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Valentine Baker's Heroic Stand At Tashkessen 1877 (Hardback)

A Tarnished British Soldier's Glorious Victory

Military/Maritime/Historical Pre WWI

By Frank Jastrzembski
Imprint: Pen & Sword Military
Pages: 202
ISBN: 9781473866805
Published: 12th June 2017

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Star Reviews!

“I swear by the Prophet, that the Infidel who commands our cavalry fights with the courage of ten thousand tigers.”
An Ottoman artilleryman observing Valentine Baker in the heat of battle during the Russo-Turkish War
 
“To have witnessed the battle of Tash-Kessan [Tashkessen] is one of the proudest recollections of my life, and one that I never recall without some glow of the old enthusiasm that animated us on that day recurring to me.”
– Francis Francis of The Times

 

 
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“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 that crowned the hard-fought fight at Tashkessen.” – Valentine Baker

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 an embarrassing defeat at the Battle of El Teb. But what about Baker’s positive 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 score a victory.

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.

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Ottoman History

Valentine Baker was a misfit in his time and a difficult character to understand today. However, for those who wish to get under the skin of the Victorian British, it is essential to look at him in the context of his own world. An exemplary officer in the 10th Hussars, his career was ruined by a conviction for assault on a young lady in a railway carriage for which he was dismissed from the army. In hindsight, the conviction was gravely unsound (a view shared by many of his contemporary officers including the Prince of Wales). However, in the age of new Puritanism under the aging Victoria he was forced to take service in the Turkish army where he was responsible for one of the finest rearguard actions in the Nineteenth Century against the invading Russians. For this he was lionised by the press and the British public but still snubbed by the Palace. He then moved to Egypt, again fighting for the Empire until his death. A few days after his death, the letter arrived from the Queen, reinstating him in the British army.

This book focuses on the Russo Turkish War and Baker's part therein. It is well written, lively and balanced. It gives an excellent feel for this meatgrinder of a now largely forgotten war in the Balkans, a war that nevertheless needs to be understood if a student really wishes to comprehend the causes of the Great War a generation later.

The book is well illustrated by Zsuzsi Hajdu.

Cosplay Burnaby
 Frank Jastrzembski

About Frank Jastrzembski

Frank Jastrzembski resides in Cleveland, Ohio with his wife Asha, and loves to travel. He is a proud alumnus of both John Carroll University and Cleveland State University. His passion is discovering and writing about forgotten events and individuals of the nineteenth century. A member of the Victorian Military Society, he was awarded the Browne Award for 2015. Visit www.frankjastrzembski.com to view a complete list of his publications.

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