The Battle of Ankara – 9 October 185330 September 1853
Marshall Vorontsov stared unhappily at his friend's hat. He too had heard all the rumours of the dalliance with Lusine Ardzruni. In many ways Mikhail Nikolaevich's hat had come to represent Russian policy in the region. Many of his own officers had enthusiastically adopted an approach of building similar close links with both Armenian and Georgian families. The war had probably saved several of his more zealous officers from being killed in duels with irate husbands.
The hat clearly meant that Mikhail Nikolaevich had felt he had no choice but to leave Yerevan. That he had felt he also needed his most formal dress uniform could only mean he brought bad news.
Still before the serious conversation, the conventions of politeness had to be met. His friend had braved the British patrols in the Black Sea to join the army at Sinope. So the samovar had been lit, tea was being served, the best rooms in town were being made ready. And while all that happened they discussed the small gossip of the court, how the Tsarevich had returned, chastened, to St Petersburg after his experiences in Iraq. And then conversation moved onto the war. Mikhail Vorontsov noted how carefully the topic of the Anatolian campaign was avoided as they discussed the British invasion of the Crimea, the recent Turkish victories at Adrianople, even the disaster at Khiva.
Finally it seemed as if the formalities were over.
'My friend, we … and I do mean both you and me … need a victory. The Tsar wants your army between the British and St Petersburg not stuck here. If you want to retain your command you must deliver a victory.'.
At this he raised his hand
'No let me finish. I know what you want to say. That the Avni Pasha has contented himself with delaying your advance and fallen back every time you tried to bring him to battle. Well you must, somehow, convince him to fight … and, of course, win.
I' and here he waved his hand towards his hat 'am here to ensure you understand these orders come direct from the Tsar. I am also here to negotiate our terms with the Sultan when you occupy Istanbul. So I come with the clothes one must wear on such an occasion. You, my friend, have the task of delivering me and my finery to the Sultan's palace'.
That evening the Marshall and his senior commanders planned their next move. The main Ottoman army lay to the south, well dug in near the small town of Ankara. They had no doubt that the response to a new Russian advance would be as before -fierce rearguard actions and then to fall back rather than risk an open battle. A sensible strategy for the Ottomans but not one that would deliver the victory they were seeking.
In the end, a plan emerged. The narrow passes and steep sided Karabuk valley limited their options. The entire army would advance in column. Hopefully, the Ottomans would trust to the strength of their fortifications and not realise that the entire Russian army was moving along a single narrow road. Mikhail sighed – let the staff officers try to sort out the inevitable chaos as 115,000 men and over 500 cannons tried to negotiate the poor roads.8 October
Pavel Gorchakov dismounted behind the small stone farm. So far the operation had been more successful than any of them had expected. The army had made a rapid march – helped by the Ottomans not contesting the river crossings. So his corps were already probing the Ottoman lines and the rest of the army filling in behind him.
Still, caution was advised as several of his staff officers had been killed earlier that day as they observed the Turkish defences. So far the enemy seemed confident in their defensive lines. In the fading afternoon light his two corps were deploying for the next day. Hopefully, hidden from Turkish scouts, the artillery would then move into the redoubts being prepared by the engineers.
The plan was simple – if brutal. His corps would initially attack with only a portion of their strength. Hopefully the Ottomans would imagine their opponents had misjudged the situation and not pull back. At midday the main force would attack, this time backed by the artillery, but in echelons in the hope that the enemy again failed to realise that the entire army was present.9 October
The initial Russian attack had been the predictable disaster. All along the line of Turkish trenches lay clusters of green greatcoats dotted on the light brown earth. For the moment, the firing had died down as both sides re-organised. Although some sectors of the battlefield were smothered in smoke, the sky remained a clear blue as if to mock the efforts of those below.
As the Russians re-organised, everyone knew the plan. The next attack was to be prosecuted in such a way that the Ottomans would not start to disengage till it was too late. Or, more simply, the regiments leading the attack would be on their own for some time.
Polkovnik  Ivan Reavsky checked the organisation of his regiment. For the first time as an adult he appreciated what his father must have gone through at Borodino . To be told that you were expendable was a sobering moment. Briefly looking behind he realised that the second assault wave was still to form up. They really were on their own.
The Russian infantry moved from the limited shelter of low stone walls and hastily dug trenches to form up their assault columns. As soon as they deployed the Ottoman artillery opened fire cutting gaps in the ranks. At this, the longer ranged Russian artillery opened fire. With the advantage of prepared and raised firing positions they were able to silence some of the short ranged Ottoman batteries. Equally, the siege mortars found their range and blew gaps in the line of Turkish trenches.
At that, the Russian infantry moved forward. Here and there men fell as the Russian columns pushed forward without returning fire . Finally they reached the high tide of the earlier assault and briefly halted. Raevsky checked his regiment was aligned to the formations on his flanks and ordered the first round of volley fire . Smoke from the cannons, muskets and burning scrub all helped blot out the clear blue sky – and any view of the wider battle. To all intents he was on his own.
The orders to prepare to charge were being shouted. Initially in crisp military language but by the time they passed down the ranks the language became more profane. Drawing his sword, he watched the front ranks of his regiment advance towards the Turkish trenches.
As they closed, the ranks rapidly thinned as men fell. Still they had already advanced almost to the first trench line. Stopping again to fire, their officers tried to keep the ranks organised. Raevsky ordered the rest of the regiment forward even as the 'hurrah' of the first charge was heard. Marching into the din and smoke was like closing a door on his previous life.
The first attack failed but a second desperate charge allowed some companies to make gains into the Ottoman trenches. At this, any semblance that this was an organised battle broke down. Damning his commanders for leaving him so exposed, Ivan quickly organised a small group of men and managed to reach his advanced companies. All around was the chaos of battle, emptied ammunition cases, cast away muskets and the dead – there were plenty of those wearing both green and blue .
Around 100 Russians were now within the Ottoman trenches but the neighbouring regiments had been less successful. As a result, the Ottoman forces on their flanks were able to concentrate their fire on any further attempts to reinforce the advance guard. In fact, his own regiment seemed to be falling back.
Well, who wanted to live for ever? In fact, he rated his chances of living through the day as non-existent. Safety seemed to lie in holding their current position. Quickly the men started to push deeper into the trench lines till they were stopped by Ottoman counter-attacks. Both sides now fought solely with the bayonet, pike, sword, even the fist and rock. Slowly his numbers dwindled. In a brief lull he estimated they had 50 men left who could still fight.
Expecting to be overwhelmed by the next attack he fell back to the strongest position they could find. Boxes and obstacles were hastily improvised in an attempt to protect their flanks as they prepared for the end. In this sort of fighting neither side was taking prisoners. His men picked up fresh muskets, tried to find ammunition and lay down expecting to die.
But the feared attack never came. Suddenly his own private space was invaded. Fresh Russian troops reached the outer trench line and overwhelmed the exhausted Ottoman defenders. His men looked for orders but for the moment Ivan was prepared to let others do the fighting. Finally one of the staff officers from his division reached their position.
don't you know there is a battle going on'.
Raevsky shrugged, and ordered his men to advance. But by now the Ottomans were in full retreat.
The Russian pursuit had been limited due to a lack of cavalry and the unexpected stubborn resistance of the small garrison in Ankara. Still a week later they were marching west and this time the Ottomans again evaded combat but then retreated southwards hampered by the desertion of most of their militia and irregular formations. The road to Istanbul was open.December
Looking back at the first snows of winter that now dusted the hills behind them, Polkovnik Reavsky briefly relaxed. The leg wound he had suffered at Ankara had still not healed but at least he could ride. So the prospect of wintering in Istanbul was welcome. Rest, even warmth and being clean were on offer. But first he suspected there would be more fighting.
 Colonel, usually in charge of a regiment
 In so far as the Russians had had a plan at Borodino – other than to defend and then fall back – it involved Raevsky's Corp holding the Grand Redoubt and exhausting the French attack. If all the French reserves were committed, then the Russian flanks would have advanced.
 the doctrine of 'bayonets over bullets' dominated in this era - generally the Russians tended to stick to Napoleonic era tactics on the grounds that it had allowed them to beat the best army in Europe so why change things now?
 by all accounts partly due to weapon design and partly due to training, Russian musket fire was very inaccurate. By way of compensation the musket was designed to deliver a very heavy bullet so if it hit its target it tended to be lethal or at least inflict a serious wound.
 Most regular Ottoman regiments wore blue uniforms