National Hero Gen. Sebouh Reinterred at Yerablur

YEREVAN—On Thurs., Nov. 20, the remains of General Sebouh (Arshak Nersesian), a prominent leader of the Armenian liberation movement in the late 19th and 20th centuries, were ceremonially buried in Yerevan’s military cemetery at Yerablur.

A ceremony marked the transfer of General Sebouh’s ashes to the Yerablur Military Cemetery in Armenia. (Photo: Photolur)
A ceremony marked the transfer of General Sebouh’s ashes to the Yerablur Military Cemetery in Armenia. (Photo: Photolur)

General Sebouh (1872-40) was a renowned commander and leader of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (ARF) and fought against the Turkish Republic. As leader of the ARF and head of the Dashnaktsakan formation, he took part in the decisive battle of Sardarabad and later went on to help the Armenians besieged in Baku. In 1919, General Sebouh was elected to the parliament in the short-lived First Republic of Armenia (1918-20).

General Sebouh was also known for driving the Bolsheviks out of Armenia (May 1920), albeit temporarily, and crushing the Alexandropol Soviet. He left Armenia when the Bolsheviks eventually took over the country, immigrating to the United States. General Sebouh’s last wish was to be cremated and buried in Armenia whenever it became possible.

Attending the ceremony at the Pantheon in Yerevan was Armenian Defense Minister Seyran Ohanian. General Sebouh’s ashes were repatriated through the efforts of the Defense Ministry, as well as members of the Nersesian family. The burial took place as part of a series of events dedicated to the approaching Centennial of the 1915 Armenian Genocide.

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7 Comments

  1. My father, Misak Seferian, fought under Sebouh’s command in many battles and documented them daily in his diaries. He was with Sebouh in the desperate defense of Erzerum. Sebouh, Mourad of Sepastia, and my father were the last to leave the besieged city. Following are a few short segments of documentation taken from different battles, none are complete; there is a great deal of narrative about each of these battles, but the following will give you an idea of Sebouh’s commitment to the Cause.

    This very short segment is taken from the last day in the defense of Erzerum. Sentences and paragraphs are incomplete.

    Advancing through the grave-like city, we reached the streets of Dash Mughaza and Nazig Charshoun. We turned right at the Armenian Church and went toward Golbashin Street. Here we saw many Armenians running toward the Kars gate, carrying what they could.
    I ran to my father’s lodging. My father and his brother, Setrag, were waiting for me in front of the door. “People have started escaping from the city,” said Setrag. “Antranig and his staff left last night. Torkom has already left.”
    “Has Mourad left yet?” I asked.
    “Mourad and Sebouh are waiting in front of Chashga Chay with their cavalry. They won’t leave until the remaining Armenian population has fled from the city,” replied Setrag.
    I ran to Chashga Chay where Mourad was waiting with about fifty horsemen. When Hovnan saw me, he rode his horse to my side and said, “There are no Armenians left in the city. We are also leaving. Running, I went to the Kars gate. There was no one in the streets. I reached the gate at the same time as Mourad and Sebouh did. Their cavalry held position on both sides of the gate.

    Here are other short, incomplete segments of other battles.

    By October 5, 1920, we had control over three-fourths of the province of Ardahan. From our elevated positions, we could now see the forested mountains of Ardvin and Artanugh. Our leaders would not allow us to go beyond this point, as the Turks had already gone a considerable distance in the direction of Olti and Sarikamish. Sebouh’s Eighth Regiment, which had remained fifty miles away from us, was fighting on the front of Demir Kapu.

    Our forces at Ardahan and Demir Kapu did not number more than 2500. Of these, there were five hundred cavalry headed by Colonels Ghorzanian, Pilos of Khnus, and Mourad of Tsronk. The remaining two thousand foot soldiers formed Sebouh’s Seventh and Eighth Regiments, headed by Colonels Iskahanian, Baghdasarian, Roupen Toytoyian, and Yeghishé Zakarian.

    Yeghishé Zakarian’s 250 bayonets were holding both sides of the valley’s pass. In order to reach that pass, the enemy would have to go in front of the hills where Sebouh’s Seventh and Eighth Regiments, armed with ten Maxim machine guns, were hiding. They were very close when Sebouh gave the order to fire. Machine guns screamed like storks. Two thousand rifles roared. The Turks lost their heads, and not knowing what side to escape from, began falling like autumn leaves. They left seventy-five to one hundred dead and sought refuge in the same valley. We suffered the loss of three cavalry in that day’s battle with the Turks of Aghbaba.

    Heated battles in Shaynalar and Aghughum followed the shelling on the positions Sebouh’s men were protecting. The battle raged along the entire length of the front, but the greatest force of the enemy’s assault was to the heart of Ghuzulchakh, where the armored Death or Freedom train stood. Sebouh’s Eighth Regiment and the Fourth Regiment under Colonel Mirimanian were there.

    There are many, many more references to Sebouh in my father’s diaries. Watch for my soon to be released book; Resistance: a diary of the Armenian Genocide 1915-1922. If quoting any of the above, please remember they are taken out of context, and please cite correctly, or contact me through Armenian Weekly

  2. Perouz, thank you for taking the time to put these in a comment.
    I’m wondering how you might be reached by email through Armenian Weekly.
    Will messages sent to the general email be forwarded to you? If I may
    I have one or two questions regarding the letters.
    Thank you.

  3. thovmas; I will be pleased to answer your questions if I can. I have asked AW to give you my email address. However, this information is taken from my father’s daily journals, not letters. For the defense of Erzerum, details of each day’s battle are noted, most even including weather. Misak Seferian was a resistance fighter with the ARF for almost 6 years. He also escaped from a Bolshevik jail with the help of the ARF underground. When he escaped from the caravan, he was servant to the chief of police of Palu for almost a year, and he has documented who ordered the murder of the Armenian prisoners in the Palu jail, who carried out the murders, how they were executed, and where the bodies were left. He has recorded the events he witnessed or participated in from 1915 to1922 in detail.

    His work was originally published in Armenian in the 1930s and early 1940s. This book is the edited and translated version. My father fought under the command of most of the leading Generals of the time. The book cover is from an original photo I own of my father and Antranig taken in a tent during the defense of Erzerum. Additional excerpts below will show you that his writing is not from letters, but from his diary. I remind readers, these excerpts are not even from the same book chapter, let alone the same battle; they are incomplete and random excerpts. There are many names of individuals and the villages they came from. I am hopeful that there will be readers who will find their ancestors in the almost 400 pages.

    “Torkom immediately commanded a rear guard to accompany me. With Torkom’s letter in my pocket, we were soon rushing toward Kugvir; the entire battlefront exploding all around us. It seemed to me that more cannons than usual were roaring that day.
    We soon reached Kugvir where there were ten soldiers headed by Paravon Haroutiunian of Shen of Keghi. We learned from Paravon that Aram Manougian had fallen extremely ill and was taken to Erzerum. Soghomon Tehlirian, assisted by Hovsep Mkhitarian, was now commanding the front.

    The rain had stopped. A cold hurricane force wind now blew. The freezing winds had hardened the muddy ground. We would have been able to walk without difficulty had it not been for our extreme fatigue, hunger, and lack of warm clothing. We finally reached Sebouh’s office in a large village of Molokan Russians. Yeghishé Zakarian of Garin had arrived there several hours earlier from Kars with 250 soldiers.

    The enemy forces in front of us were now gone. The cannons that had been shelling our rear were silent. We were on a point where we could successfully assault the rear of the detachment fighting against Sebouh’s Eighth Regiment.

    It was slowly becoming light. We stopped at the edge of a field with the hills of Demir Kapu rising on the other side. Zakarian rode over to Sebouh, who was on a hill a short distance from us. After conferring with him, Zakarian returned and said; “The Government and all the people of the Republic of Armenia believe that we will shatter the enemy, who are again hammering our fatherland. We must fulfill their faith in us.”

    Most of the soldiers in our regiment were from Daron. All Daronian soldiers worshipped their leaders. We knew that if they had bread they would not be able to eat alone; if they had clothing, they would share it with us equally, like brothers. We knew with certainty that when we fought in the front lines, our leaders would never think of saving their own lives ahead of ours. Because of this, ten Daronian soldiers would willingly fight against a hundred of the enemy.

    Several hours after we reached Ayarlu, a messenger arrived and told us to immediately return to Keshishkend. Nzhdeh’s men were holding the hills surrounding Ayarlu. All the Daronians left Keshishkend the next morning. After walking for four days, we reached Bazarchay. We stayed there for two weeks and then left for Datev. It was raining when we arrived there.

    We had barely occupied those new positions when our cavalry arrived. They relayed the message that the First Battalion must immediately return to Demir Kapu. We went into stables in the village where we received food. Another fifty soldiers then joined our battalion, and we again took to the road. None of us knew where we were going or what awaited us.

  4. God bless the soul and memory of this national hero. Knowing that members of the Nersesian family must be filled with pride and honor, General Sebouh returns home.

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