Bashi-bazouk - Encyclopedia

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BASHI - BAZOUK, the name given to a species of irregular mounted troops employed by the Turks. They are armed and maintained by the government but do not receive pay. They do not wear uniform or distinctive badges. They fight either mounted or dismounted, chiefly the latter, but are incapable of undertaking serious work, because of their lack of discipline. Their uncertain temper has sometimes made it necessary for the Turkish regular troops to disarm them by force, but they are often useful in the work of reconnaissance and in outpost duty. They are accused, and generally with justice, of robbery and maltreatment of the civil population, resembling in those things, as in their fighting methods and value, the Croats, Pandours and Tolpatches of 18th-century European armies. The term is also used of a mounted force, existing in peace time in various provinces of the Turkish empire, which performs the duties of gendarmerie.

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