Battle of Goychay

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Coordinates: 40°39′11″N 47°44′26″E / 40.65306°N 47.74056°E / 40.65306; 47.74056

Battle of Goychay
Part of Caucasus Campaign
Battle of Goychay plan.jpg
Battle plan written in Azerbaijani.
Date 27 June–1 July, 1918 (4 days)
Location Goychay, Geokchaysky Uyezd, Baku Governorate, Azerbaijan Democratic Republic
40°39′11″N 47°44′26″E / 40.65306°N 47.74056°E / 40.65306; 47.74056
Result Decisive OttomanAzerbaijani victory
OttomanAzerbaijani coalition forces capture lands from Goychay to Shamakhi
Central Powers:
 Ottoman Empire

Baku Commune
Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic Russia

Entente Powers:

Armenian Revolutionary Federation Flag.gif Armenian Revolutionary Federation
United Kingdom United Kingdom
Commanders and leaders
Ottoman Empire Nuri Pasha Stepan Shaumian
Ottoman Empire Islamic Army of the Caucasus 5,000 30,000
Casualties and losses
Unknown Unknown, but heavy

Battle of Goychay (Azerbaijani: Göyçay döyüşü, Russian: Геокчайский бой, Turkish: Göyçay Savaşı), was a battle that took place from 27 June, 1918 to 1 July of the same year, between OttomanAzerbaijani coalition forces led by Nuri Pasha and Armenian branches of the Soviet 11th Army. The initial battle ended in 30 June, but minor clashes continued on 1 July. Being outnumbered 6 to 1, the coalition forces were able to defeat ArmenianSoviet forces before reaching Ganja, then headquarters of the Ottoman Islamic Army of the Caucasus. The coalition forces seized control of lands from Goychay to Shamakhi and ended ArmenianSoviet rule in the region as a result of the battle.


The Shaumian-led Baku Commune decided to launch a military operation to prevent the Ottoman army from recovering in Ganja. Commander of the Military and Maritime Affairs Committee of the Baku People's Commissariat Grigory Korganov signed an order on June 4, 1918 and asked the Red Army to take action. He gave instructions to the Armenian–Bolshevik–Russian forces to capture the plain flat up to Yevlakh and seize the Yevlakh bridge. On June 6, 1918, Armenian and Russian Bolshevik troops set off from Baku to Kazi-Magomed (modern-day Hajigabul). They pillaged Kazi-Magomed and burned down the surrounding villages.

The Red Army forces, which began to gather at Kazi-Magomed Station, set off on June 10 to go to Ganja, then capital of Azerbaijan Democratic Republic. There was a small military unit consisting of Georgians and Azerbaijanis against of the Red Army. Georgian-born Levan Makalov was the commander of this group.[1] The coalition forced seized the Syghyr Station on June 11. During this time, Shaumian learned that the Ottoman military forces had not yet reached Ganja. Armenian residents of Ganja were clashing with the OttomanAzerbaijani troops. He wanted to take advantage of this situation, which was in favor of the Baku Commissioner.[2] The seizure of the Syghyr Station was highly encouraging to Shaumian. On a telegram he sent to Vladimir Lenin, he wrote:

The frontal forces of the military occupied the Syghyr Station on June 11. Our intelligence branch is currently under heavy fire in Karrar Station. Our military forces are moving forward.

— Stepan Shaumian, [3]


The first branch of the Red Army forces led westward along the BakuHajiqabul railway, leading to the Myusyuslyu Station, while the other branch passed through Hajigabul and reached Kyurdamir. The Red Army forces in the region gathered here and attacked Kyurdamir. The resistance of the militia forces consisting of Azerbaijanis who tried to defend the city did not yield any results. The Red Army took control of the station, alongside the city itself.[4]

The occupation of Kyurdamir by the BolshevikDashnak forces brought great nervousness to the coalition forces in Ganja. This was a serious hindrance to the advance of the Islamic Army of the Caucasus to Baku.

Shamakhi, Aghsu and Ismailly

The third branch of the Red Army also moved from the north of Baku. Moving along the Baku–Ganja highway to the north-west, they entered Maraza and Shamakhi. The Bolshevik-led Armenian forces attacked the village of Bijo[5], resulting in a bloody battle between the village population and 400 Armenian troops. The battle ended in a decisive Azerbaijani victory.[6] Receiving an unexpected heavy defeat, the Bolsheviks sent a bigger invasion force to the village.[7] Hearing this, village residents were forced to move to Aghsu and then to Goychay. After burning down Bijo, the Armenian–Bolshevik forced advanced to the town of Aghsu, then to the villages of Garamaryam and Bygyr. The 1st and 3rd divisions of the 11th Army captured Ismailly and its surrounding settlements in the north of Garamaryam. On the morning of June 16, the 11th Army's 3rd division forces attacked the Azerbaijani, Dagestani and Georgian militants in the region. At the end of a bloody battle, which lasted over seven hours, the coalition forces were forced to retreat to Goychay. The 11th Army started to gain more support from the Armenian and Russian-populated villages in the region.[8]

First assault

An Ottoman officer (1918)

Veysalli and Garamaryam

The headquarters of the Islamic Army of the Caucasus was located in Ganja, then Elisabethpol. The members of the army in Ganja came to the conclusion that there was no physical barrier between them and the railway, and that this situation would pose a great threat to the capital. Nuru Pasha calculated that the real threat to Ganja would come from the Red Army forces near Goychay. The clashes occurred in the Goychay region were a turning point for the Red Army's withdrawal from Azerbaijan and the nation's independence.[9]

All the soldiers in the 5th Caucasian infantry division of the Caucasus Army Group did not reach Ganja yet. The 10th Caucasian Infantry Regiment crossed the VanadzorDilijan road and entered Aghstafa. They reached Goychay in 15th of June. Nazım Bey and his soldiers were sent to Myusyuslyu and Kyurdamir fronts. The 10th Caucasian Infantry Regiment, led by Osman Bey, was sent to Garamaryam front. After some days of fighting, the Ottoman forces defeated the Armenian troops, resulting in them retreating to Galakar village.[9][10]

Chief of Staff of the Islamic Army of the Caucasus in Myusyuslyu, Nazım Bey, instructed Osman Bey to carry out an intelligence assault on Armenian–Soviet forces. According to the order of Osman Bey, the 28th Battalion took action on 17 June against the ArmenianBolshevik forces in the west of Garamaryam. Continuing the operation along the road, the 28th Battalion was caught by a Soviet ambush, as they failed to take timely measures. After a bloody fight, the Ottoman forces retreated to Veysalli village.[11]

Seeing that the situation became dangerous, Osman Bey moved his 30th and 28th Battalions to protect the 28th Battalion from both sides. However, these Battalions were attacked by Bolshevik forces in an area of extremely steep valleys and hills. The 29th Battalion, which was attacked from both sides, was able to move to Veysalli village after a very bloody fight.[12]

During the day, warring sides could not overcome each other in the hot summer weather, and when the darkness fell, they interrupted the clashes and moved to their original positions. This first significant battle of the Ottoman Islamic Army of the Caucasus in the region resulted in failure near Garamaryam. Morale of the Bolsheviks, especially the 3rd division and it's leader Hamazasp Srvandztyan's morale mood had risen dramatically. Thus, they were further strengthened in the occupied Garamaryam and seized some important positions to attack Goychay.

The OttomanAzerbaijani coalition army lost around 200 soldiers in the first battle that occurred near Garamaryam village. The number of wounded was 156. The Armenian–Soviet forces were able to capture few cannons and ammunition from the coalition army.[13]


The commander of the 10th Caucasian Infantry Regiment ordered Osman Bey to distract the Bolsheviks near Garamaryam in order to prevent them from attacking Goychay. Osman Bey did not expect additional forces from Ganja to reach the front. The Caucasian Army of Islam troops in Myusyuslyu, under the leadership of Nazım Bey, decided to launch an intelligence attack on the Red Army forces without the permission of the commander Nuru Pasha. They had launched this operation to gather enough information about the power and positions of the enemy without using advanced intelligence arms. At the time of the attack, the reserve forces were not even released. At the same time, the double envelopment maneuver used by the Ottoman army in such battles were not applied.[13]

Second assault

After this defeat, Nuru Pasha, commander of the forces consisting of Azerbaijanis Ali-Agha Shikhlinsky and 5th Caucasus Infantry Division chief of staff Rüştü Bey, left Ganja and arrived at Myusyuslyu Station on 18 June. There, they met with chief of staff of the Islamic Army of the Caucasus Nazım Bey and commanders of the 29th Regiment in Veysalli and discussed the status of war. Then, Nuru Pasha and few other high ranking generals moved to Goychay, where they met with commander of the 10th Caucasian Infantry Battalion Lieutenant Colonel Osman Bey and again discussed the state of war.[14][15]

According to reports, Bolshevik Red Army forces have burned down more than 50 villages that were on the road between Baku and Garamaryam. They massacred many of the Azerbaijanis living in those villages, and the one able to escape sought refuge in Goychay and surrounding settlements. Number of refugees from Shamakhi, Ismailly and surrounding settlements passed 400 thousand.[4]

Red Army forces were able to recruit Armenians and Russians from surrounding villages and gather an army of 30 thousand men. The 5th Caucasian Infantry Division attacking the Bolsheviks alone would have been a suicide attempt.

Nuru Pasha thought that thousands of Azerbaijanis would join Islamic army of the Caucasus after it's formation, but his expectations were wrong. Few thousand militia forces that joined the army didn't gave the help Nuru Pasha wanted. He went to Goychay and expressed his disappointment to the public with a speech in the town center. In his speech, he explained that "The Ottoman Empire, his homeland sent soldiers to Caucasus to liberate their brother Azerbaijanis and other Turks living in the region from enemy's oppression" and the importance of "everyone joining this army voluntarily and serving with great spirit". He also said:

Many of our soldiers fighting in this fierce warm died of dehydration. Since you're not joining the army, at least you have to help by carrying food and water for these soldiers.

— Nuri Kiligil, [16]

Nuru Pasha met and talked with Azerbaijani intellectuals and elder in the Geokchaysky Uyezd. He was able to acquire their support, which resulted more people joining the army. Many teenagers and adults from Goychay, Aghdash, Yevlakh and even Barda arrived to the front line to receive military training.[17]

Nuru Pasha had requested Eastern Army Group officers to send two important reports to Istanbul. The first report was sent on 27 June, while the second was sent on 1 July. According to this report, the Bolsheviks were gaining power in Caucasus, and Azerbaijanis could not form a major force for the army. It was concluded that 5th Caucasian Infantry Division could not operate in the region.[14] In the reports, Nuru Pasha stated that "the newly formed Caucasian Islamic Army cannot achieve success from it's activities. We expected that at least 30 thousand Turks [Azeris] in here would join the army. Whereas number of recruits is 37. Under these circumstances, to solve the Baku question, arrival of another division would be appropriate. Muslims [Azeris] here talk much, but work less. They are carouse and greedy people. We see little to no help and selflessness from them. To ensure the liberation of Azerbaijan and Baku under these circumstances, have become very essential for the Ottoman State to protect it's faith among the people. 5th Division needs urgent support. Otherwise, our situation would not be good at all".[18]

The frontline between Ottoman–Azerbaijani and Red Army forces was in a stalemate. Nuru Pasha was in fear of imminent defeat and knew that the Entente was going to launch more attacks on the Ottomans, which would result in the army not sending additional men to Caucasus.[14] He sent a letter to the commander of the 5th Caucasian Infantry Division Mürsel Bey. On the letter, Nuru Pasha stated that the troops will move to the lines on 23–24 June and an assault is expected to launch on 27–28 June.[19]

During the preparations, Bolshevik spies transferred crucial information to the Red Army. Bolsheviks launched an assault on 27 June with three battalions. Some of them moved to north and stroke the 10th Caucasian Infantry Regiment from behind.[20] From south, they conducted minor skirmishes as to lower the Ottoman morale. Meanwhile, 25th Infantry Battalion and 2nd Cavalry Regiment requested few days ago arrived and immediately incorporated into the 10th Caucasian Infantry Regiment. Fierce fighting resulted in Ottoman forces successfully defending against the Bolshevik assault.[21]



  1. ^ Süleymanov. Qafqaz İslam Ordusu və Azərbaycan. p. 189–190.
  2. ^ Rüşdü. Böyük Hərbdə Bakı yollarında. p. 37–38.
  3. ^ Süleymanov. Qafqaz İslam Ordusu və Azərbaycan. p. 191.
  4. ^ a b Birinci Dünya hərbində Türk hərbi, Qafqaz cəbhəsi, III ordu hərəkatı (II c ed.). p. 557.
  5. ^ AMEA-nın 1990-cı il "Tarix-Fəlsəfə-Hüquq" seriyası. ANAS. 1990.
  6. ^ Qəniyev, Seyfəddin. 1918-ci il Şamaxı soyqırımı, (I kitab ed.). p. 22.
  7. ^ "Qafqaz İslam Ordusu". "Azerbaijan" newspaper (№67 (6342)). 2 April 2013. p. 4.
  8. ^ Rüşdü. Böyük Hərbdə Bakı yollarında. p. 38.
  9. ^ a b Birinci Dünya hərbində Türk hərbi, Qafqaz cəbhəsi, III ordu hərəkatı (II c ed.). p. 558.
  10. ^ Rüşdü. Böyük Hərbdə Bakı yollarında. p. 33–38.
  11. ^ Rüşdü. Böyük Hərbdə Bakı yollarında. p. 44–45.
  12. ^ Rüşdü. Böyük Hərbdə Bakı yollarında. p. 45.
  13. ^ a b Rüşdü. Böyük Hərbdə Bakı yollarında. p. 46.
  14. ^ a b c Birinci Dünya hərbində Türk hərbi, Qafqaz cəbhəsi, III ordu hərəkatı (II c ed.). p. 559.
  15. ^ Rüşdü. Böyük Hərbdə Bakı yollarında. p. 46–47.
  16. ^ Rüşdü. Böyük Hərbdə Bakı yollarında. p. 47.
  17. ^ Rüşdü. Böyük Hərbdə Bakı yollarında. p. 48.
  18. ^ Görüryılmaz, Mustafa (2015). Türk Kafkas İslam Ordusu ve Ermeniler (1918). Istanbul. p. 138.
  19. ^ Rüşdü. Böyük Hərbdə Bakı yollarında. p. 53–54.
  20. ^ Rüşdü. Böyük Hərbdə Bakı yollarında. p. 59.
  21. ^ Birinci Dünya hərbində Türk hərbi, Qafqaz cəbhəsi, III ordu hərəkatı (II c ed.). p. 560.


  • Süleymanov, Mehman (1999). Qafqaz İslam Ordusu və Azərbaycan. Baku: Hərbi nəşriyyat.
  • Qəniyev, Seyfəddin (2003). 1918-ci il Şamaxı soyqırımı, I kitab. Baku: "Nurlar" nəşriyyatı. p. 152.
  • Görüryılmaz, Mustafa (2015). Türk İslam Kafkas Ordusu ve Ermeniler (1918). Istanbul: Babıali Kültür Yayıncılığı. p. 616.

External links

  • "Göyçay və Cavad qəzalarında erməni vəhşilikləri" [Armenian atrocities in the Geokchaysky and Javadsky Uyezds]. "Azərbaycan" newspaper. 30 March 2017. Archived from the original on 30 March 2017. Retrieved 20 May 2018.

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