off into circles corresponding to the subdivision of the camp. The conscripts served for five years. The recruits who replace the emerite find in their new comrades their relations and neighbors, so that no tie is severed, and the army remains rooted to the soil. They receive pay, but still the service is a tribute, and it falls on the Mussulmans alone.

These Ordus are each 30,000 strong, precisely the same as those organised by Jenghis Khan on the Amour for the conquest of the world. The new military distribution of the Empire was made, to the exclusion, however, of the Danubian provinces, Serbia, Bosnia, Egypt, the coast of Barbary, and the Islands. The remainder was divided into six circles, each furnishing one Ordu of 25,000 in time of peace, and 30,000 on the war establishment. They were thus composed :-

Infantry, 6 Alai of 3300 			19,800
Cavalry, 4 Alai of 1000 			4,000
Artillery (64 gunsf), 1 Alai of 1800		1,800
Giving for the six camps			25,600

Infantry 					118,800
Cavalry 					24,000
Artillery (384 guns) 			10,800

War establishment				180,000

As service is a religious duty imposed on the Mussulman, the question never arose of the liability to conscription; all are liable, but exceptions are made in favor of a sole male in the family, an only son of a widow, and a student. The first conscription fell upon those between the ages of twenty and twentyfive. They are now, progressively after eighteen, subjected to the ballot. The ballot papers for so many recruits as are wanted are inscribed with the words, "I am a soldier." Those who draw them pass over to the recruiting officer. The first conscriptions were a sort of press-gang, the soldiers seizing all they could lay their hands on, and the people taking to the mountains or the desert. Each camp is commanded by a general (Muchir), two lieutenant-generals (Ferik), three infantry brigadiers (Liva), one of whom commands the reserve, two cavalry, and one artillery.

One of the greatest disorders in the old times was the want of a commissariat. This caused the exhaustion and devastation of the provinces through which the troops inarched, and often occasioned the loss of armies, or their dispersion at critical moments. It was, therefore, to be expected that it would be the first to be remedied as unquestionably it was the easiest, and presented, alas! the temptations to which European Governments are most exposed. Any officer of experience consulted beforehand would have suggested this as the first reform. The Turks, however, did not introduce a commissariat; the Treasury furnishes the money for the specified quantities, at the market price, and the troops have committees, composed of all grades, to superintend their mess, as is practised among the British officers at that time. The officers received their rations in money.

To provide against the danger of the breaking up of these bodies, and sacrificing their spirit and constitution, it has been laid down that they shall not leave their province in detachments, and that there shall be no separate command of less than 10,000 men. After the term of five years' service in the Nizam, the soldier enters the Redif (Reserve), in which he serves for seven years more-standing to his Ordu exactly as when in barracks, save that he is at home. In this lies the difference with the Prussian Landwehr, where the regiment has no connexion with the province. They assemble a month in the year at their ordinary places of rendezvous for drill and exercise, and receive during that time pay and rations as the Line. There is thus a Redif Ordu ready to supply the place of the Nizam Ordu, whenever called on foreign service, or there is a second Ordu ready to march. The number of disciplined men is thus yearly augmenting, and the number is 212,000.

When the system is completed it would give -

Nizam 		180,000
Redif (say)	300,000
TOTAL		480,000

Of the six camps, four only had been completed by 1855, at which time those of Arabistan and Hedjaz were but in process of organisation. The following table will show the distribution

1st Ordu, Khassssa Or Guards.
(Western border of Asia Minor.)
Infantry.-1st Regt., Ismid; 2nd, Broussa; 3rd, Smyrna ; 4th, Aidyn; 5th, Kutayieh ; 6th, Sparta.
Cavalry.-1st, Isnik; 2nd,Tyra; 3rd, Karahissar; 4th, Sparta.
Artillery, from all the province.

2nd Ordu, Deri-seadat-Capital.
(Adjoining districts of Europe and Asia.)
Infantry.-1st Regt., Adrianople; 2nd, Shumla; 3rd, Boli : 4th, Angora; 5th, Konia; 6th, Kaisarieh.
Cavalry.-1st Regt., Babadagh ; 2nd, Yuzgad; 3rd, Angora ; 4th, Konia.
Artillery, Tchorum.

3rd Ordu, Rumelt.
Infantry.-1st Regt., Monastir; 2nd, Tirhala; 3rd,Selanik; 4th, Uskup; 5th, Sophia; 6th, Wydin.
Cavalry.-1st Regt., Jannina; 2nd, Prezrin: 3rd, Sophia; 4th (Not formed).
Artillery, Monastir.

4th Ordu, Anadolis.
Infantry.-1st Regt, Sivas ; 2nd, Tocat; 3rd, Kharput; 4th, Erzerum; 5th, Kars; 6th, Diarbekir.
Cavalry.-1st Regt., Tocat; 2nd, Van ; 3rd, Mardyn ; 4th (not yet formed).
Artillery, Kharput.

5th Ordu, Arabistan
(Syria.) (Redif not formed.)
Infantry.- 1st Regt., Sham (Damascus); 2nd, Balbek ; 3rd, Acre ; 4th, Sidon ; 5th, Beyrut; 6th, Haleb.
Cavalry.-1st Regt., Havran; 2nd, Tripoli; 3rd, Deirulkamar; 4th, Hama.
Artillery, Latake.

6th Ordu, Irak
(Mesopotamia and Cerobia.)
(Rediff not formed.)
Infantry.-1st Regt, Baghdad ; 2nd, Sulymaniah; 3nl, Kerkuk; 4th, Mossul; 5th, Jidda and Mecca; 6th, Mokha and Massu.
Masowah was first garrisoned from Jiddab, then from Egypt.
Cavalry.-1st Regt., Baghdad and Bassora; 2nd, Mossul; 3rd, Derie and Nejd ; 4th, Jidda.
Artillery, in all the provinces.

The effective force is estimated at 120,000. The portions of the Empire not included have separate establishments, which are partially disciplined, and there are other bodies which more or less contribute to the public defence. These are:-

Egypt 				20,000
Serbia 				6,000
Bosnia and Upper Albania, say	40,000
Wallachia and Moldavia		6,000
Tripoli and the islands		20,000
Gunners (local bodies) 
at the Dardanelles, &c. 		20,000
Police corps, 
mounted and on foot		30,000
TOTAL				142,000

On board the fleet and
 in the arsenal			34,000
GRAND TOTAL 			176,000

There were thus a grand total of 650,000 men, of which 150,000 only were a permanent charge on the Treasury. But in case of war in which the populations took an interest, Wallachia, Moldavia, Serbia, and Bosnia might contribute 150,000 men beyond these numbers.

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Page last modified: 11-07-2011 03:03:47 ZULU