Akhal-Tekke Expeditions

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Akhal-Tekke Expeditions


of 1879 and 1880–81, Russian Army campaigns during the conquest of Middle Asia that aimed at occupying the Akhal-Tekke oasis in Turkmenia.

Relations between Russia and Turkoman tribes had been developing since the early 18th century and became intensified in the 19th century—the sending of trade missions, the founding of Krasnovodsk in 1869, voluntary acceptance of Russian citizenship by Transcaspian Turkomans, and other ties. Intensification of the aggressive policy of tsarism in Middle Asia eventually led to the Akhal-Tekke expeditions. The arrogant and tactless attitude of the tsarist authorities toward the local population provoked resistance from the Tekke, the largest Turkoman tribe, who at first had been friendly toward the Russians. British agents took advantage of the situation and tried to use the feudal-patriarchal elites of the Tekke for their own purposes. General N. P. Lomakin’s attempt in 1879 to seize the Geok-Tepe (Dengil’-Tepe) fortress, where most of the Tekke had moved, ended with the unsuccessful assault of August 28 and the retreat of the Russian troops.

The 1880–81 expedition was led by General M. D. Skobelev, who in 1880 had built intermediate fortifications and warehouses between Krasnovodsk and Geok-Tepe and thus ensured a regular supply of foodstuffs and ammunition. On January 12, 1881, the Russian troops, about 7,000 men and more than 100 guns and greatly superior to the enemy in tactics and equipment, took Geok-Tepe, where the Tekke had taken refuge. The Tekke in the city numbered between 20,000 and 25,000 (up to 45,000 according to other data), including women and children (only 5,000 had rifles). There were no serious clashes in other regions of Turkmenia, and most of them were joined to Russia peacefully.

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.