Letters from Officer/Orientalist K.N. Smirnov from the Caucasian Front as a Source for the Study of the Military/Political Situation in Turkey and Iran in 1914–1917
Authors: Nugzar K. Ter-Oganov
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This study attempts to analyze the letters of officer/orientalist and military oriental scholar, officer in the Intelligence Section of the Staff of the Caucasian Military District, Staff Captain Konstantin Nikolayevich Smirnov, sent by him from the Turkish and Iranian sectors of the Caucasian front to his wife Kseniya Karlovna Smirnova (Kester) over the period 1914–1917.
Depending on changes in the deployment of Russian troops fighting against the Turkish army, as well as the German-Turkish block, both in the north-eastern part of Turkey and in the north-west of Iran, K.N. Smirnov had sent those letters from Kamarli, Diadin, Iğdır, Beyazıt, Trebizond, Kazvin, Kermanshah, Kerind, Qasr-e Shirin, Ava now to Tiflis and now to Sevastopol, Hamadan, and Kazvin, where his wife was staying at that particular point in time.
K.N. Smirnov’s surviving letters, just like their fragments, give us an idea of the military/political situation along the line of contact with the enemy on the Caucasian front, as well as many aspects of the activity of officers from the Expeditionary Corps of General N.N. Baratov in Iran over the period 1915–1917. Of interest is his characterization of the personal qualities of many Russian officers, such as General N.N. Baratov, the immediate superior of Staff Captain Smirnov, who at the time headed the reconnaissance unit of the Expeditionary Corps, Colonel N.F. Ern, Chief of Staff, and other officers of the corps. The letters also bring to light the character of activity by K.N. Smirnov as a “political officer”.
K.N. Smirnov’s letters contain extremely rare information on the episode of short-term Anglo-Russian military cooperation on the Caucasian front intended to coordinate actions against Turkish troops in Mesopotamia.