Title:
PP/GC/PO/259 Letter from Lord Ponsonby to Henry John Temple, third Viscount Palmerston, enclosing papers from General Chrzanowski concerning the Turkish army, 25 September 1836
Date:
25/09/1836
Content:
Letter from John Ponsonby, second Baron Ponsonby, later first Viscount Ponsonby, [ambassador extraordinary and plenipotentiary at Constantinople], to Henry John Temple, third Viscount Palmerston: he encloses some papers from General Chrzanowski. "Nothing has been done. Nothing will be done." 25 Sep 1836 Enclosed are: (i) Letter, in French, from General Adalbert Chrzanowski, Rami ?Tochflit, to John Ponsonby, second Baron Ponsonby, later first Viscount Ponsonby: all his attempts to push the Seraskier to procure the removal of Achmed Pasha have so far been in vain. The desire not to displease Russia just when she might restore Silistria prevails. Chrzanowski believes, nevertheless, that the Seraskier will be more malleable once the effect produced by the restoration of Silistria has passed. At least he will not be lacking in good will, for they have had a ?quarrel with Achmed Pasha and such as he is, he will not want to lose a good opportunity to avenge a personal grievance and rid himself of a rival, if at all possible. Achmed Pasha seems to enjoy the good grace of the Sultan more than ever and his authority has just been increased. Chrzanowski has managed to persuade the Seraskier that the war at Tripoli was pointless, that he could not know what could be gained from it, that the French, in employing very considerable forces at Algiers, with some thirty thousand men already lost and with two hundred million francs spent, are scarcely any further than they were a couple of months after the beginning of the enterprise. The Seraskier promised Chrzanowski that he would attempt to get the Sultan to name a pasha acceptable to the Arabs and to withdraw all the Turkish troops, leaving the inhabitants to fend for themselves. Chrzanowski told him that troops dispersed all through the Taurus were useless: this cordon would easily be broken through anywhere by Ibrahim, and the troops there overthrown. An army concentrated around Diyarbakir would cover this frontier more efficiently and Ibrahim would have to beat it before thinking about conquests. If Ibrahim were to engage them around Konya without doing that, that army could arrive at Issus before he had time to retreat. During the battle which would then be inevitable, Ibrahim would risk the survival of his army and of Egypt, while even if the Turkish army were checked, they would be free to retreat. The troops of Tripoli and the Taurus would thus be made available, and if the Seraskier does not change his plans, within four months he will have about thirty batallions in disarray in and around Constantinople, which could be joined by around ten more battalions of the army reserve. Lastly, Chrzanowski informed the Seraskier that the present [Turkish] military organisation was a bad imitation of the Prussian system and that it was necessary to change it. The Seraskier asked Chrzanowski for advice, and Chrzanowski encloses a copy of his suggestions. Ponsonby will see that, wishing to achieve a maximum number of troops, Chrzanowski has left a large proportion to be used purely for defence, for some future Sultan may decide to take on the role of conqueror again. Regarding the employment of Christians in the army, Chrzanowski has not mentioned the advantages which would result from the creation of a detachment attached to the Turkish government, combined in some way with the Muslims. An honourable rivalry between the Turkish and Christian troops would make for good soldiers. The Turks, or the Seraskier at least, would not understand this. As this is the first time he has spoken of it, he will wait to see how the idea is received and he will have time to report on developments. 20 Sep 1836 (ii) Copy, in his own hand, of a memorandum in French, written by General Adalbert Chrzanowski to John Ponsonby, second Baron Ponsonby, later first Viscount Ponsonby, concerning the recruitment of the Turkish army: the respect of the people and a good army are the firmest foundation for a crown. The respect of the people is obtained by the country's good, paternal administration. Such an administration produces the greatest well-being for the inhabitants, which is the greatest resource a sovereign can use in times of need. This naturally gives him a stronger position in all strife against foreigners. To have a good army, its organisation must be good and strong: good training and rigorous discipline which is just and befits the morals of the country. The army must be well victualled and well nourished. Any prevarication on the part of a soldier must be severely punished and a good system of recruitment must be established. In all countries, the number of troops is based on the population, resources, and requirements of the political position. Statistics show that of a million inhabitants, half of any sample are men and half women, and that of the males, seven to eight thousand are young men of about twenty. This part of the population, which renews itself every year, could be taken on as recruits. In France, the soldier is obliged to serve for seven years, but he only serves under the colours for five years, after which he is given a discharge to return home, and he is only called up again in time of war. Once the seven years have passed he is discharged from military service and becomes part of the national guard. The national guard, which consists of over a million men, should be divided into a mobile national guard and a fixed national guard, but so far the mobile national guard has not been set up, and France has not found herself in the position of needing to deploy this large force. The active army consists of about 400,000 men, and a fifth is renewed each year. Out of France's population of thirty three million, nearly 250,000 men reach the age of conscription each year, they can raise from amongst these some 80,000 by conscription to fill the shortfall left in the army by the men returning home. This allows the army to be augmented in case of large scale war by 150,000 trained men and 150,000 could be taken to staff the regimental depots. The enlarged French army could total 700,000 men, without counting the mobile national guard. In Prussia, every Prussian of the age of twenty is called up. Some are placed in the active army, the rest in the Landwehr. Service in the army lasts for three years. After this, soldiers return home, but form part of the reserve for a further two years. Between the ages of twenty five and thirty two, they form the first tier of the Landwehr, which recalls them for eight days of exercises in the spring and for three weeks in the autumn. This Landwehr is organised into separate regiments, in which only the officers are paid men. In case of war, the Landwehr forms part of the active army. At thirty two, men pass from the first to the second tier of the Landwehr, where they expect to remain until they are thirty nine, since they cannot be recalled for exercises. In time of war, this second tier of the Landwehr would garrison the strongholds. Below this is the Landsturm, made up of all the males between thirty nine and fifty years of age, and they in time of war would provide service within their respective provinces. The active army consists of 110,000 men. Each year a third of this is renewed, taking some thirty six thousand conscripts out of more than ninety plus [thousand], supplied by the thirteen million strong Prussian population. Thus the Prussian army in time of war can be augmented by sixty thousand reserves, 170,000 of the first tier of the Landwehr and 120,000 of the second tier, and Prussia can set out on campaign and that is excluding the Landsturm of 460,000 drilled men, with its 120,000 men to guard the towns. In Russia, recruitment takes other forms. Two men out of every five hundred called up each year are reserved to maintain the numbers of the army. The supply of men following a war is covered by a higher levy of up to ten men out of five hundred. In other words, Russia calls up two thousand men per million each year, and between four and ten thousand per million reservists in case of need. Classification is not made and the field is left free for flexibility. In Russia there are nearly forty six million inhabitants who supply the recruits, and the annual toll therefore raises 92,000 recruits. As the Russian soldier is obliged to remain in the army for twenty five years, 2,100,000 recruits are taken on during that time. Supposing that out of this number 500,000 men die without being part of the army, over a period of twenty five years nearly a million soldiers perish due to lack of care and a defective military administration. The Russian example is not, therefore, to be followed. Besides, it is only the petty wages given to soldiers of every rank which allows Russia always to hold in readiness such numerous armies. Turkey finds herself in a completely unique position. Her military force consists solely of Muslims, of whom there are some eleven million. The state consists of twenty million inhabitants, including Christians, which allows for an army of 150,000 men. But this number would not be sufficient in a large-scale war and does not assure Turkey of a place amongst the other European powers, since these powers hold in readiness, or are in a position to place in immediate readiness, much more considerable forces. An enlargement of the military forces is thus a matter of extreme urgency. The military organisation of France cannot be imitated, because, while it suits a population of thirty three million, it would not do for eleven million Muslims, on whom alone military service in Turkey falls. It would be better to look towards the Prussian system instead. The law that every Muslim is bound to defend the faith and the country would be nothing new. What follows is a scheme for the military organisation of Turkey, calculated on ten million inhabitants, assuming a million for service in the navy. The military force will be divided into an active army, garrison troops and the militia. The active army would be employed in the open country; the garrison troops would man garrisons in threatened places throughout the empire. The militia would maintain order in their respective provinces and reinforce the garrisons as required. Every Muslim at twenty would be called into service. Each year, of the seven thousand conscripts for every million, three thousand men would be taken into service by conscription. The remaining four thousand would be classed in the militia. The soldiers would remain under arms for five years. They would spend the first year of their service in stations in the provinces, so that they should not be suddenly removed from their homes, and to accustom them gradually to a military way of life. In these stations they would receive their initial military education. From there they would be sent into regiments where they would spend the next four years. At twenty five they may return home, but will remain in the reserve for the next seven years, until they are thirty two. The soldiers in the reserve will be obliged to rejoin their regiments in time of war, and in peacetime they will muster in provincial stations twice a year, once for ten days and once for twenty. During these thirty days, they will be paid and will receive military training so that they do not forget what they learned after they have left the army. For the eight years between thirty two and forty they would form part of the garrison troops and they would only assemble for five days each year. Between forty and fifty, they will form part of the militia, but will only be called up in case of need in time of war. Assuming that, in the course of time, for every million Turkish inhabitants, this system would consistently keep 14,000 men under arms, which is five years' total. As this number would be doubled by the reserve, there would be 28,000 active troops and 18,000 garrison troops available for war, plus at least 20,000 in the militia, partly made up of former soldiers. This calculation takes into account deaths and the infirm. To sum up, the Turkish army force in time of war would comprise some 280,000 men in the active army and 160,000 garrison troops. There would also be 200,000 men of the militia spread throughout the empire. In peacetime, only 140,000 men would remain under arms. Even adding the expense of the thirty days for the reserve, the equivalent of 12,000 full-time men, and the cost of five days for the garrison troops, the equivalent of 3,000 men in the regular army, Turkey is only spending what is necessary to keep 155,000 men available to resist an enemy of 440,000 drilled men. To increase the advantages of the active army, its ranks could be opened to volunteers from the Christian population. A mere 1,000 such volunteers each year throughout the empire would increase the active army in time of war by ten thousand men, and it would not increase annual expenditure during peacetime, which they would have to do to maintain 5,000. The individuals joining the army must have indemnity from paying the poll-tax, a just reward for those who would sacrifice themselves for the defence of the country as much as Muslims would. In according them a privilege, personal interest would encourage them to serve well, and one would not have to fear the dangers that a Christian force, recruited by force and without the prospect of any personal advantage, usually presents. 18 Sep 1836
Extent:
Three papers
License:
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Subject:
General Adalbert Chrzanowski, Polish Officer in English employ in Turkey
Husrev Mehmed Pasha, alias Chossrew Muhammad Pasha, Seraskier or Turkish Minister of War
Ahmed Fevzi Pasha, or Achmed Pasha, Kapudan Pasha or Grand Admiral, former Turkish special envoy to St Petersburg
Mahmud II, Ottoman Sultan
Tripoli, Ottoman Empire, later Libya
Algiers, French North Africa, later Algeria
Ibrahim Pasha, son of Muhammed Ali Pasha, alias Mehemet Ali, Viceroy or ruler of Egypt
Diyarbakir, or Diyarbekir, or Diarbekr, Turkey
Konya, or Konia, or Konieh, Turkey
Issus, ancient town near modern Dortyol, Turkey
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