ASPINDZA, BATTLE OF (1770). Major battle between the Georgian army of King Erekle II and the Turkish forces near Aspindza (in southern Georgia) on 20 April 1770. In 1760s, King Erekle II, and his father King Teimuraz II sought to establish a military alliance with Russia against the Ottoman Empire and Persia. During the Russo-Turkish war in 1769, Empress Catherine dispatched a Russian expeditionary force (1,200 men) under General Gotlib Totleben to Georgia and King Erekle II opened the second front against the Porte. In March 1770, the Russo-Georgian forces marched into the Borjomi Valley and seized Sadgeri fortress on 14 April. Three days later, they besieged the Atskhuri fortress, but Erekle and Totleben disagreed on strategy; the Georgian ruler wanted to take advantage of their earlier successes and advance quickly to
Akhaltsikhe, the focal point of the Ottoman authority in the region. However, Totleben refused to support him and remained at
In the meantime, the Ottoman pasha of Akhaltsikhe rallied his troops to relieve
Atskuri. In a surprise move, on 19 April, Totleben lifted the siege and withdrew his forces from the theater of operations, effectively abandoning the Georgians. King Erekle had no other option but to retreat, pursued by superior Turkish troops who tried to cut his line of retreat near
Aspindza. On 20 April, King Erekle routed the Turkish advance guard of 1,500 men and then allowed the main Ottoman forces of some 8,000 troops to cross the Kura
(Mtkvari) River. During the night of 20 April, a group of Georgians, led by Aghabab Eristavi and Svimon
Mukhranbatoni, destroyed the only bridge across the river, stranding the Ottomans on the riverbank. At dawn, the Georgians attacked, with King Erekle leading the center, David Orbeliani the right flank, and Giorgi Batonishvili the left flank. The Ottomans were routedóloosing over half of their strength, including their commander and several pashas; many of whom drowned trying to swim across the river.