There are moments in the past of many a man’s career that stand out clear and defined after the lapse of even many years: life pictures, the very memory of which brings back a glorious thrill of pride and pleasure. This is the feeling which vibrates through me still, when I recall that last and closing scene which crowned the hard-fought fight at Tashkessen. -Valentine Baker Pasha. History has best remembered Valentine Baker for his embarrassments. In 1875, he was accused of sexual assault and dismissed from the British Army. In 1884, he suffered a humiliating defeat at the Battle of El Teb. But what about Baker’s other achievements?The most underappreciated event that took place in his controversial life came during the Russo-Turkish War in 1877. The exiled Baker, in command of 3,000 Ottoman soldiers, was dispatched to the village of Tashkessen to stall 25,000 advancing Russian soldiers. Through his superb leadership and brilliant disposition of his troops, Baker was able to beat back the Russian advance.The Spartan stand of Baker and his command has gained little recognition.Despite this modern obscurity, Baker’s performance at Tashkessen was applauded by his contemporaries as a model of tactical leadership and heroism. This is the exhilarating tale of how Valentine Baker was able to find redemption at Tashkessen.
VALENTINE BAKER’S HEROIC STAND AT TASHKESSEN 1877 A Tarnished British Soldier’s Glorious Victory
Valentine Baker was an exiled and disgraced soldier who’s career in the British army came to an untimely end. After a prison sentence he entered the service of the Ottoman Army in the war with Russia. At first in a high position in the gendarmerie, he was transferred to Mehmed Ali Pasha’s staff, and thence took over the command of a division of infantry. With this division, Baker sustained the rearguard action of Tashkessen against the troops of Gourko. Promoted Ferik (lieutenant-general) for this feat, he continued to command Suleiman’s rearguard.