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Thread: Ottoman Army

  1. #1
    Prince of Essling's Avatar Napoleonic Enthusiast
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    Default Ottoman Army

    Ottoman Empire

    Originally planned to include the Ottoman Empire in my Minor Nations/States thread, but clearly it deserves its own thread.

    The Ottoman Army is a highly complex issue and the following merely scratches the surface. It is impossible to produce a similar list of regimental names as for other nations, so I have concentrated on listing troop types. Spellings of the same Ottoman Units vary enormously and as a basis I have used those adopted by Wiliam E Johnston in his booklet “The Crescent among the Eagles – The Ottoman Army in the Napoleonic Wars” - my thanks to Karaislam for his help in correcting the westernised spellings of troop types below.

    To produce the following I have drawn on Otto von Pivka's "Armies of the Napoleonic Wars", Philip Haythornthwaite "The Napoleonic Source Book", the Osprey Men at arms on the Ottoman Army, William E Johnson “The Crescent among the Eagles”, Richard Partridge & Michael Oliver "Napoleonic Army hadbook - The British army & Her Allies", Knotel "Uniforms of the World", various magazines, articles & websites.

    The Ottoman army was basically divided into 2 elements: paid (Kapı Kulu) & unpaid (Müsellem) or irregular forces (Toprakli). The Ottoman military was very much ad hoc in nature and should not be thought of in European regular terms.

    The Kapı Kulu were divided into Ocak (branches):
    Yeniçeri (Janissary - infantry)
    Süvari (Cavalry)
    Topçu (Artillery).

    Each branch was divided into Orta - some historians have used this to equate to regiments but that appears to be incorrect. An Orta was divided into a number of Bölük (some have used this to equate to companies). A Yeniçeri Orta was divided into Oda (chambers) equivalent of a barrack grouping, and further divided into 10 to 25 men groups known as a tent grouping.

    Yeniçeri were divided into 2 classes:
    Cemaat - 101 Orta - guarding strategic points on the frontiers & important cities.
    Benluks - 61 Orta - garrisoned the capital, and formed the personal guard of the Sultan and Sancak-ı Şerif (Flag of the Prophet).
    However Pivka (and a couple of websites) also lists Sekban with 34 Orta as part of the Janissary Corps.

    Certain of the Yeniçeri Orta were awarded special titles (I have not been able to find a complete list):

    Ceemat Ortas:
    1st, 2nd, 3rd & 4th Orta were called Deveci (camel drivers) who were responsible for escorting camel baggage
    14th, 49th, 65th & 67th Orta were called Hassakis (Privileged)
    17th Orta was called Samnoundji (???)
    16th & 18th Orta marched with the artillery;
    35th Orta was called sekban avcıları (hunting masters)
    39th Orta served as Naval Marines & as light infantry;
    44th Orta served as light infantry
    55th Orta was called talimhaneciler (instructors) – responsible for weapons training;
    60th, 61st, 62nd & 63rd Orta served as solaklar (Archers) and the archers of the Sultan’s Guard du corps were drawn from these units.
    63rd Orta was also called turnacı ortası (Guardians of the cranes or geese)
    64th Orta was called şahincibaşı and were responsible for accompanying the Sultan on his hunts to control his dogs.
    35th, 39th, 44th, 64th, 68th & 71st Orta served as light infantry.
    84th Orta was called d’Imam-Ortassi (???)

    Benluk Orta :
    5th Orta was called Bach-Tchaouudh-Ortassi (Messengers)
    19th Orta were scouts
    28th Orta commander was in charge of Justice
    31st Orta served as Marines
    54th Orta were responsible for military exercises
    56th Orta guarded the Sadrazam (Grand Vizier) office.

    There were also 34 Orta of Acemi Oğlan (inexperienced boys) – which served as training units for the army.

    There was also a corps of korucular (foresters) – who patrolled the forests & guarded the water supplies.

    Nizam-ı Cedid (New Order Army) – These were troops trained in the European manner.
    1st regiment established in 1794, 2nd in 1799 and 3rd soon after. Each regiment comprised 12 fusilier companies, each of 100 men. 10 gun artillery unit was attached. By 1801 (?) 12 infantry regiments had been raised. Provincial Governors were ordered recruit men locally and train them in the Nizam-ı Cedid manner. Eventually all arms forces were raised. 4 or 6 Lancer units were raised. But the Janissaries forced the suppression of the Nizam-ı Cedid in 1807.
    In 1808 the Sultan reformed them as Sekban-ı Cedid with a strength of 6 regiments each of 2 battalions, but the Janissary again revolted against attempts to limit their powers, and although a compromise was agreed the Janissaries massacred the Sekban-ı Cedid in late 1808.

    Bostanci – took the best of the Acemi Oğlan and acted as the Sultan’s Guard. Were a few thousand strong. The Sadrazam (Grand Vizier) was accompanied on campaign by small units of Bostanci.

    vari or Buluk Halki (regimented men)

    28,000 men divided into 6 Divisions.

    2 Divisions were considered as Guard: Silahtar (Weapon Bearers) & Sipahi Oglans (Sipahi’s Children).

    The other 4 were divided into left & right wings, and comprised two classes: Ulufeciler (Salaried Men) & Garipler (Strangers)
    Ulufeciler right wing was also called yeşil bayrak (Green banner) while the left was called ???? (white/yellow banners)

    In addition there were 10,000 Sipahis of the Porte.

    Smaller Household Units:
    Sultan’s Mounted Life Guard 400 men
    Memlük of the Sadrazam (Grand Vizier) 100 men
    Memlük of the Grand Seignoir 100 men
    Memlük of Constantinople (Istanbul) 500 men
    Gönüllü Cebeli 100 men
    Koruma (Lifewatch) Cebeli100 men

    Topçu

    25 foot artillery regiments comprising 10 guns (4 were old heavy Balyemez, 2 older lighter Abus guns & 4 new French designed 6pdrs, known as Surats or rapid fire pieces) served by 115 officers & men. In addition there were 30 replacement gunners, & 20 rifle-armed battery guards.

    A 1,000 man Horse artillery unit (3 batteries in 1808-12; 5 batteries by 1815 - each with 10x 6pdr guns) was added in 1808 but it was virtually destroyed in 1812 by the Russians. It was later rebuilt and formed a well-trained, well-paid part of the Sultan’s personal guard.

    There is some suggestion that there were 2 camel batteries – armed with British 6pdrs.

    Humbaraci

    5 units served by 191 men each.
    4 of which served 10 mortars each – the 1st served 65cm mortars; 2nd served 36cm mortars; 3rd served 22cm mortars & 4th served 14cm mortars.
    5th unit served Abus cannon (5 x 7cm diameter, & 5 x 10cm diameter) which were similar to Russian Licornes.

    Irregular Infantry

    Sekban in theory without pay irregular volunteer infantry who served in times of war or a national emergency. Many Governors maintained large permanent standing armies – often drawn from mercenaries throughout the Empire (and some from beyond its borders). Nominally organised into 1,000 men units of 10 companies each. (including Albanian, Anatolian, Moroccan; other irregulars included Rumelian, Moldavian, Croatian, Transylvanian,...)

    Re'aya – peasant sharpshooters organised into companies of 50 to 100men. Usually assigned to the Janissaries to act as skirmishers.

    Derbend Muhafızı – local militias (including Greek Martolos, Bulgarians, Anatolian).

    Fellah – local peasants impressed into service.

    Levend - term originally used for Turkish corsairs, but became used for Turkish & Greek personnel recruited from the coast of Anatolia & Aegean islands. Used as Marines

    Irregular Cavalry

    Tımarlı Sipahi (Feudal Sipahi - horsemen) – organised into units (based on geographical districts) of 1,000 men (Anatolia, Albania, Rumelia, ....).

    Memlük – 12,000 men.

    Yörük – Volunteer cavalry units who were employed in the same way as Russian Cossacks (including from Rumelia, Anatolia, Macedonia & Bosnia).

    Humidie - 24 units of Kurdish cavalry, performed similar role to Yoruks.

    Djellis (Guides) – many from the Balkans (Croats, Serbs & Bosnians; others included Kurds, Anatolians, ...).

    Arab cavalry – supplied by Bedouin & Berber.

    Provincial Artillery

    Local Governors maintained their own artillery units.

    Ottoman Tactical Doctrine (adapted from “The Crescent among the Eagles”)

    The Ottomans emphasised the power of the tactical defensive, even when the army was strategically on the offensive.

    The army commander stood in the centre of a powerful system of fieldworks and artillery. With him were his personal guard of Solaklar and Janissaries. Heavy cavalry deployed on the flanks.

    The Sekban (irregular infantry) was deployed in the front & rear of this “mini-fortress”. On their flanks were the Sipahis. Ahead of them were the light cavalry to draw the enemy cavalry toward the Sekban. After absorbing the enemy charge, the Sebhan would move aside to allow the artillery and Janissaries to open fire. Finally the flanking Sipahis would attack the disordered enemy & attempt to surround him.
    Last edited by Prince of Essling; July 30, 2011 at 07:57 AM. Reason: Addition of Levend under irregular infantrys
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    Default Re: Ottoman Army

    Looks great Prince should help a lot + rep

    EDIT: Also Prince, would you happen to have any pictures of these different units or just written information??
    Last edited by Dee Jay; July 23, 2011 at 07:57 PM.

  3. #3

    Default Re: Ottoman Army

    this is an amazing set of data, and i have read through it (it is very interesting) I'm sure that the crimean kharnate used troops called seymen, i was wondering if the ottomans used these also.

  4. #4
    Prince of Essling's Avatar Napoleonic Enthusiast
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    Default Re: Ottoman Army

    Quote Originally Posted by Dee Jay View Post
    Looks great Prince should help a lot + rep

    EDIT: Also Prince, would you happen to have any pictures of these different units or just written information??

    Both - will aim to post some pictures tonight (my time).
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    Default Re: Ottoman Army

    A taster -
    1st - Bulgarian infantryman;
    2nd - Janisary Solak-Baschi Officer;
    3rd - Wallachian infantryman;
    4th - Janissary solok Foot Guard;
    5th - Djelli cavalryman;

    More will follow in due course
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    Default Re: Ottoman Army

    Would you also be able to create a list of different artillery pieces that were included in the Ottomans Army? If you have access to that type of information.

  7. #7
    Prince of Essling's Avatar Napoleonic Enthusiast
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    Default Re: Ottoman Army

    Quote Originally Posted by Dee Jay View Post
    Would you also be able to create a list of different artillery pieces that were included in the Ottomans Army? If you have access to that type of information.
    Info that I have is as follows:

    Foot artillery:
    French
    6pdr field guns

    Turkish
    4pdr Sahi field guns
    8pdr Sahi field guns
    14pdr Sahi field guns
    60pdr Balyemez old heavy guns
    120pdr Balyemez old heavy guns

    Turkish
    8pdr Abus howitzers ,
    14pdr Abus howitzers ,
    20pdr Abus howitzers
    25pdr Abus howitzers

    Horse Artillery
    6pdr guns

    Siege Artillery
    25" mortars,
    14" 200pdr mortars,
    8½" 25pdr mortars,
    5½" mortars,
    8pdr Abus howitzers,
    14-20pdr Abus howitzers,

    Constantinople coastal artillery:
    800lb fixed waterline guns
    10" Culverins (120pdrs?)
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    Default Re: Ottoman Army

    Sweet, thanks Prince. 800lb and 120pdrs, they are some seriously mean sized guns

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    karaislam's Avatar Domesticus
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    Default Re: Ottoman Army

    u write not in turkish.names are not correct.


    for example


    Topijis =topçu
    Sekhans =sekban
    Yoruks =yörük
    Mamelukes =memlük
    Djemaats =cemaat

    these are couple of ur mistakes in the names.despite info of unit are correct all the unit names incorrect.

  10. #10
    Prince of Essling's Avatar Napoleonic Enthusiast
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    Default Re: Ottoman Army

    Quote Originally Posted by karaislam View Post
    u write not in turkish.names are not correct.


    for example


    Topijis =topçu
    Sekhans =sekban
    Yoruks =yörük
    Mamelukes =memlük
    Djemaats =cemaat

    these are couple of ur mistakes in the names.despite info of unit are correct all the unit names incorrect.
    Very many thanks & very useful info +rep. Will correct - you will note that near the start I said that I took the spelling from Johnston's work (which I know drew on other westernised texts). Any other pointers on language would be gratefully received as I only have Western texts available.
    Last edited by Prince of Essling; July 25, 2011 at 05:05 AM. Reason: additional sentence
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    karaislam's Avatar Domesticus
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    Default Re: Ottoman Army

    Quote Originally Posted by Prince of Essling View Post
    Very many thanks & very useful info +rep. Will correct - you will note that near the start I said that I took the spelling from Johnston's work (which I know drew on other westernised texts). Any other pointers on language would be gratefully received as I only have Western texts available.
    no problem.i ll write all the correct names of units here.in my free time sure.my grands father's fathers had been fought in ottoman armies.one of them against russia in kavkasia other one against great britain and arabs in arabia campaign.i ve also some nice fotos of my ancestors with ottoman uniforms.

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    karaislam's Avatar Domesticus
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    Default Re: Ottoman Army

    Suvarileri =süvari
    Capou-Koulis =kapı kulu
    Odjaks =ocak
    Janissaries =yeniçeri
    Ortas =orta
    Musselem =müsellem
    Boluks =bölük
    Odas =oda
    Nizam-i-Jedid =Nizam-ı Cedid
    Devedjis =deveci


    i ll continue later

  13. #13
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    Default Re: Ottoman Army

    Quote Originally Posted by karaislam View Post
    Suvarileri =süvari
    Capou-Koulis =kapı kulu
    Odjaks =ocak
    Janissaries =yeniçeri
    Ortas =orta
    Musselem =müsellem
    Boluks =bölük
    Odas =oda
    Nizam-i-Jedid =Nizam-ı Cedid
    Devedjis =deveci


    i ll continue later
    Once again very many thanks for your help. Corrections incorporated.
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    Default Re: Ottoman Army

    Some more Ottoman uniform plates :

    Further plates to follow .
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    karaislam's Avatar Domesticus
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    Default Re: Ottoman Army

    Talim-Hanedjilar =talimhaneciler
    Sekban Avdjilari =sekban avcıları
    Ulufecijan =ulufeciler
    Bostanci =bostancı
    Segban-i-Jedid =Sekban-ı Cedid
    Sandjak-Cherif =Sancak-ı Şerif
    Yeshil bayrak =yeşil bayrak
    Coroudjis =korucular
    Zagarcibasi = şahincibaşı

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    karaislam's Avatar Domesticus
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    Default Re: Ottoman Army

    instead of GUREBA u should use garipler.

  17. #17
    karaislam's Avatar Domesticus
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    Default Re: Ottoman Army

    Derbents =derbend muhafızı

    The Grand Vizier =sadrazam

  18. #18
    Prince of Essling's Avatar Napoleonic Enthusiast
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    Default Re: Ottoman Army

    karaislam - once again very many thanks for your help in correcting the text. Changes now incorporated.
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    karaislam's Avatar Domesticus
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    Default Re: Ottoman Army

    u dont need to thank me.we must thank u for this kind information.i ll continue to write.

  20. #20
    karaislam's Avatar Domesticus
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    Default Re: Ottoman Army

    Solaks = solaklar

    Tournadjis =turnacı ortası

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