Beat Off 4,000 Turks -nyt19160312

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Armenian Refugees on Mount Moses Had Only 127 Rifles

MARCH 12, 1916

Details of their defense against the Turkish troops and their escape ever the rugged paths of Mount Moses were given yesterday by Ohannes Klijeian, one of the forty-five Armenian refugees who arrived Friday on the Royal Italian steamship America. Most of these refugees have been discharged from Ellis Island and the majority of them have gone to various places in Pennsylvania, where arrangements have been made for them to obtain employment.

"Our decision to fight the Turks," said Klijeian, "was reached by watching the fate of other Armenians. We had seen them sent off to exile, then had heard of the terrible persecution they suffered and of their murder. Each village was notified that its inhabitants must make ready to go. Our time came. We held secret meetings, we realized that we were going to certain and horrible death, and, knowing that resistance could not be worse, decided to fight to the last.

"It was on Aug. 5 that four villages, of which my own home, Bityas, was one, united their populations. There were 618 from my village and a few more than 4,000 in all. When the Turks learned that we had gone up into Mousa Dagh (Mount Moses) 200 soldiers were sent after us. We had 127 rifles, some old shotguns and horse pistols. We had reached the upper crags of the mountain and had had time to dig hasty trenches and roll large rocks together, making the best barricade we could. The Turks attacked us, suffered severe losses, and were driven back.

"Then they made arrangements for a more general attack, dragging up two field guns, which wrought havoc in our ranks. Peter Gragosian, a boy of 14, crept down through the brushwood and among the rocks. He was so close he could hear the Turks talking. With five bullets he killed four gunners.

"The Turks were bent on reaching us, and 4,000 strong, succeeded in having a part of their troops occupy high ground threatening our camp. Reinforcements kept coming up the mountain, and we knew something must be done. There was a hurried council of our leaders to meet what we knew was the crisis. As a result of the council our men crept around the Turkish positions in the dead of night, closed in suddenly with a fuallade, and it succeeded, for in a few moments the Turkish camp was thrown into bewilderment and alarm, and the troops, thinking it a much more substantial attack than it was, broke and fled in all directions.

"Then followed many days of ???lety and hardship. They kept coming after us and we defended ourselves as best we could. We had captured some guns and ammunition from the Turks, which we used against them."

Later, as THE NEW YORK TIMES has told, the women among these refugees made a huge white flag, with a red cross in the center, the display of which on the mountain brought French warships to the rescue.

A hard copy of this article or hundreds of others from the time of the Armenian Genocide can be found in The Armenian Genocide: News Accounts From The American Press: 1915-1922